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Fall Activities in the Hudson Valley

The weather is finally getting chilly, the leaves are changing and it feels right to embrace all things fall.

The Hudson Valley is the unofficial fall capital of New York with its celebrated autumn festivals, food culture, and top-rated wineries. With plenty to do and see, the Hudson Valley is a must visit for any fall enthusiast.

We’ve compiled a list of some incredible ways to celebrate the most colorful season in the Hudson Valley with some help from Hudson Valley Parent!

It’s time to get your fall on.

Grab those sweaters and let’s go!

Fall Festival. Every Saturday and Sunday beginning on Oct 1 – Oct 31. 10am-5pm. Pick your own pumpkins are grown on 20 acres of farmland and are part of the farm’s traditional Fall. Tractor-drawn hayrides and pony rides on weekends, a straw maze, farm animals and a farm stand are also featured during this festival. 1 Manza Family Farm. 730 State Rte. 211, Montgomery. 845-692-4364.

Fall Foliage Trains. Oct 7 – Oct 28. 11am, 1pm and 3pm. There is no better way to experience the spectacular colors of autumn in the Catskills than with a ride on our Fall Foliage Train Rides. Experience sights you just can’t get from your car, and without the hassle of driving, everyone gets to enjoy the views. Catskill Mountain Railroad. 149 Aaron Ct., Kingston. 845-688-7400.

Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival. Oct 14 – Oct 20. 4-9:30pm. Local food trucks with an array of super delicious foods, live music, beer garden, and kids entertainment. Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex. Washington Ave., Saugerties. 845-399-2222.

NYS Sheep and Wool Festival. Oct. 21 – Oct. 22. Sat. 9am-5pm. Sun. 10am-5pm. A fun family festival with sheep shearing demonstrations, animal shows, authors, fiber arts workshops, wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, kids’ activities. Dutchess County Fairgrounds. 6550 Springbrook Ave., Rhinebeck.

Soukup Farms Harvest Festival. Oct. 21 – Oct. 22. 11am-5pm and 11am-4pm. Hayrides, hay maze, PYO pumpkins, Two By Two Zoo petting zoo, games, and fun for the whole family. J.S.K Cattle Company, LLC will be back serving their delicious food. This year we are adding more fun for the whole family! Soukup Farms. 271 Halls Corners Rd., Dover Plains. 845-264-3137.

Halloween Ghost Train Night. Oct 30. 6pm. Between 1851 and 1958 thousands of people traveled back and forth from NYC from the Hyde Park Train station and you can bet there are quite a few ghosts that roam the building. Listen to ghost stories of the station and other frightful tales. The Hyde Park Station. 34 River Rd., Hyde Park.



Best of Westchester 2020!

East Hill Cabinetry is excited to again be the Best of Westchester for Kitchen and Bath Design. This is the second year in a row we have won this honor. Thank you to all of our clients we have worked with over the past 13 years. It is because of your support we were able to earn this award.

We would also like to thank our industry partners. Because of your excellent work, we have been able to provide an outstanding experience for our clients. It is an honor to share this distinction with many of you.



Easy Ways to Make Your Kitchen Seem Bigger

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to plan a big family meal in a tiny kitchen.

If your home’s layout is short on space, there are a couple design tricks that can give your kitchen some elbow room. You can increase your space without compromising on style.

To give homeowners some hope for their micro-kitchen, we put together a list of design tips that will help you plan out a design that maximizes your space and give your decor a refreshing lift.

Consider Shallow Cabinets

Instead of choosing a stock-sized cabinet from a local hardware store, customizing your cabinets to shallow measurements that better suit the space is the way to go. Shallow or slimmer cabinets can open floor space and can actually improve the organization of your day to day items.

Skip the Double Sink

Do you really have a need for a double sink or is that just a graveyard for dishes you don’t want to do. Choosing a single basin sink can help you resist the urge to fill the sink with last night’s dishes and free up over a foot or more of counter space for what really matters.

Choose Compact

Opting for smaller appliances is one of the biggest underutilized tricks. Just because you’re scaling down doesn’t mean you’ll be cooking on miniatures. Appliance companies have smaller models specifically to accommodate the needs of a smaller kitchen. Even choosing a compact dishwasher saves a ton of cabinet space.

Install Cabinet Lighting

What’s worse than a tiny kitchen? A dark one. Adding some touches of ambient light beneath your cabinets can help you shed some light on the subject. These lights are easy to install and have long lifespans.

Take back your kitchen space.

Whether you’re ditching the hardware on your cabinets or brightening things up a little bit with some cabinet lighting, giving yourself more kitchen space is easier than you might think.



Common Obstacles for Homeowners

Many of our clients are renovating a kitchen for the first time.  As we get acquainted, we like to focus on discussing the renovation process and make sure they are prepared for the road ahead.  Typical questions revolve around processes, schedules and budgets.  

Recently, I was with a client who asked a question I have never received before:  “What should we avoid doing?”

It was a terrific question, one I didn’t have an answer for.  And as I spent time thinking, I realized there are three common design obstacles homeowners create for themselves are focusing on:

  • Individual components
  • Existing patterns
  • Desired storage features

Individual Components

Good design totals more than the sum of the parts.  However, many will focus on each piece separately. They will select Counter A from this supplier and Backsplash B from another and hoping they will add up to a beautiful design.  The end result is a mismatch that doesn’t tell a cohesive “design story.”  

Solution- Focus on the “feel” of a space, and let your design team source the individual elements to tell that story.  

Existing Patterns

Just like designing around individual components, laying out a kitchen is not as simple as finding a home for each item.  We want to create a space that functions in many different settings and for a few specific workflow patterns.  

Many homeowners can be resistant to change, especially if they have spent a few years in the home and have developed patterns for cooking and entertaining.

Solution- Keep an open mind to ideas presented by your design team, and give them time to sink in. For example, consider the big picture of the space. and the total gains by making a recommended change. 

Desired Storage Features

Maybe it’s a cool gadget you saw in a showroom, or a nifty storage feature from your neighbors home- and you have to have it!  These features are good solutions designed for a specific problem; fortunately, it is a problem you don’t have.  

Forcing these magic corners and slim pantry pullouts can wreak havoc on a design. They cut down the function of your storage, as well as the flow of your space.

Solution- Let these features come organically.  Create the best design with the most efficient storage, and use the complicated mechanisms as solutions when necessary.  



Choosing a Paint Color for your Kitchen

When it comes to choosing paint colors for your new kitchen, the sky is the limit.

There are millions of color combinations and searching for swatches can make your head spin. Instead of heading to the paint chips blindly it’s always great to have a plan and even some design inspiration. 

Not every color is a great choice for every room and a kitchen area calls for a specific palette. Did you know that color connects with you on a deeper level? The right color can help you relax, give you energy or even spark your appetite!

If choosing paint colors seems like a foreign language to you, don’t panic and trust the pros to guide you to the perfect color for your brand new kitchen.

Entice Your Appetite

Warmer colors start a fire in us. Warm, rich colors like red stimulate your appetite and gets you ready to dig into a big family dinner. While red might seem like an intimidating choice, but it’s surprisingly versatile! There are tons of different shades of red that can be incorporated into cabinets, accent walls, countertops, backsplashes and more.

Energize Your Day

Where do you start your day? The kitchen! Whether you’re grabbing a quick coffee on your way out the door or sitting down to a big brunch with the family, choosing an energizing color for your kitchen can help you set the tone for your day. Crisp and fresh shades of all white can fill a space with refreshing light and energize your day, while still being elegant and sophisticated by night.

Relaxing Neutrals

The early 2000’s brought us tan as the neutral staple. Nearly two decades later, grey takes center stage as the choice for a modern take on a neutral space. Grey gets a bad reputation for being cold and uninviting, but there are so many different variations that can add so much warmth and depth to your space. Whether you’re going grey on a countertop, cabinet or walls, going grey is always a great choice.

Color doesn’t have to be intimidating!

Having a world of different colors at your fingertips can take your design to new heights when they speak to you and the energy you’re trying to convey in your space. As you start thinking about what colors you might want to explore, always consider the emotional response you’re shooting for and your color choice will always be a sure bet.



Top Five Kitchen Features You Never Knew You Needed

A great kitchen design is more than just an aesthetic perk up, it’s a revamp in the functionality of your space.

As you begin the planning phase of your kitchen remodel, it’s always a good idea to push the possibilities and customize your layout. We’re kitchen pros and when it comes to storage, workspace, and convenience, we can assure you that the sky is the limit.

Whether you’re looking to hide away those clunky appliances or just streamline your daily kitchen experience, we’ve got the kitchen hacks you didn’t realize you needed in your life.

We’ve put together a list of some ingenious kitchen hacks to incorporate in your brand new kitchen design.

Appliance Cabinet

Counter-top kitchen appliances might be heaven sent, but they gobble up precious counter space. By incorporating an appliance-friendly cabinet with custom dimensions, these bulky appliances have a place where they can be stored neatly and accessed effortlessly.

Dry Goods Drawer

As homey and traditional as it is to keep your flour, sugar and other dry essentials in canisters on your countertop, the dry goods drawer is changing the game. Here, your design features a deep drawer with inserts that house canisters for flour, rice, oats and everything in between. This keeps them out of harm’s way, out of sight and conveniently off the counter.

Coffee Cabinet

Your design should help you make the most of your kitchen and this coffee cabinet idea is the ultimate caffeination station. One of the biggest issues that coffee lovers have is finding a space to organize mugs, coffee tools and of course the star of the show, the coffee pot. A sliding platform allows the area to be more accessible and the addition of a pot filler faucet makes filling the coffee pot a breeze.

Cutting Board Organization

There’s no such thing as having too many cutting boards or cookie sheets, but there is such a thing as having no place to store them. Incorporating a cabinet divider that keeps cutting boards and sheet pans upright on their sides is a great space saver and keeps pans safe from becoming warped or even damaged.

Knife Block Drawer

Knives help us make the magic happen in the kitchen, but a knife block is anything but convenient when it needs to have a home on your counter. Having a drawer/knife block keeps your most important utensils safe, accessible and out of the way. If you have kids around, this drawer can even feature a lock that keeps them securely hidden.

The best part about kitchen design is the ability to dream big and think outside the box (and the big box stores).

These clever kitchen hacks are just a fraction of what a custom designed kitchen can bring to the table and when there are no limits, your creativity is free to flourish. Your kitchen should be the ultimate merge of style and functionality and the East Hill Cabinetry team brings that philosophy to life with every design.



Choosing the Right Kitchen Sink

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, what feature is your focus?

We’ll bet it isn’t something as essential as a brand new kitchen sink. Choosing the right sink is more important than you’d think and is in many ways one of the stars of your kitchen.

Some sinks are more form than function, while others streamline your dishwashing and prep experience altogether.

To make your decision even easier, we’ve put together some helpful tips and tricks for choosing the perfect kitchen sink for your new design.

Different Sink Materials

Not all sinks are created equal and your countertop material can play an important role in your sink choice. Kitchen sinks are typically made from stainless steel, enamel-coated cast iron, solid surfaces, and composites.

Stainless Steel

If you’re planning on installing granite counters or engineered stone, stainless steel makes a great choice. Stainless is often more durable, easier to install under mount and the lower gauge stainless holds up to serious wear and tear. Some homeowners find stainless sinks to be noisy, but that’s a small price to pay for this durable sink.

Enamel Coated Cast Iron

Coated sinks are among the prettiest of sink options. These sinks feature a beautiful, silky layer of color over a durable cast iron base. Enamels are unfortunately prone to scratches and chips over time, but make an easier to clean surface where your sink and countertop meet.

Composite

Composite sinks, a newer style of sink, are another option for kitchens. There are several types of composite sinks on the market, with polyester/acrylic being just one of them. Coming in at a lower price point and with many colors to choose from, they’re friendly for budget conscious designs. It is, however, tricky to clean and maintain.

Other Sink Options to Consider

Are you constantly washing large pots and pans? Do you entertain regularly? When was the last time you had a sink without dishes in it?

If your kitchen sink is constantly being used, choosing a deeper basin can help accommodate all those bulky dishes. For families that love to entertain, having a second smaller sink is a nice touch for easier hand washing and food prep.

Where you decide to place your sink is important too! Placing your sink in the center of your kitchen on an island space can free up valuable real estate on your counter near the stove. After all, closer to the stove makes for easier cooking!

Don’t sink your kitchen sink to the bottom of your design list.

With tons of different options, sizes, colors and more, a kitchen sink update is always a great idea. Update that tired kitchen sink with one that’s sparkly new and can keep up with your busy lifestyle.



Perfect Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

October is finally here and that can only mean one thing…

Pumpkin everything.

There’s just something comforting about the warm spiced smell of pumpkin. We can hardly wait to get in the kitchen to whip up some pumpkin specialties to celebrate the change of seasons and the celebrations of all things fall. 

We assembled a list of recipe favorites to bring pumpkin flavor to the table for breakfast lunch and dinner. These are perfect for the pumpkin enthusiast and Halloween party-goer alike.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

Waffles
    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 Tbs baking powder
    • 1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice
    • 4 eggs (separated)
    • 10 ounces canned pumpkin
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 3/4 cup melted butter
Pumpkin Pie Cream
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
    • 5 ounces canned pumpkin
    • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Garnish
    • Whipped cream
    • pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

Waffles
    1. Mix together dry ingredients
    2. Add in egg yolks, pumpkin, vanilla, milk, and melted butter
    3. In separate bowl beat egg whites until stiff
    4. Fold egg whites into batter
    5. Cook in preheated Belgian waffle iron
Pumpkin Pie Cream
  1. Whip cream until almost stiff
  2. Whip in sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin, and spices
  3. Serve hot waffles with pumpkin pie cream over, topped with fresh whipped cream and sprinkled with additional pumpkin pie spice.

Eggs in a Mini Pumpkin

Ingredients
  • 4 mini pumpkins (4-inch diameter)
  • 1 medium red kuri or butternut squash
  • ½ cup onion, minced
  • 4 ounces bacon, diced
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons red chile flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage or rosemary, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 4 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut the tops off the mini pumpkins about one-third of the way down the pumpkin so that the top makes a nice lid but the center of the lower half is deep enough to hold an egg. Scoop out the seeds and use a spoon to scrape away any of the membranes to make a nice smooth bowl. Cover the stems with foil. Place the pumpkins on a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down. Set aside.
  3. With a chef’s knife or a knife that you are comfortable handling, carefully cut the red kuri or butternut squash into sections. Remove the seeds and stem. Microwave the squash sections to soften them and make them easier to dice, about 3 to 3½ minutes. Peel the squash and dice it into ½ inch diced pieces.
  4. Toss the diced squash with the finely diced onion and diced bacon. Remove any of the large pieces of bacon fat, if desired.
  5. Whisk together the vegetable oil, balsamic vinegar, chili flakes, garlic.
  6. Pour vinaigrette over the squash mixture a little at a time and toss until the squash is well coated. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and toss again. Generously season with salt and pepper.
  7. Turn the squash mixture out onto the foil covered baking sheet and spread out evenly.
  8. Bake the pumpkins and the squash together for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Quickly brush the inside of the pumpkins with a little of the leftover vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Crack one egg into the center of each pumpkin. Return the baking sheet to the oven before the pumpkins cool down and continue baking until the eggs are sunny side up, or set whites with runny yolk, about 6 to 8 minutes (check after 4 minutes and keep a close eye on them).
  9. Remove the pumpkins and the bacon and roasted squash hash from the oven, the eggs will continue to cook a little bit more inside the hot pumpkins.
  10. To serve, spoon the hash onto plates and nestle the pumpkins in the center. Lean on top of a pumpkin on each pumpkin.
  11. Sprinkle egg with a little salt and pepper.

Roasted Garlic, Sage and Pesto Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 in large sugar or pie pumpkin cut half and seeds removed and reserved (plus 4 small ones if you are making the pumpkin bowls)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 small shallots chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk + 1 cup water or 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more or less to your liking
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Sage Pesto

  • 1 clove head garlic or you may sub 1 raw garlic
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese if you do not like blue cheese sub feta or parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Fried Pumpkin Seeds

    • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
    • 1 tablespoon flour
    • reserved pumpkin seeds from above
    • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • lots of salt to your tasting

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut your pumpkin in half or into fourths and reserve the pumpkin seeds for later. Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and rub the pumpkin with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chop off the top portion of the garlic head to reveal cloves. Peel any excess paper/skin off from the bulb of garlic. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil on top the garlic cloves and cover with foil. Roast both the pumpkin and garlic together on the same baking sheet for 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork tender and the garlic golden brown and soft. Remove from the oven and allow everything to cool five minutes. Squeeze garlic out of the paper skin into a small bowl and mash well with a fork, set aside.
  3. Grab the pumpkin and add it to a food processor (or mash extremely well) and puree with 1 cup of the chicken broth, puree until completely smooth.
  4. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the butter and shallots. Saute the shallots until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook another 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin puree, remaining chicken, coconut milk, water, cayenne, nutmeg, maple syrup and crushed red pepper. Bring the soup to a low simmer and simmer 15-20 minutes.
  5. While the soup cooks make the pesto. Add the roasted garlic, parsley, sage, and pistachios to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and then stream in the olive oil. Add the cheese and pulse a few more time until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. To fry the pumpkin seeds. Add the reserved pumpkin seeds to a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon coconut milk and 1 tablespoon flour. In a small bowl combine the chipotle chili powder, pepper, and brown sugar. Place a skillet on the stove top and set to medium heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the pumpkin seeds into the pan, but be careful! Stir the pumpkin seeds around in the skillet with a spoon or spatula continuously until they expand and start to brown. Once the seeds are browned remove from the skillet and place on a paper towel to drain. Toss with the chili powder and a good pinch of salt. Taste and season accordingly.
  7. To assemble the soup, ladle the soup into bowls (or your roasted pumpkins) and top each bowl with a dollop of pesto, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and if desired drizzle with coconut milk. Start slurpin!
  8. To make the roasted pumpkin soup bowls. Remove the tops of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Rub the insides of the pumpkins with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes or just until soft to touch but not falling in.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 1 sugar pumpkin*
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

*Winter squash such as Hubbard, red kuri or butternut make fine substitutes for the pumpkin. One sugar pumpkin yields about two cups of flesh.

Dough:

  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 5 large eggs lightly beaten

To Make:

  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano

Instructions

For the filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and discard. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil on a baking sheet. Season inside of the pumpkin with salt and place cut side down. Roast for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserts easily through the skin into the flesh. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  2. Scoop out flesh and place in a bowl. Add the two cups of cheese and season with salt to taste. Mix to combine. Taste and add more salt until the mixture tastes well seasoned — there is no salt in the dough, so this is your only chance to season the ravioli. Add the eggs and mix to combine. Set aside.

For the dough:

  1. Mound flour in the center of a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the center of the mound of flour. Add the eggs to the center. Using a fork, beat the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. When the eggs are almost completely incorporated, start kneading the dough in the bowl and then transfer to a large, lightly floured wooden board and continue to knead for 10 minutes, dusting the board with additional flour as necessary. The dough should feel elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.

To assemble:

  1. To make the ravioli, divide the dough into 4 pieces. Keep the dough covered with plastic wrap at all times. 
Lightly flour one of the pieces of dough, and shape into a rectangle about ½-inch thick.
  2. Pass through the widest setting on a pasta machine. Fold the dough in three, like a letter, and pass through the same setting again feeding the short end in first. Repeat this step 2 times, adding flour as needed.
  3. Without folding the dough now, repeatedly pass it through the machine rollers, reducing the space between the rollers after each pass. When it has passed through the thinnest setting, it is ready to be shaped into ravioli. (If the dough gets too long and difficult to deal with, cut it in half and feed each piece through separately until each has passed through the thinnest setting).
  4. The dough should be just less than 6 inches wide. On the bottom half of the dough, place heaping teaspoons of the squash filling, evenly spaced every 1½ inches. Fold top half of dough over bottom half. With a knife or fluted roller, cut between each mound to create the individual ravioli. Gently pinch to seal the two dough layers together, using a tiny bit of water if necessary. Transfer to a baking sheet dusted with flour and cover with plastic wrap while you shape the remaining sections of dough.
  5. At this point, decide how many ravioli you want to cook, and then freeze any remaining: Do not store ravioli in the refrigerator — they become a soggy mess.

To serve:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Place butter in a small sauté pan and heat until it bubbles. Add the sage leaves and let sizzle until crisp, about 1-2 minutes total. Turn off the heat, remove leaves with tongs and drain on a paper towel. Set aside. When water boils, add ravioli and cook until tender about 2-3 minutes (frozen ravioli also take only about 3 minutes). When ravioli are done, drain, or remove with a spider, but do not rinse under cold water. Place ravioli on a serving platter. Heat butter again until hot and begins to brown. Return the sage leaves and then spoon brown-butter over ravioli. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.



Seasonal Snacks for Kids

Fall is here, and the kids are settled into their back to school routine.

With all the autumn adventures right around the corner, fun seasonal snacks for kids are always on the menu. Whether you’re utilizing all those incredible Hudson Valley apples you’ve picked or just sending some Halloween surprises in your kid’s lunchbox, these snacks are sure to spark a smile.

It’s never too early in the season for some fun Halloween snacks that will add an unexpected twist to school lunches.

Caramel Apple Nachos

Ingredients
  • 3-4 gala apples
  • 3-4 granny smith apples
  • ½ package Kraft Caramels (unwrapped) (or Ice Cream Caramel Topping)
  • 1 TB water
  • white chocolate (vanilla) candy coating
  • mini chocolate chips
  • Heath toffee bits
Instructions
  1. Place heath bits and mini chips into separate bowls. It’s important to have these all ready so they can be sprinkled on as soon as the caramel and white chocolate are on.
  2. Cut a Ziploc bag at the corner. This will be for the white chocolate for you to drizzle on.
  3. Cut your apples right before working on candy coating and caramel so they do not brown. Place on your prepared dish.
  4. Unwrap caramels and place in a small pot with 1 TB water. Heat on low-medium temp until melted. (Or if you opt to use Ice Cream Caramel Topping skip this step).
  5. At the same time, melt white chocolate by placing candy coating in a small pot on low heat and stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Place in a ziploc bag with a cut corner as soon as it’s done.
  6. Drizzle white chocolate and caramel on as soon as they are melted and smooth. Sprinkle toppings (toffee bits and mini chips) on immediately.
  7. Serve immediately.

Haunted Haystacks

  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups chow mein noodles
  • 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
  • candy eyeballs
  1. Melt butterscotch chips in the microwave for about 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds. Stir gently until smooth, then add peanut butter, stirring once more.
  2. Add in chow mein noodles and marshmallows and stir to coat.
  3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto wax paper. Arrange candy eyeballs on one side of each treat. Let cool to set. Store leftovers in an airtight container.
  4. For the purple, white and green Haunted Haystacks, melt 1/3 cup candy melts in a glass bowl (about 30-60 seconds in the microwave) then add 1/2 cup chow mein noodles and 2 TBSP mini marshmallows. Stir to coat, drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto wax paper. Arrange candy eyeballs on each treat, then let cool to set.

Sweet Treat Bats

Ingredients
  • Miniature Reeses Cups
  • Thin Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
  • Pre-made cream cheese frosting or homemade
  • Edible eyes

Instructions

  1. Remove the wrappers from the Reeses cups.
  2. Break the cookies in half and then separate all of the pieces from one another so you now have four “bat wings”. Scrape off the frosting and discard (or eat!)
  3. Fill up a plastic bag with the store bought or homemade frosting. Cut off the tip of the bag and pipe frosting onto the back corners of the broken cookie pieces.
  4. Press one cookie piece on the left of the Reeses cup and another cookie piece on the right of the Reeses cup.
  5. Pipe frosting on the back of the edible eyes and secure on top of the center of the Reeses cup.
  6. Enjoy!

Silly Apple Bites

Ingredients
  • 2 green apples, each quartered
  • sunflower butter
  • 32 sunflower seeds
  • 2-3 strawberries, sliced
  • 1-2 homemade googly eyes per apple bite
 Instructions
  1. Cut the middles out of each quarter of the apple to create a mouth. Don’t worry about perfection, you are filling this gap with sunbutter anyway so if you cut too deep, you can always just cover it up and no one will know.
  2. Coat the inside of the cut gap with a filling of sunflower butter.
  3. Place 4 sunflower seeds on the top of the “mouth” for the teeth.
  4. Place 1 sliced strawberry inside the mouth for the tongue.
  5. “Glue” each eye above the mouth with a dab of sunbutter to stick.
  6. Serve with a smile.


Choosing a Countertop

 

While redesigning your kitchen, the countertop choices continue to be one of the largest sources of debate.

With thousands of styles, colors, and materials it’s no wonder why something as simple as a counter could be such a difficult choice to make. Your designer is there to help you every step of the way and whether you’re stumped on cabinet hardware or kitchen surface selections, you can be confident that the right product is out there.

We put together some of our favorite tips and tricks for selecting countertops and kitchen surfaces, to help you narrow down your options and bring you closer to the best fit for your family.

Unexpected Countertop Options

If granite or laminate doesn’t quite impress you, the sky is the limit when it comes to your alternative options. Zinc is a stainless steel alternative that is significantly cheaper, however, is a softer material and more susceptible to finger prints and dents than stainless steel. Copper adds an unexpected warmth to the space and is fairly low maintenance. Copper can also be used in spaces that have unusual angles where stone customization could become more expensive. Concrete is a relatively popular countertop material and can even be customized in different colors and finishes.

Popular Types of Countertops

Granite and Natural Stone

Over the past decade, granite countertops have become the luxury staple of the design world. Depending on what you choose, a slab can cost you anywhere from $25 per square foot for modular pieces of very basic stone purchased at a home center to upwards of $1,000 per square foot. Thickness drives the cost of granite and natural stone countertops and choosing a thinner countertop can dramatically reduce the price and keep your resale value high.

Laminate

Laminate is a popular choice because of their extensive color selections, easy install and low price point. Laminate is fairly durable, easy to clean and comes in just about every color variation you could think of. It doesn’t tend to add much value to your space and some buyers even consider laminate a countertop that will need replacing. With a tight budget for a kitchen overhaul, laminate countertops are always a good option.

Tile

Tile can be underutilized in a kitchen. It’s not just for gorgeous backsplashes and can be used to create a durable surface just about anywhere in your kitchen. Tile is easy to clean minus any grooves where the grout lines would be and make a nice surface for kitchen islands. Ceramic and glass tiles are something to consider if you’re looking for a more cost effective alternative to natural stone.

No matter what countertop you choose, you should make sure that it fits comfortably into your budget and lifestyle.

If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen with the kids doing homework on the island, a tile surface might not be the best writing surface. If you spend lots of time prepping meals, a durable and easy to clean material should be at the top of your list.

Talk to your designer about your different options and get your hands on some samples!

 


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