We know what you’re thinking: Here it is just 20 days until Thanksgiving and I don’t even know who’s coming over for dinner, let alone what I’m cooking yet! Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The holidays manage to hit all of us like a snowstorm in October. This season, Shelterrific is excited to be working with the folks over at iVillage in The Get Organized For the Holidays Challenge. Sign up for the challenge, and starting November 14th you’ll receive daily tips in your inbox written by some familiar voices: Us! Week one is about planning a menu and a budget for Thanksgiving with Angela M.. Week two, Becki S. will put her shopping know-how to work and help you tackle your gift giving strategy. Week three, Mary T. will guide us through holiday decorating and some fun craft ideas, and finally former Shelterrific contributor and current iVillage food editor Lisa Cericola will help you host a holiday party with ease and grace. There will also be a dedicated message board where you can give and get advice to specific questions. We may not have all the answers, but together we can figure it out.
So stop worry and sign up today!
As the holidays grow ever closer, I know many of us may be preparing for the influx of extra bodies in our homes. Visiting family, open houses, and parties galore can tax existing furniture levels and have us busting out the uncomfortable folding chairs to accommodate everyone. While recently browsing with glee and delight at the new Seattle boutique Charley + May, I stumbled across what just may be the perfect solution to those temporary seating needs: The bubble sofa and ottoman. Made from sturdy PVC plastic and available in a broad range of candy-brights, the bubbles blow right up to provide some fun color without breaking the bank. If you’re in Seattle, pick up the sofa and ottoman in person, $72, and $20, respectively. And for those of you not near the Emerald City, Charley + May will be happy to ship, for a $25 charge. — Megan B.
When I grow up I want to be like Paola Navone. The renowned artist and designer exudes warmth and a love a life that is evident in all her work, whether it be Anthropologie’s vibrant color-pop bedding, overly-tufted, welcoming sofas or her new vibrant and playful pieces at Crate & Barrel. She’s also a not-to-be overlooked Italian who gained prominence in the male-dominated design space, and displays a short hairstyle and a prominent nose that I can’t help but identify with. If I can’t grow up to be like her, perhaps we could have dinner one day?
I’m not sure how or when that may happen, but in the meantime I am going to take some inspiration from Crate & Barrel and channel a little Paola for my gatherings this fall. She’s created three collections all centered around entertaining.
The Como collection features bold blue on white designs with organic swirls and patterns. It reminds me of dining al fresco in Sicily, with smells of almond pastries mixing with Mediterranean breezes. Splashes of red wake you up.
The Mallorca collection is more calming, with white on white ceramics that have delicate, feminine edges. Aluminum trays with gentle dimples appear ready to elevate any dish.
All three themes bring a worldly sophistication to the table, without being stuffy or too precious. As the holidays encroach it’s easy to get drawn towards Northernly designs, but a few Navone bits sprinkled about will make sure your dinners always have a sunny disposition. Here’s a little peak at the artistry behind the work.
As if her new designs weren’t enough to inspire some noteworthy dinners of our own, Crate & Barrel even offers up a few recipes from the master herself. This one below, pasta with zucchini, in an interesting take on one of my favorites. I would add a sprinkle of crushed pastachios before serving, to give it a final hint of richness.
Pasta with Zucchini by Paola Navone
What You Need:
2 lbs. baby zucchini; no more than 1¼’ in diameter
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup fresh mint (smallest leaves only), thyme, rosemary
Saffron threads, a pinch
Fresh cracked pepper
Ground red pepper
Coarse sea salt
1 lb. uncooked dried mezzi rigatoni – shorter, ridged rigatoni
1/4 cup coarse sea salt to season pasta cooking water
To pass at the table:ricotta di bufala *
** Buffalo milk ricotta is less sweet than cow’s milk ricotta.
How To Make:
1. Wash and drain the zucchini. Slice into ¼-inch-thick “coins” and set aside. If using larger zucchini, slice lengthwise, core out the seeds, then slice.
2. Place a large, nonstick sauté pan over low to medium-low heat. Glaze the pan with olive oil. Add crushed garlic, herbs and saffron to the pan to flavor the oil. (Reserve a small handful of the herbs for garnish.) Stir and cook until the garlic just starts to color and become fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove garlic.
3. Add the zucchini to the pan and season with ground pepper and sea salt. Sear the zucchini until slightly soft and the zucchini begins to brown and caramelize. Remove from heat.
4. Remove ½ of the zucchini mixture; place in a food processor and puree.
5. Add a small drizzle of olive oil to the sliced zucchini still in the pan; gently fold in pureed zucchini. Add more olive oil to taste, but sparingly. The consistency of the sauce should be creamy, not thick.
6. Fill a large pasta pot ¾ full with cold water and place over high heat. Add ¼ cup** of course sea salt to water and bring to a rolling boil. Add dried pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente.
7. Drain pasta (reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water) and place in large serving bowl. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.
8. If needed, thin zucchini sauce with a bit of the pasta cooking water. Add zucchini sauce to pasta and toss gently. Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately. Pass ricotta di bufala for guests to stir into their pasta, to taste.
Note: This post is sponsored by Crate & Barrel.
This soup is my homage to the incredibly flavorful dish, Khao Soi from northern Thailand. Though my version varies in many ways from the original noodly stew of magnificence that is Khao Soi, I really tried (and I think succeeded) to recreate the essence of its flavor. I opted to make a warming pureed soup that takes its base from roasted pumpkin and butternut squash, assertively spiced with both Thai curry paste and Indian curry powder. And of course I couldn’t forget plenty of coconut milk added for silky richness. I may have made it a touch spicy (that curry paste does NOT mess around), but it wasn’t anything a little yogurt couldn’t cool down. It’s just about the perfect soup to warm up a cool Autumn night — and great for crowds, since it makes a ton! — Megan B.
Get the recipe, after the jump! (more…)
A few weeks ago, I stumbled into a Pottery Barn (actually, Isadora, my 3 1/2 year old lead the way, demanding we go inside) and was dazzled by the holiday tabletops on display. There were gorgeous platters and bowls covered in classic foul drawings and leafy runners. Not really my style, but I could appreciate them nonetheless. Then I spotted these adorable critter candles — a squirrel and a hedgehog. I held them in my hand, considered how sweet they’d be on our holiday table, and thought they were reasonably priced at $10. Before I had a chance to make my way to the checkout counter, Isadora was ready to move on. Besides I thought, who could melt such a cutie? The moment passed; I left empty handed.
Fast forward to mid October, and now I really want a squirrel candle. How can we celebrate properly without one! I totally have didn’t-buy-that remorse, and now, alas, they seem to be sold out.
Has that ever happened to you? Ever think twice about something you didn’t get and then not be able to find it again?
More importantly — do you know where I could find me a darn squirrel candle? Help! — Angela M.
Summer may be over, but here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re still reaping the bounty. As in my tomatoes are just now ripening. Peppers and squash are everywhere — it’s a bit overwhelming finding ways to utilize it all, honestly. So while perusing one of my cookbooks recently,
Get the recipe, after the jump! (more…)