A Round Up of BBQ Sides for the 4th of July

Corn Poblano Potato Salad

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Ingredients

  • 1 poblano pepper

  • 4 ears of corn

  • 1.5 pounds of small red skinned potatoes

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 2 tablespoons jarred pickled jalapeños, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons brine from the jar of pickled jalapeños

  • 2 tablespoons parsley

  • salt and pepper

Directions

Grill poblano pepper and ears of corn on medium heat, until tender and slightly charred. Remove from grill and let cool. Peel, seed and chop the poblanos and cut the corn kernels off the cobs.

Cook potatoes in salted boiling water until tender, 12 minutes; drain and let cool. Cut potatoes in quarters.

In a large bowl, whisk mayonnaise, buttermilk, pickled jalapeños, brine, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. . Add the potatoes, peppers, and corn, then toss.

Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

Red White and Blue Potato Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Broccoli Ramen Slaw

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 olive oil

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

  • Two 3-ounce packages ramen noodles (discard the seasoning packets)

  • 16 oz bag of broccoli slaw

  • 1 cup snow peas julienned

  • 3/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

  • 4 scallions, chopped

  • salt and pepper

Directions

Whisk oil, rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil in a large bowl. Break up the ramen noodles into bite-size pieces. Add the uncooked ramen to the vinaigrette along with the broccoli slaw mix, snow peas, slivered almonds and scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss.

Let sit 1 to 2 hours before serving.


Peach and Tomato Salad












Simple Guide to Choosing the "Wright" White Paint for Your Walls

We are finally getting settled into our new home and now it’s time to start tackling some house projects. First up is painting all of the main living areas. I chose all white walls for a few reasons:

  1. I plan on bringing to lots of color in items such as the rugs, pillows, art, and even the doors.

  2. Although we have tons of windows, the roof over the front porch shades the living room for most of the day. Painting the walls white will make it feel a little more light and bright. The living room is also open to the kitchen

  3. I like to keep walls neutral and I’m just getting a little tried of gray walls. I feel like white walls have replaced the light gray trend.

Choosing the “wright” color of white for your walls is crucial. There are millions to choose from and you want one that will give you a bright and fresh look. If it’s not the right shade, it can look dingy, yellow, or too stark.

The main focus is figuring out what kind of natural light your rooms gets. If you have a darker space with low natural light (a north facing room or a room without a lot of windows, you want to choose a warm, creamier white. it will look whiter and crisper once you get it on the walls and completely brighten up the room without looking too cool or even blue.

If you have a room with lots of natural light (south facing or lots of windows) opt for a cooler or bright white that will absorb some of the sunlight. If you use a warm white in a space that gets strong sunlight coming in, it can end up looking a little dingy or yellow.

For a cohesive look, I like to keep the trim and ceilings the same color as the walls, but on the trim, I use a semigloss finish.

For our home, I chose a warm, creamy white - Sherwin Williams Alabaster. Again, the natural light we get is shaded and the creamy white looked best with our kitchen cabinets which are a warm maple.

Photos of the finished product coming soon!

Here is a quick guide with some of my favorite white paints:

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French Onion Burgers

We moved into our new home two weeks ago and I’m finally starting to feel settled in and somewhat back into a normal routine. That means I’m are finally back to cooking after way too many nights of take out. This was a quick and easy summer dinner that upgrades the plain old burger. It would also be perfect for your next barbecue or 4th of July party!

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Makes four large burgers

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck

1 envelope onion soup mix 

One 8 oz. container of sour cream

4 slices of gruyere or swiss cheese

4 brioche or potato hamburger buns, toasted 

lettuce and tomato (optional)

Directions 

For the onions:

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside

For the Sauce:

In a small bowl, combine the remaining onion soup and sour cream. Set aside.

For the burgers:

Combine beef and 2 tablespoons of the onion soup mix in a mixing bowl. Shape into 4 equal patties.

Preheat a grill or griddle over medium-high heat. Cook burgers 5 to 7 minutes, then flip, top with swiss cheese and cover. Let cook until cheese melts and burgers reach desired doneness, 4 to 6 minutes more. Spread a layer of the sauce on the inside of the toasted bun tops (and bottoms if you like it extra saucy!) Top the burgers with the caramelized onions, lettuce and tomato.

The extra sauce is a great dip for chips and veggies!



Almost-Famous Texas Brisket and Some Cinco De Mayo Tacos!

This is something I have been making a lot lately. It’s easy to prep and you just throw it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours. It’s a great Sunday dinner because there are also lots of leftovers that you can use for another dinner in the week ahead. The leftovers are great for sandwiches, salads, nachos, and of course tacos! Scroll down a little more for my Brisket Tacos with Avocado Verde and Pickled Onions - just in time for this weekend’s Cinco De Mayo fiestas!

Almost-Famous Texas Brisket

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 2 tablespoons salt

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard

  • 1 bay leaf, crushed

  • 4 pounds beef brisket, trim off some of the larger pieces of fat, but leave a little for flavor!

  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the dry rub by combining chili powder, salt, garlic and onion powders, black pepper, sugar, dry mustard, and bay leaf. Season the brisket on both sides with the rub. Place in a roasting pan and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Add beef stock and enough water to yield about 1/2 inch of liquid in the roasting pan. Lower oven to 300 degrees F, cover pan tightly and continue cooking for 3 hours, or until fork-tender.

Slice meat thinly across the grain. Top with the juices from the pan - the best part!

Brisket Tacos with Avocado Verde and Pickled Onions

Recipe for Corn, Black Bean and Tomato Salad shown can be found  here

Recipe for Corn, Black Bean and Tomato Salad shown can be found here

Ingredients

Pickled Red Onions

  • 2 pounds red onions, sliced

  • White wine vinegar

  • Sugar

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds

  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 2 bay leaves

Tacos

  • 1 cup of salsa verde, homemade or store bought

  • 1 large ripe avocado

  • flour tortillas

  • leftover brisket from recipe above, shredded and reheated

  • Queso fresco cheese, crumbled

  • Cilantro leaves, optional


Directions

To make the pickled onions: Pack the onions in 2 1-quart jars and cover with water to come within a half inch of the rim. Pour the water out into a measuring cup. Note the volume, pour off half the water, and replace it with vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons salt for every 3 cups of liquid. Pour the vinegar mixture into a saucepan, add the mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, coriander seed, black peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves and bring to a boil over high heat. Allow the liquid to boil for 2 minutes, and then remove it from the heat. Pour the hot liquid into the jars to cover the onions and screw on the lids. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

To assemble the tacos: Place the salsa verde and avocado in a blender. Pulse until combined.

Warm tortillas either on the stove or microwave for 15 seconds. Top the tortillas with the shredded brisket, avocado verde, queso fresco, and pickled onions. Garnish with cilantro if desired.




Other Favorite Taco Recipes for Cinco De Mayo:

Jerk Shrimp with Sweet Chili Slaw


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Spring Vegetable Panzanella Salad

I made this for Easter dinner last weekend and have had multiple requests since for the recipe. It is spring in a bowl - loads of fresh spring vegetables tossed in a light, lemony vinaigrette.

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Ingredients

Salad

  • 1/2 of a french baguette, torn into bite size pieces

  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1/2 of a bunch of asparagus trimmed

  • 1/2 cup of small, mixed colored carrots, halved lengthwise

  • 2 cups of mixed spring lettuce leaves

  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise

  • 1 small Persian cucumber, thinly sliced

  • 1 bunch of radishes, thinly sliced

  • Parmesan crisps, store-bought or homemade (recipe below) , broken into bite size pieces, optional

Dressing

  • zest and juice of 2 large lemons

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Directions

Preheat over to 400 degrees F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer and bake for about 12 minutes, until golden and almost crisp. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Keep the oven on.

On the same rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus and carrots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes until veggies are slightly roasted, but still crisp tender. Set aside and let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, mustard, salt, pepper and 1/3 cup olive oil until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

In a large serving bowl, add the lettuce, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, radishes, roasted asparagus and carrots, and toasted bread. Pour on the vinaigrette, toss, and serve immediately.

NOTE: Can be made ahead, however leave out the roasted vegetables, bread, and vinaigrette until right before serving.

Parmesan Crisps

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pour a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan onto a parchment lined baking sheet and lightly pat down. Repeat with the remaining cheese, spacing the spoonfuls about a 1/2 inch apart.

Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool.

Cinnamon Roll Bunnies

These adorable sweet treats are the perfect way to start Easter morning! Quick and easy to make, these bunnies work best with pre-made, refrigerated cinnamon rolls. They are easier to unroll than homemade dough and don’t puff up too much while baking (which will just leave you with a blob and not so much a bunny!)

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Ingredients

  • One package of cinnamon roll dough with glaze (I used Trader Joe’s )

  • 5 raisins

  • Spinkles (optional)

Directions

1. Unroll an unbaked cinnamon roll and cut in half.

2. Roll up one half to form the body. Rotate the roll so the outer end of the roll is facing downward. This will form the bunny's front legs.

3. Cut off one third of the remaining dough, and roll it up to form the tail. Roll up the last 2/3 dough to about the halfway point to form the head. Slice through the remaining unrolled portion and fan out the pieces to form the ears. To attach the tail and head to the body, rub away any cinnamon coating, wet the dough, and press the pieces together.  Spread out the ears and pinch them at the tips to shape.

4. Lift carefully with a spatula or scraper, and transfer the bunny to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe from allrecipes.com

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe

This is a great dish for the early days of spring. It’s warm and comforting (because let’s face it, it’s still not THAT warm out yet!) but you get a little taste of spring flavor with the broccoli rabe.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound of ground hot Italian sausage

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • One 28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta

  • 1 large bunch of broccoli rabe

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the sausage and cook for about 5 minutes until browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices (breaking up the whole tomatoes with a fork), the red wine, tomato paste, salt, and pepper and let the mixture simmer over low heat while you prepare the pasta and broccoli.

Trim the broccoli rabe to just below the leaves and discard the stems. Cut the leafy part of the broccoli rabe crosswise in 2-inch pieces. Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta and cook according to instructions on package.

During the last three minutes of pasta cooking, add the broccoli rabe to the pasta and continue cooking for the last 3 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is crisp-tender. Drain in a large colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta and broccoli to the pot with the tomato and sausage mixture. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking liquid. Serve hot with extra Parmesan on the side.

Adapted from Ina Garten

Lemon Olive Chicken

Life has been crazy busy lately, and I haven’t shared a lot of recipes. I really want to try to be more consistent with it. Cooking is a love language of mine and no matter how busy I get, I still cook dinner most nights. It is something that is extremely important to me and my family.

I want to share more of my go-to recipes to show that no matter how busy life gets, there is still time to get a great meal on the table. You need to plan ahead, but if you are prepared, it takes less time than take out.

I would say that most my recipes are “healthy-ish”. We try to well clean most of the time. I believe in balance, but I believe in butter too. This recipe is a great representation of how we normally eat. Sometimes I will pair it with a salad if we trying to stay on the light side, but it’s also excellent with a lemony pasta.

I also try to cook seasonally as much as possible. Right now, it is citrus everything, and this lemon olive chicken is a favorite of mine.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 boneless chicken breast cutlets, pounded thin or thinly sliced

  • Zest and juice of half a lemon, plus four slices of lemon

  • 2 large cloves garlic, sliced

  • 1/3 cup each of sliced kalamata olives, pitted and green olives pitted ( I use the herb marinated mixture for find at the grocery store olive bar - they add a ton of flavor!)

  • 3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Fresh pepper, to taste

  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Directions

Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet on medium heat until hot.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess. Place the chicken in the hot skillet and cook until lightly golden, about 3 minutes.

Turn the chicken over, add the lemon juice, lemon slices, garlic, olives, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the parsley, and the salt and pepper. Cook for 5-8 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally and stirring the olive mixture gently to avoid burning the garlic. 

Add the butter to the pan, shaking to combine the sauce.

Place the chicken on a serving plate, then pour the olive mixture over the top. Garnish with the remaining parsley.

20 New Thanksgiving Side Dishes To Try

For turkey day dinner, my family is pretty traditional. We stick with the tried and true staples and family traditions, but then we will throw in one or two new recipes for fun.  Here is a collection of some of my favorite new side dishes. Whether you are hosting dinner, or bringing a dish as a guest, these are great additions to introduce to your Thanksgiving table this year.


Balsamic Roasted Brussel Spouts and Carrots

I make this dish all the time.  It is my favorite way to make brussel sprouts!

from  The Chew

Roasted Cauliflower "Rice" with Garlic and Lemon

Lately I have made this rice at least once every week. Roasting the cauliflower is the key - it gives it a much more nutty flavor.

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

This lasagna is soooooo good and makes a great vegetarian main dish option.

Summer Corn Salad

I posted a picture of this salad on my stories a few weeks back and I received many requests for the recipe.  I discovered this one from Better Homes and Gardens a few years back and it is a family favorite in the summertime.  It's a great side to go along anything on the grill, like these Hot Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches I am serving it with tonight. 

You could also add some chicken or shrimp to it to make it a meal in itself.

What's interesting about this vinaigrette is that there isn't any oil in it!  It is straight vinegar, sugar,  and salt/pepper, but you really don't even miss the oil!

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup apples cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher slt
  • 1/2 freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 ears of fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quatered
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1-2 cups arugula, baby romaine, or spring mix lettuce

Directions

For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.

For the salad, cut corn kernels from the cobs and toss with the remaining ingredients except the arugula/lettuce in a large serving bowl.

Add the dressing and arugula/lettuce.  Toss gently and serve immediately.  

 

Chocolate Heart Lava Cakes with Strawberry Sauce

Every Valentines Day we make dinner together at home and I wanted to make something special this year for our daughter because she is such a picky eater.  However, like her mother, she never says no to chocolate.  This is such a quick and easy dessert that is sure to impress any Valentine!  They can even be assembled ahead of time and then you just pop them in the oven while you are eating dinner.  Serve them warm with vanilla ice cream or with this festive strawberry sauce.

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Ingredients

For the Cake: 

  • four 6-ounce ramekins (preferably heart shaped if for Valentines Day!)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 3 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the Strawberry Sauce

  • 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°. Butter and lightly flour four 6-ounce ramekins.  Tap out the excess flour.  Set the ramekins on a baking sheet. 

In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and salt at high speed until thickened and pale.  

Whisk the chocolate until smooth.  Quickly fold it into the egg mixture along with the flour.  Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers are soft.  Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate.  Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold.  Serve immediately.

Strawberry Sauce:

Put the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  You can also place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. 

Make Ahead

The batter can be refrigerated for several hours.  Bring to room temperature before baking.

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Ginger Mandarin Chicken Lettuce Cup

These lettuce cups have been a weeknight staple in our home for years.  They are a quick, easy, and healthy dinner you can have on the table in just minutes.

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I came up with the recipe as I was trying to recreate some chicken lettuce wraps that we had at a local restaurant.  These come together in about 20 minutes thanks to this short cut: Brianna’s Ginger Mandarin Dressing!

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or canola oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup Brianna's Ginger Mandarin Dressing
  • 1 head of butter, bibb, or iceberg lettuce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, and orange zest for garnish, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan to stir the almonds.  Check every minute until they are the desired color.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Add the oil and chicken and cook until chicken is browned, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the celery and onion to the pan and sauté for another 3-5 minutes.

Add the dressing to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce slightly thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the toasted almonds.  Serve the mixture in the lettuce cups and garnish with the cilantro and orange zest, optional. .

How I Keep Our 600 Square Foot Home Clutter-Free

At this time of year, everyone is trying to get organized in every aspect of life.  Getting your house in order is certainly one of the top priorities.  I have spent the past week clearing out the clutter and cleaning out every square inch of our home. (I also did it because we may be putting our house on the market, but that's an another, exciting story hopefully coming soon) 

However, did you know that our house is just a little over 600 square feet?!?!  

That's 2 adults, 1 toddler (and she comes with a lot stuff), and a 100 lb. dog in that 600 sq. ft!

We made "tiny house living" cool before it was even a thing.  It has definitely it's benefits.  A tiny house comes with a tiny mortgage, and that has afforded us to do many other things.  There are drawbacks too.  When you live in a small space, you HAVE to keep it organized and clutter free at all times or it will literally drive you insane.   The clutter can take over, leaving you feeling very claustrophobic in such a tiny space!

That is why I have become quite the expert on getting rid of unwanted household mess.  Here is my simple two-step to keeping our home clutter-free.

Every item in out house has to fall into one of these two categories below, and I mean EVERYTHING!  These categories can to applied when going through your closet, junk drawers, kitchen cabinets, offices... just about every space in your home.

Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Is it functional/Does it serve a purpose?
  2. Do you love it?

 If it no longer serves a purpose or you're no longer getting any enjoyment out of owning it, it's time to let it go.  At first, I wasn't very good at this, but living in such a small house, we had no choice.  However, once you do it, it becomes easier, and even sometimes enjoyable!

Once you decide what you are keeping, you can move on to the second step:

Everything has to have a home.

Make sure everything in your home has a specific place that makes sense.   Putting things back in their place when you are done with them will save yourself from unmanageable messes in the future.

Baskets, boxes, and containers  are my go-to for this step, especially now since we have a toddler and a million toys!  I have baskets designated for toys, blankets, DVDs, magazines, you name it.  Everything you keep has to have it's own designated spot in your home.  

via the Home Edit

via the Home Edit

 

Get rid of paper clutter before it has a chance to pile up.  When I get the mail, the junk goes straight into the recycling bin outside before I even get in the house.  Magazines have a designated basket.  Bills or any important papers (which I try to keep most paperless) get filed away.  If you do this right these papers enter your house, They will never pile up.

 

Go vertical and utilize empty real estate. Hats and jewelry get hung up on the wall. (You can find my DIY Jewelry Board from years ago here)  Clothes not being used in the current season are stashed in bins under the beds.  Hanging shoe organizers on the back of doors keep shoes from piling on the floor.   Those same organizers can also be used for hats and gloves inside the hallway closet, snacks in the pantry, or beauty products in a linen closet. 

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Double duty furniture helps create more space in small rooms.  Storage ottomans provide a place to put up you feet  as well as great storage.  Using a small dresser as a nightstand allows for more clothing storage in a small bedroom.  We have this piece below in our living room that doubles as our office.  It has a drop-down desk, a home for our printer, and has filing storage.

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When it comes to deciding what we put in our home, I think Nate Berkus says it best:

 "Be a ruthless editor about what you allow into your home to begin with.  Consider each piece you bring into your home, asking yourself, 'does this serve a new purpose? Is it able to replace something else?' It's a universal thing to want to live better and in a more beautiful space, and the answer goes way beyond cleaning.   You're creating your world with every object you let enter into your daily life, so act as a curator to your own environment.  If you edit carefully, making sure every object has meaning and personal value, you'll eventually be surrounded by only what you love, and that much closer to realizing your dream home."

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Turtle Pretzel Bites

I have had to make another double batch of these because the first round is already gone!  They have been the favorite out of all the cookies I have baked this year, and there really isn't much baking involved at all!  They are quick and simple to make so there is still plenty of time to whip of a batch.  Or four.

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Ingredients

  • 36 pecan halves
  • 36 mini pretzel twists 
  • 36 individually wrapped soft caramel squares 
  • 16 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, melted 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Put the pecan halves on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake, shaking the sheet once halfway through, until lightly toasted, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate to cool.

Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.  Arrange the pretzels neatly on the baking sheet, then top each pretzel with an unwrapped caramel.  Bake until the caramels soften (but are definitely not melting), 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and gently press a pecan half onto each caramel, just enough for the caramel to fill the pretzel.  Set aside to cool completely.

Remove the cooled pretzel/caramels from the baking sheet. Spoon 36 small dollops (1 1/2-teaspoon helpings) of the melted chocolate all over the baking sheet, then lightly drop a pretzel onto the middle of each dollop, making sure the pretzel is centered. Places them in the fridge and allow them to cool completely before serving

 

 

Lemon, Ginger, and Sage Punch

I made this champagne punch last year for Thanksgiving and I'm making it again this year because it was such a hit.  It's refreshing and light and goes perfectly with your turkey dinner.  It is very pretty too with the lemon and sage ice ring in the punch bowl.

Image and recipe via epicurious.com

Image and recipe via epicurious.com

This recipe serves about 20

Ingredients

For the ice ring:

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 3–4 sprigs sage

For the punch:

  • 8 strips lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

  • 1/2 large bunch of sage

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice

  • 2 cups gin

  • 2 cups ginger liqueur, such as Canton

  • 6 cups unflavored sparkling water

  • 2 bottles chilled sparkling wine

Special Equipment

  • A Bundt or tube pan; a large (about 6-quart) punch bowl or mixing bowl

 

Directions

Make the ice ring: Arrange lemon slices and sage in bottom of Bundt pan and fill with cold water, leaving about 1" of space at the top. Freeze until set, at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

Make the punch: Muddle lemon zest, sage, and sugar in a measuring cup with a pour spout until sugar starts to turn green. Add 2 cups warm water and stir until sugar is dissolved, then let sit 10 minutes to infuse.

Stir in lemon juice, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large punch bowl. Stir in gin and ginger liqueur.

Just before serving, dip bottom of Bundt pan into a bowl of hot water. Place a plate over mold, invert ice ring onto plate, then transfer to punch bowl. Pour in sparkling water and wine and stir gently.

Do Ahead

Punch, without sparkling water and wine, can be made 2 days ahead; transfer to an airtight container and chill.

If you don’t have a punch bowl big enough to hold the full amount, start by filling it with half of the recipe, then refill throughout your party as guests continue to drink.

 

Honey Crisp Apple and Candied Nut Salad

It's lunchtime and today I am having this fall apple salad.  I thought I would share it because it would also be a great salad to serve on Thanksgiving.   I made the candied nuts a few days ago, and honestly, I will use any excuse to add them to my meal.  That is the real reason for this salad.  The nuts are soooo good.  

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Ingredients

For the candied nuts

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole walnuts
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 pepitas

For the salad

  • 4 to 6 cups spring mix lettuce
  • 2 honeycrisp apples, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 extra vigin olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, chili powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Add the nuts and seeds along with 1 tablespoon of water.  Toss to coat.  Pour the nuts/seeds on to a baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Watch carefully because the sugar can burn easily.  Transfer to a clean plate or bowl and let cool. (if you leave them on the pan to cool, they may stick to the pan)

For the salad, place the lettuce in a large bowl or on a large platter.  Top with the apples, feta, pomegranates , and candied nuts.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic and balsamic vinegar.   Add the oil and whisk thoroughly to combine.  Continue whisking until the dressing is fully emulsified.

Pour just enough of the dressing on the salad to lightly coat.  Serve immediately.

Ten New Thanksgiving Side Dishes To Try

For the big turkey day dinner, my family usually sticks with the staples and family traditions, but then will throw in a new side dish or two.  Here is a collection of some of my favorites that are traditional Thanksgiving sides with a twist.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

barefootcontessa.com

barefootcontessa.com

marthastewart.com

marthastewart.com

Balsamic Roasted Brussel Spouts and Carrots

I make this dish all the time.  It is my favorite way to make brussel sprouts!

damndelicious.net

damndelicious.net

Roasted Cauliflower "Rice" with Garlic and Lemon

I never thought I would get on the cauliflower rice bandwagon but I tried this one and it is delicious.  Mr. Wright loved it too!  Roasted it gives it so much more nutty flavor.

skinnytaste,com

skinnytaste,com

cookingclassy.com

cookingclassy.com

weelicious.com

weelicious.com

recipe-image-legacy-id--1040452_11.jpg
feastingathome.com

feastingathome.com

damndelicous.net

damndelicous.net

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

This lasagna is soooooo good and makes a great vegetarian main dish too.

foodnetwork.com

foodnetwork.com