Thursday, November 28, 2013

be thankful

There are so many things that I am thankful for this year. Sometimes you have to endure the hard times to truly appreciate everything that you have. 



1. My dog
She has been my sidekick since day one. And shows me everyday what the true meaning of unconditional love is. Seeing her happy face reminds me to share my smile with others.

2. My Sister
She probably is going to kill me for putting Maddie before her on this list.. but oh well, I love her spunky personality anyway. My sister tops the list because she always gets me and is on my side no matter what. Also because of her sarcastic attitude, insane DIY skills and her killer red hair. (gingers have no soul)

3. My Mom and Dad
Well, if it wasn't for them.. I wouldn't be here. They are my biggest cheerleaders and also my biggest critics- which tends to keep me on my toes. They taught me to always try and do your best and if you make a mistake it's OK to laugh at yourself. 

4. My Health
I want to live 'till I'm 100. I'm happy that I try to take care of myself food and fitness wise. I pride myself on my excellent immune system.

5. My Friends
They tell me when I'm going crazy and when I should stand my ground. The encourage, inspire and educate me everyday. Plus they always have an extra hug when I need it. 


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

dress up your dressings

I think stuffing is probably my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. 

I grew up with the traditional type; carrots, celery, that country homestyle flavor right out of the bird. But over the years as my passion for cooking has grown and with every cooking magazine or blog I read- I find that there are so many more recipes that I want to try.

 Don't get me wrong I looove my Mom's stuffing.

But I want to try some new ideas and new flavors- sweet, savory, spicy.. 

These are three that I am most interested in recreating.




Southern Cornbread Stuffing

  • Cornbread 
  • 1 cup self-rising cornmeal 
  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour 
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Stuffing
  • 7 slices oven-dried white bread 
  • 1 sleeve crackers (recommended: Saltine) 
  • 8 tablespoons butter 
  • 2 cups chopped celery 
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 7 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon sage, optional 
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning, optional 
  • 5 eggs, beaten


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, dried white bread slices, and saltines; set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and cook until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the vegetable mixture over cornbread mixture. Add the stock, mix well, taste, and add salt, pepper to taste, sage, and poultry seasoning. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Pour mixture into a greased pan and bake until dressing is cooked through, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Cornbread:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into a greased shallow baking dish. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

New England Sausage, Apple Cranberry Stuffing

  • 14 ounces white bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 6 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 large leeks)
  • 1 pound tart green apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped celery with leaves
  • 4 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/3 cups (about) canned low-salt chicken broth


Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide bread cubes between 2 large baking sheets. Bake until slightly dry, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
Sauté sausages in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling coarsely with back of spoon, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to large bowl. Pour off any drippings from skillet. Melt butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks, apples, celery and poultry seasoning to skillet; sauté until leeks soften, about 8 minutes. Mix in dried cranberries and rosemary. Add mixture to sausage, then mix in bread and parsley. Season stuffing to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Mix eggs into stuffing.
TO bake stuffing in turkey:
Fill main turkey cavity with stuffing. Mix enough chicken broth into remaining stuffing to moisten (about 3/4 to 1 cup chicken broth, depending on amount of remaining stuffing). Spoon remaining stuffing into buttered baking dish. Cover with buttered aluminum foil. Bake stuffing in dish alongside turkey until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover stuffing and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.
To bake all stuffing in pan:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 15x10x2-inch baking dish. Mix 1 1/3 cups broth into stuffing. Transfer to prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil and bake until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Bulgur Stuffing with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms
Directions

  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (about 2 cups)
  • 1 ounce dried morel mushrooms (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups bulgur (preferably coarse)
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
In a bowl pour boiling water over mushrooms and soak 30 minutes. In a 4-quart saucepan sauté onion in 2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Stir in bulgur and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes.
Trim and quarter Brussels sprouts. In a large non-stick skillet heat remaining 6 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat until foam subsides and sauté Brussels sprouts, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes.
Remove mushrooms from water, squeezing out excess liquid, and reserve soaking liquid. Rinse mushrooms to remove any grit and coarsely chop. Line a sieve set over a bowl with a dampened paper towel or coffee filter and strain reserved soaking liquid into bowl. Chop parsley.
In a large bowl toss together bulgur mixture, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, 1/2 cup strained soaking liquid, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and cool completely. Stuffing may be made up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring stuffing to room temperature before proceeding.




source 1, 2, 3.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

thanks babe

At the beginning of the year, it was hard to see anything positive. But it's amazing how fast your perspective changes when you're surrounded by good people. 

I have so many things, and people, to be thankful for this year. The girl in the photos is just one of the people I am thankful to have in my life. She is wonderful at giving advice and always tells me to me true to myself and to my heart. Plus, she is hilarious.. even when she isn't trying (which is the best time).

Isn't her outfit perfect for the Thanksgiving Holiday? I am in love with the whole black stockings paired with black pumps trend. And her infinity scarf is a great color to wear for the season, especially with the backdrop of that tree. That pop of plaid on her skirt just screams festive, and goes great with her gorgeous smile. When I'm hanging with a specific group of friends, I feel like all we do is laugh and smile the entire time. I truly love every minute I spend with them. It's always an adventure.






Monday, November 25, 2013

Fig Tarts


After many requests for the recipe, here it is.
 Last week I entered into a recipe throwdown at work. The object was to create a recipe using fresh produce, that could be a side dish at Thanksgiving dinner. The winning participant would relieve a membership to the produce delivery service 
Farm Fresh to You (check them out). 

I decided to try non traditional recipe, a Fig Tart. A little nervous that the judges were expecting a bowl of potatoes- I hoped that my creativity would win them over. See.. I'm very fond of the blend between sweet and savory and salty, but not everyone is.. And certainly not everyone is fond of goat cheese. 
If that's the case, Brie cheese is a great alternative in this recipe.



 Ingredients


  • Frozen puff pastry dough- I used Pepperidge Farm 
  • Goat cheese- I used the plain flavor 
  • Fig jam
  • Fresh figs
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Prosciutto

Directions:

Thaw your pastry in the refrigerator so that it is still chilled when you pull it you start your recipe. 

Unroll it and lay it onto a greased baking sheet or Silpat. Then, prick the entire surface with a fork.

Spread one tablespoon of your jam on the pastry.

Slice your pastry into desired sizes squares. 

Now, layer on each square your: goat cheese, dried cranberries, sliced figs and prosciutto on top. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Pull it out and let it cool for 5 minutes, you might need to re cut your slices from earlier. 

Serve and enjoy xx



Friday, November 22, 2013

Pie Recipe Week :: Triple Chocolate Pumpkin


ingredients 

·         2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (about 16 crackers)
·         3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
·         1 tablespoon granulated sugar
·         2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
·         1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
·         1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao), finely chopped
·         6 ounces semisweet chocolate (preferably 55 percent cacao), chopped
·         2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
·         1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
·         1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
·         3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
·         3 large eggs
·         1 tablespoon cornstarch
·         1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·         1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
·         3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
·         1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         Ground cloves
·         1 ounce milk chocolate, melted


directions 
Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugars, salt, and cinnamon in bowl. Firmly press mixture into bottom and up sides of a deep, 9 1/2-inch pie dish. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, and sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over bottom of crust. Return to oven to melt chocolate, about 1 minute. Spread chocolate in a thin layer on bottom and up sides. Let cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees

Make the filling: In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt semisweet chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.

Mix pumpkin, milk, brown sugar, eggs, cornstarch, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and a pinch of cloves in a medium bowl. Whisk 1/3 pumpkin mixture into chocolate mixture. Whisk in remaining pumpkin mixture until completely incorporated.

Transfer pie dish to a rimmed baking sheet, and pour pumpkin mixture into crust. Bake until center is set but still a bit wobbly, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pie dish on a wire rack. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours (preferably overnight). Before serving, drizzle melted milk chocolateon top. Serve immediately.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pie Recipe Week :: Snickerdoodle Chess


Ingredients
  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • 12-14 Snickerdoodle Cookies
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted (NOT margarine)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. cornmeal (you can substitute flour or almond meal)
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Instructions
Line a 9-inch pie dish with an unbaked pie crust. I almost always use a Pillsbury crust.
Hand crumble the snickerdoodle cookies into bite-sized pieces into a medium bowl, and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, eggs, cornmeal, vinegar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the cookie crumbles and gently stir just until cookie pieces are coated.
Pour the cookie mixture into the unbaked pie crust.. Use the spatula to smooth down the mixture so that it's an even layer.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until golden brown on top. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pie Recipe Week :: Cranberry & Almond Upside Down Cakes



Cranberry and Almond Upside Down Cakes (makes 8)
  2 1/2 cups almond flour
         1/2 tsp salt
        1/2 tsp baking soda
       1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
         1 tsp ground all spice
         3 eggs
         1/2 cup melted coconut oil
         1/2 cup honey
For the cranberry layer:
         1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
         1 TBSP freshly grated orange zest
         1 TBSP freshley grated lemon zest
         1/4 cup honey






Directions 
Preheat oven to 350F and grease your muffin tin. 
Combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and all spice in a bowl. Then, In a separate bowl combine eggs, ghee/oil and honey. 
Combine wet and dry ingredients and set aside.
Toss cranberries with orange zest, lemon zest and honey. Arrange mixture into a single layer at the bottom of each muffin cup.
Top with cake batter and cover evenly. 
Place pan into oven for 20-25 minutes or until tops are golden brown and fully cooked. If your cakes get too brown but need to cook another minute or two place a sheet of foil on top and continue cooking. 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pie Recipe Week :: Apple Pie Cheesecake



Apple Pie Cheesecake
Adapted from Dainty Chef
Crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk (save the white)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Filling:
2 – 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Topping:
1 large or 2 medium apples, thinly sliced (about 2 cups or so)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

To make the crust, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and blend with a fork, pastry cutter or your fingers until well blended – it will look like big, soft crumbs. Press into the bottom and about an inch up the sides of a buttered or sprayed springform pan.
To make the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and lump-free; add the eggs, one at a time, then the reserved egg white and vanilla. Pour into the pastry lined pan. Preheat the oven to 400F.
Thinly slice the apple(s) and toss with sugar and cinnamon to coat; scatter over the top of the cheesecake. Bake for 12 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and bake for another 30-35 minutes, until puffed and golden but slightly jiggly – it will firm up as it cools. Let cool in the pan, then refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight. Serves 12.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pie Recipe Week ♥




With Thanksgiving right around the corner and the twinkle of desserts always glimmering in my eye.. I thought there would be no better use of this week that to introduce a new dessert everyday this week. In honor of the Holiday, I thought there was no better option than pie, duh! . And all the tasty treats I will be showcasing are a tad different than the traditional version, which allows you to try a twist of the original favorite. So check out the posts all week for some Holiday menu inspiration. cheers 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Devon's Dish



Last night I had the pleasure of enjoying a fabulous date night with a gorgeous girl. As most of you know I am a self proclaimed foodie and love all things delicious. Last night we took a short drive right outside the city limits to Campbell and dined at Liquid Bread Gastropub



Ambiance
The first thing I thought of when I stepped inside the door was how inviting it was. I would definitely put this place in the trendy category; it had dim lighting, exposed kitchen, great tables and eclectic decor on the walls. My favorite part were the metal signs on the walls. I have no idea what they said (because they were in a different language) but they added to the overall ambiance of the joint.  

Service
Our server Cory, was so sweet and helped us pick some amazing beers to sample. Me and my girl Jolie, have a thing. We like to go beer tasting and both enjoy a good porter. The Pumpkin Porter was to. die. for. He checked on us quite often and was really sweet to make sure we loved everything we tasted. The beverage selection was impressive with close to 30 beers, if I remember correctly. My top favs were the sour ale, the porter and the Blonde IPA .

Meal
We sampled the butternut squash soup which was creamy and smoky, just perfect for the season and a chilly night. We each had a salad (beer is filling) and I think I liked hers better than mine.. good thing she's a doll and shared with me. I had the Chefs Garden ( a plethora of roasted vegetables, kale and got cheese) and Jolie had the Grilled Kale Salad (kale, pine nuts, pomegranate, goat cheese) ya see a pattern here?

Dessert
Luckily, our appetites came back and we were able to try dessert. I had the chocolate brownie with cookie dough ice cream and real whipped cream.. one word- decadent. Jolie ordered the green tea crepes and honestly they were just.. ok. They were lacking something- the flavor was too bland and the dish was served cold? If that was the only disappointing point during our visit, I think they did pretty well. 

cheers Liquid Bread, I'll be back for another round

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thanksgiving Tablescapes

The idea of hosting Thanksgiving can be a bit intimidating, even for someone who hosts on the regular. You want your guests to feel a relaxed and inviting vibe when they enter. You want your home to feel cozy and properly dressed for the occasion. And you want to stun everyone with your meal and table settings. So I pulled some looks, that differ from the traditional spread, that I think will WOW your guests.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

10 fitness tips to improve your workout


Trade Slow Cardio for Interval Training
The road to a leaner body isn't a long, slow march. It's bursts of high-intensity effort paired with slower, recovery efforts. Fifteen to 20 minutes of interval training performed like this can burn as many calories as an hour of traditional, steady-state cardio. And unlike the slow stuff, intervals can keep your body burning long after the workout ends.

Brace Your Core Before Every Exercise
Your core's much more than a six-pack of muscles hiding beneath your gut -- it's a system of muscles that wraps around your entire torso, stabilizing your body, protecting your spine from injury and keeping you upright. Fire these muscles before every exercise to keep your back healthy, steady your balance and maintain a rigid body position. You'll get the added bonus of isometric exercise for your middle, which could reveal the muscles in your core you'd like everyone to see.

Trade Machine Exercises for Free Weights
Machines are built with a specific path the weight has to travel -- one that wasn't designed for you. If you're too tall, too short, or your arms or legs aren't the same length, that fixed path won't match your physiology and you'll increase the likelihood of injury and develop weaknesses. Trade your machine exercises for dumbbells, barbells and medicine balls to build strength in ways more specific to your body, while also working all the smaller stabilizing muscles that machines miss.

Tuck Your Shoulder Blades Down and Back
This tip is great for chinups, but it's more than that. By sliding your shoulder blades down and back before an exercise -- like you're tucking them into your back pockets -- can improve your results and protect from injury. It helps activate your lats for pulling exercises, work your pecs more completely in pushing exercises, keeps your chest up during a squat, and can reduce painful impingement on your rotator cuff during biceps curls.

Increase Your Range of Motion
Add more work to each rep and increase the efficiency of your workout by increasing the range of motion -- the distance the main motion of the exercise travels to complete the rep. Squat deeper. Drop the weight until it's an inch or two above your chest. Raise the step for stepups. Elevate your front or back foot on lunges. Get more from each move and your body will thank you.

Explode Through Every Rep
The "slow lifting" trend should be confined to the eccentric or "lowering" portion of any exercise. During the concentric portion, where you push, pull, press or jump, move the weight (or your body) as quickly as possible. Even if the weight doesn't move that fast, the intention of moving the weight quickly will turn on your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which will make your body more athletic and train it to use more fat as fuel.

Lift Heavier Weights
Packing more weight on the bar won't make you "bulky." It will make you stronger and protect you from osteoporosis by increasing bone density. To get the greatest benefits, lift at least 60 to 70 percent of your one-rep maximum for each exercise. Instead of going for complicated calculations, choose a weight with which you can perform 8 to 12 reps, with the last rep being a struggle but no impossible.

Drink Chocolate Milk After Your Workout
A post-workout mix of carbs, fat, and protein will help your body build muscle, reduce soreness, and recover faster so you can work out again sooner. If you are rushed for time or normally skip eating after your workout, a tall glass of chocolate milk has the ideal mix of nutrients you're looking for.

Lift, then Run
If you perform your strength training before your cardio work, you'll burn more fat while you pound the pavement. In a Japanese study, men who did the workout in this order burned twice as much fat as those who didn't lift at all.

Don't Stretch; Warm Up
Static stretching done just before activity can reduce your power output and increase your risk of certain injuries. Instead, perform an active warmup that gets your body ready for exercise with exercise, increasing your heart rate, firing up your nervous system, and getting your muscles used to moving. For an easy routine, perform a 5-minute warmup of basic, body weight moves -- lateral slides, pushups, squats and lunges.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

a cup-le o' cakes


You might have heard that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Well, every since my sister "peaced out" on Kara's Cupcakes.. my heart (and tummy) have been longing for nibble of a petite pastry. I got a little crafty in the kitchen and decided to attempt a filled cupcake and an upside down cupcake; inspired by a pineapple upside down cake and the fresh strawberries I had on hand. I used this recipe for my peanut butter filled chocolate cupcakes. For the strawberry upside cupcakes I used this recipe, the only difference was filling the wrappers with cubed fruit before adding the batter. For the fronting on the strawberry vanilla cakes I used a traditional cream cheese frosting. I made it a little creamier by adding whipping cream and drizzled it over the tops of the cakes. Some great treats to have on hand for all your Holiday social events. 











Tuesday, November 5, 2013

falling for fashion

The days are now shorter, the nights a bit colder. Suddenly, cozy-ing up on the couch with a good movie and a warm fire.. sounds pretty good. Bowls will be filled with soup and lawns filled with leaves. Colors change from green to red to gold, and that chilly morning makes you want to stay under the covers forever. Fall might be my favorite time of year. And these looks are sure to please, with whatever upcoming event you have planned.


 



winter white :: emerald green $58 :: leather $700 :: thigh high boots $190 :: gold cuff $70



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