A Little Sneak Peek

Over the last week and weekend I decided to undertake a huge (little did I know how huge), enormous, gigantic project.  (I am sure that you understand the enormity of the situation by the use of my adjectives.)  I decided to clean out and reorganize my home office.  It all started with the idea that I would rearrange my bookshelves.  Darn bookshelves.  Darn back-breaking, huge bookshelves.  Well, that turned into a project that is still not complete.  Despite my aching back and very sore arms, I will continue (and try not get side-tracked).  Hopefully, I will eventually prevail with a gorgeous and beautifully organized room.  I thought that I would give you a little sneak peek of the project.


  Office closet before--total chaos and a catch all.



I know that these things don't look like they would go together, but they do.  Along with a few hundred other things....some orange paint, gorgeous fabric, a few stencils, and a lot of books.

Risotto with Shrimp and Asparagus

This Sunday, dinner was my choice.  And since I am completely addicted to and in love with risotto (I order it at every restaurant that has it on the menu), I thought I would share my recipe with you.  I have developed this recipe over the last few years.   Beware, it is not a put on the stove and walk away kind of recipe.  It is a full hour long standing over the stove---but completely worth it.

What you will need for the risotto:


4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
2  cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups Arborio Rice
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
green onions or chives for garnish

For Shrimp and Asparagus:

1 pound large shrimp
1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste





Heat butter and olive oil in large sauce pan.  Saute shallot and garlic over medium low heat until translucent.  Meanwhile, heat chicken stock and water in a pot over low heat until simmering.  Add rice to pan and saute until rice looks like pearls.  This will take a about 5 minutes.  Add 1 cup broth to rice and stir until all the liquid is absorbed.  Continue to add liquid 1 cup at a time until all is absorbed.   Make sure to stir rice continually.  If you stop, rice will stick.  Add wine and stir until absorbed.  At this point, make sure that you have  good glass of wine to drink, because you will be stirring for about 20 minutes.

Add cream and do the same.  Once all liquid is absorbed, rice will be creamy and tender.  Add cheese and mix well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  At this point, you can serve risotto plain or mix in whatever you like.  I decided to add shrimp and asparagus.

To cook shrimp and asparagus:

Heat butter and olive oil in a medium sized pan over low heat.  Add garlic and cook until tender.  Make sure to not burn.  Add shrimp that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.  Cook for 3-5 minutes until starting to turn pink.

Add asparagus and continue to cook for approximately 5 more minutes until tender.

Once shrimp and asparagus are cooked, mix into risotto.  Season with salt and pepper taste and garnish with green onions.



Enjoy,

Chalkboard Paint--Yes or No??? I Say Yes!!

Have I mentioned that I love painting (my husband does the painting) and redecorating rooms? Well, today my sister, Charity, sent me a few pictures of her youngest son's bedroom. So since I don't really have a room to repaint or redecorate, yet, I decided to think about this decorating trend via my sister.   They had the great idea to paint his room a lovely slate blue--a terrific color, and to paint one of the walls with black chalkboard paint.  He is going to have so much fun expressing his personality and creativity.



I would love to do this. I was just telling her about a chalkboard contact paper and removable wall graphics made of chalkboard. I am so jealous, really.


You can find this great decal from www.esty.com.  I actually ordered one yesterday.

Here are a few more idea for using chalkboard throughout your home.
www.reastslt.clm
feaststl.com
idiy.com
style-files.com

Enjoy.

Carolyn's King Cake

I've been very busy today. I made a wonderful King Cake thanks to my friend Carolyn at "A Pinch of This...A Dash of That".
I followed her directions for making it and it couldn't have been any easier.
Check out her blog for the recipe and a great story on the history of King Cakes.


Carolyn's blog is full of great recipes and tips. Enjoy.

Rosemary Bread

I started making this bread after I fell in love with the bread from Macaroni Grill, but wanted to be able to make it at home. It is very easy to make and much cheaper. Here is the recipe.

1 package or 1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Coarse salt

In a small glass bowl mix yeast and sugar. Add water and stir with a wooden spoon. Do not use metal as it reacts to the yeast. Allow mixture to rest 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, add flour, salt, 1 tablespoon of the chopped rosemary and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Add yeast mixture and combine. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Dough will be firm and not sticky. Place dough in an oiled bowl and allow to rise in a warm place for approximately 1 hour.

Tip: If your kitchen is not so warm, preheat your oven to 170 degrees. Once oven is heated, turn off and place bowl with dough in it. Allow dough to rise in heated oven. Works every time.

Once dough has risen, punch down. Place on an oiled pan and divide into 2 loaves. Press remainder of chopped rosemary on each loaf. Allow dough to rest 10-20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bake loaves for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, brush each loaf with remaining melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt. Cook for 10-15 more minutes or until lightly browned.



I hope that you enjoy this bread as much as I do.

I LOVE warm and cozy Comfort Food

I guess this week I am craving comfort food.  My husband is always happy when these urges hit me.  Tonight, I thought that a steaming bowl of potato soup and a piece of cornbread could not be more wonderful.  Both of these recipes are very easy and can be made in less than an hour.  They are great for when you just get home from work and want a good home-cooked meal.

Potato Soup
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 1/2 cup hot milk
4 cups warm milk (you can use low-fat)
12 small-medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper or seasoning mix to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add carrots, onions, and garlic and saute until soft.  Do not let garlic burn.  This will take about 8-10 minutes.  Add the flour and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Add milk, bouillon milk, and potatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let cook until potatoes become somewhat mushy.  About 15-20 minutes.  Season to taste.  Top with shredded cheese.



Nanny's Cornbread
2 T. butter, melted

1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add egg and buttermilk.  You can substitute milk for buttermilk if you prefer.  Melt butter in container you are going to cook cornbread in (I prefer an iron skillet).  Pour melted butter into cornbread.  Mix and return to skillet.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.




I promise, you will love this meal!!

French Larkspur Giveaway

Make sure to check out this site for a fabulous giveaway.  I love this blog.  There are fabulous ideas for french inspired design.  The giveaway includes yummy soaps and body treatments as well as a bag and linens.

Sunday Dinner--Lauren's Choice

This Sunday my daughter, Lauren, was home from college.

 Every time she is home she is very vocal in what we will have for dinner on Sunday night.  She always chooses very comforting food when she is home for just a few days.  No gourmet for her.  I guess she gets enough of that--she lives in New Orleans.  When she is home it is all about the home cooked meal.  I actually love it when she chooses.  It is a very easy meal with a small amount of preparation.  This weekend she chose roast with gravy and rice, green bean casserole, and balsamic carrots.

The roast is my mother's recipe, super easy.  It makes a ton of gravy--my favorite.  My husband, Rick, makes the best rice ever. Super fluffy and perfect.  That's his contribution to many meals.

Judy's Roast
3-4 pound roast, sirloin tip with little fat
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
water
seasoning to taste

Place the roast in a crock pot and season heavily with Tony's or garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Pour soup and 2 cans of water over roast.  Cook approximately 8 hours until falling apart. Stir every hour or so.   I promise you will love this roast.  It is delicious.  Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.



Green Bean Casserole

1 large shallot, diced
1 package of sliced mushrooms
olive oil
2 T. butter
2 cans whole green beans
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 T. worcestershire sauce
2 t. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of french fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large pan heat olive oil and butter over low to medium heat.  Add shallots and cook until tender.  Add mushrooms.  Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.  Add next  5 ingredients and mix well.  Continue to cook for a few minutes until bubbling.  Place mixture in oiled baking pan and pour onions on top.  Cook in oven for 20 minutes or until browned.



Balsamic Brown Sugar Carrots

8-10 carrots, sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 T. butter
olive oil
salt to taste
1/4 t. thyme
2 T. balsamic vinegar

Heat olive oil and butter in a medium pan.  Add brown sugar and whisk until melted.  Add carrots, thyme, and salt.  Cook over low heat, covered,  for approximately 20 minutes until soft.    Add balsamic vinegar and cook another 5 minutes.

January Coffee Table

I've had to face it.  My husband and kids have had to face it.  I love to decorate and redecorate and redecorate.  I just can't stop.  When we were first married I would decorate our foyer table, book cases, etc.  I would ask  him what he thought and he would say that they looked great.  I would say thanks and then in a few days I would change them.  My husband has actually stopped asking me "why"?  I think he gave up on that one a few years ago.  Every month I decorate the coffee table in our family room to reflect the holiday or the season.  This month I used glass and silver with cream candles.



Some of My Favorites

I think this might become a weekly thing.  I find things that I think I need or have to have, and share them with you.  Today it is tea towels or dishtowels.  First, I must say that I love tea towels and that I have too many to count.  I think it might be a problem.  Saturday I was shopping and found the cutest "Louisiana" tea towel and oven mitt.  They both had the cute design, but the oven mitt was black.  I loved it even more when the design was in the shape of a fleur de lis.    I bought the tea towel and oven mitt at Lewis' gifts.




Another of my favorite "Louisiana" tea towels I found at the Village Washstand.  You can also purchase this one at www.uncommongoods.com.  They have towels, pillows, and glassware for states and regions.


I am also loving tea towels with cute sayings.  I found these at www.blueq.com.



There are even towels to remind you of things, like not being paper towel and anniversary gifts.  These I found at www.modcloth.com and www.anthropologie.com.



Lastly,  I loved these tea towels--complete with recipes from www.mozi.com.



Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes

I was asked today to post the potato recipe from Sunday night.  So here it goes.  I don't actually have a written recipe for these, I usually just start combining.  Beware, this recipe also has a lot of garlic!!

Roasted Garlic
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  You can use either one or two whole heads of garlic depending upon how much you like.  I like a lot, so I usually use two.  Cut the garlic heads in half to expose all the garlic cloves on both sides.  Place heads in foil and drizzle approximately 2 t. olive oil on each.  Wrap loosely in foil and place in oven.  Roast garlic in oven for approximately one hour.  Garlic should be very soft and should be  the color of caramel.  Squeeze all garlic onto a plate and mash with a fork.

Smashed Red Potatoes
Cover with water  2 pounds of small red potatoes (you can alter this based on how many you are serving, usually serve 3-4 small potatoes per person) and bring to a boil in large pot.  Boil until fork tender.  Do not overcook.  It should take approximately 15-20 minutes once boiling.  Drain the water and return to the pot.  Smash potatoes, including skins.  Add 1/4 cup soft butter, 3 T. warmed cream, and roasted garlic to potatoes.  Stir potatoes until well mixed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Potatoes should be very lumpy and not extremely wet.  Keep covered until ready to serve.

Our Favorite Dinner

On Sunday nights we have a tradition or ritual, if you want to call it that.  I, basically, cook all afternoon.  I don't know how this tradition started, but we all enjoy it.  I enjoy it because I really like to cook and my family enjoys it because they really like to eat what I cook, well sometimes anyway.  Tonight I made our favorite meal.  I wanted to share it with you.  Be warned, though.  This meal is not for the faint of heart, the person who is afraid of strong aromas, or the person who is planning on doing a lot of one-on-one time smooching later that evening.  There can be no fear of  garlic---I used four bulbs.


For the entree, Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic.  I didn't actually count the garlic, but used 3 bulbs of garlic for the chicken and I roasted one head of garlic for a side of Garlic Roasted Smashed Red Potatoes.






The recipe for Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic is from "Barefoot in Paris".  I absolutely love this cookbook and think I have made each dish from it at least twice.  Every recipe is perfect.  

Chicken with Forty Clove of Garlic

Serves 6

3 whole heads of garlic, about 40 cloves
2(3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 T. unsalted butter
2 T. good olive oil
3 T. cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
2 T. all-purpose flour
2 T. heavy cream

Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds.  Drain the garlic and peel.  Set aside.

Dry the chicken with paper towels.  Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side.  Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork.  If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium.  When a batch is done, transfer to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches.  Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot.  Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned.  Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle withe the thyme leaves.  Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.  In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot.  Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland.  Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.


This recipe is so great.  The only thing that I do differently is that instead of just adding thyme to the sauce and chicken I use herbs de provence.  I love the way the fennel, basil and thyme taste with the sauce.    Try this recipe with a good glass of Pinot Noir.








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