Friday, November 30, 2012

Quick Note

I need to interrupt my regular (okay, let's be serious, irregular) blogging to give you this important announcement.

You all need to know this. I just made these Buttermilk Bacon Blue Smashed Potatoes last night.

They were one of the best things to make it into my mouth this month. You. Must. Make. These.

They are indescribably good. Go! Do it now.


That is all. Thanks!

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Miracle of White Paint

A little while ago, I talked about what a difference a little paint can make. I showed some before and after pictures of my heaven-sent sister-in-law's painting she did this summer while she was visiting. I still can't quite get over how much she accomplished while she was here and how good of a job she did. This past weekend, I was reminded.

I finally got around to painting the railing and molding up the stairs. All the molding in the dining room was white, so the wood railing really stood out as odd. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Just this little bit of painting, reminded me how grateful I am to Amanda for all the painting she did this summer. It also reminded me how much I dislike painting.

Check out the before and afters!

Stairwell Before:
 (Please ignore the puppy at the top of the stairs. Harper photo bombed me.)

Stairwell After:

I actually ended up doing three coats of paint because two just didn't do the coverage job I was hoping for. I removed the railing to do the first two coats and replaced it before applying the third so I wouldn't damage or mess up the paint job when I re-attached it.

Again, what a difference a little paint can make!

My next painting project? Painting brick. Wish me luck!

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Leftovers - Sweet Potato Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we can get on with the good stuff, like using up leftovers!

I'd venture to say most people had some kind of potato on their Thanksgiving table. If you were smart enough to have your potatoes be sweet potatoes, you are in luck. The weekends are perfect for pancakes and leftover mashed sweet potatoes are perfect for making sweet potato pancakes.

My sister-in-law used this recipe for her amazing whipped maple sweet potatoes and they were what I used in the below sweet potato pancake recipe. I made them gluten-free by using Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix but you could also substitute 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 3 tsp baking powder for the Pamela's measurement.

Everyone in my family gobbled these up the day after Thanksgiving including my 3 and 4 year-old nieces. It's safe to say they are kid friendly too! Of course, a nice long walk after a big breakfast is always a good idea . . .

Sweet Potato Pancakes (Gluten-Free)
Makes 10-12 medium cakes

2 tbs butter, melted
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1 1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (you will keep cooked pancakes warm until entire batch is finished).

Mix together butter, sweet potatoes, milk, egg, vanilla, and cinnamon until smooth. Add in Pamela's and salt and mix until just combined.

Heat a greased skillet over medium heat and add 1/4 pancake batter. Cook until bubbles burst at surface and then flip. Cook another minute and keep warm on cookie sheet in oven until ready to serve. Repeat with remaining batter until finished.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Wardrobe Makeover

This amazingly large wardrobe was salvaged from the back corner of the large barn at Meadowvale.

This barn, in fact. It had seen better days (perhaps because it had been living in a barn for the past two decades) but had "good bones" as my dad likes to say.
This massive piece (it's 5' tall and 6' long!) was made during the heyday of wood veneer. That basically means the piece is solid wood but has a layer of finished veneer all over. When veneer peels and falls off, its very hard to piece back together. I was unable to fix some spots and I figured my best bet was to paint the whole thing.
Because of the sheer size of the wardrobe, I choose a lighter color and new I wanted some sort of detail on the doors. I settled on a super-light sky/turquoise blue and after cleaning, lightly sanding the whole piece and 3 coats of primer, I started applying the blue. Unfortunately, some things just don't go as planned. The color ended up being far too subtle and it looked almost white.

Argh! Back to Home Depot to choose the next color on the Behr paint chip - this time it was Iconic Sky and it was perfect! One more coat of paint and more drying time. Finally it was time for the knobs and pulls. I was so excited to find what I thought was the perfect option at Anthropologie (unfortunately, they are no longer available). Then these pulls were just the thing the doors needed!
The last thing I added was the silver Moroccan pattern. I simply cut the shape out of cardboard, traced around it over and over with chalk, and then hand-painted over the chalk with Martha Stewart's polished silver metallic paint.

The next phase is to perhaps wallpaper the inside. For now, I use it to house sweaters, belts, and purses. I even use the divided drawers for jewelry.

It's currently my favorite piece in the room. That could be because I see my labor of love every time I look at it . . .

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Friday, November 16, 2012

The Weekly Nightcap - Caramel Apple Martini

The Weekly Nightcap has been on a bit of a hiatus recently. The main reason? I have had some cocktail flops recently. I tried to make several apple cider drinks that all ended up being major fails.

I ended up just sticking with wine a gin and tonics for a while. But I can only be predictable for so long. However, I still wanted to give you a Autumn/Thanksgiving inspired cocktail. Then I remembered this drink - it fits the bill.

So now, we are back in business and I have several Weekly Nightcaps ready for you all. I'll have you covered at least through the New Year!

My sister-in-law introduced me to this delicious refreshment and dang is it good! This caramel apple martini is the perfect dessert and drink in one. It seriously tastes like a liquid caramel apple.

So when you find yourself at the end of a big meal on Thanksgiving, pour yourself on of these treats. It will fill you with holiday cheer and slide down the cracks of even the fullest of bellies.

Bottoms up!

Caramel Apple Martini
makes 2 drinks

4 ounces vodka
2 ounces apple schnapps
2 ounces butterscotch schnapps

pour all ingredients in an ice filled shaker. shake well and pour into 2 martini glasses. cheers!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up

Um, Thanksgiving is one week away. Seven days. One hundred sixty-eight hours. Ten thousand eighty minutes.


Here's the good news - I have rounded up my tried and true, favorite Thanksgiving dishes. These are recipes I have made many times and they are always a hit. If you are looking for side dishes or dessert ideas, look no further.

Let's start with the good stuff - dessert first!

Mrs. Dec's Apple Pie

Bourbon Pecan Squares

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Parmesan Crusted Fennel and Onions

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Maple Butter

Caramelized Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Garlic Haricot Verts with Caramelized Onions

and finally, the best for last . . .
Truffle Macaroni and Cheese

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Sunday, November 11, 2012


I spent my summers at my grandfather's house in Lutherville, Maryland. He lived on the last farm remaining in that area - forty acres saved from development, surrounded by houses on all sides. It was literally an oasis on top of the hill. He had horses, chickens, fields and barns to play in, a big old house perfect for treasure hunts or hide and seek, and perhaps most importantly, a swimming pool.

It's difficult to put into words my memories attached to that place - Meadowvale Farm. My brother Wayne, cousin Genny and I held meetings in our "secret hiding place" (the linen closet) on top of an old trunk piled high with blankets and pillows. There was not a corner, drawer, closet, tree, nook, or cranny of that entire property we left unexplored. It will always hold a special place in my heart and my memories.

It has since been sold and has finally become a housing development as well - a victim of too high property tax and "progress". The move out process was long and brutal. The house was built in the 1800's and had never been moved out of. What started out as a summer house, because a permanent residence. Someone would move in with all their possessions, live their life, and pass on. The next occupant did the same thing, resulting in packed basements and attics littered with old furniture, china, and silver. The barns were even full of antique furniture, saddles, trunks full of clothes, and boxes full of discarded books, glasses, and framed artwork.

Some of the treasures we discovered were quite interesting. Perhaps the best part is the old furniture we salvaged - furniture needing new upholstering or repair of a broken arm or leg. Some furniture was in amazingly good shape for spending decades in a barn. Many of the pieces don't even need repair just a good cleaning from their years of spider web and dust collection.

I thought I'd begin to share some of those items that lived the beginning of their lives at Meadowvale and will now spend their next chapter with us, at our new "old" house. Many of these pieces are similar to our house in fact - old, full of character, and a little rough around the edges but hopefully salvageable and with a little time, TLC, and elbow grease, can have new life! It may seem odd to incorporate these things into a food blog, but my life now includes fixing up old things as well as cooking. And that is what life is about, right? Taking each new challenge as it comes and holding on to old passions as new ones present themselves. It might not be that far off after all. I am a self-taught cook in the kitchen and this house is ensuring that Ian and I are becoming self-taught DIY-ers as well.

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