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March 31, 2013

DIY Bathroom Refresh | Painted "Beadboard" Wallpaper | Polished Nickel Accents

I hope everyone had a great Easter!  Ours was fantastic - such a beautiful, spring day!  I'm finally getting around to sharing our DIY bathroom refresh.  Enjoy!

This was our bathroom....  Just sort of all over ick.  Currently, this is the only full bathroom in the entire house, but soon we'll have our own big master bath, so we didn't want to spend too much time or money.   Nothing was really terrible or dated beyond 10 years or so, but it was definitely not a place that reflected our style or felt refreshing to spend time in.

The patched and re-patched plaster walls were the main source of our dislike.  And yes, I did actually choose this color.  It turns out this dusty blue grey doesn't do anything for a dingy bathroom but make it feel, well, dusty and dingy.

After just a few days...

This is the walk on the way to the bathroom - so you can get the full effect.  It is soooo much lighter, brighter and much fresher.

As you can see, there is no fancy tile work or impressive marble in sight.  Our goal was to just take a weekend (or two...) and spruce it up a little to make it fresh and clean feeling.

We kept the existing vanity and just gave it a fresh coat of paint (Navajo White in Satin) that matches the rest of the trim in the house.  We replaced the shell vanity top and the dated wall mounted mirror.

I love these polished nickel pulls - Martha Stewart Bedford pulls.  We have the same ones in the kitchen, but they are finished in brass.

The faucet is Delta Silvertone - and it does have a genuine looking silver-plate finish.

I think this mirror really elevates the feel of the bathroom.

If you look closely, you can see the "beadboard" wallpaper that we installed and then painted Navajo White in flat.  The paper went on so easily and covered all of the blemishes that were covering the walls.

This framed photo is one I took on our honeymoon in Tuscany.  It is the same view that I put in my painting.

Here's a closer view of the wallpaper.   I decided to paint it the same as the trim (but in flat) to make it feel as much like paneling as possible.

Basic and original cast iron tub. 

We replaced the shower head and faucet with Universal Fit pieces - we didn't have to take out any tile to put these on.

I won't even show you what the old shower head looked like.  We'll just say that this one is much, much better.

The fun area of the tub!  Those are Emma's foam flower "stickers."

This is a painting I did of the view from our house in Seaside.

Nice cafe curtains are really hard to find!  I ended up making these from a hemstitch table runner - I love how they turned out.  Cafe Curtain : Hemstitch Table Runner

I just cut it in half and put a hem on the top of each to hold the rod.

I love the patina of the original old polished nickel door plate in the bathroom.  The other side has brass to match the rest of the house.

More polished accents.  The curtain is Restoration Hardware.

Side view of the painting.

Hooks!  We can't have too many hooks in our house!

Sources : 
Towel Hooks, Toilet Paper Holder & Hardware : Martha Stewart Seal Harbor at Home Depot
Wall Paint : Navajo White in Flat
Vanity : Navajo White in Satin
Faucet : Delta Silvertone
Shower Curtain : Restoration Hardware
Cafe Curtain : Hemstitch Table Runner
Towels : Pottery Barn Hydro Cotton

March 27, 2013

Panko Crusted Salmon in a Brown Sugar Lime Marinade

When I go to the meat & fish counter at my market I always debate between salmon and sea bass, then end up buying a flat iron steak.  Am I the only one that likes the idea of serving fish for dinner, but lacks some really great recipes that I actually want to make again?  It seems like when I do serve it we both agree it was good, but not great.  Therein lies the problem.

Mike's Mom has a great marinade that I use on just about everything.  Recently I was revisiting a Barefoot Contessa recipe (Eli's Asian Salmon) that wasn't a huge hit the first time around.  I realized it was fairly close to Joy's recipe, but with limes instead of lemons and the addition of a panko bread crust that the marinade soaks into.  The real key ingredient is the addition of brown sugar - it turns the salty and sour marinade into a sweet sauce.

Here is another way to use this same marinade - Chicken & Vegetable Kebabs.

I decided to merge the two recipes and came up with a really delicious result.  One that we will actually look forward to making again.  It would be perfect for entertaining as it bakes in the oven for 20 minutes, pull it out when you sit down for salad - let it rest for 15 minutes.  You can take it right to the table to serve.

Panko Crusted Salmon
in a brown sugar lime marinade

2 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet
1 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice (2-3 limes)
1 tablespoon toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili paste
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
1 1/2 cups panko

Place the salmon in a baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Mix together soy, brown sugar, vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, chili paste, green onions, garlic, sesame seeds and ginger.
Press the panko crumbs on top of the salmon.
   Pour the marinade over the salmon and panko.  

Bake at 500 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until it reaches 120 degrees on a meat thermometer.  Remove from oven and cover with foil.  
Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

March 26, 2013

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with Easy Fresh Raspberry Sauce

When I was little, maybe around 2nd grade-ish, I remember my Mom making a cheesecake for her bridge club.  This was years before the Cheesecake Factory and years before many notable dining out experiences.  I remember thinking it was a very unusual, but from what my Mom said, a very special dessert.  The recipe was called "Cheesecake Supreme" from her Better Homes and Gardens (1979-ish) recipe book... as it was pretty much the ultimate resource in our house.  Either that or the Betty Crocker.  It is the same cookbook from which the Deluxe Sugar Cookie recipe came - definitely an oldie but a goodie.  

Even today, with all of the internet search options available for cheesecake recipes, I still call my Mom to get this particular Cheesecake Supreme recipe for special occasions.  The most notable difference is the crust.  It is almost like a shortbread dough crust - no crumbled graham crackers here.  I think it makes such a nice compliment to the creamy filling without overpowering it as the grahams can seem to do.

I've updated the recipe (of course... I can't help myself) to include fresh Meyer Lemon zest and juice.  Actually, the original recipe calls for a bit of lemon zest anyway, I just kicked it up to officially make it a "Lemon Cheesecake."  You can find Meyer Lemons right now in gourmet markets - they are definitely worth the hunt.  The taste, while still lemony, is smoother, almost sweeter than a normal lemon.  However, you don't need Meyer Lemons - regular will work just fine.

The raspberry "sauce" is very simple and will take only 1 minute to make.  Literally.  By using store-bought raspberry jam heated in the microwave then tossed with fresh raspberries, you have a sauce that is beautiful and shiny and will set up nicely on the cake.  Even when you cut it it won't run all over the place.

Meyer Lemon
with raspberry sauce


1 cup flour
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup butter
1 slightly beaten egg yolk
¼ teaspoon vanilla


3 packages cream cheese
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 lemons, juiced
1 1/2 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
  3 eggs

Raspberry Sauce :

1 cup of raspberry jam
1 cup of fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon of lemon zest

Preheat oven to 400.

Make Crust:

Combine first 3 ingredients. Cut in butter till crumbly. Add egg yolk and vanilla; mix well. Pat 1/3 of dough on bottom of 9-inch spring-form pan (sides removed). Bake about 8 minutes or till golden; cool. Butter sides of pan; attach to bottom. Pat remaining dough on sides of pan to height of 1 3/4 inches.

Reduce heat to 300 degrees.

Make Filling:

Add softened cream cheese into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat until creamy; add sugar, lemon juice and zest.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each just to blend.

Turn into crust-lined pan.  Bake 55 minutes or till knife inserted off-center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 1/2 hour; loosen sides of cheesecake from pan with knife. Cool 1/2 hour more; remove sides of pan. Cool 2 hours longer.

Raspberry Sauce :

Put jam into a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute until melted.  Add raspberries and stir to coat.  Pour over cooled cheesecake. 

The sauce will set up after about 30 minutes- but you can serve it right away if you'd like.

I like to top it with a little bit of lemon zest to show that it is lemony!

March 25, 2013

Freezing Sugar Cookies - Per Your Request

Last week when I posted about the Easter Sugar Cookies I had made in advance, then planned to freeze until Easter, my inbox was flooded with questions about how I freeze cookies.  My method is fairly simple.

I put a rigid piece of paper or board (here I used two white paper lunch sacks side by side...) in a freezer bag.  The support ensures that the cookies will lay flat.  Then, I put the cookies on top of the paper and zip up the bag, trying to get out as much air as possible.

Then I stack them and place them in a flat box in the freezer.  To defrost, I just let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours.

Does anyone else have any good freezer tips for cookies?  I've never run into any problems like cracking icing as others described.

To see how I created these cookies and for decorating tips, visit the original Easter Sugar Cookie post.

March 22, 2013

Creamy Caramelized Onion Dip

I'm not sure there is anything more useful in the entertaining world than a good, go-to dip recipe.  This Creamy Caramelized Onion Dip is mine.  It is an old favorite I'm revisiting after our trip to Seaside.

Mike and I had message treatments on one of the rain days at the Watercolor Inn's spa.  After our services we treated ourselves to lunch at the Inn.  We ordered Bloody Mary's and a Mahi Mahi sandwich, but after the bloody mary's came out and before the sandwich, they brought around their "snack of the day" that happened to be a caramelized onion dip served with amazing warm and toasty (maybe even fried...?) pita wedges. 

When I made this dip in my catering days I would usually serve it with a vegetable platter.  Yes, crunchy vegetables are a great accompaniment to this dip, but I'll tell you, toasty pita is fantastic.

The dip is starts with cream cheese, just as all great dips do.  Then, sweet caramelized onions and a little heat from a pinch of cayenne pepper make it so addicting.

Caramelized Onion Dip
with toasted pita

2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large red onion
1 block of cream cheese
1/2 cup of sour cream
4 green onions
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of cracked pepper

Begin by caramelizing the onions in a saute pan in olive oil and butter.  You do this by cooking them at a medium high heat until soft (about 3 minutes) then lowing the heat for about 10 minutes stirring every couple of minutes until the color changes to a soft brown color.  Be careful not to over caramelize - they will turn black in a minute or two!  You can do this step ahead of time.

In a mixer (or by hand), cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, caramelized onion, cayenne, salt and pepper.

Turn on oven broiler.

For pita, cut soft whole pita breads into 8 wedges.  Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Place them under the broiler for 2 minutes, then flip them over with a spatula and repeat on the other side.  Sprinkle a little sea salt over them when they come out of the oven.  Serve pita warm.

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