Dave’s Short Rib Ragu Recipe

Cooking

If you’ve been to our house for a dinner party, you may have been lucky enough to eat this divine dish. It’s rich and delicious. Everything my husband Dave makes is delicious, but this is a stand out. It was frequently the main dish of dinner parties, back when we could actually have people over! For now we will enjoy it by ourselves and you can enjoy it too. Here is the recipe for you to make at home.

onion, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, berbs

Ingredients:

  • Short Ribs (1.5 -2 lbs)
  • Two carrots diced
  • One large Onion diced
  • Three cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley)
  • 1/2 c dry red wine
  • 1 c beef stock
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Pasta

Directions:

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a dutch oven. If you don’t have a dutch oven, use a heavy bottom, oven proof dish. Generously rub salt and pepper on the short ribs. Add short ribs to the hot dutch oven with heated olive oil and brown all sides of the meat. Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside. You can remove some of the fat in the pan at this point if it seems like a lot. You will need enough fat in the pan for the next step, sauteing the carrots and onions.

Lower heat to medium and add onion and carrots to the dutch oven. Cook them until they are translucent, then add garlic. Cook a few minutes more. Add tomato paste and flour and stir/cook for a few more minutes. Add red wine and beef stock along with the herbs (you can tie them together or add to a cheese cloth package, so it is easy to remove at the end). Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Add the short ribs back to the dutch oven and bring to a gentle boil. Place the dutch oven in the oven and cook for around 2-3 hours.

Remove the short ribs and separate the bone from the meat (you can save the bones to make a stock). Use two forks to shred the meat and then add back to the pot.

Serve with your choice of pasta. Some of my favorite pastas with this dish include pappardelle, fusili, or rigatoni, but anything will work. We decided to make our own rigatoni.

Here are some photos of it being made. Let me know if you make it and if you have any questions.

salt and pepper the short ribs
brown all sides of the short ribs in a dutch oven
browned ribs

Cheers.

How to Choose Wallpaper

Design, house, Wallpaper

Do you love wallpaper, but get overwhelmed when you try to figure out how to incorporate it into your own home? It’s easy to admire it in a restaurant or someone else’s home, but taking the plunge in your own home may be daunting. I personally love bold wallpaper and have used it in my own home as well as in client’s homes. This blog post will guide you through the considerations you need to make in order to find your very own perfect wallpaper!

Wallpaper samples from Wallpaperdirect

Before you start searching every website out there, narrow down your search by considering the following topics.

Click below for the full post.

Cookie Recipes for Pignoli and Shortbread

Cooking

This year has been far from normal, but we’ve been embracing it and staying home as much as possible. I’ve missed getting together with my friends, so I organized a cookie making video call with them. We each made a cookie or two and then got together a few days later (outside and masked) to swap.

I made two cookies that I never made before, and luckily they both turned out to be delicious. Are you familiar with the Italian cookie called Pignoli? It’s our favorite cookie from Termini’s in Philadelphia and I decided to try to make them. Pignoli means pine nut in Italian, and they are covered in them. The base is an almond cookie and they end up being a bit expensive since the ingredients are pricy, so just be aware of that. I think the ingredients were around $20 for a batch.

I used the recipe from Lidia, linked here. The majority of the cookie is almond paste and in a few recipes people mentioned using it from a can and not the tube. I found it in a tub from Sam’s in Willow Grove and it seemed to be really fresh.

Pignoli Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb almond paste
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup pine nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Crumble the almond paste into a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment. Mix the almond paste to break it up. Add the sugar and continue to mix. Add the egg whites one at a time and continue to mix until incorporated and batter is smooth. Place the pine nuts into a bowl or plate. Roll a tablespoon size portion of dough in your hands to form a ball and then cover in the pine nuts. Alternately (and to save a few bucks) you can just add the pine nuts to one side (the top). Place on a cookie sheet and (optionally) smoosh with a glass to flatten them a little bit (I saw this part on a youtube video of an Italian grandma making them). They are also delicious without the nuts, so if you run out of pine nuts just bake them without.

Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, until golden on the edges. 18 minutes is perfect for my oven. Bake longer if you want them crispy, less if you want them softer.

Shortbread Cookie with Chocolate Chips and Cherries

I made an adjustments to this recipe (less cherries).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cherries (I used half maraschino and half fancy pants bourbon cherries)
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Beat butter with a mixer. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy cream.
  • Combine the flour with salt and sift. Add to the butter mixture and mix the dough.
  • Remove the moisture from the chopped cherries with a paper towel and add to the dough. Add chocolate chips, mix.
  • Put the dough on saran wrap and mold to form a log. Wrap the saran wrap around the dough and continue to form into a log. Place in the refrigerator for an hour and up to overnight.
  • Cut the dough into round cookies, put on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 325 F for about 15 minutes.
  • Cool the cookies completely, then remove them from the baking sheet and serve.

I’d love to know your favorite cookie recipes and holiday traditions. Are you doing things differently this year? I like to re-imagine old traditions and do new things so I’m embracing that this year will be different from past holiday seasons.

Happy Holidays.

*Brandi

Roast Chicken With Fennel

Cooking

Yes, this is usually a design blog, but lately I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and thought you may enjoy hearing about it. Usually my husband Dave cooks just about every meal, and is REALLY good at it. This year I’ve gotten more into cooking since I’ve been so bored (thanks COVID). [Public Service Announcement: Stay home as much as possible, and wear a mask while out so we can keep this virus in check!]

Roast Chicken with Fennel Ingredients

In the past when I’ve cooked I tried to find quick and easy recipes, but these days I look for recipes that take a long time to make. Like I said, I’ve been bored and I love food, so I might as well use my time to make delicious food.

This is the second time I’ve made this recipe, Roast Chicken with Fennel from the cookbook The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia. I linked the book from Thriftbooks, which is my new favorite online bookstore, everything is used and way cheaper than new! If that’s not your thing, you can find it at your favorite bookstore. I’ve had this book for a very long time and it has SO many great recipes. I highly recommend it, especially if you love Italian food. The first time I made this recipe I followed it very closely to as it was written, but this time we made some tweaks (added a brine step and omitted the bacon).

You may be thinking, fennel? If you’ve never had it, don’t be scared, because you will LOVE how it tastes after it’s been baked with chicken. I don’t like the anise/licorice flavor, but you don’t taste it once it’s cooked in this way.

Brined and dried Chicken before cooking

Roast Chicken with Fennel: Serves 4-5

Optional Brine Step: If you do this you will have to start the recipe the evening before you make it. Add salt, brown sugar, garlic cloves, herbs, fennel fronds, citrus peels, peppercorns to a large pot full of water. Heat to dissolve everything and then let cool. To speed up the cooling process you can add ice. Add the chicken to the cooled brine (it should cover the chicken). It’s important to rinse the chicken in water after you take it out, and pat it dry. Let it sit in the fridge uncovered to really dry out the skin. We brined it overnight (approx 10 hours), took it out in the morning and left it in the fridge until we made it for dinner. This whole step is optional, but will make the chicken extra juicy and moist.

Chicken in Brine

Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken (or chicken parts) (3-4 lbs)
  • Two Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
  • Two fennel bulbs, quartered. Fronds also required.
  • Large Onion or two small
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Herbs (Whatever you have on hand, I used Rosemary and Parsley)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350 C.

Rinse and pat the chicken dry (or pull it from the fridge if you did the brine and dry step above). Add salt, and pepper to chicken cavity. Place half of the onion (quartered) and herbs into the chicken cavity. Rub olive oil all over the chicken.

Chop fennel fronds from one of the fennel bulbs and mix with finely chopped garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Mix together then rub the mixture over the chicken.

Place a few tablespoons of olive oil in the botton of the roasting pan or dutch oven. Add the quartered fennel and the rest of the quartered onion to the bottom of the pan. Place chicken on top.

Bake at 350 for 30 min and then baste. Add the wine and return to the oven for another half hour. Remove to baste and then cook until done (approximately another hour, but each chicken will differ). We use a thermometer to determine when it’s done. Carve chicken and serve with fennel and onion. This also goes well with roasted or mashed potatoes.

Extra bonus points: you can place the chicken carcass in a freezer bag and save to make chicken stock.

Chicken and fennel before cooking
Roasted Chicken with Fennel

Here’s the original recipe.

Original Recipe from The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia

Let me know if you make this and what you think of it.

*Brandi

Final Reveal: Dressing Room One Room Challenge

house, One Room Challenge

Let’s just ignore the fact that I never posted for week 3, 4 or 5 for the Fall One Room Challenge. I just wasn’t feeling it, but now it’s finally finished and time for the big reveal! [Week one is here and week two here.]

First a big thank you to Linda from Calling It Home and Better Homes and Gardens for sponsoring the One Room Challenge!

Dressing Room Fall One Room Challenge 2020

The room turned out nothing like my initial design, but I love it. It’s definitely bold and colorful and cool. The initial design was based on getting new carpet (which won’t be installed for a couple more weeks), and using part of our living room sectional. We never did get a new living room couch, so I couldn’t use the old one. Since I wanted to spend as little $$ as possible I just used what I already had. Luckily I have a little smidge of the hoarding gene, so I had a lot to work with.

I re-painted the walls in my favorite white, Marshmallow and the trim in Urbane Bronze by Sherwin-Williams.

Dressing Room Fall One Room Challenge 2020

The only new thing that I purchased was knobs for the sink area and dresser. I contemplated replacing the dresser with a vintage mid century modern one, but it has too many memories so I decided to keep it. The dresser was one of the first pieces of furniture we bought for our first house, 17 years ago! We bought it unfinished and stained it this dark walnut shade. It still works great and has held up really well. I switched out the knobs for a white MCM vibe that I found on Etsy from HuntGatherVintage. The dresser was moved to the built in cubby area, where it just so happened to fit perfectly!

Dresser looking way better with some new knobs.
Accessories and Decor is almost all vintage finds. Artwork is a local artist.
Colorful and Bold Dressing Room

The other main pieces I used was this Ikea shelving unit which I initially bought for my Brand-Eye Home shop and the Yellow Hand chair, which was a craiglist find. The rugs I moved from all of the other areas of the house and I’ll return them once we get the carpet. Although, I do really like them in this room.

Craigslist find Yellow Giant Hand Chair

As I was taking pictures of the room, Winnie was trying her hardest to get me to play with her. It was adorable.

Ikea shelves and vintage planter, stool and valet

I was going to get rid of this clothes valet, but I am glad I didn’t. We never really use it, but it looks cool so it can stay.

Sink area in the dressing room

Below is a sneak peek into the bathroom. This room is the mirror image of our bedroom. I redecorated the bedroom for the Spring 2018 One Room Challenge, which you can find here.

The bathroom leads over to the other room, the bedrom

The reason for the mirror in front of the large mirror is that the large one is damaged and has that old, hazy mirror problem. As a solution, I just placed another one in front of it.

Winnie waiting patiently for me to play with her

What do you think? I especially love that I used a lot of the artwork that I just had laying around. As you know, I switch up the decor in my house often and seeing it in new spots makes me happy. This Pink Bike Ralph Friendly Lounge screenprint is a personal favorite. The pet portraits I painted a long time ago and are of our pets at the time (Moz the chocolate lab and Otto the cat).

Hi, it’s me

Budget breakdown:

22 new drawer knobs: $111 + Paint: $100 = Total $211

Everything else I already owned! Here is approximately what the other pieces cost when I bought them:

Yellow Hand Chair: $90

Ikea Vittsjo Shelves: $80

Rugs (mostly from estate sales and auctions): $500

Accessories and Art (mostly from flea markets, estate sales and yard sales): $100

Copper light (Briggs Auction): $75

Clothing Stand: $50

Orange Tulip Stools (Flea Market): $100

Overall, if I take into account the price of things when I bought them, the cost was closer to $1200, not counting the carpet, which will be another $1000.

Thanks for following along and be sure to check out all of the final reveals of the other rooms being designed for this challenge here.

Just ignore that light cord behind me

*Brandi

Fall 2020 ORC Dressing Room Week 2

house, One Room Challenge

It’s already time for the week two of the One Room Challenge. I am redecorating our dressing room, which is adjacent to our bedroom and could use some serious updating.
This week I started painting the trim back to the original brown shade, as well as decide on flooring and work on the design. I decided to go with carpet for the flooring, which is sort of boring, but it’ll also make it much cozier. I am also carpeting the bedroom at the same time. Both of these rooms had carpet when we bought the house, but it was not in great shape. As a short term solution we just painted the subfloor, so now it’s time for real flooring. If money was no object I would have made a different decision, but you know, money is an object 🙂

Trim was painted back to brown.

We have been wanting to get a new sofa for our living room to replace the blue sectional. I love the blue sectional and will not get rid of it (it originally belonged to my Great Aunt), but it’s just not comfortable. And due to COVID we spend a lot more time on the sofa, so it would really be nice to have a comfortable spot to chill. Since we do want to keep it, I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out where to put the three pieces. One of them will go here, one will go in the basement and the third I’m just not sure yet.

I also already have these side tables and they never really fit anywhere. I’ll use two for this room and I also have a third that I will sell. The light I bought at an auction a couple of months ago and also couldn’t figure out where to put it, but it’ll fit here perfectly! This side of the room is really dark and needs a light source. And it’s plug in so I don’t need to hire an electrician. I will paint the black base white to match the wallcolor.

Artwork is TBD.

Be sure to check out all of the participants of the One Room Challenge!

*Brandi

Fall 2020 One Room Challenge: Dressing Room

house, One Room Challenge

I can’t believe it’s already time for the Fall One Room Challenge. It seems like I just finished the bathroom Spring ORC!

This is the fourth ORC that I am taking part in. I first redecorated our bedroom, then a guest room/craft room, basement bathroom and now the dressing room. This room is the mirror image to our bedroom, so the space will look familiar. As part of this challenge, I have 6 weeks to make this space look great and blog about it each week.

If you follow me on IG you may recall that I was trying to decide between doing the dressing room or my husband’s band practice/recording studio/office. I wanted to do the band room, but since it’s also his office and he is teaching high school remotely (thanks COVID), I thought it would be too much of a disruption to his sanity if I decorated that room. That leaves me with the dressing room, which has become a catch all for all sorts of crap over the past few years.

Let’s take a look at this room before. There are actually 3 versions of ‘before.’ The first version of ‘before’ is when the architect lived here. I skipped this room in my Morrison Residence Then and Now series, because this room is currently ugly 🙂 Here is what it looked like before before before (1990s).

When we first moved into this home, I set up this room as my craft room. Here is the before before (2015).

This Ikea cabinet used to hold my fabric stash when it was used as my sewing room.

At some point during the craft room days we ripped out the carpet and painted the subfloor turquoise. It was meant to be temporary, but has now been like this for over 5 years. It’s time to get a real floor!

When we switched bedrooms to the back of the house, I also moved this craft room and it became a dressing room. Primarily my husband uses it (not sure how he has more clothes than I do, but it’s true :-), plus he wakes up earlier than me so he can get ready without bothering me.

This room needs some serious style to match the rest of the house. I haven’t really figured out the design plan, but I am starting to make a list of what I need to do. I plan to kick it into gear and figure it all out this week!

Add real flooring. I am currently debating carpet or hardwood.

Replace cubbies with something more attractive, or cover them up with closet doors.

Install an ironing board that folds down from the wall, or opens out of a closet.

Downsize and donate clothes (we are 90% done with this step!)

Figure out decor and art

Buy a full length mirror

Switch out knobs on dresser (and perhaps paint?)

I’ve got a lot to do and better get moving! Be sure to check out all of the other 200 + designers who are all linked in this blog post.

*Brandi

Living Room Nook: Dark and Moody

house

When Sherwin-Williams announced their 2021 color of the year, Urbane Bronze, I knew I had to paint something with it, because I had a gallon in the basement! I initially bought it for the green hex tile bathroom renovation trim color, because it’s very close to our existing trim color. It’s a dark, deep brown/almost black. It’s a very awesome color, especially in a cozy space.

Living Room Reading Nook

The views outside of this living room nook are beautiful, especially now during the fall. I thought that painting the nook this dark, moody brown, would make the outside pop and it does! I wish I was better at taking photos so you can see the inside and outside, but you get the idea.

All of the furniture and accessories I already owned, so this cost zero $$. Finding a selection of vintage goods and things that you love is the best way to design.

The paintings above right were bought at two different times, but they work together perfectly. The one on the bottom was actually purchased without a frame, but the artist Kyle Rafferty framed it before it was sent. And it matched our other night time painting perfectly with the gold band.

The painting above I found on Instagram, by David Vget. His portraits are unbelievable and we were especially drawn to this one. I love it on this dark background. I haven’t framed it, but actually may just paint the edge the wall color.

We have had this chair from Crate and Barrel since we moved in. I didn’t really know that much about mid century modern design at the time, and didn’t realize this is basically a copy of a classic MCM design, Z Chair by Poul Jensen for Selig. Had I known, I would have just bought the original!

Here I am, HELLO!

This rug was a flea market find. It’s been in our entry way, but fits this spot perfectly too.

My fiddle leaf figs are staying alive, hooray! The hydrangeas are from my Mother in Laws garden.

Winnie says HI too.

Let me know what you think! And be sure to reach out to me if you would like me to design a space in your home.

*Brandi

MORRISON RESIDENCE THEN AND NOW: PART 6 OUTSIDE

house, Morrison Residence Series

It is time to see what’s going on outside of our home. This series has been so fun and this will be the last post, unless I get more old photos of the home!

In case you’re new here, this series takes look at what our home looked like when the original owner (and architect) lived here and what it looks like now. It was built in 1963 by the architect for his family, who lived here for almost 50 years. You can find all of the past posts on this topic here.

Let’s start with the front of the home.

Then: The front of the house
Then: view from the bridge
Then: view of the deck which no longer exists

And this is what it looks like now. The major differences are the color and removal of the deck on front. The previous owners (there was one owner between us and the architect) re-sided the home in JamesHardie cement siding, as well as replaced a ton of windows, removed the front deck and replaced the roof. We are really grateful for this, because I am sure it cost a fortune. 🙂

Now: front of the house (and BLM!)

Please note the support for Black Lives Matter in the window. I hope that everyone can see the imbalance of justice in this country and do your part to help to tip the scales to an even level. Matter is the minimum.

Now: with the removal of a large tree, we get enough light for some sunny flowers such as canna lillies

We had to take down a lot of trees over the 8 years we’ve been here. It’s definitely not something that we like to do, but sometimes it’s the best option. There was a huge tree right to the left of the house where the canna lillies are now, above. Falling limbs broke two windshields on our car and the tree was slowly dying. Before it fell on the house, we removed it late last year. I was sad to see it go and the house felt so open and exposed, but now I’m used to it.

Now: Entrance

The entrance area is one of the most beautiful parts of this home. It is really funny when people come to visit for the first time, because they have no idea how to enter and usually start by walking up one of the side paths not realizing the entrance is here. It’s like a little hidden oasis once you walk into this area.

Now: Entrance and hanging chair
Now: The main entrance is up the stairs
Now: White planters. Unfortunately something ate the sweet potato vine.

Below is what it used to look like. I’m not sure when the stairs were rebuilt, but I have to say I liked the initial design. Do you see how the lower stairs used to go all the way across to the left? How cool.

Then: Entrance

The railings were also changed at one point and I assume that they were changed to meet current building codes.

We had to replace those horizontal huge beams that hold up the staircase, as well as the top level of the deck. It cost a small fortune, so I am hoping that it lasts until we die or move. Lol.

Then: Entrance courtyard
Then: Entrance

It’s so fun to look at these old photos and every time I look at them I see something new. I am just seeing that there used to be a built in bench where I now have the hanging chair.

Now: View from top deck

This is the view from the top deck and we hang out here often. It’s a really beautiful view.

Now view from top deck
Now: Winnie chillin on the top deck

Winnie hasn’t figured out that she can walk down these stairs. If we see a cat, fox or deer while out here we put her inside, because I think her instinct would take over if she saw one.

Below is a path to the right of the house. The before photo is MUCH prettier. Now this area is really overgrown and I need to give it a seriously hard prune. This yard is massive and there is so much to keep up with, so the areas that are used the least get the least attention.

Then: East pathway

Below is the current situation. You better believe that next year I am planting some coleus here to make it look more like the before photo. This pathway is a constant battle with weeds, ivy and shrubs.

Now: East pathway
Now: East pathway that needs some serious pruning

As you walk up the pathway it leads you to the gate and into this side of the yard. Each year I grow a bunch of plants in pots and up strings along the end of the deck.

Now: Dining patio
Now: Deck off the living room
Now: Vines and plants

This deck is another great spot to sit. The chairs look really cool, but in reality they are not comfortable at all.

Now: Plants

Let’s see what it used to look like. How cool is that picnic table that was built into the end?

Then: Deck with integrated picnic table
Then: Dining terrace
Then: East side yard

There used to be a water feature in this area, but it wasn’t here when we bought the house and I’m not sure when it was removed.

Then: garden terrace

We currently have a hot tub in this area. It was an impulse buy a few years ago and was a great purchase!

Now: Garden terrace (with hot tub)

We had this stone wall installed a few years ago.

Now: East yard

Heading up this hill and into the back yard…

Now; Pathway to back yard

…you’ll find my vegetable garden. As you can see this area gets a lot of shade, so I will blame my failure of a vegetable garden on that and the fact that a groundhog ate most everything that did grow. If you follow my Instagram stories, you have seen a lot about my trials and tribulations of vegetable gardening.

Now: Vegetable Garden

Below is the one area that we did the most to. I saw ‘we’ but we hired this job to the professionals. This awesome patio and stone wall is in memory to Dave’s grandma, Lucille.

Now: Lucille Garden
Now: Back patio, Lucille Garden

Below is what the back of the house used to look like. I really wish that we still had the curved skylight!

Then: Back of the house

I hope you enjoyed the tour of the outside areas of our home. I’d love to hear what you think I should bring back from the original designs. It definitely used to have more garden beds which would be awesome to have, but I am already over my maximum capacity of gardens to tend.

*Brandi