Browsing articles from "November, 2011"
Nov 29, 2011

Recipe for: Gambas al Ajillo Tapas

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 15 min to prepare, 5 min to cook
1 cup of marinade for 2 pounds of shrimp

Our honeymoon trip to Spain opened our eyes to a completely new way of eating. It was probably the best decision we made while planning our wedding. Granted, we’re still paying for it, but the trip was worth every penny. One dish we took home with us is Gambas al Ajillo, a very common tapa of Spain. Also known as garlic shrimp, I wanted to recreate this recipe because I fell in love with its simplicity and flavor. Spain taught us to appreciate food in the simplest form so fresh shrimp cooked slowly in a trio of garlic, chili and olive oil is as simple as you can get. Served with warm crusty bread, I made this at my last dinner party where heavy appetizers were served. The garlicky marinade doubles as an amazing dipping sauce for the bread. The ingredients in this recipe just work so harmonious together. Gambas al Ajillo was by far a favorite in Spain and now, right in the comfort of my home.

1 cup olive oil
3 dried chile costeños, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 lbs of fresh shrimp
salt + pepper

1. Prep the shrimp. First things first, get the shrimp ready. Peel the shrimp removing the hard shell and tail. Taking a paring knife, cut lengthwise along the backside of the shrimp to remove the digestive track. Don’t cut so deep, just enough to remove the track with the pointy tip of the knife. The track is very unpleasant to eat and not really appealing. Gently rinse all the shrimp once they’ve been prepped. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the Gambas al Ajillo.

2. Make the marinade. Finely mince the garlic cloves. Roughly chop the dried chili pods, but first removing the seeds and discarding them. Combine these ingredients in a medium-size bowl with olive oil, 1 tsp of each salt and pepper. Mix together, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

I found these Chile Costeño at a local Latino market in Richmond. However, I did recently see some dried bags of chili pods at Kroger. Not sure if they’re the same type of chili pods, but it should work. You’ll have to adjust your recipe according to how hot they are. The Chile Costeño are moderately hot, so I decided 3 pods would work for me.

You can make this marinade days in advance. Just place the marinade in an air-tight container.

3. Cook the shrimp. Heat a small sauce pan on medium to low temperature. Add 1/4 of the marinade to the pan. Allow the oil to heat up slowly. Once it’s warm, add 10-12 shrimps. Slowly cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes per side. Don’t overcook! Serve with slices of warm fresh bread. Once this serving has been eaten up, cook up another batch in the same oil adding a little more marinade to the pan.

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Nov 23, 2011

Recipe for: Mint-flavored Sugar

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 5 min to prepare
1 cup of sugar

It’s sometimes the annoying little details that people love and appreciate. Berries with mint-flavored sugar is one of them.

This time of the year, fresh and sweet berries may be hard to come by, but here’s a way to have it all with mint-flavored sugar. People love adding sugar to their fruit, myself included. But adding mint-flavored sugar is even better. I prepared this for my sister’s brunch baby shower. Fruit is a must so I used a medley of berries, which consisted of sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. I placed them in a nice stark-white bowl and sprinkled the mint-flavored sugar right on top. It was absolutely beautiful. The green bits of mint peaked through the sugar. The sugar was a little crumbly from the moisture from the mint. It was a little detail that added a refreshing flavor to a regular bowl of fruit.

1 cup sugar
20 fresh mint leaves

1. Process sugar with mint. In a food processor, add the sugar and approximately 20 mint leaves. Be sure the mint leaves are super dry. Pulse the sugar with the mint leaves until the mint has been broken down into little bits. This will only take a minute or so.

I love my Cuisinart food processor/blender duo. If you’re interested in purchasing one, I totally recommend this one even though there were some not-so-good reviews on Bed Bath and Beyond

2. Store in a container. Transfer the mint-flavored sugar into an air-tight container. The sugar will keep well for a few days. I made this batch the day before use, which helped the mint flavor the sugar even more.

3. Sprinkle over fruit. When you’re ready to serve your fruit, sprinkle the sugar right on top. It’s a beautiful and tasty thing right over a mix of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries all purchased from Costco.

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Nov 21, 2011

Party Inspiration: Ahoy, baby shower! A nautical-chic brunch for my sister

Here’s what happens when three creative sisters plan a nautical-chic brunch baby shower. My sister, Sheila, is expecting in February. Yay! She’s having the first grandchild on my side of the family so needless to say, my parents and siblings are little excited. Sheila’s twin, Sharon, and I hosted the shower at my house in Richmond, Virginia. I came up with the nautical theme because it was the same theme as the nursery. Sharon developed the color scheme and the flags idea. She was inspired by her trips to the Newport, Rhode Island known for their nautical lifestyle and hydrangeas. Sheila painstakingly made the the flag banners that hung in the living room and dining room ceilings, and the rest of the decor were drawn from that. I, of course, came up with the food menu. I wanted to keep it a fairly traditional brunch menu incorporating my own style. It was a collaborative effort overall and I hope you enjoy!

The Welcome Aboard anchor was purchased through Ebay for $20. It greeted guests at the door! That’s the proud and happy mother-to-be, our sister Sheila.

As you walk in, the guest favors sat in a basket. We gave away a star necklace purchased from Forever 21. Guest could choose a silver or gold necklace. Each were placed in a small muslin bag stamped with an anchor. The muslin bags were purchased through Celestial Gifts and the anchor stamp by Dragonflybuzz through Etsy.

This was the non-traditional guestbook. We purchased an anchor print from Monorail Studio on Etsy and had guests sign their names with a blue pen Sharpie. The signs for each station was designed and printed by me. They were framed them using 99 cent IKEA Tolsby frames. Sharon made the mini flags in the mason jars. She used fabric scraps to make the triangles and glued them to the flat wooden sticks purchased from the craft store.

The flags were the anchor to the nautical theme baby shower. It was the inspiration. Sheila (the pregnant one), made all the flag banners by hand. She purchased a variety of fabric from Jo-Ann’s Fabrics. Sheila traced out all the triangles, we helped cut them out, and then Sheila spent weeks sewing all the everything together. It ended up being over 25 yards long! They came out perfectly. Etsy, eat your heart out!

The flowers used throughout the baby shower were hydrangeas placed in mason jars. The hydrangeas were ordered through Kroger. We rented 2 high cocktail tables with white linens and 25 chairs all from The Prop Shop in Richmond. I used this vendor for my wedding as well. I just love how professional they are!

We played three games during the baby shower. At the first baby game, guests would guess how many sour patch kids were in a bottle. Laura, their long time friend since Freshmen year of college, won the guess with 68. There were 70 pieces in the bottle. She won a nautical beach bag!

There’s my other sister, Sharon, looking for the winning number. She and Sheila are twins!

We also played a game in which each guest had to make a baby out of playdoh. Much harder than you think! Sheila selected the best two out of the bunch. Winners were Kristal with her talented art teacher skills and Andrea making twins!

The last game was to guess how round Sheila’s baby bump was. Each guest had to cut a string and then measure how close they were. Brittany, Sheila’s sister-in-law, was the winner! She was pretty accurate with only being less than an inch right!

As you walk through my house, people can go in the kitchen to get a drink. The drink station was situated right in the breakfast nook. We served Prosecco, orange juice, Pellegrino and water. I also had lemon and frozen strawberries to serve as ice. All the plastic utensils and plates, napkins and paper cups were from Party City.

I just love this station. People can make whatever drink they wanted. They can add a little Prosecco or a lot. It allowed guests to pick their poison throughout the event.

The frozen strawberries were a nice touch. It kept your drink cold and you can eat them after they defrosted! I’ll show you later on how to easily prep them the night before.

We also had a coffee and tea bar on the other side of the kitchen. We had all the fixings to make your coffee or tea how you like.

And now here is our beautiful, beautiful tablescape. The flag banners hung over the table. The wooden steering wheel was purchase at Hobby Lobby. The vintage turquoise mason jars were found at Susan’s Selections, an antique consignment shop in Richmond. All the white serving plates and bowls from my collection.

That is one good-looking table! Gorgeous!!

The cheese platter consisted of white cheddar, blue cheese and French brie. It was served with water crackers.

Mixed berries of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries served with mint-flavored sugar, which I’ll show you tomorrow!

Mixed spring salad dressed with blue cheese, pear slices, croutons and sunflower seeds served with an olive oil and vinegar dressing or ranch.

I served my roasted fingerling potatoes with a Chipotle dipping sauce. I also served chicken salad with avocado on a slice of artisan white bread. As well as, smoked salmon with cream cheese on a slice of artisan wheat bread. Presentation is everything!

These mini frittatas were a Giada recipe, but I changed it up a bit a bit adding gruyere cheese and replacing ham with pancetta.

For dessert, I served my super easy s’mores cupcakes. We purchased the mini flags from Darling Loves Dapper on Etsy. We ordered both navy and mint green stripped flags.

Thanks for all of those who attended Sheila’s shower! I know she appreciated all the love and support you have given her. I certainly hope that this baby shower will inspire you to be a little creative for your next event!

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Nov 15, 2011

Recipe for: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 10 min to prep, 30 min to roast
feeds 4

I am obsessed with all-things potato. I do think I have a serious addiction. You name it. French fries, mashed potatoes, potato chips, latkes, hash browns, pretty much anything. Oh, and let me not forget roasted potatoes. Even though I love roasted potatoes, I normally don’t make them at home mainly because it always seems too long to take. However, this recipe is a fool proof way to quickly roast potatoes. The trick is to use fingerling or small potatoes. They are petite and would only need about 30 minutes to brown to golden perfection. These not only taste good, but they are just so pretty with the herbs baked right underneath them. These roasted potatoes would be wonderful to serve for your next dinner party this season, which is what I did last Friday. Just serve them with your favorite sauce or condiment, and enjoy while crispy and hot.

fingerling potatoes (about 1 large bag, a medley of small potatoes will work)
fresh oregano leaves (or any fresh leafy herb)
olive oil
salt + pepper

1. Prep the ingredients. Rinse off the fingerling potatoes in water and pat completely dry. Remove the leaves from the fresh oregano stems.

2. Season the potatoes. Slice the potatoes lengthwise right down the middle. Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, about 2-3 tablespoons, and heavily with salt and pepper. Toss together to be sure all the potatoes are nicely coated. Cover a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat the foil with olive oil. Stick about two oregano leaves on the flat side of the seasoned potato and place flat on the sheet. Repeat for all the slices.

Gently press the leaves onto the potatoes.

3. Bake the potatoes. In a preheated 425° oven, bake the potatoes for 30 minutes until the bottom of the slices are golden brown. Serve immediately with your favorite sauce or condiment.

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Nov 11, 2011

My Picks: Isabel’s “Love for Gray”

Here’s a new feature for you guys! A “my picks” feature that showcases some cute finds I think you would like. This first one for you is about my love for all-things gray. Well, namely for the kitchen, but you’ll find some random finds in there too. Gray is just so beautiful. From all the shades of gray whether you go cool or warm, it’s a neutral color that can work in any sort of condition. I definitely think gray is the new beige. Don’t you? What are some of your gray picks?

Herringbone Case : Classic wool herringbone pattern to encase your iPad.

Paper Straws : A little whimsy in your drink.

Behr Silver Drop Paint : A subtle gray on the walls. Calming influence. Our living room color. (thanks Gigi for the photo)

Commander in Chic : Gray nails, why not? Love.

Mustache Flasks : Mustache fever. A hot trend in weddings.

Japanese Washi Tape : Decorative tape for your next creative project.

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