Monday, April 30, 2012

Color Pop!

"The purest and most thoughtful minds 
are those which love color the most."
~John Ruskin


"Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? 
Can one really explain this? no. 
Just as one can never learn how to paint." 
~Pablo Picasso

Starting your Monday off with a rainbow of color...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Summer Salads

Crazy but true...I never ate a green salad until I was in my early twenties.  Hard to believe, I know, right? Salads were just not common in my home growing up. I was pretty much strictly a meat and potatoes girl. Oh, and cheese, lots of cheese. Vegetables...not so much. But, as I grew up so did my tastes buds. It was actually my husband who introduced me to the leafy greens when we began dating. He couldn't believe salads were not part of my regular eating habits, nor that I had omitted such an important food group from my diet. I started out with baby steps. Iceburg lettuce, croutons, ranch dressing. Yes, I know you are comparing me to an eight year old. But, in time, I did expand my horizons beyond the basics and now I enjoy a plethora of tasty green delectables. 
I do have to admit, though, that I typically don't crave many salads as a meal. For some reason they just don't seem to fill me up. I think of them as a light filler before the main course. But I have stumbled upon three divine dishes that are perfect for summer gatherings and the last one may stand alone as a meal in itself. I hope you will visit the sites where I found these scrumptious food inspirations~you will find the link below each recipe. Bon appetit!

Strawberry Spinach Salad

For the dressing:
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
2½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1½ tbsp. champagne*
1 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt

For the salad:
Baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
Sliced almonds, for topping
Sliced fresh strawberries, for topping

*I like to buy mini bottles of champagne for cooking, rather than have to open a whole bottle for a couple tablespoons.  In a pinch I have also used white wine and the dressing still tastes great.  Another option is to skip the separate vinegar and champagne, and instead use champagne vinegar (about 3 tbsp.)

In a blender or food processor, combine the strawberries, vinegar, champagne, sugar and salt.  Process until the mixture is well combined and completely smooth.  Transfer to an airtight bottle or container and refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve, portion baby spinach leaves out on salad plates.  Drizzle with the strawberry champagne vinaigrette.  Top with sliced almonds and strawberries.  Serve immediately.

Mozzarella Tomato & Avocado Salad

       1 container cherry tomatoes, cut in half
       1 carton fresh mozzarella cheese pearls, drained
       1 avocado, peeled and diced
       1/3 cup basil, julienned
       2 tablespoons fresh parsley
       1/4 cup lemon juice
       1/4 cup olive oil
       salt and pepper

        1) In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and parsley, Set aside.
        2) In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Pour over tomato
        mixture. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
        3) Just before serving the salad, stir in the chopped avocados. Serve salad with
        slotted spoon and toasty bread.

Blue Cheese Sirloin with Peach Rocket Salad

Sirloin is seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked until pink in the center, then topped with bleu cheese and a white-peach scented balsamic vinegar. Served alongside a simple Rocket Peach & Purple Onion Salad, this meal is light, tasty, and perfectly quick to pull together on a summer night.

1 thick-cut sirloin steak
sea salt & pepper
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons white peach juice concentrate
2 ounces bleu cheese
6 cups baby arugula (rocket)
2 peaches, peeled and diced
1/4 purple onion, diced
3 tablespoons light olive oil

Salt and pepper your steak. Heat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Add butter and cook just until melted, then place the steak in the pan. Cook until nicely browned, about 5-6 minutes.
Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and white peach juice concentrate. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the mixture.
Flip the steak, drizzle with remaining vinegar mixture, then top liberally with bleu cheese. Cover your pan with a lid to allow the steak to cook to a perfect, warm pink center (about an additional 4-6 minutes depending on how thick your steak is).
Gently transfer the steak to a cutting board and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing. in the meantime, toss together the ingredients for the salad. Mix together the olive oil and remaining balsamic vinegar mixture. Toss into salad, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve salad with sliced sirloin. Enjoy the heck out of it.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Simply Chic


"Fashions fade, style is eternal."
~Yves Saint Laurent

Starting your week with some sleek chic fashions and follies.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday I'm In Love...feature #12

One of my all time favorite home decor catalogs is Ballard Designs. I love the way this company mixes comfort and style with a European-Inspired timeless appeal. Their fresh focus for decorating seems to work with so many different home styles. My own home has a healthy scattering of Ballard designs from the bedroom and bath to the kitchen and the outdoors. Combined with my collection of vintage finds and antiques, Ballard's designs create a pleasing mix for the eye and a warm inviting home space. The latest catalog just arrived in my mailbox yesterday and I found myself drawn to the stylish outdoor decor and furnishings and their relaxed elegance. Perfect timing, since I had been working in my yard all day, re-potting an array of bright spring flowers and cleaning up my gazebo area and porches. I was already feeling inspired by the gorgeous spring day and Ballard only added to the inspiration! A few of my favorite picks to enhance your outdoor living and entertaining space...

Corsica Outdoor Oversized Chair
I am in love with this soothing color...
Corsica Outdoor Ottoman

Antique Letter Indoor/Outdoor Rug

I purchased this rug for my office but I can imagine it
looking great on the back porch as well.

These stepping stones are definitely on the wish list...

Leville Copper Wall Fountain
This copper fountain is spectacular. I have a cast iron one on my back porch 
and just love the sound of the trickling waterfall.

Brisbane Chaise

Toulon Planter
Love the planters....I'm just a sucker for almost anything 
with a fleur de lis, but these are truly elegant.

Scrolled Wall Sign
A favorite which is displayed on my garage wall, 
in addition to the matching scrolled wall sign staked in my front yard.

Outdoor Napoleonic Bee Pillow With Border
Cute bee pillows...

Eastport Luminary
Love, love, love candlelight...anytime, anywhere.

Personalized Italian Wine Chiller & Coasters

Just add bread and cheese and, of course, a few friends...

Rosette Indoor/Outdoor Clock
Fabulous clock...

Personalized Shield Hanging Plaque
I think this has such a European appeal, love it.

For a whole host of ideas for the home visit here to view Ballard Designs online and click here to become a facebook fan. One last exciting offer....Ballard is hosting a Pinterest Sweepstakes Challenge with the chance to win $1000 in merchandise. For more information on this "Pin It To Win It" challenge click here, but don't delay! The sweepstakes comes to an end on Monday, April 23, 2012 but you must submit your entry by the end of the day today. 
Best of luck!
And there you have it! Friday I'm In Love with Ballard Designs... outdoor living at it's finest. 
Enjoy the weekend....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Springtime in Paris

Before embarking on this dreamy parisian journey, 
I would suggest you grab a refreshing iced-tea, lemonade, 
iced coffee or perhaps a glass of wine....
perch yourself in a comfy spot on the porch and prop your feet up...
allow the warmth of the sun to embrace you....
breathe in the fresh floral scents of spring...
now bask in this mini parisian vacation and when you reach the end... 
shut your eyes and dream for just a moment or two~


"Paris is always a good idea."
~Audrey Hepburn

I couldn't agree more.
Dream away my friends...

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