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Friday, October 20, 2017

PISTACHIO CAKE

I first had the pleasure of tasting pistachio cake at a vendor tasting several years ago.   It was so yummy.....and I have to tell you I'm not a huge pistachio fan.  They actually called it bread, but the slices were in the shape of a bundt pan.  So after baking a couple other breads recently, I decided to scour the web for some pistachio bread/cake recipes.    I tried two.  The one I'm sharing is by far the better of the two and is baked in a bundt pan.  It's a super easy recipe to make since the foundation is a yellow box cake mix!


INGREDIENTS: 

1 box yellow cake mix
1 box pistachio pudding (3.4 oz)
1 cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
Powdered Sugar


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix at medium speed for two minutes.  If you prefer a little extra color you can add a couple drops of green food color (I did add the color to mine)

Pour into a prepared bundt pan (greased and lightly floured).  Bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Unmold from pan.   Dust with powdered sugar

Enjoy!!


recipe c/o:  www.amandascookin.com

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PUMPKIN BREAD

Our first snowfall of the season happened yesterday, and I promptly ran to the grocery so I could do some baking.  I love to bake, especially during the fall and winter months.  The way the aromas fill the whole house makes me one happy girl!

I have to tell you I'm not a fan of pumpkin pie, something about the consistency.  So, I thought I'd try something else with a "pumpkiny"flavor.  So, I went with a pumpkin bread.  Holy cow.....this recipe was a very pleasant surprise.  Intense pumpkin flavor and really moist!   I dare you to stop at just one piece.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all purpose (for us high altitude folks, I use the King Arthur Hungarian for all my baking)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 15 oz. can 100% pure pumpkin

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray two loaf pans with cooking spray and add parchment paper with about 1" extending over the long sides of the pan to help lift the loaves out after baking.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a bowl; use a whisk to mix well and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter on medium speed until just blended.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Continue beating until very light and fluffy.  Beat in pumpkin.  The mixture might look grainy and curdled....don't fret.

At low speed, beat in flour mixture a little at a time, until well combined.

Turn batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly and bake for 65-75 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let loaves cool about 10 minutes.  Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Enjoy!

Recipe c/o:  www.onceuponachef.com

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

SALTED CARAMEL CHOCOLATE DIP

I just tried this a few days ago when I had several folks over for dinner.  I was looking for something a little different for dessert and this one just sounded like fun.  Something casual, unique....oh, not to mention--yummy!
This dessert dip can be made ahead of time.  No need to chill it.  Just decide what snacks you want to offer with it....and have fun on your presentation.     In my case, I went with Lorna Doones, graham crackers, pretzels, and apple slices.  But, I did just dip one of those luscious strawberries in it that I used for the picture and it was awesome!

INGREDIENTS:

1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened (I went with the 1/3 less fat variety)
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup caramel sauce 
¼-½ cup milk
1 Tbsp. sea salt
2 cups Devil's Food Cake Mix (dry)

DIRECTIONS:

Using an electric mixer, mix together the cream cheese, butter and caramel sauce until smooth.  Add the Devil's Food Cake to the mixture, slowly add some milk as you mix to make it easier to blend.  Add the powdered sugar and milk until you reach the desired consistency.   Finally add the sea salt.  

Enjoy!!

Tip:  In order to maintain the final consistency, it's important NOT to chill it before serving.  I made mine earlier in the day and chose to do that, and it was a complete game changer.   Should you have leftovers....and you very well might since it makes a TON....be sure to take it out of the fridge to reach room temp before serving.  

recipe c/o:  www.tornadoughalli.com

Friday, September 8, 2017

CHICKEN CAPRESE

This recipe has everything you might want in a meal.  It's fast, it's fresh, it's delicious...oh, and it's easy cleanup! You can literally have this cooked and on the dinner table in just about 40 minutes.  Add your favorite side or a fresh salad and you're set.
Everything is cooked in the same skillet, so it's a one pot cleanup.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ tsp. herbes de provence
fresh out of the oven!
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 thick slices mozzarella cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes 
¼ cup basil leaves
2 Tbsp. quality aged balsamic vinegar*

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small prep bowl, combine all of the dry seasonings, with the exception of the basil leaves.  Season the chicken on both sides (I actually had to double the seasonings since my chicken breasts were so large)

Set a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes each side.

Place skillet into the preheated oven and bake until the chicken reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees; about 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and top the chicken breasts with cheese, return to the oven and broil 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is gooey.  Remove and top with tomatoes and basil, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.  

*I tried the balsamic vinegar but due to the consistency it slid right off the breast.  I opted to use a balsamic salad dressing which had more body allowing it to stay on the chicken.  

recipe adapted from:  www.lifemadesimple.com

Monday, September 4, 2017

TULLE BRIDESMAID SKIRTS

One of the special wedding projects I was asked to help with this year, included making tulle skirts for three bridesmaids.  This was an outdoor rustic wedding, which included blue jeans, boots and some fun skirts for the girls!
I chose to make circle skirts to limit the gathers at the waist. There aren't many gals who like a lot of extra fullness at their waistline, so by creating a circle pattern it makes for some fun fullness at the hemline, with a much smoother waistline.

This bride definitely had a vision for her girls, including the boots, denim jackets and wide leather belts.  Such a fun pop of color for the day!

Kaitlyn also asked me to make a couple of other items for her big day.  One was a hairpiece, the other a garter.

The hairpiece I made with layers of off-white fabric and a hint of the purple to match the purple flowers in the bouquets.  I topped it off with a bit of lace, russian netting and a pretty rhinestone button for the center.

The garter was really special since she wanted to incorporate a piece of her Mom's gown.  I chose to use a lace medallion from the bodice and we also added a bow for her "something blue".  Kaitlyn also asked me to make a second one, not because they were having a garter toss, but she wanted to gift it to her single sister as a surprise.  Isn't that sweet? I understand tears flowed when she gave it to her!
It turned out to be a wonderful wedding.  It took place at a private residence with nine acres of open space for hosting a beautiful ceremony and plenty of options for photos that would match the rustic theme.

The reception was a BBQ, followed by lots of dancing underneath a mason jar chandelier.

Thanks Kaitlyn for letting me be a part of your big day.   Best Wishes and much happiness to you and Justin!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

HANDKERCHIEF DRESS

The second Shea Marie design for our styled shoot was this sexy handkerchief dress.   If you didn't see my other post with the first outfit, check it out here.   It's made of a taupe chiffon which has about eight yards of fabric in the finished design.  The circle skirt is completely draped by hand, so no two dresses would be exactly alike!  The criss cross halter creates a peek-a-boo at the front and a completely backless design.  So pretty on a figure like Gabby's.....va va voom!!  Mr. Casino doesn't look too shabby either.
As I draped the skirt, I purposely made some pieces shorter than others.  It creates such pretty lines and high/low points within the circumference of the skirt letting some leg shine through here and there.  Plus, the finished look is so dreamy and feminine.

The gathered cumberband waistband is a perfect compliment to the gathers in the halter and the folds in the skirt.
Love this....as I said before, seeing my designs on a live model is such a treat.  Thank you Gabby and Casino for taking time out to make my designs look extra special!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

BUSTIER AND LONG SKIRT

This project was purely for fun.  I fell in love with the 3D chiffon fabric while shopping for another project and decided I just had to order some!    After months of being tucked away in my fabric closet, I had a window of opportunity and decided it was time  to do something with it.  I had always felt that it would work well in a more formal design.   As luck would have it, I was able to find a solid crepe fabric locally that was an absolute perfect match and would be the perfect compliment to it.  I knew I was headed toward a layered look to highlight the light and airy feel of the 3D fabric, and after playing around with several ideas, I opted to use it as a peplum for the skirt.
Once I landed on the skirt concept, I decided a bustier would be the perfect top.  I actually purchased a strapless/backless bra and constructed my lace around the foundation.  It was fun actually!  I used some ivory lace remnants and trim I already had..... and made some spaghetti straps from a matching ivory fabric with a fun criss-cross design to finish it off.

You may recognize Gabby....she was my model for a number of the veils I offer on my Etsy shop.  She and her horse Casino were so much fun to work with!  We had a gorgeous summer night with a yummy sunset for our shoot.   It is such a treat to see my designs in person, I can't tell you.  I'm so used to seeing them on my dressform or hanging on a rack, that it swells my heart to have them captured this way! Thanks Gabby, Casino and of course, KB Digital Designs for helping me highlight my work in such a unique way!





Friday, August 11, 2017

CRANBERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP BLONDIES

These are super rich, and super good!  Even better, they're super simple to make!!  If you enjoy the flavor of cranberries and chocolate, then you're going to really enjoy these babies.

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick butter or margarine, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup craisins
3/4 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet, white, etc., I chose dark chocolate)
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg


DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.   Line an 8x8 pan with parchment; spray a little non-stick spray in the pan prior to adding the parchment, and another small amount after adding the parchment.
Next, melt one stick of butter in the microwave. In a medium size bowl, cream the butter, egg, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla by using a wire whisk.

Add the flour blending just until all the flour is incorporated.  Mix in the craisins and chocolate chips.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 24-26 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  If you like soft and gooey, go with the short end of the time allotment.

Remove from the oven and let sit approximately one hour until firm.  Slice into relatively small pieces since they are so rich.

Grab a cold glass of milk and Enjoy!  (bet you can't eat just one)

Note: You'll find a number of these recipes on the web...although, the vast majority use white chocolate.  I've never been a fan of white chocolate, so I substituted my favorite which is dark chocolate.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

CATHEDRAL VEIL FOR A RHODE ISLAND BRIDE

The time has finally arrived for me to share this with you.  This destination wedding that I shot alongside my daughter was such a treat!  First, we were able to capture memories of the wedding of Larisa and Murphy....a sweet couple who were surrounded by family and friends in the idyllic setting of Newport, Rhode Island.
The ceremony/reception included so many family/military traditions it was an absolute honor to be a part of the day.

The historic Channing Memorial stone church in downtown Newport hosted the ceremony, followed by a gorgeous reception at the Glen Manor House.  I have to share just a few pictures from the grounds of the reception since it was "fairytaleesque".



Secondly, I was able to see beautiful Larisa, firsthand in the cathedral veil that I made for her.  She chose a classic cathedral veil with a long blusher; it was perfect for her designer gown. She looked amazing....and cool as a cucumber, despite the rest of us wilting in the heat and humidity of Rhode Island.  Definitely a shock to the system for a couple of Coloradans!

The third treat was spending a couple extra days playing tourist with my daughter.  Hey. as long as we were in Rhode Island, we had to take in some sights, right?

I planned a day of pampering the day after the wedding with a wonderful brunch and massage at the Castle Hill Inn to start the day.  We took in the ten mile ocean drive and a bit of the harbor shops, followed by a sunset sail cruise and dinner on the wharf.  We enjoyed visiting several of the mansions (buy the 5 mansion ticket, even if you don't see all 5....it's so much more economical),  and the cliff walk as well.

It was a truly wonderful long weekend in every aspect....thank you Murphy and Larisa for letting me be a part of your special day.    Best Wishes for a long and happy marriage!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

PRIVACY WALL FOR BACKYARD PATIO

I have been so looking forward to having this project completed!  This is my new privacy wall for our patio (we have one more board to add to the bottom, but I couldn't wait to share).


You may recall last year, I posted about the outdoor curtains I had made for my patio.   Unfortunately, they didn't work out quite like I had planned.  While they definitely could provide a little privacy to my patio, that only worked when it wasn't breezy.  Despite the weights I had placed in the hem, we get quite a few breezy days up here, so the curtains though pretty....weren't functional.   Bummer, since both me and my husband put work into that project.

I really liked my little sanctuary, so I was anxious to find another solution.  One night I was taking a walk around the neighborhood and I got really pumped when I saw a home which had what looked like a wall of wooden blinds for their patio.  They didn't move like blinds, but they had the angled look of blinds.   I thought it was genius actually, so I got up the nerve to introduce myself to this neighbor (after many walks in which I kept ogling their patio).   He took me out back and we chatted about the construction and how it was working since he put it in place.


Of course, I promptly ran home and told my husband I had a new solution for the patio.

Not only did I see this providing privacy, but it would also provide a bit of a wind break from the North.  I had learned from the neighbor that Home Depot carried the pre-made supports with the angles already cut into them.   So, we ordered those and painted the two which attached to the patio support and the house to match the house trim color.   As for the slats, I really liked the idea of natural boards, so my husband simply finished those with a weather protectant, no stain.  Same thing for the middle support....that was left the natural wood color as well.

My husband gets all the credit for this one.  I merely provided the cheerleading and encouragement along the way.  I'm so looking forward to spending time out here again.  It really was like sitting in a fishbowl without it....several of the neighbor's bedroom windows look right onto our patio, and their trampoline is now hidden as well.

I bought a new umbrella and cushions to replace the worn, torn and faded ones which were purchased many years ago and we're good to go!  This is going to be awesome!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

CRANBERRIED LEMON YOGURT BREAD

I always have a huge bag of craisins in the house...I mean the large bag from Costco.  I put them on my salads, and flavor lots of other dishes with them.  I did recently get a noticeably less fresh bag and after working my way through about 3/4 of the bag, I decided the rest would make for a good baked item.
So I went straight to the source for a recipe.  This is from the people from Ocean Spray....and it's a truly yummy bread!  The texture is great and it's got a combination of tangy lemon and cranberry in every bite.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup lowfat plain yogurt
2 eggs 
¼ cup lemon juice
1 heaping cup of craisins

Glaze:
½ cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan.  

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar in a medium mixing bowl, until light and fluffy.  Add yogurt, eggs and lemon juice; mix well.   Stir in cranberries.  Add to dry ingredients.  Stir until dry ingredients are moistened.

Bake for approximately 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool.  In the meantime, prepare the glaze.  Once the loaf is cool, drizzle over the top of the loaf.

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

SHORT RECEPTION DRESS

I had the pleasure of making a short reception dress for a bride recently; a first for me.  She wanted to change into a sassy little number afer the first dances were finished in order to fully enjoy her reception.    She had a pretty good idea of what she was looking for, having spotted something online.
In this case, I added a few custom touches which allows me to have some fun creatively, and for the bride she then has a dress that is truly one-of-a-kind!

I found a beautiful lace online in a diamond white color for the outer layer, and found a matching crepe for the underlayer.
The  neckline, sleeves and hemline were finished with a 1½ inch alencon eyelash lace that I found locally.  It had some pearls and sequin embellishments which gave it some sparkle!

I changed up the shape of the underlayer in the back making it a curve and instead of the simple double lapped center back zipper on the original, I chose to add a lapped zipper with some satin covered buttons for a more polished look.

To match the tulle at the hemline, I chose to add a small tulle peek-a-boo at the hem of the 3/4 sleeves; not all the way around, just enough to add some fun!

So cute!!  Thank you Tara for letting me be a part of your special day.


Friday, June 23, 2017

RE-STYLED WEDDING GOWN

I had a bride contact me since she wanted to wear her Mom's wedding gown and veil on her special day, but wanted to update them a bit and wondered if I could/would do it for her.   Since I've always wanted to work on a project like this, it was a resounding YES!   I was excited to be a part of the transformation.
The gown was in amazingly good shape....a little staining on the lace on the hemline, but other than that it looked great.  As for the fit, both Mom and daughter were very similar in size and height, so I really didn't have to worry about alterations.  

The bride knew that she wanted a deep "v" in the back of the dress, removing the zipper from the top of the neckline to the waistline seam. Other than that, she was open to ideas to make it more current.
The bell sleeves were so unique and are certainly current again, so those absolutely had to stay. But, the high collar in the front was definitely going to have to go!
I discussed a simple, yet classic "v" neckline for the front as well.  I also suggested the vertical bands of lace on the front and back bodice should be removed, making the gown more classic and simple. The train was very wide and long making it a definite keeper. A "one button" bustle swept it up nicely!

The veil was very dated with a typical "juliet cap" from the '70s/'80s. I suggested a simple lace trimmed elbow length veil to allow the beautiful sleeves of the gown to shine through and also showcase the clean neckline.

We chose to use the lace that was on Mom's veil for the new veil, as well as using pieces of it on the garter set. I even had enough leftover so she could give some to her florist for her bouquet.

The bride will be changing out of this gown after the first dance to a sassy little reception dress I made for her.  I'll be sharing that next!