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Pros and Cons: Ducted vs Non-Ducted Range Hoods

April 17

Sometimes the language around range hoods can get pretty murky, like this: cfm, btu, ducted. It can leave you thinking, “But I just want one that looks great!” No worries. We’re here to break it all down for you. Keep reading and you’ll be able to make an informed choice and choose the one you like best.

Today, I wanted to focus on this idea of a ducted vs a non-ducted range hood. It basically comes down to this:

  • Ducted hoods are connected to ducts that carry odors, grease, and grime out of the kitchen and out to the outdoors.
  • Non-ducted hoods suck up those same odors, grease, and grime through a filter. The air is then recycles the air back through the kitchen.

Pros

  • Ducted hoods allow you to use a larger stove.
  • Ducted hoods are typically better at clearing the air of humidity and steam.

 

  • Non-ducted hoods can be installed anywhere in the kitchen.
  • Filters for non-ducted hoods are quick to clean.

Cons

  • Ducted hoods must be installed where there’s already ductwork behind the walls.

 

  • Non-ducted hoods do not remove dirty, stale air. So, the kitchen can become humid and smelly.

Over to you: What’s in your kitchen? What do you like (or not like) about it?

Healthy & Delicious Recipes to Start Your New Year Off Right

So, it’s the New Year, and you’ve decided to create a new and better you. One of the most popular New Year resolutions is to transform one’s lifestyle into something that blends a perfect mixture of diet and exercise to create a healthier, more fulfilling sense of self. While you may already have an exercise routine down, making the right choices where meals come in is always a tough one. Not only do you have fight off those negative cravings, but you also have to find ways to supplement your previously less than wholesome diet with something that is much more nutrient-rich and wholesome. Not only do you have to mind the nutritious value of what you consume, but it helps to have some tasty meals that won’t have you spending all day in the kitchen. Check out these fast, fun and delicious healthy recipes and let us help you get the New Year off to a bright start!

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad
Greens are a fundamental part of eating healthily, and this salad is a delicious way to get those greens. Brussels sprouts can be delicious, even when you’re not a traditional brussels sprout lover, and we promise this salad will have you smiling by the time you finish.

Healthy                                                 Photo Credit: abeautifulmess.com

Ingredients:
1/2 french loaf cut into large cubes (I used a wheat loaf, you could use any bread you like)
1 lb. brussels sprouts
2/3 cup craisins
1/4 cup mayo
4 garlic cloves
1 lime
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or more if you like a real kick!)
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt + pepper to taste

Instructions:
In a food processor give the brussels a few pulses, so they are partially shredded and partially rough chopped. I have a smaller food processor, so I had to do this in three batches. Once all the brussels are chopped, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the brussels, tossing occasionally, until bright green and cooked through (about 6-8 minutes). During the last few minutes of cooking toss in the craisins so they’ll be nice and warm along with the brussels.While that cooks, in the food processor (again) combine the mayo, garlic and juice from the lime. Pulse the ingredients together until well combined. With the processor still running, drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil. Taste and add salt + pepper as needed.Once you have the bread cut into large cubes toss in a few tablespoons olive oil. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet and season with a little salt + pepper. Bake at 375°F until brown and crispy (8-10 minutes).Once the brussels are cooked toss with the dressing. Add in the croutons and give everything a nice toss. Serve warm. If you like your salad even more creamy you could easily double the amount of dressing the above recipe calls for. Enjoy!

Recipe via A Beautiful Mess

Lemon-Butter Grouper Fish Tacos
Nothing says “diet” like a taco Tuesday party that you can’t join, but with this delicious recipe, you’ll never have to miss out again. And for the general taco lovers out there, this is the perfect dinner for any night!

Healthy2                                                     Photo Credit: averiecooks.com

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter
flour, for lightly dredging and coating fish
2 large grouper filets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
juice of 1 lemon, about 3 to 4 tablespoons
salt and pepper, to taste
taco or fajita shells
1 cup romaine or iceburg lettuce, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterrey Jack, etc.)
1/4 cup grainy dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:
To a large skillet, add the butter and heat over medium-high heat to melt butter.
Dredge fish through flour, coating both sides.
Add fish to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on first side, or until nicely seared and lightly golden browned.
Flip fish, season with salt and pepper, squeeze the lemon over the fish (use caution because the lemon juice will bubble up when it hits the hot skillet) and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on second side, or until fish is lightly golden browned on both sides and cooked through. Serve immediately if desired.
To make the fish tacos,  lightly warm each taco shell momentarily on a dry skillet over medium-high heat before adding lettuce, sliced fish, sprinkling with tomatoes, and cheese; set aside while you make the sauce.
To a small bowl, add the mustard, honey, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and whisk to combine. Taste, check for flavor balance, and make any desired tweaks. Drizzle sauce over tacos and serve immediately. Fish will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days and sauce will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Recipe via Averie Cooks

Healthy Banana Muffins
When it comes to breakfast, muffins are a national favorite, and these banana muffins are certainly up to standard. Whether they’re freshly baked on the morning you’re ready for them, or they’re stored for later for a quick morning meal, these muffins are sure to hit the spot wherever you are.

Healthy3                                                Photo Credit: cookieandkate.com

Ingredients:
⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup maple syrup or honey
2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 cup packed mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
¼ cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
1¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
⅓ cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 teaspoon turbinado (raw) sugar or other granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). If necessary, grease 11 cups of your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray (my pan is non-stick and didn’t require any grease).
In a large bowl, beat the coconut oil and maple syrup or honey together with a whisk. Add eggs and beat well. Mix in the mashed bananas and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon.
Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit, fold them in now.
Divide the batter evenly between the 11 muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats (about 1 tablespoon), followed by a light sprinkling of sugar (about 1 teaspoon). Bake muffins for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy muffins as is or with a spread of nut butter or regular butter.

Recipe via Cookie and Kate

Black Bean Burrito with Guacamole
If you’ve got a craving for a burrito and you’re about to go off track, take a minute and breathe! This delicious black bean burrito with guacamole can be just the thing you were hoping for without all the fat and calories.

Healthy4                                                Photo Credit: naturallyella.com

Ingredients:
Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
¼ cup minced red onion (see note)
¼ cup minced cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
1 lime

Burrito
2 large whole wheat flour tortillas
½ cup cooked brown rice
½ can black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned
⅓ cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
½ cup shredded lettuce
3 tablespoons minced red onion

Instructions:
To make guacamole, slice avocado in half around the pit and spoon out the avocado into a bowl. Add in the onion, cilantro, garlic, and salt. Cut the lime in half and squeeze 1 to 2 tablespoons of lime juice over the guacamole and stir. Taste and adjust salt/lime juice as needed.
Spread about ¼ to ⅓ cup guacamole in the center of the tortilla. Layer half the rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, and onions on top of the guacamole. Roll into a burrito (see note) and tuck in the ends.
Heat a grill pan or panini press over low heat and place the burritos seem side down. Place a weight on top and let cook until tortilla is browning and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Serve with remaining guacamole or salsa.

Variations for the Black Bean Burrito
I’m usually unwavering when it comes to changes in this burrito because I’m a guacamole lover. However, there have been a few variations throughout the years that can work with what you might already have on hand.
Tomatoes: the original recipe called for tomatoes both in the guacamole and in the burrito but I tomatoes are one of those items I really don’t eat during the winter and I don’t really add to my guacamole anymore. However, feel free to add them back in if desired.
Vegan: I love that the black bean burrito is heated long enough to make the tortilla crispy and start to melt the cheese but the cheese isn’t going to make or break the burrito. Feel free to ditch to keep it vegan.
Homemade Tortillas: If you have a bit of extra time, try your hand at some homemade flour tortillas.

Recipe via Naturally Ella

These are just a few of the many health-conscious recipes that are not only nutritious, but also delicious. Just because you’ve decided to change your lifestyle and do things a bit differently it doesn’t mean that you have to starve or deprive yourself of good things. These recipes are wholesome and will make you feel like you’re not missing out on anything. Have other great recipes you’d like to share? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Easy & Delicious Pasta Recipes

Everyone loves pasta and what makes it even better is that it’s one of the easiest and simplest recipes to make.  Pasta dishes can easily become a luxurious dinner item with the addition of meats, veggies, and spices, or any other item you can add to spruce up the meal. So, whether you’ve had a long day and simply want something quick and easy to cook up, or you’re entertaining guests with a three course meal you spent all day slaving in the kitchen to prepare, check out these delicious pasta recipes to make your dining experience feel like a five-star restaurant.

Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta
Picture

Photo Credit: cookingclassy.com

Add some nutritional value to your pasta with asparagus, and spice up the flavor with some crushed bacon flakes. A perfect way to add some flavor to every day noodles, this recipe is sure to have your guests inviting themselves back for more.

Ingredients
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded with mallet to even thickness
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more for sauce
12 oz penne pasta
1 lb asparagus, trimmed of ends, remaining diced into 2-inch pieces and steamed
1 1/2 Tbsp butte
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream or half and half
3 oz Neufchatel cheese (aka light cream cheese), diced into pieces
1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
4 – 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled into small pieces (optional)

Directions
In a small bowl, stir together basil, oregano, thyme and 1/4 salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of the herb mixture evenly over tops of chicken. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken to skillet, herbed side down, then add remaining herb mixture to tops of chicken. Cook chicken until fully cooked through, about 8 – 12 minutes, occasionally rotating chicken (time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts. If chicken is browning too quickly reduce heat to medium low as needed). Transfer cooked chicken to a plate, let rest 5 minutes then dice into pieces.

Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions listed on package, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.

In a clean skillet (large and deep), melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer, stirring constantly. While whisking, slowly pour in milk then cream (whisk vigorously to break up clumps). Season with salt and pepper to taste (a fair amount of each) and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it reaches a boil and thickens, reduce heat to medium-low, add Neufchatel and parmesan cheese and cook, stirring frequently, until cheeses have melted.

Toss in cooked pasta, then add cooked chicken, steamed asparagus and bacon and toss to evenly coat. Add in reserved pasta water as desired (it will thicken as it rests and the pasta will absorb the liquids, so add up to 1/2 cup as needed). Serve immediately.

Recipe via Cooking Classy


Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

Food

Photo Credit: Gimmesomeoven.com

Great for the traditional pasta lovers of the world, this recipe only requires six ingredients and promises to warm your guests from head to toe on the coming winter evenings.

Ingredients
12 ounces of your favorite pasta
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
1 (25 ounce) jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of well-salted boiling according to package instructions. Drain. Return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and tomato sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.

Pour half of the pasta into a greased 11×7-inch or 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, half of the Parmesan cheese and half of the basil. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and sprinkle immediately with the remaining Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve warm.

Recipe via Gimme Some Oven


Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta with Baby Kale

Food1

Photo Credit: Spoonfulofflavor.com

A tangy, creamy recipe, this is a must have for any standard recipe book. Even the kids will be asking for seconds!

Ingredients
1 pound chicken breast cut into one inch pieces
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 ½ cups uncooked penne pasta
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup water
3 heaping cups kale
4 ounces cream cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons freshly squeeze lemon juice
Zest from one lemon

Directions

Season chicken with salt and pepper; set aside.

In a 12” pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and stir until soft, about 3 minutes. Add chicken to pan and cook until brown on both sides. Stir in garlic and cook one additional minute. Add uncooked pasta, chicken broth, water and baby kale. Stir then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 22 minutes. Uncover and cook until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 additional minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Recipe via Spoonful of Flavor

 

Saucy Creamy Mac and Cheese
Food2

Photo Credit: recipetineats.com

You can’t talk about pasta without including the age-old classic of mac n’ cheese, and we’re not talking about ready-to-go box of mac and cheese. Check out this recipe for a delicious and easy mac and cheese dish that can be made all in one pot.

Ingredients
4 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp flour
3 cups of milk
2 cups of water
1 tsp of salt
Black pepper
½ lb of dried macaroni
2 cups grated tasty or cheddar cheese
1 cup grated provolone dolce cheese
Optional Toppings
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Melt the butter in a deep fry pan or skillet over medium heat.

Add the flour and stir until combined so a thick paste forms (“roux”). Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Add half the milk and use a whisk to dissolve the roux into the milk. It will thicken quickly, then add the remaining milk. Whisk in small circles, rotating around the pan, to dissolve all the roux into the milk.

Add the water, salt and 5 grinds of pepper, then turn the heat up to medium high. Whisk leisurely so the bottom doesn’t stick to the pan. When the white sauce starts to steam and thickens such that you can see it coating the edges of the pan (around 2 to 3 minutes), add the macaroni.

Turn the heat down to medium and stir gently with a wooden spoon to mix the macaroni through and ensure the bottom doesn’t stick. Cook it for 1 minute. Be sure not to cook it for longer than this after adding the macaroni – this really impacts the “sauciness” of the dish and ensuring the macaroni isn’t overcooked.

Cover the fry pan then transfer it immediately to the oven on the middle shelf.

Bake for 12 minutes, then remove from the oven. It will seem like there is too much sauce but it reduces and thickens in the next steps. The pasta should be just cooked (al dente). It will continue cooking from the residual heat.

Turn the oven off and turn the grill/broiler on high.

Stir through the cheese, just enough to disperse it through the macaroni. As you stir, this will melt the cheese and thicken the sauce. Don’t stir too much because otherwise the sauce will thicken too much due to the evaporation.

Sprinkle over the panko and parmesan cheese, then place under the grill/broiler for a few minutes to brown.

Remove from the grill/broiler and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

How to Keep Your Kitchen Cool

This guest post is by Lewis Jackson of Air-N-Water.

G1   Summer cooking can be a real pain. Not only is it hot outside, but the heat from your stove and oven adds to it, raising the temperature even higher. Even worse, if it leaks out into the adjoining rooms, it can wreak havoc on your electricity bills. The additional heat triggers your thermostat, signaling your air conditioner to work overtime in an attempt to maintain its temperature settings. Besides switching to cold foods or restricting your cooking to late night or early morning, the best way to avoid these problems is either to vent the heat, cool your kitchen, or both.

Ventilating Your Kitchen

If your home uses a central air conditioner, ventilating your kitchen can be difficult. The natural solution, opening a few doors or windows to circulate the air with a cross breeze, isn’t practical, so the best solution is to capture the heat before it can dissipate, through a ranged hood. They use fans to draw in the hot air from the stove and funnel it out of your home so it doesn’t affect the rest of your home or throw off your cooling system.

 Cooling Your Kitchen

Ventilation keeps the heat from your kitchen appliances from interfering with the temperature settings in the rest of your home, but staying cool while you’re cooking most likely requires spot cooling. Spot cooling is used to reduce hot spots in buildings. Small coolers are brought in to provide additional air wherever local conditions prevent central AC systems from lowering temperatures effectively.

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In kitchens, spot cooling is normally performed by portable air conditioners or window air conditioners. These are low-cost, single room units that utilize less electricity that central air or split AC systems and remove excess humidity from the air, which makes it easier for your body to regulate its internal temperature. Some units, like the NewAir AC-12200E and the NewAir AC-14100E, actually use the collected moisture to cool the compressor, boost their efficiency rating, and reduce their electricity consumption.

To determine what sized air-conditioner will work most effectively in your kitchen, measure its area (length x width) and compare to the chart to the right. By the standards of most rooms, the average kitchen is pretty small, only 150 square feet, which is why spot cooling makes sense as an economical solution to your heating problems. 150 square feet only requires 5,000-6,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) of cooling power, so a small unit is all that’s needed to handle the job. To keep costs under control, only activate them as needed, and add 4,000 BTUs to your rating in order to compensate for the activity of your stove or oven.

Air & Water is a family owned appliance company and one of the premier air cooling and heating companies online. We supply cooling solutions for everyday living. To learn more, visit us at air-n-water.com.

G3

 

Range Hoods Inc July Blog Hop & $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Summertime is in full swing! We hope everyone had a great Fourth of July weekend. Now that the festivities are over, we’d like to introduce our blog hop event for the month of July, 2015. This month, Range Hoods Inc is partnering with other blogs to bring you excellent content on Summer DIY & Home Improvement.

July Blog Hop Instagram1_1

The participating blogs will be publishing blog posts within the theme of the blog hop throughout the month of July. Look out for inspiration and home improvement advice as you plan your home remodeling projects this summer.

Meanwhile, we’re giving away a $50 Amazon gift card. The giveaway will run from July 6th to July 31st. One winner will be randomly selected. Perhaps the blog hop will inspire the winner to spend the gift card on his or her next home DIY project!

Here’s a summary of the details for the Range Hoods Inc July Blog Hop:

Theme: Summer DIY & Home Improvement

When: Throughout the month of July, 2015

Where: The Range Hoods Inc blog and the participating blogs

What: Participating blogs will be publishing articles on the theme. Check back to the Range Hoods Inc blog where we’ll post links to the content and links to the participants’ blogs.

Who: The participants include…

Snazzy Little Things. Vintage DIY, Crafts, Décor. – We’re excited to feature Jeanette of Snazzy Little Things, a DIY blog that focuses on adding style to the home with budget-conscious creative crafts.

Artful Kitchens. Inspired Design. Artful Living. – Say hello to Gloria of Artful Kitchens, who will be sharing the elements of an artful kitchen with us this summer.

Tile Talk. Experience the world of tile with Avente. – Welcome Bill of Tile Talk, the resident blog of Avente Tile (home of hand painted ceramic tiles).

When the first blog post is published, we’ll update our blog with a link, so be sure to check back for content. Happy DIY’ing!

How to Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card: To enter to win the $50 Amazon gift card, enter below. As you can see, you’ll get one additional chance to win for entering each of the Facebook pages of the participating blogs. You can enter until midnight on July 31st. On August 3rd, 2015, the winner of the prize will be announced on the Range Hoods Inc blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanksgiving Handbook: Décor, Recipes & Tips

“So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.” –Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Thanksgiving can be a stress inducing holiday. On top of the stress, if you forget an important ingredient for Thanksgiving dinner, you most likely won’t find a store that’s open on that fourth Thursday of November. Yet, Thanksgiving is one of the most enjoyable holidays. By the end, everyone will have full tummies and feel happy to spend the day together.

Think of this Thanksgiving handbook as your starter guide to surviving this holiday. Don’t forget to try some DIY Kitchen Projects to spruce up your kitchen before your guests arrive. Enjoy the following décor, recipes and tips for one of the best holidays of the year.

Thanksgiving Décor for the Table

Dress up your dining room table this year with some simple projects. First, have you ever used printables? This Thanksgiving Free Printable Quote & Utensil Holder from Craftaholics Anonymous will add a personal touch to your table setting. Aki of Minted Strawberry designed these little reminders of what Thanksgiving is all about. Aki also included a small poster, which you can frame and hang on the wall or display on the kitchen counter.

Thanksgiving utensil holders printable. Super cute and so easy with this printable. Love it printed on Kraft paper!

http://www.craftaholicsanonymous.net/thanksgiving-free-printable

A dinner table is not complete without a centerpiece like the DIY Thanksgiving Centerpiece Pumpkin Vase from Everyday Occasions, by Jenny Steffens Hobick. Jenny explains how to cut the top of the pumpkin so you can fit a glass vase inside. Put some foam and water inside of the vase and arrange flowers to your heart’s content. Jenny used roses, broom cob and mums to create an elegant bouquet for the Thanksgiving dinner table. Jenny also recommends storing the bouquet in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve dinner. Place the pumpkin on top of a silver platter for a special fall look that will help create a memorable dinner. Note, it helps to choose flowers that complement your dining room décor.

http://jennysteffens.blogspot.com/2012/11/diy-thanksgiving-centerpiece-roses-mums.html

This fun project was originally given to the author of the blog Revel as a hostess gift. You can create Gourdeous Candle Holders by going to the grocery store, or the pumpkin patch, for some miniature pumpkins and gourds. Cut the bottom of the pumpkins so they sit flat on the table; you wouldn’t want any candles falling over. Using a spade drill, drill the top of each pumpkin just enough to fit a tea light. Drill a space that’s just big enough for the height of the candle. Now have fun mixing and matching different colors and sizes of pumpkins and gourds and placing them out on the dining room table.

http://revelblog.com/2010/10/gourdeous-candle-holders/

These hurricane vases decorated with natural ingredients will look amazing during this fall season. Amanda Jane Brown used corn kernels, small red beans and split peas from Great Value to create a unique look. Put the candle in first and then layer the beans as you’d like. Amanda also tied jute string around the top of each vase. You can achieve this effect with or without the candle.

http://www.myheartsdesireblog.com/2011/09/fall-decorating-with-hurricane-vases.html

Elements of Style posted this project in a collection of placeholders titled In Your Place. These placeholders are super easy to make out of leaves. Just grab some dried leaves from the backyard. You can spray paint them gold or silver, or just use them as is if they have a good color. Use paint pens to write the person’s name for each place. Keep in mind which colors will go with your dining room and the rest of the décor at your table.

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http://www.elementsofstyleblog.com/2013/11/in-your-place.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=in-your-place

Thanksgiving Recipes

Mini Pumpkin Pies are all the rage this year. In addition to being cute, these small pies help with portion control. Home Is Where the Boat Is published this recipe, which uses store bought pie crust, one can of pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and Pumpkin Pie Spice. This is as easy as it gets. Make four inch mini pie crusts using a four inch cookie cutter or bowl, and place them inside a greased muffin tin. Add pie filling and top with cut out leaves made out of leftover pie crust. Follow Mary’s directions for baking and enjoy these small treats on Thanksgiving. You can also use your own pie filling recipe if you’d like.

http://homeiswheretheboatis.net/2012/11/10/mini-pumpkin-pies-and-a-blooming-can/

Beat some of that Thanksgiving stress with one of these fabulous Cranberry Margaritas from Gimme Some Oven. Ali explains how to make a fall themed margarita using cranberry juice cocktail (or homemade juice if you prefer), lime juice, orange-flavored liqueur and tequila. Add ice cubes or use crushed ice. Top with some cranberries and lime slices for garnish, and enjoy your holiday in style.

Cranberry Margaritas Recipe | gimmesomeoven.com

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/cranberry-margaritas/

The sweet potato soufflé has to be one of the most sought after Thanksgiving dishes and is the one that always runs out towards the end of the night. This delicious looking version comes from Tiffany at Crème de la Crumb. Boil some sweet potatoes and mash them. Add eggs, melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and milk; mix it all together. Pour this mixture into a baking dish and add brown sugar, melted butter, flour and pecans on top. This will turn into a candied pecan topping in the oven. Follow Tiffany’s instructions for baking and add the marshmallows for the last five minutes. Trust us; this will be everyone’s favorite this year.

Candied Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

http://lecremedelacrumb.com/2014/10/candied-pecan-sweet-potato-casserole.html

This Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip is a playful creation from Amber of Dessert Now; it was posted on Oh, Sweet Basil. This isn’t the usual savory dip you may expect. It’s reminiscent of an actual slice of cheesecake. Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar, mix in pumpkin puree and pie spice, and beat in some Cool Whip. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and eat with cookies, pretzels, apples or whatever you think fits!

This Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip is one everyone can enjoy with their favorite cookie, pretzel, or fruit!  From Dessert Now Dinner Later for OhSweetBasil.com

http://www.ohsweetbasil.com/2014/10/pumpkin-cheesecake-dip-recipe.html

Perhaps you want to try something new and not make the same mashed potatoes again this year. This Turnip Gratin recipe from The Pioneer Woman will be the perfect way to switch things up. You just need to peel turnips, cut them into thin slices, grate some Gruyere cheese and layer it all together with butter, chicken broth, minced garlic and cream. These cheesy, delectable turnips will be a big hit at the table.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/11/turnip-gratin/

Thanksgiving Hosting Tips

Maybe you’re a Thanksgiving hosting veteran and want to learn some new tricks. Or, perhaps it’s your first time in the driver’s seat. Either way, these tips should help the day go smoothly:

-Make a shopping list and triple check it. You don’t want to be stuck in a busy store the night before.

-Take items out of your fridge, and store them in a cooler to make more space for Thanksgiving dishes.

-Do you cry while chopping onions? Cut an onion in half, and rub the halves together under cool water before dicing it.

-Buy dessert from the store, or asks guests to bring a sweet dish. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to do too many things; let people help out by bringing a pie or a cheesecake.

-Cut up the vegetables the day before, and keep them in Ziplocs in the fridge until it’s time to put the recipes together.

-Ask the butcher to butterfly the turkey and cook it with both sides down. This is a much faster way to roast a turkey.

-Use disposable plates and napkins to avoid the massive clean up later. You can find some with charming patterns on them.

-Make your house smell wonderful before your guests arrive by boiling a pot of water and throwing in whole cloves, orange rind, whole star anise and cinnamon sticks.

-Put out disposable cups, and have everyone write their name on their cups to avoid having to clean up a bunch of empty cups at the end of the night.

-Lay out the food buffet style, and let people serve themselves. This saves space on the dining room table for centerpieces, drinks and elbow room. Also, you won’t have to plate everything yourself.

-Don’t put the potatoes on the stove. Microwave them to free up one of the burners.

-Have Chinese takeout boxes on hand, and let your guests pack their own leftovers.

Last of all, remember to have fun! It may be stressful at times, but Thanksgiving is one of the best days of the year. We can’t wait for the celebration to begin, to dig into the turkey and sip on a cranberry cocktail. Happy Thanksgiving!

What is a Downdraft Range Hood?

A downdraft range hood functions differently than the traditional updraft range hoods we may be used to using in our kitchens. A downdraft hood sits right above the cooking surface, perhaps ten inches above the burners on the stove top. These systems still work with a blower and duct work. They are sometimes included in the purchase of a range.

Downdraft hoods collect air from the cooking surface from a horizontal angle. These hoods are not as effective as range hoods that are mounted above the cooking surface. First of all, downdraft range hoods will not be able to ventilate air that escapes above the cooking surface. On the other hand, wall mount range hoods are situated directly above the stove top and are perfect for capturing air that travels upwards towards the ceiling.

Downdraft hoods usually cannot be seen because they can be pushed in and popped back out when it is needed for use. These models are sometimes used with a cooking surface located on an island in a kitchen to avoid having to mount an island range hood above it. However, this also means that duct work has to be placed from the downdraft hood on the island to the outside of the house. This work can be costly.

The duct work used with downdraft hoods can be long and may need to take various turns. This makes the duct work more expensive to install and also means that the hood has to be more powerful to push air through the extra duct work. As a result, downdraft hoods usually use more powerful blowers, which also create more sound in the home.

Which system, updraft or downdraft, is best for you will depend upon various factors. It depends upon whether or not you have the space and the right type of ceiling for mounting an updraft range hood, such as a wall mount range hood. It also depends on what type of cooking you do and how frequently you cook. If you cook very frequently, you may want to consider an updraft range hood system because they are more effective.

Kitchen ventilation is crucial for removing the byproducts of cooking on an electric or gas stove top in your kitchen. Without ventilation, grease, smoke, smells and unwanted chemicals can build up in the kitchen and on the kitchen décor. If you have put a lot of money into decorating and/or remodeling your kitchen, then you will want to install a range hood with the sufficient power to protect your kitchen from grease and heat. Furthermore, kitchen ventilation is important for ridding the home of gases, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. These gases are known to create respiratory problems, especially in children, and to make it harder for people to breathe.

Other options for those shopping for range hoods include island range hoods, under cabinet range hoods, insert liner range hoods and more. Chimney extensions are also available for those who wish to mount a range hood that does not fit higher ceilings. There is something out there for everyone when it comes to kitchen ventilation.

Kitchen Islands

A kitchen island can provide space and functionality to a kitchen area. It is also a palette for creativity and design because it can be extremely customizable. Kitchen islands with a cooking surface bring cooking to the center of the room and off of the wall.

Storage & Convenience. A kitchen island can provide the storage shelves, cabinets and space you need for those pots, pans and cooking utensils without a home. They are also a great spot for smaller kitchen appliances and mixing bowls for use during food preparation.

You can also use a cart in place of a kitchen island, unless you need an island with a cooking surface. Kitchen carts are convenient for this purpose because they are mobile, generally less costly than a custom kitchen island and can be moved from home to home. They are helpful in smaller kitchens and in apartments because they are compact. A larger kitchen space may call for a utility table, which will increase counter space and create more elbow room for food preparation.

Some kitchen islands go above and beyond with cool features and add-ons, such as sinks, cooking surfaces, and/or built-in wine refrigerators. Other custom kitchen islands include refrigerated drawers so you can pull out produce and put it straight on the cutting board.

Aesthetics. The kitchen island you choose can drastically change the aesthetics of your kitchen. There are countless features and styles for kitchen islands, including building material, countertop material, cabinet doors and amount of counter space. one popular trend is to recycle wood to create the counter top for the kitchen island; these counter tops are sturdy and have a lot of character and personality.

You can play around with aesthetics by adding bar stools to the side of your kitchen island to create another area for eating. Kitchen islands with stove tops and bar stools create a great space to socialize with your guests or your family whenever you’re cooking.

Let your imagination fly and consider tackling a do-it-yourself kitchen island project; you’ll be the one in control creating the kitchen island of your dreams.

Island Range Hood. Depending upon the kitchen island you go with, you may want to install an island range hood. If you have a cooking surface on your island, then you will definitely want an island range hood. These hang from the ceiling for kitchen ventilation and a chimney covers the ductwork. If you have taller ceilings, you can purchase a chimney extension. The island range hood will accomplish the important job of removing grease, smoke and undesirable smells from the kitchen while you’re cooking.

The island range hood should be the width of the cooking surface with additional space on each side. Island range hoods carried on RangeHoodsInc.com include those from Spagna Vetro, Cavaliere and Imperial. Styles come in both more traditional looks and more modern designs. More traditional models have the classic hood look, while other models are curvier and come with tempered glass canopies. Call 1-800-914-9775 today if you have any questions about island range hoods on RangeHoodsInc.com.

Kitchen Styles & Range Hood Styles

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms of the house, reserved for cooking the food that nourishes our bodies and socializing with the family and friends. We get a lot of work done in this room so it makes sense that we want the space to be aesthetically pleasing and fit our tastes. The kitchen design you go with will also determine the range hood style you need.

The kitchen design style you choose may depend upon your personal taste, the current state of your kitchen and how much you cook. For example, if you cook on a regular basis, you may need a kitchen design with surfaces that are made for heavy duty cooking. How much you cook will also determine how much power you will need from you range hood and will affect which model you choose.

Common kitchen design styles include Art Deco, Eclectic, Victorian, French Colonial, Contemporary, Craftsman, Mediterranean and more. This article goes over three common kitchen styles.

Cottage – A cottage style kitchen echoes the countryside and farms. This is a more traditional look that uses white and light colors, older materials and floral patterns.

Modern – Modern kitchens show off darker colors, metal surfaces and appliances and décor that create straight lines. These kitchens have much more metal, sometimes even metal cabinets and are typically more simplistic and industrial looking.

Tuscan – The Tuscan style resembles Italian themes. Think of the kitchen in a rustic home or winery. The styles included in a Tuscan kitchen can include old world décor and natural stone and metalwork that look aged.

A mixture of modern and traditional kitchen styles is known as a transitional kitchen. Older styles are typically more romantic and make use of more elaborate cabinetry; more modern styles echo simplicity and darker colors.

Your kitchen’s style will definitely influence the range hood you choose. The style of the kitchen will also influence the apron, or exterior, you create or purchase if you are covering the range hood. Additionally, when choosing a range hood, always consider size, measurements and how the range hood will fit in the space available to you.

Of course, the type of range hood you choose will also depend on the location of your range and whether or not it is located against a wall or on your island. If the range hood is located above the island, keep in mind that it will be much more visible to people in the kitchen and it will be visible from every angle. This may make the look of the range hood more critical. If you purchase a wall mount range hood, you will also want the decoration on your backsplash to match the overall design of the room.

Some range hoods are more contemporary and modern looking, while others are more traditional. More contemporary models also include tempered glass canopies. More traditional range hoods look like an actual hood, or pyramid shape, while more contemporary range hoods look like a flat rectangular shape attached to a chimney. The second type can also double as a shelf.

There are endless possibilities out there for kitchen décor and design. The only bad news is, you only have one kitchen to use it all on. Whatever you choose can be great; just be sure to make sure the entire kitchen harmonizes.