10 Best Kitchen Gadgets

I was thinking the other day about the stuff in my kitchen I just couldn’t live without.  After having so much packed up this past year, I have found that there were a few items that I had to have around.  Here are my top ten.

10.  Hard boiled egg timer – Just drop it in with the eggs and wait for it to change color.  Fool proof!

Egg Perfect Timer

9.  Microplane Zester – Super easy for zesting lemons or grating cinnamon and nutmeg, or just a smidge of parmesan.

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8.  Spaghetti Server – That is the correct name.  I call it a pasta scoop.  Great for scooping out pasta so you can reserve the water.

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7.  Citrus Juicer –   Compact and inexpensive, it requires only a little elbow grease.  This one has the built in measuring cup.  Awesome!!!  Especially for recipes that call for only 1 Tbsp or something small.  I don’t like to “over lemon” a recipe.

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6.  Wine Foil Cutter – A must for every wino!!!  This makes removing the foil neat and easy.

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5.  Grill Roasting Pan –   Mine is a double and its all seasoned and well loved.  That center cup is great to put herbs, lemons, or beer for beer can chicken.  The pan is perfect for grilling veggies.

Convertible Chicken Roaster

4.  Immersion Blender – Love this!!!  Super easy to clean, works for hot or cold stuff and can tackle anything and blend it smoothly.  Pesto, smoothies, creamy soup – bring it on!

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3.  Apple Slicer – My kiddos eat at least an apple a day.  Now if I could just find one that peeled the apples too!

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2.  Keurig Coffee Maker – This is the best!!!!  Brew just one cup instead of a whole pot, any time of day.  It’s especially useful when I need that afternoon cuppa. 

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1.  Garlic Press – I couldn’t live without this!!!  Who wants to chop garlic into little tiny pieces?  Very time consuming and dangerous.  I swear one day I’ll lose a finger!

Keeping Room–Before & After

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I feel as though I just moved in to my house yesterday!  I’ve been working so hard on just trying to get unpacked, purging unwanted items and organizing this house for the way we live that I’ve forgotten to share with you all of the work that has been done.

This house has a keeping room (or hearth room or family room) which is a smaller family room right off the kitchen.  I love it!!!  It is the main gathering area for the family.  I can be in the kitchen cooking and still see everything and everyone.

Here are the before pictures.  As you can see, the built-ins were the same color as the kitchen cabinets and there was carpet.  Oh, and the walls were green.

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We were going to keep the carpet and just let the kids and dog destroy it, but upon further inspection we found that it was already destroyed.  You can kind of see that it was much lighter under where the previous owners couch used to be.  And it smelled of their dogs.  Prince Charming and I agreed that no amount of carpet cleaning could undo that.  So, we decided to put in hardwood floors to match the rest of the house.

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I had the bookcases painted in Creamy and Urbane Bronze on the inside, both by Sherwin Williams.  I love the way they turned out.  And check out the floors, pre-stain.  They added such a great flow to the kitchen and keeping room.  I didn’t realize what an impact they would have until they were in.  Awesome!!

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These little wing chairs got a make-over for the keeping room as well.  I grew up with these chairs in my home and my parents gave them to me last year.  They sat in my garage last year while I figured out what to do with them.  When we moved, it was time for their big Ta-Da!  I had them reupholstered in a wonderful greige fabric I found at the Metrolina Expo.

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Didn’t they turn out great!?

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The medallion pillows I had custom made out of remnant fabric I found and yellow, iridescent burlap.  Who could pass that up?  The coffee table was a find on Rue La La and the rug came from Overstock.com.

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Trim and bookcases: Creamy        Walls: Kilim Beige             Back of bookcases:Urbane Bronze

All paint by Sherwin-Williams.

Also sharing at Thrifty Decor Chick.

Strawberry Pickin’ and Some Shortcake

Today was a beautiful day!  My children are out of school and we had no plans.  The princess looooves strawberries and has been asking to go strawberry picking.  The little prince is always up for a good hunt.  So we set off to our usual strawberry picking farm – Carrigan Farm.  We go there every spring to pick fresh, juicy strawberries right out of the field.  (We also go in the fall for a hayride and pumpkin picking.)

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My son, hunting for only the best ones!

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The princess was the official taste tester!

We had so many berries when we got home we knew we had to make something with them.  What is better than some fresh strawberry shortcake?!

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Here is our quick and easy shortcake recipe:

Quick and Easy Strawberry Shortcake

1 quart (4 cups) strawberries, sliced

1/4 cup sugar

For biscuits:

2 1/3 cups Original Bisquick® mix

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For whipped cream:

1 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

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Mix the strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar together.  Set aside.

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Mix together the Bisquick, milk, sugar, butter and vanilla extract until a soft dough forms.  Drop the dough on a non-stick cookie sheet using a spoon.  You should get 8 biscuits.  You may have to squish the dough together because it is loose.  Put the biscuits in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  The biscuits don’t have to be pretty!

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Now, make your whipped cream.  Using a hand mixer, beat together the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract until it stands in peaks. 

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Take your biscuits out of the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Then put a biscuit on a plate, scoop some strawberries over the top, then some whipped cream, then a few more strawberries and enjoy!!

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Maine Home + Design

While on my trip back to Maine over the weekend, I stumbled upon a magazine: Maine Home + Design.  I had no idea that it existed, but I am glad that I grabbed a copy.

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It has the most beautiful coastal homes in it.  I fell in love with the rustic quality of the house on the cover.  I just had to share it with you. 

This home is in Kennebunkport, ME.  You may have heard of it.  The Bush Family lives there.  (Not the house, the town.)  It is a beautiful town and I am hoping to get back there this summer.  If I do, I promise to take pictures!!!

Weekly Menu 5/20–5/24

It is time to get back into a bathing suit.  Ugh!  So for the next few weeks it will be low carb.  I will be gone on Monday so the kiddos are carbing it up!  After that, not so much.

Monday – Spaghetti with Marinara

Tuesday – BLT (the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato on toasted bread with mayo)

Wednesday – Grilled Fish with Honey Lemon Quinoa

Thursday – BBQ Chicken and Summer Salad

Friday – Steak and Field Green Salad

A Little Slice of Heaven

Someone told me about a gentleman who had acres, upon acres of antiques and other “junk”.  His prices, I was told, were fair, but it is a ways out in the country.  After hearing this, you know I couldn’t resist!  I grabbed my bestie, who is familiar with “way out in the country”, and we headed to Cline’s Antiques.  Soooo exciting!

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Look at all of these goodies!  Grain sacks, vintage signs, bottles in every shape and color, iron and recycled décor, and that was just at the main entrance!!!  As we went further we found 4 barns full of furniture!

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This headboard just needs some paint and an upholstered insert and it would be spectacular!!!

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The antique sideboards above were only $125 a piece and in great condition!  I fell in love with a different one for $180 but an antique dealer outbid me and got it for $255.  And the dressers we saw just needed some TLC and fresh paint.  They came in all different shapes and sizes! 

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After this trip I immediately went home and told Prince Charming that I needed a pick-up truck!  And a storage space and workshop!  Shockingly, he agreed, but asked if we could get settled into our own home first.  I guess I can do that!

Front Porch Inspiration

My front porch currently looks like this:

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A little pathetic, huh?  But I just don’t know what I want to do with it.  I want it to be inviting and beautiful without being fussy.  So I have searched for some inspiration.  Here is what I have found:

(www.google.com)

(www.google.com)

(www.pinterest.com)

astoop

(www.adoreyourplace.com)

ahouzz3

(www.adoreyourplace.com)

I will let you know how it turns out, but I’m leaning toward this last one with vibrant red flowers and bright green potato vines. 

Weekly Menu 5/13–5/17

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mothers Day!  Here is this weeks menu.

Monday – Chicken Soup and Cheesy Arugula Panini

Tuesday – Seared Tuna with Avocado Salsa

Seared Tuna with Avocado Salsa Recipe

Wednesday – Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Quesadillas

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Quesadillas Recipe

Thursday – Ratatouille

Friday – I will be visiting my parents up in Maine.  Hopefully I will be eating some sort of seafood.  The hubby and kiddos will probably go out for pizza!

Saturday Sliders

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We have finally had some beautiful weather and I couldn’t wait to get grilling.  I love springtime and back yard BBQ’s.  So tonight I decided to whip up some sliders.  It was a taste test of sorts for my family.  I’m sick of the plain old burgers.  I wanted to kick it up a notch and the best way to experiment was with little sliders.  I made All American sliders, Italian sliders, and Southern Cowboy sliders.

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For the All American and Southern Cowboy, I used ground Angus beef.  It was the toppings that made the difference.  For the Italian I used a mixture of ground beef and Italian sausage. 

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For cheeses I put mild cheddar on the Cowboy and a mixture of Provolone and Mozzarella on the Italian.  The All American sliders were left plain. 

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The Italian got a tablespoon of jarred marinara (I like Bertoli) and a couple fresh basil leaves.

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The Southern Cowboy was dressed with red onion, BBQ sauce and cole slaw. 

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The All American had ketchup, tomato, red onion and lettuce. 

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My son and husband chose the Southern Cowboy as their favorite, but I loved the Italian.  Give them a shot and tell me which one is your favorite.

Getting the Stink Out

I am going to share with you a very stinky discovery.  So stinky, in fact, that I thought about just throwing it all away.  But I experimented a little and luckily, it worked! 

It has been cold and rainy here for days.  Weeks, it seems!  So I thought the best way to combat that was to prepare for summer.  I went rummaging in the linen closet for the beach towels.  I wanted to put them front and center for easy access.  When I began to refold some of them I thought “what’s that smell?!”  When I took a whiff of one of the towels, I was shocked!  It stunk like mildew. 

So I set out to get the stink out!  First, I did a little research.  I found on the Internet that Ammonia works best, but being that I like all of my remaining brain cells, I decided to find something less harsh.  I settled on white vinegar.

I poured one cup of vinegar into the detergent tray of my washer and about a half cup directly into the washer itself on top of the towels.  I set it to the hottest cycle I could and ran it.  When the cycle was complete I ran it again, with detergent on the hottest cycle.  And when that was done, I dried it like usual.  Guess what?!

It worked!!!!  No more stinky towels!!!  I think now I will be doing every towel in the house!