Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DIY: Painted Furniture

In the last 6 months or so, I have really gotten into interior design and DIY projects for the home.  I absolutely love Pinterest!  If you have not checked it out yet, you probably need to go straight there, well after you are done on my blog of course!  There are millions of great ideas of there!  I have seen so many DIY/ furniture redo's on there and it inspired me to do one myself.  

Then, I was watching the Nate Berkus show (for all of you who don't know who he is... he has a show about interior design) and there was a lady on there who went to thrift stores and made old pieces new again.  Whether it was painting a piece or completely chopping it apart to make something completely different out of it, it sparked my interest.

I had never gone to a thrift store before, so later that day that's exactly what I did.  I went to the Goodwill and one of the first things I saw was this little night side table.  

Then I saw the price.  I thought it was mislabeled so I had to ask someone to make sure it was the right price!  It cost $4.04!  All the legs were sturdy and there were no defects.  I think maybe a little nick on the top, but I could sand that out!  Besides... it gives the piece some character!  So I bought it and started to refinish it.

I sanded the whole thing to get the shiny finish off so I could paint it. 

Then, I went to the paint store and I bought a little sample paint can in a light pink that cost about $6.  I wanted to be a little crazy with the color, so I got a color that would go nice in the guest room.  Because the hubby probably would not like this pink in the living room or bedroom.  

I painted 2 or 3 coats of paint on and it turned out great!  I barely used 1/3 of the small sample can of paint, so I have lots left over for another project.  

This table only cost me about $6 to make!  $4.04 for the table itself, about $2 for the paint, and I already had the sand paper and paint brushes that I used!  

I loved redoing this table and now I am looking for more finds at local thrift stores.  I just got a side table for the living room and am trying to figure which color to paint it!  

Have you ever refinished a piece of furniture?!  I'd love to hear about it!  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pastry Basic: Pie Dough

Now that it is officially summer, everyone needs to know how to make a great pie!  And since the pie dough is the first step to making a great pie, that's what we are going to talk about today!  

Pie dough only has a few ingredients and almost everyone (if you like to bake and cook!) should always have these staple items on hands at all times!  

Another great thing about pie dough is that it freezes beautifully!  You can freeze pie dough in individually wrapped portions.  That way, you can make a larger batch of the dough and then pull 1 or 2 rounds out of the freezer when you are ready to make a pie!  

This recipe is enough for a top and bottom crust for a 9 inch pie or 2 separate bottom crusts.  

Pie Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. cold butter (that's 1 1/2 (4 oz.) sticks of butter)
  • 6 tbsp. cold water
  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. 
  2. Cut the cold butter up into 1 inch chunks and put into the flour mixture.
  3. Cut in the butter by breaking it into small pieces using your hands.  You can also use a pastry cutter, but I think it works best with the best tool you have... your hands!  Rub the butter and flour mixture in between your hands to break it up easily.  This will take a few minutes.  You know you are done when the butter chunks are about the size of peas and the mixture turns light yellow.
  4. Add the cold water and knead until everything is combined.
  5. Roll into a log and wrap in plastic wrap.  If you are using the dough immediately, chill the dough in the fridge for 2-4 hours.  You can also put it in the freezer for later use.  Just pull it out when you are ready and let it defrost. 
*** If you want to freeze the pie dough for the later use, cut the dough in half and freeze that way.  Then you will know that each piece will be one bottom crust, or one top crust!  

Flour mixture

 Chunks of butter ready to be cut in. 

The butter pieces are still too big... keep breaking them up!

 This is about the size you want the butter pieces.  The size of peas. 

 I put ice in my water for a few minutes to make sure the water is really cold!  You want to use cold water so you don't start to melt the butter.  The chunks of butter in the dough give it that light and flaky texture once its baked!

Mix in the water until just combined.

Roll into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. 

Chill in the fridge for 2-4 hours.  If you want to keep it longer, put it in the freezer!

And that's how you make a good pie dough!  It's fast and easy.  I know people can be intimidated by the pie crust, but it is really easy to make and tastes so much better than a frozen pie crust!!  

So, now all you have to do is figure out what type of pie you want to make!!  I am making Strawberry pie, so keep an eye out for the recipe!  

I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend!!  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chocolate Almond Puff Pastry Bundles

Have you ever used frozen Puff Pastry?!  It's great!  It tastes just like homemade Puff Pastry, but without all the work!  Puff Pastry is basically lots and lots of little layers of dough and butter.  It is similar to croissant dough, but does not have any yeast.  Steam is what makes it puff up so beautifully to become light and flaky.  

These little bundles are delicious and so easy to make!  Once the Puff Pastry is defrosted, it only takes a few minutes to prepare it before it goes into the oven.  

Chocolate Almond Puff Pastry Bundles

  • 1/2 cup powdered almonds
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten; 2 tbsp for the almond paste and save the remaining egg for egg wash
  • Chocolate chips
  • 1 sheet of Puff Pastry, defrosted
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. In small bowl, mix powdered almonds, sugar and 2 tbsp. of eggs.
  3. Unroll or unfold the puff pastry, and cut it into 9 pieces, 3 x 3. 
  4. Place a small spoonful of almond paste in the middle of the puff pastry square.
  5. Put a tbsp or so of chocolate chips on top of the almond paste.
  6. Egg wash the edges of the puff pastry, and fold all the corners up and press together.
  7. Place on a baking sheet and egg wash.  Repeat until all 9 are done.
  8. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown.
  9. Enjoy!

Mmm... these little treats are SO easy to make!  And so delicious!  They taste like little chocolate croissants without all the work!  

Puff Pastry is so easy to use and the filling possibilities are endless!!  They can be savory or sweet!  I can't wait to try some new flavor combinations!  

I hope everyone has a nice Memorial Day weekend!!   

Monday, May 21, 2012

DIY Painted Herb Pots

I love to grow herbs in the summer time!  

There are so many good things about growing them yourself. They will always be fresh, because you can pick them as you need them.  You know where they are being grown and can grow them organically without an pesticides.  They are cheap!!  My plants cost me $3 a piece and I will have them all summer long, and even longer if I bring them inside!  You don't need a big garden to grow them like you would with vegetables.  Those are just some of the reasons I love to grow herbs at home.

So when I got my herbs this year, I wanted to make the pots just a little bit brighter!  So I painted them and used chalkboard paint so I could write the type of herb right on the pot!  

I started with these basic clay pots that I got at Wal Mart for about a buck each.  

Then, I painted them 3 different colors.  *Be sure to use paint that is for the outdoors if you plan on putting these pots outside!  Also, on the inside of the pot, use a non toxic paint sealer.  Otherwise, when your pot is filled with water, it will soak through the pot and can damage your paint job!  

Then, I painted on chalkboard paint so I could write the name of each herb on the pot.  Once everything was completely dry, I planted my herbs!!

I planted mint, rosemary and basil in my pots!  These are my favorite herbs to cook with.  

This is an easy project that anyone can do!  It would be a great craft for kids too!  They can paint their own pot and put their name on it instead of the herb name.  Then have fun planting their favorite flowers in the pot!  They will love watching "their" flowers grow!  

Do you grow herbs at home and cook with them?!  What kind do you use the most?  

Enjoy this beautiful weather of mid May and go plant some herbs!  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Cheesecake

I love when the weather warms up and the grocery stores have tons of delicious, beautiful berries!  I picked up a bunch of strawberries and blueberries during my last trip to the store.  And I had some lemons in the fridge because I love to drink lemon water!

So I wanted to make some cheesecake for the hubby who loves it!  I love lemon cheesecake and he loves strawberry, so I wanted to combine the two and I came up with this delicious cheesecake recipe!  

Then, I was in the kitchen getting everything ready to start making the cheesecake.  I pulled out the graham crackers for the crust... and they were expired.  Not just expired, but almost a year old!  I guess I really don't use graham crackers very often!  I was kinda annoyed thinking I would have to run to the store.  So I looked through the pantry for a substitute.  I found Whole Wheat Ritz crackers.  And now I know they are not your normal ingredient for a cheesecake crust, but it worked out really well!  You obviously can use graham crackers instead, but it's nice to know that if you are in a bind, you can substitute ingredients in a pinch.   Crackers, cookies, biscotti... lots of options!

Strawberry Lemonade Cheesecake


  • 1 1/2 cups Ritz crackers, finely crushed  (OR graham crackers!)
  • 3 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 oz. heavy cream
  • 2 oz. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • zest of 1 lemon, and half the juice
  • 6 strawberries, cut up in a small dice
  1. Mix the crust ingredients together in a bowl, and press into the bottom of a 9 inch tart pan.
  2. Bake in a 350° oven for 10 minutes.  Pull out of oven and let cool until the filling is ready.
  3. In a mixer bowl, cream the cream cheese until smooth.
  4. Add the egg, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, zest and lemon juice and mix until combined.
  5. Lastly, mix in the strawberry pieces. 
  6. Pour cheesecake mixture into tart pan. 
  7. Bake for 25 minutes.  *Normally, you would want to bake a cheesecake with a water bath so it does not crack.  Since this is baked in a shallow tart pan, it bakes fast enough that you do not need a water bath.  
  8. Cool in the fridge for 4 hours. 
  9. Depan and enjoy!  

Crushing the crackers in a ziploc bag using a rolling pin.  

Enjoy the cheesecake with freshly whipped cream and berries!  

What kind of cheesecake is your favorite?!  I have lots... Chocolate, Lemon, and Pumpkin just to name a few!  Now I have added Strawberry Lemonade to my list too!!