Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Cocktails

Christmas is the perfect time to try new, festive cocktails.  My girlfriends count on me to supply a fun beverage for most occasions!  I have always enjoyed Poinsettias but decided to try a couple of new ones also!  
1 oz Malibu Coconut Rum
2 oz Coconut Juice
splash of Simple Syrup
Remove seeds from inside vanilla bean and mix well with white sugar. On a small plate sprinkle sugar.-vanilla mixture.  Rim glass with a orange slice and dip the rim of a champagne flute in sugar. Pour in rum, simple syrup and coconut juice.  Stir well but be careful of the rim.  Fill remainder of glass with champagne.  
1 oz Grand Marnier
2 oz Cranberry Juice
Mix Grand Marnier and cranberry juice in a glass and top with champagne.
6 mint leaves, torn in half
juice of one lime
1- 11/2 tbsp sugar
2 oz pomegranate juice
4 oz rum
club soda
crushed ice
Muddle mint leaves, lime and sugar in a glass.  Add rum.  Put glass in fridge for 30 minutes or so for the flavors to combine. Stir in pomegranate juice.  Add club soda and stir again.  Serve over crushed ice.
Drunken Gingerbread Man Martinis
This makes about 8 drinks.  I make them in a pitcher and keep it in the fridge.  Then when someone wants a drink I shake some with ice in a cocktail shaker and pour in a martini glass.  Sprinkle ground nutmeg on top.
4 cups of half and half
1/2 cup Vanilla Vodka
1/4 cup Cinnamon Schnapps
1/4 cup Butterscotch Schnapps
1/4 cup Molasses Syrup
1 tsp ground ginger
ground nutmeg
Take the 1/4 cup of the warm molasses syrup and 1 tsp ground ginger and whisk together until the ginger dissolves into the syrup.  Set aside to cool.  Mix half and half, vodka and the schnapps in a pitcher.  Once cool, add molasses mixture and whisk throughly.  Set in fridge to cool completely.  Before serving stir well as some of the molasses may have settled to the bottom.

*Molasses Syrup is made by mixing equal parts molasses and water in a small pan and bringing to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and let cool. 
Cheers y'all!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

WIW: A Weekend of Christmas Parties

Last weekend we had a couple of parties including we had Allen's work party.  It was at George's Brasserie here in Charlotte.  I ordered this dress at Anthropologie and tried it on basically as I was walking out  the door!  Luckily it fit and I liked it!
Boots: Guess (old)
 I had a couple of fabulous cocktails at George's.  This one is called The DeGalle Masterpiece.  I will definitely try to re-create this one at home!

We also went to the Carmel Christmas Formal for the first time ever.  Boy, have we been missing out! They had it all- amazing food, delicious cocktails and a terrific band.  We will definitely make it a point to go next year.  
I found this gorgeous feather top in New York at the tibi store in Soho.  After trying on A LOT of different skirts to go with it, I chose this one from French Connection.  My shoes are old and from White House Black Market.  My sis (Poppy Style) made these amazing earrings for me especially for this outfit.  The royal blue pop of color was the perfect compliment to the skirt.  Thanks Mal!!!

Me & my sweet friend Kim who invited us to sit at her table.
 Early in the evening we were such a sweet couple 
 Later, he was ready to go and I was still having fun! :-)
 Fun times with good girlfriends…and good drinks!
You know a night is good when it ends with the McDonald's drive-thru!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Tuscan Bean Soup

This was the perfect Meatless Monday meal for this cold week.  It is very hearty and will fill you and your husband up.  
3 tbsp olive oil
1 container of Mirapoux(14 ozs) plus additional 1/2 cup of onion, chopped)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cans of Cannellini Beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 zucchini, sliced 
4 cups Vegetable Broth
2 cups of kale, chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme (stem removed)
Salt & pepper, to taste
Shaved Parmesan
In large pot heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add Mirapoux and extra onion.  Saute until softened.  Add garlic. cook for additional 2-3 minutes.  Add bean, tomatoes, zucchini and broth.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Puree half of the soup with immersion blender. Add kale, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook form 15 more minutes or until kale is wilted.  Enjoy and serve in individual bowls with shave parm on top!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What We Wore: A Week Recap of Outfits

My blog posts have been very sparse the past couple of weeks.  It has been busy, busy, busy around here with parties, events and LOTS of Christmas shopping!  With the holidays in full swing, Hollins has sported some pretty cute outfits last week.  She now says "Pictures?" before we leave the house, so we usually snap a couple before she heads off to preschool a couple mornings a week.
Breakfast with Mary at Church
Dress: Persnickety (last year)
Tulle Skirt/ Slip: Gap
Skirt: Janie & Jack
Shirt: Matilda Jane
Dress: Zara
Hairband: My Eclectic Style
Sweater: Gap
Vest: Old Navy
Pants: Naartjie
Sneakers: Zara
I have been nursing an ear infection again, so last week was all about comfort for me.  I still managed to find cute yet comfortable and festive pieces to wear!
Sweater: Rag & Bone (Hampden Clothing)
Pants: Spanx (KK Bloom)
I could live in this sweater from Anthro!  I went back and bought in cream too.  It is so cozy I know I will end up living in this winter.
Sweater: Anthropologie
Skirt: Gap

What have been your favorite holiday go-to outfits?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

This recipe has always been a huge hit in this house.  I love that it is a one-pot meal and I don't feel like I have to make anything else to go along with it.  It is also super comforting so it is perfect during these cold months!
2 tbsp olive oil
1 container of Mirepoix (aprox 14oz.)
3 cups of chicken breast, cooked and shredded
2 cups of wild rice, cooked
1 cup of white rice, cooked
Cheese Sauce
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Salt & pepper, to taste
3-4 cups shredded cheese ( I use the blend from Trader Joe's that is Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Mozzarella), divided
Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Add mirepoix to the melted butter.  Saute until all vegetables have softened.  Add cooked chicken and wild rice, stirring to combine.  In a separate pot,  melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Slowly add chicken broth.  Bring to a slow boil.  Add 2 cups of cheese, stir and remove from heat.  Pour over chicken, veggies and rice.  Combine all ingredients.  Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish of choice.  Add remaining cheese to the top and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes until edges are brown.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What Hollins is Wearing

I love getting Hollins dressed everyday.  She is just like my own little life-sized doll.  Buying clothes for her is so fun!  I definitely think she inherited my shopping gene.  She loves to pick out beautiful clothes and get dressed up.

This is one of my favorite fall dresses that Hollins has.  It is from a local designer here in Charlotte.  The company is called Poppy Whitaker.  If you love whimsical dresses for little girls take a look at their site!
Persnickety has been a favorite brand of mine since I had Hollins.  They always have the most beautiful prints and patterns.  If you haven't checked them out before, do!

I have been debating whether or not to get this dress for Hollins for the holidays… What do y'all think?? It is called the "Josephine" dress :-)
Zara has cute clothes for your little diva and they are very reasonably price… especially for New York! I tend to go a little crazy for Hollins when I am up there.  Here are a couple of thing I picked up for her during my last trip.
She loves her "princess" skirt and skull tee!
Super cute with her fur vest and boots!
This will be one of her many dresses for the Christmas season!
How cute are these silver sneakers?!?
Gap continues to impress me on their little girl clothes.  They really are adorable!  They are always offering a great deal also- whether its a percentage off or GapCash!
Dress and Boots from Gap.  Vest from Zara.
This dress was perfect for her school pictures!
Old Navy is hit or miss for me but I did get Hollins this spunky little outfit!
Where do you buy your kids clothes?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

So Thankful….

This is the time of year that everyone talks about how thankful they are.  I am no exception.  I have a wonderful husband who cherishes me (minus the occasional smart ass comment).  My children are healthy and happy (most of the time).  I have an amazing group of friends who I can talk to about ANYTHING.  And I have my family who despite all of the fights, tears and drama I love more than life itself.  I am so very lucky.  Although I wish my mom was still here, I know she is smiling down as we are about to all come together for Thanksgiving.  She smiled while dad and I headed to Total Wine earlier in the week for the wine to serve with the turkey & stuffing.  She is super excited and proud that my baby sister, Madeline, is hosting in her gorgeously renovated kitchen (I am not at all jealous:-)).  She is glad that my Aunt Virginia, Uncle Virgil and cousin Susannah still come up from Georgetown, South Carolina every Thanksgiving.  I know she will be will be watching Thanksgiving morning as Jackson, Nat and Hollins watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in their pjs.  I think Mom is most excited that my cousin Jennie is getting home tonight from her year-long mission trip around the world with the World Race. I am so excited that she returns today that I couldn't sleep at all last night! I feel like a child on Christmas morning!
Even though Jennie and I are six years apart in age we have always been super close.  As a child, I adored her.  As we grew up, our similarities made us great friends.  We both adore children, love to cook and bake and can't get enough Lifetime/ Hallmark channel Christmas movies.  When Jennie graduated from college she moved to Charlotte to work and she has lived ever since.  She has lived with me, Allen and the kids periodically over the past few years.  Her messiness drives me crazy but I still always adore having her here!  Not only do Jennie and I have a special bond, she, also, has a special bond with each of my children.  Jennie is Jackson's godmother.  As an infant she would come stay with me and hold him while she stayed up watching TV so that I could get some much-needed sleep.  She was living with us when I had Nat.  She got home just in time for me go to the hospital while I was in labor.  Then she kept Jackson while Allen and I bonded with Nat the next 2 days in the hospital.  She lived with us for a little bit a couple of months after Hollins was born also.   She is their "Aunt Nennie" and I know that their unique relationships will fall right back into place as soon as she returns.  The boys have asked about her multiple times each week since she hugged us goodbye on January 1st.  We have all been looking forward to this day ALL YEAR!
Jackson & Jennie
Jennie & Jackson
Jennie & Nat
Jennie & Hollins

Welcome Home Jennie!!!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weekend Recap: Family Pics & Bee Mighty

On Friday nights I don't usually cook.  Generally Allen picks up take-out or we go out to dinner with the kids.  I had planned on making Italian Wedding Soup on Thursday but homework and errands took up most of the day, so I didn't get around to it.  So Friday I cooked- I told Allen not to get used to it though :-).  This is a family favorite in our house.  All of the children like it which means I only have to cook one time! Yes!  I got the recipe from Giada's Family Dinner cookbook but made a few adjustments.
I usually double the meatball recipe and freeze half of them for the next time I want to make this soup. 
8 oz lean ground beef
8 ozs ground pork
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, grated
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup dried breadcumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients with your hands until combined thoroughly.  Roll into small meatballs with your hands and place on wax paper covered baking sheet(s).  If I have doubled the recipe, I put one baking sheet in to freezer to flash freeze the meatballs.  The other sheet I set next to the stove to add to the soup when ready.
14 cups of good {low sodium} chicken broth (my fav is Pacific)
1/2 cup acini di pepe pasta
2 heads of escarole, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup cup parmesan, grated

Bring chicken broth to a slow boil over medium heat.  Add meatballs slowly to the broth.  Simmer meatballs for about ten minutes stirring very carefully so as not to break up the meatballs.  Add the pasta.  Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 more minutes.  Add escarole.  Once escarole has wilted add the egg-parmesan mixture in small strands with a fork.  Cook 10 more minutes.  Serve in bowls with extra fresh parm on top!

This past weekend we had our family pictures taken.   Usually this a fairly stressful endeavor with 3 kids, but this year it actually wasn't!  Lucy and Steven of Smitten & Hooked made it such a fun event for me, Allen and the kids.  The pictures were shot on a farm just north of Charlotte.  It was freezing Saturday morning so they had a bonfire going for us to stay warm by.  Lucy had built the cutest teepee for us to have some pictures taken in.  Check out her blog…. she has posted a teepee DIY!  They also had an enormous treat table for the kids after the pictures were finished.  Let's just say we were all super impressed!  Nat asked if we could do that again next year and Jackson didn't want to leave!  If you need pictures taken in the Charlotte area, I highly recommend them.  

The treat table mesmerized my kids!
Happy kiddos!
Yummy Cake Pops!
Saturday night, Allen and I attended the event Bee Mighty for the second time.  Bee Mighty provides funding for medical therapy and equipment to NICU graduates.  It is a great cause that is close to many people's hearts here.  The event took place at Charlotte Country Club.  We went with a large group of friends and had a blast.
I got this gorgeous Nightcap Clothing dress at doll boutique in Charlotte.  If you are looking for cocktail dress for all of your upcoming holiday parties, check them out.  They have gorgeous ones from Nicole Miller, Sanctuary and Nightcap.  I loved everything I tried on!!
McCay's amazing dress is Mara Hoffman
Jewelry from Poppy Style

Monday, November 17, 2014

Appetizer Round Up: Football Food & Girls' Night In Apps

Football Food
During the fall, there is always football on in my house.  My husband loves it…. and I like it better than any other sport to watch :-).  These recipes are great to enjoy while watching football because they are super easy!
Beef Brisket French Dip Sandwiches
2-3 lbs beef brisket, fat trimmed off
1/2 large onion, sliced
3 cups of low-sodium beef broth
2 cups red wine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 package Lipton Beefy Onion Soup mix
2 tbsp rosemary, finely minced
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper, to taste
Swiss Cheese
Soft Slider Rolls
Brown beef brisket on both sides.  Place in a large crockpot that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Add broth, red wine, onion, soup mix, garlic, bay leaves and rosemary.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours then turn down to low and cook for another 2-3 hours.  Shred meat in pot.  Serve on warm rolls with swiss cheese and with a bowl of the broth from the crockpot.
Barbecue Kielbasa
2 lbs Kiebasa, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup bourbon
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp worcestershire
Salt & pepper, to taste
Put bourbon, ketchup, brown sugar, worcestershire, salt and pepper in small crockpot that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Stir well.  Add kielbasa.  Stir again.  Turn crockpot on low and cook for 5 hours, stirring occasionally.
Easy Peasy Cheese Dip
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 1/2 cans of Rotel
A few dashes of hot sauce
Put all ingredients in a pot and heat slowly, stirring constantly.  Serve hot with your chip of choice.
Girls' Night In
I could survive on cheese and crackers if I had to.  When Allen is out of town, that usually ends up being my dinner.  You won't hear me complaining either!  Trader Joe's always has delicious cheeses at a great price.  You won't feel as though you are breaking the bank if you try a new one and you don't like it.  I had some girlfriends over to enjoy time by our fireplace on the porch.  I threw together some yummy appetizers to have while we caught up with each other.
Pumpkin Cranberry Crackers & Cinnamon Dusted Toscana Cheese
Italian Dry Salami (all from Trader Joe's)
Wine is from the Winestore in Charlotte (recommended by Natalie & Madeline)
Palmetto Jalepeno Pimento Cheese topped with Braswell's Red Pepper Jelly served with Pita Chips
Sweet & Spicy Pecans

Sweet & Spicy Pecans
1 cup raw pecans, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1 1/2 tsp of Kosher Salt
Toss all ingredients in a bowl until coated.  Pour on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Watch closely- they can burn easily!  Remove and let cool throughly.