Monday, July 30, 2012

Making Pastries...


My friend brought over some home made pastries a few weeks ago, and they were delicious!
It got me thinking, why don't I ever make pastries? I buy them all the time but never thought to make them, well not anymore :)

Ever since that day,  I have already made pastries 4 times! 
They are so fast and easy to make, yet so delicious. 
They are great for breakfast and with afternoon tea. 

Here is what you need
- Thinly sliced fruit
This time I used sliced apples and mixed them with 2 TB sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and
sliced nectarines with about 2 TB of sugar
 -Puff Pastry (thaw it out according to the package instructions)
-Mascarpone cheese



For the cheese filling mix mascarpone cheese with 2 TB of sugar and 1 tsp vanilla:


There are two sheets of puff pastries in the box, I divided on of  the sheets into 4 and put a dollop of mascarpone cheese and sliced apples on top of that. Then I just pinched the edges like so:


With the other sheet, I divided into 6 pieces
and also put a dollop of mascarpone cheese with sliced nectarines and blueberries
I pinched the edges around, sort of creating little baskets around the fruit:


Bake for 25 minutes at 350:


ENJOY!

Master Closet..

We are finally done with our downstairs, which means that we will soon start working on our master bedroom, bathroom and closet. 
We have a small master closet, too small for both of us. I  really don't have any ideas on how to create a space which will work for us. I already store our coats and jackets in the hall closet and put a lower rack. 
We even had a contractor in to check it out (his idea was to break the wall into the guest room which is behind the closet wall and use the space from there. However, the guest room is already the smallest bedroom, I really don't want to be taking anymore room from it)

Here is what our closet looks like now (pardon the mess, it is very hard to organize such a small space)







some inspiration for my closet:












Do you have any advice for sharing a small closet?










Monday, July 23, 2012

Berry Tart


I have been  "tart" obsessed this month. 
I can't help it, Tarts are such a great summer dessert and I have been trying out lots of new recipes. 
Unlike the glazed tart where the crust is a sponge cake, this tart has a hard crust and pastry cream filling. 

I absolutely love this recipe, which is why I wanted to share it with you guys!
I adapted this recipe from Food Network incorporating some changes...

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup of flour
3 TB Sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 TB cold unsalted butter
2 TB cold shortening
1/4 cup of ice cold water

Directions:
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
 Put the flour in a bowl and cut the butter and shortening in (until the butter is the size of peas) If you have a food processor, use that. 
Add the ice water and mix well until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured surface and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray your 9 inch tart pan (with a removable bottom) with cooking oil
Roll the dough to fit in your tart pan.
Roll the dough onto your rolling pan and roll it over your tart pan (just like you would do for a pie)
Don't stretch the dough when placing it in the dough, or it will shrink when baking. 
Cut off the access by rolling the pin across the top of the pan.

Take a piece of aluminum foil and butter one side. Place buttered side down onto your crust and fill the middle with dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes

After 15 minutes remove the foil and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Pastry Cream:
5 egg yolks (room temperature)
3/4 cup of sugar
3 TB cornstarch
1 1/2 cup of scalded milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 TB unsalted butter
1 TB heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce speed to low and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly  pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens (5 -7 minutes)
Don't be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, butter and heavy cream. 
Cool slightly and pour into the baked tart shell.
Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold. 

About an hour before serving, wash some strawberries and slice them.
Toss with 1/4 cup of sugar and place around your tart. 


Or you can just use different berries like I did here:


Just wash and put them on top of the tart. 
No sugar, the contrast of the sweet/tangy berries plus the sweet pastry cream and flakey crust is amazing.




Enjoy!




Revlon Just Bitten- My thoughts..


Being a mom means I don't have time to reapply or touch up my makeup when we are out and about, so the idea of a lip stain really appealed to me.  However, I first used one those lip stain markers, which I hated. They dried out my lips and tasted gross. 

Then, I saw the clinique chubby sticks at Sephora, I stood in front of the display and debated if I should spend $16 on one of them, needless to say I walked away empty handed. 

So when I saw these Revlon lip stains for only $7, I was excited. 

So excited, that I bought the first three colors that appealed to me. 

The lasting power is about 4-6 hours with eating, drinking and kissing my little mans head  :)
They don't dry out my lips and smell nice. 

Here are the three shades I got (left to right):

001 honey - a nudey pink
020 lovesick- bright pink
040 rendezvous- coral orange 



Have you tried the revlon just bitten  lip stains?

What are your favorite colors?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Next project: Kids/guest Bath


Both of our upstairs bathrooms are still in the 1997 builders grade era:  laminate floors, laminate counters, cheap light and sink/faucet, wooden hardware. Wait, no... We changed the wooden toilet seats when we moved in. (There is something about wooden toilet seats that scares me.)

So now,  the time has finally came to update the bathrooms :D (Big happy face)
First up is the kids bath, which is also the guest bath.

It is quite ugly right now,  but not for much longer:






First step- Gut the place:


We are keeping the bathtub, but everything else had to go. My hubby did all the demo, and it was a lot of hard work. If you ever had to remove laminate flooring before, you know what I mean. You basically have to chisel it off because it is glued and stapled on. 

If you have been with me for a while now and have seen my house, you know I love white, bright airy spaces.

So here is some inspiration for my bathroom:








Thanks for visiting!

I will keep you all posted on the bathroom progress :)




Making Calzones


I have a new favorite Food Blog, it's the Proud Italian Cook. I get so much inspiration from the posts, and when I saw this post on Calzones, I just had to make some!

I cheated on the dough, I always have Rhodes frozen rolls in my freezer, thats what I used:



I just left some on a plate to thaw:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lemon Bars




My friend brought these over once and me and my hubby couldn't stop eating them! They are that good!
I made lemon bars before, but those were with coconut, which were good, but these are even better!
Thank you Mariya for the recipe!!

Directions:

1 c (2 sticks of unsalted butter) COLD
 1 cup sugar
2 cups of flour
1 1/4 cup of oats (not instant)
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 can of sweetened condensed milk

Cut in the butter into into the flour and sugar, until the butter is pea sized
Then add the oats.

Spray a 9X13 pan with oil spray and press 2/3 or the mixture in the pan

In a seperate bowl, zest your lemons and juice them. Add the condensed milk and mix together. 


Spread the filling over the dough in the pan, and then cover the remaining 1/3 of butter crumble over the top

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges start to brown.

Let cool and then cut into small squares. 

Enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


I usually make stuffed cabbage rolls with ground beef, but this time I found this recipe and  decided to try making them "italian style". They were a big success! We loved them!

One large cabbage makes 8 rolls

Core as much of the cabbage as possible before the actual steaming. 
Do not remove the outer leaves.
Steam the whole cabbage in a large pot with about 2 inches of water.
As the leaves soften, remove them one at a time,
Steaming the whole cabbage should take around 25 minutes
Cabbage leaves should be soft but not mushy
When the cabbage has cooled enough to handle, use a pairing knife and cut off the thick base of the cabbage leaves. 

Stuffing Mixture:
1 lb of ground turkey 
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup of grated asiago cheese
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz of Cooked brown rice
1/4 cup of chopped parlsey
1/2 Chicken broth
salt and pepper
paprika

Brown the turkey and onion. 
Transfer into a large bowl and add the grated asiago cheese, garlic, brown rice, chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff each cabbage leaf and fold them over like a burrito, place the rolls seam down in a baking dish that has some chicken broth on the bottom (1/2 cup).
Drizzle cabbage rolls with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika, grated parmesan, salt and pepper.
Cover loosely and bake for 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Then remove the foil and broil on low until lightly browned, like so:






Basil white wine sauce:
Saute 2 shallots in 1 TB of butter, deglaze with 1/4 cup of white wine, then add to that 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and equal amounts of cream and whisk together. 
Snip in fresh basil into the sauce and let it reduce down until thickened, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the sauce over the cabbage rolls when serving.



Enjoy with a fresh cucumber/tomato salad:


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Birchbox July 2012


I am always eagerly awaiting my monthly birchbox. It's like a little present for me every month.

Let me tell you what birch box is, just in case you are not familiar with it.
It's a monthly subscription service which is $10.00 a month where you get sent 4-5 high-end samples each month. First you take a little survey so they can find out more about your skin, make up likes and dislikes so they know what to send you.

Plus you get to review the items you get for birchbox points ( 10 points per each item reviewed, 100 points equal $10 you can spend in the birchbox store!)
If you are interested in checking it out, go to Birch Box

This month Birch box teamed up with Glamour Magazine!

Lets see what I got:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Family Room


We have been working on our family room, see this and this post.
It took some time, but now we are finally done. 
We built a new fireplace
Changed the mushroom light for three small can lights
and Found a sectional which works with this small space


Before we go on, take a look at the BEFORE:


This is me standing in my kitchen. 
The floor plan is completely open into the dining area and family room:


This is looking from the family room into the kitchen:

Glazed Strawberry Tart


I was at Home Goods this week and saw a flan/tart pan for $5.99 (similar online)
 I couldn't pass on it, although I didn't have any recipes in mind. 
I knew I wanted a sponge cake with some strawberries, I scoured the internet and combined three different recipes to make this one tart.

We had it for dessert last night and everyone loved it!

(There is one little slice in the fridge calling my name now)

This is kind of time consuming to make, but the recipe makes 2 tarts. 
I baked my sponge cake a day before I served it, that way I just needed to make the filling, slice the strawberries and drizzle the glaze over the strawberries on the day I served it. 

I found the sponge cake recipe on Olives-N-Okra

For the Sponge cake:

6 egg whites
6 egg yolks
1 1/3 cups of sifted cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups on sugar
1 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup of water
Non-stick cooking spray


DIRECTIONS
To make the sponge cake
1.  Take eggs out of refrigerator at least one hour before using.  In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder,salt, and 1 cup sugar.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar.  Beat until soft mounds form then add ½ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form.
3.  Combine egg yolks, water, and vanilla.  Stir into flour mixture.  Beat a minute or two, until well blended.  Fold egg yolk mixture into stiff egg whites until blended.
4.  Spray two, 11-inch flan tart pans with non-stick cooking spray.  Fill each pan about ⅔ full. Shake until batter is evenly spread. Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes, or until cake is golden brown.  
Do not open the oven door in the first 10 minutes!
Invert pan onto a large platter and cool completely before filling.
I let my cakes cool completely and covered them until the next day.


  • Filling:
  • The filling acts as a barrier between the strawberries and sponge cake so it doesn't get all soggy from the fruit juices.

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling, cream together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Spread over the cooled crusts. 


Fruit:


I used fresh strawberries, but you can also use blueberries and sliced kiwis

  • Arrange the fruit on the cream cheese filling

  • Glaze:
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice



For the glaze, mix together the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Whisk in the water, orange juice and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil gently for one minute. 
Remove from heat and cool completely ( I transfered the glaze into a bowl and stuck it in the fridge to help it cool faster). 
Spoon the glaze evenly over the strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Enjoy!




Baked Rigatoni




This is such a simple and easy dish. The most important, it is delicious!
I like that the pasta reheats well the next day, this easy dish is enough for two meals in our house. 

You need:

1 box of Rigatoni Pasta
1 Jar (25 oz) pasta sauce. (I used my absolute favorite: 3 cheese from Trader Joe's)
1 lb of ricotta
1 cup of washed, chopped spinach
1 egg
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup of grated romano cheese
1 cup of grated asiogo cheese
-1 cup of chopped basil
Salt/pepper
olive oil

-Cook Pasta. The box will say to cook for 14 minutes, but since you will be baking the pasta, you need to undercook it a little bit. 
-While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheeses and prep the ricotta:
In a small bowl add the ricotta, egg, chopped spinach, salt and pepper. Mix well
-Once your pasta is cooked, toss with some olive oil
-Take your baking dish and spoon a few TB of the pasta sauce.
-Add half of the pasta
-Cover the pasta with pasta sauce
-Add a few dollops of ricotta over the pasta, add 1 cup of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of romano and 1/2 cup of asiogo.
-Then spread the rest of your pasta over and layer with the rest of your pasta sauce and cheeses.

-Preheat oven to 360F and bake covered for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

Garnish with fresh Basil

Enjoy this cheesy goodness!





Monday, July 2, 2012

Sprucing up the playground...




It's getting a little warmer here, and we have been spending more time outside. 
Even with all the weeding and cleaning the yard, there was still a huge eyesore in the yard: 
the  kids playground. 

The previous owner of our house built this playground for his kids.  
However, it really needed sprucing up, the tarp roof ripped a few winters ago after a snow storm, the plastic swings were not very comfortable (little Em kept slipping off them)





At first I wanted to re-stain it, but decided to repaint it with some leftover house paint. 

I ordered a new tarp roof and new swings from Amazon. 

Here is the result:


Little Em loves to water flowers, I decided to put a little flower box for her to water every day. 


I am really happy with the result, plus the kidos are happy too :)




That's our "new" playground... Now the kids can't wait to go and play on it!


Thanks for visiting. :)