Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lakehouse Home Tour: The Screen Porch


Can you believe that it's the end of August?  I can't!  I really don't know where Summer went this year.  I'm hoping it doesn't cool down too quickly here in Michigan - I want more time to enjoy our screen porch.  It's one of my favorite spots in the house to enjoy during the warmer months.  We love eating dinner out here, and it's also the perfect spot for a glass or wine or to read a book.  Or, just staring at the lake. That's good too.


It's our second Summer in the lakehouse and this year the screen porch got a big upgrade - The Geneva Concrete Dining Table from Pottery Barn.  I love it!  We wanted something heavy since we are prone to really high winds here on the lake.  The chairs are the Threshold Holden Wicker Patio Dining Chair from Target and were an amazing value.  I'm really happy with them.  They are super comfortable and have held up well so far.





The sofa and chairs are old and moved with me from my old condo.  I bought them at Pier One, probably 10 years ago!  The coffee table is also that old and came from Target.





I made the pillows myself a few years ago.  I still like the patterns, so they are staying!



Below is the view from a door in the kitchen to the porch.  The French doors on the right lead to the living room.  On nice days, we leave them all open - it's great!


The floor is natural Quartzite from Daltile in a Versailles pattern and is the same floor I used in the foyer {see the Foyer here}.  




The exterior siding is James Hardie cement board and is color 'Iron Grey'.  I was a little nervous going with such a dark color at first, but I'm so glad we did. I love it and it looks so nice with the white trim.






I'm crossing my fingers for a warm Fall!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How to Freeze Tomatoes - The Easy Way!


I planted 9 tomato plants this year in my new raised beds, and boy, they are all going crazy! (I post lots of pictures from my garden on Instagram, if you'd like to see, click here)   Last week it seemed as though all the full size tomatoes were ready for picking...all at once.  I was going out of town for a few days and knew I wouldn't be able to use the tomatoes up before I left, so I decided to freeze them for use later in the year.  It was quick and easy, and I know I will be happy to have these in the freezer this winter.


 How to Freeze Tomatoes:
1.  Fill a large pot of with water and heat to a boil.  Depending on how many tomatoes you have, you may find it best to start two pots.

2.  Use a paring knife to slice a "x" in the bottom of each tomato, then, core each tomato.

3.  When water is boiling, drop in tomatoes.  6-8 tomatoes at once is good, depending on their size.  Boil tomatoes for 3-7 minutes.  You will know when they are done by looking at the skin - if the skin has stared to peel and is shriveled, they are ready to remove from the water.  Remove and place in bowls.  Depending on how many tomatoes you have, you may need to repeat this process.

4.  Tomatoes will be very hot, so let them cool until you can handle them.  Using your hands, pull the skin away from the tomato; discard skin.  Use a knife to roughly chop up the tomatoes.  You may find it easiest to chop the tomatoes right in the bowl - that way, you won't lose any of the juices.  Using a ladle, place tomatoes and juices in quart size freezer bags.  Carefully remove as much air as you can before sealing the bags.  Place in freezer and start thinking of ways to use these this winter!







One night's harvest in the garden resulted in 4 quart bags of tomatoes!  I seem to make recipes calling for canned tomatoes quite often, so I know these will come in handy this winter. 

I'm off to pick more tomatoes from the garden!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

One Pot Pasta with Basil & Cherry Tomatoes


 
These days, I'm pretty much surviving on tomatoes and basil.  Seriously.  My garden is bursting with both and it's fantastic.  I had a bunch of cherry tomatoes to use and was excited to come across this recipe - a delicious way to use a good 3 cups of them! 
 
One Pot Pasta with Basil & Cherry Tomatoes
- 3 to 3-1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, sliced thin
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- large handful of basil leaves, torn or cut into small pieces
- 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 12 oz. of pasta
- 4-1/4 cups water
- fresh Parmesan cheese, grated, for topping
 
Add all ingredients to a large stock pot.  Heat on stove until mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes or until pasta tastes done, tossing often with tongs.  Even if all of the water is not absorbed, remove from heat, cover and let additional liquid absorb.  Dish out and top with Parmesan.  Enjoy!
 
{ Original recipe is from Martha Stewart - I found it here at Barefeet in the Kitchen }
 

 
This pasta is surprisingly creamy for not having any type of cream in it.  The tomatoes cook down and create a delicious sauce and flavor.  And really, does it get much easier than one pot? 



 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Weekend Kitchen: Tortellini, Pesto, & Mozzarella Skewers


I've found the perfect summer appetizer!  It's fresh, simple, and super easy to put together.  What could be better?


Tortellini, Pesto, & Mozzarella Skewers

Ingredients:
- Cheese tortellini
- Fresh mozzarella balls
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fresh basil leaves
- Pesto (prepared or homemade)
- Skewers (the ones I used are 6" long)

* Quantity of ingredients depends on how many skewers you want to make.


1.  Cook tortellini according to package instructions.  Drain and place in a bowl. Mix in a small amount of pesto so that the pasta doesn't stick together.

2.  Assemble skewers.  Lay first row of skewers on platter and spoon pesto over the tortellini. Continue layering on assembled skewers and topping the tortellini with pesto.

3.  That's it!  Serve and enjoy.


All of a sudden, my cherry tomatoes are ripening by the dozen, so this was the perfect appetizer to make.  The basil also came from my garden (see this post).  It's so nice having fresh produce outside my back door!

Don't the skewers make for a pretty presentation?  






Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How to Propagate Basil



If you follow me on Instagram you may remember the photo I shared of tiny basil clippings lined up on my windowsill back in April.  I'm pleased to say that the propagating technique worked and my garden is now bursting with basil.  If you love basil as much as I do, you are going to want to try this!
 
1.  Start with a healthy basil plant from the grocery store or garden nursery.
 
 
2.  Cut of sections of basil at the top of the plant, making sure to cut the center stem at the intersection of 3 stems.  See example in photo below:
 
 
 
3.  Place each basil cutting in a small glass jar filled with water.
 
 

4.  Place jars in a sunny windowsill.  Watch water levels and refill with fresh water every few days.
 
 
 
 
5.  In a couple of weeks, small roots will appear!  Continue to refill water in jars until roots are 1/2" to an 1" long.
 
 
 
 
6.  Plant each cutting outside in your garden and watch it grow!  If you don't have a garden, basil grows very well in containers.  Plant a big pot with your cuttings and you'll be all set.
 
Who knew that propagating basil would be so easy!  I can't wait to enjoy countless capreses and lots of pesto this summer.
 
 

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