What Are You Making for Thanksgiving?

Oh hi!

It's been a while...that's because we jetted off to Aruba last week with my family!

We had such a blast. It was really so special to be back to the place where Shaun and I were married now with our sweet baby girl in tow.

 

The week was filled with lots of sun (and shade for P), pool time, beach time and food. I'm happy to say that outside of a couple of minor meltdowns, Penelope also did pretty well on both 4.5 hour flights. Can't complain about that.

 

We arrived home at 9:30PM Sunday night, which means that I still have suitcases filled with dirty laundry and my fridge and cupboards are bare. This afternoon I'll be braving the rain to pick up the necessary ingredients for all of my Thanksgiving Day treat making. On my list for tomorrow, as well as Thanksgiving Part II on Sunday:

 

Pumpkin Pie...2 of them, actually. Lots of bloggers and food sites go crazy with pumpkin-themed desserts around this time of year, but what ever happened to just a basic pumpkin pie? It's truly one of my favorite foods in the world...slathered with a healthy dollop of whipped cream, of course. So I'll be going Libby's-style and making 2 of them for our large 17-person gathering.

Pumpkin Dip, served with graham crackers, gingersnaps and apples. I just mix pumpkin, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice together for a luscious dip.

These cranberry cupcakes that I spotted in Food Network magazine. I'm oddly intrigued by them and can't seem to get them out of my mind. This is especially odd since I'm typically not necessarily a cranberry person. But if they are good, then I know they will also make a great addition to our Christmas spread.

I also plan to redo the sundried tomato cheesy bread, but this time perhaps with some pepperoni and traditional tomato sauce...I'll let you know how it goes!

That's it for my list today. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving Eve! I am so wishing that I could travel into the city with Penelope to watch the balloons blow up for tomorrow's parade, but I suppose next year might work out a bit better. 

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

And how are you doing on your Thankful Things? I'll be posting mine for the month of November tomorrow!

 

 

Chip 'n Dip Hostess Gift Basket

On Sunday, we were invited to a little gathering at our new neighbor's home. We were so excited to welcome Megan and Nick to the building and we wanted to bring a little something for them. I love hostess gifts that are for post-gathering enjoyment so that it really is something for the host/hostess to have all to themselves. Perhaps on another evening when they want a treat while catching up on their DVR. Or something like that.

 

Since Sunday was also Cinco de Mayo, I whipped up a little gift basket of Mexican-themed goodies. I stocked the basket with quality, organic tortilla chips. Shaun and I love these because they are so thin and salty and I adore the rustic brown paper packaging, which also looks great in this basket.

 

And who wants chips without dip? I picked up 3 different dips for the chips. 2 types of salsa and a con queso...mild to medium heat does the trick I think.

Lastly, we finished it off with a bottle of white wine...something nice that can be chilled and balance out the medium heat of the salsas. A good tequila would also be nice here. I used pretty green tissue paper, tied it all with a purple paper raffia ribbon and added a little note to our hosts.

So there it is. A stocked gift basket that I wouldn't mind receiving anytime! I am a serious chip 'n dip lover, after all. And I think that using high quality, pretty-looking items really ups the ante for a simple gift like this.  

What are your favorite hostess gifts to give? To receive?

Did you celebrate on Cinco de Mayo?

 

Create a Rustic Cheeseboard

On Saturday evening, we had a few friends over.

I got it in my head that I wanted to make a tricked out cheeseboard for our guests. At the end of the day, I could sit and eat only cheese at a party, forgoing all other eats.

Is that weird?

 

Though I adore these cute little reusable flags, which I've used in cheeseboards of yore...

 

this time, I didn't want to serve giant hunks of cheese. And no hunks = nowhere to put the flags. So I had an idea to cover a wooden cutting board with {slightly crumpled and then smoothed} parchment paper, set everything up how I liked, and then simply write on the parchment. I used a fine tip pen for this so that it wouldn't smudge or run onto the food (ack). The result was incredibly subtle, but sophisticated and sweet. I need to hunt down some better parchment-writing implements so that it's easier to read, but as Shaun pointed out, it was nice that the identifiers weren't the star of the platter, but were there in case anyone was interested.

 

For the cheeses, we served up aged cheddar, goat cheese hand-rolled by Shaun in an herb mixture of parsley, oregano and basil, a strong wedge of blue cheese, and a trio of Spanish cheeses, including drunken goat cheese, iberico and manchego.

 

We also added some sliced aged brasaola...

 

some honey (for drizzling on the blue cheese)

 

and some pickled beets.

 

Paired with a tall glass of red wine and it doesn't really get much better than that!

I really loved this idea and looked so pretty on the table. I can't wait to come up with some other ideas for future boards, like additional cheeses, fig jam and maybe some fruit, like apple slices or grapes.

So that's how I dolled up a basic cheeseboard. There's something so rustic about adding the crumpled parchment and I'm loving the fact that I can simply write directly on it so guests know exactly what they are getting!

Questions of the Day:

How did you spend your weekend?

What's your favorite thing on a cheeseboard?

Giants Party

Hi there! It's Monday! I'm happy for a number of reasons.

1. I do not have work today. I love having Mondays off, much more than Fridays, because then I start the week on a Tuesday and somehow it seems like its a less crazy start to the week. Fridays are usually quiet anyway, so I don't really mind being in the office!

2. I have a fun day in NYC planned! Shaun is taking me to get a new camera lens (my Christmas present), then we are having Restaurant Week lunch at Striphouse and then I'm going to my bff Lindsey's to do wedding stuff with her. It doesn't get much better on a day off!

3. Oh yeah...and the Giants crushed the Packers yesterday! Woooo-hoooo!

Shaun and I spent the afternoon and evening at my parents house to watch the game. His parents joined us as well. We dined on way to many snacks and I even created a quick Giants cupcake for the occasion!

We had mini cheeseballs - cheddar and feta

 

a trio of wings - barbeque, buffalo and sesame teriyaki

 

my mom made this amazing cobb salad. love the presentation on this.

 

cold spinach dip with veggies

there was also some Greek layer dip...

and pizza dip on hand

and for dessert? I whipped up these cute Giants-themed cupcakes with some leftover red cupcake liners from Christmas. I used a basic chocolate cake recipe and just whipped up a basic cream cheese frosting with a little blue food coloring mixed in! What can I come up with next week?! Gah!

So that's how we spent Sunday afternoon and evening...cheering on the Giants and stuffing our bellies.

Question of the Day:

How was YOUR weekend?!

Do you prefer to have Mondays or Fridays off from work?

Hosting a Football Party

I kind of stopped doing football recipes mainly because our weekends have gotten so busy and I just haven't had the time to get creative with game day eats. And I completely forgot to tell you about a little football gathering at our place a few weeks ago. My parents and Kimberly & Nick came over to watch the Giants and so Shaun and I got to work on delicious spread. I wanted to keep things light and easy but lunch appropriate since the game started at 1 pm.

If you're looking for an easy menu for any gathering, I highly recommend this one! It was fun making new-to-my-family dishes and everything turned out yummily.

First up, I made my Greek layer dip, which remains one of my favorite dips ever.

I also made my favorite chicken salad veronique. It's perfect on toast, on chips or simply eaten straight off of a fork. Halved green grapes and fresh tarragon really make this a special, sophisticated treat.

To keep things on the light side, I also wanted to include a whole lot of veggies for dipping and snacking. I made a little crudite with spinach dip and my favorite veggie dippers.

Shaun made a rich and creamy hummus, topped with kalamata olives. Absolutely delicious!

To add a little warmth to the table, I cooked up a little pepperjack & pimento dip, one of our favorites this football season.

And to make another, heartier dish, Shaun put together marinated beef skewers! My mom brought the most delicious peanut sauce, which was the perfect dipper for the skewers. We also paired them with hoisin sauce for an additional flavor twist.

My mom brought a big green salad with grilled chicken and homemade balsamic dressing which was the perfect green addition to the spread.

For dessert? We dined on Kimberly's pumpkin & raspberry turnovers and my chocolate caramel apple bars!

And that, my friends, is what I call a perfect football Sunday.

Question of the Day:

Do you have a go-to party food that you always make? Usually my go to is pizza dip, but I tried to branch out a bit for this party!

Halloween Party, Zombies + Brownie Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!

I can't believe that October is coming to a close. We had such a fun weekend and got all zombied up for a giant Halloween party in our apatment building. It was so nice to not have to leave the building (especially in the crazy snow) and the party was amazing! We had expected around 200 people to attend. The party room was packed with people, food, booze, music and creative costumes. As I've mentioned, Shaun and I were zombies for the party. Here's the big costume reveal:

make up close upWe homemade our costumes, which was extra fun. Shaun tattered a suit he picked up at Goodwill, and we used these zombie kits (plus some real make up for me) to get it done...

We had some amazing sponsors for this event. Local restaurants in Jersey City donated food and raffle prizes, which really made the whole thing. Boca Grande, our favorite JC Mexican spot for their amazing empanadas, fresh tortilla chips and fantastic margs, donated gift cards to be raffled, along with trays of flautas and empanadas. I'm pretty sure Shaun and I downed a tray of flautas ourselves :)

Michael Anthony's, an Italian restaurant on the Hudson in JC, which we frequent on many a Friday evening for their spectacular views, sports-showing televisions, and delicious Italian food, donated trays of pasta and 2 gift cards as raffle prizes.

 

Skinner's Loft, one of my personal favorite spots in Jersey City for its cozy bar vibe (I just want to curl up there with a glass of wine and look out onto a snowy street), delicious mac & cheese, and other tapas, donated a very generous gift card raffle prize to the event. And now I'm dreaming of going there once the holidays come around...

Lastly, the Loew's Landmark Jersey City donated a Movie Night for 2. I am mildly obsessed with this theater. It's absolutely stunning, has a world of history and shows fun old movies (one of my personal passions). I can't wait to get over there this fall for some movie showings!

So a GIANT thanks to all of the sponsors for the party this weekend. You have rekindled my love for all of these places and I cannot wait to get back to all of them soon!

Meanwhile, I wanted to leave you with some eye candy. Today we are having a little Halloween lunch at work, so I am bringing my carmelized potato & parsnip tart and some cute little brownie cupcakes. My mom found this Betty Crocker recipe and I knew it would be a perfect Halloween treat.

Yum!!

Questions of the Day:

Did you get a blast of cold or snowy weather this weekend?

What, if anything, did you do to celebrate the holiday?

 

Getting in the {Spooky} Spirit

Good morning! I have been busy helping to plan our building's Halloween party this coming Saturday and I am excited for the big party to get here! I do enjoy getting into the spirit of the season, so I thought a little mood board would be in order. Hope you enjoy!

 

Clockwise from top left:

Sweet Halloween centerpiece via One Charming Party; spooktacular Halloween movies, Halloween & Hocus Pocus; Halloween spider napkins via Williams-Sonoma; Wicked witch cupcakes via Marth Stewart; Rhinestone & crow pumpkin, BHG.com; Deborah Lippman Ruby Red Slippers nail polish; My Halloween queso dip; Spiderweb decorated cookie via Sweetopia.net; Halloween treat cup set; AMC's The Walking Dead door image

 

so there you have it. A few things to get you into the spooky spirit! For a few more likeable Halloween things, check out my Halloween board on Pinterest.

Questions of the Day:

What are you digging for Halloween? Any treats, decorations or recipes?

What are you going as for Halloween?

Create a Dexter Theme Party

I'm pretty excited for Sunday night. As you may or may not remember, when Dexter premiered last fall, I created a cupcake to celebrate one of my favorite shows. It was featured on USAToday.com, CNN's Eatocracy, AOL City's Best and more. Since there's really no topping that in my opinion, today I'm rounding up all the other goodies you need to throw a killer Dexter season premiere party. I love theme parties!

(clockwise, starting from lower left corner)

Dexter is back for Season 6! Though Season 5 was not my favorite, Season 4 (with John Lithgow as the Trinity Killer) remains as one of the best seasons of TV ever in my opinion. I'm not sure how I feel about this whole 'Avenging Angel' thing, since that's not exactly how I think of Dexter, but I'm ready to find out what that means for this season!

They may be hard to come by during the fall season, but your party will be just perfect with the addition of some blood oranges. We all know that Dex loves some freshly squeezed ones, so I recommend using them in a cocktail or to make a glazed loaf cake!

If you're having a party, you're going to need my Dexter cupcakes. Period. Soft vanilla cake, sour cherry filling, whipped cream frosting and red gel blood spatters make this a dessert that even Dexter would kill for! Don't forget the fun microscope slide with a drop of 'blood' in the middle. So fun.

These DIY Halloween candles from Young House Love are just about the coolest. Drizzle red wax over white candles and it will look as if Dex went all Dark Passenger on it.

As any Dexter fan knows, plastic wrap will be paramount for your gathering. As Dex's dismantling technique of choice, this is an easy item to work into your party. Simply cover tables and chairs with plastic wrap, coat platters with plastic and place food on top. If you are feeling particularly in the spirit, you could even drap clear tarps over your walls and floor. Oh and don't forget to hang up big photos of your guests. They are now on the list!

If you're looking for some easy 'blood', I recommend Wilton's red sparkle gel. It's the perfect bloody red with a nice sparkly sheen. I used this for the 'blood spatter' on my cupcakes and also to create a fun Dexter logo.

If you're hosting the party, this black apron is a must. Though it's Dexter's outfit of choice for getting the deed done, it will work for you as not only an homage, but also as a practical and cute hostess apron.

I made this bloody cocktail in honor of True Blood, but I think the same principal will apply. Change it up with orange flavor, instead of cherry, and add a few drops of red food coloring. Fun!

Everyone knows that Dex loves his breakfast. For easy fare, make up some eggs on toast, drizzled with just a bit of hot sauce.

This is one of my favorite opening credits of all time.

What's a party without a cool manicure? I absolutely love this amazing nail design from Kimber's Lacquer Korner. You just can't go wrong with blood spatter.

These cute red and white straws from Bake It Pretty are the perfect way to lighten up the mood while still keeping with the red and white theme. It's a perfect way to jazz up your signature cocktail for the evening.

 

So there you have it. My {possibly slightly crazy} Dexter mood board. Perfect for your upcoming premiere party!

 

Questions of the Day:


Are you a Dexter fan? Will you be watching this weekend?

 

 

psst...we're rounding up a bushel of handpicked peaches over on The Peach & The Pit! Head over to find some links to stuff we're loving around the web today!