Sunday, October 20, 2013

Painted Brick Fireplace

Today's post is a classic example of a DIY gone wrong, that actually ended up even better than anticipated. When we moved into our home a few weeks ago, I knew that I wanted to paint the fireplace. Some people love old brick, but it just wasn't working for me, and it made the room in the basement look a lot darker.


Plus, there was a section of mismatched brick and ugly mortar in the middle of the wall, where a hole was clearly patched.


I was at first inspired by this gorgeous painted fireplace, so I started by following those instructions. The two paint colors that I chose were "Creamy White" by Behr Ultra, and Behr "Blanket Brown", both satin enamel. I used a roller to paint the brick with the white shade, and a paint brush to paint between the bricks and completely cover the mortar. I used roughly two coats, to completely cover the brick.


Now, the blogger at the previous link stated that her brick had a rough texture, and was uneven, which helped to get the almost spattered look of the painted fireplace. Because my brick was mostly smooth, I used a pair of scissors to give the roller some texture for the top coat.


Then, I rolled it in the brown paint, and lightly painted over a section of the wall.

I don't have a photo of that part, but maybe it was the color, maybe it was the texture of the brick, but whatever it was, it was unfortunately not the effect that I wanted. 

We mixed some white paint with the brown to lighten it up a bit, and tried again. Still something was off.
"I kind of like the white better," my husband said. So we decided to try and wipe off some of the brown paint, wait for it to dry, and then repaint that section white. As I grabbed a paper towel and smeared off some of the paint (which actually just smoothed it out), my husband stopped and said, "actually, I kind of like how that looks."

A new plan was born.

We painted the walls, still using the textured roller and a light hand, and coating the wall and fireplace in sections. It's important to roll vertically instead of horizontally, or the paint will cover the mortar. Then using a dry paper towel, smudge the paint horizontally along each brick. This part of the process is really quick, and the goal isn't to make it look completely perfect. 

Here is the finished product (excuse the table full of supplies)!



Close up:

Painted brick fireplace.
All in all, I think it turned out really well for a a DIY accident, and it really makes the room look much brighter and put together!


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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Recycled Chairs: Wooden Chairs Turned Teal & Chevron

We've recently moved into a new home, and after ripping out some hideous wallpaper (post to follow), and painting our bedroom our beautiful shade of teal, I had some paint left over. In a rush to get some seating ready for our housewarming party, I used it to transform some old dining chairs into cute, comfy seating.


Using some upholstery tacks, grey and white chevron printed fabric, and leftover paint (and some primer!), I was able to turn these chairs (which I got for free from a friend) into something eye catching and new.

To prime them, I used Kilz Original primer, and painted one coat (kind of haphazardly) over all four chairs. I wasn't really worried about getting paint on the seats, since I planned to cover them anyway. After letting the primer dry, I painted each one with a coat of teal paint. The paint brush definitely leaves some lines in the paint, but that was the look that I was going for. If you want a smooth finish, you might want to try a roller.

To cover the seats, I simply cut enough printed fabric to stretch over the top of the seat, and stretch around the edges. I placed of bit of polyester batting between the fabric and the top of the seat cushion. It doesn't add ton of cushion, but it fluffs up the seat a little bit to make it look newer, and less worn in.

I used some upholstery tacks to attach the edges of the fabric underneath the seat cushions, and reattached them to the frame of the chair, and there you go! Brand new chairs from an old dining set that was destined for the dumpster.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole



Chicken Cordon Bleu is a fancy-sounding recipe that involves stuffing chicken breasts with ham and cheese. That sounds pretty labor-intensive to me, so this Chicken Cordon Bleu casserole is a perfect way to get all of the flavor, with minimal fuss!

It's low carb, gluten free (assuming you have gluten-free panko for topping), and most importantly, it's really, really good.

You will need:

  • Approximately 6 cups of cooked chicken. You can use less, but more makes for a bigger casserole. It needs to at least cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  • 1/2 pound of honey ham
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pounds of swiss cheese, depending on how thinly it is sliced.
  • 4 tbsp of flour (I use Bob's Red Mill, for gluten free!)
  • 6 tsp of butter
  • 3 and 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of spicy mustard
  • Lime or lemon juice
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Parsley for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken in a layer in the bottom of a greased baking dish. Chop up the ham, and layer it on top, and then cover with the swiss cheese.

In a pot or pan, melt the butter over high heat. Slowly add the flour a scoop at a time, stirring constantly to mix it in. Gluten free flour tends to clump, for me at least, so stirring quickly and constantly while adding a little at a time really seems to help.

Slowly stir in the milk, paprika, salt, and mustard. Lower to medium heat, and let the sauce thicken for about ten minutes, continuing to stir occasionally so that it doesn't burn.

Pour the sauce over the casserole, covering it completely. Sprinkle panko and parsley over the top of the entire casserole, and bake for 25 minutes. The casserole should be bubbly when it has finished cooking. Let cool, and serve!


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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ravens Purpletini

Are you looking for a purple drink for the Baltimore Ravens football, or for a wedding or event? Then look no further than the Ravens Purpletini!

My husband and I are huge Baltimore Raven's fans, and since I'm a big fan of the color purple in general, it only makes sense that we had to perfect a purple drink recipe!

Please note that this drink recipe is for two drinks per batch. While I'm sure that you could use your math and create a big pitcher of it, if you are looking for a party-size serving, I highly suggest you try this purple punch.









You will need:

  • A shaker (if not, you will have to guess your measurements)
  • Three ounces of vodka
  • 2-3 ounces of cranberry juice
  • 1 ounce of sour mix
  • 1 ounce of lemon-lime soda
  • 1 ounce of Blue Curacao
Shake. Pour. Enjoy!

You may also enjoy:
Purple Yucca
Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Chili

I have to admit that cooking with a slow cooker/crockpot made me slightly anxious. I was, perhaps unreasonably, worried that leaving the appliance plugged in and cooking all day would leave me to come home to a flaming pile of rubble where my kitchen used to be. Luckily, this did not happen, and using a crockpot has become one of my favorite ways to cook.

I <3 Crockpot
 

One of my go to meals is this simple chicken chili, which uses only a few ingredients, but is so simple and tastes great! Feel free to modify to use whatever you have on hand.

You will need:

  • Approximately 6 chicken breasts (depending on the size). You can also substitute ground chicken, but the shredded chicken breast is definitely better, in my opinion.
  • One 28 ounce can of diced (not crushed!) tomatoes
  • One jar of salsa
  • 1 can of corn
  • 2 cans of the beans of your preference. I usually use cannellini, but I've also used black beans and kidney beans, or a mix!
  • Cheese, for topping
*If you're feeling spicy, try making it buffalo-style, by adding 1/2 tsp of oregano (approx.), and 3/4 cup of buffalo sauce!

Place the whole, uncooked chicken breasts in the crockpot first, then dump the remaining ingredients on top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Afterward, the chicken will shred easily with two forks. Mix it up and enjoy!

You might also like to cook:
Moussaka Casserole
Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sweet Potato Cheese Fries



I'm sort of at the point where I've cut so many things out of my diet, that things I once hated are now delicious. Example: sweet potatoes. So how did I manage the cheesy mess that is pictured directly to the left?

Enter cheesy sweet potato fries. They aren't actual fries, though I suppose you could cut them into fry shapes. However, if you're like me, you won't care, and will choose to simply have your husband cut sweet potatoes into slices.

The following recipe will let you treat yourself with a healthier version of cheese fries that tastes suspiciously similar to it's fattening alter ego.

You will need:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 5 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 4 tsp garlic
  • Cheese (cheddar, mexican blend, etc)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and cut your sweet potatoes into slices that are roughly 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices into a bowl, pour in the olive oil, salt, and garlic, and toss until the slices of sweet potato are covered.

Spread the sweet potato slices out on a tray (it's okay if they are overlapping) and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping them with a spatula halfway through. After 30 minutes, take them out, and cover with your chosen cheese. Bake for about 2 minutes, and remove from the oven.

We ate ours with some chipotle ranch dressing. It was amazing!

You may also enjoy:
Peanut Butter Fruit Dip (great with apple slices and strawberries)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms

Finding a low carb or grain free alternative to pizza is not the easiest task, but if you like (or don't mind) mushrooms, this may be the answer to your pizza cravings. There are no measurements, as this is a fairly straightforward recipe using a few simple ingredients:
  • Portobella mushroom caps
  • Pizza sauce of your choice
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pizza toppings, if desired
You need to cook the mushrooms before adding the toppings. You could probably cook them for a few minutes in the oven, but I chose to grill them using a counter-top grill/sandwich maker. First, wash the mushrooms, removing the stems and gills, which should come out easily with a spoon. Coat with olive oil, and grill for 3-5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat.


Add some sauce, your cheese, and toppings, and cook for about 5 minutes in 350 degree oven, or until cheese is melted, Then, enjoy!

These little pizzas are filling, low carb meal or snack, or could even be served as an appetizer.





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