Friday, December 30, 2011

happy hour: ring in the new year

happy (almost) new year!  every new year's eve, my family hosts a party to ring in the new year.  fancy cocktail attire required.  it's always so much fun to get dressed up and celebrate with family & friends.  and another "must" at our party is a signature drink.

credit {here}

signature drinks are a fun & festive way to get guests in the celebratory spirit...with a celebratory spirit : )  they are simple to create and a great option if you don't want to set up a full bar or just offer wine & beer.

champagne is sort of a given for new year's, but i like to add a little twist to make it extra special.  this year, i'm offering up the "countdown cocktail" for you to enjoy with your loved ones this new year's eve.  the tart sweetness of limoncello paired with the smooth cut of vanilla vodka is sure to leave your guests feeling mighty festive.

countdown cocktail

vanilla vodka
lemon twist

1. fill a flute 2/3 full with champagne
2. add a splash of limoncello & a splash of vodka
3. garnish with a lemon twist

credit {here}
i like to set out all the ingredients and create a recipe card so that guests can make their own.  that way, they can control how big of a "splash" they would enjoy.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

foodie wednesday: mushroom & brie mini quiche

for my family's christmas eve gathering, i offered to make an appetizer.  i wanted a delicious, savory, crowd-pleaser.  so, i came up with mini quiche filled with sauteed mushrooms & onions in a garlic butter phyllo crust.  yum!  my family seemed to enjoy them quite a bit : )

2 1/2 to 3 cups sliced mushrooms (any kind will work)
1 large onion, chopped
3 scallion stalks, chopped
8 eggs
1/4 lb brie
5 tbsp butter
10 sheets of phyllo
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1/4 cup of half & half
olive oil
salt & pepper
muffin trays (2.5 dozen)

1. preheat oven to 375.  while that preheats, saute mushrooms and onions in a bit of olive oil for 20-25 minutes.  season with 2/3 of scallions, salt & pepper.  (reserve final 1/3 of scallions as topping)

2. transfer veggies to a bowl and melt butter in the same pan that you cooked the veggies in.  add garlic and be sure not to let butter burn.

3. brush 30 muffin cups with butter mixture and then line each cup with 1/3 a sheet of phyllo folded in half.  brush with butter again.  be sure the buttered phyllo evenly covers the cup to prevent egg from sticking when it bakes.

4. spoon mushroom mixture into cups and top each with a chunk of brie.

5. mix eggs with half & half and salt.  pour egg mixture evenly into cups.

6. sprinkle each cup with a bit more salt, pepper and reserved scallions.

7. bake for 10-15 minutes until eggs are firm and phyllo is lightly browned.

these can be made up to 3 days in advance and just reheat before the party.  they are best if served warm.


Monday, December 26, 2011

om monday: let it shine

do you remember that kids' song..."this little light of mine, i'm gonna let it shine.  let it shine, let is shine, let it shine!"  i haven't thought about that song in years, but the other day in yoga, we were asked to tap into our inner light during our practice.  that inner knowing that lives deep within each one of us.  that beautiful essence of just being that radiates from us when we are truly in line with our authentic selves.

credit {here}
throughout the holidays, we often look for external ways to brighten us up.  we immerse ourselves in holiday tasks and to-dos; hoping that the upcoming holiday party or the next gift given will be the thing that brightens our light and reconnects us to the true meaning of the season.  and then, come january 1st, we start with our endless list of improvements that must be made in order for us to achieve true and lasting happiness - lose 15 lbs, get a new job, get a gym membership. 

but, if we take a minute to think about it, we already know that those external things are never truly the key to contentment.  sure, they provide us with momentary pleasure, but after a few weeks that glow...the outer glow...will wear off.

credit {here}
so, where does true brilliance reside if it's not in presents and parties and resolutions?  you already know.  we all do.  it already lives within each of us.  a little light that needs to be recognized and celebrated.  and, once you tap into it, there's no stopping the endless joy that can result from finding your inner luminance.

take a moment of quiet during these busy weeks and just notice.  notice the beautiful simplicity of slowing down, taking a deep breath and recognizing the light that was always there.

namaste : )

Friday, December 23, 2011

happy hour: christmas cheers

our little sock monkey ornament
well, can you believe it?  christmas is just 2 days away!  every year it surprises me just how quickly the holiday season goes...and it always goes faster than i remember or expect.  in honor of this very special time of year, i've collected a few recipes to "cheers" over just in time for christmas.

peppermint hot chocolate (picture credit here)
i found this awesome recipe on two tarts for peppermint hot chocolate.  it's the perfect wintry treat to warm up with on a snowy morning : )

me & olive on the tree farm
mulled wine (picture credit here)
mulled wine is easy to make and tastes like christmas-in-a-glass.  check out this super simple recipe {here} that will delight all your holiday guests.

our tree : )
christmas cocktail (picture credit here)
and, if you're really looking for some holiday cheer, check out the 12 cocktails of christmas - guaranteed to impress.

my mermaid ornament
wishing you a very merry christmas from our home to yours!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

foodie wednesday: goat cheese with caramelized onions

this simple and extraordinarily delicious appetizer is always a hit at holiday parties.  the creamy, tanginess of the goat cheese paired with the sweet richness of the onions is culinary perfection.  i have to credit my sister, hannah, for this lovely combo : )

credit {here}
1 log of goat cheese
3 vidalia onions, sliced into ribbons
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
rosemary sprigs for garnish
cracked pepper to taste
(fresh bread, focaccia or crackers)

1) preheat oven to broil and heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  add olive oil.

2) add onions to preheated skillet and cook on medium to medium-high heat until the onions are a rich, dark caramel color and have greatly reduced in size. this can take 30+ minutes, but it's totally worth it, trust me.

they look so delicious, don't they?! credit {here}
3) place goat cheese log in an oven safe dish (that you plan to serve it in) and heat briefly in oven until slightly melted.

4) once onions are completely caramelized, pour them and the oil from the skillet over the goat cheese, and garnish with a sprig of rosemary and cracked pepper.

serve with crusty breads or artisan crackers.  this is one of my all-time favorite appetizers ever! 

credit {here}
want to make it into a side dish?  another great option is to turn this into a pasta side dish - add the goat cheese, caramelized onions and the olive oil the onions were cooked in to 1 lb of cooked penne and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and cracked pepper.  delish!

hope your holiday celebrations are as memorable as they are delicious : )

Monday, December 19, 2011

om monday: set down your goals

on friday i sat down and worked on my business goals for 2012.  last week i came across a great outline to follow, which gave me a lot of guidance and much-needed clarity.  because, you have to admit, though goal-setting often starts as an uplifting, motivating activity, it can often descend into overwhelming drudgery quite quickly.  so, with the outline as my guide, i set forth to set down in writing my lofty (but not completely ridiculous) biz goals for 2012. 

there's something about putting your aspirations on paper that makes them feel instantly more real & attainable.  and, not only did i set down my goals, which is all well and good, but i also listed step-by-step ways to go about achieving them.  i think that's the step that i often miss.  i love thinking, dreaming and fantasizing about my goals and how wonderful it will be when i reach them, but then i float onward without real direction.  often getting led (slightly) astray.

the new year is just over 2 weeks away.  instead of hurriedly thinking about your goals (i.e. resolutions) on new year's day, take this time to mull it over.  with all the hustle and bustle these next few weeks, take a few quiet moments to contemplate and set down the things that you would most like to achieve this year.  what would bring you true happiness?

and, whether it's a business idea, a health makeover or a new skill you wish to acquire, think about the necessary steps to make it happen.  it will be what you make it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

happy hour: holiday punch

any holiday party you attend at my parents' house, you will undoubtedly find this holiday punch residing in the antique punch bowl that belonged to my maternal grandmother (she received it as a wedding present).  it's as simple as it is refreshing, and your guests will love the thoughtful, festive touch!

party punch - credit {here}
1 2-liter bottle of cranberry ginger ale
1 bottle of cranberry-apple juice
1 orange
small handful of whole cloves

1) pour ginger ale and juice into your punch bowl or a large pitcher.
2) slice the orange into coins and pierce with cloves to create decorative patterns on the slices.
3) float the orange slices with clove atop the punch!

looking for a punch with a kick?  chill a bottle of vodka or captain morgan's spiced rum and set it out alongside the punch so that guests can add a splash of their "punch" of choice to their glass.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

foodie wednesday: christmas breakfast

for christmas breakfast, my mom often makes an egg strata.  for those of you who are unfamiliar, egg strata is sort of like a savory bread pudding filled with ooey-gooey cheese and other deliciousness.  as you can tell from the recipe below, we always improvise...and it always turns out great!  another bonus?  you can make it in advance and bake it the day-of.  or, you can even bake it in advance and just reheat it in the oven on christmas morning.  it makes the whole house smell fabulous!

credit {here}
here's what you'll need:

1/2 a loaf of day-old crusty bread (we like to use rosemary focaccia)
2 onions chopped
approx. 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (a hearty, pungent cheese like swiss or cheddar tends to work best)
4-6 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk or half & half
mustard, worcestershire or ranch dressing to taste
salt & pepper
butter or olive oil
View full recipe
preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

1) while oven preheats, saute onions in either olive or butter over medium heat.

2) in a large, buttered oven-safe baking dish mix together chunks of bread, sauteed onions, cheese (saving a bit for the top) and season with salt and pepper.

3) in a bowl, beat eggs with milk (or cream) and season with salt, pepper and either mustard, worcestershire or ranch.  totally your choice, but traditionally my mom uses worcestershire sauce : )

4) pour egg mixture over bread mixture and press bread to make sure it absorbs egg mixture thoroughly. sprinkle top with remaining cheese.

5) bake for 30-45 minutes until golden brown on top and eggs are set. 

credit {here}
this makes approximately 8 servings, so there will be plenty of leftovers to enjoy later or the next day.  keep in mind, above is a very "basic" strata recipe, so don't hesitate to add your own personal flare.  mix in roasted tomatoes, fresh herbs or crumbled chicken sausage to really impress.  yum!

merry christmas breakfast!

Monday, December 12, 2011

om monday: letting ideas grow

let me know if this sounds familiar... 

you get an idea - but not just any idea - a fabulously-wonderful-miraculous idea for a business, or for self-improvement or for creating something awesome.  and because this idea is so spectacular, you are, of course, super-excited to get moving on it, making it happen and bringing this awesomeness to life.  full steam ahead.  no obstacle could stop you.

"success seems to be connected with action.  successful men keep moving.  they make mistakes, but they don't quit."  -conrad hilton

you have a few strong weeks...or days...or hours...and then your energy and enthusiasm are beginning to wain.  you're tired, and the response to your wonderfulness was not quite as emphatic as you had hoped.  you can feel your idea fizzling and fading.  why did i ever think that was such a good idea anyway??!!

but, in this thought process, we're mistaken.  we're confusing a good idea with an easy idea.  and rarely are truly good, worthwhile ideas easy.

i once heard it described as this - you plant a seed deep in the earth.  you water it, make sure it gets enough sunlight, fertilize it, water it some more.  you see nothing, zip, nil on the surface, but underground the seed the growing.  little by little, it busts out of its casing and begins its slow and steady journey toward the surface.  there's so much work going on underground, but at surface level you see nothing - no fruits from your labor.  if you give up, stop watering the little seed and forget about it, it will never reach the surface and blossom into what it's meant to be.

credit {here}

your idea is a little seed.  tend to it.  care for it.  it will become whatever you're willing to put into it.  and the more you persevere, the more fruitful your endeavors will be.  you get out what you put in.  so, put in a whole helluva lot.

and, always remember, the mighty oak was once a tiny acorn : )

Friday, December 9, 2011

happy hour: super chocolaty hot cocoa

today is finally feeling like december here.  there's frost on the fields and a chill in the air.  i love it!  since it's finally cold enough to enjoy a steaming cup of cocoa, i wanted to share my hot chocolate recipe that i make every year.  i always improvise this recipe, but below is the general formula i follow (feel free to get creative with it if the mood strikes you : )

credit {here}
2 cups eggnog
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup cocoa mix (ghirardelli's mix is great!)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
chocolate chips

1. place dry ingredients (cocoa mix, unsweetened cocoa, nutmeg, cinnamon) in a medium pot and pour eggnog over. whisk until combined over medium heat.  the liquid should be velvety smooth.

2. add milk slowly while whisking continuously. allow hot chocolate to come to desired temperature.

3. place a few chocolate chips in the bottom of each mug and pour hot chocolate over top. garnish with marshmallows.

credit {here}
option: stir with a candy cane for mint hot cocoa!

this hot cocoa is best if enjoyed fireside while watching white christmas with bing crosby.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

foodie wednesday: pumpkin peanut curry

channeling some inspiration from our recent trip to marrakech, morocco, i wanted to try my hand at making a curry dish.  i wanted it to have a creamy, but not too heavy of a base, so i opted for puréed pumpkin to add a subtle richness to the dish.

here's what you'll need:

1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
3 medium yukon gold potatoes in 1/2 in cubes
2 cans (15 oz each) chick peas, rinsed
1 can (15 oz) organic pumpkin purée
1 can (15 oz) petite diced tomatoes with sweet onion
1 can (12 fl oz) evaporated milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp curry
1 tsp cumin
dash of cinnamon
1/2 tbsp olive oil

1. in a large stock pot, saute onion & pepper in 1/2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.

2. as they cook down, add 1 tsp curry & 1/2 tsp cumin.

3. once onions are translucent, add potatoes, garlic and peanut butter.  stir to coat all veggies with peanut butter.

4. add pumpkin, milk, tomatoes, a dash of cinnamon and the remainder of the curry & cumin.  stir.

5. simmer for approximately 35 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork tender.

6. once potatoes are cooked through, add chick peas and remove from heat.

serve over couscous or rice to soak up all the good sauce : )  makes approx. 6 servings.

bon appetit!

Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.8

Monday, December 5, 2011

om monday: reason for the season

with the holidays just around the corner, it's easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by our (endless) to-do lists.  buy presents, get the tree, decorate the house, wrap the gifts, attend holiday gatherings, and...oh yeah...enjoy the season.  but the truth is our to-do lists don't define us or our experience of this time of year.

"we're the creators of our own experience - remembering this, and living our lives from this perspective, empowers us."  - mike robbins

we have a choice in all of this, believe it or not.  we can allow our obligations to get the best of us and suck the fun out of this magical time of year, or we can choose to shift our experience.  easier said than done, i know.  but the first step is recognition.  in that moment when you're mind is reeling, and you're feeling like you'd rather check-out than tackle your next obligation, just pause.  take a deep breathe and notice where the "pressure" to get all those to-dos done is coming from.  my guess is that it's not from your boss or spouse or friends, but, at least in my case, it's self-imposed.  an arbitrary standard for "success" that i've set and now much live up to.

credit {here}

i encourage you all to pause.  take a deep breathe, and really reflect upon how you want to experience this holiday season.  because, when it comes down to it, you're the one holding the reigns.

Friday, December 2, 2011

happy hour: mint tea in marrakech

view of our riad's interior from rooftop terrace
mid-honeymoon, craig and i spent a long weekend in marrakech, morocco.  it was another world.  i had never been to africa before, so venturing across the mediterranean from sevilla, where we had been staying, was a thrill in and of itself.  there was a moment during our hour-long plane ride over when you could see europe, the mediterranean islands and africa all at once.  it was unreal.

our meal at the food stalls
yes, we went on a camel excursion : )
lantern souk
moroccan breakfast
in marrakech the streets are narrow, the squares are crowded and the smells (both good and bad) are overpowering.  we stayed in a great riad (i.e. small hotel) not to far from the spice market and the main square.  the majority of our time was spent shopping in the souks - small artisan shops.  and when we weren't shopping, we were drinking mint tea.

me with monkey
mint tea and "pancakes" with honey
olive tree on our riad's rooftop terrace
rug souk (where we bought a little moraccan carpet!)
their green tea & fresh mint infusion was so refreshing and deliciously sweet, and our riad - riad charlott' - offered it as a complimentary treat along with sesame seed biscotti whenever your heart desired.  needless to say, craig and i enjoyed several pots of mint tea during our 3 day stay : )

spice shop in the spice market near our riad
spa where we enjoyed a tradition scrub (and massage)

 sunset in marrakech
though we experienced a bit of culture shock, we both completely enjoyed our weekend in morocco.  and...we left with a rug, 2 punched-copper lanterns, several pairs of leather slipper shoes, countless scarves and a small ceramic bowl.  all of which survived the ride home!

Related Posts with Thumbnails