My Kitchen Updates – Part 2

Kitchen Window

Last year I did a post about our kitchen updates. We painted the oak cabinets in our kitchen white and that generated a lot of hits. Apparently lots of people are contemplating the same things we were and do not like their ugly orange oak cabinets.

I love the look of our new kitchen and I am very proud of how everything turned out. I love spending time in here and I feel like everything pulled together wonderfully. Since my first post we have had hand scraped hickory hardwood floors installed.  We also added hardware to the cabinets and purchased a new refrigerator.

Kitchen Window

This is a picture of our old kitchen when we first moved into our house. Bleck!!

Old Kitchen

We bought an LG Refrigerator (this one I think) and I love it…its huge and my absolute favorite part is the freezer. There are so many drawers and compartments in that thing I swear I can get as much in there as I can in my freezer in the garage. On top of the two compartments on the bottom there are two drawers that slide so there is no wasted space.

The smart cooling technology also keeps food fresher longer. I have definitely noticed that food is indeed kept fresher. Veggies and fruit don’t spoil as quickly which is a huge deal to me. I always felt like we were throwing produce away and we just don’t have to as often (if at all) with this fridge.

My only complaint is the ice maker doesn’t hold much ice. You can store extra ice in the bucket in the freezer, but I just kind of like to have it come out of the dispenser.

Kitchen Fridge Area

A kind of funny note on the subway tiles….I have always loved the look of a subway tile backsplash, especially with the white cabinets and black granite. Well, subway tile is actually pretty cheap as far as tile goes and my tile guy was trying to talk me out of it because he thought I was just trying to go the cheap route. He wanted me to buy some nicer Italian looking tile and do a fancy backsplash design. While that might also be a nice option I had to convince him that the subway tile was actually part of my overall design and not just a cost savings. I whipped out my Southern Living magazines and Pinterest boards full of white countertops, black granite and subway tiled kitchens just to prove my point. I don’t know if I completely sold him but so what – its my kitchen:-).

Just a quick note on the floor. We bought engineered hardwood and it has held up pretty well. I love the look, but it does show every speck of dirt since it is a dark wood. Just something to consider if you are thinking about dark floors. We have a dog and lots of kids running in and out of the house so it gets dirty quickly.

If you want some info on painting your cabinets I gave some more detail on my first post.

I hope you have enjoyed taking a look at my kitchen. I think the biggest takeaway from this post is that you don’t always have to completely gut your kitchen to get what you want. By painting the cabinets (vs. buying new) we were able to spend a bit more on the floor that I have always wanted. We also got a great deal on our backsplash and granite. We were able to negotiate a great price on both and I think that companies are still very willing to negotiate to get your business. It doesn’t hurt to have a husband in sales, either:-). There are still a few things we need to finish up and if we do anything else significant I will let you all know!

Southern Style Green Beans and Bacon (using a pressure cooker)

Pressure Cooker Green Beans

This is my adaptation of how Jim’s mom and grandmother make their green beans. If you have never had pressure cooked green beans you are truly missing out. It’s really hard to explain the difference in green beans that have been cooked in a pressure cooker, but this is how I will make them from now on. They taste different, the texture is different and they cook quickly. They are just really really good.

If you are new to using a pressure cooker (which I am), beans are probably a great food to start with. Beans cook relatively quickly, but they also don’t turn to mush quite as easily as some other veggies like zucchini or broccoli. However, you can really cook almost anything in a pressure cooker including a pot roast or a stew. I have a smaller pressure cooker, so I will stick mostly to side dishes for now. If I wanted to start canning or cooking a chicken or roast I would probably invest in a larger unit. For more information on using a pressure cooker I found a great site here. You definitely want to do some research on using a pressure cooker since you are dealing with very high heat and steam under pressure. I think many people are a bit scared about using a pressure cooker for the first time, (I sure was) but once you understand a bit of the science and mechanics it really isn’t a scary thing at all.

Pressure cooking can also be a very healthy way to cook. First of all, the food that you put in a pressure cooker is typically fresh and unprocessed. Because it is a very quick cooking method you also are able to get meals on the table quicker and for a busy family that can mean less meals out of the house. Also, food just tastes better to me in a pressure cooker and therefore I want to eat my veggies more. I don’t feel the need to add as much salt or butter or oil or sauces to my veggies cooked in the pressure cooker. The downside of pressure cooking is the same as any high heat cooking method in that you do cook some of the minerals and vitamins out. However, because it is more of a steaming method you don’t lose as much as you might in other methods that might use more liquid. All in all, my thing is that it makes veggies taste better without the need for as much seasoning and that is a win.

One other advantage of pressure cooking is that the quicker cooking time means less energy used.

We served these beans with some fried chicken, baked beans, deviled eggs, and blueberry muffins. This was such a great meal. Definitely what I would consider a weekend meal or a Sunday dinner type of meal. Not the healthiest, but all home cooked and a great way to start the week.

I hope you will try this method. I know you can buy pressure cookers that will work great for side dishes like this for as little as 20 dollars at stores like Target or on Amazon. I love mine I consider it an essential tool in my kitchen these days!

For some other wonderful green bean recipes check these out…

Green Beans and New Potatoes
Roasted Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes
Haricots Verts Almondine

Enjoy!

Note: For a healthier version of these beans, omit the bacon and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the cooking liquid. You can also completely omit the oil and they will still be fine. You can also substitute broth for water – just be careful with the salt.

Southern Style Green Beans and Bacon (using a pressure cooker)
 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 pounds fresh green beans, end removed, snapped in half and washed
  • 3-4 slices of bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup diced onion
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • ½ cup water

Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Towards the end of cooking the bacon add the onions and sauté for another minute or so. Add green beans and toss with the bacon so that the beans are lightly coated with some of the bacon grease. Add water. Cook beans for 5 minutes under pressure according to your pressure cooker directions. Season to taste.

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