Cottage Foodie Diet Recipes

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free, no butter or white sugar, no oil)

October 26, 2016







 I have so many great memories when my kids were in school of having their friends over and baking cookies for “back to school” festivities.  Here’s a great cookie recipe that both kids and adults will love, with minimal fat, no white sugar, no butter and it’s gluten-free. They are amazingly thick and chewy and taste better than the usual chocolate chip cookies you are used to making.  Promise!

This recipe is for one batch of cookies.  Trust me – you will need to double it.  They are amazing.



1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (not natural – natural pb will change the texture of the cookies)

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 large eggs

2/3 cup rolled oats (I use Gluten free)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup chocolate chips



 1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  In a small bowl, mix together the oats and baking soda, set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy.  You can use an electric mixer, but a spoon works just as well.

4.  Add dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture, then gently fold in chocolate chips.

5.  Roll cookies into two inch balls and drop onto a baking sheet lined  with a Silpat.  You can also use a tablespoon measure to drop the cookies onto the sheet.  Do not flatten them.

6.  Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes, just until edges begin to brown.

They will look underdone, but will continue to cook on the baking sheet while cooling.

After they have cooled, transfer to a wire rack.


Makes 16-20 cookies.


Cottage Design Home Decor

Decorating with Architectural Elements

September 20, 2016

I love scouring flea markets and antique stores for architectural elements to include in my home decor. Using these vintage pieces adds visual interest and is a way to incorporate an antique vibe into your home without breaking the bank.

One of my favorite ways to add vintage architecture to your home is to look for old windows.  Antique windows come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they add visual interest to an otherwise boring wall, look great over a fireplace, make great “frames” for photos and I’ve even seen some made into chalkboards.

This is one of my all-time favorite vintage window frames used to decorate the space behind the sofa.  It has a very beachy vibe and a light and airy look. The glass panes were removed:

Here is another great example – an old window remade into a cabinet. I love the way this fits seamlessly into the decor:


Finding two of the same windows is very unusual, not to mention very lucky.  I love the way these windows are displayed here and the way the light plays off the glass panes:

And of course I love the window I found almost fifteen years ago-  for a song –  that I have displayed over my fireplace:


Another great way to decorate with architectural embellishments is with antique pediments.  Doorways used to be framed with gorgeous, ornate pediments and they have become a rare commodity in the antique marketplace.

Here is a pediment used in a nursery.  The blue paint fits in perfectly with her blue antique cast iron cribs! The entire look is so perfect (and not just for a boys room – blue goes with everything!)


And here another is placed over a doorway in a hall.

Another easy way to add architectural interest in your home is to use old mirror frames. Many of the old frames are quite ornate and beautiful – with carvings and details that you won’t find on a more modern frame.  And, of course, you can have the mirror replaced and use it for it’s intended purpose, or be creative and use it like the one below which is fashioned to frame out her thread collection in the sewing room.  It looks amazing!

Still another way of adding vintage architectural items to your home is by using old corbels to make tables or shelves. Corbels were used outside on very decorative buildings and homes  under the eaves of the roof (either for support or decoration), and were also used to hold up awnings over front doors and around windows.

Here are some very large corbels made into an outdoor potting table:

This is my favorite and I want to do this in my bathroom:

Smaller corbels can be used as bookends or can actually be incorporated into your kitchen to add decoration to your kitchen island or cabinets.

If you are concerned about the paint on your antique pieces, you always have the option of stripping them and repainting or staining the pieces.  There are some great products on the market now that will seal off the paint and prevent it from chipping (I have used a few and they really do work)!  If you need the product names, feel free to contact me.

Start your search for these great architectural pieces at your favorite antique stores, flea markets, and barn sales. Ask to look out back where they keep salvaged items and pieces they might be repainting or fixing up for a future sale  – you’ll be amazed at the great things you’ll find right at your back door.


Check out my Pinterest for more great architectural ideas!

Cottage Design Home Decor Styling

Charm in Colorado

August 12, 2016

I was so fortunate to be able to write about my amazing and sweet friend, Victoria Hayden, for the September issue of Romantic Homes Magazine. I hope you enjoy her story as much I enjoyed writing it. Click the link to follow Victoria’s amazing Instagram feed, @the.frenchmade.home.


As you look out any window in Victoria Hayden’s Colorado home, your eyes are met with sprawling views of the Pikes Peak Mountain range and the Colorado Springs valley below. The views inside, however, are decidedly French Cottage, thanks to Victoria’s skills at styling along with her large collection of vintage French accessories.





Victoria and her husband, Walter, bought their home four years ago and were met with a builder-grade family room that had bright and glorious views from four large picture windows surrounded by 18-foot-high ceilings. Rather than cover these windows with heavy drapes, Victoria chose to let the light shine in and emphasize her love of all things French. “I have always been drawn to everything French and cottage since I can remember,” she says.





Throughout her many years of treasure hunting, Victoria has amassed a wonderful collection of French enamelware. “What once was used for everyday life is now highly collectible by many,” she says. One of her favorite ways to display her enamelware is to add fresh flowers in a variety of colors. “I like to think about who might have used it and what their life might have been like,” she says.


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To balance out the large space above her fireplace, Victoria and her husband designed a French Trumeau mirror.  “I am the dreamer and visionary, and my husband is the logician and craftsman,” she says. With a few pieces of molding, a base and her ingenuity, (as well as a little help from Walter), she crafted the gorgeous mirror that now adorns the area above her fireplace.


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Victoria fills her light-infused home with pops of her signature colors: red, pink and turquoise. These colors add a bright touch, yet appear subtle and soft when paired with her white sofas, natural woods and gold highlights. She prefers to accessorize with vintage items as opposed to purchasing newer accessories.  “I would rather buy something for my home that is old and has character. To me, vintage and antique pieces tell a romantic story,” says Victoria. She adds “It is very important to me to fill my home with only things that I love.”

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Victoria will be coming out with her own blog, online store and her very own fabric line later this year.  For now, you can view her gorgeous home and follow her DIY projects on her Instagram, @the.frenchmade.home.

Cottage Foodie Diet Recipes

Lemony Arugula Zucchini Spaghetti

July 22, 2016

I love a great dish of pasta – be it made with real Spaghetti or some sort of spiralized vegetable, like zucchini.  Most people think that they are ditching the calories by spiralizing the zucchini then dumping a ton of red sauce or meat sauce on top with cheese. WRONG. The sauce is what is bad for you. Next time, go your garden or produce section for your sauce. Fresh arugula, parsley with lemon and garlic.  That’s all you need! You will end up with a healthier, lighter version that is made with no oil, no salt, and can be made gluten-free and vegetarian. And Vegans can skip the cheese. A win-win.

I like to mix regular spaghetti noodles with spiralized zucchini for the best flavor. And you meat lovers can add crispy pancetta or bacon.

Lemony Arugula Zucchini Spaghetti

12 ounces dried spaghetti (or 4 cups spiralized zucchini – if mixing – use 6 ounces of spaghetti to two cups zucchini noodles)

1/4 cup chicken broth (or vegetable)

3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons black pepper

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 -1/2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

3 cups baby Arugula

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Chopped fresh parley to taste

Finely diced and lightly sautéed pancetta or bacon (optional)


1. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water. Reserve one cup of the pasta water, drain, set aside.

2. With a spiralizer or Vegetti (you can buy these for $3 at your grocers) make enough vegetable “spaghetti” (see measurements above)

3. If you are using pancetta or bacon, cook in a large skillet until crisped. Add chicken stock, garlic, red pepper flakes and black pepper.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add the lemon juice to the skillet, then add the drained pasta and zucchini and toss to coat. Add the parm and toss; if it is too dry add pasta water slowly –  a tablespoon at a time – just enough to help the cheese coat the pasta. Add the arugula and toss until it wilts, about 1 minute. Season to taste with additional pepper and red pepper flakes. Top with the lemon zest and fresh parsley and add extra parm if you so desire.





Design Home Decor Shopping Slipcovers

The Care and Keeping of Slipcovers

July 20, 2016


You’ve come a long way, baby.


{Yikes it’s Great Aunt Gladys sweating on a vinyl slipcover}


Back before home air conditioning was available, plastic or vinyl slipcovers were made for upholstered furniture during the summer months to protect it from sweat (and you thought your mom was just doing this to be annoying!). Slipcover tailors in the United  States were often referred to as ‘”Summer Millionaires” because of the high demand during the hot summer months. Since then, slipcovers have evolved into an industry of their own.

Most major furniture manufacturers, whether high-end or discount, offer many of their upholstered pieces with a slipcover option. Whether your sofa is soft and cushy with tons of ruffles or modern and edgy with clean lines, chances are there’s a slipcover just ready and waiting for it.

{A very modern chair slipcovered from Crate and Barrel}


{A lovely modern chair with patterned slipcover by Serena and Lily}

I’ve been using slipcovers for over two decades, and have learned the best ways to care for them and want to share that knowledge with you.

I have always had white slipcovered furniture (with one exception – when my husband – then boyfriend – bought a 20 piece sectional sofa that was brown plaid and it was so big we could not fit the whole thing in one room. I still have nightmares.)  My fabric of choice is heavy, white denim.  I have used less substantial fabrics, but they drastically cut back on the life of the slipcover. Repeated sitting, spot-cleaning, washing and stretching them to fit after cleaning breaks down the fibers in the seams. The sturdier the fabric, the longer your slipcovers will last.


{The cute slipcovered chairs on the right look awesome with the modern leather chesterfield sofa}


Custom made slipcovers are a bit more expensive than ready-made, but they will last much longer than those produced en masse. If you do opt to buy manufacturer’s pre-made slipcovers, always ask if they have been pre-washed.  Many upholstery fabrics have been treated with stain resistant chemicals that will wash off in the laundry and they MUST be dry-cleaned. If your slipcover says “dry clean only”, I would heed that advice.  If you have a stain you cannot remove, and you’ve gone against the recommended cleaning guidelines by washing it at home instead of dry-cleaning, chances are you will void any warranty that was included with your purchase.


{a lovely slipcovered ottoman/coffee table}


I have been singing the praises of my white slipcovers for years and for good reasons. Here are a few for “going to the white side:”

1.  No fading from the sun.  It is amazing what ambient UV light can do to fabric.  White does not fade.

2.  You can bleach away just about anything, from red wine to dirt, to jean dye that has rubbed off from new jeans (yep, I’ve experienced all of this).

3.  They always look clean and fresh, even with just a quick vacuuming.

Mine have been through 20 years of family life: from toddlers to pre-teens, teenagers to twenty-somethings, and survived. Are they flawless?  No.  But they are still extremely presentable and there are only two small spots on one cushion that I can’t get out and I think this might be leftovers from when my daughter tried to color them orange with a Sharpie. (Dad was on Mom Duty that day.)  It is best to purchase your fabric first, and wash and dry it several times. This will just about guarantee that there will be no shrinkage and it also breaks in the fabric nicely so it is soft and pliable.

Most fabric stores have tailors that work exclusively for them. This is how my slips were made.  A wonderful man came to my house and took all my furniture along with my pre-washed fabric. He returned everything several weeks later with custom made slipcovers that fit perfectly. Some tailors will measure your furniture at your home then make them in their studio. But for a truly custom fit, it’s best that the tailors have access to your furniture while they are sewing the slips.

Line the skirt (the bottom portion of your slip) whenever possible. This makes the skirt slightly stiffer and it will hold the shape nicely.  And you need a bit of extra “oomph” at the bottom because that area of the sofa will see the most abuse from shoes, dust, etc.

Include piping whenever possible, especially on seat cushions. Piping adds another two layers of protection: You have a regular seam which holds two pieces of fabric together – add some piping- and you have four layers of fabric and two seams.  Very tough to rip through.

{A beach-inspired slipcover with white piping.  Your piping can be a different color or the same color – but it is safer and easier to clean if you stick with one color}

A Word on Zippers



Always use the best-quality zippers possible, preferably with large teeth.  I think the belief is that matching the color of the zipper to the fabric is the right thing to do – but those zippers are plastic and you should never use plastic zippers on slipcovers. There are many affordable metal ones made from brass or aluminum, and they will not show at all.  My slipcover zippers are similar to the one on the top right, except the teeth are silver.  They have never broken or bent and are in perfect condition.  I advise pre-washing these too – as some cotton tape on the zippers will shrink causing the fabric to bunch up.

Some tailors use buttons instead of zipper for chairs.  I think this is fantastic and I am a big fan of dressmaker details for slips. I don’t recommend them for larger pieces though.


{Love the gorgeous covered button details on this chair}

{and this chair}




{love these nautical themed slipcovers and how they have transformed these very plain and inexpensive bar stools}


Washing your Slipcovers

They key to keeping your slipcovers white and fresh is washing them every few months. I have used diluted bleach in extreme circumstances in the washer and for spot-cleaning, but there is a better option.  I have had tons of success using Rit Laundry products. Both of these can be purchased from Amazon (no affiliate links here – just honest advice!)


{Rit Whitener and Brightener powder}

{Rit Whitener and Brightener liquid}

Rit products have been around for decades and they are truly wonderful and affordable.  I add the powder or liquid (depends on which one I have on hand at the time) in addition to Oxi Clean and my regular detergent.  The slips come out of the wash looking brand new. If you have stains, I recommend spot treating with the diluted bleach option first.  The best stain remover I have come across is Club Soda (this is how I removed the red wine and orange Sharpie).  Sometimes I will just add Club Soda to the wash load. It is an amazing stain remover and brightener.

Remove your slips from the washer and lay across chairs – not across your upholstery pieces as this will create a mold environment.


{My dining room turned in to a slipcover drying station}


Spread them out over chairs, so that the air can circulate around them.  I usually just do one sofa at a time (for lack of drying room).  Once they are dry,  you can fluff them in the dryer on the “no heat” setting or put them back on the furniture immediately – they will soften up on their own over time. Some people recommend putting the slips back on when they are damp,  but I do not. Under damp conditions, mold can grow between the slip  and sofa.

Putting slipcovers on can be a hard work.  You will have to work your way around the sofa, easing and pulling fabric, so that each corner fits.  Start with one back side, then move to the corresponding arm, then to the next arm, and lastly, over the back of the sofa.  It may require several tries to get them back on. You will work up a sweat and are allowed to skip the treadmill on slipcover days.

After the slips are securely on the sofa, the loose fabric on the seats (underneath where the cushions go) will need to be tucked into the sofa.  I use a spatula or wooden spoon, ruler, or anything
straight.  This ensures that the slips will stay put and you get a nice, crisp look doing it this way.


{my spatula being put to good use!}


Lastly, put the fresh slips on the cushion pillows. Remember, if one side of your cushion gets ruined, you always have another side.  And you will add years to your slips by flipping your cushions often. If you want a more tailored look, lightly steam out the wrinkles with a hand-held steamer.

I am not a slipcover snob, I have two white sofas in my basement that I purchased from Ikea, covered with white slipcovers.  I have washed them and they came out perfect. Ikea slipcovers are very wrinkled – both after washing and when you take them out of the package new.  There is a way to get rid of those wrinkles.  Using a spritzer bottle filled with water, lightly mist the wrinkles and smooth them out with your hand. This really works!


(these are absolutely my favorite slipcovers, found on Pinterest}


Vacuum your slipcovers with the upholstery brush on your hand-held vacuum ever other week or so.  They will sparkle.

One of my favorite photos with freshly-washed slips:




Slipcovers transform the old and extend the life of your furniture for years- or in my case – decades. And to me they are worth their weight in gold.

I would love to hear your thoughts on slipcovers and how you care for them!


Cottage Foodie Recipes

Fish Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Crema – also Vegetarian, Gluten free

June 29, 2016

Fish Tacos are one of the most popular menu items at restaurants today and you can find them in many forms: small bites, appetizers, on the “Skinny” menu or a full-fledged meal. I’ve sampled many fish taco recipes and, although the battered-and-fried taste the best, they are not the best for you.

This recipe is easy and delicious and you can adjust it for vegetarian and gluten free options. They can be put together in a pinch and, though they can be spicy, this is easily adjusted when adding your spices to the fish.

They are one of our favorite meals at Canterbury Cottage and I know you will love them too!

For the Crema:

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/4 chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons fat-free mayo (light is okay too)

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (about one-half to one lime)

1 garlic clove, minced (I used 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)

For the Tacos:

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular paprika)

1/8  teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 pounds red snapper fillets, or any white fish, such as flounder, etc.  – Vegetarian option – use one large brick tofu, cut into long slices.  You will need to squeeze out the water from the tofu first and pat dry with paper towels.

Cooking spray

8 6-inch flour tortillas (gluten free option – use corn tortillas, which I personally like better)

2 cups shredded cabbage (purple, savoy – your choice!)


Combine the first six ingredients for the crema in a small bowl; refrigerate.

Combine the spices (through garlic powder) and sprinkle over fish (or tofu) evenly over both sides. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or a Silpat. Bake at 400 degrees for 9-11 minutes (12-15 for tofu). Removed from oven and break into bite-sized pieces with a fork. Heat tortillas;  divide fish or tofu evenly, top with crema and shredded cabbage.



Cottage Design Home Decor

The French Cottage

June 3, 2016

I am returning to my Cottage series about the many ways of styling your home (aka cottage). Here are the links to my previous posts:

The Modern Cottage

The Colorful Cottage

The Black and White Cottage

The White Cottage

The Pink Cottage

Today, we look at The French Cottage. Be it a cozy farmhouse setting in the countryside, or a chic pied-a-terre in the city, The French Cottage is always in style.

In 1996, my husband and I took the kids to France and stayed in this oh-so-quaint Farmhouse:


That’s me and my daughter Julia (then age 3) peeking out through our bedroom window. The inside was typically French:  dark beams, florals, rich colors and very low ceilings in the shower (if you’ve ever showered abroad you’ll relate to this!)


The inside of our cottage resembled this:  Lots of beams, textures and very soft sofas!



Our kitchen was small and quaint and resembled this:



A more modern approach to The French Cottage is to add black upholstry:

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Black mixed with this all white apartment (above)  adds a touch of young, modern elegance – especially when paired with the antique chandelier.  Look hard and you can see the very old decorative mouldings near the ceiling line.


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Modern artwork and a classic Chesterfield Sofa in a rich black velvet adds a modern touch.  You can see how the hard edges are paired down in the background with the soft beige drapes. I am not 100% sure about that chandelier though!


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Classic details such as the floral mouldings, original hardwoods and tall French doors add drama to this French apartment.


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Again, the floor-to-ceiling French doors, vintage chandelier and lighter furnishings add a touch of elegance to this Paris apartment. (The kitties are cute, too!)


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A French cottage in the country with dark beams and rock walls.  This look is softened with the lighter upholstery and pink drapery.



One of my favorite French cottages in the country – the inside resembles an old fashioned apartment in Paris.  They kept the brick floors for contrast with the white accessories.


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Above, a classic French bedroom with antique lighting, shutters on the windows, wardrobe tucked into an alcove, and fireplace.

The French Cottage of today is more decorative, with more accessories, more colors, and often with a bit of “country” thrown in.  A more modern French Cottage has mixes of blacks and whites with added touches of gold or chrome, and pops of colors used on dining chairs, art and accessories.

If you are interested in reading about the French Cottage look, check out my friend Cindy Blackenburg’s home which I wrote about in my column “Details” in the April 2016 Issue of Romantic Homes magazine. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Cindy and her great style. You can read her blog here.  Also, check out my friend Victoria Hayden’s Instagram, The French Made Home (@the.frenchmade.home).  She has amazing taste and will be featured in my column in an upcoming issue.


All images via Pinterest.




Cottage Foodie Recipes

Let’s Make Pho

May 20, 2016





My family loves Pho.  When both kids are home visiting, we order it at least once a week, and love to try different restaurants to find our favorite versions.  I have always wanted to try to make homemade Pho for two reasons:  First, I love to control what goes in my food (I don’t use salt or oil and eat mainly a plant-based diet) and second, we love it so much it would be great to be able to make it at home which eliminates the fight over who’s going to go pick up the food order 🙂

Don’t be intimidated by this recipe.  I have tried a few different variations on the theme in the past, but the broth just never had the richness of this one, which is made with chicken instead of beef.  I came across this recipe in the March 2016 Food and Wine magazine that was created by Chef Jimmy Tu for his restaurant Bunker located in Queens.  I clipped it, read it over again and again for weeks, stared at it even longer, kept it on top of the kitchen island to remind me that I CAN DO THIS.  And boy I am so glad I did.

The ingredient list might look intimidating, but once you purchase the spices needed you will have them on hand for quite some time.  I try to make recipes ‘my own’, sometimes adding or omitting things here and there, but I tried to follow this one to the letter (minus salt and oil). The key to a rich, deep broth using chicken as opposed to beef is to fully roast the spices and to char the onions thoroughly. No skimping – this is what develops the flavor.

I’ve made this a few times now, and I am not going to lie it’s an all afternoon affair, but most of that time the chicken is cooking or the broth is simmering and you are free to catch up on your favorite Food Network shows.  And it is worth the time.  This is truly the best bowl of Pho I’ve ever had, and I think you will agree.   The key to making this efficient is to get your ingredients prepared ahead of time.  Read the recipe and follow the rule of mise en place. For all you non-foodies, you’ll have to look that up.


{making Pho while watching Chopped on the Food Network}

Chicken Pho



  • One 3  1/2 – 5 pound chicken

  • 2 whole star anise

  • 2 cardamom pods

  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds

  • one 2 1/2-inch cinnamon stick

  • 1  1/2 tsps.  black peppercorns

  • 1 tsp. goji berries (if you can’t find them at the grocers you can purchase here

  • 2 shallots, halved

  • 1 small onion, quartered

  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar

  • 1 Tbsp. Asian Fish sauce


  • 3 mediums shallots, very thinly sliced (one cup)

  • 6 oz. dried rice noodles

  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

  • Bean, sprouts, basil sprigs, mint sprigs, thinly sliced jalapeno and lime wedges, for serving

  • Dollop of Sriracha for extra spice

Start the Pho

  1. In a large stockpot bring 5 quarts of water to a boil.  Add the chicken, breast side down.  Place a heat-proof plate over the chicken to keep it submerged and bring to a boil (I used my every day china).  Reduce the heat and simmer the chicken for 30 minutes; it will not be cooked through.  Transfer the chicken to a bowl of ice water and let cool completely.  Drain well and pat dry.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron skillet combine the star anise, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns and goji berries. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring until very fragrant for about 3-6 minutes.  Don’t skimp on this – it’s vital to the deep broth flavor.  Transfer to a small bowl.

  3. In the same skillet, combine the shallots, onion and leek.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until very deep golden brown (almost black) – 10-15 minutes.

  4. Remove all the meat from the chicken and coarsely shred.

    {cooking the spices}

Simmer the Broth

  1. Return all of the chicken skin and bones to the broth in the stockpot.  Add the pan-roasted shallot, onion and leek mixture and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.

  2. Stir the toasted spices and goji berries into the broth.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour longer.  Add the brown sugar and simmer for another 30 minutes.

  3. Strain the broth into a large bowl (I do this twice), pressing on the solids; discard the solids.  Pour the broth into a clean saucepan.



{before charring the onions…}

{…and after}

Make the Garnishes

  1.  Fry the shallots:  In a large skillet, add low sodium reduced chicken broth (the original recipe calls for oil) and heat thoroughly. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat, stirring until golden brown and crispy, 7-10 minutes.  Transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Let cool (they crisp up when cool).

  2. Soak the noodles in a large bowl of boiling water until pliable, 8-10 minutes.

  3. Bring broth to a simmer.  Stir in the shredded chicken and cook until just white throughout, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the fish sauce.

  4. Drain the rice noodles and transfer to large bowls. Ladle the broth and chicken over the noodles.  Top with scallions and cilantro. Garnish with the crispy shallots, bean sprouts, basil, mint and jalapeno and serve with lime wedges.

{making the crispy shallot topping}

{simmering the broth}


The soup makes enough broth for 2-3 family servings.  All you need to do it heat up the leftover broth, and add fresh noodles and garnishes. There is a fantastic Pho tutorial in the March issue of Food and Wine which I found to be very helpful.


Home Decor Library Styling

Styling the Summer Library

May 15, 2016


The word “Library” often invokes visions of floor to ceiling books enveloped in rich, dark woods with accents of leather and distinctly masculine accessories.




While a warm, cozy reading nook draped with heavy fabrics might be appropriate for a winter movie setting, elevating the space to a light and airy yet comfortably cozy space is easier than you think.











Bring in neutral cotton or linen upholstery in light, soft colors. Covered buttons and tufting add an air of subtle sophistication. Accessorize with throw pillows covered in light florals or softly-hued prints. Richly textured throws in light colors will cozy up the room while at the same time creating a warm and inviting space.






Live greenery brings a touch of summer to the library.  If you are opting for a more sophisticated look, add greenery in the form of topiaries. These ornamental shaped plants are abundant during the summer months and are often made with rosemary, lavender or heather and provide not only visual beauty but add an extra dimension with their balmy and bright aroma.




Group your books by color: shelves with bright blues and spring greens will add a touch of whimsy. A neutral-themed design utilizing all white and black books adds a modern, sophisticated look. Removing the paper covers on your vintage books will often reveal brightly colored bindings with hints of gold gilding.



Style your summer bookshelves by including light garden touches such as small statuary and finials. Add picture frames in one color family.

Don’t over accessorize: incorporate these touches every two or three shelves to make it more varied visually.







{My assistant guarding my props – he never even tried to eat a cookie which is more than I can say for myself}


The library is one of the most under-utilized rooms in the home. It does not just have to be an office space, or a place to store your books. Bring in a small table and chairs and host your book club. Serve breakfast or a luncheon for friends. Have an afternoon tea. Take a nap. Use your shelves to display family mementos, photos, antiques or even vintage ironstone.





The summer library is bright, light and airy. It can be decidedly feminine or uniquely masculine. Style it so that you can enjoy it year-round: it is more than just a room for the bibliophile.