Tag Archives: holidays

All In The Details

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After a busy week at work and an epic weekend last week, I’m looking forward to some low-key R&R with Kevin at home. I’m looking forward to seeing Burnt tonight, possibly enjoying some fireside wine at the Wine Cellar at the Lambertville Station (a lovely fall retreat for anyone looking for a quick weekend trip), and indulging in our latest Netflix binge: Louie. I’m also planning to get busy in the kitchen with testing out some Thanksgiving recipes to share on the blog over the next couple weeks. I cannot believe it’s less than 2 weeks away; I am just giddy with excitement for all that food, wine, and cozy clothes to accommodate our expanding waistlines.

Speaking of cozy, nothing says fall for me like plaid. After seeing some adorable plaid details at Allie’s wedding last weekend, I’ve been daydreaming about a festive, plaid spread for Thanksgiving. Recently I’ve talked about my efforts to not play the comparison game and lust after the perfect clothes and homes I see on blogs or Pinterest, but one thing I simply cannot give up is a beautiful tablescape. I’ve always loved looking through Pottery Barn magazines or watching Ina’s show for this reason: admiring the impeccable elegance of a beautiful table that is equally effortless and inviting. For me, a welcoming, well-decorated table is a symbol of togetherness and the anticipation of the great meal and memories that are to come. This is why I’m also so excited to meet with our caterer next year to pick out the flatware and linens for our wedding – sounds trivial, but for me, these little details can really tie together your dinner or event and create more of an experience or emotion, not just another meal. So while my Thanksgiving table probably won’t be this Pinterest-worthy, the comforting and classic look of these plaid tablescapes evoke the feeling that I hope to curate at my own Thanksgiving some day.

Images: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

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Crispy Acorn Squash Dippers & Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

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The countdown to my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, has officially begun, which means the planning process is now in motion. Much like a vacation, I think I get more pleasure out of the planning and anticipation of the day than the feast itself (though that is a big part of it too). And the better planned your vacation, or Thanksgiving meal, the more smoothly and therefore enjoyable the day will be.

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My family is pretty traditional when it comes to the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, so I usually like to experiment with some of the sides and appetizers. These Crispy Acorn Squash Dippers with Chipotle Cranberry Sauce that I made on a recent Sunday afternoon while dozing through watching football would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving menu. They’re simple and can be made in advance (make the sauce a day ahead and just bake off the squash an hour before you’re ready to eat), so that’s one less thing to stress about when you’re juggling the turkey, potatoes, and pies. The tangy and spicy sauce perfectly complements the slightly sweet and nutty squash. Even better, they’re nice and light so you won’t feel weighed down before you even dig in to the big ol’ bird.

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Or, if you want some extra inspiration in finding the perfect recipe or planning your Thanksgiving meal, you can contact me – I’d love to make your day even more delicious!

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Crispy Acorn Squash Dippers & Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

2 acorn squash, cut into 1/2″ thick rounds

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup panko

8 sage leaves, chopped

3 egg whites, beaten

2/3 cup fat-free greek yogurt

2 tbsp half-and-half

1/3 cup cranberry sauce

10-20 dashes chipotle hot sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Peel the skin off the squash if desired.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the spices, flour, cornmeal, panko, and sage. Season with salt & pepper.
  4. Dredge the squash rounds in the egg and then coat in the panko mixture.
  5. Place on the baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Flip and bake 20 minutes more until golden and crispy.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the greek yogurt, half-and-half, cranberry sauce, and hot sauce until smooth.
  7. Serve the dippers hot or at room temperature with the sauce.

Quick & Easy Cheese Board Tips

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I’ve always loved Halloween. My theatrical side loves getting dressed up and taking on the character of someone else. I’m also a total horror nerd: scary movies, haunted houses, Ouija boards, I love it all. As if that wasn’t enough reason to get excited, Halloween has also felt like the unofficial start to the holiday season (as marked by Starbucks holiday cups launching on November 1st and my mom’s Christmas shopping is usually finished by November 5th). So yea, I’m pretty pumped for tomorrow.

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Our plans are still unclear. I was so excited for our first Halloween in the burbs last year, but then we only got 2 trick-or-treaters, so I ended up OD’ing on Milky Ways and passed out on the couch in my sad excuse of a costume (we were Crazy Ira & The Douche from Parks & Rec, which really meant wearing a sweatshirt and backwards hat). So I’m hoping to step up our game this year. We’re thinking Suzy Bishop and Sam Shakusky from Moonrise Kingdom. Thoughts?

DSC_0652What is definitely happening is this festive cheese board. When I have last minute plans, but still want to put something together that seems somewhat personal, I love to do a simple cheese plate. It’s easy and just a few extras will make it seem like you spent a lot more time on it than you really did. And let’s be honest, everyone loves cheese. Here are a few of my tips for throwing together a fun and festive fromage ensemble.

  1. Stick to 3 different cheeses to keep it simple and not overwhelm the guests.
  2. Go for a variety of milks and textures. For example: 1 goat, 1 sheep, 1 cow. Or, 1 soft, 1 hard, 1 stinky.
  3. Pick cheeses that you like and always sample before buying if you can. Don’t worry so much about what pairs well together. If you like it, chances are others will too!
  4. Start the cheeses by slicing or crumbling a few pieces so guests know how to eat it. A big hunk of cheese can be intimidating to go at if you don’t know how to eat it!
  5. Leave cheeses out an hour before serving to get them nice and ripe (even the soft ones).
  6. Keep the accouterments simple and tie in elements from the cheese. For this plate, I added some dried cranberries (for the White Stilton with Cranberries), rosemary (for the Asiago with Rosemary), and some honey (for the fresh goat cheese).
  7. Keep the presentation of the plate more organic and flowing. It’s more inviting and more appetizing if it’s not so rigid looking.
  8. Skeleton hands, spider webs, or little mice (fake ones of course) can add a cheap and easy touch to your spread.

Your Perfect It-Finally-Feels-Like-Spring Weekend

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I’m sure you’ve already heard this 20 times within the last 2 days, but it FINALLY feels like spring! I usually enjoy winter, but this one was especially long, dreary, and just so dang cold. With Easter this weekend, I’m especially feeling that spring energy, and with that comes spring food. Kevin is planning a surprise dinner at home tonight and we’re heading to his Mom’s on Sunday, so between those festivities, I would love to try one (or all of these recipes) this weekend. Maybe I’m skipping spring entirely, but I’m envisioning snacking on these crostini with a glass of my favorite rosé in hand on my parents’ porch in Rhode Island…paradise. But for now, my rosé and crostini will be just fine from the comfort of our kitchen in good ol’ New Jersey. Have a great SPRING weekend!!

buzz // Whispering Angel Rosé

bite(s) // Baked Asparagus Fries // Jalapeño Deviled Eggs // Blueberry-Basil Mozzarella Crostini

bark // Easter Oreo Bark

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

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Wowza! It has been quite the start to the week. Still coming off the excitement of this weekend’s news and working nonstop for a bunch of holiday catering orders, I feel like I haven’t had a chance to breathe. I am SO looking forward to some major R&R with my family this week in Rhode Island. I’ll be signing off the blog over the next week to take that much needed aforementioned breath and savor our holiday traditions, like panettonne french toast, sporting Emma’s annual Christmas knitwear gifts, and getting over-caffenated on our favorite local drink: the Chippi. I hope you’ll also be enjoying whatever your holiday traditions may be! In case you’re in holiday prep crunch time or looking for a fun and festive appetizer to add to your holiday traditions, try these Mini Chicken Pot Pies. I’ve made about 200 of them within the past few days at work and they’ve been a hit every time! Bon appetit and Happy Holidays!!

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

makes 1 dozen

Ingredients:

1 chicken breast, poached and cut into small pieces

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (corn, green beans, peas)

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 tbsp herbes de Provence

1 can Pillsbury biscuits

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, mix together cooked chicken, soup, veggies, and spices.

3. Open up the can of biscuits. Cut 6 biscuits in half so that you have 12 half moons. Flatten the half moons with the palm of your hand. Seal the ends of the half moon together and press down again to form a circle. Repeat with the rest of the biscuits. Line the muffin tin with your biscuit circles.

4. Spoon a generous dollop of the chicken mixture into each of the tins. Bake for 15 minutes until the biscuits puff up and are golden. Let sit 5 minutes before removing from the muffin tin and serving.

 

DIY Granola Gifts

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I am not a crafty person. I have always wanted to be a crafty person. I love skimming through Pinterest or my favorite bloggers to see how effortlessly they make pom-pom wreaths out of a blanket or make their own lavender infused vodka. But every time I start to scrapbook or decoupage coasters I either get restless or overwhelmed and give up halfway through. But this year I’m on a real tight budget, so I’ve had to get a little thrifty with my holiday gifts.

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I may not be a good crafter, but I can cook, so I made a big batch of my Crunchy Coconut Granola, put it in some mason jars (because mason jars make everything look cute), and finished it off with some festive ribbon. Viola! A homemade, delicious gift that will come in handy when everyone is looking for a healthy breakfast or snack after the holiday binge.

Here are some other DIY food gifts that would work well in a mason jar:

Homemade pickled vegetables

Mulled wine kit

Manhattan in a jar

Pumpkin spice syrup

Treats for the pup

 

White Pizza Pull-Apart Bread

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Normally I like to start the week off with a post featuring a healthy, well-balanced recipe. One you can make Monday night and take for lunch the rest of the week. But Christmas is less than 2 weeks away and I am in full holiday chub gainage right now, so instead today I bring you this White Pizza Pull-Apart Bread.

Allie and Raven drove down yesterday to NJ for our now 3rd annual holiday hangout day. We finally put our mason jar cocktail shaker to use thanks to Raven’s dangerously smooth gin martinis, noshed on Syrah-soaked cheese from Trader Joe’s, watched and recited all of Home Alone, and also ate this bad boy…

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Garlicky, buttery, cheesy, and crusty – it’s all that you hoped pizza pull-apart bread would be. AND it comes together in about 5 minutes. Make this as a last minute appetizer for a holiday party this season and it will not disappoint.

White Pizza Pull-Apart Bread adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 sourdough or italian bread loaf

5 tbsp butter

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese mix (We used Quattro Formaggio from Trader Joe’s, which has asiago, fontina, parmesan, and provolone.)

fresh basil leaves, julienned

1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut a grid pattern into the top of the bread loaf, leaving about an inch uncut from the bottom of the loaf. Loosely tent with foil and bake for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan. Add the garlic, grated Parmesan, and thyme. Stir.

3. Pour the butter mixture into the crevices of the bread. Next, gently stuff the bread with sun-dried tomatoes. Finally, stuff with shredded cheese and top loaf with more shredded cheese and some basil leaves.

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and golden. Top with more freshly grated Parmesan and basil. Dig in hands first!