I’m a planner by nature. As a 10 year old I drew floor plans for fun and throughout school rewrote notes to relax. NERD ALERT! Now I love that planning is a part of running Design Crush, and there’s not much I love more than planning a good dinner party – real or imagined! (You can see Thanksgiving 2012 right here.)
Castle Peak Dinnerware
Arrow & Adobe Linen Napkins
Aueux Carving Set
Enchanted Ikat Table Runner
Industrial Inspired Metal Candle Holders
Mercury Glass Taper Holders
Metallic Print Glassware Set
Rose Gold Flatware
Rose Gold Salad Set
DIY Rosemary Wreath Place Cards
Acorn Squash and Pancetta Soup
Autumn Arugula Salad
Caramelized Coconut Butter Apples
Caramelized Sweet Potatoes
Citrus and Herb Roasted Turkey
Herbed Bread and Cherry Cranberry Stuffing
Honey Maple Beer Bread
Honey Mustard Brussels Sprouts Slaw
Pumpkin Sage Polenta
Almost every one of my favorite recipes has a story, so when West Elm asked me to share one of my favorite holiday traditions I knew just the one. When I was in elementary school my grandparents looked after me once school was out every day. My Grandpa picked me up at the bus stop and drove me the fifteen minutes to their house in the next town where my mom would scoop me up after work. Most days when I got into his car there would be a snack waiting for me – an orange we would share or a coconut macaroon cookie. But on really special fall days there was nothing until we got back to their house and I walked in the door to the sight of my Grandma’s apple dumplings, perfectly golden and smelling like heaven. Those apple dumplings meant that the holidays (as well as winter vacation) were right around the corner!
Now that I make my own I cut a corner or two, but the end result still gives me that same feeling of being cozy and loved. I picked up a Scape Oval Baking Dish (the perfect size for four apple dumplings) and a set of Universal Expert Wooden Utensils from West Elm Market to make the recipe all the more fun to pull together and share with you. I can already tell that these pieces are going to get a major workout over the next few months between casseroles and baked goods!
• 4 medium-large apples (I used Fuji)
• 1/4 C quick cooking oats
• 1/4 C brown sugar
• 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 4 pie crusts (I use pre-made)
• 4 tsp butter
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp vanilla
• granulated sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a large baking dish with cooking spray in preparation. Make or (or open) your go-to pie crust recipe (each apple will use one crust). In a small bowl mix together the oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon then set aside. Peel and core the apples. Roll out (or lay out) one pie crust and set an apple in the center. Fill the hollowed out core with the oat-brown sugar-cinnamon mixture all the way to the top, then place a teaspoon of butter on top. Fold up the edges of the crust, making sure to pinch the seams as you go along. Repeat the process with the other three apples and set each one in the baking dish. Beat the egg and vanilla together and brush all over each dumpling, then dust with sugar. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. These are delicious served with Brown Sugar Sauce (recipe below) or served with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. One dumpling could easily be split between two people.
Brown Sugar Sauce
• 1/4 C brown sugar
• 1/4 C water
Combine brown sugar and water in a small saucepan. Simmer until reduced and thickened.
The instant I threw this pizza together I knew it would be going into my late summer/early fall repertoire for years to come. Its birth is the result of being faced with leaving town unexpectedly for a few days, badly in need of a trip to the grocery store, and with a refrigerator full of produce that would be past its prime when I returned. Holy moly, just try it.
Peach and Chèvre Pizza with Balsamic Onions and Arugula
• your favorite pizza dough recipe (or my favorite cheat, ready-to-go from the refrigerated section)
• 2 peaches
• 1 red onion
• 4 oz chèvre (goat cheese)
• 3 C loosely packed arugula
• 1/3 C balsamic vinegar
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
Slice the onion up into thin strips. Place in a medium bowl and toss to coat in the balsamic vinegar, let sit for 10 minutes. Skin, slice, and pit the peaches and add to onion/balsamic bowl. Place and stretch your (homemade or store bought) pizza dough into a large cookie sheet, it will be fairly thin. Removed onions and peaches from the bowl and scatter across dough, saving the balsamic. Dot the pizza evenly with pieces of chèvre. Bake according to dough instructions. In the meantime, toss arugula in the leftover balsamic, olive oil, and sea salt. Once pizza is finished baking, cover evenly with the arugula mixture and let sit for 5 minutes. Some wilting will occur, which is totally fine. Enjoy!
Last weekend was the first it truly felt like fall, with plenty of cool temps and even a little rain to top it off. I know almost everyone seems to say it, but fall has truly been my favorite season for my entire life. So of course I had to do a little celebrating by dragging out my crockpot and cooking up some super simple, but very flavorful vegetable stew. (I served it up over a small bed of brown rice, but it’s just as good without.)
Slow-Cooked Vegetable Stew
(loosely adapted from Real Simple)
• 1 can vegetable broth
• 2 cans diced tomatoes, including juice
• 1 can corn, drained
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 large sweet potato, diced
• 1/2 tsp cumin
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
• 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
• 4 small zucchinis
• 1 can chickpeas, drained
• brown rice
Combine vegetable broth, tomatoes and juice, corn, garlic, sweet potato, cumin, sea salt, and crushed red pepper in a crockpot. Give it all a good stir and set on low heat for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. Add in zucchini and chickpeas, cooking for one hour longer on low. Serve over brown rice or with some crusty bread. Completely easy, yes?
01/ 100 handmade shark fins float in a lagoon in New Zealand.
02/ Clever wallpaper that shows the skeletons of animals.
03/ This paperless artist uses her thigh as a canvas.
04/ This old-fashioned homemade soda party looks delicious!
05/ Beautiful bird flipbook machines.
06/ Delft wallpaper, who woulda thunk it?
07/ A typeface made of carefully shaped fried eggs.
08/ A beautiful state flower print.
09/ Aerial and fashion photography mashups.
10/ Simple timelines put today in perspective versus the rest of history.
I cobbled together this cake last Sunday for a dinner and it was a hit. The pears weren’t over-baked or the slightest bit mushy and the cake was the perfect density and texture. I’ll definitely be putting this recipe in my back pocket to mix up with different fruits throughout the year. (Blackberries! Fresh cherries! Plums!)
Spiced Pear Upside-Down Cake
Makes 2 cakes, serves 6 each
• 1/2 C butter (half a stick)
• 1 1/2 C packed brown sugar
• 4 pears, peeled and sliced (6 if you like a higher ratio of fruit, like me)
• 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp clove)
• 3/4 C unsalted butter, softened
• 1 1/2 C sugar
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 4 large eggs
• 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
• 1 C milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1/2 cup butter and pour equal parts into two 9″ round glass cake pans. Divide and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Peel and half pears, remove cores, and slice into quarter-inch sections. Place slices into large bowl and toss with pumpkin pie spice until coated. Arrange pear slices in concentric circles over butter and brown sugar mixture on bottoms of pans and set aside. Beat softened unsalted butter, sugar, baking powder, and vanilla with mixer on high until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. On low, beat in flour and milk alternately. Gently pour half of batter into each pan to cover pears. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a butter knife around the outer edge of each and invert on serving dish. Gently lift cake pan. Serve warm, with vanilla bean ice cream for bonus points.
01/ I know that guacamole is extra. It always is.
02/ Clever slouching book bookends.
03/ Not one. Not two. But thirteen ways to make hummus.
04/ We’re giving away three tickets to Alt For Everyone!
05/ Just some paintings of bodies hidden under rugs.
06/ Catastrophic disasters recreated as layered sculptures.
07/ Ten photos that look like hyper-realistic paintings. But aren’t.
08/ Your Last Shot asks what photo you’d want displayed at your funeral if you died tomorrow.
09/ Towering metallic men sculptures in Taiwan.
10/ Massive, beautiful stick sculptures.
This week on Design Crush:
Mix #28: All the Hands In Your Pocket
Taste Tour: POPS
UPPERCASE: Work/Life 3
52 Weeks of Dogs
Skin & Bones
Alt For Everyone (Ticket Giveaway)
Design Crush + Dodge Dart
The last thing I’ve wanted to do all summer is turn on the stove. It hasn’t even been especially scorching, only a few triple digit days here and there, but I just can’t even stand the idea of it. Everything I want to eat has been coming out of the refrigerator, dishes that are cool on the palate and light on the stomach. This Tangy + Sweet Lentil Orzo Salad is my latest go-to creation. It has everything you need for a good meal – plenty of color, fresh produce, and protein. It also makes a great side or main dish and can be prepared ahead of time, definite bonus points.
Tangy + Sweet Lentil Orzo Salad
• 1 box orzo
• 1 C black beluga lentils
• 8 Tbsp olive oil, divided
• 1/3 C red wine vinegar
• 4 cloves minced garlic
• 1 cucumber
• 1 pint grape tomatoes
• 1 nectarine (or peach)
• 1 red onion
• 1 C feta
Prepare orzo according to box. Once finished mix in 2 Tbsp olive oil and place in refrigerator to cool. While that’s happening get the lentils ready, I really like the kind that can be steamed in the microwave. Place these in the refrigerator until cool. In the meantime, prep your produce. Half the grape tomatoes. Quarter the cucumber lengthwise, then remove the seeds and slice into small pieces. Julienne the nectarine. Chop the onion up small. Once everything is nice and chilly prep the dressing by whisking together the remaining 6 Tbsp olive oil, red wine vinegar, and minced garlic in a small bowl. In a large bowl combine orzo, lentils, tomatoes, cucumber, nectarine, and onion. Toss to combine with dressing then top with feta.
01/ The Healing Power of Cat Purrs. (I knew it!)
02/ The world is fascinated by Twins, this portrait series is lovely.
03/ Book on Book, a book-shaped clear acrylic paperweight.
04/ Office Safari, where cubicle meets safari.
05/ Science is awesome, and now science is branded.
06/ Mirror City, a kaleidoscopic timelapse of major cities.
07/ You can finally make your own It’s-It Ice Cream Sandwiches!
08/ If we could see Wifi, this is what it would look like.
09/ Painted Jello has never looked so appetizing.
10/ If Manhattan were dropped into the Grand Canyon!
When I was visiting Olive & Co. last week and sampling way too many balsamics (hello, heartburn!), one of the brilliant employees mentioned that she likes to put a little of their strawberry balsamic vinegar into her son’s water to make him drink more. Which obviously led to us talking about cocktails and how wouldn’t it be equally amazing to add a little to our vodka. Which got me thinking and concocting. (If these are slightly too tart for you, consider adding half an ounce of simple syrup.)
Strawberry Balsamic Vodka Cocktail
• 1 oz. vodka
• 1 oz. quality strawberry balsamic vinegar
• 2 oz. soda water or ginger ale
Combine vodka, strawberry balsamic, soda water or ginger ale, and ice in cocktail shaker. Shake it up good. Pour into tumbler and garnish with strawberries, whole or sliced. (Or make it a virgin by eliminating the vodka!)
Grapefruit Balsamic Vodka Cocktail
• 1 oz. vodka
• 1 oz. quality grapefruit white balsamic vinegar
• 2 oz. soda water or tonic
Combine vodka, grapefruit white balsamic, soda water or tonic, and ice in cocktail shaker. Shake it up good. Pour into tumbler and garnish with a slice or wedge of ruby red grapefruit. (Or make it a virgin by eliminating the vodka!)