Friday, January 27, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Easy Lemon Cheesecake with Berry Topping

From Paris Pastry

This recipe is based upon the Nigella Lawson recipe for No-Fuss Fruit Tart.  I increased the butter slightly because I thought the crumbs were too loose with only six tablespoons, and I substituted mascarpone cheese for half of the cream cheese because I happened to have it on hand.  Try to find a really good quality bottled lemon curd without food coloring added (that artificial color is just too bright!).  You can serve this with fresh berries as pictured, but I decided to try a cooked berry sauce since it is winter and good fresh berries are not always available.  I did not drain the liquid off of the thawed berries because I wanted the extra flavor, but be aware that this will greatly increase the cooking time as you will need to boil off a lot of the water to get the right consistency.  If you prefer, leave the cornstarch out of the berry topping and serve it as a sauce on the side rather than as a topping.  This recipe is absolutely delicious!  I am not much of a cheesecake fan because most of them have so much cream cheese that they are too dense and heavy, but this one is light and tasty, with just enough tartness from the berries and lemon to balance out its sweetness.  It is also perfect for entertaining, and will easily serve dinner party guests with enough left over for those who want seconds!

Easy Lemon Cheesecake with Berry Topping

3 C. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 C. (1 stick) butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
8 oz. lemon curd
8 oz. currant or other fruit jelly
3 C. frozen mixed berries, thawed
1 tsp. cornstarch

Combine the crumbs and butter.  Press into the sides and bottom of a 10-inch fluted tart pan.  Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.  Combine the cheeses and lemon curd until smooth.  Pour into the crumb crust and refrigerate at least four hours until firm and set.  Melt half of the jelly in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat.  Stir in the berries and their juice, increase the heat, and cook at a gentle boil for about 15 minutes.  Add the rest of the jelly and continue cooking for another 20 minutes.  Make a paste of the cornstarch with a little water and add to the berries.  Cook until thickened.  Cool, then spread the topping over the cheesecake.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.  Serves 8-10.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: HGTV Dream Home 2012 Giveaway

The giveaway sweepstakes for the 2012 HGTV Dream Home in Midway, Utah (not far from Park City), is now underway!  This nearly 4,000 square foot home on about 2.5 acres is a short walk away from the Provo River, where fly fishing is a favorite activity.  The prize, worth over two million dollars, includes the fully furnished house, a 2012 GMC Terrain, and $500,000 in cash.  Entering for a chance to win this fabulous prize is free, so click on this site as well as this one to enter twice a day.  Here are some photos of the great room and foyer, which are my favorite spaces:

While the odds of winning are miniscule, you have no chance at all if you don't enter, so remember to vote every day through February 17th.  Good luck, and keep dreaming!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wish List Wednesdays: Pack Rack

I have been eyeing this fabulous Pack Rack from ModCloth for a while now.  I love those adorable little animal busts, which are perfect for displaying favorite pieces of jewelry.  My husband often gets unique and beautiful necklaces for me from craft fairs or galleries as gifts.  They are works of art as well as ornamentation, and deserve to be displayed rather than hidden away in jewelry boxes.  At about $60 the Pack Rack is a little pricey, but since there are only three left I shouldn't wait too much longer to decide if I really want one!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Tuna Noodle Casserole

From Linda's Recipe Box

My husband and I are both really bad about buying items for the pantry and then forgetting to use them.  Periodically I decide I simply must use up pantry items before I have to throw them out, so this is when I start to dig out my pantry staple recipes.  One of the best for this purpose is Tuna Noodle Casserole, an old standby that everyone remembers from their childhood, although not always fondly!  I happen to like it -- this was one of the first recipes I learned to make, straight from the old Girl Scout handbook when I was trying to earn the merit badge for cooking.  There are a surprising number of variations for this simple recipe, but the one I remember had noodles, tuna, peas, cream of mushroom soup, some milk, and a topping of crushed potato chips.  It can be a bit bland, so season accordingly -- I may just add some dried dill to mine, and some people add shredded cheese for more flavor.  Sadly, cans of tuna have gotten smaller since my childhood days.  Back in the day they were about seven ounces and now they are down to five -- use either one or two cans as you see fit.  You might want to save some crushed potato chips to sprinkle on the casserole when serving, for added crunch.  The following is the version of Tuna Noodle Casserole that I will be making as I attempt to clear out our food pantry, and I know I am going to enjoy it!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

8 oz. egg noodles, cooked and drained
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 C. milk
1 or 2 cans (5 oz. each) tuna, drained
2 C. frozen peas, thawed
salt and pepper to taste
1 C. lightly crushed potato chips

Mix soup with milk until smooth.  Combine all ingredients except potato chips.  Pour into a greased casserole dish and top with potato chips.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until bubbly.  Sprinkle individual servings with additional crushed potato chips if desired.  Serves 4.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: "Portlandia"-Inspired Rooms

I have only recently become aware of the hit comedy series "Portlandia", but like so many others I am now a huge fan of their unique and quirky humor.  Last week a post on the HGTV Design Happens blog mentioned a "Portlandia" segment called "Put a Bird on It" that was so hilarious I practically fell out of my chair laughing!  The same post also provided a link to this outlandishly beautiful Louisa Cockatoo Settee from Anthropologie:

This got me to thinking that it might be amusing to combine the unique and quirky humor of "Portlandia" with the unique and quirky style of Anthropologie.  Here is the result:

"Put Lots of Birds on It" Sitting Room
Clockwise from top left: Mantadia CurtainsIf...Then PillowBertram Florence ChairMantadia RugTree of Life Framed ArtIllusion End TablePlumage ShadeReclaimed Coffee Table; Louisa Cockatoo Settee; Center: Etched Arcadia Mural Wallpaper

For a slightly less bird-obsessed design, check this out:

"Put Fewer Birds on It" Bedroom
Left to right, top row: Cockatoo BeddingWoodland Slumber Canopy Bed; Fleece Flounce Throw
Center: Ivory Etched Dresser
Left to Right, bottom row: Euphrates Rug; Greenport Nightstand; Sort Sol Lamp Base

Is this life imitating art or art imitating life?  I have no idea, but I do know that these style boards were a lot of fun to create and are enjoyable to look at, and there is nothing wrong with that!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wish List Wednesdays: Terrarium Pendant Lamp

I love to check out the new arrivals at Anthropologie.  Many of the items found here are outrageously expensive, but I appreciate the fact that you can always expect the unexpected!  A great example is this Terrarium Pendant Lamp -- part mood lighting and part plant habitat, it will certainly be a conversation piece in anyone's home.  Yes, I know that at almost $1,000 it is quite pricey, but where else would you possibly find something as different and innovative as this?  And what a great splurge for someone who would love to have plants but doesn't have the right growing conditions in their abode!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Pasta with Manchego Cheese and Chorizo Sausage

From Pots & Plots

Ever since we received a food order from La Tienda, I have been mildly obsessed with Spanish foods.  Last week I posted a recipe using the miniature chorizo sausages we got.  This week I decided to find a recipe that would use some of the aged Manchego cheese that came in our order.  A recipe for Fancy Manchego Mac with Chorizo from Rachael Ray fit the bill nicely.  I modified the recipe slightly based on the ingredients I had available, and still ended up with a quick and delicious dish that is worth making again.  I used Mexican rather than Spanish chorizo because that was what the store had.  I was afraid that it would be too spicy (I am not a big fan of overly spicy foods), but the heat level was just right.  In fact, this pasta dish is so good I am going to have it for dinner tonight!

Pasta with Manchego Cheese and Chorizo Sausage

1 lb. rotini pasta, cooked and drained
8 oz. raw chorizo sausage, casings removed
3 T. butter
1 medium red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. flour
1/3 C. sherry
1 C. chicken broth
1 C. whole milk or light cream
2 C. shredded Manchego cheese
2 C. frozen peas, thawed
1/2 C. chopped fresh parsley

Fry the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 3 minutes, breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon while cooking.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Wipe the skillet clean, then add the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the flour, then the sherry.  Stir in the broth and milk and cook, stirring, until thickened.  Reduce heat to low and stir in the cheese.  After the cheese melts, stir in the peas.  Combine the pasta and sausage, then stir in the cheese sauce.  Add the parsley and serve.  Serves 6.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: Mum's the Word!

From Wendy's Flowers

Lately I have noticed a lot of home décor and even fashion items with a chrysanthemum theme.  For example, check out the latest Gump's catalog, which includes a rug, pillows, and even dinnerware featuring this lovely fall flower.  Since I was not able to download the images from Gump's, I decided to search for more examples of the chrysanthemum craze.  Here are a few of my finds:

From La Différence

From Beyond the Vine

From RoomStore

From Design Public

From innamorarsi

From Bed Bath & Beyond


From The Company Store

From Bobby Berk Home

From Nordstrom

From Donna Karan Home Collections (no longer available)


From deviantART

From Viva Terra

From Faviewer

From Etsy

I'm certainly not going to keep mum about this trend -- chrysanthemums are all the rage right now, and I'm all for it!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wish List Wednesdays: Black & Blum Salad Plant

Have you resolved to eat healthier for the New Year?  If so, then this Black & Blum Salad Plant is for you!  Who wouldn't want to create a tasty and nutritious salad with the help of this set, which includes a two-piece salad-serving "plant" and a handy "pot" for whisking up some homemade salad dressing?  The salad servers store conveniently in the pot when not in use, and the set is attractive enough to leave out on display, encouraging you to mix up another salad soon.  And the $25 price tag is quite reasonable.  I think even I might be able to stick with a healthy eating New Year's resolution if I had one of these to help me!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

From Reader's Digest

Recently we received a gift order from La Tienda, a Spanish food catalog, that included two packages of miniature Spanish chorizo links.  Having never cooked with these before, I decided to try a recipe from Nigella Lawson that combined chicken pieces and potatoes with these sausages in a fast and easy oven roast.  It was an instant hit, and I will be making it again soon!  I halved the original recipe since there are only two of us, and used chicken breasts instead of thighs since I prefer white meat to dark.  I increased the amount of olive oil and decreased the cooking time by fifteen minutes to keep the chicken moist.  I also added a bag of pre-sliced carrot coins.  While I did not add any extra salt or seasonings to this recipe, as the chorizo has enough of both to flavor the dish for my taste, add some salt and pepper if you like.  By the way, I highly recommend the Tetilla cheese and Galician bread from La Tienda as well -- try toasting the cheese on the bread for a delightful version of a grilled cheese sandwich.  I will definitely be ordering from this catalog again!

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

1/4 C. olive oil
3 lbs. chicken breast halves (with skin and bones intact), cut in half
1 lb. miniature chorizo sausages, links separated
24 oz. small new potatoes, halved, or quartered if large
1 bag (16 oz.) carrot coins
1 red onion, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
grated zest and juice of 1 orange

Toss the chicken pieces with the orange juice and 2 T. of oil in a shallow roasting pan.  Push to one side, add the potatoes, carrots, and sausages, and toss with another 2 T. of oil.  Spread the potato mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan, then nestle in the chicken pieces.  Scatter the onions over the top.  Sprinkle the oregano over the chicken pieces and top with the orange zest.  Drizzle with more oil.  Roast at 425 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring the contents in the pan juices occasionally.  I like to turn off the oven and let the pan sit in the closed oven for another 15 minutes, since I think this allows more flavor to be absorbed into the chicken and vegetables.  Serves 6.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: A Room with a View


I saw this photo on the HGTV website the other day and was captivated by the view from those picture windows.  It certainly doesn't hurt that the room is gorgeous as well!  This image inspired me to search for other beautiful rooms with spectacular views:

From AsiaInterior.NET

From Trend House Design

From Interior Design and Decoration Ideas

From Home Architectural Design

From Architecturezine

From Design Home Interior

From Archithings

From Decoist

From Home Design Home

From Arch Daily

From Home for Future

From Home Design Decorating

From Miauu Interior Design

From Home Design Inspiration
From Donco Designs

From Kitchen Distributors

From Kitchen Ideas

From Always on Vacation

Fallingwater from Wide World of Geometry

These views are a veritable feast for the eyes!  If you are lucky enough to live in a home with a beautiful room that also has a spectacular view like any of these, then you are definitely lucky enough!