Our Favorite Things… Lilacs

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Nothing says summer is here like lilacs!  Their beautiful purple and white blooms are wonderfully fragrant and something I look forward to each year.    When in season, I like to cut them in bunches and bring them inside.  The sad part… they only last a short time.

To extend the season, we’ve added some beautiful faux lilac branches to a grouping of wired bottles – a lovely and rustic welcome to summer.

lilac group

lilac group 2

lilac group 5

Super Substitute…. “Saffron” Yellow Basmati Rice

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saffron yellow basmati rice

Many of us have a recipe or two that calls for saffron and experienced sticker shock when we looked at the price tag.

Saffron is a spice derived from the crocus sativus flower (or the Saffron crocus). As Saffron crocus grows and flowers, its vibrantly colored stigmas (or threads) are harvested, by hand, and dried to be used mainly as a gourmet seasoning and coloring agent in food. Saffron, is a rare and delicate spice and among the world’s most costly spices by weight.

An expensive ingredient that I don’t always have on hand, however, I have managed to get by substituting a combination of two spices that are always in my kitchen… turmeric and paprika.

My take on a “saffron” rice is a quick, easy and economical recipe that’s a great dish or perfect base for a quick dinner – just add diced chicken or shrimp and some veggies and you’re set.   I also sometimes serve this alongside my oven-fried haddock, my black beans or in a burrito.

saffron yellow basmati rice 2

“Saffron” Yellow Basmati Rice
½    onion, finely diced
1    tablespoon olive oil
1    cup basmati rice
1 ¾ cup water or chicken stock
¼    teaspoon turmeric
½    teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a microwave safe bowl, cover and cook on high for 5 minutes.  Take out microwave, stir and cover again.  Return to microwave and cook at 50% power for additional 12 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

Double this recipe to have extras on hand for easy weeknight meals.

Enjoy!

Michele

New Tricks for Serving Trays

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spring branches purple

When it comes to versatility and adding value to your home, you can’t go wrong with investing in a nice wooden tray.  Trays are a hard working home accessory – a great option for organizing kitchen counters, consoles and dressers; and a must-have for the buffet table and home entertaining.

reclaimed slat wood tray 3

Let’s not overlook their great decorative value as well.  Trays can add texture and impact to ottomans, cocktail tables and beneath centerpieces – a really detailed tray needs no adornment and can be centerpiece unto itself.

I love this reclaimed slat wood tray for its great texture and large scale – it’s a multi-function piece that I use all over the house throughout the year.  As a centerpiece this tray’s substantial size fills a long dining table with ease.

reclaimed slat wood tray

reclaimed slat tray with flowers

Don’t limit your tray to horizontal use – I’m quite fond of it hang this one on my front door or a blank wall, changing the greenery with the seasons.

reclaimed slat tray door accent

reclaimed slat tray door accent full

It also works great to brighten a blank corner near the staircase.

reclaimed slat tray corner

New or old, you can’t go wrong with a great tray for a little decorating inspiration!

 

Culinary Classics… Creamy Coleslaw

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coleslaw 4

When I was growing up, I often saw my mother, and my grandmother, reach for their Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for inspiration when making the family meal or getting ready to do some baking.

That same classic red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens cookbook was the first cookbook I received as a new bride, and I too, relied on it to learn how to cook and bake for my own family.

BHG Cookbook pic

Although I now have a library of cookbooks (I am a bit obsessed with them!), there are still certain classic recipes that I just don’t mess with – one being Better Homes and Gardens Coleslaw.   This creamy classic needs to no tampering – it’s always delicious and a big hit at family gatherings, picnics and with my oven baked fish fry.

It’s quick and easy – especially if you pick up a bag of angel hair pre-shredded coleslaw in your produce section.

Better Homes and Gardens Coleslaw

2  cups   shredded cabbage
1  medium carrot, shredded
½  small green or red sweet bell pepper, finely chopped
2  green onions, sliced (these are optional for me)
½  cup mayonnaise
1  tablespoon vinegar
2  teaspoons sugar
½  teaspoon celery seed

coleslaw 1

Toss together the cabbage, carrot, pepper and onion.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and celery seed.

coleslaw 2

Pour dressing over the cabbage mixture – toss to coat.  Cover and chill for 1 hour.  Makes 4 servings – double or triple for a bigger crowd.

coleslaw 5

Watch it disappear… Enjoy!

Michele

Gluten Free Breakfast Treat… Colorful Confetti Donuts

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Colorful Confetti Donuts 2

You don’t have to be gluten sensitive to enjoy these delicious little donuts!

Colorful Confetti Donuts (Gluten Free)

  • 1 Cup Orly’s Manhattan Flour Blend*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup almond or diary milk
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon Bourbon Barrel Foods Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla*
  • 1/3 cup of rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray donut pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl. (Flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar & salt).  Set aside.

Orly's Manhattan Blend

In a medium bowl mix together the wet ingredients (Milk, yogurt, egg, butter and vanilla).  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Gently fold in the rainbow sprinkles.

Gently spoon batter into donut pan (about ¾ of the way full).  Tip – you can put the donut batter in a Ziploc bag and cut a small piece of the corner the bag… then squeeze and pipe the batter into the donut pan sections.   You’ll have enough for about 6-8 donuts.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

Donut Glaze

  • ¼ cup almond or diary milk
  • 2 ½ cups of confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • Rainbow sprinkles to decorate top (optional)

Mix together all the glaze ingredients.  Whisk until all the sugar has dissolved.  Place a large sheet of wax paper under your wire rack.   Dip the cooled donut right into the glaze then place back on wire rack and sprinkle with additional Rainbow sprinkles.  Leave until set.

Colorful Confetti Donuts 3

*Find these fine ingredients at a la Maison (or call 315-440-6637 to order).

If you’d like to make this recipe with regular flour, be sure to reduce the milk to ¼ of a cup.

 

 

Our Favorite Things… White Flower Arrangements

There are so many reasons to love an arrangement of white flowers and stems…Hydrangea white arrangementSimple elegance… These white hydrangeas arranged in chicken wired lined bottles work with a variety of design styles such as farmhouse, contemporary or traditional.

Hydrangea white arrangement single

Impact…  Even a single bloom has great impact.  Tuck this little arrangement on vanity, night stand or bookcase.

virbinum close up

Natural beauty… These creamy virbinum look to be growing wildly out of this arrangement.  I love to arrange flowers as you might see them in nature.  Organic, simple, beautiful.

white flower arrangement grouping

Simplicity… Keeping it simple with a few blooms of white peonies.

a la Maison flowersVersatility… White florals are a great choice for a house warming, hostess gift or wedding  decor as they are neutral and will always work.

Dynamic Dessert Duo… Our Two Favorite Caramel Sauces by Stonewall Kitchen

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SWK Caramel Sauce set

The dynamic duo of dessert sauces – keep these delicious caramel sauces in your pantry and easy entertaining will be at your fingertips.

Enjoy Stonewall Kitchen’s rich Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Sauce drizzled over ice cream, brownies, strawberries and raspberries.

The flavor combination in Stonewall Kitchen’s Bourbon Pecan Caramel Sauce truly takes this caramel sauce to the next level.  Try it drizzled over apple crisp, pie or brownies… or for a special breakfast or brunch, pour it over french toast!

Both make an incredible dip for pretzels, short bread cookies and fruit; and are all-natural.  What’s not to love?!

Find both of Stonewall Kitchen’s delicious caramel sauces at a la Maison in Baldwinsville, NY or call 315-440-6637.

Quick Tip – Creative Use for an Ice Bucket

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When was the last time you used your ice bucket? Is it hidden away until company comes?   It’s time to dig out your beautiful bucket and put it on display.  You’ll quick discover that it makes a lovely vessel for potted flowers and plants.

bb ice bucket with flowers

Our Beatriz Ball metal ice buckets loves great with faux potted white agapanthus.

BB Ice Bucket with plant

This faux potted plant is so realistic – even the dirt look real.

bb ice bucket with flowers

When company comes, just pop out your faux plant, give your ice bucket a quick wash and you are ready for guests!

 

Favorite Things… Quiet Day of Floral Arranging

It’s positively frigid outside here in Central New York!   The temperature is 17 degrees, but the windchill makes it feel like 0 degrees.  I promised myself to not leave the house and spend the entire day in my home studio doing some pricing and my favorite task… creating some new floral and plant arrangements.

Nothing is more relaxing – hours pleasantly drift by as I work away on my creations.  It’s so peaceful!

floral work 1

floral work 3

Red seemed to be a common thread in my ordering for the store this spring.  I started with beautiful Le Cadeaux dinnerware in a pretty red pattern, then followed with several red linen napkins and towels…

La Cadeaux half wall

I think these arrangements with red kalanchoe will fit in quite nicely!

floral work trio

floral work reds

floral work red flowers in whitepot

It may be cold outside, but it’s looking like spring in here… and I am ready!!!