Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Weeknight Roast Chicken Recipe

I love the smell of roasting chicken or turkey, and the resulting leftovers are just as delicious, but with my busy schedule, often keeping appointments with clients after hours, it is sometimes difficult to set aside the time during the week to roast a bird. When I came upon this recipe from Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen in my email, I got excited and had to try it.  This recipe is quick, easy, and the chicken came out mouth wateringly moist.  I used salt and pepper on the bird, as well as some other herbs like Tarragon.  It was nice to be able to roast the chicken for 1/2 hour on a higher heat, then turn off the oven letting the heat in the oven cook the bird further.  This allowed me time to prepare sides like a tossed salad and couscous without the worry of over cooking. I was even able to take my dog Clancy out for a short spin while the chicken rested.  Perfect!

Weeknight Roast Chicken

Published September 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated

Serves 4

We prefer to use a 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken for this recipe. If roasting a larger bird, increase the time when the oven is on in step 2 to 35 to 40 minutes. Cooking the chicken in a preheated skillet will ensure that the breast and thigh meat finish cooking at the same time.


  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 recipe pan sauce (optional) (see related recipes)


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, place 12-inch ovensafe skillet on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine salt and pepper in bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub entire surface with oil. Sprinkle evenly all over with salt mixture and rub in mixture with hands to coat evenly. Tie legs together with twine and tuck wing tips behind back.
    2. Transfer chicken, breast side up, to preheated skillet in oven. Roast chicken until breasts register 120 degrees and thighs register 135 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes. Turn off oven and leave chicken in oven until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes.
    3. Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. While chicken rests, prepare pan sauce, if using. Carve chicken and serve.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Master Bath Remodel: from DIY misadventure to a mod remodel

Master bathroom with dark stained cabinetry by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
A warm chocolate stain, heated flooring and wood tub surround give this
master bath a feeling of luxury.  Photo by Chrissy Racho
Like many homeowners, this couple had wanted to remodel their master bath and handle the job themselves.  Fast forward 5 years, and the project was still not finished.  The space was framed, sheetrocked and taped, and included a large Jacuzzi corner tub, but that was the extent of the renovation.  The tub was not installed and sat, unusable, in the corner of the room, there were no other fixtures in the space and the floor was simply plywood.  The couple came to KBDC looking for help not only with completing the project, but also in tackling a number of issues that were beyond their skill set. 
Double sink vanity in master bath by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Texture is used for added
interest and depth.  Photo
by Chrissy Racho
Upon our preliminary site visit, we noticed a number of significant issues including a sag in the family room ceiling located immediately below the master bath, hanging electrical wiring and cut off, exposed pipes.  While the project may have initially seemed somewhat straight forward to the homeowners, it was evident that there were a number of structural and installation concerns that truly required the knowledge and skill of qualified professionals.  At the project start, we had to remove some of the sheetrock on walls and ceiling, as it is not suitable for a bathroom, replacing it with Durock, a water and mold resistant product, installing a new wet wall for the shower area, build a support frame for the Jacuzzi tub, create a new electrical plan to take care of those dangling wires, and remove and relocate several pipes.
Garden window over jacuzzi tub in a master bath by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
The garden window
allows light and views for
gazing while soaking in
the tub.  Photo by Chrissy Racho

Jacuzzi tub with deck mounted tub fill and separate shower by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Tub deck mounted bath fixtures and two
person shower.  Photo by Chrissy Racho
Working together with the homeowner, we were able to design the space so that it exceeded their original plans.  This included the addition of heated flooring, a larger shower area designed for two, complete with dual teak shower seats, two wall mounted shower heads, hand held shower, double sink vanity, wainscoting around the tub, deck mounted tub fill and frameless glass shower door.  The existing window was replaced by a garden window for gazing out while soaking in the Jacuzzi.  Brushed Travertine is used for both the bathroom floor-as large 16 x 16” tiles-and in the shower and tub area.  The vanity countertop is Rain Forest Brown granite, which is also used for the shower curb. A chocolate stain on the Maple cabinetry further warms this space and the furniture styling of both the vanity and wainscoting of the tub deck adds a sense of luxury. We were able to also incorporate a pair of pendant lights the homeowner’s had acquired on a jaunt to an antiques shop putting an even more personal stamp on their project.  After such a long wait for the bath of their dreams, this couple now looks forward to enjoying their new space for years to come. See more photos of this project on our Houzz page.

Sleek, contemporary faucet in brushed satin nickel by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Sleek fixtures in brushed satin nickel.
Photo by Chrissy Racho
Contemporary tub fill in master bath by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Contemporary bath fixtures
with personal handshower in 
brushed satin nickel.  Photo by
Chrissy Racho

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October is National Kitchen and Bath Month

Beautiful white and gray kitchen designed and installed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
A beautiful study in white and soft grays, this kitchen has
tons of storage.  To see more, visit us on Houzz.
The National Kitchen & Bath Association has named October as National Kitchen and Bath month. As a design/build firm, where kitchens and baths are our bread and butter, every month is kitchen and bath month.  But in keeping with the celebration, our popular kitchen and bathroom planning seminars have been scheduled through the continuing education departments of West Hartford and Farmington, and are filling up fast.  We just held a Bathroom Planning seminar on Tuesday, September 30th and the two part kitchen seminar will be held on Tuesdays, October 14th and October 21st.  Each seminar, held in our West Hartford, CT showroom on 13 Sedgwick Road, is a two hour exploration of the design process, design guidelines and trends for these often complicated projects. Participants enjoy learning about and seeing examples of materials as well as hearing about the remodeling process from me, a 30 year veteran of the kitchen and bath field.  I enjoy leading these seminars and talking about my passion, designing kitchens and baths.  It's a fun and interactive evening for everyone.  Celebrate in your own way-buy yourself a new kitchen gadget, new set of bath towels, or contemplate a kitchen or bath remodel and make an appointment with a kitchen/bath design specialist to discuss your project.  If you're in the greater Hartford, CT area, why not give us a call?  We'd love to hear from you. Happy kitchen and bath month!

A master bathroom featurning separate watercloset room and steam shower by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
A spacious and contemporary master bathroom 
which features many trending materials including
slate, 'wood grain' tile and a steam shower.  To learn
more visit us on Houzz.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

America's Test Kitchen Recipe: Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

O.k., the weather is getting cooler, days are growing shorter, apples and pumpkins are coming into season.  It's that time of year when we start to crave comfort food, the type of food that makes you think of home.  What better way to experience comfort on a chilly morning than with a hot cup of coffee and a slab of this tasty treat, Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.  See the recipe below from Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen.  I just might have to create this yummy treat this weekend!  Happy Friday!

From Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen:  Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Why this recipe works:

This brunch staple is fraught with pitfalls—from dry, bland cake to lackluster fillings that sink to the bottom as they cook. We wanted a rich, moist cake with a texture that could support a tangy swirl of cream cheese filling.

We assembled a batter of flour, granulated sugar, salt, butter, eggs, whole milk, and baking powder and settled on a straightforward creaming method: Beat softened butter with sugar, then add the eggs, milk, and dry ingredients. The resulting cake was full of flavor and capable of supporting our cheese filling—but it was also a bit dry. To add moisture, we replaced the milk with rich sour cream, added baking soda, and upped the amount of butter. Our cake now had a lush texture as well as subtle acidity—a perfect backdrop for the cheese filling.

For the filling, we settled on a base mixture of softened cream cheese and sugar and added lemon juice to cut the richness and a hint of vanilla extract for depth of flavor. To prevent graininess, we incorporated some of the cake batter into the cheese. The filling not only stayed creamy, but it fused to the cake during baking, eliminating gaps that had afflicted our earlier tests. For a topping, we decided upon a crisp yet delicate coating of sliced almonds, sugar, and lemon zest. As it baked, the topping formed a glistening, crackly crust on our now-perfect coffee cake.

Makes one 10-inch cake, serving 12 to 16

Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap. For optimal texture, allow the cake to return to room temperature before serving.


  • Lemon Sugar-Almond Topping
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • Cake
  • 2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 cup plus 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated zest plus 4 teaspoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened


  1. 1. FOR THE TOPPING: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined and sugar is moistened. Stir in almonds; set aside.
    2. FOR THE CAKE: Spray 10-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds, and scraping down beater and sides of bowl as necessary. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce speed to low and add one-third flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream, mixing until incorporated after each addition, 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat, using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining sour cream. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.
    3. Reserve 1¼ cups batter and set aside. Spoon remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Return now-empty bowl to mixer and beat cream cheese, remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, and remaining teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened, about 1 minute. Add ¼ cup reserved batter and mix until incorporated. Spoon cheese filling mixture evenly over batter, keeping filling about 1 inch from edges of pan; smooth top. Spread remaining cup reserved batter over filling and smooth top. With butter knife or offset spatula, gently swirl filling into batter using figure-8 motion, being careful to not drag filling to bottom or edges of pan. Firmly tap pan on counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any bubbles. Sprinkle lemon sugar-almond topping evenly over batter and gently press into batter to adhere.
    4. Bake until top is golden and just firm, and long skewer inserted into cake comes out clean (skewer will be wet if inserted into cheese filling), 45 to 50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and firmly tap on counter 2 or 3 times (top of cake may sink slightly). Cool cake in pan on wire rack 1 hour. Gently invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet (cake will be topping-side down); remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake, and invert cake sugar-side up. Cool to room temperature, about 1½ hours. Cut into slices and serve.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Compare Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction

I am very proud of the business model I have created for Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction.
We are a full service design/build remodeling firm offering our customers a detailed planning process which leads to the success of every remodeling project we undertake.  Not only do we provide valuable feed back upon your very first visit, but during each step of the remodeling process our kitchen and bath design specialists will guide and educate you on the many products and choices that make up a kitchen or bath remodel.  Along with skilled designers, at KBDC we have a dedicated Project Manager who will take control of the project developing a timeline, ordering material and scheduling subcontractors at the appropriate time.  Detailed and thorough AutoCAD drawings are created for each project to effectively communicat our designs with our clients as well as our subs in the field.  We only work with skilled craftsmen that we have built long-standing relationships with.  They understand our design process.  All of this means that your project will run smoothly and be completed on time and on budget.  Take a look at our comparison sheet and keep it in mind as you discuss your project with other contractors.  I think you'll find that we are truly unique.  Then, call today for an appointment so we can talk over your remodeling project.
Image detailing what Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction offers each project we undertake.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Rise of the Neutral Palette

Neutral kitchen in white with single lever faucet in chrome.  Designed and installed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Movement is introduced in this unique backsplash tile.
Photo by Chrissy Racho. 
Over the last year or so we have seen an increased call for white or off-white cabinetry in both kitchens and baths. Simpler cabinetry styles and clean lines together with natural tones of wood and stone create a calming atmosphere in what can become two very busy spaces.  Even those kitchens and baths we have remodeled that use a more decorative cabinetry style, are striving for this feeling of calm, using neutrals for a clean and crisp look.

I believe this is partly due to kitchens coming out of the back room of the home and taking center stage as the main living area. Homeowners are spending more time here as the kitchen becomes a gathering space for activities beyond cooking and eating.  People want their kitchens to be as comfortable and stylish as the rest of their living spaces.  As our lives become busier, the kitchen serves as a representation of nurturing, sustenance.  It’s where we live and often what we associate as “home”.  

Bathrooms on the other hand, are our sanctuary from the world.  It's a place where we begin and end our busy days.  Folks are looking for that spa-like feel; a get away place.  Soothing colors help us to feel organized, peaceful and help to start the day off on the right foot.
Shower walls and flooring in black and white. Bath designed and installed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Black, white and gray tiles are hardly 
boring in this shower.  They reflect a
graphic quality and the black liners on
the shower walls break up the white 
of the tile.  Photo by Chrissy Racho.

Neutral colors are extremely versatile and look at home in either a contemporary or traditional setting.  Pops of color in accessories like soaps, towels and pillows are easy to change out with the seasons or on a whim.  The array of color available now in both cookware and dishware can make anyone’s decorating a breeze. 

Movement, creativity and interest can be expressed in a number of ways.  The use of countertop material, tile, cabinetry hardware color and finish, flooring and fixtures can all play a part in forming an interesting environment.  Neutral need NOT equate boring.  So think outside the proverbial box, go white, beige, grey, but introduce texture, change up the tile on the backsplash, use an interesting floor material.  Use neutrality to create calm and order and as the backdrop, the canvas for expressing your creativity.  Introduce color in pillows, towels, pottery and cookware.  You’ll be surprised how exciting neutral can be.  For more photos to spark the flame of inspiration for your project, visit us on
Black and white kitchen with pops of red.  Designed and installed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Red stools, cookware and accent rug add
a fun element to this young family's 
kitchen.  Photo by Chrissy Racho.

Friday, August 1, 2014

It's a Wrap: KBDC coming to HGTV in 2015

In case you missed our news earlier this spring, KBDC was recruited in April by Pie Town Productions for the HGTV reality television series, House Hunters Renovation. KBDC was brought on board to design and install a project for an upcoming episode, scheduled to air in 2015. If you're not familiar with House Hunters Renovation, it's an hour long program which follows a couple as they tour homes for sale during the first half of the show. The show’s second half features a remodel design pitch then goes behind the scenes as the couple undertakes a renovation project in their chosen new house. Filming has just been completed for this episode and the wrap party was a huge success. Everyone is happy, including me. I wish I could post some pictures to pique your interest, but we are sworn to secrecy. All I can say is that this was a fun project and an interesting look behind the scenes at the making of a television show. We'll be sure to share more information once an air date has been scheduled.  For more information about KBDC, visit our website, or find us on Houzz.
Web Statistics