Monday, October 24, 2011

I Heart Gray

Color is one of the easiest, and most inexpensive ways to bring life and personality to a space.  For no more than the cost of paint, you can virtually transform a room.  I love adding color to a space, but despite the infinite possibilities in the color wheel, I always resort to neutral palettes for their timeless appeal and soothing qualities.

My favorite neutral right now, seen everywhere, is gray.  Gray is mysterious and elusive.  It changes continuously depending on the lighting, and the objects and accessories it surrounds.  

There are cool grays with green and blue undertones...

via Better Homes & Gardens

via Pinterest

and warm saturated grays with notes of violet and red.  

via Pinterest

The versatility of gray is endless.  It can be modern and masculine, classic and feminine - sometimes all at once.

via House Beautiful

Not sure how to make gray work for you?  One key to finding the right shade within a sea of options is to take hints from complementary colors in your space, and choose a gray with those undertones.

Gray varies greatly depending on the light.  Be sure you evaluate the color throughout the day in both natural and ambient lighting.  Paint the sample on each wall of your room for the best result.  

If you are unsure, consult a professional to help you.  It is well worth the hourly fee that most designers charge for a quick color consult to ensure you choose the right shade for your home.

Do you have any gray rooms in your home? Do you have a go-to gray that you recommend? Please do tell.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Easy-Rise Autumn Pumpkin Bread

Oh I love thee.  Cozy sweaters, cooler weather, tall boots and all things pumpkin.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes, toasted pumpkin seeds,  and of course...pumpkin bread. 

This is a delicious recipe for a quick-rise bread.  It doesn't contain any yeast, so the dough doesn't need to rest prior to baking.  You can have a delicious dessert or snack in just over an hour.

Since Mateo is apparently "too big" for naps these days, I decided to put him to work.

This was at the expense of my kitchen of course, which looks exactly as you would suspect with a 3-year-old operating my large stand-mixer.  But it's all good.  He is only young once, so I am going to enjoy it, and try not to take things too seriously.

This recipe makes three small loaves.

4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup of evaporated milk
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
3 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease three 6-inch x 3-inch x 2-inch pans with non-stick spray or butter.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil and milk.  Blend in pumpkin.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to pumpkin mixture and beat until combined.

Pour into pans.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean.  Cool for 15 minutes.  Loosen the sides from the pan with a butter knife, and invert the pan so the bread falls out.  Turn right side up and dust with confectioner's sugar.

You can have one for yourself, give one away and still have one more for your freezer.  Let's see if Mateo approved.

"More Mommy, MORE!"

 His reaction to my obvious answer when he requested a third slice. 

I guess that means it was good? Try it for yourself and see what you think.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

30-Minute Linguine

I LOVE to cook.  With the addition of Luca (he is six months old today!),  I can count on one hand the number of times I have prepared a meal since he was born.  The result is, we eat the same things 3-4 nights a week (snooooooze).  Aggh! I must get my cooking groove back.  I am missing the variety in our diets.  And I am pretty sure it would be more economical to raise our own chickens with the amount of poultry we have consumed in recent months.

I came across this recipe at Luca's checkup this morning in Parenting magazine, and decided to test it out for lunch.  It's a 30 minute pasta by celebrity chef, Buddy Valastro, host of TLC's Cake Boss and Kitchen Boss.  I never really stick to the recipes, but I must give credit where credit is due.  I modified the original recipe, so following is my version.

I substituted shrimp for chicken (that is what I had in my fridge), and swapped the baby spinach for baby kale.  Did you know Kale is a superfood?  It's so delicious!  This pasta is fail-proof, and absolutely yummy.

3/4 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tsp chopped fresh garlic
1/4 cup olive oil and more to taste
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 box of linguine (I choose the Barilla multi-grain pasta in the yellow box)
2 tbsp butter (I recommend the Presidente brand)
1 lb chicken in 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup of dry white wine
2 cups of baby kale
salt & pepper to season
fresh grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a baking dish, toss the cherry tomatoes, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tsp of chopped fresh garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and mix in the bread crumbs.  Return to oven for 5 minutes.

In the meantime boil one box of linguine in generously salted water.

Meanwhile, heat a large saute' pan over medium heat with 2 tbsp of butter, and remaining chopped garlic.  Cook the chicken until golden brown on all sides, seasoning with salt and pepper.  De-glaze the pan with 1/2 cup of white wine.  Bring the wine sauce to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Add the cherry tomato mixture, drained pasta and baby kale.  Toss well, and dig in! This recipe is perfect for busy families.  I can attest after making it for myself, it was ready in 30 minutes - tops.