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Monday, August 25, 2014

Salted Caramel Apple Tart | Cute Teacher Gifts

Who doesn't love a mini dessert?  Especially when they are filled with spiced apple filling and topped with salted caramel.  They make a darling gift when wrapped up or a cute presentation for dinner topped with ice cream (and more caramel and sea salt, of course).

Emma and I made these to give to her teachers as a Back-to-School present.  We thought it'd be better than just the classic Apple!  I've listed all of the packaging details below.

I love these Petite Tart Pans - I think they look very professional.  It can be so hard to find elegant, unadorned bakeware unless you are a professional baker.  These are fantastic - and disposable.  They are incredibly sturdy and have a non-stick coating that allow you to take the tart of the pan easily, if you'd like.  I can't wait use them to make pecan tarts with a shortbread crust... and individual brownies like those from the Barefoot Contessa's new book.

You can make homemade Salted Caramel sauce (my recipe here), or use a store-bought, then add sea salt to it.  If you've never made it homemade before, I highly recommend it - there is nothing quite like it and it is very easy.  

Salted Caramel
Apple Tarts

makes 4 tarts

My Easy Pie Crust Recipe
4 apples
1 teaspoon of orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Caramel Sauce (store-bought or my homemade, recipe here)
Sea Salt
Begin by making the pie dough from My Easy Pie Crust Recipe (link above).  Let it rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the apple filling.

To start, cut apples into thin wedges - while cutting out the cores.  I leave the peel on because I like the color.

Emma likes to wear her baking gloves all of the time... you can never be too cautious!  ; )

Zest the orange.  Don't skip this part - it adds so much flavor!

Add zest, orange juice, cinnamon, salt and sugar to the apples.  Toss to coat.

Roll out the crust on a well floured board.  Trace the tart pans about 1-inch bigger with a small knife.


 Press the dough into the pans and pinch off the excess.

Fill with the apples.

I like to pile them in, over the top because they do cook down.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until browned on top.

After baking, and before serving, drizzle on Caramel and then sprinkle with Sea Salt.

For serving, warm in microwave or oven, then top with ice cream and more caramel and sea salt.

Happy almost fall baking!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

This Week's Menu | Roasted Chicken, Poached Salmon, Beef Stew

As promised!  Here is the menu I've planned for us this week.  Again, I tried to plan recipes that have some crossover ingredients to make prep and shopping more efficient.  Hope you enjoy them, too!

Sunday :  Roasted Chicken with Lemon Olives, Rosemary & Thyme

*Make sure to prepare extra chicken to use on Tuesday for the Pasta.

Monday : Poached Salmon & Vegetables

Tuesday : Leftovers into... Pasta with Chicken

Use leftover chicken from Sunday night for this - recipe calls for grilled chicken, but roasted will work perfectly. 

Wednesday : Italian Vegetable & Braised Beef Stew
I make this without the beef, too, on nights when I don't have all day to braise the meat.

Thai Steak Noodle Salad with a Spicy Peanut Sauce

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The New Fall Collection | The Store

The New Fall Collection

This season of product collecting has been a complete labor of love.  I started ordering and designing these products at the beginning of Summer and really took my time finding things I am crazy about.  Autumn is my favorite time of the year - the muted tones and color palate feel so good and comfortable to me.

See the entire "New for Fall" collection, here.

There are many "new favorites" I have and a couple of products that I've been searching for since day 1 that I've finally found (like these Candle Holders and the Herringbone Throws).  Others are newer versions of themselves, like the new Everyday scent I created for My Everyday Candles and... Dish Soap.  I hope you love browsing the products as much as I loved finding them!

Wood Candle Holders, $4-8

I love the elegant and minimal style of these Wooden Candle Holders.  They really allow the beautiful taper candles to be showcased.  I can't wait to use these mixed with heirloom pumpkins and gourds all the way down my table this fall.  They are completely bare and unfinished wood.   I came across these little wooden candle holders in an issue of Martha Stewart Living that was featuring Creative Candles (the same brand of candles that I carry).  They had painted the candle holders the same tone and color of the candles - such a creative idea. I love them bare and natural, but also plan to stain some a dark walnut color, paint some a creamy white and maybe try my hand at matching candle colors, too.  I'll be sharing my DIY posts in the future.

Candles featured here : Edgartown Sand, Lexington Wheat, Navajo Cream & Falmouth Grey

Petite Brown Tart Pans, 10 for $6

One of my favorite things to stock in my store are items that professionals use that aren't typically available to consumers.  It is usually these simple, classic products that create the most beautiful, bakery worthy treats - like these Petite Tart Pans.  They are made of a thick brown kraft paper, but are safe to bake in and disposable.  I have so many ideas for these this fall, beginning with these Salted Caramel Apple Tarts... recipe coming tomorrow!

Other products pictured :

Jute Twine, $5
Edgartown Sand Tag, $8 for 10
Large Cello Bag
Multi Stripe Linen Tea Towel, $30 for 2

Linen Collection :

I have always collected linens - vintage, new, antique and everything between.  This season I've added a collection of linens including Herringbone Throws.

Herringbone Throws, $88

These Herringbone Throws are absolutely luscious.  They are so so so soft, heavy and cozy - a blanket that you'll love curling up with in your favorite chair.  The amazing thing about these throws is that they are made of 100% cotton, which means you won't feel bad actually using it!  The colors are beautifully muted and natural - a perfect cozy accent for autumn.

These linens are made in Europe of 100% linen.  They have that luxurious, soft and heavy feel of real linen.  Some of the Tea Towels have coordinating Cocktail Napkins or Dinner Napkins, which makes a lovely set for entertaining.

The Entire Linen Collection :

Cream & Grey : Tea Towels & Napkins

Warm Grey Plaid : Tea Towels

Classic Cafe White & Black :  Tea Towels

Orange & White : Tea Towels

Natural Multi Striped : Tea Towels & Cocktail Napkins

Fall Color Collection
I have a new project that I've been working on... a hutch to organize all of my crafting supplies and products.  I'm still putting the finishing touches on it and will share the complete thing in a couple of days.  For now, you get a sneak peek at what's inside - all of my new Tags, Cards, Ribbons, Twines and Candles in muted Autumn tones.

Autumn Cards & Tags, Ribbons and Twines can all be found in my Packaging section.

My New Everyday Candles, $12.50 - $16.00

A couple of months ago I came across a scent with which I fell in love.  I took it to my candlemaker and together we dissected it until we came up with the perfect scent.  It is a lovely combination of Currant, Orange Blossom, Jasmine, Grapefruit & Cedar - it is warm, relaxing, rejuvenating and intoxicating.  This is one of those candles that make you want to breathe deeply and just relax. 

This season I'm offering two containers - my classic Mini Latte Bowl and a new Gold Tin.  The Gold Tins make a great little something extra to complete a birthday or hostess gift.

Everyday Dish Soap, $8

When I started this store (one year ago!) this was one of the first products I wanted to have.  As all of you know, I love everyday luxuries - just little things that make normal day-to-day a little more special.  This Everyday Dish Soap is special in many ways.  It is made from Earth Friendly Products soap (that is coconut-based).  I've added a touch of my new "Everyday" blend of essential oils that is a combination of currant, orange blossom, jasmine, grapefruit and cedar.  I designed the packaging to be subtle and classic - no bright colors or distracting labels to take away from your beautiful kitchen.

Hope you've enjoyed this little peek - there is more to see in the "New for Fall" section of the store, here!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Leftovers Idea : Tomato Bisque & Chicken Bacon Panini's

Ina once said, the difference between making money in the food business and losing money is the ability to transform leftovers into something fabulous.  While I no longer run a food business, I do run a household and I hate the idea of being wasteful with our time and money.  I run out of dinner making/grocery store steam mid-week, so I'd like to start incorporating an easy, no trip to the grocery store dinner.

This Leftovers Idea was actually delicious - and we plan on incorporating it into our rotation on a regular basis.  Emma loves soup, Mike loves bacon and I love melted cheese.  Everyone was happy.  I started with some tomato sauce leftover from Sunday's dinner, then added a bit of chicken stock, cream and fresh basil.  Easy. 

For the panini, I used leftover garlic bread, sliced grilled chicken from another dinner (I often throw it in the freezer when we grill out), bacon (leftover from BLTs) and a variety of cheese from the cheese drawer.  I don't have a panini press, so I used the heavy weight of a couple of pots and pans - worked great. 

This is how I determined what would go on the sandwich... whatever I could find!  I sliced the baguette into thin slices to make it easier to grill. 

Adding cream to the soup - about 1/4 cup to about 4 cups of soup.

Buttered and...


Look how flat and panini-like.

Really satisfying and so simple. 

You can see, I made Emma mini grilled cheese dippers and chunks of chicken instead of putting it on the sandwich to make it easier to eat.  Of course, she spotted our bacon and needed some of that, too.

What are your favorite dinners that came from being creative with leftovers? 

Monday, August 18, 2014

This Week's Menu | Emma's Back to School ; (

Right now I'm feeling very love/hate towards Back to School.  I love the rhythms of routine that go along with the school year - my walk with Mr. Darcy in the morning, off to school for Emma, work for Mike and me, then to the grocery store with Emma when I pick her up in the early afternoon, we take a walk around the neighborhood, then we make dinner.  I love that little routine of ours.

What I'm hating right now was dropping her off at her first day in the big kid classroom.  She was so brave and sweet with a little hint of timidness when we dropped her off this morning.  I am so proud of the brave, big girl she has become, but heartbroken at the same time.  She seems so grown up as she showed off her new backpack to her teachers and then held their hand as she set off to explore the new classroom.

In her old room (the "Two's & Toddlers" room) she had gotten so comfortable and would bounce around the second she entered.  This day felt different.  She was so putting on such a strong, brave face even though I could feel her little nerves as she entered.  She was in control of her fears, and she was calm.  When did my little girl transform into this lovely little tiny lady? 

Like all working Mom's I struggle with the decision to work.  I'm very fortunate that I get to be a little of both - I work from home for 20 hours a week divided over a couple of days, then get to be a stay-at-home mom the rest of the time. I love having Emma here at home with me while we keep the house, piddle in the kitchen, run our errands and go exploring outside.  But there is a part of me that needs to work, too.  I'm a worker bee - it is the way I'm built.

I've come to terms with the fact that I'm best as a Mom and Wife when I have that couple of days a week to work, let my brain focus and be creative.  Of course, there is always a part of me that feels a bit guilty for loving what I do so much, but at the end of the day, I hope Emma finds a passion that can be as fulfilling for her, too.  I'm so grateful that I have the best of both worlds, but I'm very much missing my Emma this morning.

Our summer break has given me a chance to reflect on what I do here and given me some new perspective and inspiration.  I'm attempting to be more organized in all aspects of my life - on here and at home.  One thing that is always a priority for us as a family is dinner time every night.  Every single night we sit down together as a family and eat at the dinner table.

Because I've never been very organized about meal planning, we go to the store almost every day.  It is my goal to be more efficient with our errands, so I'm going to try to shop for a couple of days at a time so our afternoons are more open.  I'm also planning to incorporate one night of leftovers transformed into a new dinner.  I think this is a really smart way to be efficient with our time and money... after all, each night that I don't have to buy something for dinner is about a savings of $25-30, adding up to more than $100 a month with really no sacrifice at all.

I also am conscious that we have leftover options for lunches the next day for Mike and me.  Mike likes to workout over lunch, so if he can take something with him to the office, he earns an extra 30 minutes in his day if he doesn't have to stop for lunch. 

I'm going to focus on sharing more recipes and home projects here this Fall.  You can expect to see at least 2 recipes each week, along with a home project (mostly inspiration boards and construction updates... slated to start in 1 month!).  Once a week I'll share a product update for the Store - the new Fall Collection is coming out this Thursday.

I'm also planning to share our weekly meal plans here every Sunday so you can use our plan as inspiration for your own (of course, I'm already a day late this week!).  I'd love to hear more about how you organize your family's meal planning, too.  Right now I'm looking for lots of inspiration for make-ahead meals and ways to reuse leftovers.  Please share your favorites!

This Week's Menu :

Sunday : "The" Spaghetti Sauce & Homemade Meatballs with Italian Restaurant Salad and Easy "Homemade" Garlic Bread

Last week I shared our new favorite tomato sauce - the best, and simplest sauce you'll ever try.  This is a Sunday night staple at our house (or something equally as comforting like Pot Roast or Roasted Chicken).  I also love making this on a Sunday because leftover meatballs + garlic bread turn into meatball sandwiches for Mike's lunch. 

Monday : Meyer Lemon Chicken with Basil Mashed Potatoes

This is one of my all time favorites.  You can grill the chicken and serve with veggies if you're in the mood for a lighter/fresher dinner, too.  I make sure to prepare extra chicken to use for the Bacon & Chicken Panini's the next night.

Tuesday : Leftovers Night : Tomato Bisque and Bacon Chicken Panini's

Recipe to come tomorrow!  I use the left over Tomato Sauce to make tomato bisque by adding chicken stock and cream, then bringing it to a simmer.  We always have bacon and cheese, so this is something that I can make almost any night of the week.

Wednesday :  Mike's Favorite Meatloaf, Chive Mashed Potatoes & Roasted Carrots with Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Wednesday is one of my days home with Emma so we like to make a big meal and dessert that we can work on all day.  We use the Barefoot Contessa's Meatloaf recipe as a base, but I've made a couple of revisions that make it easier.  I'll share our version later this week... and that Apple Pie!

Thursday : Tessa's Tacos

We've always loved shredded beef tacos at our house, but now we have a new favorite that Tessa shared a couple of weeks ago.  It is called Korean Beef Tacos with a Mango & Cilantro Slaw.  Sooo good. 

Friday : Pizza Night

We go out almost every Friday night - usually to the pool for dinner, or something easy and family friendly. 

Saturday : Parade & Carnival in Lexington

This weekend we're headed back home to Lexington for the Heritage Days Festival!  Emma can't wait to see her cousins and go to Moo-Moo's Carnival.

Just writing this post and planning our week has eased my heartache just a little from this morning.  I'm planning to spend the rest of the morning finishing packaging products for the big unveiling of the new Fall Collection and organizing the new craft station I made out of cabinetry this weekend - can't wait to share photos later this week. 

Happy Monday,


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