Friday, March 30, 2012

DIY - Kitchen Transformation Part 1

There hasn't been a lot of cooking going on around here lately

Why not, you ask?

Well its all about the DIY right now, and, boy oh boy there's a lot of it going on

At the beginning of the year we had a list of things that we were getting updated or finished this year, in the DIY department

It included the 3 car garage being built

Guest bedroom makeover

Master bathroom, bedroom, closet makeover

Kid friendly bathroom makeover

Never did it cross our minds to start on the kitchen

It all started when we got a quote for hardwood floors on the entire bottom floor of the house

The salesman happened to mention another customer who had also ordered granite

And so the question was asked " you do granite "?

So with the hardwood floors on hold until the master bedroom renovation is complete

We decided to go ahead and get granite counter tops

Our current counter tops are typical Formica beige, practical and easy to clean. I even use sharp knifes and cut straight on the stuff with no marks, its fine and functional but not cute and glamorous

Kitchen Before 

Good view of the Cabinets

So the granite got picked out and ordered

We went for Santa Cecilia classic

Mr Tartan Tastes and I got to thinking, maybe this would be a great time to paint the cabinets

Now, you have to understand, I have been wanting to do this for a while now, but Mr Scaredy Pants said No, we cant paint the cabinets, But now he was finally on my page....

Lets get rid of the oak wood and paint it white and do an antique glaze finish, I can do that

I have seen it all over "Blogland" and really wanted to try it out on a big project

Mr Tartan Tastes ( Mr Scaredy Pants ) said I needed to take my time and be careful and do it "properly"

I did

I have transformed our kitchen from boring and dull

The Before kitchen

To chic and classic......

First I removed all the hard wear (handles to my Scottish chums)

Then I sanded down all the doors and cabinet trim with liquid sander, this stuff is awesome. I found this particular brand at Lowe's.

You just get a rag and put some on and rub in circular motions all over the cabinets, it takes off the shine and leaves no mess like proper sanding does. Even better news, you can paint on it after it dries in about 10 minutes, perfect for impatient little me

Next I painted 3 coats of white latex interior paint on all cabinet frames and inside and outside doors, I didn't remove the doors, but I did take out the drawers to get to the frame of the cabinets easier, it can be done without removing the doors, trust me, I got a little paint on the hinges by accident but have since scraped that off with a blade

Cabinets getting painted with 3 coats of white paint

Phew, it took a lot of patience and time, but the results were transforming before our eyes

The white paint alone was perfect, I even thought at this point to stop and not glaze, but in for a penny in for a pound as they say in Scotland... in other words there's no stopping now...

Next I needed to paint on and wipe off the glaze

I used the Valspar Antiquing Glaze from Lowe's

Valspar Antiquing Glaze

I was a little scared of this part, I have to admit, it kinda goes on easy but looks frightening, Mr Tartan Tastes aka Mr Scaredy Pants could not look....

eeek.. the glaze before the wipe off

So you paint it on using a foam brush, getting it into all the nooks and crannies then ferociously wipe it all off leaving behind the glaze in all the grooves of the wood

whoa, the wood grain still showed up even after 3 coats of white paint, I was amazed and in awe of the results

Painted and glazed, do you see the wood grain?

Isn't it exciting

Next I bought this trim from (where else) Lowe's to put on the fake drawer under the sink, I took my drawer front into the store and picked one that fitted perfect

then I glued it on with some wood glue

Once dried, I filled around the edges with Spackle then painted it white, finished off with a good helping of Antiquing glaze

Cute trim from Lowe's

Trim all painted white
Trim in place with Antiquing glaze and a sneak peek of the new Granite

I got the idea for this kitchen over at Our Fifth House and Girl In Air both these Blogs inspired me tremendously

So I knew I needed to get the cabinets all done before the granite was to get installed

I had just under 2 weeks

Kitchen waiting for granite

Another view of old Counter tops with newly painted cabinets

Installation day arrived and I was nearly finished, I still had 2 cabinets to glaze and the protective top coat still had to go on but that was OK

Old Counter tops taken away

So the old counter tops were ripped out, yeahhhhh

And the granite was installed, and OMG I am in love

New shiny Granite and sink installed

Its not finished yet but already I am loving this space way better

My kitchen went from boring to sophisticated in the space of 10 days

We wish we had done it sooner

Its just seems to go with the rest of the house now

We love it

All we need now is our hardwood floors installed and a new tile back splash in here and it will be complete

I will update you with the finished item once its all done

oh, yeah, and stay tuned for episodes on our garage build, going on right now as we speak, too exciting for words, Mr Tartan Tastes will finally have that Guy Space/Man Cave area

Here is a sneak peek


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Scottish recipes - Scones

Scottish Scones, mmmmmmm

My house has the delicious aroma of Scottish Scones floating from the Kitchen

Scottish Scone

For those who don't know, Scones are yummy buttery fluffy sweet baked delights

Best served warm, with a slab of butter and a generous helping of strawberry jam

In Scotland we also make Savory Cheese Scones which are very similar to the Texas Biscuit

Biscuits in Texas are served with meat and used as a gravy mopper-upper, they have a Scone like persona for me, can food have a persona?  I think so


you say tomato we say tomato,,, wait that doesn't work well in type, you say to-mayyyto we say to-mawto?? you say biscuit we say scone !!! you say cookie we say biscuit...OK this is getting confusing

OK, so back to Scones, the sweet kind, that we are making today

Scones were made a lot in our home growing up, my mum made great Scones, sometimes she added raisins, to make fruit scones, yum.

I was speaking to an American friend of mine just yesterday, about how us Brits tend to add raisins to just about everything, its kind of true, they are in a lot of dishes, lots of baking dishes and even savoury dishes, think Curry, mmmm....

Scottish Scones

Makes about 12

You will need

225g/8oz Plain or All Purpose Flour
3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
pinch of Salt
50g/2oz Butter or Margarine
25g/1oz Fine Sugar
150ml/quarter pint Milk
plus milk to glaze
Scone Ingredients

  • Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl
Sieved flour, salt, baking powder
  • Rub in butter with fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs
Breadcrumb like mixture
  • mix in enough milk to form a dough
  • turn onto floured surface and roll out to about 1cm/half inch thick
  • using a 2.5" cutter, cut out rounds (I actually used a smallish glass)
Scones being cut
Scone rounds
  • Place on greased baking tray and brush with milk
Scone rounds getting glazed
  • bake in oven for 10-12 minutes or until well risen and golden
  • cool on wire rack (if you can wait that long)
Scones cooling on the rack
  • Or eat straight away, best warm with butter and strawberry jam

In Scotland we do tend to cut in half and just smear with butter and strawberry jam

Scottish Scone
Scottish Scone with Butter and Jam

A very British afternoon tea, would include, a Scone served with clotted cream and strawberries, like the one below that Mr Tartan Tastes chose on our last visit home to Scotland

Scottish Scone with cream and strawberries

Scones don't last, they must be eaten up fast, its the best way, no point leaving any, they go to waste, so get munching, no-one was complaining here

Other Tips

To make fruit Scone add 50g/2 oz Raisins (this ones for you Cheryl)
To make Cheese Scones, emit the sugar add 1 small onion finely chopped and 75g/3oz grated cheese



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Scottish Recipes - Salmon & Asparagus Pasta

Scottish Salmon and Asparagus Pasta

This recipe is actually adapted from two different recipes from the Fit and Healthy cookbook

Its nice to get Scottish Salmon for this recipe, but if its too hard to find then any Salmon will do


Fresh Asparagus

This is a typical family dinner for us, its a little bit of home without being really, really Scottish (you will see no haggis in this recipe)

It is very easy and quick to make and also more importantly, its yummy

Sir Scoffs-A-Lot loves it, which makes me a happy mummy knowing he is getting all his nutrition from this great dish

Serves 6

You will need

  • One piece of Scottish Salmon
  • Bunch of Fresh Asparagus
  • Rigatoni Pasta
  • Dried Rosemary
  • Half and Half or whole milk (for a low fat option use low fat milk)
  • Corn Flour or Corn Starch
  • Squeeze of lemon


Rigatoni and Asparagus

Half and Half

  • Place Salmon, skin side down, on a microwaveable plate and sprinkle with dried rosemary, microwave until cooked through, about 5 minutes on medium

Salmon sprinkled with dried Rosemary

  • Fill a large pot with water and a little drop of oil and bring to boil, lower to simmer and cook packet of pasta for around 12 minutes
Pasta in the Pot

  • Cut Asparagus into bite sized pieces and place in a skillet with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of rosemary, cook through to warm and soften slightly, don't over cook, a little crunchy is good

Asparagus in skillet

  • To make the white sauce, pour 3/4 pint of Half and Half or milk into a saucepan 
  • add a little corn flour/starch to saucepan with half and half
  • warm to thicken, stirring as it warms to prevent lumps
  • add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste
White creamy sauce

  • Take cooked Salmon and cut into cubes, removing any skin as you go
  • Place all cooked ingredients (Salmon, Asparagus, Pasta and Sauce) together in a large bowl
Salmon and Asparagus

Pasta and white sauce

  • mix thoroughly
Scottish salmon and Asparagus

Enjoy this dish warm on its own


Leave to cool and serve cold with salad and some crusty bread


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Scottish Recipes - Millionaires Shortbread

Millionaires Shortbread

another favourite, chocolatey treat of mine

It is thought that Millionaires Shortbread came to have this name due to the richness of the taste, all that delicious caramel and the chocolate.

Scottish Millionaires Shortbread

It also goes by the name of Caramel Shortbread

And is always a favourite amongst Scottish kids and adults alike, its so sweet and yummy, with a biscuit/shortbread base, caramel center and a chunky layer of chocolate on top

It can be found in every Scottish Baker and most Scottish Supermarkets

My mum didn't make this much when my sister and I were young, but I would certainly pick it out of a fantastic line up of yummy treats at the local Baker Shop

Scottish Millionaires Shortbread

Its easy to make

And always a great hit with friends and family

Makes 10 pieces

Printer Friendly Version

To make the biscuit base you will need

For the biscuit shortbread base
Cup of plain flour
2oz Sugar
4oz Butter
Half teaspoon of Baking soda


To make the biscuit base, cream butter and sugar together, until smooth

Creamed butter and sugar

Add flour and baking soda, mix well

Spoon into a large loaf tin

Biscuit mixture

Bake 350F for 30 minutes, until a pale golden color

To make the caramel

You can cheat here if living in USA and just open and warm a tin of Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche

(Don't you just love that you can buy this here in America, caramel in a tin, genius)

Or you can give making the caramel a try, its easy peasy 

You will need

4oz Butter
Half a tin condensed milk
2 tbs syrup
3oz sugar

Melt sugar, butter, condensed milk and syrup together and simmer until dark and golden, around 15 minutes

Once shortbread base is cooked then cooled

Pour caramel over the base

(Another way to make caramel, which I have never tried but I'm going to one day, is to empty a can of condensed milk into a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 5 mins)

Next melt chocolate, using a bain marie (heat proof bowl over boiling pot of water)

you can also put chocolate in a microwave bowl and microwave until chocolate has melted

Chocolate melting

Once chocolate is melted, Add melted chocolate on top of the caramel

Put in fridge to set

Once set, cut into 10 squares

then sit and enjoy this delicious Caramel shortbread

Scottish Millionaires Shortbread

Scottish Caramel Shortbread

Fit for a Millionaire


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