Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Dining In: Focaccia Bread with Feta, Tomato and Olives August 27, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 8:29 AM
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My pantry has a lot of fun finds, but most of the time I forget to look there for dinner inspiration. This week I remembered that I had a focaccia bread mix that I’ve wanted to make for quite some time. Plus, I had a little bit of feta cheese, olives and one tomato from my mother’s garden that would help make the bread super tasty.

I made just half the box since the bread was just for me. Just follow the directions on the box of bread mix and add any of your favorite toppings and some Parmesan shreds. A quick and easy meal, yum!



Tax Rebate Home Redo: New Bathroom Flooring August 25, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 11:58 AM
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I would say the biggest drawback about my condo when I bought it was the flooring in my two full bathrooms, linoleum (or as I like to call it, crapoleum). Even though that was the first thing I thought I would update after moving in, that project became the final big redo for my condo in 2009.

Several months ago, I set out to find the perfect tile for both bathrooms. To keep things simple (an consistent), I knew I wanted to do the same type of tile in both bathrooms. Like with most projects, I began my search online. Originally I wanted to get recycled glass, since I liked the imperfect look. But, after seeing it in person (and some good advice from The Tile Guy) I realized it wouldn’t be the best option for flooring. So, in just one afternoon at the tile shop I found the perfect glass tile: Arctic Matte 2×2 in. squares.

Finally, this past weekend my dad, uncle and I could all get together to get the tiling project done. The linoleum came off easily on Friday evening, so we could start setting tile early Saturday morning.

First thing in the morning was removing the toilets, which spent the day in my showers.


By lunch time we almost finished the first bathroom and figured out the best way to set and cut the glass tiles.


In the evening we had one bathroom set and were working on the second, everything on schedule. Unfortunately, the process hit a road bump. We were one tile short. Just one sheet. To be exact, only 22 2×2 tiles needed to finish (one sheet of tile has 36). Instead of giving up or throwing up our arms in disgust, we finished cutting all the tiles that needed to be trimmed and called it a night. The next day, my uncle grouted everything and we replaced the toilets and cleaned up.

Thanks to the great people at The Tile Guy, I ordered just one sheet of tile to finish up the job. In total, the redo cost me a little under $1000 (tile, grout, adhesive, beer and breakfast tacos to ‘pay’ the workers). I’ll share the final, final photos of both bathrooms next week! Below are a few from the master bathroom.




Dining In: Fish Piccata Dinner for One August 20, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 5:33 PM
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This week I really wanted to cook a whole meal, not just one dish. Perhaps I feared that I may have grown a bit lazy in fulfilling my cooking commitment, or I hadn’t really challenged myself (culinary speaking) OR I really wanted a good excuse to go to Central Market after work. Let’s say it was a little of all of that, along with finding this Serious Eats recipe from almost 3 months ago, Fish Piccata.

The recipe suggested serving the fish with rice, which I agreed was a good idea. But, I thought it really needed a veggie to feel complete. One of my favorite vegetables is asparagus, and one of my favorite ways to prepare it is with a little lemon — perfect to go with the piccata. The last element I needed to decide on before heading to the store was the rice. This year I’ve started cooking more Jasmine rice and adding flavor twists to it, like cilantro and lime. So, for the piccata meal, I decided to add a little Italian spin with Parmesan cheese, olive oil and parsley.

Everything was beyond delicious and ready in about 30 minutes. This is a meal to definitely make again but maybe for more than just myself next time. 🙂

Fish Piccata Dinner for One


For the fish…

  • 1 fillet white fish such as tilapia, pike, or sole – I used orange ruffy, since it was on sale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – I used my lemon infused olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Flour as needed for dredging
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • chopped parsley for garnish

For the rice…

  • 1/2 cup of uncooked jasmine rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the veggie…

  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus
  • olive oil
  • garlic salt
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon


For the fish…

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Season the fillets with salt, pepper and olive oil, then dredge lightly in the flour.
  3. Once hot, add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter.  Once the butter foams and begins to brown, add the fish fillets, turn the heat to high, and brown well, turning once, 4 to 5 minutes total.
  4. Remove the fillets to a warm resting place, and add the wine to the pan.
  5. Scrape up the browned bits and add the lemon juice along with the capers. Reduce for half a minute, then add the last tablespoon of butter. Return the fillets to the sauce to warm.

For the rice…

  1. Begin fixing rice after seasoning the fish. Follow the directions provided on the box — except, before the rice completely finishes cooking: mix in salt, pepper, olive oil, parsley and Parmesan cheese.

For the veggie…

  1. Turn broiler on high and clean and prep the asparagus.
  2. Place veggies on a baking pan with a lip. Spray or drizzle olive oil over the asparagus and then sprinkle with garlic salt.
  3. Put the prepared pan into the oven until asparagus turns a deep green and are slightly tender.
  4. Remove from the oven and squeeze half a lemon over the greens.

Plate the fish atop the rice and garnish with remaining parsley. Add asparagus on the side and put that open bottle of white wine to good use!



Dining In: Pea, Basil and Feta Risotto August 10, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 1:52 PM
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Often I alter recipes I find to better suit my taste preferences. I could make that claim for this tasty risotto dish, but I would be lying. When I came across this recipe from Design*Sponge in my starred items in Google Reader, I thought it would be a perfect French inspired dish. Plus, I knew I had Arborio rice and fresh mint at home already. Or so I thought.

I stopped by the HEB after yoga that evening to get a bottle of wine, feta cheese, vegetable stock, and frozen peas — all I needed to make my dinner. Well, turns out, I really only had basil and a basil pesto risotto mix at home. So, the French meal quickly shifted to something more Mediterranean. All in all, it was delicious! I plan to relive the meal tonight with leftovers.


  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice (or basil pesto risotto mix)
  • 3 cups of warm vegetable stock
  • ½ cup of crumbled feta
  • ½ bunch of basil, leaves lightly chopped
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper


  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and then blanch the peas, garlic and basil leaves with a teaspoon of salt in the water. Leave for about 3 minutes.
  2. Remove about ¼ of the peas and basil, and place the rest into a blender, along with the water and purée.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Then, add the rice and stir for about a minute until the rice is nice and glossy.
  4. Add about a cup of the warm vegetable stock and stir slowly, allowing the rice to gently absorb the stock. Once the stock has been absorbed and the rice is gently bubbling away, add another cup of stock and repeat.
  5. Do this for each cup of stock to follow, and with the last cup of stock, add the purée pea, basil and garlic and stir to combine and allow all the liquid to be absorbed.
  6. When the rice is al dente (this should take about 25 minutes), first taste to see if it needs a little salt and if so, add. Then turn off the heat and stir in the feta. Stir in the remaining pea and basil that was set aside.
  7. Top with Parmesan and serve.



Tax Rebate Home Redo: Updated Entryway August 4, 2009

Filed under: Home Decor — karakrautter @ 10:17 AM
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After spending many hours watching HGTV’s Curb Appeal, I’ve learned two things. One: I’m not ready for a real yard. Two: Little aesthetic enhancements to the front of your place can really make a difference.

For my birthday, I received several gift cards from good friends, one for the Home Depot. This round at the depot I knew exactly what I was going to fix up, my front door. This past weekend my dad and I finally got around to making all the updates for the front. We did run into some minor hinge issues — but all was fixed with just one additional trip to the depot! Check out the updating and the new entryway.

The entryway when I first moved in 9 months ago.


Mr. Bill prying the old light fixture off the wall. The previous exterior paint job secured that light a bit too well.


The old doorbell, not in brushed nickel.


With the leftover metal paint from the fireplace, the doorbell is now brushed nickel.


The new entryway!!! *I also brushed a little of the paint on the peephole to complete the look.


Dining In: Spinach Ravioli with Lemon and Parsley August 2, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 6:24 PM
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This week I realized how much I have grown to love cooking this year. After returning from a fantastic vacation to Vancouver, I could not wait to get back to trying new recipes in my kitchen. The grocery store trip was quite successful since I was able to find all I needed for two different meals AND my favorite sparkling wine from Washington state was on sale for less than $9.

For years now grocery stores have offered those fresh pasta packages in the deli section providing cooks handy 2-4 servings of raviolis, tortellinis and just plain pasta. But, have you ever wondered how to make them more interesting? I have. Normally, I would just boil, add some olive oil and Parmesan or chunky red sauce and call it dinner. Well, that was back in my less creative days of cooking. I saw this recipe on BrokeAss Gourmet and got really excited about making packaged pasta more chic.


  • 1 16-oz. package spinach ravioli
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon infused olive oil (a fantastic gift from my mom!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook ravioli according to package directions in salted water.
  2. While ravioli cooks, heat olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan.
  3. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes or until translucent.
  4. Add chopped parsley, half-and-half, lemon juice and zest, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper.
  5. Once cooked, drain ravioli and add to sauce.
  6. Plate dish with additional Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.


It was beyond delicious. I cooked all the pasta, but only used half of it for this dish. Later this week, I plan on trying another innovative sauce with the leftover ravioli.