Food & Parties · Recipes

Recipe Roundup: Thanksgiving Edition

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATunic Top (wearing XS)/ Vera Wang Leggings / Pointed Toe Heels similar here / Stick Drop Earrings

I live for food holidays. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas – my moms’ family prepares the same thing each holiday and it’s my favorite food ever. If I could eat the food we eat those three holidays every day, I’d be one happy girl! Here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Get ready to gobble ’til you wobble!

Swiss Corn Bake
Now, I have only made this once because in our family everyone has a designated dish to prepare and bring – mine is deviled eggs and a dessert and my moms’ is Swiss Corn Bake. I live for my little mamas’ corn bake. Swiss cheese, onions, corn and bread crumbs – what could possibly be tastier? This recipe is almost exactly my moms, except she uses 3/4 cup swiss cheese in the mixture and 3/4 cup swiss cheese in the breadcrumb topping – everything else is identical.

Green Bean Casserole
Not typically a dish my family does, but my mother in law serves it on Thanksgiving and I always get seconds! Just as simple as the Swiss Corn Bake with a different take on the flavor profile; green beans, mushroom soup and french fried onions make for a creamy side dish.

Pineapple Glazed Ham
My Papa has made this ham the exact same way since I can remember and we have it Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s always perfect, always tasty and always good on sandwiches as leftovers.

Mac & Cheese
My family cheats on the Mac & Cheese. Always have, always will. They (not me!) actually use a family size Stouffer’s and just add a topping of melted butter and crushed crackers to the top before baking. But if I’m in charge of the Mac & Cheese, we do things a little differently.

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
I make this for AT LEAST one Thanksgiving get together (I typically have anywhere from 4 – 6 holiday “dinners” between my family and the in laws!) and it is always a hit! The cheesecake layer adds a creaminess to the sweet and spiciness of the pumpkin layer – no whipped cream needed! Unless you want to. 🙂

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes
This year, I’m adding a new recipe to my tried and true collection. Chocolate. Bourbon. Pecan Pie. Cupcakes. Thanksgiving, meet your maker. I have legitimately never had a bite of pecan pie. Well, maybe in the years before I remember, but since then, not one. Check out the recipe on Half Baked Harvest.

Pumpkin Spice Truffles
Every year for Thanksgiving I make pumpkin fudge. This year, I’m mixing things up a bit by doing pumpkin spice truffles. These are so good! You can literally eat the truffle mixture right out of the bowl with a spoon – but don’t! Wait for them to be covered in white chocolate and have yourself a creamy, bite sized pumpkin pie treat! Get the recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Soft Ginger Cookies
Oh, my! These are the PERFECT soft ginger cookies. Seriously some of the best cookies I have ever baked. My husband couldn’t keep his hands off them!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

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Food & Parties

DIY Dinosaur Birthday Decor Under $50

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This past weekend my nephew turned one! Well, he turned one Monday, but his first birthday party was on Saturday. Being the Martha Stewart I am, I was enlisted to help with party planning and although there were some setbacks, we managed to pull everything off under my sisters’ budget. (And try not to mind the photos – it was super bright outside the pavilion, super dark under it, the wind was insane and I was stressed to the max trying to get everything done before guests arrived.)

First, let me start by saying the budget was a challenge. I was given a food budget of $50 to feed the entire invited number of 86 people, of which about 45 came. Still, $50 for 45 mostly adult people is not a huge number to work with. But that’s for another post. Our decor budget was really low and although a number was never given, we gave it our best to stay as low as possible.

A major tip when planning parties is to shop your house first. You need a banner? See if you have some unused construction paper or cardstock lying around from another project. Need party plates? Check your stockpile that you have filled with FREE paper plates instead of spending $1 per pack of eight for a certain color – nobody really cares what color your plates are.

Dinosaur Banners
Budget: I already had a roll of twine, some construction paper and white acrylic lying around so we only bought a pack of kraft cardstock using a 40% coupon from Hobby Lobby. Total out of pocket for our party: $2.50 and there’s plenty leftover for other projects. If you had to go buy twine, construction paper, white acrylic and kraft cardstock your out of pocket would be about: $12. (And you would have plenty left over to do a load of other banners!)

Craft: We cut the kraft cardstock into 5x7s (you’ll need enough of those for letter and print parts of all the banners) and then 6 6x8s for the dinosaurs on the ends of each banner. We then used a stencil (I already had these – you can purchase or make your own) to write out “Parker’s one!”, “gifts” and “candy brawr!”. Using these templates (t rex, stegosaurus, diplodocus, footprint) we traced, cut and glued down the accent pieces – remember to use your 6x8s horizontal for the dinosaur ends! Finally, we punched holes in all the pieces and threaded the twine through. Easy peasy!

Dinosaur Balloons
Budget: Here is where our budget doubled overnight and if you don’t do what we did, it won’t happen to you! We bought three packs of balloons for $1 each at Dollar Tree (that was the first mistake – they just don’t hold the helium well) and got them filled at our local Food Lion for $0.80 each. We decided on six bunches of three and one extra of each color should we have some deflating issues. We filled the balloons at about 8pm the night before the party and by the time I got up at 5:30 the next morning half the balloons were down and by 10am the rest had deflated as well. IF YOU USE CHEAP BALLOONS DO NOT MAKE THESE IN ADVANCE! We ended up having enough leftover balloons to not have to buy more, but still had to pay $0.80 a balloon AGAIN and they still hardly lasted over 5 hours. Total out of pocket for our party: $41.40 ($3 balloons, $16.80 for helium the first time and then $21.60 the second time because the employees at Food Lion did not listen to “fill up six of each color and ended up filling all the balloons we gave them”) If you do not have our problems your total out of pocket would be about: $21.80.

Craft: Using the leftover construction paper from the dinosaur banners, we cut out dinosaur body parts using the following templates: t rex, stegosaurus, diplodocus. Before you begin you’ll want to cut any string they may have tied to your balloon because you won’t be having them float the “correct” way. Position your balloon in a way that resembles whatever dinosaur body your trying to create. For a stegosaurus, it will be totally horizontal, where for the rex and diplodocus it will be more diagonal. Tape your dino parts on your balloon and then tape the string underneath the dinosaurs’ body so he’ll be right side up. For a visual on what I mean by body positioning, check out this post.

Party Dino Centerpieces
Budget: These dinosaurs are only $1 at Walmart and if you don’t want them as toys after the fact, give them away or sell them at a yard sale and make some of your money back! We ended up having six tables, with three on each making that 18 dinosaurs. We also picked up a pack of mini pom poms at Hobby Lobby for $1.99. Total out of pocket for our party: $19.99.

Craft: Using more of the leftover construction paper, my sister cut out mini party hats using this template. She hot glued the edges, added a pom pom to each hat and then hot glued them to the dinosaurs’ heads. Really simple and really cute.

Our total out of pocket for the party decor (had we not had to refill balloons with helium) was $42.29. Issues happen and you have to deal with it, but for the sake of this post, we’ll pretend it didn’t. 🙂

If you all are interested in hearing more about how we fed 45 people for under $50 (not including cake), please let me know! To see my outfit, read this post.

And remember, I’m running a giveaway through September 28th, so be sure to check out this post as well! Good luck!

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Food & Parties · Recipes

Recipe Roundup

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Gray Dolman Top similar here / Vera Wang Leggings / Stripe Slippers similar here

Two three of my favorite things to do are: cook, bake and eat. Sounds to me like a match made in the kitchen. Cheeseball status: elevated.

Everyone always asks for my recipes, quickly followed by “where do you find your recipes”. To address this, every month I’ll be doing a roundup of my favorite dishes I prepared the previous month. Sweets, savouries, beverages – anything goes. Join me on my culinary adventures and perhaps you’ll pick up a new recipe on your way. (And now I sound like I’m in my own show on Food Network.) 😀

Brown Sugar Butterscotch Cupcakes
Let me start by saying, I wanted to crumple this recipe up and set it on fire because it gave me so much trouble, but it’s my own rushed fault and they actually came out perfectly even with all my back and forth. The cupcake isn’t super sweet on its’ own but when you add the frosting and butterscotch filling and drizzle it is incredible! Took these to a pig roast and got nothing but rave reviews. Note: the recipe only makes 12, so double it if you want 24.

Beef and Bean Chimichangas
I am teaching my little brother how to cook every other Friday night and this past Friday he wanted to do another Mexican night. Little brother + Mexican night + Deadpool = Chimichangas. These were everything good Mexican is: simple, flavorful, with a bit of a kick. I like mine with lettuce, tomato and guac.

Slutty Brownie Cups
Yes, really. We made these for dessert for Mexican night and they were a big hit – nothing but yums from around the table. Another plus? Super simple. They’re basically a brownie filled a lump of chocolate chip cookie dough sandwiched between two oreos and smothered in a chocolate ganache. Tip: the recipe says to use cupcake liners – don’t, just grease the pan well.

All Day Apple Butter
I don’t know about you, but when September 1st hits two things happen: 1) pumpkin spice lattes and 2) apple butter. This is a fall staple recipe that I come back to year after year because it’s so easy and so darn good! I like to make it at about 7pm and let it cook overnight so when I wake up I can have it for breakfast. Not to mention it makes the whole house smell incredible.

Shrimp and Gnocchi w/ Parmesan Cream Sauce
My brother and I made this for my husbands’ birthday at his request. It was the first time I had ever cooked gnocchi and it will not be the last! As fancy as this dish sounds, presents and tastes, it’s deceptively simple to prepare. Thumbs up across the board, from picky teenagers to foodies.

Honey-Lime Grilled Drumsticks
Another simple prep dish with big flavor. The honey lime combo sounded really weird to me, but the photo looked delicious so I went for it. The  honey adds a subtle sweetness to the BBQ sauce and you can definitely tell the lime is there, but not in a weird way. My husband told me how good it was at least five times while we were eating – totally husband approved.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pretzel Cake
Saved the most extravagant for last! This was one of the cakes I made for my husbands’ birthday and probably one of my favorites of all time. Let be really clear. This. Cake. Is. Rich. And sweet. My family thought it was too sweet, but they also all had large pieces. I have one heck of a sweet tooth and thought it was fantastic! So did my husband and it was his birthday so that’s all that matters. 🙂 Tip: have it with a huge glass of milk

And that’s a wrap for this months’ recipe roundup. Check back next month (hopefully sooner!) for another round of recipes!

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Fashion & Beauty · Food & Parties

Polka Dot Tea Dress

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA50s Polka Dot Tea Dress / Pointed Toe Heels similar here / Pearl Studs similar here

So last weekend I hosted a Premier Designs Jewelry party. Not something I ever thought I’d do, but after having a blast (both in the kitchen and at the party) I’d 100% do it again. Hostess perks = free jewelry!

I am the unofficial Martha Stewart of my friends and family – trust me, I read this post and checked everything on the list 🙂 – and this party was the perfect opportunity to put some of that title to work. I did an afternoon tea theme and both the guests and myself were thrilled with the outcome.

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MENU
Bacon Cheddar Chive Scones
Cucumber Sandwiches
Lemon Meltaways
Caramel Shortbread
Chocolate Orange w/ Orange Buttercream Mini Cupcakes
Vanilla w/ Strawberry Buttercream Mini Cupcakes
Nutella Crescent Rolls
Coconut Lime Tarts
Coconut Lavender Lemonade

This was the first time I had cooked any of these items and they all turned out fantastic. My guests were so impressed by all the treats and per usual after hosting a party, everyone mentioned that I should open a catering company or become a party planner. Martha Stewart, you guys, Martha Stewart. 🙂

And what’s afternoon tea without a hostess in a pretty tea dress? I actually let my husband choose from three dresses I had picked out and although I was a little iffy about it, when it arrived I just about died! It is so well made, comfy and flattering that I am planning on ordering it in plain black and burgundy. If black polka dot is not your thing, this dress actually comes in 45 different prints and colors! Sizing note: I’m wearing an XS (listed as bust up to 32.3in – my bust is closer to 36in) and it fits perfectly, so I’d order one size down if you like it fitted.

Keep your eyes peeled for posts styling some of the free jewelry I received from sales!

Notes on the recipes:
The original lemon meltaways recipe is actually a lime meltaways recipe – I just swapped lemon for lime and ta-da lemon meltaways! All my cupcake recipes I actually use a doctored boxed cake mix – 1 box cake mix, 1 large coordinating instant pudding, 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup water, 4 eggs and 1 cup sour cream instead of the given ingredients on the box mix – for most of my cupcake recipes. For the chocolate orange cupcakes, I used a chocolate cake mix, 2 teaspoons orange extract and a chopped up chocolate orange in the cake and for the frosting I used 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract in place of the vanilla the recipe calls for.

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