Gordon and Julie Renovations and Apps for Dinner

Gordon and Julie Renovations and Apps for Dinner

Hello and Welcome to,

Herb Cocktail

Gordon and Julie Renovations and Apps for Dinner!

I’m sure you are wondering ‘what in the world is that about’? 

What this is about is a husband and wife team that are always doing something to better our home and then not having the time to cook a formal dinner, so we improvise with appetizers.

Simple, right?

When we bought our home in 2006 we loved it, but we did want to make it our own, like most homeowner’s do.  Turn our house into a Julie and Gordon home.  So it has been project, after project, after project.  Paint, tile, new roof, retaining wall, another retaining wall, yet another retaining wall, fruit trees, outdoor garden, you name it!

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UNDER CONSTRUCTION

New Bathroom Upgrade

 

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Painting the Kitchen and the Nook

The BEFORE Photo of our Nook

Our home is just under 2000 square feet and even though we have these wonderful tall windows and sliding glass doors, our home was so dark.  The sun rises to the left of our house, and sets to the right of our house, but not much light gets through the front or the back of our home.  That’s when we decided to repaint some of the walls on the inside of our house to brighten things up a bit.

Well, it worked!

From Olive Drab Green to Bright Blue and White

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we loved the olive drab when we moved in but it had become a bit dated and we wanted to lighten and brighten up our nook and our kitchen, so we chose an old Victorian technique.  They would paint a wall blue, but not up to the very top, in order to represent the sky.  Then they would paint the top of the wall white and have it blend in with the white ceiling creating the look of a sky.

We LOVE it!  And think it looks great!

Painting Around the Dogs

Sugar and Monk Not Impressed, as Always

The paint we used was non-toxic and didn’t have an odor so it was safe for all of us to breathe.

We love the end results.

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Me, on the Dryer

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NEW Laundry Room

Our Old Washer and Dryer

When we first bought our house, we wish that we had painted our laundry room at that time before we moved all our household goods in.  The paint was this very old off white, that almost looked like yellowed white.  It also had scratches on the doors and walls from the previous owner’s animals.

New Washer and Dryer and our little Spooky Lou

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You can see how yellowed the paint is here in this photo.

Just look how cluttered everything is!

I was so tired of coming into the laundry room and seeing it so cluttered and I just wanted it to be a bit more organized.

Brodie’s Bathroom

Moving things in there to get them out of the laundry room so that I can paint.

I discovered that these dog urine pads made excellent floor and wall border covers for when I painted.  All I had to do was to spread them out onto the tile floor and they were perfect here!  I didn’t have to worry about having some big tarp on the floor for me to trip over.

I painted the laundry room in sections.  First I removed everything from this section and painted it white.  I wanted the color white because this is a dark section of our house and I wanted to lighten it up.

Pads, Paint, Paint Brushes, Paper Bags…..

Using an old wooden spoon to stir the paint.

Once I painted this area then it was time to put everything back, like so.

You can see here where I need to paint next.

Paint does get everywhere!

Now It’s Time To Organize This Area

I removed it all and now it’s time to paint!

Gordon also removed the old sink that was here.

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Things in the laundry room that are becoming organized.

The Ceiling Was The Hardest Part To Paint

Now Things are Starting To Come Together, and Painted

I had Gordon to remove our old laundry room sink and to install a new one.  We wanted everything new here.  New paint, new washer and dryer, and therefore, new sink and faucet hardware.

Now moving over to paint this side of the laundry room.

Our Laundry

Here you can see that I need to paint the ceiling.

So, everything is coming together.

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Ah, All ready and painted!

I’ve happily one my part!  You can see how much brighter it is.

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Here Gordon is Viewing the Instructions for the New Sink

Cute Doggie Break

New Laundry Room Sink

It’s just a plastic one.

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Here Gordon is Installing the New Sink

Now I have finished and everything in the laundry room is in order.  Granted, it is a still a bit cluttered but it is more organized than before.

And with that project finished…..

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Time to Celebrate!

Our Herbal Cocktail

Ingredients: Makes 2 Drinks

~5 Tbsp. Mint Sauce

8 Ice Cubes

4 Shots Cucumber Mint Vodka

4 Tbsp. Lime Juice Concentrate

~ 1 Cup Lemon Lime Sparkling Water

Small Cucumber – sliced into wedges

Fresh Mint

Fresh Rosemary

 

MINT SAUCE

Place enough Mint Sauce into a small bowl to coat the top of each glass, then dip the top of each glass into the Mint Sauce.

Add eight ice cubes and four shots of the Cucumber Mint Vodka into the shaker.

Add one Tbsp. of Mint Sauce and four Tbsp. of the Lime Juice Concentrate to the shaker.  Place the lid on the Shaker and shake the mixture until it becomes too cold to handle.

 

Pour the mixture evenly into each glass then top each glass with Lemon Lime Sparkling Water.

Lemon/Lime Sparkling Water

Cucumbers and Herbs

Garnish each glass with some sprigs of Mint and Rosemary, then add a wedge of cucumber!

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Oven Baked Olives

Ingredients:

(I eyeballed this recipe and just threw it together.)

Variety of Olives

Here I used Garlic Stuffed Olives, Green Olives, Black Pearl Olives, and Kalamata Olives

Fennel Seeds

White Peppercorns

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fresh Rosemary and Sage Herbs

(Add sage once olives are out of the oven.)

Handful of Small Red Peppers

The first thing I did was to drain all my olives and place them into a  bowl.

Fennel Seeds

Olive Oil, Herbs, White Peppercorns

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This is about taste and what you prefer.  I added about a tablespoon of Fennel Seeds and just enough EVOO to coat all the olives.  I placed everything into a cast iron pot and placed it into a 350F oven for about 25-35 minutes or so.

I just added enough fresh rosemary and red peppers as an accent to this.

Into the Oven They Go

The cooking time will depend on how many olives that you use.  I baked them for about 25 minutes and then removed them and gave them a good stir, then placed them back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, add your Sage Leaves and some more fresh Rosemary, let cool, then eat!

Looks a bit like Christmas, doesn’t it?

I had some olive candles, don’t they look nice? 

I also have a Dill Dip with some Crackers and some Herb Marinated Artichoke Hearts.

Christening The Laundry Room  🙂

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Next Up…….

Now It’s Time To Paint the Hallway!

Coming Soon!!

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Painting and Naan Pizza

Gordon and I did some painting in our dining room.  We wanted to brighten it up so we chose a white paint to cover the yellow mustard walls.  We did leave a few yellow walls as we do like the color, we just wanted to downplay it a bit and try and brighten inside our home a bit.  The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.  Our home is closed off to both.  Nothing shines through so we wanted to create a bit of brightness.

Gordon did most of the painting.

We pretty much got rid of the olive green inside our home.  Now we just have yellow, white and blue.

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Our Naan Pizzas

Although I don’t have a specific recipe for you here.  We buy the Naan, (which means bread), then we place it in the oven for about 5 minutes on a 350F oven.  Then you remove it and spread some hummas all over it, then add whatever you want.  I love it just plain with some mozzarella cheese and some halved cherry tomatoes, then topped with some garlic salt and perhaps some basil leaves. 

Gordon likes his more jazzed up with mushrooms, shaved Parmesan, etc.  Whatever you want to add is right!

 

But when you are working hard, eat something that is tasty, healthy and easy.

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Painting the Kitchen Blue and White

We were so sick of our olive green walls that we decided to paint over them in our kitchen.  We wanted something light and bright, so we chose, WHITE!

We did paint some accents of blue in our kitchen as well.

Dinner is of course going to be quick, and easy, and tasty, AND rewarding.

Bar-B-Q Cups, made with Ground Turkey

and canned green beans, with some easy mac’n’cheese.

This is a favorite that I grew up eating.  My mother would make them often. 

Recipe:

You can make as much or as little as you like.  This recipe doesn’t have many ingredients.  The good thing is that you can be as creative as you like in preparing this.

Ground Turkey (We used 2 lbs. as we like leftovers)

1/2 to 3/4 Chopped Onion

2 – 3 Cups Bottled Bar-B-Q Sauce

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

Pillsbury Ready Made Biscuits in the can (How many biscuits will depend on how much you make.)

1 Cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese ( We love it Sharp)

Preheat oven to 350F

Chop your onion and place into a frying pan with a little bit of butter just to sautee them for a minute or two.  Then place in your ground turkey (or hamburger if you like) to brown in the pan.  When done drain the grease out of the pan then add the bar-b-q sauce and brown sugar.  How much depends on your tastes. 

You could also add some sort of hot sauce to jazz it up a bit if you like.  Or you could even add some chopped green bell pepper, etc.  I consider this meat mixture to be a blank slate to any family.  It’s a good base, now build on it.

Once you’ve added your ingredients and it is simmering on the stove top, let it continue to simmer at least about 20 minutes.  We like to add a little extra Bar-B-Q Sauce to the mixture and let it simmer on a low heat for about 45 minutes or so.  This way it becomes very carmelly and rich.  But, that’s us.  🙂

While the mixture is simmering use a cooking spray and spray the insides of a cupcake baking pan.  Then place one biscuit in each hole.  Spreading it around the middle so that it comes up the sides a bit.  Then spoon some mixture into each biscuit.  When ready place in the oven for about 20 minutes or so.  Remove the Bar-B-Q Cups from the oven and place some shredded cheddar cheese on top then place back into the oven for an additional 5 minutes. 

You just want to melt the cheese.

Then you’re done!  Perfect!  Delicious!  AND Kids like them too!

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Here is an Example of our Home Improvements

Weekend Project

Accent Tile

(Before and After)

Photos From This Weekend Project

Cue the Angels Singing!

Seriously there really should be some rejoicing going on right about now as this was a hard project.

We worked on this over a weekend.  When I say “we” I mean Gordon.  “We” haven’t even applied the grout yet and it looks so lovely!

Finally found a tile that I like, after shopping at every tile warehouse in the state of Florida I spotted this at Home Depot when were were there to just pick up a few things.  It’s a seashell back splash and very light and thin.  Of course these photos do not do it justice.

$16.00 a square foot.  Who can forget the price with Gordon repeating it over and over and over….

We’re also going to put this in our bathroom and cover the breakfast bar with it as well.  More as accents, although this is turning into a much more pricey project than we originally anticipated.  Just trying to add beauty and value to our home.  It has the best opalescence quality to it.

Seashell Tile

What could be more appropriate for Florida?

Gordon’s Makeshift Work Station

The trash can in the Garage

Gordon can rig anything up and make it work for him.

Skilsaw

In order to cut this very thin, fine tile Gordon placed the sheets of tile between two wooden boards.

To quote Gordon, “Look at that!  It’s perfect!”

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So while Gordon applied the tile it was my job to take pictures.

Ooooo!!!  Kitchen Crashers!!

(I’m kind of laying on the couch right now.)

“I can take pictures from here”!

Uh, oh.

“Hey, don’t you give me that look”!

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll make dinner.  After this episode, I promise”.

Artichoke Perfection!

This is one of our favorite recipes.  You can tell by the condition of the recipe card in the photo below.

I didn’t use this much garlic but we do add a lot of it.

Sauteing the onions in the artichoke marinade.

Whenever we make this we always double and sometimes triple the recipe and then freeze the extra to thaw out at a future date.  This is more like a cheese, egg and artichoke savory dish.  We serve it on wheat crackers.

Gordon had to make a grilled cheese sandwich to go along with this but I don’t see why? 

This is plenty for me.  I eat it as a meal.

Great for lunch the next day.  I don’t tend to eat much for lunch but when this is in the refrigerator I can’t resist!

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I thought I would repost the recipe from:

  September 2012.

The recipe was originally given to us by someone we used to know in Hawaii.

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  Artichoke Appetizer

2- 8 oz. jars of marinated artichoke hearts (chopped)

We use 4.

1 medium onion (diced)

We use 1 1/2

1 garlic clove (finely chopped)

We use 3 – 4

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

We use 4

1 sleeve Saltine crackers (crushed) or you can use 2 cups bread crumbs in place of the Saltine crackers.

1 tsp. oregano (dried)

1 tsp. basil (dried)

(Can also use dried parsley here as well)

2 eggs (whisked)

We use 4

Drain jars of marinade into a medium sauté pan and use the liquid to sauté the onion until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook another 3 minutes.  In a large bowl place the sharp cheddar cheese, crushed Saltine crackers, the dried herbs, the chopped artichoke hearts and the eggs, stir to combine.  When the marinade, onion and garlic mixture has cooled then add to the other ingredients and mix together.  Place the mixture into a greased casserole dish.  We just spray ours with Pam cooking oil spray.  Bake at 350* for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

We don’t follow the recipe to the letter.  We tend to add more of the things that we like.  We always alter recipes to suit our personal tastes and dietary needs. 

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Fixing the Towel Bar in Brodie’s Bathroom Shower

Notice the Crutches?

The crutches are holding the ceramic towel rack holders so that the adhesive grout can dry.

I’m married to McGyver!  🙂

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 Crab Salad

Gordon makes the best crab salad ever.  The secret is using rice wine.  Also we don’t use real crab, this is imitation crab, white fish from Alaska.  I love real crab but unless we know where it comes from then we don’t eat it.  Next time we are in Virginia and Maryland we will definitely chow down on some crab.

The pretty bowls I bought at the Asian Supermarket.  Here I glued two bowls together, one upside down.  I have a friend who’s birthday sign is Cancer, the crab, I’m planning on giving her a nice set as a gift.  I do love mine though!

Ingredients:

2 Packages Imitation Crab 8 oz. Louis Kemp Crab Delights (flaked)

3 Celery Stalks (finely chopped)

2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

1 Cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing

3 Tbsp Sweet Cooking Rice Seasoning (Kikkoman Manjo Aji-Mirin)

In a medium bowl, flake your imitation crab meat then add the rest of the ingredients. 

Mix all the ingredients well and taste to ensure the seasoning is to your liking.

Chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator and serve with your favorite crackers. 

We like the butter flavored ones best!

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Marinated Artichoke Hearts and Saltine Crackers

Pretty much my favorite dinner when I don’t feel like cooking anything.

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Spinach Artichoke Dip

(Gordon cooked dinner).

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp Butter

1 Large Sweet Vidalia Onion (Finely Chopped)

8 Garlic Cloves (Finely Chopped)

2 Packages (8 oz.)  Cream Cheese (Cut into Cubes)

1 Pint Sour Cream

2 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Shredded)

1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese (Grated)

1/2 Cup Gruyere Cheese (Sliced)

1/2 Cup Fontina Cheese (Sliced)

2 tsp Smoked Paprika

1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

2 Packages (10 oz.) Frozen Chopped Spinach (Thawed and Squeezed Dry)

4 Jars (6 oz.) Marinated Artichokes (Drained and Chopped)

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat then add the onions.  Saute the onions until translucent (about 7 min.) then add the garlic.

Cook the onion and garlic mixture for about another 2 min. stirring frequently.  Stir in 1 Cup of the Cheddar cheese and all the rest of the other cheeses and seasonings, stirring until melted and well combined. 

Now, add the chopped spinach and marinated artichokes and fold in to combine.

Using two medium oven-proof dishes which have been sprayed with cooking spray (Olive Oil), spoon your dip into the dishes and top with the remaining Cup of Cheddar Cheese.  Bake in a 350’F oven for 25 min. or until the dip is bubbling around the edges and the cheddar cheese topping is beginning to brown. Serve the dip hot with your favorite Tortilla chips.

TIP: You can freeze one of the dishes for later use, just be sure to wrap it well with cellophane.

Julie’s Dinner at the Computer

Typical Sunday night snuggling with the pugs on the couch.

Life just doesn’t get any better than this!

Julie

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The Puu-Puu’s

Broccoli Dip

Delicious!!

This recipe was actually something my grandmother found and fixed for us one day back in the early 1980’s.  I don’t know where she got it from, but we loved it at the time and it is a staple for us ever since.

The Broccoli and Cheese Dip

(This is a favorite of ours for many a holiday and we do eat it quite often.  You might even see it crop up on other posts as well.  Namely our Christmas Cooking one.)

chopped onions and garlic_small sauteeing the onions and garlic in the pot_small

Broccoli and Cheese Dip

  • 1 Large Family pack of Frozen Broccoli
  • 4 T. Butter or Margarine
  • 1 Cup Chopped Onions
  • 6 Chopped Garlic Cloves, Chopped Fine
  • 16 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup

Allow broccoli to thaw and cook in the microwave for just a few minutes. 

cooking the broccoli in the microwave_small

Drain the water. 

drain the water into the sink_small adding the cooked broccoli_small

In a sauce pan on the stove top, saute the onions and garlic in the butter or margarine until nice and soft on a medium heat.. 

chop cheddar cheese into blocks_small sharp cheddar cheese for the dip_small

Then cut your cheese up into chunks and add to the mixture to melt.

add to mixture to melt_small

  You may want to reduce your heat just a little.  Then add your cans of Cream of Mushroom soup and your broccoli. 

getting nice and thick_small All ready and perfect_small

Allow the mixture to cook for about 10 minutes on a medium low heat. 

Serve hot. 

This is excellent eaten on top of a baked potato. 

We however, like it as a dip served with corn chips.

adding some milk to thin out_small

You can thin it out with some milk if necessary.

 

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Easy Delicious Dinner

Baked Goat Cheese with Red Peppercorns and Basil Olive Oil

with Thyme (red wine optional)

I don’t always like to eat something big and heavy for dinner.  Mostly I prefer something nice and light.  It’s hot here in Florida and eating some big heavy meal is just not that desirable.  So I eat a lot of salads whether they be garden, pasta, chicken, egg, or ham.  But sometimes all I want is just some cheese and crackers.  This is so nice!  That is why I wanted to pass it on to you.  All you need is some goat cheese, any kind.  Some olive oil, any flavor.  Some peppercorns, any color.  And an herb, any kind.  Here I’m using thyme from our garden.

Turn your oven on about 250*.  Use some sort of ramekin or baking dish.  Cut up your goat cheese into chunks and place into the baking dish.  Next sprinkle your peppercorns.  I prefer the red peppercorns.  They have a different taste and look gorgeous with the cheese.  Then just drizzle some sort of olive oil over the cheese, I used a basil infused olive oil.  Then just place in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Remove, and add some fresh thyme or any other herb that you prefer.  Then spread on crackers or some sort of bread.  So delicious and very satisfying.

For our Christmas cocktail table we made the same thing only this time we used two different kinds of goat cheese.  An herbed, and a honeyed.

This makes an excellent appetizer for any occasion or time of year.

Not to mention the health benefits.  Olive oil, fresh herbs, goat cheese.  The whiter the cheese the lower the cholesterol.  We tend to stay away from the yellow cheeses as they have far more cholesterol than we need.

This looks wonderful for Christmas.  The beautiful red, white and green.

Try it, you won’t regret it!

Julie

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Italian Nibble Apps at the Beach

Italian at the beach_small

While out at the beach condo Gordon and I were doing a bit of repairs and this is our dinner. 

Healthy, Healthy, Healthy!

washing herbs for my Italian spread_small

The beauty of this Italian food is that it is also delicious.

Fresh herbs, whole wheat bread, sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, olives, feta cheese, goat cheese, whole wheat crackers, cheese sticks, bow tie pasta salad…..

love the feta_small my Italian at the beach_small

option boards_small

Don’t forget the red wine.  Loaded with anti-oxidents.  Skip the white.

nibbles 3_small nibbles_small

There is no better meal for me than this one.

nibbles 2_small

the entire spread_small

And no better sunset than this one.

yet another beautiful sunset_small

Try eating light.  You know we really don’t need all this food we are consuming that is just making us fat and unhealthy.  So try cutting back, be more active, create a beautiful home for yourself, enjoy!