Broccoli & Pecorino Pesto Spaghetti Squash

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Well! What a week, full of ups and downs! I accepted a new job that I am so excited about! Don’t you worry, I have every intention of keeping this blog going but was feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of essentially working a full-time job while still keeping this “part-time hobby” going. I’ve had so much fun this summer with my DIY projects, remodeling and cooking and getting to share it all with you on this site but have been stressing about scheduling and juggling it all. I put this aside for a bit as we traveled to Napa Valley last weekend for a beautiful family wedding and got to spend time with some of my husband’s family, such a great time! It was also there that I experienced my first big earthquake, as you may have seen on the news. Quite the eventful weekend. We returned home and I learned that one of my recipe posts, Parmesan Fritter Salad with Bacon Buttermilk Dressing, would be featured by the National Pork Board on their social media sites, a very cool thing for a new blogger like myself. I felt reinvigorated about the blog and confident that I could keep this thing going. At the end of this last week the website was down for a day and once it was back up and running, our internet decided to crash (possibly because I bumped the cords on the Wi-Fi router while I was painting…meh, what are you gonna do?) We are finally back up and running and I’m ready for a new week!

I made this pasta for dinner when we got back from Napa, after a weekend full of yummy food and lots of wine, our bodies needed a healthy meal. I don’t love pesto, I’m pretty sure it’s because of the pine nuts, so when I saw this recipe that used broccoli and pecorino rather than pine nuts and parmesan I had to give it a try. Of course, I substituted spaghetti squash for pasta noodles. I think on my next “pasta dish” I may give zoodles a try…any one tried that before? Anyway, this dish turned out to be delicious and I will most certainly make it again.

Broccoli & Pecorino Pesto Spaghetti Squash
Serves 2
For the spaghetti squash:
1 large spaghetti squash
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Using a large slicer or chef’s knife, cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove and discard the seeds from the center of the squash. Rub the 2 halves of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Place squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until center is soft.
4. Once the squash is finished cooking, remove from the oven, turn it over and use a fork to remove the inside “noodles” from the squash.

For the pesto:
2 heads of fresh broccoli, florets removed from stems
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp grated fresh lemon rind
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup) plus more for topping

1. Steam the broccoli florets. This can be done in a vegetable steamer, in the microwave or my choice, in a stock pot fitted with a basket steamer. Microwave method would be to put florets into a bowl with about 1 1/2 inches water in the bottom and cook for approx, 5 minutes, until broccoli is soft. Stock pot method, fill stock pot halfway with water, bring to a boil, place florets in basket steamer, cover pot with a lid and steam for approx. 10 minutes.
2. Once broccoli is steamed, combine it with the remaining ingredients in a food processor, pulse until finely chopped. With processor on, add 3/4 cup warm water through the food chute until sauce reaches desired consistency.
3. Place sauce in a large bowl, add noodles, and toss to combine. Serve immediately topped with more shredded pecorino cheese and a few extra basil leaves.

*Original recipe from Cooking Light

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Converting carpeted stairs to hardwood

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I feel like I’ve been a bit MIA this week. There has been a lot going on and a lot of good things in the works but this week I definitely struggled to balance it all. Here’s to hoping I get my act together next week 🙂

The exciting news is that I did get my carpet stairs converted to hard wood! This was by far my biggest project to date. Now, luckily for me, my stairs are fairly simple in that it is just the risers and treads, no banisters or newel posts to deal with. I was hoping that when I pulled up the carpet I would get lucky and discover original hardwood stairs but sadly, just nasty, paint-splattered plywood.

I am most certainly not an expert on this so all I can give you is advice from my experience.

Tip #1: Be ready to complete the entire staircase once you start, if possible. Once you start taking the staircase apart, you are going to have a big mess (and in my case, insulation) under you staircase and you won’t want to leave that open to rest of your house for too long.

Tip #2: Start at the bottom and work your way up, one step at a time. Start by removing the existing stair parts, risers and treads for the bottom 2 steps. Cut you new hardwood risers and treads to fit the space. Place the first and second riser using wood glue and nails. With the upper and lower risers in place, you can place you first tread in the same way. As you work your way up the stairs, you’ll lay the upper riser followed by the tread below it.

Tip #3: I used both wood glue and nails to secure my stairs and will counter-sink the nails, fill nail holes with wood filler and stain the wood later. Because I used glue and nails, the stairs were VERY secure right away. If you are not using nails and are just gluing your stairs, be prepared to not walk on them for at least 3 days. The most common reason to not use nails is if you paint you stair parts before installing them. I’ve come to learn that when installing anything, it’s going to get dirty and you’ll have to touch it up anyway, so better to save time and paint once you’ve installed.

Here are my photos in order of how my stair parts went in. I used Unfinished Oak Interior Stair Tread & Unfinished Oak Interior Stair Riser, both from Lowe’s.

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My first step was to remove the carpet, underlayment, treads & risers from the first two steps.

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Second, placed the 1st and 2nd risers.

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Third, place your first stair tread. Don’t mind Ella in the background, she’s just supervising my work 🙂 At this point I also removed the parts from the third step.

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You get the pattern at this point, right? 🙂

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Finished product! They turned out so well! Now to touch up the walls, and stain the steps 🙂 my plan is to have white risers and stain the treads the same color as the floors. I’ll be sure to post the completed photo once the painting is done!

Faux Wrought Iron Wall Decor

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While online shopping for some wall décor that I liked, I came across a gorgeous hand carved wood plaque that came in 3 panels. It was beautiful and the perfect size for the large wall space I was wanting to fill. Then I looked to the right and saw the price…$800. Of course! This is why I started this blog, as my dad always says, I have champagne taste on a beer budget. I want to find ways to create a chic and stylish home without breaking the bank. I wanted something that looked hand carved or like wrought iron and realized a rubber door mat was exactly the design I was searching for and all needed to do was paint and sand it to get the desired look.

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I started with this Allen & Roth rubber floor mat from Lowe’s. This particular mat is 24″ x 36″ so I bought 3 of them to cover the space I wanted and to get the same look as the wood carved panels I was dreaming about.

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Next step was to paint. Now I could have easily used spray paint (which would have been much easier and faster!) but spray paint is pretty sticky and adheres to most surfaces well but I wanted to get an antique look, for the paint to flake off in places the way it does on rusty old wrought iron. I used Annie Sloan chalk paint in pure white. Once the paint had dried, I used an electric hand sander to chip away some of the paint.
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Once I got the desired look, I hung it up! The paint did continue to flake off a bit as I handled the mat and hung it so be careful. I may try some type of spray on sealant to keep it looking to way it does now, if I do, I’ll keep you all posted.

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Enjoy! And happy DIYing!
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Inspired by…home of Kim Kardashian & Kanye West

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Welcome to the good life! If there is one thing you can’t criticize about one of the most sought after couples, it’s their taste in real estate. This gorgeous French Country-style estate sits on 3.5 acres in Calabasas, California, complete with it’s own vineyard. If I had to hide from paparazzi, I certainly wouldn’t mind doing it here.

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Ginger-Soy-Lime Shrimp

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I got a text from my friend Nancy one day saying I had to try these shrimp. Nancy loves herself some shrimp, she is always trying different marinades and recipes on them when we go over for dinner. So when she told me I HAD to try this Bobby Flay recipe, I knew it must be the best yet. And boy was it! These make a great appetizer or side dish for your next BBQ, just throw the ingredients in a food processor or blender, marinate the shrimp for a couple of hours and grill them up. The original recipe calls for peanut oil, I didn’t have any so I used sesame oil instead. It also called for the shrimp to be unpeeled, but the shrimp absorb more of the marinade if they are peeled and you don’t want to make you guest peel shrimp before eating them…so messy!

Ginger-Soy-Lime Shrimp
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 sesame oil
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails on

1. Place shallots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice and sugar in food processor (or blender) and pulse until smooth. Add green onion and oil and pulse until combined. Season with black pepper to taste.
2. Place shrimp in a large bowl, pour marinade over and let them marinade, covered and refrigerated for 3-5 hours.
3. Preheat a grill to high, remove shrimp from marinade and skewer them, then grill for 2-3 minutes per side.

*Original recipe from Bobby Flay for Food Network

Baseboard How-To

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I started installing the baseboard in the foyer this week and realized I should have done this before the crown moulding because it is way easier to do. The fact that the baseboard sits flat against the wall makes both cutting and installation much easier. I actually used door & window casing as my baseboard because I liked the look of it more than the floor baseboard options. And I chose a moulding that was already primed because I wanted to paint it white.

Supplies
Baseboard
miter box & saw
measuring tape
1 1/2″ finish nails
hammer
nail punch set
wood filler
paint & paint brush for finish

When I did my crown moulding, I painted the boards before I cut and installed them and I ended up having to repaint them to cover the wood filler, marks from the hammer, etc. So this time, I decided to wait to paint until after installation was complete.

Some rules to follow for cutting and installation:
1. Pick a starting point and move clockwise around the room
2. If possible, try to use one continuous piece of moulding per section so there are no seams in the middle of the wall.
3. Determine what type of cut you need on the left side (flat, inside corner, outside corner) and make that cut first. Then measure the section you are working on, keeping the measuring tape flat against the wall. Remember: measure twice, cut once. Using that measurement, mark the back side of the moulding.
4. Using the miter box, place your moulding flat against the side of the miter box with your cut line lined up with the proper angle cut.
Take a look at the photos below for some visual aids.

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My first section needed to be flat on the left side (to go up against the door casing) with an inside corner cut on the right side. My cut line is on the back side of the moulding and is lined up with saw guide for the 45° angle cut on the right side. Use the pegs to hold your moulding in place while you cut.

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Check your work by placing the cut moulding in it’s designated spot to make sure you have a snug fit. I also don’t nail down the moulding until I’ve cut a few sections and made sure it all fits together. The next piece needed an inside corner to fit  with the first piece and an outside corner on the right side.

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The final piece of moulding for this section needed an outside cut on the left side and a flat cut on the right side to meet the closet door casing. Once all three pieces were cut and fit together nicely, I used the 1 1/2″ finish nails to secure the moulding in place, counter sunk the nails with the nail punch set and then filled the nail holes with wood filler. I also used wood filler on the corner seams to give the moulding a smooth and seamless look.

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I had removed the old baseboard in order to lay the new flooring and the new moulding I installed was shorter than the original so I used plaster to smooth out the wall surface so I could paint over it with the wall color. Then I used my Valspar Semi-Gloss interior paint in white to finish the trim with a nice glossy look.

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Spicy Lobster Spaghetti Squash

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Umm…spicy seafood heaven on a plate right here! The original recipe calls for regular spaghetti noodles but I’ve been substituting spaghetti squash for regular pasta noodles for a while now and I haven’t been disappointed yet. There is so much flavor in this dish without a lot of ingredients.

Spicy Lobster Spaghetti Squash
1 Spaghetti Squash
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. cherry & sun gold tomatoes, halved
1 lb. cooked lobster meat (can substitute cooked shrimp if you prefer)
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1. Preheat over to 375° F. Cut spaghetti squash in half, length wise, and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Rub cut side of squash with 1 Tbsp olive oil on each half and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
2. Once squash is done, remove from oven, and use a fork to scrap inside of squash into “noodles”
3. Heat remaining olive oil  and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook shallot and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes are soft and juicy, 6-7 minutes. Add lobster meat to skillet and toss to coat. Add noodles, season with salt & pepper to taste. Cook, tossing constantly until sauce thickens and coats noodles, about 2 minutes.
5. Serve topped with lemon zest

*Original recipe from Bon Appétit