I can still remember vividly drawing out floor plans, while spread out on the living room floor as a child. The books I read at the time were so in depth with their descriptions. From the characters themselves to the homes they lived in, my mind swooned with imagination. Mom would give me a stack of paper and a pencil and I would spend hours drawing out each room. Our living room had the best natural light in the house and it was also the most quiet. Seems like every house in the seventies and eighties had a separate living room space that was only used for special occasions. Also, ours had cozy, light blue carpet and wallpaper with gold trees. The room was magical to me.
It was a natural fit to study design, so that’s what I pursued in college. To be real though, I was a little late with that realization, so my bachelors degree in interior design, came in my late twenties. After graduating, I married my longtime sweetheart and moved to the beach. While there, I opened A Keen Design. (Keen was my maiden name) It was exciting to work with clients to help them find their style and make their homes reflect more of who they were. But after a few years of running my own business, I decided to close the doors.
Fast forward the clock ten years and I’m happily thriving with my husband on the other side of the state, with my mom one block away and my baby sister two miles away. I have some of the best friends and know that I’m blessed. I try my best not to ever take them for granted. What I do struggle with is not doing as much design work here. I have clients occasionally that I do some work for, and when that happens, there’s a light that feeds my soul. Recently, I had a return client who asked me to renovate his master bedroom. I had the reveal yesterday. There’s not much that compares to the feeling of making someone happy, and yesterday, my client was really happy. I’ve had permagrin since. So thank you to those of you that trust me to find your vision. It fills my cup.
I’ve had a plethora of emotions in 2017, and it’s only mid-February.
There’s the political atmosphere that keeps my heart rate up.
Balancing this “working from home” thing, that’s still pretty new.
Working on bettering myself as a writer, a designer and cook…
I never want to disappoint or fall short, but I know that I often do. This human thing can be tricky and tiring.
Recently, I’ve been re-charged by a returning interior design client. I’m finishing up this week, so I’ll post some fun before and afters soon. It’s always an interesting challenge to help a client “see” what they really want. It’s also a challenge not to do everything the way I want to do it. It’s like a marriage, there’s a lot of compromise to get things right.
My love of food has completely consumed me and I’m looking into the logistics of catering. I’ve worked in enough restaurants in the past to know that I’m not cut out for the whole shabang. I’ve taken some samples to friends and asked for feedback. Here’s a few I tried this week. They were all gluten-free. And yes, I’m still working on my cookbook.
I’ve been studying my way through the wine regions of Europe. Italy was fun. I’m now working on France and starting with the Champagne region. 🙂 I follow so many wonderful wine bloggers online, like https://winewankers.com/ https://thedrunkencyclist.com/ https://talk-a-vino.com/ and https://pleasebringmemywine.com/ The more I read, the more I appreciate the efforts that each of these bloggers makes to educate us mere mortals on the intimacies of wine. I write this with the utmost respect for each of them. As hard as I try to decipher the aromas and tastes that grace my palate, I still haven’t been able to tell you if there’s a minerality or smokiness to my wine. I’ve resorted to looking up the descriptions online about each bottle and then trying to “sniff and taste” them out. So kudos to those of you that can; it’s not like I haven’t finished off enough glasses to have a minor in Wino.
So as I continue to work on my plans for this year, I hope you’ll continue to follow along with my progress. Clearly, I have a lot on my mind, and need to work on completing some of the ones that I’ve already started, versus adding more to the list. And is it acceptable to open a bottle of wine before noon on a Wednesday? Never mind. I’ve actually got to get some things done, but a girl can dream.
Believe it or not, it had never crossed my mind to make these at home before yesterday. As a southerner, born and raised, I have an intimate relationship with this combination. Just the mention of it causes my mouth to salivate. So in celebration of finishing a self imposed 21 day detox, I fried chicken.
Ingredients for Fried Chicken:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup half and half
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tbsp. butter
Cut each chicken breast into three pieces. Sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper on both sides. Fill two separate pie or casserole dishes with flour in one and half and half in the other. Mix honey into the half and half mixture. Dredge chicken in flour, followed by half and half, and then back to the flour once more. I use tongs to lessen the “biscuit fingers”
Heat a large skillet with the canola oil to medium-high heat. When hot, add butter and use a spatula to mix it into the oil. Add chicken to pan. It should immediately start to sizzle. If it doesn’t, your pan isn’t hot enough. (this can make the chicken greasy) Cook each piece for 3-5 minutes per side. Try to only flip once. Make sure that chicken is cooked until the juices run clear and there is no pink left inside. Cut it open in the middle if you question it, at all.
Ingredients for waffles:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup milk
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup canola oil
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the waffle iron until ready. Beat the eggs with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add in flour, milk, half and half, canola oil, sugar, baking powder, honey, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Once the mix is smooth, set aside for 2-3 minutes.
Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and ladle mix into the iron. Cook until golden brown.
Place one waffle on a plate and top with 2-3 pieces of fried chicken. Add a few tbsp. of butter to the hot waffle and pour maple syrup over the whole plate. Serve hot! Depending on your hunger level, this either serves 2 or 4 people. My waffle iron makes large waffles that could easily be cut in half.
This is not gluten free or low in fat, but it’s entirely worth the splurge.
Today was pretty low key and awesome. After a leisurely morning catching up on things, the hubs and I decided to take a ride out to Saxpahaw. We were both desiring brunch at The Eddy. It’s one of those places that can make you feel a little uncool, because the servers, bartenders and most of the customers are bohemian/hipster and awesome. I love it and can’t get enough of it. The menu changes often, paying close attention to what’s local and what’s in season. The people watching is a bonus, guilty pleasure of mine.
Anyway, after lunch, I stopped in at Left Bank Butchery. It’s the local butcher that supplies pasture fed and slow-raised meats. The Italian sausage was one of those things that I couldn’t pass up. We usually eat chicken or turkey sausages, so this was a decadent treat, but life is short. So tonight I made this stew using up items that I already had at the house and it turned out to be a winner, so I hope you will try it, too.
32 ounce Beef Broth (4 cups) (Gluten Free)
1 small Yellow Onion diced
1 medium Sweet Potato, peeled & cubed
1 15 ounce can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
1 28 ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
1 pound Italian Sausage links whole
1 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
1/4 cup roughly chopped Spinach
2 large Garlic Cloves diced
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tsp. chopped Parsley
Add butter and olive oil to a large pot on medium-high heat. Once butter has melted, add the sausage links. Cook for 3 minutes on each side. Remove links and set aside. Add onions to the grease and cook for 2-3 minutes until browned. Add garlic and let cook for about a minute. Stir often. Add the beef broth, cannellini beans, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red pepper, salt, pepper and sweet potato and bring to a high boil. While heating, cut sausage links into approximately 2 inch rounds. Add sausage and spinach back to the pot and turn heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes. To serve, top stew with parmesan cheese, parsley and bread.
When your yard still looks like a winter wonderland, you make chowder. Today is day five of the Snowmageddon. The first day was super fun, filled with four-wheeling, sledding, mimosas & bloody Mary’s, friends and even a Krispy Kreme doughnut. It was a great day. Day two was a day spent at home with the hubs in front of a fire looking at the beautiful snow and catching up on reading. Day three, the hubs had to go back to work, which meant I needed to get my act together. Day four, I braved the grocery store to re-stock and make chowder. It was awesome. I didn’t finish until late last night, because I snuck out for a Tai Chi class with the girls. (worth it) So Day five, I’m posting the recipe. I hope you like it. The garlic takes on a sweet taste after roasting it. Enjoy and stay warm!
Two large heads of garlic
3 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 cups chicken broth (I used organic with no salt)
1/2 large Yellow, sweet onion-diced
Salt & Pepper
4 tbsp butter (I use Irish butter)
1 tbsp olive oil
Green onion for garnish
Directions For Roasting Garlic:
Remove most of the outer paper on garlic, leaving the cloves attached. Use a very sharp knife to cut off the tops. Set onto a small sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil on top. Wrap the aluminum foil tightly around the garlic head. Place oven rack in the middle and set oven to 400°. (I wrapped each head separately) Place these wrapped bundles on the middle rack once the oven has preheated and roast for forty minutes. Turn off the oven and let sit for another thirty minutes to an hour. You can’t really roast these too long. They just get better.
Directions for Chowder:
Roast Garlic in the oven. Peel the potatoes and cut into 2 inch pieces. Boil the potatoes until fork tender. Remove potatoes and place in a bowl until ready to use again. In the same boiler used for the potatoes, wipe out the bottom and add butter and olive oil. Place temperature on medium high heat. Once the butter has melted, add diced onion and saute for a few minutes until soft and golden. Slowly add the chicken broth and potatoes back into the pot. Bring to a simmer. Squeeze softened, roasted garlic into the pot with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a few minutes and remove from heat. Use an immersion blender or a regular blender to make chowder smooth. Once onions and potatoes are blended, add in cream slowly and blend one more time.
Add a few green onions for garnish. Sour cream, cheese and cooked bacon are nice additions, too.
For lunch, this chowder can stand on its own with a side of bread, but for dinner, I added a ribeye and a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing.
Well, it’s January 9th, so this idea for a Christmas gift comes either extremely early, or way too late. I’m going to say I’m just really on it this year and wanted to give everyone a heads up for December 2017. Glass half full, remember?
One of my friends has a great blog called Crazy Blonde Life. She is a lifestyle blogger. Last fall she posted a homemade detox bath that looked pretty awesome. I’m a huge fan of any kind of detox. My lifestyle requires that I do them. I love to eat, drink and be merry. Shocker, I know. Anyway, I tried a similar version for myself and was really surprised at the results. The combination of the peroxide and the Epson salts left me feeling refreshed and very relaxed. Sooooo, I decided that I would give the gift of health to my besties. Of course with the addition of some Prosecco to be consumed at a later date.
The idea behind a detox bath is to do it when you have not been drinking. In Crazy Blonde’s post, she talked about dry brushing, too. Have any of you ever done this yourself? I’ve been sloughed and scrubbed at spas before, but I had never actually done it myself. In each basket I included a scrub brush for dry-brushing, Epson salts, liquid Epson salts, peroxide and a few other knick knacks. My new favorite is Dr. Teal’s Ginger and Clay Epson Salts, which is what I put in the mason jars. With it was included the liquid version in a small glass jar. Crazy Blonde suggested essential oils, too. Since I was making them for different people, I couldn’t decide on a scent, so I just skipped that part in the gift. I bought the baskets at a craft store. In some of the baskets, I included magazines, or a book, or even slippers. I didn’t want them all to be identical, and I wanted there to be some personalization. They seemed to be a big hit, so I thought I’d share. Try it at home for yourself. Here’s the link to Crazy Blonde’s original detox post.
With the snow approaching at lightning speed, I had a lot on my to-do list today. The hubs requested that I make the home improvement stop for Ice Melt and Fire Starters and also the Liquor store to up his supply of Makers Mark. With that done, I had my own list to attend to, which was mainly going to the dreaded grocery store. Whenever the forecast calls for snow, there’s a mad dash to clean out the grocery stores of bread, milk, eggs, water…You get it. I needed to get there before it was all gone. I decided that chicken pastry was going to be one of the things that I was going to make.
Growing up with a southern mom means that I was very familiar with the process of making pastry from scratch and rolling it out on the table, boiling a whole chicken, and putting a lot of TLC into it, but alas, I’m from a different generation that is often looking for speed. Today, I bought a rotisserie chicken, organic chicken broth, and my latest find…dried pastry in the noodle section. After gobbling my bowl up tonight, I didn’t feel I was really missing anything. (Well, nothing will ever beat moms) Anyway, I’m still really happy with the results. If you are feeling the need for some fast comfort food that you can make at home, look no further than this recipe.
1 rotisserie chicken
2-32 ounce boxes of chicken broth
1/2 box of McLib’s Dried Southern Dumplings
1/2 Yellow Onion-diced
3 large garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Add olive oil and butter to a large stock pot and heat until glistening. Add diced onion and cook for about two minutes on high until softened. Add garlic and continue to cook for another minute until fragrant. Slowly pour in the chicken broth and heat to simmering. In the meantime, remove the chicken meat off of the store-bought chicken and chop white and dark meat up. Add chicken to the pot with salt and pepper to taste. You have just made chicken and pastry that tastes like homemade in about ten minutes. I hope you like it. I’ll be hitting the treadmill though. eeek. It’s not a diet recipe.
It’s been rainy and chilly again today, which in turn means it is time to pull out the crock pot! For me-eating a large bowl of soup is like taking a long, hot bath. It warms me to the bone like nothing else. With that in mind, I started hunting for the perfect soup.
I looked through a lot of my previous soup recipes and one of them for Jalapeno & Bean Chicken Soup enticed me. It inspired me to write this recipe. Since I’m trying to eat healthier, I added Kale and made sure that my ingredients were all low-or-no sodium components. And because I love the hot stuff, I added extra heat by including the cayenne and red pepper flakes. Somehow the jalapenos didn’t sound like enough heat. So if you’re feeling like you need a pick-me-up, I hope you’ll try this recipe and let me know your thoughts.
This stuff is not for the faint of heart. If you can’t take the heat…don’t even try it.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
1-14.5 ounce can of Diced Tomatoes (low sodium or no salt added)
1-16 ounce can of Northern Beans
1-16 ounce can of Navy Beans
1 large bunch of organic baby Kale-approximately 4 ounces
4 large cloves of garlic minced-approximately 1 tbsp.
1/2 large jalapeno diced with ribs and seeds removed-approximately 1 tbsp.
1 tsp. Cumin
1/8 tbsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
4 large cloves of garlic minced-approximately 1 tbsp.
1/2 large jalapeno diced with ribs and seeds removed-approximately 1 tbsp.
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
Topping Suggestions for Serving:
Juice of 2 Fresh Limes (optional
Tortilla Chips (optional)
Hot Sauce (optional)
2 Avocados (optional)
Hot canned Jalapenos (optional)
1 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro (optional)
Drizzle Olive Oil in the base of your Crock pot and top with chicken breasts. Salt and Pepper both sides of the chicken. Sprinkle cumin and cayenne pepper on top of the chicken. Add baby Kale. Drain beans and add to pot. Add diced tomatoes-juice and all. Pour the chicken broth in and add the garlic and jalapeno. Heat to high for 4-6 hours until the chicken is done. Remove chicken from pot and shred and then add back to the pot.
Serve with a squeeze of lime juice, cilantro-if you like it, a couple slices of avocado, sour cream and tortilla chips. Enjoy!
In the last few years I have fallen in love with green juices. Luckily we have a great local juice bar, The Blend Boutique, to fill my needs. But some days, I just don’t want to leave the house to buy one, so I made this recipe to satiate my green juice cravings. It’s spicy and refreshing. After a full holiday season of over-indulging, it’s time for me to get it together. Even though I love the juices made with Kale and Collards, this one has more citrus in the recipe. It’s my version of cold medicine.
1/2 English cucumber
1/2 of a large jalapeno (ribs and seeds removed)
1/2″ piece of fresh ginger
Juice of 1/2 of a lime
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1 tsp fresh parsley
1 cup fresh pineapple
1 cup ice
When I first started making juices, I used a Magic Bullet blender. These are affordable and available everywhere. I upgraded last year to the Ninja blender and love it, but either of these do a great job.
Wash fruit. Peel cucumber and fresh ginger. Cut open avocado and add the meat of the fruit to the blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. This recipe yields one 20 ounce glass (give or take, depending on the size of your fruit)
Jalapeno can easily be left out of the recipe, but the extra kick from the Capsaicin has many good healing qualities that make it worth adding.
I’ve been wanting to create my own butternut squash soup recipe all week. I finally had the time today to work on the recipe. The hubs and I really like it. I hope you do, too.
4 pounds butternut squash
4 tbsp butter (I use Irish butter)
4 tbsp olive oil (2 for sauteing and 2 for roasting)
6 cups chicken broth
4 large shallots
4 large garlic cloves
2 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup chardonnay
Blue cheese for garnish
Cut butternut squash in half length wise and remove seeds. Peel carrot and place the squash and carrot on a heavy sheet pan and drizzle well with olive oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper and lightly dust with cumin. Roast for 40-60 minutes at 400 degrees until fork tender. (like a baked potato)
While the squash and carrot are roasting, heat a large soup pot with 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil. Dice garlic and shallots, add to pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper, saute for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Pour in the wine and stir. Let simmer until most of the wine has evaporated and add the 4 cups of the chicken broth. Heat until simmering then turn the temperature to low, add brown sugar, maple syrup, 1 tsp cumin and cover.
Allow squash and carrot to cool some once they are roasted. Remove the flesh of the squash and add all of the meat to the pot of broth. Cut carrot into fourths and add to pot. Add the rest of the chicken broth. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup together. Heat to a simmer, add last 2 tbsp of butter and stir. Serve with a little blue cheese and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Enjoy!
This recipe yields 4 quarts. I wanted to make more to share with friends, but it is also an easy way to make soup ahead of time for your own family. Just make sure to can properly and date. Here’s a great reference for canning soup.
*Vegetable broth can be exchanged for the chicken broth to make this vegetarian.