Friday, August 14, 2015

Recipe | Roasted Shrimp with Feta + Breadcrumbs

Can you tell summer is winding down by my increased number of food related blog posts? ;)  I even turned my oven on for dinner last night! Summer is all about fresh and simple, maybe even a bit lazy, meals for us.  I'm occasionally inspired to try new salad or grilling recipes, but outside of that, my repertoire stays very limited - lots of sliced tomatoes and grilled, marinated chicken!

By mid to late August I get the itch to be a little more creative with my meal planning.  Heck, I actually start meal planning again  - something else that goes remiss in the summer.  However, I'm not exactly craving pork roasts or stuffed squash yet, which is why this recipe is so perfect this time of year.  It is one of my all time favorite shrimp dishes and I'm shocked I haven't blogged about it before.  In fact, I was certain I had till I went searching through old posts.  It's an old Barefoot Contessa recipe that doesn't need any tweaking whatsoever.

It is best eaten outside and shared with friends (in my case, my family.)  I usually serve it with a salad and a good baguette, but last night I served it alongside spaghetti tossed with a little salt and olive oil.  It is healthier than Shrimp Scampi and makes your kitchen smell incredible, Andrew came in from a bike ride and took a big inhale and said, it smells so good in here!  My once picky eater now loves this dinner!  Fennel, garlic and tomato is such a good combination alongside seafood.  Hope it becomes a favorite in your home too!

Recipe | Roasted Shrimp with Feta + Breadcrumbs
(source: Barefoot Contessa)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-diced fennel
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic 
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod (I skip this)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds (16 to 20 per pound) peeled shrimp with tails on
  • 5 ounces good feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs 
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 lemons 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-or 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the fennel and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fennel is tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes with the liquid, tomato paste, oregano, Pernod (if using), salt, and pepper to the skillet. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Arrange the shrimp, tails up, in one layer over the tomato-mixture in the skillet. Scatter the feta evenly over the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest  with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle over the shrimp.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot with the remaining lemon cut into wedges.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Recipe | Berry + Lemon Croissant Overnight Breakfast Bake

As soon as I came across this recipe on Pinterest I knew I would make it.  I love breakfasts and desserts that include warm berries, add in croissants and cream cheese PLUS the benefit of making it ahead of time, and you have a winner in my book!

This will be my new go to recipe when I volunteer to bring the main dish for teacher breakfasts or events. In fact, the first time I made it, I doubled the recipe and put in in a 9 x 13 baking dish to take for coaches and volunteers at the morning session of this summer's swim team championships.  The dish was a HUGE hit.

I've made a couple modifications to the original recipe because I  can't help but add lemon when berries and cream cheese are in a recipe.  This dish is great served warm, but also holds up well at room temperature after sitting out for a while.

Recipe | Berry & Lemon Croissant Bake
(modified from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

3 large croissants, cut in 1-2 inch pieces (I love Fresh Market's croissants)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1 (8 oz. ) package cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

(Notes: recipe can easily be doubled and placed in a 9x13 inch baking dish or divided equally among 10, 1/2 cup, ramekins for a pretty presentation at a brunch or party.  You can also make with all blueberries too - delish either way!)

Place croissant pieces in a buttered 9 inch square pan or pie dish.  Sprinkle with berries.
Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until fully incorporated, then add lemon zest and vanilla.  Gradually add milk.  Pour mixture evenly over croissants and berries.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove dish from fridge and let stand at room temperature for 25 minutes.  Bake 35-40 minutes until center is set and dish is golden brown.  Cover with foil for the last 10 minutes if top is getting too brown.

Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Recipe | 3 Ingredient Pesto Chicken

This is probably one of the simplest recipes I've ever shared on the blog, but I promise it's still worth making!  Lately, I'm all about keeping it simple for dinner. We are in the last few weeks of summer break and I want to enjoy what's left before the hustle and bustle of the school year is in full swing. I'm not ready...

When I'm short on time or inspiration, this usually ends up on the table.  I made it on vacation in Cape Cod about 3 or 4 years ago and was surprised how much the boys liked it, so it has remained a staple ever since.

Of course you can make your own pesto if you like, but I typically use Trader Joe's Pesto for this recipe, the one in the jar, not the refrigerated kind  It is a pantry staple for me.

I served it with oven roasted potatoes and an arugula salad with Parmesan and a lemon vinaigrette.

Recipe | Pesto Chicken
1 container or jar of pre-made pesto
1 lemon
2 whole chicken breasts (4 pieces)

Flattened each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap with a mallet or rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thickness. Thin out the pre-made pesto with the juice of one lemon.  Generously coat one side of chicken with pesto mixture and place the pesto side of the chicken face down in a warmed skillet or grill pan that has been lightly coated with olive oil over medium heat.  Generously coat the other side of the chicken with the remaining pesto mixture while the bottom cooks.  Flip when bottom is golden and a slight crust has formed, cook the other side the same way.  Enjoy! Make extra because even picky eaters will ask for seconds!

(sorry, not the greatest pics, they were taken right before we ate.. )

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Work | A James Farmer Inspired Master Bedroom

I'm excited to let you peek at plans for a beautiful master bedroom that I've been working on.  There are several reasons I want to share this space, one, because it is one of my favorite rooms (I believe I say that with every new room. Ha.) but it also gives me an opportunity to highlight a little bit of how I like to work with a client as well as share some of my decorating philosophies (that sounds entirely too profound, which it isn't. :))

I didn't take on much new work this summer so I could be present and enjoy the time with my boys.  I did take on one new client, Leanne (wife and boy Mama of the sweetest family in Alabama), and it has been such a pleasure to work with her on their home.  I think I saved my favorite room for last too.  I adore the plans for this bedroom and can't wait to watch it evolve.

This image was the starting point for the room.  Inspiration that Leanne sent my way, from a bedroom designed by the talented James Farmer...

I don't always get inspiration images from clients and that is ok because sometimes I actually prefer to find the jumping off point on my own, but in the case of this bedroom, I was so grateful that Leanne was drawn to this room, it worked out perfectly!  She actually had a whole pinterest board of images, but I noticed this room pinned four times and she had referenced how much she loved the "feeling" of this space.

I started with checks (because as James Farmer likes to say, plaid is his favorite color...), but instead of using them in the bedding, I recommended wallpapering the walls with a medium scale buffalo check paper and using the same print on fabric for drapes.  My inspiration boards aren't meant to be prescriptive though, instead I hope they provide ideas that the homeowner can take and make their own.  There is always a lot of flexibility built into my suggestions.  For example, Leanne already has pretty plantation shutters in the room, so drapes are really optional.  And while I suggested this soft blue check, I also gave her options for more muted check patterns that would work equally well.  If wallpaper wasn't in the budget now and needed to wait till down the road, I would suggest using the checks on an upholstered headboard and adding the paper in a few years.

For the other fabrics.. On the bed I suggested classic white linens and a simple coverlet, with a drop dead gorgeous floral fabric on a big bolster, and the blue print fabric on shams.  The green velvet is for throw pillows on a settee, and the bottom fabric for a slipcover on an existing side chair.

For the bed, I suggested a gorgeous four poster spindle bed.  It is a big ticket item though and one that will be saved for over time.  Their current bed still works beautifully in the meantime.  This is another key for me with decorating rooms, I like to put an ideal plan together, even if that means not completing it all right away.  Many people feel pressure to just "finish" a room and when that happens, unless there are unlimited funds (who has unlimited funds?!), you end up making too many compromises, regretting purchases and tiring of the space more quickly.  Patience and prioritizing are key when creating timeless, warm and welcoming rooms.  On the flip, that doesn't mean everything has to be high end, I'm not against Ikea sofas or yard sale spruce ups or catalogue ordered botanicals, etc., but I like to be selective in how often they are used.

Another option, using the bed as inspiration, would be to add a barley twist table as a nightstand to get "the look" in the room while still saving for the bed and then use that table in another spot (they can go anywhere) once the bed is in place.  

 ^^These are the lamps I suggested for the dresser (we are keeping an existing dark stained antique dresser in the room - it works beautifully!).  The green lamps in the inspiration image were my favorite element in the room.  Another option would be to use the less expensive green pottery lamps from Ballard or Pottery Barn, topped with a linen drum shade.  I also recommend reading sconces for either side of the bed.^^

^^Picking up on the bird themed art found in the inspiration image, I found these gorgeous plates along with a series of vintage bird prints to hang on the wall.^^

^^A few more elements for the room that help capture the "feeling" found in the inspiration image- settee, bamboo side table (again, inspired by the bamboo motif on the inspiration image dresser), and a little taxidermy. I also loved the painted mirror in the James Farmer bedroom and suggested a painted armoire to house their TV.  I like mixing in one painted piece in a bedroom or dining room when there are a lot of darker wood antiques to keep it feeling fresh and break up the matchy-matchyness. 

(Out of respect to paying clients I don't provide the sources.  Thanks for understanding.)

PS.  I will try be back this week with some recipes and other fun blog posts... July got away from me a bit and I miss blogging!