December 28, 2016

The Secret to New Year's Resolutions

The new year is coming upon us. This is a time of year where we all make resolutions. Or don't. I made six resolutions for 2016 and completed two of them. I also read that only around 8% of people actually achieve their new year's resolutions each year. As someone who has not been successful in resolutions, I re-evaluated mid year and was able to make new resolutions and succeed in those.

I attribute my success in achieving my latest resolutions to a quote I saw last year on Dave Ramsey's (if you don't know who he is, you should!) instagram page. It read:



He also wrote: "Best intentions and positive thinking are not enough for real change. You have to set specific and realistic goals."

I wrote them generally on the blog, but behind the scenes I had a plan for every goal and how it would be obtained. I outlined what I was going to do, my time frame, etc...and it worked. I made sure all the goals were relevant to me. These are things that carried more risk if I failed. It was motivating.

Only you can hold you accountable this year. It took me a while to figure that out. I spent too much time reading articles about resolutions to make and how to keep them that were so general. You can't keep those. Also I realized (especially in eating) that making the same mistake over and over again isn't a mistake, it is a habit.

Check back and see my Ten New Year's Resolutions and participate yourself during Tuesday Topics. We start with resolutions on Tuesday.

December 21, 2016

Bacon Green Beans

I cannot believe that Christmas is in 5 days. Where did this year go?

If you are a little last minute and need an easy side dish, this should be your go to. Paula Dean may have coined the term "butter ya'll" but it is really just a good old fashioned southern cooking state of mind. I see that cooking side in my dad who puts butter on just about everything. Oh and then there is bacon. If I am unsure ever of what to do, I just add bacon. It works!

Ingredients:

1/2 package of bacon
1 bag/bunch of fresh or frozen green beans
2 ounces of butter, softened

Directions:

In a large saucepan, cook bacon according to package instructions. Once cooked, set bacon aside on a paper towel lined plate.

If you are using a bag of frozen green beans, steam in the microwave to package instructions. Once steamed, toss lightly in some of the reserve bacon grease from your saucepan. If you are using fresh cut green beans, you can cook them in that same sauce pan.

Chop bacon and combine in serving dish with green beans. Top with a dollup of butter.


Is everyone ready for the holidays?
What is one of your favorite side dishes?

December 19, 2016

How I Stay Sane and Cooking During The Holiday Season

Picture this: I am done with a 12.5 hour shift at the hospital and have driven home (45 minute commute). I am now standing over a hot stove making some dinner. The kitchen is sweltering, I just want to serve toast for dinner at this point, but my husband has been travelling lately and just wants a home cooked meal.

Oh and it is the holiday season. Being someone who uses food as a love language, holiday season means making more food in less time. This meals are often more elaborate too. I have to stay sane so I streamline my weeknight meals during the holiday season.

Planning is key and here are some of my favorite ways to streamline my kitchen during the holidays.

For The Events:

Simple Breakfasts:
If I have overnight guests needing breakfast, I often serve overnight casseroles, make ahead muffins, or just plain make eggs and bacon.

My Favorite Make Ahead Breakfasts:
I Love Salads:
Salads are an easy way to make a big impact. It is light but filling.

My Favorite Easy Salads:

Follow Five Simple Big Event/Meal Commandments
You can find them here.



For The Weeknight Meals:

Use Soup and Leftovers:
My husband and I always make Turkey Soup after our Friendsgiving Event which kicks off the holiday season. Having so much soup helps us around the holidays when we don't have time to make a meal. We also use leftovers after that meal to our advantage.

My Favorite Turkey Leftover Recipes and Soups:
I Use My Husband:
He has learned is way around the kitchen and has some recipes he does well on when I am working. I leave him to the cooking sometimes.

Recipes Easy Enough For a Husband to Make:

Use Recipes Big Enough For Leftovers:
When all else fails, just make something that will give you more than one meal!

Recipes Easy Enough For a Husband to Make:


What are your best weeknight strategies for everyday meals during the hectic holiday season?
What are your best meal strategies for having guests over?

December 16, 2016

Christmas Photos

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts about the holiday season is receiving Christmas cards from friends and family. I plaster them all over my pantry door with scotch tape. It is tacky but I don’t care. I love seeing the joyful faces!
I think somehow I would love to figure out something with clothespins on an evergreen garland, but this year won't be the year I figure it out...#toobusytravelling

Last year I wanted to try a cutesy way of displaying my years Christmas cards so that I could enjoy seeing the past and how we have grown. I thought I had this great idea of getting a big ribbon and hot gluing the pictures to the ribbon.

So I did that. While it was on the door. As you can guess...which I didn't...that yep, I took off the paint on the door where I glued.

It is painted over and now taped up.
All better right?

Ugh. Here is praying for a smarter holiday season.
How do you display your holiday cards?

December 14, 2016

Weird Things Women Do When We Are Alone

Kevin has been travelling lately leaving me with more alone time. In addition, a lot of this alone time is on top of my normal alone time. I get a lot of alone time with my work schedule and having some weekdays off. I know that there are strange stuff that women do when they are home alone. I am no different.

There is no shame in this game. Here are some things I do:

Blast music and sing. I may even listen to the same song over and over again.

Eat weird snacks. I mean I have eaten peanut butter and jelly together in a bowl. I may follow that up with some cheese. I would never do this in front of someone.
via

I binge watch TV and movies. I never do that otherwise.

I blog.

Use the same dishes. Why wash the plate if you are just going to use it again?


What alone girl behaviors do you have?
Am I alone in these alone behaviors?

December 13, 2016

A Surprise Announcment For The Blogging World!

I know I don't usually put a voice to this site on Tuesdays, but I used to! I used to post with a lot of really great people on Tuesdays for Tuesday Topics!

Well with the help of my friend Jenn, it is coming back!

We start with ten resolutions on Tuesday January 3rd, 2017. We then continue every Tuesday down the list! This gives you 10 ideas for blog posts, is only once a week, and offers the opportunity to get to know and read some new blogger's stuff!

Yay link ups! We hope you join us!

December 12, 2016

Perfect Holiday Date Nights

I love this time of year! There are so many great date nights that I love making time for. I do all of these and I hope you steal some of my ideas! 

Need some ideas? Read on!

Candlelit living rooms with a delicious glass of wine, sweets, and comfy socks. Some soft Christmas music on in the background and some good conversation is perfect.

Watch a holiday movie classic with a big bowl of popcorn for him and a bowl of almonds and chocolate chips for me.

Take a drive to look at holiday lights.

Have just an appetizer or drinks & dessert at a fancy restaurant you know is decorated to the nines for Christmas.

Go for an evening walk together on a path that is lit with Christmas lights.

Fill each other’s stockings with silly surprises from Santa.


What are some of your favorite holiday date night ideas?
Tonight our date night is the evening walk!

December 9, 2016

5 Essential Tips for Travelling During The Holiday Season

Travelling during the holiday season. It is bound to be something we all do. Whether we are going to visit mom and dad or travelling for a winter escape vacation, it can be stressful. I think all stress even at the busiest of times can be alleviated with some simple planning.

Here are five tips that will make this busy travel season an easier one for you.
Start Planning Early
Many people may not think of Halloween as part of the holiday season, but doing some simple planning before you trade carved pumpkins for Thanksgiving gourds will ensure that you do not get stuck overpaying or being underwhelmed with haphazard plans. So if you can, start your travel plans early. If you can't, well then follow the next four tips!


Book the earliest flight in the day and fly direct if you can.
Sorry night owls but the earlier you fly, the less chance of delays. That is just the way it is!


Turn the holidays into a vacation.
Many of us get such a small amount of vacation time that we often have to give up our travel aspirations in order to spend time with our families during the holiday season. But what if you combined the two?

I have always wondered how many people are actually going to the city they fly into. I know that if I fly to see my parents (or husband's parents) they live in a different city from the airport an hour away. 

So my suggestion is if you are flying into a city you haven't explored, spend the first day or two of your trip doing so. Or drive to another close destination.

Around Christmas, destinations like Hawaii often have a bigger price tag on tickets because everyone wants to escape the cold. Embrace it for a good experience and cheaper travel. Canada's Thanksgiving is in October, so the end of November is just a regular weekend for them, making Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, etc... a good option. And flights to international destinations are often a bargain during this time of year, too.


If you're bringing gifts, don't wrap them.
If you are passing through a security checkpoint or a border crossing, don't waste your time or money wrapping presents before you arrive. The TSA has the right to open any package you bring on an airplane. I have had things opened and gosh bless them, they at least try and re-wrap it, but not wrapping the gifts makes it easier on you and them.

Of course you can ship gifts ahead of time to if you don't think you can fit them into your suitcase, but generally I can find enough room to make a carry on suitcase work for me.


Pack snacks.
I think this goes for me anywhere anytime. I love food. But this way you will decrease any added expenses of food while you travel to and from. Airports and Convenience Stores are way pricier than the same thing you can get at the grocery store before hand.


What's your best advice for traveling during the holidays?

December 7, 2016

Tis The Baking Season: 13 Tips and Tricks

Tis the season for an increase in baking! Fa la la la la! Being a self taught Cooking/Baking 101 girl, I thought I would share thirteen (a baker's dozen) tips. These are tips that have helped keep me sane in the kitchen baking. I still have not been able to make my own pie crust. So obviously not a greatly skilled baker, but for simple baking, these are the tips and tricks that work. Oh, and anyone who thinks they have a fool proof crust recipe for me may come forward. 

Yay tips!
Use Room Temperature Ingredients
Unless otherwise stated, all ingredients should be room temperature. It will tell you if it wants cold eggs, butter, sour cream, water, etc...


There Are A Lot Of Flours
Seriously. Bread flour and all-purpose flour are sometimes interchangeable on a 1:1 ratio, but sometimes they are not. Bread flour has a higher protein content and has more gluten for more chew. If you are in a crunch and do not have time to experiment interchanging flours, just go with what the recipe calls for. You can make a lot of your own flours, but I usually buy my all purpose, bread flour, and whole wheat flour. Cake flour on the other hand is easy to make! Remove 2 teaspoons of all purpose flour for every cup you need for your recipe and replace it with cornstarch. Sift it together four or five times and BAM, you have cake flour.


Gravity Happens
A lot of people say to give berries or fruit a good toss in flour before adding them to batter. If you really do not want them to sink, add them to the top of whatever you are baking. I have tried  the berries or fruit pieces a good toss in a couple tablespoons of flour before adding them to the batter. I have heard people say this is not necessary, but I find it massively successful. Not 100%, but it doesn't take much more work for me to do them. If you really don't want chocolate chips or fruits sinking in your muffins, but the batter in your cups and add the fruits/chips to the top of it then.


Help your Dough Rise
I can’t promise you this will work every single time, but this method has worked really well for me. When it is a little cooler in your kitchen (below 70 degrees), wrap a heating pad in a thin towel, then turn it on low and place it on a counter top. Place your dough, in its bowl or loaf pan and covered, on top of the heating pad. That little extra bit of heat makes some serious magic happen. If you don't have a heating pad, then you can place it near the oven/stove where it is often warmer. Do not put it on top of the stove or oven while using. That can get too hot for the dough. I have been told that you can also just let it rise in the microwave.


How to Store Breads
If it is a crusty bread, store it in a paper bag and if it is soft or enriched (baked with eggs or milk), store it in an airtight container or plastic. When I make my own breads, and am not going to eat them fast enough, I like to refrigerate my breads to extend their shelf life. I know is sacrilege to some but it is just how I roll (get it, roll, bread?!? haha!). I have never frozen my homemade bread, but I have frozen store bought bread. I wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil before sticking it in the freezer bag.


Frost Your Cake Like A Pro
Most baked goods are domed. Your bread loaf, your cupcakes, but NOT your cake. Everyone wants flat cakes because it makes it easier to frost. Try this, if your cake recipe calls for 350 degrees, try baking it at 325. It will take longer, but it will bake more evenly. Then refrigerate your cakes so that they firm up making them easier to frost. I'll let you decide if a crumb layer is worth it to you.


Butter Me Up
Generally I use unsalted butter for everything. This way I can add salt and better control how much salt is in my recipe. That is nit picky though. You can really generally use whichever butter you have.


Store Your Ingredients Correctly
When in doubt, throw it out. But here is a short little guide on how to store and how long your ingredients keep:

Vanilla: My favorite, because it does not spoil!
Brown Sugar: Store in an airtight container. It has the tendency to become very hard. If it does, follow these instructions to soften it because you never want to use those clumps.
Powdered and Granulated Sugar/Flours: I have never seen those go bad. Most people will say to store in cool, dry, and an airtight space. I follow two of those. I keep my sugars in beautiful glass stores and they have been perfectly perfect!
Honey: They say it expires in 12 months. I would just smell it. Toss it (or anything) really if there is an odor. But if your honey crystallizes, warm it up back into a liquid again and then re-store it!
Baking Powder: Store in a dry, cool place. To test if it is still good, mix 1 teaspoon with 1/3 cup of hot water. If it foams, it is still good.
Baking Soda: Store like baking powder and to test if it is still good, place 1 1/2 teaspoons with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. If it fizzes, then it is good. On the plus side, if it doesn't, you can place the baking soda in the fridge and it becomes an odor catcher!


Follow Instructions
Don't believe anyone that says you can substitute butter with any kind of oil or margarine are fools. Substitute at your own risk. I find often, it does not come out like it should. Oh and let your oven preheat all the way. I know after you have put all the work into brownies, you just want to throw them in, but let the oven preheat completely. Baking is a science and cooking an art. So while you may be able to throw some food into an oven not completely preheated, I would not do it with your baked goods.


Fix Your Frosting
I cannot tell you how many times I have messed up frosting. If it is to thick, stir in 1 spoonful of milk until you reach the right consistency. If it is too thin (my usual problem) add powdered sugar.


Chocolate Rules
Chocolate chips often come in milk chocolate, semi sweet, and bitter sweet. Semi sweet is dark chocolate and bitter sweet is extra dark chocolate. But when melting chocolate, use bars not chips. Chips have additives that help them hold their shape while baking. So obviously you can see how great this is for cookies, and not so great it is for making a ganache.


Fake It Till You Make It
I mean, we are all really busy. Sometimes we need to resort to a store bought pie or a store bought brownie mix. There are so many ways to elevate those! Here are three of my favorite ways to elevate them:

Brownie Ice Cream: Because yum.
Fruit Pizza: I mean making your own sugar cookies is easy, but if you don't have time, decorate them with bright fruit!
Brownie Cookies: I love how easy and yummy these are. I may make them for the neighbors again!
Two Ingredient Cookies: Because what says easy and yummy more than canned pumpkin and spice cake mix?!
Updating Pumpkin Pie: Some of these from the Kitchn look really good!
When In Doubt, Have Your Go To Baking Resources
Ingredient Substitutions from Life Love Lauren
Cutting Recipes in Half from The Nest
Baking School from The Kitchn


What are some tips that have served you well in the kitchen?

December 5, 2016

Oreo Balls

I am really enjoying writing blog posts in front of my Christmas tree. There is nothing more magical than the Christmas season! I have had jam packed weekends so I put my decor earlier than normal (read: before Thanksgiving). I did wait till Thanksgiving to have my Christmas lights put up. I worked and my husband was a doll and dressed the house. Thankfully we don't have to worry about snowy weather that will dictate when we put up our lights, but that also means I have never really had a white Christmas...

Anyway, Christmas to me also means some yummy baked goods. Oreo Balls are my husband's favorite and I can thank my mom for this recipe!

I use my food processor to crush the Oreos and then just add the cream cheese to it and it works great! A food processor is definitely something I am happy I registered for and have as a part of my kitchen krew.

Oh and I am not a girl who needs everything brand name, I like to save a few bucks, but Oreo cookies are needed. I would not get the off brand. It just is not as good.


Ingredients:

2/3 of an Oreo Cookie package, finely crushed
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
16 ounces of semi sweet baking chocolate, melted

Directions:

Mix Oreo cookies and cream cheese until well mixed.

Shape into small balls and freeze or refrigerate until cool and formed.

Dip balls into melted chocolate and place on pan lined with wax paper.

Optional: sprinkle with crushed Oreo cookies, crushed candy cane, or leave plain. Either way, these are sure to please! Place in refrigerator until cool. Once cool, store in an airtight container in your fridge and bring them out to any party or for a sweet treat on any night! They are simple and sure to be a hit!


When do you decorate for Christmas?

December 2, 2016

Five on Friday: Birthday Edition

In addition to holiday season, three very important people have near Thanksgiving birthdays. My husband, my sister and best girlfriend have birthdays all around Thanksgiving. Between that and working Thanskgiving, it has been a busy time of year...

One:
Kevin had his golden birthday! I feel bad for him with his birthday so close to Thanksgiving, but I knew I wanted to make this one special for him. I did scare him a little bit by getting into a car accident. I am sore, everyone was fine, but my poor car is totaled. And right before the holidays and right after a full tank of gas, oil change, and brand new dashboard. Great huh? But at least everyone is safe!

But back to men's birthdays, they are so hard! Let's face it, doing something cutesy pertaining to the golden birthday is probably more fun for girls than for guys. Never the less, I think there are some simple efforts that your guys will appreciate for the golden birthday.
One. A Golden Gift: I got him a brand new cell phone! Something special is much deserved!
Two. A Golden Cake: I got golden candles and contrasted it with a beautifully dark cake. Very easy. Sure he had to share with my sister for 21, but he enjoyed it!
Three. A Golden Decor: Simple gold balloons, some gold confetti, and a nice table setting are all that is needed!
Four. Golden Fun: Love this idea from Hostess With The Mostess. Spray paint and fill with his favorite candy. It will bring him back!
DIY Gold Burro Pinata - Before and After
Five. Golden Card: I mean. Happy Golden Birthday!

Two:
My sister turned 21. I put her cake together with Kevin's. I also let her practice put IVs in me. Oh to be in Nursing School again...

Three:
My girlfriend and I only had time to go out for a glass bottle of wine, but I made sure I spoiled her with some good gifts and can't wait to spend some more time over Christmas with her!
Four:
I had to really be careful online because of Gilmore Girls. I am the biggest Gilmore Girls fan, but I was busy working and travelling to get to see my sister for her 21st birthday. Well, I was finally able to watch it! Seriously, what did everyone think of it? Life is not always happy go lucky, but I wasn't expecting Rory to be such a shit show. Being the other woman, being petulant...no wonder she is failing in the real world.

Five:
No worries, I have still made time for me. Charity events, friend time, and football! I love this time of year!


What did you think of Gilmore Girls?

November 30, 2016

My Desert Backyard

I love where I live! When I moved into my house I found a new love for the Southwest. It is so nice to have Saguaro National Park basically in my backyard. Having beautiful mountains, hiking, and a different type of green.

The saguaro is a universal simple of the southwest and Saguaro National Park is the place to go if you want to see them!

Saguaro National Park is located in Tucson, Arizona. The park has two sections. Both have visitors centers and amazing mountains. The west side has the Tucson Mountains and the east side has the Rincon Mountains. The best time to visit is when the weather is cool. This is October-April. Many people who go other times often get in trouble with the heat.

The biggest question I get about the park is "If I only have time to go to one section, which do I go to?" This is a hard question to answer, but I am going to try and help with that! If you can only visit one, use the guide below to find your park.

Better to Drive: East (Cactus Forest Loop Drive 8.3 miles).

Better to Camp:  Toss Up. You cannot camp in Saguaro National Park. In Saguaro West there is Gilbert Ray Campground that is only 3 miles from the park. That is closer than Saguaro East which has the nearest campground 6 miles away.

Better to Hike: West. Both sides have excellent hiking trails, but I always seem to find it less crowded on the west side which is nice.

Better to Bike: East. I am not a big biker so this designation might not be correct, but I seem to see more people biking on the East side so I assume that is for a reason.

Easily Accessible: West. It is closer to the freeway so I think for out of towners, it should be easier to find.

Better Visitors Center: East. It is bigger and more accessible.

Where I See Petroglyphs: West. And only west! Hokokam Petroglyphs.



So both are great options. Hopefully you have time to visit both!
Remember to bring water!

November 28, 2016

Dad's Green Chile Meatballs

There is something about fall that tends to make me slack off a bit when it comes to my health. The holidays are a distraction, the food is fattening, and I work out less. When I go home and see my dad he constantly has lots of really great food. I can't help myself but tuck in. Never the less, healthy fall habits are something I admittedly need to work on, 

My dad surprised me the other day by making a healthy fall dish. Underneath it all, my dad is a big old softie who will do anything for his girls. That includes making a healthy, but delicious meatball! Making simple healthy switches is going to be my main goal in improving my fall health. This will help during this season where it seems every bit of progress made in the gym these last few months quickly disappears.

Ingredients:

For the Meatballs:
1.3 pounds of ground turkey
1/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of fresh pepper

For the Sauce:
1/3 cup of chopped green chile
1 can of chicken or turkey broth
1 teaspoon of olive oil

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, onion powder, and salt/pepper. Form small meatballs.

In crock pot, mix together chile, broth, and oil. Drop meatballs into sauce and set crock pot to low and go for 4-6 hours.


How do you plan to stay healthy this fall?

November 25, 2016

How To Survive Holidays Away From Your Family

As a nurse, I have written about working holidays. I work holidays every year. As a nurse, I spend a lot of holidays away from my family. To be honest, sometimes when I spend them away, I get into these moods where I don't look forward to the holiday. But sometimes, you just want to make everything feel as normal as possible, so buck up buttercup! This year I am so lucky to only have to work Thanksgiving and no Christmas or New Years (at this point at least). This is a first! 

I was talking to a friend who is unable to afford a plane ticket home to celebrate/spend the holiday season with her family. So whether you are working or just unable to spend a holiday with your family, here is how to survive it! This is applicable to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, whatever big holiday it is that you are spending away from your family.
Eat:
Let's face it, a lot of the amazing parts of holidays include amazing meals. If you don't want to make your ham or turkey, place an order for one to go! I have even done this with some of my work colleagues! Who says you can't have a holiday potluck?! Make sure you have too much food. Leftovers are a traditional holiday necessity!

Do Something Untraditional:
Since you don't have a house full of family to sit and socialize with, turn your day (or days around the holiday) into a holiday by getting up and going out and exploring! Go hiking, out to a fancy dinner, volunteering at a soup kitchen, whatever you want!

Start a New Tradition:
Somethings don't need to be celebrated the day of and sometimes retaining a semblance of tradition can help your holiday spirits. Watch that favorite Christmas movie in PJs every year, make cookies, go look at Christmas lights, write a letter to each other about what you are thankful for; whatever you want!

Celebrate Early With Friends:
Try a Christmas cookie exchange or white elephant. Do a favorite things party, Friendsgiving, or adult Easter party. Whatever you do, find good company!

Document:
Take lots of pictures. You never know when your worst holiday will turn into your most memorable!



What do you do when you celebrate holidays away from family?

November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving S.O.S.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I am sharing some of my favorite leftover recipes that I learned from my Dad. Monday I shared a recipe for my favorite Turkey Pinwheels and today I want to share a breakfast recipe.

It is a take on a S.O.S. If you are from a military family, you probably already know what S.O.S. is. For those who don't know it stands for Stuff on a Shingle. With another word for stuff...

I love love love S.O.S. It is typically toast topped with ground sausage smothered in gravy. My dad shows his love through food. Sometimes I remember he would just wake up early on Sundays and make it for me. So good.

For Thanksgiving, he adapted it and once again, I am in love..

Now here is a picture of Thanksgiving S.O.S, but let me prep you, this is a delicious dish, but not very photogenic AT ALL. Kind of looks like it's name...

Ingredients:

Stuffing (enough to form into two patties)
Leftover gravy
Leftover turkey
sliced green chile

Directions:

Mash together stuffing and form into a patty. Place into a pan and fry lightly on either side of the patty.

Place stuffing patty on plate. In a sauce pan, mix gravy turkey, and green chile together until warm. (Usually my dad makes his own gravy for Thanksgiving and for this purpose, white gravy is better than brown gravy, but both work!)

Top patty with sauce mixture and enjoy immediately. Then ask for seconds.


So do you call it stuffing, filling, or dressing?
Have you ever had S.O.S?

November 21, 2016

Turkey Pinwheels

My dad is the KING of leftovers.

Literally, no one can convince me otherwise. He is a no waste kind of guy. A visionary so to speak. He can look at what is in the fridge and pantry and make something out of anything. Sure there are some not great dishes, but that is where my trial and error creation style of recipes comes from.

Now of course after a holiday meal, there is a lot of great leftover food to recreate. One of my favorite after Thanksgiving leftovers is making Turkey Pinwheels.

It is nice because you can prep them and keep in the fridge until you are ready to eat them!
Trust me, they will soon be your favorite too!


Ingredients:

3 large flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups of shredded leftover Thanksgiving Turkey
1 cup of shredded cheese (fiesta blend)
Some extra shredded cheese
1/2 cup of sour cream
Cilantro

Directions:

Lay tortillas flat, top with turkey and cheese evenly.

Roll up tortillas and refrigerate until cool enough to slice into pinwheels.

Place pinwheels flat on plate. Sprinkle with set aside shredded cheese and warm in microwave until melted.

Top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.

Then enjoy!

November 18, 2016

5 Rules For Guests When Invited to Dinner

Tis the season for invites to dinner and parties! I shared some ideas for dishes if you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, but what about what is needed when you are going to someone else's house for dinner? Here is what you need to know:

Be Ontime:
I know this sounds like a big old "duh", but coming late or early can be oddly imposing on the host.

Don't Bring a Dish Unless Asked:
The host is the one whom plans the menu and works hard on that, so while your mashed potatoes may be great, she already has it.

Make Yourself Useful:
Offer to come early and prep. Do not take offense if you are told no. Once there, it is polite to ask if there is anything you can do, but do so only with permission from the host.

Bring a Beverage:
You can ask if there is any specific beer, wine, or nightcap the guest would like. If nothing specific is listed, bring something you think the host would like. Remember, white wine should come to a party chilled.

Bring a Gift:
If you are instructed to "just bring yourself", bring something small. No one ever gets mad when you show up with something with nice thought. Here are some ideas of things a host would love to receive:

Flowers: Bring them in a vase and trimmed already so the host does not have to attend to them. Sometimes I like even a simple mason jar, because it is a jar I don't mind giving up.

A Special Bottle of Wine: This is a fancy one that has a note for the host to enjoy it later when there are not as many relatives there that the host has to share it with.

Edible Sweets and Treats: Compound butters, cheeses, crackers, fruits, pancake mixes, chocolates, etc...are all great for the host to put away for another time.

Others: Candles and notebooks are always good little ideas 


Hosts and guests, what else would you recommend?
Happy partying!

November 16, 2016

Lauren's Guide To Friendsgiving

Today we are talking about Friendsgiving. The past 3 years I have hosted my friends before the actual event. Usually this is before two actual events; one being at my parents and the other with my husband's family. Because why can’t we feast multiple times in the month of November? It seems like the right thing to do.

Unfortunately I work the day of, but leftovers at my parents sound good too. At our Friendsgiving, everyone brings a side dish or dessert and I handle turkey, cranberry, and wine. Oh and this year, I made lime bars. I have a ton of limes and am trying to use them all. I am working on getting you the perfect recipes, but it is lime trial and error over in this house.

It is always a great time with a great group of friends. Oh and lots of laughs. Here are my tips on how to throw a fun and delicious Friendsgiving:

Send Invites:
While this dinner may not be as formal as your actual Thanksgiving dinners can be, you should send out invitations.Since there is an actual sit down dinner component to this party, I think having a solid number of guests let's me know how many people to prepare for. I send my invite through email. Every year, my guest list has changed slightly and so everyone replies all so we know that 2 people aren't both bringing pumpkin pie.

Go Grocery Shopping:
This may seem like an obvious "duh", but hear me out. There was one year I did not go grocery shopping soon enough and had to thaw the turkey very slowly with cold water. Whatever you are making, make sure you have enough room in the oven and more than enough food for all.

Set The Table:
This one is always a hard one for me because I am a person who is indecisive when it comes to shopping and has an odd sized table. Therefore, I do not have the white table cloth or set of chargers that I want. Never the less, I like to try and set out flowers and set the table nicely.

Make Sure Drinks Are Plenty:
The last thing you want to be doing is mixing, pouring, getting drinks for your guests all night. You can mix up a big signature cocktail for a punch bowl, mix up some apple cider, and have your wines and beers already up and ready (friends are always helpful and know how to use a corkscrew and bottle opener). I also (especially when people are drinking) make sure there is enough water for everyone.

Sit Back And Relax:
I will admit, this has been made easier by hosting this party more than once, but things will take care of themselves. I don't worry anymore about my table not looking like Pinterest, or having the perfectly crafted decor and presentation...and guess what?!? Neither do my friends. They do not worry at all! Generally there are leftovers and people take home what they want. We spend the time laughing and even have a funny tradition of everyone hiding their name tags around my house. Usually with something dirty on it (this all started the first year when my cursive J looked like a penis to someone. I assure you, it did not.) Would I have ever guessed that finding papers with dirty body parts drawn on them would be a result of hosting a dinner? Heck no, but when you sit back and relax and worry less, the party can take care of itself!

And remember to:
TAKE PICTURES! I honestly do not take enough and forget a lot. I mean this year I remembered to take a picture of the group AFTER three people left. I took pictures of the table before the festivities, but NONE of the food or rest of the fun. Learn from me and snap pics all night! I figure I would rather have too many instead of too little pictures.


So eat, drink, and have fun!
Happy Friendsgiving!

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