Saturday, April 30, 2011

Garlic-Tarragon Chicken

The three cloves of garlic in this chicken recipe gets the Godfather's (a.k.a. my boyfriend's) thumbs up! It's great with a salad on the side, too. And the Godfather just told me the leftovers will not make it through the night. LOL

1 lb. chicken breast tenders or cutlets
2 tbsp. butter
3 cloves, garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. tarragon
2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream

Broil or grill chicken seasoned with salt and pepper until cooked through and browned on both sides. Remove from heat. Set aside.
Melt butter in a medium skillet.
Add garlic and wine. Cook until reduced by half.
Add broth and tarragon. Simmer until reduced by half.
Add cream. Simmer until mixture reaches sauce consistency.
Add chicken and simmer to heat through.
Transfer chicken to plate. Spoon sauce over chicken.

Paws (and Claws) Up for My New Writing Desk

Sasha, my four-year-old tuxedo cat, is just over the moon for my new writing desk (see my Vintage Vanity Transformed! post for the details). Luckily, she is keeping her claws nicely retracted, but it certainly is hard to get some work done around here. LOL

Friday, April 29, 2011

Crochet a Nautilus Shell Headband for Baby

Visit and download my dainty nautilus shell headband for baby. The beaded shell motifs will make a cute, summery hair accessory anytime of year! This e-pattern was originally published in the June 2010 issue of Crochet World magazine.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Scones for the Royal Wedding

Well, tomorrow is the big day for Will and Kate! And what better way to watch the early morning nuptials than to curl up in bed with chocolate chip scones and tea? (English Breakfast from Tea by Two will be my choice.) Don't feel like baking your own scones? Tea by Two offers Scones to Order!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled
1 cup fresh chocolate morsels
3/4 cup half-and-half cream
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut butter into mixture of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add morsels and toss to mix.
In separate bowl beat together cream and egg, and slowly pour into dry ingredients, stirring with rubber scraper until dough forms. Knead just until it comes together, 3 or 4 times. Don't overhandle.
Divide dough in half. On lightly floured board, shape each half into a 6-inch round. Cut into 6 wedges.
Bake on ungreased sheet about 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. Serve warm!!
To add icing, choose from your favorite color of cookie icing in a pouch.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Romaine and Black Olive Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

This little salad is a great light accompaniment to grilled chicken.

1 head Romaine lettuce, torn
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups croutons
1 1/2 cups black olives
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dried tarragon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, tarragon, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the lettuce, onion, croutons and olives. Toss to coat.

Make Your Own Seashell Hatbox

This seashell-encrusted hatbox is the perfect shabby chic vessel for storage. I use mine to hide the infinite number of unsightly remote controls strewn throughout my bedroom.

One 10" plain hatbox
An assortment of seashells*
An assortment of broken pottery shards or mosaic shards
Acrylic paint in color of your choice (I highly recommend pink!)

Paint the hatbox with acrylic paint. Let dry overnight. Layout the arrangement of the shells and pottery shards in the pattern of your choice, or go freeform. Affix the shells and pottery shards to the box with Goop, using  a paintbrush to neatly distribute the Goop to the shells and shards. (It's a good idea to work on affixing the shells and shards with sections of the box sitting upright, beginning with the lid, so they may dry without sliding downward.) Let finished box dry thoroughy.

*For seashell resources, check out "Seashell savvy," my latest article.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vintage Vanity Transformed!

There are definite perks to having a significant other who is a professional painter/handyman! Over the Easter holiday, he refurbished my vintage vanity and repainted it in lucious tints of white and enchanted princess pink. He used bright white semi-gloss paint on the drawers and bench and satin finish pink paint on the table. He even reupholstered the bench cushion with this shabby chic polka dot fabric. The addition of two bejeweled cat pendants on each leg makes it the purr-fect writing desk for this seamaiden!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Happy Easter! These Easter basket cupcakes will be the star attraction of your Easter table. And they are so easy to make, too!

Simply bake the cupcake recipe of your choice and top with icing when cupcakes are cool. Top with shredded coconut dyed with green food coloring to create the grass. Top with jelly beans. Use pink pipe cleaners for handles and tie ribbon of your choice to the top of the pipe cleaners. Use writing icing in the colors of your choice to decorate the bottom edges of the icing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Seamaiden's Greek Pasta Salad

This is my variation on a Greek salad.

2 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta
1 lb. chicken breast, grilled or broiled with lemon and pepper seasoning and cut into strips
1 pint grape tomatoes
6 oz. feta cheese
9.5 oz. Kalamata olives, drained
14 oz. quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cucumber, quartered and sliced
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 lb. bay scallops, optional
1 cup Greek Vinaigrette dressing

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a large serving bowl mix chicken, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, artichoke hearts, cucumber, onion and scallops. Drain cooked pasta and rinse with cold water. Add pasta to other ingredients. Toss with dressing or, if desired, serve dressing on the side.

Fishing for Ceramic Mermaids

Our fascination with the mermaid predates even the earliest sightings by ancient mariners. And even in this hyper-rational, tech-saturated age, our enchantment with the oceans' temptress has not wavered. Her portrayal in countless books, films, and every cup of Starbucks coffee, along with the mermaid mania that recently swept Kiryat Yam in Israel, prove that the seamaiden's fishtail is keeping a strong grasp on our hearts and imaginations.

For those of us lacking the time or the funds to travel to Israel (where a live mermaid captured on film will net a cool $1 million), antique shops and auction sites offer the opportunity to catch vintage mermaids of the ceramic variety for a veritable siren's song. Check out "Fishing for Ceramic Mermaids" for the fishtailed 411.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Balsamic Chicken Italiano

I was trying to figure out a way to whip the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and capers in my pantry into a tasty Italian dish and came up with this chicken and pasta combo.

2 cups uncooked pasta of your choice
2 tbsp. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. chicken breast tenders, cubed
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
2 tbsp. capers
Dash of sea salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the garlic over medium heat.
Add chicken and mushrooms and saute until chicken is cooked through.
Add all other ingredients, stir and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring ocassionally.
Drain pasta. Toss in large serving bowl with chicken and tomato mixture.
Serve immediately.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Springtime Strawberry Cupcakes

These strawberry cupcakes, with their soft pink icing, have really brightened up this dark, damp, dreary spring day. (I admit my icing skills are not the best, but I'm working on it.) The recipe came from the Cottage Journal, a jewel of a  little newsletter with ideas for elegant and romantic entertaining produced by Hoffman Media. Click here to sign up for an e-mail subscription to the Cottage Journal.

Dazzled by the Daughters of the Sea Series

 I am only four chapters into May, the second entry in Kathryn Lasky's Daughters of the Sea series, and I am already enchanted by the title character. May grows up as the adopted daughter of a lighthouse keeper and his hypochondriac wife on the coast of Maine at the turn of the twentieth century. Feeling strangled by her parents' decree that she remain a landlubber, May finally surrenders to the call of the sea in her fifteenth year and discovers that she is a mermaid. But just as she is fully embracing her seamaiden origins, May meets Hugh, an astronomer whose magnetism is every bit as potent as the irresistable ocean. Soon, May finds that she must choose between her love for the sea and her attraction to a man as dazzling as the stars.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Crochet These Cute Starfish Bowl Fillers

These crocheted starfish bowl fillers are the perfect gift for the beachaholic in your life.  The stitches closely mimic the texture of a starfish, and they are set off whimsically by pink pearls sprinkled over the top. Wish upon these starfish, and a little bit of summer will stay with you all year round!

1 skein Vanna’s Choice® yarn by Lion Brand® Yarn in Beige
G/6 crochet hook
Fiber fill
55 8mm glass pearls in pink or color of your choice
Tapestry needle
Sewing needle
Sewing thread to match yarn

Make 2 motifs for each starfish.

Rnd 1: With G hook, ch 3, sl st in first ch to join ring, ch 1, 9 sc in ring, sl st in first sc to join. (9 sc).

Rnd 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in each sc, sl st in first sc to join (18 sc).

Rnd 3: *Ch 9, sc in fourth ch from hook, hdc in each of next 2  chs, dc in each of next 3 chs, sk first 3 sts on rnd 2, sl st in next st, repeat from * around, placing last sl st in same stitch as joining sl st of rnd 2. Fasten off.
With tapestry needle, weave in all loose ends.

To join starfish motifs together, working through both thicknesses with wrong sides together, join with sl st between any 2 legs of the starfish motifs. Ch 1, evenly space 79 sc around the outer edges of starfish motifs, gradually filling the starfish with fiber fill as crochet around the edges. Join with sl st in first sc. (79 sc). Fasten off.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Balsamic Strawberries for Two

Serve this sinfully simple dessert to someone special tonight!

1 1/2 tsp. butter
1 cup strawberries, cut into quarters
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Heat butter in skillet over medium heat. Add strawberries, sugar, and vinegar. Heat strawberries through.
Serve over ice cream.

Seashell Shadow Box

Shell Chic by Marlene Hurley Marshall showcases a breathtaking array of seashell art. Ofen using nothing more than some hot glue and a selection of seashells, the artists featured have produced bird baths, "floral" arrangements and even a bathtub that look like they were fashioned by the hands of Neptune himself. I was so inspired that I decided to embark on my own shellwork odyssey. The result? A variety of seashells, decorative glass stones and some goop produced this seashell shadow box filled with some of my mermaid treasures.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Supremely Simple Chocolate Cake

This one-bowl chocolate cake recipe has been in my baking arsenal for eons, and it has never failed to make a big splash on a tiny time schedule. I like to serve it with a dollop of whipped cream on top and a serving of strawberries or raspberries on the side.

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup half and half
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour and baking cocoa.
Stir in baking soda and vanilla.
Stir in oil, salt, water and half and half.
Stir in orange juice and vinegar.
Pour batter into a greased 10-inch baking pan (preferably heart-shaped!).
Bake for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
Cool cake before serving.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Naughtiest Mermaids

Collectors are completely captivated by the ribald antique German mermaids, nymphs and bathing beauties colorfully referred to as “naughties.” In fact, the books that detail how to collect and care for these bawdy antique novelties are almost as hard to come by as the risqué bisque seamaidens themselves. Luckily, Sharon Hope Weintraub, author of Naughties, Nudies & Bathing Beauties, was gracious enough to offer some of her best advice in my Antique Trader article, "Risqué Bisque: Mermaids, sea nymphs, and bathing beauties."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Seamaiden's Baubles in BeadStyle's Latest Book

This seamaiden's dream has come true! Kalmbach Books and the editors of BeadStyle magazine have included my design, "Pastel Preference," in Easy Beading Vol. 7. As an avid beader, my favorite material to work with is anything evocative of the sea (naturally!)--and if it's pink, all the better. Skim over pages 38-40 and string up this chunky double strand of rose quartz, jade and curvy seashell beads along with several earring options.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sun-Dried Tomato Pinwheels

A lazy Sunday off from work resulted in this little experiment. The result: a deliciously simple treat to make for a quick snack or for brunch.

8 oz. package of Pillsbury Cresent Rounds (contains 8 rounds)
8.5 oz. of prepared sun-dried tomato pesto (or make your own with this recipe)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Unroll each round and spread a thin layer of sun-dried tomato pesto along the length of each round.
Roll up the round and arrange them 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes or until rounds are golden brown.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mochaccino Pudding

Top this tasty pudding treat off with whipped cream and two chocolate-covered peanuts.

1 tbsp. boiling water
2 tsp. instant coffee, mocha flavor
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
3 cups 1% milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 egg yolks, beaten

Combine boiling water and instant coffee, set aside.
Combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt in large saucepan.
Stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbling.
Reduce heat to low. Stir another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add egg yolks to mixture. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Bring to boil. Cook and stir another 2 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add vanilla and coffee mixture.
Cool mixture. Transfer to dessert dishes. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

Opera Jacket Crochet Project: Complete!

This opera jacket was quite a challenge due to the continuous use of tiny single crochet stitches, but I am so thrilled with the finished product. Find the pattern in th March 2011 issue of Crochet! magazine, pages 28-30. I used 5 balls of Vanna's Glamour yarn in Onyx. Please forgive my sad point and shoot photography skills. They don't do this beautiful design justice.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Crab Macaroni Casserole

How would a seamaiden make a casserole? She would make crab a main ingredient, of course!

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
3 tbsp. onion, diced
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups 1% milk
14 oz. lump crabmeat
1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni according to package directions.
Saute onion and butter in a large skillet until tender.
Add flour and milk and combine until smooth.
Bring to a boil and cook and stir 1-2 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat.
Add crabmeat, Old Bay seasoning, sour cream, Swiss cheese, salt, mustard, drained macaroni and 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese to skillet.
Transfer to a 12 x 9 baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Raspberry Peach Cooler

Can't wait to sip this little concoction sitting poolside this summer. Sigh! Where is the warm weather?

Simply pour Andre Peach Passion sparkling wine into a glass and add 2 teaspoons of raspberry sherbet.