Disappearing Mushrooms

Yes, that’s right. I made this new stuffed mushroom recipe twice and both times, they were all gone before I could even take a picture of them for you. The ingredients aren’t all that unusual but the flavor combination is great.

Pecan Stuffed Mushrooms

16oz. fresh mushrooms – I often buy these individually so I can select ones that are large enough to stuff but not so gigantic they are difficult to eat. The smaller mushrooms just don’t hold enough stuffing and that simply becomes annoying, as the stuffing falls all over the place.

½ tsp. salt

2 shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbs. olive oil

1/2 c. parmesan cheese

1/3 c. panko bread crumbs (these crumbs are lighter than regular, but regular crumbs can be used)

¼ c. pecans, chopped (I use pecan halves and chop them myself so they are a bit larger pieces)

6 tsb. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

The first thing you need to do is remove the mushroom stems, clean, chop and set aside. I believe mushroom caps need to be cooked in some way before stuffing or they just taste raw and their inherent moisture makes them too wet. The Barefoot Contessa sautés hers in Marsala wine. I tried a new idea where you salt and pepper the caps, then place them on a rack on a cookie sheet and bake them for 10 minutes – this got out all the moisture but they were so rubbery and tough and ugly you didn’t want to use them. My best method is to simply sauté them in a combo of olive oil and butter (a few tablespoons each) until they are getting soft and golden and pretty. Drain on paper towels and they are all set.


Sauté chopped stems, garlic, shallots and salt in a combo of 3 tsb. olive oil and 3 tsb. butter until tender. Add crumbs, cheese and pecans and stir to combine. If mixture is too wet, add a few more crumbs, and if it is too dry, add the remaining 3 tsb. butter until melted. Stuff the caps, place in baking pan (I use my pie pans) and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden. I promise, just like mine, yours will disappear.


Outdoor Funscapes

I have been out researching some deliciously colorful tabletop acrylics and cloths to brighten and freshen your outdoor or indoor summer entertaining. Pretty much all the home merchandise stores that carry accessories have wonderful selections this year and I spent an entire morning taking photographs for you!

I visited Pier One (charming as always but a bit pricey), HomeGoods, Steinmart (again pricey and not a great selection) and I hit a home run at Macy’s. They have an amazing selection and a large section devoted to tabletop, beachy accessories like totes and sandals and a cool collection of beach towels. Good old Martha Stewart is up to her magic again and offers an array of colorful patterns and solids.

HomeGoods has a vast selection of pretty chair pads for outdoor furniture as well as a nice group of teak tables, chairs and benches. They also offer a colorful and inexpensive chair grouping made of woven plastic mesh with metal frames that come in bright orange, blue, red and yellow.

So many accessories can go into making your deck, sunroom or porch a fresh retreat. If you like soothing stick with neutrals, but if you want to have some fun try crisp white with the bright solids and always throw in a pattern or two or three. Buy some inexpensive jar candles – the little ones are about a dollar and come in so many colors and can be grouped on a table or at an individual place setting. Buy paper cocktail or luncheon napkins in solids if you have patterned plates or buy a two color patterned napkin – like a solid with a polka dot! A classic polka dot can make anyone smile.

Get your flowers planted and your hanging baskets purchased and you are on your way to beautiful summer fun.


Love You Forever, A Mother's Day Tribute

I am sure most of you out there have read the very beautiful and moving book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. It was originally published in 1986 when my son was 9. I purchased one a number of years later and recently found it when I was pulling from storage many of the books I had kept from when my children were young. Andy and his family were coming for a visit and I wanted their son Jackson to be able to see his daddy’s childhood favorites as well as share it with Adrienne and her son when they visit in June.

I had forgotten what an emotional tale this was and I also discovered I had written Andy a note on every page reminding him how much I loved him like the mother in the book loved her son. To say I became tearful as I read the words I wrote 25 years ago is an understatement.

The story follows a baby boy from birth into his adult years when he has his own family. His mother goes into his room at night, and when she is sure he is asleep, she takes him from his bed and rocks him in her arms while she sings “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

Throughout the book the author mentions all the funny stages little boys go through from the terrible twos, messy sports and the crazy teenage years. All through these stages, she still creeps into his room and sings him the song as he sleeps. Finally he is grown and married and she is elderly and ill and she calls him for help. He comes to see her, picks her up in his arms and sings the same song. When he returns home later that night, he picks up his own newborn child and sings her the same lyrics. I wish I could express how touching the story is. The illustrations by Sheila McGraw are lovely and add so much to each page.

My wonderful mother turned 87 in March and someday when she needs help all five of her beloved children will rush to be there. We all know how incredibly blessed we are to have had her this long and for her to be able to still live alone, drive, cook, attend meetings, go to lunch with her friends (by the way she LOVES the Olive Garden) and just be so healthy. Mom still says the funniest things, although often times she doesn’t mean to be funny. She gets all dressed up for appointments, has her hair done every Friday and for very special events gets a pedicure with “diamonds” glued onto her toes, with the polish always a bright, happy pink.

Very soon in early June, our family will all be celebrating the marriage of my niece, Stephanie to her husband-to-be Morgan. We will be traveling to Colorado for a great time and of course, Mom is coming. As this is a very special event, you can bet the pedicure is already scheduled and Mom’s suitcase is open on the guest room bed a month early all ready to be packed!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you and especially to you Mom. We will all “love you forever.” If any of you have not read Love You Forever you must, because remember Becky Knows Everything!


Return! Reconnect! Relaunch

What’s the best thing about returning to Cincinnati? The answer isn’t Graeter’s ice cream or Frisch’s fudge cake, although that very well could be the answer. It is reconnecting with dear friends and enjoying their company for more than a 20 minute quick visit. The other best thing is the re-launching of Becky Barras Interior Design!

I always loved retuning to Cincinnati but it often seemed there were so many people to see I could never find enough time to really enjoy our time together. Now all of that has changed and I am so happy to able to leisurely spend time with my favorite people.

I have also been steadily and successfully restarting my design business. With some help from some wonderful former clients, friends and my connections in the real estate community, I am excited to say all is well and I will be writing about projects very soon. I will be going to the local design center and will bring you up-to-date info on all the newest fabrics, furnishings and wall coverings. There are so many exciting things going on in design and I am pleased to share them with you. I have been gone from Cincinnati for 7 years so many of my former clients have become current clients in need of an update, so I am thrilled!

We can explore together all the new large scale printed fabrics for draperies and upholstery and the vivid new colors schemes for spring and summer. There are also so many sturdy yet beautiful fabrics that are water-resistant for outdoor furniture. The colors and patterns are finally surprising and fun and not just plain navy, green or brown with a bland plaid thrown in. And of course this is the time to get all your outdoor and indoor porch areas spruced up so you don’t have to think about them for the rest of the season.

Stay tuned as these are subjects Becky Knows Everything really does know about!

Photo from Southern Living


Becky Knows Everything is Back!!

Hello everyone! I know some or all of you have been wondering where I have been and I am here to tell you BECKY KNOWS EVERYTHING IS BACK!

So many changes have gone on in my life since our last blog so I will try to summarize them for you – we traveled to Cincinnati and to Mom’s house for Thanksgiving, hosted Jimmy and Adie, Baby Andy and Mom for Christmas in Rochester, and I managed to live through Tuesday Morning’s holiday season and a tortuous inventory. Then all the really big news happened! WE FINALLY SOLD OUR HOUSE after showing it 165 times in three years and no, there really was nothing wrong. We were elated at that news as it meant MIKE AND BECKY COULD FINALLY RETURN TO CINCINNATI, which we both consider home.

I learned quite a bit along the way, knowledge I could easily have lived without. For instance, did you know if you show your home 165 times you have to clean it that many times too? I mean really clean it, not just the regular stuff. You can never go out without making the bed or cleaning up the kitchen or sweeping the front walk. I know many of you are really, really neat and keep beautiful, orderly homes 24 hours a day (are you reading this Kathy Schott?) but you surely cannot ALL be that way. This task really drove me nuts – that and having to constantly leave my house on short notice, but we did finally get through it. If I weren’t at Tuesday Morning you could often find me at The Outback’s happy hour killing time while strangers wandered through my home. The Outback’s coconut shrimp is delicious by the way.

The next thing I learned was that it is WAY better to have a company transfer you and the movers pack for you then for you to do it yourself. The hours I spent sorting and donating and selling and packing I will never get back but, we did get to come home in the end.

So now here we are living in a special place in downtown Cincinnati in a high rise with amazing city and river views. It is the perfect size for us. We are near all the new dining and retail development downtown and the best part for Mike is that there are friendly maintenance men who will fix ANYTHING cheerfully and quickly. Actually this is the best part for Becky too as now Mike doesn’t complain, or worse yet try to fix anything himself.

SO, I welcome you all back to BECKY KNOWS EVERYTHNG! Please stay tuned. There is WAY more to come as I have been reuniting with tons of friends and re-launching Becky Barras Interior Design. If you live near the Cincinnati area and need help with your design project, contact me today!