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September 26, 2011

Duxbury Ma. | New England Day Trip | South Shore Boston Area

When I experience a perfect something or place that I can't quite describe, but I just get a certain feeling from it, I tend to provide a movie reference.  For me, a perfect house or neighborhood might be a "Father of the Bride" street, or a "Home Alone" house.

You know the type - winding, tree-lined streets with handsomely sized (vs. obnoxiously giant), well-kept homes (vs. overgrown).

The kind of neighborhoods where kids play in the yard and ride their bikes down the street. 

I always get warm fuzzies when I come across a neighborhood, town or street that has those indescribable little somethings.

Our latest encounter was in Duxbury, Ma. (also known as "Deluxe-bury") on a day trip down to the South Shore of the Boston area.  I read in an online guide that it is the J.Crew town of the South Shore... I know, how am I just now making the trip down there?

Mike and I loved the cozy little town and its winding streets.  There is no coincidence that those cozy, tree-lined streets lead to a stunning coastline beach.

Oh, yes, in my dream neighborhood the kids can ride their bikes down the street... to the beach.

A beach that is quiet and quaint, and never crowded.

And a sailboat ride is just a breeze away.

September 23, 2011

Banana Nut Muffins | Homemade Banana Nut Muffin Recipe

Muffins are completely underrated.  Or should I say, homemade, really good muffins are completely underrated.  My muffin perspective had been tainted by the bad muffins I would grab at the coffee shop or the airport.  These muffins, baked weeks (or months!) ago are too sweet, too dense, too greasy and too heavy.  They made me forget how incredibly moist, buttery and delicious a fresh, baked-from-scratch muffin can be.

Treat yourself to a real treat tomorrow morning and whip up these muffins.  It won't take you more than 10 minutes to stir them together and 20 minutes to bake.  If you're really organized, you can make the batter the night before and bake them in the morning.  Your house will be brimming with the best Banana Nut aroma as it bakes - the smell is almost as good as eating the actual muffins... a great way to wake up.

I suggest making these muffins and your own "Pumpkin Spice" latte (recipe coming tomorrow!) on a Saturday morning - your house will feel cozier than the most charming coffee shop... and the muffins will be much better.

Banana Nut Muffins
better than the bakery...

New! Printable Recipes, here.

4 overripe bananas
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nuts, finely chopped

Peel the bananas.  Mash them roughly with a fork - leaving some chunky pieces for texture.  Place half of them in a KitchenAid fitted with the whisk attachment.  Set aside the other half of the bananas.

Add sugar to the KitchenAid, whip them together for 3 minutes until a frothy mixture forms.  Add butter, eggs and vanilla.  Mix together until combined.  Add flour, soda, salt, remaining bananas and nuts.  Stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Scoop the mixture into a non-stick muffin tin (like this Golden-Touch Large Muffin Pan from Williams-Sonoma - it makes Big Muffins!) with an ice cream scoop (here are my favorite scoops).  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes until baked through.  Serve with soften butter.

Can't you just taste them now - look at that melting butter!

I used mixed nuts, because that is what I had.  You can use any combination you like.

Mash the bananas with a fork - leaving it a little chunky for texture.

Whipped Banana Sugar mixture... yum.


September 22, 2011

Fall Home Decorations | Fallizing the House for Autumn | Home

In New England, we have had a heavy dose of Fall weather in the last two weeks - crisp 62 degree days, 45 degree nights.  It has inspired me to do some (as Katie would say...) "Fallizing." Here are a couple of snapshots of things I have done to "warm up" our home for the upcoming cool months.

By the way, looking at these photos I am now hating the 'slate' colored coffee table that I was debating about in the spring... it looks so blue with all of the fall accents.  Looks like the paint brush might be coming out - maybe a warmer grey?  Or how about an upholstered ottoman? 

And yes, I see that I left the tv on in the background - whoops.

  Here is a post of the 'before' photos from when we moved in in the spring.

Heirloom pumpkins by the fireplace.

Prints of Chestnuts and some other type of botanical...

Brown fur, velvet and embroidered pheasant pillows are added to what was all white linen before. 


Tiger stripe (go Tigers!) vintage book, matching gourds and a black labeled candle on the coffee table.

The light blue plates were replaced with my Woodland collection that goes along with my pewter.

The kitchen hutch is outfitted with a couple of select Fall elements.   A lot of my Everyday Essentials are featured on this hutch - click here to see the buying guide!

Tiger stripe plates... again, for Mizzou watching!

Pie Plate of mini white pumpkins...

Leaf mini plates and a plaid dish towel.

What are you doing to Fallize your home?  Photos of exterior Fallizing to come... waiting for those darn leaves to turn!

September 20, 2011

Dahlias | Fall Flowers from the Farmers Market | Fall Centerpiece

When Summer ends, my mind turns to Mums and pumpkins.  I always forget about Dahlias.  Last weekend at the Farmer's Market I came across these Dahlias.  I loved that there were Fall colors of orange, deep red and rust, but also had coral and pink tones. 

To top it off, the farmer had added a few sprigs of Tuberose to the arrangement, that are also in season in early Fall. 

The scent of Tuberose is amazing - it reminds me of our wedding last October.  All of the men wore tuberose boutonnieres.

I put the bouquet in one of my tin arrangements.  These are the kind of casual floral 'arrangements' that I like to use as centerpieces on my table - it looks like it could have been cut and gathered from my own garden... if I had one!

September 19, 2011

Fall Dinner Party Menu | Fall Entertaining Recipe

 Fall is a great time for entertaining - there is so much seasonal inspiration to use in the menu and the table setting.  Unlike the hectic Holiday entertaining calendar, in the Fall the pressure is off.  You can host small groups of friends for intimate, casual dinners.  Everyone has great memories from the season - try to trigger those 'feel good' moments as you plan your menu.  Your guests will walk away from the evening with warm fuzzies.

Fall Dinner Party Menu
cozy, casual night

Spiked Mulled Cider (recipe coming soon!)
Spinach Salad with Cranberries, Walnuts & Balsamic Vinaigrette 


Are you following me on Pinterest?  It is a great way to say updated on all of my recent projects & posts.

Fall Table Setting | Fall Entertaining | Fall Dinner Party

I wanted the table to be casual and feel like a Fall evening... warm, cozy, seasonal.  I created this Fall Table setting using pumpkins I had gotten to display around the house, a plaid wool wrap, ticking stripe napkins, and pewter candle sticks.   Notice everything is in the same color family, but it is not matchy-matchy.  I like the mix of stripes, plaid and the floral scroll on the plate. 

Sometimes I think using over-styled centerpieces seems a little too "planned" for the casual dinners I like to host.  I feel a little silly when I've put together a very elaborate table and centerpiece for a simple, rustic dinner party.  So, I used a cinderella pumpkin as the centerpiece for this table - couldn't be easier.  It is seasonal and beautiful, and you're guests won't ask, "Wow, who's coming for dinner?!" when they see the table.

I used my Spode Woodland plates we received as wedding gifts, a mini white pumpkin (you could also use , brown and cream ticking stripe napkins and silver flatware.  

If you'd like to have assigned seating, you can use the mini pumpkins as holders for the name cards like I did in this Fall Wedding/Party Inspiration Table Setting.

I'm also considering doing a table setting that had a monotone color scheme.  Wouldn't these look great painted a soft almond grey color with white plates, linen napkins and blue pumpkins?  Stay tuned for that!

The plaid wool wrap was a steal from H&M when we were in Italy.  I think it was $18!  

Candlelight is always appropriate for dinner - can't you imagine sitting around this table for hours with great conversation?  

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Browned Butter | Fall Entertaining

You might remember a few short days ago when I said that I really don't get excited aout butternut squash.  Well, that was before I had had it mixed with parmesan cheese, stuffed in ravioli and smothered in sage browned butter.

This weekend, Mike and I stayed in on Saturday night and created a Ravioli Duo... homemade ravioli two ways.  Actually, I wanted ravioli stuffed with Chicken, Spinach and Mozzarella in a Tomato Cream, and Mike wanted Butternut Squash stuffed ravioli in a Sage Browned Butter.  And given my (former) evasion to butternut squash, I really didn't want it for dinner, but thought it would make a good blog post for those of you that do.

Turns out... I do like butternut squash.  Butternut Squash Ravioli, at least.  We both loved the subtle sweetness of the squash mixed with the creaminess of the parmesan cheese and gentle spice of nutmeg.  The Sage butter was the perfect compliment - you don't need much of a sauce with such a bold ravioli.

Please, do not be intimidated by making homemade ravioli - it is so easy, I promise!  All you need a rolling pin or this easy hand-crank Pasta Machine from Williams-Sonoma.  If you absolutely do not want to attempt the homemade ravioli, use the filling and stuff it into giant shell pasta and serve it with the sauce drizzled over.

I think Butternut Squash Ravioli will definitely make my Fall Entertaining list - it would be great served as a first course, or as the entree for a dinner party. 

Visit my Fall Dinner Party Post for a complete Menu, Table Setting & Tips for an easy, casual Fall Dinner Party.

I am thinking Caramel Apple Dumplings with Cinnamon Ice Cream for dessert, for sure.

Back to the Butternut Ravioli...

You can see the tiny flecks of nutmeg in the squash filling.  The Sage and Nutmeg made my kitchen smell sooo good - it smelled like Fall!

Butternut Squash Ravioli
a new fall favorite

New! Printable Recipes, here.

1 pound of Butternut Squash
Olive Oil
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
salt & pepper
1 recipe of Homemade Pasta, rolled into sheets (below)

1 stick of butter
10-12 sage leaves

Begin by cutting the squash into cubes and placing them on a baking sheet.  Coat them with olive oil, salt & pepper.  Roast the squash at 425 degrees for 25 minutes until it is tender.  Put it in a bowl and mash it with a fork.  Add parmesan cheese, nutmeg and salt & pepper, if needed.

Place tablespoons of the filling down the center of the pasta dough that has been rolled into long sheets.  Brush the dough around the filling with water, then fold the dough over lengthwise (making the filling of each ravioli be on one side, surrounded by dough on three sides.  Cut the ravioli apart.

Heat a large pot of water for the ravioli.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan.  Add sage leaves. Cook on medium-low for 2-3 minutes, just until the butter starts to brown.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Cook the ravioli in the boiling water for 2 minutes, until it is floating.  Remove from water and add directly to butter sauce.

Here is Mike rolling out the pasta dough into long sheets.  He is always in charge of using the Pasta Machine and doing the rolling out. 

We got this old fashioned pasta roller and cutter after our honeymoon in Italy - we came back hungry for homemade pasta!   I bought the hand-crank style because I thought the KitchenAid pasta roller attachment was too much of an investment, not knowing how much we'd use it.  However, I have found that this hand roller pasta machine is no trouble at all - very easy to use!

Put tablespoons of the filling down the middle of the long strips of dough.  Space them about 2-inches apart.
Brush the pasta with water using a pastry brush.
Fold the dough in half length wise over the filling and pinch down over the filling getting rid of air bubbles.  Cut the ravioli into pieces.   Homemade ravioli shouldn't look perfect - any shape is fine!

For the sauce, melt the butter on medium low, then add sage leaves.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the butter starts to brown.  Remove from the heat immediately. 

Homemade Pasta Recipe

easier than you think!

2 cups of flour
3 eggs

Start with a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Dump in the flour, then top with the eggs.  Put the mixer on medium and let the ingredients roll together until they form a ball.

*You may need to add a little bit (1-3 tablespoons?) of water or flour if the dough is too wet or too dry.  After a ball is formed, let the dough 'knead' on low-medium  in the mixer for 5-7 minutes until the dough is elastic.  Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 20 minutes.

When it is finished kneading, turn the dough out onto a floured board and kneed it by hand a couple of times.

From this stage, you can roll it out by hand with a rolling pin (or bottle of wine!), or put it through a pasta rolling machine.  Either way is pretty simple.  I've recently invested in this pasta machine that was very inexpensive.  If you plan to make a lot of pasta in the future it can make things a little easier.

By Hand : Roll the dough, flipping it, folding it and rolling it until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Cut it into 1" pieces with a knife, or a pizza wheel.  After cutting, you can cook it immediately, or let it dry on a baking sheet sprinkled with flour too keep the dough from sticking.

With Pasta Machine : Separate the dough into 6 pieces.  Flour the machine and dough well to keep it from sticking.  Feed it through the rolling/flattening part of the machine starting on the largest setting and progressing to a smaller setting each time you feed the dough through.  I find that flouring it each time helps to keep it from sticking.  After it has gone through the smallest (or 2nd to the smallest) setting, lay it flat.  It is ready to but cut into any shape or used for ravioli!
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