Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Fascination with Blue and White Continues

I'm on a roll here with my new fascination with blue and white. Earlier in the week, here,  I shared that I have been adding more blue and white to my interior decor of my home as a result of a friend's influence. Now I have taken it a step further with a week night informal table setting.
I am just so amazed at how much it brightens this room with the clean lines and at how fresh it feels.
I found the placemats and napkins online at William Sonoma and the name, Marisol. So French in just the name but it fit with everything else that I use for everyday.

With just a few touches of yellow on the placemats and also elsewhere in this room, it was perfect with my Vilroy & Boch Audin Ferme dinnerware.

The stemware I have had for such a long time but I always enjoy using it. It has such a nice feel in ones hands and is made from recycled glass. The golden goblet works beautifully with the Audin Ferme.

Often just subtle changes can make such a difference. I am truly enjoying adding more blue and white and am wondering why in the world haven't I done so before. I feel a new set of dishes coming on.
YIKES, now where to put them would be another question.

It's Thursday and I will be joining Susan for Tablescape Thursday.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again soon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mixed Green Salad with Strawberries and Feta topped with a Strawberry Vinaigrette

I very often make this salad most especially during the summer since the strawberries are so good at this time of the year. It's light but delicious, however, the Strawberry Vinaigrette is one I prepared for the first time last night. I most often use a Balsamic Vinaigrette on this salad. Not anymore though after trying this one.

Mixed Green Salad with Strawberries, Feta, Emeril's Pecans with a Strawberry Vinaigrette

Mixed Baby Greens
Sliced Strawberries
Feta Cheese
Emeril's Pecans *
Strawberry Vinaigrette*

Layer all ingredients together and top with the Strawberry Vinaigrette

* recipe to follow

Emeril's Pecans

1 large egg white
1 teaspoon water
4 cups shelled pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Emeril's Essence
1/2 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and water until frothy. Add the nuts and toss to coat. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, Essence, cayenne, and salt. Add to the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Spread the nuts on the prepared pan and bake until dry, about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir to separate. Let cool on the baking sheet. Serve warm or at room temperature.

My Notes: I have used this recipe for years and they are delicious on a salad or to nimble on. I highly recommend them.

Strawberry Vinaigrette

1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

Place the vinegar, honey, strawberries, and salt & pepper in a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

My notes: I used a tall plastic container and blended with a stick blender. I also used an excellent Champagne Vinegar. Either could be used according to your own particular preference.

This recipe is so simple but in my opinion one of the best dressings I have ever made. I watched P. Allen Smith on his program on Create television make this so it was an adaption of his recipe. For those of you not familiar with P. Allen Smith, he is an internationally known gardener and garden designer extraordinaire. He was trained in England and now lives in Little Rock, Arkansas where he has an in town home but also has a farm outside of Little Rock. His program is most often about gardening but he has recently written a cookbook and like most TV hosts he stresses using local ingredients and seasonal ingredients. Some of his newer programs incorporate some of his recipes from his new book however, this particular recipe does not appear in his cookbook. If you are interested in learning more about P. Allen Smith check out his website, I have met Allen and hope to some day visit his farm.

If you try this recipe you won't be disappointed. It truly is delicious and I intend to serve this salad at my next dinner party. It's light but absolutely delicious. I think one could even add some roasted or grilled sliced chicken breast for a lovely light summer dinner. Pared with some crusty bread and a good bottle of wine, wellllllllllll it just doesn't get any better than that.


On another note, one of my favorite bloggers, Delores @
has just reached her 1,000 th follower and to celebrate she is offering a drawing of a gorgeous Cheese Platter. Delores has some of the most innovative ideas that I have ever seen and I admit to using many of her ideas that she has shared from the burlap Tom's shoes (I have them in many colors but am now on my second pair of burlap Tom's) to using burlap in home decor and entertaining. She always shares some fabulous ideas. Go by and check out her blog, you will immediately see what I mean, it is fabulous eye candy.

Congratulations, Delores.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My new fascination with Blue and White

In a recent post I shared that I have never been one to use a lot of blue and white in my home. After making that statement I realized how very wrong I was and discovered that I do indeed have touches of blue and white in several areas of my home. Who knew????

I admit to being influenced by a very dear friend who has a true love for blue and white. I have made a concentrated effort to add more blue and white to the Morning Room. It is called this because we most often use this room just off of our kitchen while reading and enjoying our coffee early in the morning, however, we do use it also when we have dinner just the two of us of for smaller informal dinner parties. It is a suken room and just off of my kitchen. We have shared many family gatherings in this room and this is where I chose to add more blue and white. After all, the rug on the tiles has lots and lots of blue.

I began by finessing my mantle which is an ever changing thing. Most often seasonal changes.
The pheasant is a Vietri piece that I have had for many years and part of a collection of birds. I love birds and collect them in all sizes and shapes. The two French candle holders on either side of the mantle came from Nell Hills, Mary Carol Garrity's shop in Atchison Kansas. The smaller candle holders were a recent find that I have had on my breakfast room table until recently but I love the way it looks on the mantle especially with the burlap finnessed in and out of each piece.

The jar sitting on the hearth was an attic find. Sometimes it pays to rummage through your attic. You'll never know what one might find that you forgot was there. I think I bought them, there are two, to do some flower arrangements for a function but what a surprise when I found them.
When I realized that I wanted to add more blue and white to this room I came upon this Spode Italian tray and bowl on sale and thought it would make for a beaituful centerpiece especially with fresh lemons in it. The placemats are a new purchase from William Sonoma, one of my favorite places to shop however, we don't have one in our area so I am relegated to online shopping. It works too. The name of the placemat pattern is Marisol and has a French feel.
I also found this sweet little candle stick which is made by Mottahedeh and was another sale "find".

Sitting next to it are some very old pictures. One of myself as a very young child just learning to walk  with my beloved grandmother and two other photos of my great grandmother as a young woman with her family in front of their old home place in Alabama.
This is a cherished photo that also has all of my great great aunts and uncles and my great great grandparents but also a great great great anut. My sweet little candlestick "find" has a special place sitting on this table and by the way, the crocheted piece was one I crocheted myself at least thirty years ago.

I am now asking myself, whats next???? Another set of china.

I am somewhat late to Marty's Table Top Tuesday party at A Stroll Through Life but I am sharing my tabletops at this party and my newly found love of Blue and White. I think it adds a cheerfulness to this room.

I hope you all have a lovely day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Not long ago one of my favorite food bloggers, Susan @ Savoring Time in the Kitchen, posted a recipe for a Cream of Asparagus Soup that I thought sounded really good. I love asparagus and I have tried several of Susan's posted recipes and I have never been disappointed. This Cream of Asparagus Soup was no exception.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Adapted from Gourmet, March 2001 and found at Epicurious

Yield: Makes 4 servings

2 pounds green asparagus
1 large leek, white portion only, chopped
2 Thyme sprigs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 cups chicken stock
1/2 heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Cut tips from 12 asparagus 1 1/2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish. Peel woody ends and cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

Cook leek in 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces, thyme sprigs and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

When the soup is almost done simmering, place reserved asparagus tips in an Asian strainer, if available, and lower into simmering soup until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain. Chop asparagus tips or leave whole, as desired.

Remove thyme sprigs and purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. I used a stick blender and then strained the soup to remove any possible stringy bits. Stir in cream, then add more stock to thin soup, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

Add lemon juice and garnish with asparagus tips and a little freshly ground nutmeg.

This was such a simple recipe to put together but had so much flavor and I was able to use some fresh thyme from my herb garden.
When I don't have homemade chicken stock on hand I have found this particular stock to be the best. You may have read on my blog before that I am a strong believer in whatever you are preparing, it is only as good as the ingredients you use.

I didn't save the tips for garnish but instead topped the soup with a Black Truffle Oil and an extra splash of lemon juice when served. The Truffle Oil put this soup over the top.
I enjoyed this the evening I made it as a first course.

But enjoyed it just as much the next day for my lunch. I think this soup could be served hot or cold with a dollop of sour cream to gild the lilly.

This soup used few ingredients but had lots of flavor and in my opinion an excellent recipe. Thank you Susan for sharing this recipe and it will be one I will add to my favorites.
I am sharing this post for Foodie Friday @ Designs by Gollum.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese

I do believe that nothing says "comfort food" like Mac and Cheese. I admit that it truly is a favorite of mine and I particularly like Ina Garten's recipe. This recipe comes from the cookbook Barefoot Contessa Family Style.
To me topped with slices of Heirloom Tomatoes and pared with a Mixed Green Salad  it makes for a very satisfying meal.

Ina Garten's Mac & Cheese

Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick)  unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)


Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

While the pasta cooks, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in a preheated 375 degree F. oven, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

This dish can be made ahead of time. To make ahead, put the macaroni and cheese in the baking dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake. Put the tomatoes and bread crumbs on top and bake for about 40 to 50 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

My Notes: It has been my experience that a recipe is only as good as the ingredients you use. I think most food network chef's agree with that. I always use a very good English Cheddar and a French Gruyere. The flavor difference is very distinctive.

This is ready to pop in the oven. 
I recently made this as a side when my grand children were coming for dinner. Each of them are somewhat of picky eaters but I found that they loved this. If you try this recipe you won't be disappoiinted. It has become a family favorite.

It's Friday so I am joining Michael Lee West's blogging party, Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum. There are so many interesting recipes shared at this blogging party and you can view those participants entries by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blue and White

I have never been one to use a lot of blue and white in my home but honestly I have been influenced by a very dear friend of mine. I can  say that her influence has made me look at blue and white a little more closely and I find that when I am out shopping I am gravitating to it more frequently. This is a tribute to my friend, Martha @ Lines from Linderhof who constantly is my inspiration.

In the Family Room which adjoins the kitchen I also have our breakfast room table which we often use when there is just the two of us or a small gathering for dinner. It is definitely a more casual table. I decided to experiment with adding more blue and white in this room and began with a simple tablesetting.

I had found this charming little candle holder piece that truthfully called my name. This is the piece that began my collection of blue and white. These cobolt blue stemware I found at a gift shop near the coast in a little shop in Applachicola, FL. There are those in my family that would love for them to suddenly go missing. They have been much admired by others in my family. Of course, I always enjoy using my Vietri Foglia salad plates. The placemats I found at a local gift shop and it has touches of blue but also has the other colors that I use in this room so it really tied in nicely and allowed me to use more blue and white.
The pewter acorn and leaf napkin rings were a purchase at one of my favorite shops in Atlanta, Boxwood. I never make a trip to Atlanta that I don't visit this shop and I always walk away with some wonderful new "finds".

I have since added more blue and white to this room but will post about it at a later time. In the meantime I really am enjoying using this color more and am wondering why I never have before

 Today I am participating in Susan's blogging party at Between Naps on the Porch, Tablescape Thursday. There are some beautiful table settings to see by clicking HERE and remember, you can click on to any photo to enlarge and get a better view.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bringing in the Garden Flowers

Filling vases for around my home with flowers from my garden is an ever changing thing. Right now I am trying to use the hydrangeas since they will soon be spent. I love filling vases to go in various locations in my home and the hydrangeas last for a while. If lucky they also dry easily.
Since this corner is my usual spot in the evening I love to have a full vase of flowers to enjoy and lift me to a different place.

My front entry is always a wonderful place to have a bouquet of garden flowers. I think it epitomizes the word "Welcome".
I sometimes place a bouquet on my couch table directly behind the couch in our family room.

And the morning room often gets a live hydrangea on the hearth which I later plant in my garden. I always have room for another hydrangea plant.

Of course, a small rose bloom in my narrow kitchen window sill is always a delight.

I thoroughly enjoy cutting from my garden and bringing bouquets in to enjoy all over my house.

Today I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Met Monday. The bouquets I bring into my home are an ever changing thing.

I am also sharing an easy and delicious recipe that is great for summer whether it is served as a salad on a bed of fresh greens or served with tortilla chips as an appetizer. This recipe was originally shared by a food message board friend and everyone on our little board has truly enjoyed this recipe. Thank you Betsy for sharing this recipe, it is a winner.

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa

1 pound package frozen corn, thawed
3 tablespoons oil (canola or olive)
1 tablespoons salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2-15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 large avocados, chopped

 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss corn with 3 tablespoons of oil on baking sheet. Bake for 18- 22 minutes until golden brown stirring frequently.

 Combine salt, cumin, lime juice, oil and vinegar. Shake well in a jar.

 In a large bowl, combine rest of chopped ingredients. Add beans and

corn. Add avocado, and dressing last and toss gently.

 Refrigerate for up to 6 hours. Serve same day you make it.

I always get rave reviews when I serve this and am always asked for the recipe. It is so fresh, nutritious, and makes for a beautiful presentation. I hope you will try it, you won't be disappointed.