Lattice DIY Dresser

Hello all! I have not written for over two weeks and I apologize… I have been busy finishing up my last year of College. It is a bit bittersweet but I must say, I am excited to be (almost) done!  Lately, I have brought my focus to decorating my bedroom in my new apartment in Raleigh, NC.

Last summer I purchased a rather boring dark brown dresser from Big Lots. It was inexpensive, durable, and could hold a lot of clothes so I figured it was a smart purchase. With my new room, I decided I wanted all white furniture so I set out on the venture of repainting the boring dark dresser. With my first attempt, I thought I wanted a rustic look. I sanded and painted the dresser but was not happy with the results. Unfortunately, I think I bought the wrong paint because it started peeling off.

Attempt #1

With my second attempt, I purchased a beautiful Lattice stencil from Hobby Lobby along with spray paint, spray adhesive, acrylic sealant, and acrylic paint from Michaels. I highly recommend the Martha Stewart craft brand. The stencil spray adhesive worked beautifully. It kept the stencil in place while being repositionable without taking off what I had already painted. I tried it out on one section (above) and decided that it was definitely worth trying with my second painting venture.

Supplies

After a lot of sanding and a couple of coats of spray paint, I stenciled the lattice using a foam brush. It was not difficult to do and only took about an hour in total. I tried to make the paint look like wood to add more of a natural feel. Once the paint dried, I applied two coats of acrylic sealer. I also painted the handles with the same brown paint but I would like to replace them eventually with something more exciting. All in all, I am thrilled with how it turned out!

Attempt #2

Close Up

Feta and Tomato White Bean Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

There is something about the warm weather that pushes me back to craving clean and healthy foods. This salad is so delicious, fresh, and easy to make! The best part about salads is that you can use whatever you have around! I bought these amazing mini heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s. They are so sweet and cute like candy, plus they are multicolored… making one beautiful presentation.

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz can of white beans; drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 can favorite olives
  • 1 cup tomatoes – chopped or halved into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup light Champagne Vinaigrette
  • 10 leaves fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Using a food processor or a knife, chop the fresh basil leaves into small pieces.
  2. Mix the chopped basil with the champagne vinaigrette in a large bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss with the vinaigrette.

Peanut Butter Pie

Rich. Peanut Buttery. Cold. Creamy. Chocolatey. Words can not describe how decadent this pie tastes. It has a creamy texture, a rich flavor, and best of all it is simple to make. It is a no-bake pie  making it really quick and easy to prepare. This is a must try! It might just be my new favorite dessert.

The recipe makes two pies. I brought one over to a dinner party and it was a hit! I used regular graham cracker crust and the simple peanut butter base. The second pie Jonny and I made together. We decided to go with an Oreo crust. We layered Hershey’s Fudge Topping on top of the crust before pouring the rich peanut butter mixture over top.

We decided to add extra fudge to top off the pie. Jonny decorated it, and I must say, I think he did better than I could have done! Doesn’t it look beautiful?

Ingredients (Makes 2 pies)

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crusts
  • hot fudge topping (optional)

Directions

  1. Beat together cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar. Mix in peanut butter and milk. Beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
  2. If adding fudge, spoon into 2 graham cracker pie shells.
  3. Spoon peanut butter mixture over fudge and graham cracker pie shells; cover, and freeze until firm.

Chicken and Fruit Salad with Granola

I recently had the joy of trying Chick-Fil-A’s  fruit chargrilled chicken salad. It is a delicious salad with lots of fresh fruit and chicken. The thing that surprised me most about the salad was the inclusion of granola. Instead of topping the salad with croutons or nuts, sweet and crunchy granola was added on top.

This is a super easy lunch or dinner that can be made with a variety of different fruits.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. cooked chicken breast
  • 1/3 apple, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • salad dressing of choice
  • 1/4 cup low fat granola

Assemble all ingredients into a salad and enjoy!

Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette

I found this recipe on Williams-Sanoma’s website. It is a great way to enjoy your veggies in a recipe that is also tasty and satisfying. My Dad gave Jonny and I a pound of Benton’s Bacon. This bacon is unlike any bacon I have ever had. First of all, it is so thickly cut that it probably equates to three pieces of normal bacon. It also has an extremely smokey flavor that permeates the senses. I cooked the bacon yesterday for breakfast and reserved some for this recipe. It is so easy to cook the bacon ahead of time to save a couple of steps.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. thick-cut bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped steamed chestnuts

Directions:

In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour all but 1 Tbs. of the fat into a heatproof bowl and reserve. Add the shallot to the remaining fat in the pan and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, thyme and shallot. Slowly whisk in 5 Tbs. of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the brussels sprouts and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the brussels sprouts to a bowl of ice water. Drain well, then cut them in half lengthwise and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.

Return the water in the pot to a boil, add the butternut squash and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain again and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the squash and sauté, stirring occasionally, until light golden and warmed through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the reserved bacon fat. Place the brussels sprouts, cut side down, in the pan. Cook, without moving them, for 3 to 4 minutes, then stir and add the sage and chestnuts. Cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to the bowl with the squash. Add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the vegetables (you may not need all of it), then stir in half of the bacon. Transfer the vegetables to a platter, sprinkle with the remaining bacon and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Artichoke Pasta with Asparagus and Lemon Olive Oil

Yum is all I have to say about this delicious pasta dish. My Mom and I found this amazing artichoke pasta at The Christmas Tree Shoppe. It was definitely a random purchase but we felt that it was very necessary. I dressed it very simply, with Lemon olive oil and roasted garlic.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup artichoke pasta
  • 1 tbsp lemon infused olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook per package instructions.

2. While pasta is cooking, heat lemon olive oil in a pan over low-medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until tender, be careful not to burn!

3. Drain pasta and add to olive oil. Top with cheese.

Italian Easter Egg Bread

I know… I am so late in posting this. It has almost been a week since Easter has ended but I feel that this recipe is worth sharing. Along with the Pastiera di Grano, this delicious bread has also been an Easter tradition in my family. As a child, waking up to this bread was one of my favorite parts about the holiday.

The sweet egg bread is braided and wrapped around hard boiled eggs. Traditionally, the eggs are dyed light pastel colors, making the bread very colorful. We decided to go for a more rustic look using brown eggs. We did this because A. we were too lazy to dye the eggs; and B. food dye is not the best thing for you.

Please take note that this recipe is an EASY BREAD MACHINE VERSION. In my eyes, there is nothing wrong with taking a couple of shortcuts 🙂

The dense doughiness of this bread is best accompanied with a nice slab of (REAL) butter. But then again, what isn’t good with butter?

Ingredients and Instructions:

Place ingredients into your bread machine in order given:

1&1/4 cups equal parts milk and water (warmed but not hot)

4 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp butter (softened to room temp)

1 whole egg (whisk in gently to liquids with fork)

1 tsp grated orange zest

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground anise seeds or anise extract ( can substitute 1 tsp vanilla)

1 tsp salt

4 cups flour

2 tsp or one packet of dry yeast

Set of dough only cycle, check after 5 minutes, if dough looks too wet add a bit more flour, if too dry add a bit more water.

Divide dough into 3 equal parts, form into ropes and braid, form into circle and tuck in 5 or 6 raw eggs as in a nest. You can also do individual nests if you prefer. Coloring eggs is optional, this year we used brown eggs to create a rustic look. You can refrigerate covered overnight and take out about 1/2 to 1 hour before baking in the morning. Brush with egg water wash just before baking and sprinkle with raw sugar if you like.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 to 45 minutes. Bread will tap hollow when done. Eggs will bake with the bread.