Wednesday, November 30, 2011

roasted squash, chestnut and chicory salad with cranberry vinaigrette

My friend Kristen made this amazing fall salad for a girls night dinner a while back. I've been meaning to post it for weeks, but you know how these things go. You'd be hard pressed to find a dish that screams fall more than a Roasted Squash, Chestnut, and Chicory Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette. It was truly delicious and incredibly unique. What the title of the recipe doesn't mention is that this thing is gloriously swimming in bacon and it's... um... essence? And by that I mean grease. Bacon grease. Mmmm. This was an impressive, hearty salad that was an unbelievably welcome addition to our dinner.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

embellished tunic + black leggings

Installment #2 of the Practical Magic holiday fashion guide: embellished tunics and black leggings. What girl doesn't have black leggings at this point, or at least black skinny jeans, and heels? This outfit looks so casual-cool to me, like she just happened to throw something on and look amazing. A couple of the options below are a little pricey, but at least you already have every other piece for the outfit, right? That's justification for you, from an expert in justification.

Parker Beaded Tunic

Parker Square Sequin Tunic
Picholine Glimmer Tunic
Free People Romantics Embellished Tunic

P.S. - I am in love with these shoes.They're from the Simply Vera Wang line, and they can be your new best friends for only $70. They're outrageously comfortable, despite the heel height, and can be worn all day or night without a hitch. Plus, they're cute and perfect for these outfits.

Monday, November 28, 2011

bows, boots, black and white

Mmmmmm steak. I love a good juicy medium-rare steak. You may wonder how that's related, so I'll tell you. Adam and I went to the Capital Grille for dinner a few nights ago, and indulged in all of the good food, wine and delicious steak we could stuff in our round little bellies. I wanted to dress up a bit, without looking too snazzy or fussy for dinner. I love these boots, which are quite possibly five years old and $20 from Target. The boots, tights, and high waistline of the skirt make for mile-long legs, which make me very happy. Plus, they get an easy update from a new(ish) bow-tie blouse. A great date night outfit with no color needed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

pumpkin pie ice cream

Did I mention I love pumpkin? Yes, I definitely have, but here I go again. I love pumpkin pie; I'd even go as far as to say it's my favorite pie (wow, bold claim). It only seemed natural to combine the flavor of pumpkin pie with my favorite dessert: ice cream. I found a lot of recipes for Pumpkin Ice Cream, but I wasn't looking for that; I wanted the flavor of pie. I got just that with this recipe. I was pleased to discover that I had all but two ingredients on hand: heavy cream and pumpkin puree. The flavor was unmistakably reminiscent of the fall favorite, and I've eaten about a quart of it all by my pumpkin-lovin' self.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

maxi dress + boyfriend cardigan

The December issue of Real Simple had a fashion spread called Practical Magic that I actually really loved. It detailed 8 outfit ideas for holiday parties this season, which combined one dressy item with everyday basics. I found this pairing of a maxi dress + boyfriend cardigan (and some glitzy, glam accessories) to be perfect for my own holiday plans, which consist of dinners and cocktails at home with the family. Every year, I want to dress it up a little with some holiday flair, but most holiday garments are too extravagant for relaxing at home. These outfits are a perfect mix of coziness and Christmastime.

Bobeau Racerback Maxi Dress, Nordstrom
Eden Cardigan, J. Crew
Palazzina Sash, Anthropologie
Luminary Brooch Belt, Anthropologie
Wattens Glint Belt, Anthropologie
Suede Bow Waist Belt, French Connection
Tinley Road Large Crystal Shell Earring, Piperlime
Deco Tassel Drops, Anthropologie

Always and For Evergreen Dress, Modcloth
Bookworm Cardigan, Madewell
Deco Tassel Drops, Anthropologie
Deco Cascade Necklace, Ann Taylor
Tinsley Strung Bib Necklace, Anthropologie
Glinting Pheasant Drops, Anthropologie Eden Cardigan, J. Crew
Deco Cascade Necklace, Ann Taylor
Rosalila Necklace, Anthropologie
Iron Lace Drops, Anthropologie

City Tour Dress, Modcloth
Eden Cardigan, J. Crew
Crystal Button Cardigan, J. Crew
Nesting Ring Set, Anthropologie
Frozen Waves Earrings, Anthropologie
Buckle Waist Belt, ASOS
Precise Bow Belt, Anthropologie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

good eats roast turkey

I am so disappointed in myself. I cooked my very first turkey (actually I went straight for a full 16 pounder plus an 8 pound breast) on Sunday, and I forgot to take pictures!!! Can you believe that? Me, who takes pictures religiously of everything I cook, neglected to capture a picture-perfect turkey. I wanted to share the recipe with you anyhow, because it was absolutely perfect. Legitimately the best turkey I've ever tasted... including deep fried turkey. Yep, I said it. Better than deep fried. Wow. Alton Brown's recipe is foolproof, and even includes not one, but three videos to guide you along the way. The best part? It's not too late to make it! If you are so fortunate/unfortunate as to be the one in charge of said bird, you can still make the simple brine, and soak that hideous bird in it overnight before the big day.

heirloom pumpkin sugar cookies

I love making sugar cookies.Love it. The weird part is that I don't even like eating sugar cookies. I find icing to be sickly sweet, and just not my thing, so why do I like making them? Because everyone else absolutely loves them. Yeah, I'm tooting my own horn here. I truly believe people loving them has little to do with taste, and everything to do with appearance. You can use any cut-out cookie recipe and really any royal icing recipe, or cheat like me when strapped for time. I wanted to make heirloom pumpkins, because I love the varied shades of oranges, yellows, whites, and greens. Plus, it's way more fun to make all shapes and sizes too. I finally got a holiday post done in time for an actual holiday! Woo!

How did I make these totally "homemade" cookies? I cheated.

Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
Betty Crocker Cookie Icing
Sweet Dani B Icing Bottle Set (so easy!)
Wilton Icing Colors Set

Prepare the cookie dough according to package directions for cut-out cookies, or if you're a better Susie-homemaker than me, make your own recipe. I used one pumpkin cookie cutter, then simply stretched and shaped the dough (with a knife, just pushing in the scalloped edges) to make many different pumpkins. Mix the pre-packaged icing with food coloring and a few drops of water, then transfer to the icing bottles.

The key to making more authentic pumpkin colors is to mix a drop of the complementary color. Use one drop of blue/teal/green to your orange icing mix. To make the green cupcakes, I used green food coloring plus 1 drop each of yellow and red.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

personal touches with paper

I've always been a fan of pretty papers. I used to pour money into stocking up a collection of colors and patterns; I claimed it was in the name of craft projects, but really I just loved looking at them. Strange, I know. I've been checking out some ideas for little personal touches at the wedding, and to my delight, many do involve my beloved paper. Little touches like this make all the difference without breaking the bank. I will certainly be copying some of these ideas when the big day approaches.

Monday, November 21, 2011

pumpkin ravioli with brown butter sage & toasted hazelnuts

Fall practically demands pumpkin everything. I'm sad to say that Adam refuses to warm up to pumpkin in any form, so to enjoy this tasty autumn treat, I'm usually flying solo. When I saw this fresh pumpkin ravioli from Whole Foods, I knew it would make a perfect dinner-for-one plus lunch-for-tomorrow meal. I absolutely loved this sauce, which took a basic brown butter-sage and amped it up with roasted hazelnuts and nutmeg. If you love pumpkin like me, this is an interesting, tasty alternative to the one million pumpkin desserts of the season.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

puppies: 5 weeks

Saturday, our breeder held and open house that gave us the amazing opportunity to spend time with Oliver and his siblings at only 5 weeks old. Puppies generally come home at 8 weeks, so it was such a nice treat to see the little furballs at their clumsiest and fluffiest stage. We aren't 100% sure which puppy will be Oliver, but we are fairly certain it is the little guy held in Adam's arms in the first video below. He was our first choice for many reasons:  he would not leave Adam's lap the entire morning, wanted to cuddle for hours at a time, and was the biggest and fluffiest puppy of the bunch. And he's cute as all hell. All of our top three chose puppies are amazing (see #2 held by me below), and we'd be lucky to take home any one of them.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

honey herb roasted chicken with roasted jewel vegetables

For some ungodly reason, I decided a random weekday was a good time to roast my first ever chicken. Why? Because I felt like it. Who suffered? Adam, because we didn't eat dinner until 8:30. But it was worth it. This chicken recipe was freakin' fantastic, and I loved every little sweet, succulent morsel of it. I had also been looking for an entree to pair with these roasted vegetables, and well if you're already roasting something... I used carrots, beets, and butternut squash, but you can toss in any veggie you wish. Both recipes were absolutely delicious and just screamed "fall". The only thing I would change is to leave the chicken in for longer to brown the skin, but honestly, we were just really hungry and took the damn thing out a little early. It was cooked perfectly nonetheless; it just made for slightly poorer photos to show you. Again, hungry. Very hungry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

anthropologie gift finder

I have a strange love for the Anthropologie gift finder that is created each year on their website. Other than simply loving the store, I think the obsession comes from picking and choosing different personality combinations and seeing what editor's picks pop up. Beyond this novelty, the gift ideas are actually great. If you have any hard-to-buy-for friends or family members, or particularly if you need a gift for someone you may not know as well, it's a great little tool to try. Here are some random combos that I checked out for kicks.

feminine, loves cooking

eclectic, loves entertaining

bohemian, loves culture

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

nick & toni's penne alla vecchia bettola

I absolutely love this recipe. Barefoot Contessa invited the chef from her favorite Hamptons restaurant to share the recipe for his version of penne alla vodka. I have made this dinner twice, both when cooking for guests. It is a perfect meal for entertaining because it's inexpensive and largely prepared before guests arrive. The sauce is cooked in the oven for an hour, so you can set it, forget it, and clean up before people arrive. Genius. This pasta is seriously amazing, and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone, anytime.

Monday, November 14, 2011

chicken tortilla soup

I love chicken tortilla soup. If I see tortilla soup on a restaurant menu, there's a 100% chance I will order it, fill myself up on it, and then struggle to finish my entree. Every time. I will likely try my hand at many variations of this favorite treat, but I started with this recipe, which had a reasonable number of ingredients and a five-star rating. I knew it would turn out amazing from the minute I realized you cook the chicken breasts right in the spicy seasoned broth, making them tender, juicy, and packed with flavor. I topped mine with some homemade tortilla strips seasoned with a little chili powder for texture and crunch. The soup was easy to make, rich and filling, and absolutely delicious to eat.