See A Penny… Instant Tulip Trick!

CreateTulips are probably one of the most iconic spring flowers. They add instant color and seasonal appeal to any tablescape or floral arrangement. However, nobody wants to see a droopy tulip. Here’s a neat trick (courtesy of my sister-in-law, Rachel) to help keep your tulips standing tall!

Crafty Tip: Add a penny to the bottom of each vase/vessel. The penny slowly oxidizes the water so the tulips stay tall for a longer period of time!

tulips_before

Before the penny

tulips_after

After the penny

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Filed under by Danielle, Crafts, Home Decor

‘Fresh Baked’ Makes Its Debut!

BakeFresh Baked by The Crafty Hostess makes its debut today at a local fundraising event! Great news — if you live in the NY Metro/Tri-State area, look for The Crafty Hostess at a farmers marker or craft fair near you! I will be selling homemade baked goods, caramel popcorn, fudge, jams, jellies and more! Check back soon for the schedule of dates and locations.

Fresh Baked

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Garlic & Herb Infused Olive Oil

The Crafty Hostess: MakeIn the past, I’ve posted about homemade jams and giardinera (Italian pickled vegetables), which my sister-in-law and I enjoy making. Canning/preserving can be a little daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s so much fun for a foodie like me! Not to mention, nothing is nicer than giving friends and family your homemade creations. Most recently, we decided to try our hand at infusing olive oil. The result? Deliciousness! Use infused oil for a variety of things; dipping oil for bread, drizzle over chicken or fish, use as a marinade for vegetables… the possibilities are endless.

For this recipe, we used garlic, rosemary, sage and thyme, but feel free to experiment with any combination of herbs that you like. It’s always best to do your research before canning/preserving foods at home. Here are a few important things that we learned before infusing the oil:

  • It is critical that your garlic and herbs (or anything that you’re using to infuse the oil) is bone dry. If water is present in the oil, a bacteria can form, which can be harmful. Serious illness like botulism can occur if the bacteria is ingested. Please don’t let this scare you. As long as your bottles are dry and the herbs, etc. are completely dried and free of any moisture, your oil will be perfectly fine to consume. Unless you are planning to use the oil within a few days and are storing it in the refrigerator, this is critical.
  • Glass bottles with a cork top work best to preserve the oil and keep fresh for a longer shelf-life. We bought our bottles from a New Jersey home wine/beer-making supplier called Corrados.
  • When infusing oil, use high-quality, extra virgin olive oil.
  • Buying pre-packaged, dried garlic and herbs from the grocery store is perfectly fine to use. However, if you prefer to use fresh herbs and/or garlic, you will need to leave enough time to dry them out. Dehydrators work well, but can take a long time to dry (in some cases, several hours or days). Air drying herbs is another option. You can also use your oven to dry garlic and herbs. For drying times and instructions, it’s best to do some online research. Start with wikiHow and go from there.
  • Be sure your bottles are sterilized in the dishwasher before using. Again, it’s critical that the bottles are bone dry before filling them with oil.
  • Be sure that you select the right size bottle for the amount of oil that you’ll be making.

oil

oil bottles_2

(Yields 8 12-ounce bottles)

Ingredients:

Mixture of dried herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme

Dried garlic

3 liters of extra virgin olive oil

 

Supplies:

Glass bottles with corks (we used the “bar” corks that are shorter and easily twist in and out)

Large pot

Funnel

Ladle

 

How to:

Once the herbs and garlic are completely dry, you can begin making the infused oil. Pour all of the oil into a large pot. Add the herbs and garlic and gently simmer for 20 minutes. This allows the herbs and garlic to really permeate the oil. Carefully ladle the oil/herb/garlic liquid into the bottles using a funnel. Leave about one inch of headspace at the top of the bottle. Immediately insert the cork and push all the way down. Store the oil in a cool, dark place for at least 1-2 weeks before using. It’s perfectly safe to use the oil immediately, however, giving it 1-2 weeks to sit really allows the garlic and herbs to infuse the oil.

These bottles make such a beautiful gift! Tie a lovely ribbon around the neck of the bottle and attach a nice oil/bottle spout for easy pouring. You could also package the oil with a crusty loaf of artisan bread or crackers, cheese and dried fruits for an elegant hostess gift.

 

 

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Super Easy, Super Flavorful Seasoning for Chicken-on-the-Grill

The Crafty Hostess: MakeNow that the snow has melted and I can finally access my barbeque grill without having to wear boots up to my knees (LOL), I’m excited to kick off the grilling season and enjoy the simplicity and taste of meats, vegetables and pizza cooked over an open flame. My go-to recipe for chicken on the grill is so easy, yet packed with tons of flavor. Best of all, you can season the chicken ahead of time and place in a large zip-top bag in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fire up the grill. It couldn’t be easier to get dinner on the table! Happy Grilling!

grilled chicken legs

Ingredients:

Chicken leg quarters (leg/thigh attached)

Lots of fresh garlic, minced

Lots of fresh rosemary, chopped

Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

Kosher salt

Black pepper

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Olive oil

 

How to:

Using kitchen shears, remove the skin from the chicken. Feel free to leave the skin on if you enjoy it; it’s very tasty when it gets crispy on the grill. Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in a large bowl.

Add the garlic, parsley, rosemary and all of the seasonings to the bowl. Drizzle a good amount of olive oil on the chicken. Mix well so the chicken is coated with all of the garlic, herbs and spices. Season liberally with salt and pepper. If making ahead of time, place in a zip-top bag and keep refrigerated until ready to grill.

chicken legs_prep

Grill on a gas grill, charcoal grill or even roast in the oven.

 

 

 

 

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Personalized, Initial Wall Plaque

CreateMy friend Monica made this initial ‘C’ wall plaque to hang above the stairway that leads to her finished walk-out basement. I just loved it and wanted to share it with all of you. She made it herself with some supplies purchased at one of my favorite stores — Michaels! I had no idea she was so crafty!

Monica_letter wall plaque

Supplies needed:

Wood plaque/backboard, wood letter, wood fleur de lis/scroll (all purchased at Michaels)

Wood stain & applicator

Spray paint (two different colors)

Wood glue

How to:

Stain the larger wood plaque/backboard. Allow to dry completely. Using two different colors of paint, spray the scroll/decorative piece and the letter. Have fun with the colors that you’re using. If hanging in a kids room, go with brighter, cheerful colors. Allow all of the pieces to dry fully.

Using wood glue, attach the scroll/decorative piece to the plaque. Next, attach the letter on top of the scrolled piece. Again, allow to fully dry/set before hanging.

This makes a wonderful hostess gift, housewarming gift or gift for a newly married couple!

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Preparing Your Home for Spring Entertaining

CreateFor me, entertaining (during any season) is a state of mind. It’s not just about serving good food and drinks; it’s about creating an inviting, pleasant atmosphere for your family and guests to enjoy. To do this, I like to add touches of the season in every area of my home that guests will be present. For the spring season, I always try to lighten up my home décor accents and bring a little of the outdoors inside. Plants, flowers and color begin to emerge outside — and the inside of your home should follow suit. I like to think of it as shedding my home’s winter layer; coming out from under the heavier fall and winter coat. Here are a few pieces of inspiration to help you prep your home for this glorious season of rebirth — spring!

Begin outside. Greet guests with a smile! Adorn your front door with a colorful, textural wreath like one of these.

wreath1

Courtesy of Beautiful Nest

Buttoned_Up_Wreath_33

Courtesy of The O’Neil Sisters

LLH_HERBS_WREATH

Seen on OneKingsLane.com

 

Revisit your mantel. Use your fireplace mantel to set the stage for spring splendor!

Original_Mantel-Decorating-Layla-Palmer-Spring_s4x3_lg

Layla Palmer for HGTV

gray fireplace

Seen on zomdai.com

spring-mantel-ideas

Seen on theinspiredroom.net

 

Lighten up! Shed your home’s heavy linens, pillows, tablecloths and draperies and go with easy, breezy fabrics and vibrant colors.

Anodyne pillow from ashandanchor.com

Anodyne pillow from ashandanchor.com

 

Seen on designlike.com

Seen on designlike.com

Seen on LessThanPerfectLifeOfBliss

Seen on LessThanPerfectLifeOfBliss

 

Add cheery, seasonal accents to living/family rooms, bathrooms and kitchen/dining areas.

Seen on LessThanPerfectLifeOfBliss

Seen on LessThanPerfectLifeOfBliss

 

spring-decor-ideas-7

Seen on thebeautifulengland.com

Seen on LusHome.com

Seen on LushHome.com

colorful-bathroom-decor-interior

Seen on freshome.com

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Filed under by Danielle, Create, Entertaining, Home Decor

Vegetable Lasagna

The Crafty Hostess: MakeI entertained a few women for lunch a couple of weeks ago. I thought a nice lasagna, along with a tossed salad, would be perfectly satisfying. However, I wanted to keep it on the lighter side, so instead of making my typical chopped meat filling, I substituted sautéed vegetables. Delish for a ladies lunch or weeknight family meal!

vegetable lasagna_final

Ingredients:

1 jar marinara sauce (or make your own)

1 box Barilla lasagna noodles

1 medium zucchini

1 medium yellow squash

1 bag fresh baby spinach

1  large shallot, diced

About 15 ounces of ricotta cheese, at room temperature

1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese, about 4 cups

Grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

Olive oil

Salt, pepper

 

How to:

Wash the zucchini and yellow squash; pat dry. Chop into bite-sized pieces (quarter rounds are nice because they lay flat on the pasta). In a medium pan, sautee the shallot in olive oil. Add the zucchini and squash. Sautee until the vegetables begin to soften; add in the spinach and allow to wilt down. The vegetables should be tender, but not soft and mushy. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Boil the water for the lasagna noodles, adding salt and olive oil to the water (the oil will help the noodles from sticking together). Cook until just al dente. You don’t want the pasta to be overcooked or it will get too mushy in the oven. Drain well. In a small pot, heat your marinara sauce.

In a 9 x 13 glass baking dish, ladle some of the marinara sauce on the bottom. Begin layering the lasagna noodles. You can layer them the traditional way, which is by laying them lengthwise down the longest part of the baking dish. I layer them across the width of the dish, allowing them to hang over the sides of the dish, then I fold them all in at the end. However, this is not necessary (and it uses more of the noodles).

FIRST LAYER:

  1. Ladle sauce over the noodles
  2. Carefully place dollops of ricotta cheese on top of sauce; gently spread with a spoon or spatula
  3. Spoon some of the vegetable mixture on top
  4. Scatter a good amount of mozzarella on top, followed by a nice handful of grated cheese

REPEAT THE STEPS ABOVE FOR THREE-FOUR LAYERS (DEPENDING ON HOW THICK YOU LIKE YOUR LASAGNA)

vegetable lasagna_veg layer

Be sure to reserve enough marinara sauce for the very top layer of the lasagna. In a preheated 400 degree oven, bake the lasagna for about 30 minutes or until you can see the sauce beginning to bubble underneath the noodles. Allow it to sit out for at least one hour before slicing. I prefer to make my lasagna the day before, storing it in the fridge. It’s easy to reheat before I’m ready to serve it. Plus, it gives it a chance to really firm up, making it much easier to cut.

Crafty Tip: This is the perfect dish to make on a Sunday, then store in the fridge and reheat during the week for dinner. It also freezes very well.

 

 

 

 

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Bold, Exotic Florida Grapefruit Recipes

The Crafty Hostess: MakeWhether you’re looking to spice up an everyday meal, add sophistication to a beverage creation, or take dessert to a new level by featuring unexpected flavors, these recipes, created by celebrity chef Aarti Sequeira (former food blogger and Season 6 winner of Food Network Star), have you covered! Bursting with refreshing Florida grapefruit, herbs and spices, Chef Aarti’s creations put a bold, ethnic, trendy spin on your favorite dishes. Kick off spring with a punch of fresh, new flavors and of course, Florida grapefruit!

Kale & Grapefruit Salad with Warm Bacon-Wild Mushroom Dressing

Kale-and-Grapefruit-Salad

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 to 2 bunches black kale (about 1 pound), washed, stalks removed, sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for massaging
3 slices thick-sliced bacon, roughly chopped
8 ounces wild mushrooms, thinly sliced (recommended: crimini and chanterelle)
1 medium shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup 100% Florida grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 large ruby red grapefruit, cut into segments
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to:

Place kale in a very large bowl.  Sprinkle with a couple of pinches of kosher salt
and a very light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Now, begin “massaging” the kale; squeeze fistfuls of the leaves and rub between your fingers.  The kale will begin to wilt within minutes!  Once uniformly wilted, set aside on the counter and prepare the dressing.
Grab a medium sauté pan or skillet and place it over medium-low heat.  Add bacon pieces and cook, stirring every now and then, until most of the fat has rendered off and bacon bits are brown and just crispy.  Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper-towel lined plate.  Pour off bacon fat into a measuring cup.  If necessary, add enough extra virgin olive o il to make 1/4 cup.  Pour back into sauté pan. Add the mushrooms, stir to coat in the fat, then spread out into an even layer. Don’t touch them for 3 to 5 minutes!  They will start to soften and sizzle.  Now stir and cook, stirring often until they are golden brown around the edges.  Stir in the shallots and cook until the whole mixture is browned and aromatic. Add champagne vinegar, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan
with your spoon.  Turn the heat off.  Add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, the grapefruit juice and 1 tablespoon honey.  Stir together, taste for seasoning and
adjust according to your palate.

Sprinkle kale with hazelnuts, bacon bits and grapefruit segments.  Pour warmdressing over the top and serve immediately.

 

Tandoori Steak Grapefruit Lettuce Wrap

3dc5e1498071fd66_Tandoori-Steak-Grapefruit-Lettuce-Wraps_jpg_xxxlarge

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

Steak

1/2 cup grapefruit juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 large cloves garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of excess fat and silver skin

Tandoori sauce

1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons tandoori powder

1 teaspoon ginger, grated

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Filling

2 ruby-red grapefruits, peeled, removed of the pith, segmented, and coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

2 english cucumbers, peeled, finely diced

2 green onions, finely sliced

4 sprigs mint, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Assembly

1 head romaine lettuce, leaves pulled apart

 

How to:

To make steak marinade: Whisk together grapefruit juice, soy sauce, garlic, and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over steak, and marinate at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes while you make the sauce and filling.

To make tandoori sauce: Whisk together yogurt, grapefruit juice, garlic, honey, tandoori powder, and ginger. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a small saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Cook over low heat, about 10 minutes, until thickened. Set aside.

To make filling: Toss grapefruit, cucumbers, green onions, and mint with extra-virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

To cook steak: Cook steak in a very hot cast iron skillet, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove it from the pan, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain.

To assemble wraps: Place lettuce leaves on a plate. Place a couple of pieces of steak in a romaine leaf, top with grapefruit filling, and drizzle with tandoori sauce. Serve immediately.

 

Grapefruit Smoothie with Fennel Seed

Party-in-the-kitchen-with-Aarti-smoothie-722x406

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 cup 100% Florida grapefruit juice
2 cups plain 2% Greek yogurt
4 frozen bananas
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Big pinch kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground fennel seeds
Fennel seed candy, optional

 

How to:

Place all the ingredients in the blender (in the order listed for optimal blending). Whizz together until smooth. Taste for seasoning, adding more honey if you like. Pour into 4 glasses, sprinkle with fennel seed candy if desired and serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under by Danielle, Make

Roasted, Lemony Cauliflower

The Crafty Hostess: MakeI’m always experimenting with new ways to cook vegetables. Sure, it’s easy enough to steam or boil them, but sometimes that can get a little boring. Of course, grilling vegetables outside on a charcoal or gas grill during the warmer months is definitely my favorite method, but when it’s too chilly to crank up the grill, use your oven! Most people don’t think of roasting cauliflower or broccoli, but it’s an easy and delicious way to get a beautiful caramelization on the vegetables and it enhances their flavor. Here’s my spin on adding lots of brightness to cauliflower!

roasted cauliflower

Ingredients:

1 large head of cauliflower

1 lemon, zest and juice

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Parmesan, Pecorino or Hard Provolone for grating on top

Olive oil

 

How to:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut up and trim the cauliflower; wash under cold water and pat dry. You want the pieces to all be small-medium in size; if they’re left too big, they will not roast evenly and will also take longer to cook. Spread the cauliflower florets on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the florets. Season well with salt and pepper; zest the lemon and sprinkle over the florets. Squeeze the lemon juice onto the cauliflower. With clean hands, toss the florets on the baking sheet until they are coated well with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and lemon zest.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until the cauliflower is lightly golden and a fork inserted in the florets goes in and out easily. During the last 5 minutes of roasting, sprinkle a good amount of grated cheese on top of the cauliflower. Serve hot or room temperature. If desired, squeeze more lemon juice on top before serving.

 

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‘Pot of Gold’ Fruit Salad

The Crafty Hostess: MakeLooking for a fun, healthy, colorful way to enjoy a sweet treat this St. Patrick’s Day? Make this ‘Pot of Gold’ Fruit Salad and get the whole family involved in helping in the kitchen. Plus, it’ll get the kids excited to eat a healthy portion of fruit. And after the fruit is eaten, give them a little chocolate reward by letting them unwrap the gold-foiled candy at the end of the rainbow!

pot of gold fruit

Photo courtesy of my friend, Monica

Ingredients:

Strawberries (left whole, stems removed)

Cantaloupe or orange segments

Pineapple

Green grapes

Blackberries or blueberries

Purple/red grapes

Mini marshmallows

Rolo candy (left in foil wrappers)

 

How to:

Cover a large, flat platter or board with sky blue paper, then wrap in clear plastic wrap. Leave strawberries, grapes and blackberries whole. Cut pineapple into chunks, segment oranges (or cut cantaloupe if using instead of orange segments). Begin assembling the fruit into the shape and colors of the rainbow, beginning with the strawberries as the top layer, then the oranges, pineapple, green grapes, blackberries, purple grapes. Pile the mini marshmallows at the bottom left of the rainbow, then the gold Rolo candy at the bottom right.

 

 

 

 

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