Nov
25

Nespresso VertuoLine + Seasonal Coffee Drinks

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I’ve always been fascinated by single-serve coffee systems, but vastly underwhelmed by what’s on the market. The ability to cater to your family’s or guests’ preferences, especially during all of those holiday get togethers, can be such a lovely touch when entertaining. But when the coffee itself tastes unimpressive and the machine has a working life of maybe a year… well, what’s the point?

 

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When Nespresso reached out about trying out their new VertuoLine I was hesitant, but what changed my mind was that Nespresso works in coffee. They aren’t just some brand who’s decided to create a new machine and outsource the main ingredient. VertuoLine is an intuitive system that uses Centrifusion technology and barcode reading (cup size, rotation, temperature, flow rate, and brew time) to brew 8 oz cups of coffee and 1.35 oz espressos.

 

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The VertuoLine’s hallmark is the incredible crema – the foam formed on each espresso top – it creates with every cup. And honestly it really is impressive. Once I got my hands on the machine itself I couldn’t believe that this was a cup of coffee that I’d made in around a minute in my own kitchen.

 

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I also got to play around with an automatic milk frother, the Aeroccino+. With the push of a button I had perfect hot milk and froth (it can also warm milk without the froth or froth cold milk). It’s basically my favorite new kitchen gadget of 2014.

The VertuoLine comes with a sample box of their eight coffee and four espresso blends. And after trying nearly all of them I decided to create a few coffee drinks and put it all to the test.

 

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Ingredients:
Melozio capsule
• 2 oz skim milk
• 1 Tbsp honey, plus more for drizzling

Place Melozio capsule into the VertuoLine and brew into mug. While brewing, pour 2 oz skim milk into Aeroccino+ along with one tablespoon of honey. Press button to froth. When finished, gently pour milk into coffee, then spoon froth on top. Drizzle with honey. Drink up.

 

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Ingredients:
Odacio capsule
• 2 oz eggnog

Place Odacio capsule into the VertuoLine and brew into mug or heat-safe glass. While brewing, pour 2 oz eggnog into Aeroccino+. Press button to froth. Pour eggnog slowly into coffee to achieve that great separation. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I received product and compensation for this collaboration with Nespresso. As always all words and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that help keep Design Crush going!

Nov
24

Ramen 10 Ways

I’m a soup fiend when cold weather comes to town, and I’m always looking for the next one to try (these are my favorite two!). This winter I’m planning on doing a little experimentation with ramen and I’ve bookmarked these ten recipes as my starting point. Have you ever made it other than straight out of the package? Me neither.

 

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Click on each image to go to the recipe.
All photos copyright of their respective sites unless otherwise noted.

Nov
13

Making Dessert Count: Dense Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

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Dessert is a big part of the holidays, in fact I think it’s a big part of any successful get together. It’s the time when it’s okay to indulge a little and let the conversation flow. Some of my favorite times have been spent gathered around a table – dining or coffee – with friends and family at the end of a delicious meal. So when Target asked me to share just what makes holiday entertaining special – that sweet finish worth lingering over – I couldn’t resist.

 

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To me dessert isn’t just about what’s on the plates, it’s just as much about the ambiance. You want to create a relaxed atmosphere that makes your guests feel comfortable and happy. In my home that means lowered lights, candles, and quiet music in the background that doesn’t overshadow the conversation.

 

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This is one of my favorite holiday desserts that’s a year round classic doesn’t say “holiday” at all. (But no fear, it can easily be dressed up with some whipped cream and red berries to make it so!) I prefer to serve this Dense Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with a dusting of powdered sugar and coffee. A thin slice is all that’s needed, and it isn’t the sort of sweet that can’t be eaten quickly, it’s meant to be savored – inviting the conversation that makes the holidays so wonderful. . These mercury glass plates spotlight the not too sweet slices quite nicely, while a gold charger easily doubles as a serving plate for the cake itself. My favorite mood lighting continues to be tea lights, they’re so easy and sparkly set in a few small frosted gold mason jars. Hours of talking and memories await!

 

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Dense Bittersweet Chocolate Cake
serves 10

Ingredients
• 12 oz fine bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
• 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 C) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
• 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 3/4 C sugar
• 5 large eggs, separated and brought to room temperature
• 3/4 C flour

Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper, then butter paper.

Melt chocolate and butter in a large (microwave-safe) bowl in the microwave set at 50% power for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring once every 60 seconds. Cool completely. Whisk in vanilla, salt, and 6 tablespoons sugar. Add yolks 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in flour.

Beat whites with a pinch of salt in a bowl using an electric mixer at medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks, then add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until whites hold stiff glossy peaks.

Whisk one fourth of whites into chocolate mixture, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Pour batter into springform pan and spread evenly.

Bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted into cake center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool cake completely. Invert cake onto rack and remove bottom of pan, discarding paper, then invert cake onto a plate. Enjoy!

This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Home Décor for modern luxury made easy.

Disclaimer: This post sponsored by Target. All words and opinions are my own as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep our content fresh!

Nov
12

you’re invited to: Thanksgiving

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Pulling together our daydream Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s get togethers is one of my favorite sets of recurring posts all year. It’s so much fun to imagine the ideal holiday, food, and festivities surrounding each. This November I’m imagining lots of natural elements – wood, clay, DIYs, etc – and a few touches of metallic to add some interest to the Thanksgiving decor. Take a look at our version of the holiday from warm welcomes to full-bellied goodbyes, and let us know what you’re planning for your table too! (If you’d like to see our Thanksgivings past, here’s 2012 and 2013.)

 

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Fallen Feathers Wreath //  Homemade Simmering Spices // DIY Pumpkin Lantern //
Basket of Birch Logs // DIY Menu Pumpkin // Linen Fabric Bunting Banner

 

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Cranberry Cider Smash // Salted Lemon Sage Cocktail // Slow Cooker Apple Cider

 

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Cranberry Baked Brie Puffed Pastry Bites // Crispy Brussels Sprout Chips //
Sea Salt, Lavender & Caramel Popcorn

 

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Sparkle Trimmed Tumbler // Macedonia Trivet // Corso Flatware // Etched Metal Vase //
Ceramic Salt Cellar and Gold Spoon Set // DIY Dyed Napkins // Farmhouse Pottery Turkey Platter //
Copper Plated Mixing Bowls // Metallic Taper Candleholders // Stockholm Serving Bowl //
Wheat Sprig Place Card // DIY Apple Stamp Table Runner

 

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Sage Butter Roasted Turkey // Roasted Red Pepper + Gouda Soup // Chopped Brussels Sprout,
Kale + Chard Salad
// Zucchini Rice // Wild Rice + Butternut Squash Salad // Popovers with
Gruyere and Thyme
// Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes // Salt and Vinegar Roasted Cauliflower //
Mini Sweet Potato Gratins // Sweet + Spicy Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce

 

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Grapefruit Pie // Earl Grey Chocolate Truffle Tart // Pumpkin Spiced Buttermilk Layer Cake

Nov
03

Hassle-Free Cocktails with VitaFrute + a Giveaway

It’s been a few months since I’ve shared any recipes, so I’m here to make up for it four-fold with a fantastic quartet of cocktails. I promise you every last one is delicious and the most complicated of the bunch includes only three ingredients. (Seriously!) The star of each recipe is one of VitaFrute‘s four organic ready-to-drink cocktails that allow you to step away from the bar cart and enjoy a hassle-free get together this holiday season!

 

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Lemonade + Prosecco

Serves 2

• 5 oz VitaFrute Lemonade
• 5 oz prosecco
• lemon

Pour 2.5 oz VitaFrute Lemonade and 2.5 oz prosecco into each of two coupes. Garnish with a thin slice of lemon and enjoy!

 

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Pear Nectar Margarita

Serves 2

• 10 oz VitaFrute Margarita
• 2 oz pear nectar
• pear
Pour 5 oz VitaFrute Margarita and 1 oz pear nectar into each of two cocktail glasses. Garnish with a slice of pear and a dash of ground ginger if you’re feeling adventurous.

 

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Apple Cider Cosmopolitan

Serves 2

• 6 oz VitaFrute Cosmopolitan
• 4 oz fresh apple cider
• orange

Pour 3 oz VitaFrute Cosmopolitan and 2 oz apple cider into each of two rocks glasses. Garnish with a slice of juicy orange.

 

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Coconut Colada Float

Serves 2

• 6 oz VitaFrute Coconut Colada
• 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
• coconut flakes

Scoop vanilla ice cream into two parfait glasses, then pour 3 oz Vitafrute Coconut Colada over each. Top with a sprinkle of coconut flakes, then add a spoon and straw to enjoy.

 

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VitaFrute is teaming up with Kitchensurfing to give away a $1,000 and $500 towards a Kitchensurfing feast to make this a hassle-free holiday season! Imagine hosting that perfect holiday party without raising a finger or someone else preparing Christmas dinner for your family while you all focus on spending time together. You have until December 12th to pop over and enter for a chance to make this your best holiday season yet!

Disclaimer: I received product and compensation from VEEV Spirits. All words, opinions, and recipes are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush going!

Oct
22

Zucchini Noodles 10 Ways

Since my diabetes diagnosis in May, zucchini noodles have been a saving grace. I don’t eat much meat, so pasta creations were a bi-weekly occurrence in my kitchen. And I hear you, I too was skeptical about squash replacing my precious carbs but quickly found out it’s way more about the texture and shape than the actual thing. I also quickly found out that using a mandolin to shave down the zucchini into pasta-like strands is preferable to my initial method of using a vegetable peeler, which created something a little bit too wide. And no, you will not hear me ever refer to them as zoodles.

 

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Click on each image to go to the recipe.
All photos copyright of their respective sites unless otherwise noted.

Oct
15

Countdown to Halloween

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Nope, not Christmas – autumn, October, and Halloween. October 31st has long been a big deal in my family, from great aunts and uncles creating haunted houses in their basements to massive trick or treating, it’s given me some of my best memories. This year feels a bit out of whack since I’m still trying to get my house together post move and figuring out where the movers put everything (and yes, where I put everything while unpacking). I have pumpkins and mums decorating my front porch and a few favorite spooky pieces indoors, but the majority is in the basement. I’m hoping to dig a few more decorations out before hundreds of trick or treaters descend on my neighborhood (from the realtor’s lips to my ears) the night of the 31st. But if you’re more together than I am here are twenty-two of Halloween best ideas for you to tackle!

 

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ROW 1: Pop-Up Table Runner // Black and White Anatomical Printables // DIY Ghostly Mirror Images
ROW 2: Printable Trick or Treat Color Block Labels + Box Template // Straw Spider Web Wreath
ROW 3: DIY Halloween Invitations // DIY Halloween Silhouette Pitcher // Black Cocktail Rimming Sugar
ROW 4: Paper Star Lantern with Spider Web Cutouts // Set of 5 Halloween Cards // DIY Printable Trick-or-Treat Bag Labels

 

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ROW 1: Skeleton Hand Card // DIY Monster Candy Box // Gooey Monster Eye Cookies    ROW 2: Printable Halloween Party Invitations // Haunted Doll House    ROW 3: Vanilla Bean Skull Cake // Poison Toffee Apples // Printable Vintage Halloween Banner    ROW 4: Skull-Shaped Japanese Sugar //  // DIY Skull Planter

Sep
29

Spiced Apple + Granola Parfaits

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I can’t even tell you just how fantastic it feels to get back into the kitchen after months of packing and feeling so out of sorts during the move. But it feels so, so good. This recipe for Spiced Apple + Granola Parfaits are actually the first thing I’ve made in my new kitchen. They couldn’t be easier to pull together at a moment’s notice, and make a great stand-in for breakfast if I say so myself. Ahem. Hop over to Wayfair for the full (super-easy) recipe.

 

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Sep
22

Lasagna 10 Ways

Until recently I never realized just how versatile lasagna can be. Of course the usual trifecta of pasta sheets, tomato sauce, and cheese is a sure win, but what about the myriad of fillings and forms – other than in a baking dish  – for you to get creative and choose from? Warm and gooey foods were made for cooler months… you see where I’m going with this right? Take a peek at lasagna ten ways, and then tell us about your favorite way to serve it at home.

 

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Click on each image to go to the recipe.
All photos copyright of their respective sites unless otherwise noted.

Sep
09

Road Snacks

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Hi! Kate here, from Cookie and Kate. I offer fresh, vegetarian recipes on my blog. I had the pleasure of getting to know Kelly when I was new to blogging and living in Oklahoma. My dog, Cookie, and I moved up to Kansas City a couple of years ago. Since Kelly is in the process of moving back to Pennsylvania, she asked me to share a few travel-friendly snacks. Safe travels, Kelly!

 

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Almond Honey Granola: This is my go-to granola recipe. It’s a great, wholesome snack for the road. You can eat it as is or stop for some yogurt and turn it into breakfast.

 

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Lebanese Lemon-Parsley Salad: This simple bean salad is packed with flavor. Store it in a spill-proof container and don’t forget your fork! It should last at room temperature for a few hours, but pack it in a cooler if you intend to wait any longer before eating. 

 

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Apricot Almond Bars: These knock-off Larabars are easy to make in a food processor and feature one of my favorite flavor combinations. They keep hunger pangs at bay in between meals. 

 

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Banana Coconut Muffins: These tasty muffins are more wholesome than most. They’re made with whole wheat flour and naturally sweetened with honey. Pro tip: Don’t leave your dog in the car with an open bag of muffins.