Tools to Have Around the House

Image

This pink tool box was one of the greatest high school graduation presents I got! I have used its contents countless times and don’t know what I would do without it. This is one accessory no woman should go without.

Here is my list of top ten tools to have around the house.

Image

1. Hammer: Hanging up wall art and seasonal decor

2. Screw Drivers (Phillips and Flat-blade): Assembling furniture

3. Staple Gun: Hanging Christmas lights around your home or garden, reupholstering furniture and attaching curtain ties

Image

4. Exacto Knife: Great for cutting tape when painting or tracing paper molds to hang a wall collage

5. Wrench: When you made a mistake and need to get that nail or screw out. Oops!

6. Drill: Hanging up curtains, shelves or building gardening boxes and other fun things

Image

7. Pliers: Get a good grip on anything you can’t pull out with your bare hands

8. Sander and Sand Paper: For the crafty woman who likes to refinish furniture or to smooth out any rough surface

Image

9. Nails and Hooks: To hang up wall art and seasonal decor – you’ll always need them.

10. Measuring Tape: FOR EVERYTHING! Measuring the perfect position while hanging wall art, making sure the furniture you liked at the store will fit into the space you have, laying out plans for your living room to space out everything perfectly. (I recommend a travel measuring tape as well to keep in your purse – just in case you find something you love on the go!)

Image

You can get your own Pink Ladies Tool kit here : http://www.collectionsetc.com/Product/105-piece-pink-ladies-tool-kit.aspx?utm_source=www.google.com&utm_medium=CSE&mr:trackingCode=3DFDD1BF-696A-E111-9D2A-001517B188A2&mr:referralID=NA

Decorating with Herbs: Mint

Image

It’s great to mix it up a little by using herbs instead of flowers to decorate your home. This mint makes a beautiful arrangement while also making your home smell amazing!

Image

Mint is one of those plants that will keep growing and growing anywhere you plant it! You will have plenty to cook with and decorate with.

Image

Can’t wait to think of fun recipes to use the mint with! Any ideas?

Grilled Artichokes

Image

It’s artichoke season! March through May is the most popular time for artichokes and I try and get my hands on as many as possible! These spiky little green balls can be intimidating at first, but are so delicious once you figure out the best way to cook them. One of my favorite ways is to grill them.

Image

Harvesting artichokes is really easy using gardening sheers – you just cut right through the stem. The stem is one of the best parts of an artichoke so I like to cut about 4 inches down from the bulb.

Image

The hardest part of cooking artichokes is cleaning and prepping them – but it really just comes down to four steps.

Image

STEP 1: Slice them in half. I like to take the point of a large sharp knife in the stem at the base of the bulb and cut through the whole choke first, then the stem.

Image

STEP 2:  Cut off the hard top of each leaf with scissors.

Image

STEP 3: Scoop out the center of the artichoke with a spoon. Remove the hairy fibers covering the heart and the inner purple spiny leaves. Be careful not to take out pieces of the heart but still be firm with the spoon.

Image

STEP 4: Peel the stem using a normal vegetable peeler until it turns bright green.

Image

Once the artichoke is prepped immediately place in a pot of water with lemons to keep it green. Boil artichokes for about 25 minutes until the heart is fork tender and the outer leaves can easily be pulled off.

Image

Drain the artichokes and pat them dry with paper towels to remove and access moister. Cover with coarse black pepper and sea salt.

Image

Grill face down on high heat for 3-5 minutes and serve!

Image

These grilled artichokes go great with a lemon Dijon aioli dipping sauce. Simply combine: 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of Dijon Mustard, the juice of one lemon and salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo Margarita Bar!

Image

I thought a fun way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo was a do-it-yourself margarita bar, because let’s be honest – I can’t always be the hostess with the mostest – so make your own damn drink!

Image

I put out 3 different kinds of juice: classic lime, orange and grapefruit, and raspberries, blackberries, and lime slices as garnish.

Image

Can’t forget the tequila and Cointreau!

IMG_8709

I put out instructions for a classic margarita – but let my guests decide what fruit juice and garnish they’d like.

IMG_8665

Two combinations I liked were 1 ounce of lime juice and 2 ounces of grapefruit, mixed with both blackberries and limes.

IMG_8652

My other favorite was simply using orange juice with raspberries.

IMG_8646

I think mango and pineapple could be a fun addition to this margarita bar as well. What are some of your favorite margarita recipes?

Sauteed Zucchini with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Image

I hated zucchini my whole life – all squash for that matter. My boss gave me some huge zucchini from her garden and I had no idea what to do with them but didn’t want to say ‘no thanks’. I decided to mix it with my favorite vegetable- tomato, and my favorite herb – basil, thus starting my obsession with zucchini!

Image

INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes

2 Medium Zucchini

1/4 Cup Chopped Basil

1 Tablespoon of Butter

2 Chopped Garlic Cloves

1 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

Salt & Pepper to Taste

First chopped the basil, slice the cherry tomatoes in half and the zucchini into 1/4 inch wide slices.

Image

Image

Melt butter on high heat and add the zucchini. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and garlic.

Image

Sautee for about five minutes until the zucchini is tender and slightly browned.

Image

Add tomatoes until they are heated through, about 3 minutes. And finally add the basil for the final minute.

Image

Now that all the veggies are warm and tender they are ready to serve. This salad can stand alone, or be served along side a protein like my whole grain mustard salmon…

Image

or tossed with pasta. You decide!

Image

Easy-Peasy Picnic

Image

I was so excited to go on a picnic with my friends this weekend. I normally would have loved to whip up some fun sandwiches and dips, but I was just too exhausted. Lucky my local grocery store came to the rescue!

Image

Instead of just grabbing sandwiches and calling it a day, finger foods from pretty much any market can make for a more fun and special meal. There’s no science to the perfect combination of food – see what’s fresh at the store and what you’re in the mood for!

ImageImage

I chose 2 cheeses – a soft Bree and Humboldt fog goat cheese, 2 cured meats – prosciutto and salami, a crusty sourdough baguette, herb bread sticks, strawberries, sparkling water, mixed olives, a marinated artichoke, red pepper and mushroom salad and almonds.

Image

( I like that you can eat all of these items with your fingers )

Image

In addition to food some good things to pack are: plastic cups, napkins, cheese knives, a cutting board and sunscreen!

Image

Malibu Winery was the perfect escape for our picnic. What are other great spots?

Braised Fennel and Arugula

Image

Fennel is the most underrated vegetable. It tastes amazing raw and cooked, and does wonders for the digestion – or so every Italian will tell you.

Image

INGREDIENTS:

3 Fennel Bulbs

1 1/2 Cups of White Wine

2 Ounces of Olive Oil

2 Ounces of Lemon Juice

1/4 Cup of Sliced Cerignola Olives

3 Cups of Baby Arugula

Braising is a method of cooking that uses both wet and dry heat. Meaning that for this recipe, I pan sear the fennel to get a nice brown crust, and then simmer it in the white wine until it is soft and tender.

ImageImage

To prepare the fennel, first cut off the top stalks. Slice the bulbs into about half-inch thick disks and discard the hard center parts. Break the disks apart into its natural segments.

Image

Over high heat, sautee fennel with a little bit of olive oil for about four minutes or until the edges are browned.

Image

While the fennel browns, prepare the liquids. Combine lemon juice, olive oil and white wine.

Image

I’m a firm believer in cooking with wine that you like to drink, but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. I found this bottle of Pinot Grigio at my local market – it’s dry and crisp and was under $7.

Image

Also slice the olives in quarters and remove the pits.

Image

Add the liquid and olives to the pan and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until the fennel is tender.

Image

Immediately toss with 3 cups of baby arugula and serve – no need for dressing!

Image

I paired this wonderful salad with a panko-crusted halibut fillet. Please enjoy!

Also check out this Roasted Fennel and Citrus Salad- I can’t wait to try it out! : http://loveandcupcakesblog.com/2013/03/22/happy-friday-from-the-kitchen-roasted-fennel-citrus-salad/

Not Your Average Pasta Salad: Lemon Orzo

Image

This is my favorite go-to pasta salad. Combining orzo with tart lemon juice, peppery arugula, creamy goat cheese and juicy shrimp makes this recipe a show stopper, and it’s so simple to make!

Image

INGREDIENTS:

1 Box of Orzo

1/4 Pound of Peeled Shrimp

3 Cups of Baby Arugala

2 Ounces of Lemon Juice

2 Ounces of Olive Oil

1 Cup of Artichoke Hearts

1 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes

1/2 Cup Goat Cheese Crumbles

1/4 Cup Chopped Basil

1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

1/2 Teaspoon of Pepper

1/8 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

Image

Cook the orzo in boiling water for nine minutes until al dente.

Image

While the pasta cooks, I like to make the lemon vinaigrette. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of both salt and pepper. Immediately pour over strained orzo in a salad bowl and mix through until it coats all the pasta. Let the orzo sit for ten minutes to absorb.

Image

Once the orzo has cooled slightly, toss with the baby arugula.

Image

Peel the shrimp and remove the tails. I like to use a medium sized shrimp so that it’s easy to eat. Lightly pat them down with a paper towel to remove any extra moisture. Season both sides with remaining salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Image

Sautee on high heat with a little olive oil for about five minutes, until the shrimp are slightly browned and no longer translucent.

Image

While the shrimp cook, I like to prepare the other ingredients. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, cut the artichokes into bite size pieces and chop basil.

Image

Add everything to the orzo and serve! This can be eaten warm or cold – it’s great both ways.

Image

Sometimes I replace the shrimp with sausage which is also a big hit! What I like about this salad is that there is a treat in every bite. You don’t have to dig through it to get to the good stuff because it’s all delicious. I hope you enjoy!

Image

This orzo recipe was inspired by Ina Garten’s which is always fantastic: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/orzo-with-roasted-vegetables-recipe/index.html