Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Tax Rebate Home Redo: Quickly Revamp the Fireplace July 22, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 10:42 AM
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The other week my neighbor had a going away happy hour for a couple that has lived in my condo complex since it was built back in 2000. I’m so thankful to be a part of a little community, filled with fantastic, fun people. We all sipped on wine and snacked on some homemade sushi (from another fabulous neighbor) and got caught up on the latest condo gossip. But, one of my favorite parts of the evening was the exchange of home improvement successes and failures.

Like me, many of the neighbors have replaced the original brassy hardware in our condos, but I wasn’t sure what to do about my fireplace with brass accents. Before putting their condo on the market, the neighbors moving out simply spray painted the brass with a silver finish. They said it was easy to take the doors off, tape around, etc. — but, I thought I could get it done in a easier and cheaper way.

After a $2 trip to Michael’s for some outdoor metal paint in silver, I had all I needed! I used one of my nice paint brushes and a couple coats to modernize my fireplace. Before and after photos below.





Dining In: Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Pesto Quesadilla July 17, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 1:48 PM
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Ok, so I am my father’s daughter. I love pasta. Since the beginning of the summer, I’ve been very keen on finding pasta dishes with light sauces. Well, this week I decided I should venture to a different carb destination. Tortillas. I had some leftover goat cheese from a beet salad I fixed for a dinner party, so that’s where my search began. On, I found this recipe that got me excited.

The ingredient list was simple enough, so I headed to Central Market to get everything I needed. As I began cooking, I realized the recipe unnecessarily complicated. So, I simplified the directions. And, paired with a nice, cheap Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, it becomes the perfect, quick summer dinner.


  • 1 small shallot, chopped coarse
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red bell peppers, roasted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 ( 9-to10-inch) whole wheat tortillas
  • 2-3 ounces soft mild goat cheese
  • 1/8 cup prepared basil pesto


  1. In a skillet cook onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil over moderate heat, stirring, until softened.
  2. Transfer onion mixture to a food processor and add roasted peppers, basil, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend sauce until smooth and add prepared pesto.
  3. Warm tortillas on a comal.
  4. Spread red pepper pesto on one tortilla, and the goat cheese on the other – sandwich them together
  5. Placed prepared quesadilla on the comal and cook each side until cheese has melted.
  6. Cut with a pizza cutter into 4 triangles.



Tax Rebate Home Redo: The $20 Fan July 16, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 8:49 AM
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Summer always seems to be the season of moving — which can also mean the season for great garage sales and giveaways from friends. My best friend from growing up, Sarah moved last week into a very nice, new apartment. Her previous place had minimal amenities, which required her to purchase a fan and microwave among other things. Being the classy, fashion-forward gal that she is, she got a brushed nickel Hunter fan. Lucky for me, her new place came fully stocked with fans and appliances.

Since I replaced all the lighting in my condo, I’ve been searching for a new fan to match. Nothing I saw was very cute or worth the hefty price point…until Sarah showed me her old one. She said it had dark wood blades, but on the reverse side, they were the perfect light, yellow wood for my downstairs. It was perfect! And how much did she want for it? 20 bucks — Awesome!

With the help of my Dad, we installed my new fan that completes the whole space!



Dining In: Pasta with Pistachio-Mint Pistou and Lima Beans July 11, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 3:48 PM
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It’s hot. So, when I get home from work, I want to have a dinner that doesn’t require me to turn on the oven or spend too much time at the stove. This ‘French in a Flash’ dish from Serious Eats really caught my eye with the light combination of mint and pistachio. However, the fava beans, butter and spaghetti seemed to make it a bit too heavy and not my style. I substituted the suggested lima beans for the fava beans and replaced the spaghetti with angel hair pasta to keep it light.

This dish took me less than 30 minutes to make and be seated at my table with a glass of cold white wine (New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc a nice, crisp choice).

Ingredients: For 1-2 servings

1/8 pound dry angel hair pasta
2 tsp. garlic
The leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs of mint, plus extra for garnish
1 1/4 cups shelled toasted unsalted pistachios
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan, plus extra to top the pasta
3/4 cup blanched lima beans
Salt and pepper


1. Cook the pasta until it is al dente in a large pot of well salted, vigorously boiling water.

2. Meanwhile, make the pistou by smashing together the garlic, mint, salt, and pepper in a food processor.

3. Add in the toasted pistachios (make sure they’re not hot from toasting), and whirl until the nuts are nearly powder. Drizzle in the olive oil.

4. Add in the Parmesan, and pulse until combined.

5. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.

6. Toss the pasta with the pistou and the lima beans, moistening as necessary with the reserved cooking water. Top with Parmesan.



Simple Baking: Strawberry-Shortcake Cookies July 1, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 8:09 PM
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With the July 4th holiday upon us, I was in need of a sweet treat to share with family and friends. The past few weeks have brought far too many 100 degree days and night, so I really wanted to find something cool and fresh.

I found this recipe at the back of my my mother’s June 2009 Martha Stewart Living and immediately wanted to give these a try.


Strawberry-shortcake cookies


  • 12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • Sanding sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 7 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl.
  4. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.
  5. Using a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool.

I’m sending a dozen with my family as they spend the weekend at our cabin and bringing two with me to share with friends at a poolside BBQ. Happy Independence Day!