November 20, 2012 § 2 Comments
“Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.” – Estonian Proverb
With my wonderful mother-in-law and both girls in tow, I braved the grocery store this afternoon for “the big shop” – the annual gathering of all my essential items for the perfect Thanksgiving meal. I love this holiday: time spent relaxing with treasured family and friends, the football games, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and, of course, THE FOOD. I’ve got our family’s perfect southern meal down to a science, with a number of recipes that are must-haves – I’m not even sure my brother would show up without my Grammy’s corn bread stuffing or our dad’s green beans (which, like all his great recipes, includes a can of beer). Even my addition of marbled mashed potatoes in recent years has quickly become a staple. I’m sure most people are like me and have tons of traditional family recipes they can’t live without but, if you find yourself searching for something new, look no further. These favorites of mine cannot be beat and are another little thing in my life that I’m so thankful for!
Sweet Cornbread Stuffing
4 boxes of cornbread mix, prepared and cubed (MUST be Jiffy brand)
3/4 cup butter
2-3 cups chopped celery (including leaves)
1 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
poultry seasoning to taste
dark meat turkey and broth
Make cornbread ahead of time and cut into cubes. (I make it the night before and let it sit out overnight to dry out.) Heat butter on the stove. Add celery, onion, salt and pepper to taste and cook until softened. Stir in the cubed cornbread and add poultry seasoning and more salt and pepper to taste. In true southern-girl style, I boil up some turkey parts (neck, thighs, etc.) with butter and lots of salt and pepper the night before and add a bit of this along with some of the turkey broth to moisten. I save the rest for the gravy the next day. In our family, we always cook our stuffing in the bird, but this still tastes great baked in the oven on 350 degrees for 30 minutes in a casserole dish.
Dad’s Green Beans
fresh green beans, ends broken off (as many as will fill a large stockpot)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
pepper to taste
1 medium onion, diced
1 thick slice ham steak cut into pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 can beer (I sometimes use wine)
2 tablespoons butter
Combine all ingredients in pot with a few inches of liquid in the bottom. Cook on low heat covered for at least 4-5 hours. Let it cook down slowly overtime – beans will reduce by at least half. Stir carefully to not break up the beans too much. Lid can be removed toward the end to boil off excess liquid. Additional salt and pepper can be added to taste.
Marbled Potatoes (from “True Grits” by the Junior League of Atlanta)
1 pound red potatoes (I substitute russet potatoes)
1 pound sweet potatoes (I use canned)
2 large scallions, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
nutmeg to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper (may want more)
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Cook the regular and sweet potatoes separately and mash in separate bowls (no need to cook canned sweet potatoes). Saute the scallions in 1/4 cup butter in a skillet until tender. Stir half the scallions into each bowl of potatoes. Whisk the sour cream with the whipped cream in a bowl. Fold half gently into each bowl of potatoes. Add half the nutmeg, salt and pepper to each bowl. Layer the potatoes 1/2 at a time in a greased 1-quart dish. Swirl with a knife to marbleize. Sprinkle with a mixture of the bread crumbs, melted butter and parsley. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Last week for our school’s staff appreciation luncheon the theme was salads, and I had the perfect recipe. Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE salad and that it’s one of my favorite foods. My girls also know it, and in first grade Bella made sure to tell her teacher this on a school report. (Of course, to be fully forthcoming, she also reported that my favorite drink is wine – a proud parenting moment to be sure!) This asian salad recipe came to me from my friend Stacy and is a wonderful combination of sweet and savory; and the crunchy topping – a mix of uncooked ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds – gives great texture. It is the perfect addition to any salad-making repertoire, and I love surprising people with its unique and delicious taste.
1 whole shredded green cabbage
chopped spinach (about 6 ounces)
chopped green onion
2 packages oriental flavored ramen noodles (mashed)
1 pack of dry oriental seasoning from ramen noodles
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons butter (melted)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Combine cabbage, spinach and green onions in salad bowl. For topping, mix together 2 packages of uncooked ramen noodles (I break mine up with a wooden spoon before opening package), 1 pack of the dry seasoning mix that comes with the noodles, the sesame seeds, and the sliced and slivered almonds. Melt butter and pour over mixture. Broil in the oven on a cookie sheet until toasted. Add toasted topping to lettuces, coat with dressing and mix well.
September 13, 2012 § 3 Comments
With my girls back in school, I’m starting to find more time for myself and am happy to be able to craft. Last week I visited one of my favorite stores, Ben Franklin Crafts, to scout out the cool new supplies that had filled the shelves over the summer. The most noticeable addition was washi tape, something that was already on my radar but that I can never have enough of. Washi tape is made of Japanese paper and is similar to masking tape, but much more beautiful. I’ve been using it for a while to embellish cards and tags and to pretty up wrapped packages. I love stacking a few tapes, like layers of a cake, to decorate a birthday card or cutting smaller pieces into little flags. Washi tape used to be hard to find but now it’s everywhere, so try some the next time you need a little crafting pick me up. These tiny tapes make a big impact.
August 27, 2012 § 2 Comments
This is a nice time of year when the weather starts to cool, kids head back to school and the happy holiday season is right around the corner. Some of my favorite reminders, the September fashion magazines, are currently weighing down my mailbox and grocery basket. I love everything about the September issues – especially their heft – and feel with their size as if I’m getting a bargain (never mind that 90% of the issue is ads, because I actually love the artsy high-fashion advertisements in these magazines). They remind me of why I have loved fall fashion ever since I was a little girl back-to-school shopping with my mom and the joyful anticipation I feel every year during this season.
Although I am not much of a trend follower and prefer to stick to things that fit my style and personality, it’s fun to feel “in the know.” I’m happy to report that fall fashionistas and Versace wearers will be sporting studded leather this season; I will probably pass but may take a stab at the new full skirt or winter white trend. And while big hair and a mermaid dress might be a good choice for Lady Gaga on the cover of this month’s Vogue, I myself will choose to just be inspired by her boldness and perhaps try something a little out of my own personal comfort zone – I’m thinking red. Happy fall!!
August 22, 2012 § 2 Comments
I want to hold onto my girls’ childhoods as long as possible, but I know it’s important to embrace each milestone as it comes. We are hitting a big one this week as Bella starts Middle School. I can’t believe that my baby – who it seems just yesterday eagerly started preschool – is now eagerly anticipating this next phase. It’s a time of change for her as Bella also got her first pair of glasses this summer. I hate to see the baby go, but it’s so cool to see the big girl emerge. Time flies (something people always told me when the girls were little, but now I finally realize is absolutely true), and I want to savor each moment.
Bella is excited by the big new world she is experiencing, and she is handling both the glasses and the start of middle school with her own signature grace and style. I feel lucky just to be here, to take it all in, as my precious girls grow and find their path in this life. Today, I paused to document the moment with the girlies (now 5th and 3rd graders) styled up in some of our fall favorites from Crewcuts. Looking at these pictures, I can’t believe how big the girls look and how much of their sweet baby faces are still there smiling back at me. This amazing new chapter in our lives is definitely worth capturing.
July 30, 2012 § 1 Comment
I would be remiss to talk about my love of polka dots in my last post without mentioning my other love: stripes. What can I say? I’m an equal opportunity pattern lover! In picking up new clothes this summer for myself and my daughters, my friend Erin and I both noticed how many beautiful stripes were out there this year – I don’t think they ever go out of style actually. Here are some of the stripes my girls and I have been rocking this summer (from favorites JCrew, Crewcuts, Madewell and Anthropologie) plus a Chevron stripe from JCrew I’m obsessing about for fall:
July 28, 2012 § 1 Comment
I have always loved, loved, loved polka dots! They are so much fun and wearing them (and dressing my lovely girls in them) makes me happy. It’s back-to-school clothes shopping time, and a few new dots from my favs JCrew and Crewcuts have caught my eye. Shopping for fall clothes and the first day of school outfit has been something I have looked forward to ever since I was a kid, and now with my own two girlies it’s the same. So while we hit our favorites like Nordstrom and Peek and JCrew, I’ll be sure to check out the new fall polka dots and try to add a few to the mix. Here are some of the ones I’m scouting out for us girls this fall (courtesy of JCrew and Crewcuts, of course):