Thursday, August 7, 2014

SMOKED SALMON CROSTINI


RECIPE & STYLING BY ASHLEY DENAE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ASHLEY DENAE



Breakfast is meant to be enjoyed, not rushed or ignored all together. It should be celebrated and be cherished. The art of making breakfast a meal is making a comeback.


Smoked salmon, often referred to as lox, is traditionally served on a bagel with cream cheese garnished with tomato, capers, or red onion. I find it best to use a chive infused cream cheese and red onion spread upon a french loaf. This dish can serve as a decadent breakfast or as an hor d'oeuvre at a cocktail party. 

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                    1 ripe but firm tomato                                                     Pinch Sea Salt
            
                         5 ounces Smoked Salmon                                    1/4 cup diced Red Onion

                                   Fresh Dill (optional)                          1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) Cream Cheese
   
                           Fresh Black Pepper                                                1 loaf French Bread   

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D I R E C T I O N S  With a large knife, slice french break horizontally into 1 inch thick pieces. Throw out the end pieces or use them for another meal. You want your slices no larger than 1 inch because you don't want the bread overpowering the smoked salmon.

With a butter knife, spread cream cheese evenly over your french bread slices. Sllice your smoked salmon to fit nicely on top. You don't want to make your slices to big where they hang over the edges.

Slice tomato into thin slices and top with one to two slices per crostini. Add your diced red onion. Be careful not to overload with red onion, you want to keep a balance between the texture of this dish.

Finish with cracked black pepper and fresh dill if you wish. Dill naturally enhances the flavor of salmon and is filled with many nutrients and vitamins. 







Thursday, July 10, 2014

Unconditional Love Between a Grandmother and Granddaughter



Many people don't know this about me but I grew up with my Grandma for many years. She taught me how to pick blackberries freshly grown from our backyard, how to cut and prune fresh flowers, and many other amazing skills young girls should be taught. My fondest memories are the following: crawling in bed to check the weather to see what I should wear to school, playing poker with dog food hoping the pups wouldn't eat our ante, and singing Jungle Book singalongs in the car. These memories will remain with me until the day I die.

I would always like to think I'm actually my Grandmother's daughter. We share so many interest that have seem to skip a generation. We love to read all the same books and most importantly love to entertain in style. I knew how throw the perfect cocktail party at a rather young age just from all the experience of helping her throughout the years. She's taught me how to make the perfect lemon drop martini (from scratch) which has come in handy on more than one occasion.

My Grannie (don't think I've ever, ever called her Grandma) is a rare breed. She's a now retired flower shop owner who also plans the occasional wedding from time to time. She's an entrepreneur and has had worn many hats over the years. She's the type of woman you admire and someday hope to be. And when you meet her, her Tennessee charm lights up not only the room, but your heart as well. She's truly one of a kind.

With all this said, I'd like to encourage  all of you to spend all little more time with those who have shaped you to the person you are today. This person can be an older sister, a childhood friend, or a professor. These mentors have been the most consistent part of our lives, taught us to stand up for what we believe in, and most importantly have held our hand at our darkest times. So please, pick up your phone, send an email, or better yet, visit them in person to give them the praise they deserve.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thee Ways to Install a Wood Wall



Building a wood wall from reclaimed wood not only adds a wow factor to your space but makes it one of a kind. Reclaimed wood accent walls are popping up everywhere and it's a lot easier to add to your home then you may think. I personally wish I could add a wood wall to my apartment but since we rent, it's most likely I will be building a rather large headboard.

I love this design for many reasons. My taste is primarily modern but I have a strong affinity for rustic design as well. Blending modern furniture with a reclaimed wood wall is a beautiful marriage of both my design aesthetics.



There are three ways to build a wood wall in your home. You can either to build it with reclaimed wood, use wallpaper, or a mural. If you are handy and know your way around a sander than the DIY route is a good fit. I did some research and found two amazing tutorials that are easy to follow and understand for even the newest of do-it-yourselfers. The first is from Apartmenththerapy.com. This article provides you with materials you will need and thought out instructions. Another great tutorial is from Justagirlblog.com. This tutorial is full of pictures and great tips to help you along your way. Highly recommend checking it out!



Your second option is using a silk wallpaper from Silkwood found on Houzz. This is an amazing alternative if you are not ready to take on such a huge DIY project. Using wallpaper is also less of a permanent commitment and is great if you are renting like myself. Silkwood is an underutilized material made from the underused American ash tree. They offer many different types of finishes including but not limited to mocha and white reclaimed finish. Their prices range from $160 for 20 square feet or $320 for 40 square feet. Installation is as easy as peel and stick. This route is less time consuming than building a wood wall from scratch but quite a bit more expensive.



A third option is installing a wood like mural from Brewster Home Fashions. This mural is described as a Whitewashed Wood finish. It's another great way alternative if you are renting. The price for a 12'1" x 8'4" mural is $101.99. It's quick and easy to install and is washable. I love the color of this mural and wood go great in our bedroom.

I hope these different ways to install a wood wall has helped you. If you have already made a wood wall or choose to do so after reading this, shoot me an email! I would love to see your beautiful creations. I will keep you posted on which route I decide to go. Don't forget to follow me along on Instagram!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Orange Chicken Stir Fry


Did someone say Orange Chicken Stir Fry? I sure did! This dish is one of my favorite meals to make when I want something quick and easy without compromising flavor. Orange Chicken Stir Fry only takes 20 minutes to make and only uses 4 ingredients. Yep, it's that easy.

I came up with Orange Chicken Stir Fry on a whim one night. I had left over asparagus from brunch and a few odds and ends in the cupboard which included a box of Rice Pilaf, Orange Chicken sauce from Panda Express, and of coarse a chicken breast. You can find the Orange Chicken sauce in the Asian goods isle. It taste like any other Orange Chicken sauce as if you went into Panda Express and ordered it there. You can find the recipe and instructions below.




ORANGE CHICKEN STIR FRY


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Chicken Breast Grilled
  • 1 Box Rice Pilaf
  • 1 Bottle of Orange Chicken Sauce from Panda Express 
  • 10 Spears of Asparagus

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil and grill chicken for 4 minutes on each side or until cooked thoroughly.
  2. In another skillet, cook rice according to the box.
  3. Cut asparagus into one inch pieces and discard the ends. 
  4. Bring a pot of water to boil. Throw your spears and cook on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Drain.
  5. Once chicken is cooked, cut into 1 inch squares. Toss in Orange Chicken Sauce. 
  6. To assemble, add chicken and asparagus to a bed of rice.
  7. Enjoy!
{photography by Ashley Denae}

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Redecorating In Progress


I've been dying to redesign our living room and pretty much every room in our apartment now that we've paid off some personal debt. I'm absolutely loving mid century modern design with a hint of vintage thrown in there. Obviously my living room is not as big as the picture above but I have a few ideas of what I'd like to do with our small space.

 For starters, we need new seating arrangements. I found two sofas that are similar to the inspiration above. They are from EZmodfurniture.com  and unfortunately are two pieces and not a sectional. The cost  is $1,100 total. We have a sectional now and it's been through quite a bit including two moves and one rather large burn from an exposed light bulb (whoops!). 

Next up is a functional yet chic rug. I want to push the envelope and go for a rawhide rug found on Overstock.com. It's 6x8 and costs $179 which is a steal! Most versions cost up to $300+. 

Shelving and storage always to seem like an issue as well. A new folding bookshelf would be nice next to our corner window. Target always has great finds such as this bookshelf for $68. 

When we first moved in, we immedietly went to Ikea to get a few cheap items. One of those purchases was a tv stand for $60. It does it's job but doesn't really go with any of other furniture. To be honest, none of our furniture really goes together which is why a remodel is much needed. I found a mid century modern media console for $250 on Etsy.com. I love when furniture is handmade. It's a lost art and goes easily overlooked when people go shopping. West Elm has similar items for 3x the amount which is fine because I absolutely love West Elm but can't afford to buy a bowl there let alone furniture. 

Lastly, to top off this look I'll need some accent chairs to go here and there. I'm a huge fan of Herman Miller. His chairs are iconic and sadly ripped off by thousands of hacks. But I'm very thankful for those hacks because I can't afford a $600 chair. Which is why I opted for a Baxton Studio replica. 


Stay tuned for our fun remodel! It's going to be oh so expensive but so worth it! I'm excited to see our progress and vision come to life. One last side note... I'm not sponsored by any of the a fore mentioned manufacturers and distributors. I sure wish I was but I just wanted to provide you with affordable alternatives to achieve a modern, edgy design. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tomato Bisque


I recently came down with a cold this weekend so I had to make my favorite Tomato Bisque. I'm not sure if it's from working long hours or just got unlucky but I needed some comfort food stat. Tomato Bisque sure did hit the spot. I have to admit, it's pretty darn hot in Southern California and by hot I mean HOT HOT. It's already mid-May and we are expected to reach triple digits by the weekend. So what do I decide to cook? Warm soup that turns my house into a sauna while I'm cooking it but I have to say it was totally worth it.

I've never made Tomato Bisque  before and it was a lot easier than I thought. Tomato Bisque  and grilled cheese is my boyfriends FAVORITE dish. I don't know why but it's the only thing he likes to eat when it's his turn to decide what we eat that night. This dish is rich and creamy and goes well with a mozzarella grilled cheese. It's savory yet not too overpowering to have as a light meal. 


TOMATO BISQUE 

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 55 Minutes


INGREDIENTS


  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 5 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 28oz Canned Whole Tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 5 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 4 Parsley Springs
  • 1 Celery Stalk, chopped
  • 1 Carrot, chopped
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, minced

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Mix in onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Saute for 6 minutes on medium heat. 
  2. Add flour and stir continuously for 2 minutes. Slowly stir in chicken broth and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.
  3. Tie parsley around the bay leaf using bakers twine or simply by using the parsley sprigs. Turn down the heat and add the parsley and bay leaf to your pot. Lower your heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. After simmering for 30 minutes, remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
  5. Get a blender out and remove parsley and bay leaf. 
  6. Blend mixture in small batches. Once all is blended, use a sieve to remove excess tomato chunks. There shouldn't be many but do this step to be safe.
  7. Return your mixture to a saucepan and reheat on medium heat.
  8. Add heavy cream and salt. Serve with bread or grilled cheese. 
{photography by Ashley Denae}

Friday, May 9, 2014

Turkey Cucumber Croissant Sandwiches


Do you ever have those days where it's the end of the week and you haven't gone to the grocery store yet to restock your fridge and all you have is a bunch of odds and ends? It happens to me all to often with my busy schedule. That's why I've whipped up the perfect sandwich that's essentially all the leftover nonsense you have lying around. This is a tasty alternative to your boring, run-of-the-mill sandwich that you usually make and plus side is you don't have to go to the store!

 Here's what you'll need and feel free to substitute any of the ingredients to match what you have in your fridge. I used all left overs from the week which included a croissant, provolone, turkey, cucumber, and red onion. I also used mayo and pepper to give it a little extra flavor. I know it's nothing fancy but let's be honest... who cooks gourmet meals for lunch every single day. Sometimes simple is better.



{photography by Ashley Denae}
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