Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday Tip: Present Wrapping

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Hard to believe December is here and Christmas is just a few weeks away.  Have you finished your holiday shopping?  I'm getting there! 

Here's a great idea to get you geared up for all of your gift wrapping - wrap the larger presents first!  That way you have scraps left to wrap the smaller presents.  It'll help you waste less paper and save money! 

While we are on the topic of wrapping presents...need a good bow tutorial?  Check out my easy way to make an impressive bow here.

Happy wrapping everyone!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Taylor's Pork Chops

My friend Taylor made the most amazing pork chops for dinner a few weeks ago.  I HAD to get the recipe...they couldn't be easier or tastier!  And I went straight home and made them.  And now, weeks, later, I'm finally getting around to getting the post up!

Here's Taylor's instructions:
Get bone-in pork chops about 1-1.5" thick
Brine them in 1/3 cup salt, 1/3 cup sugar and 2 cups of warm water in fridge for 30 min - 8 hours (whatever works; I think 2-3 hours is the sweet spot though).

Season them with Cavender's Greek seasoning (but no extra salt) and pour a little George's Eastern NC barbecue sauce (http://www.georgesbbqsauce.com/1pks.aspx) on them (you could probably sub any vinegar-based bbq sauce)

Grill them on high direct heat, dip them in George's again before you flip them and then sear the other side before moving them to indirect heat to finish up.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween at the Abode

I love Fall.  The air gets crisp, the leaves change colors, hot cider is acceptable to drink, and Halloween signals that the rest of the holiday season is now upon us!  Plus, it is the official kicking off point of the holiday decorating season.  Here's a peek at the Halloween d├ęcor in the Abode this year.  I can't wait til the baby is old enough to really get in the Halloween spirit!

My sister in law's mother, Twyla, gave us this adorable little pumpkin for Baby Forrest.


My cousin Sarah gave Forrest this adorable personalized Halloween pumpkin basket.  Until Forrest is old enough to Trick or Treat, I'm using it to give out candy to the neighborhood trick or treaters.

I got these adorable Halloween Paper Dolls from Paper Source.  I love them and I will use them year after year.  But, be warned, even though it is a kit, it is VERY labor intensive.  I probably spent at least 6 hours getting them put together!  But, I figured this is worth it since next year he will be mobile and I'll probably never get to work on them again!

My friend Cahill (via my friend Reeves) lent us this adorable owl outfit for baby Forrest to wear this year.  You'll have to excuse multiple pictures - I couldn't decide which was the cutest!

And one last one...a little pumpkin picture from when the photographer was here.  My friend Reeves' mom, Sandy, made him the adorable pumpkin hat and gave him the little Halloween outfit.  How he's grown already!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Updated Family Crests

When I was growing up my grandfather had this family crest hanging on the wall and I always remember looking at it.  It always seemed so regal to me and very English.  I remember wondering what my married name would be one day and if I had a crest.  And then I haven't really thought about it again since.  Until that is, I saw Rachel Rogers updated family crests made mostly from monograms.  How awesome are these updates to the traditional family crest?

They can all be found on Rachel Roger's website listed below.  Wouldn't they make an awesome and unique wedding gift?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade chicken stock is my new favorite thing to make!  I use chicken stock all the time for the obvious when making soups and stews but also for flavoring rice, potatoes, sauces for meats, etc.  If you're roasting a chicken anyway, there's no reason to let the carcass go to waste.  And, you've likely got everything on hand that you need to make the stock from roasting the chicken - just make sure you have carrots, celery, garlic and onion and herbs on hand. 

What You Need:

1 chicken carcass
2 large onions, quartered (you don't even need to peel)
2 whole cloves of garlic, halved (again, you don't need to peel)
5 carrots, roughly chopped
3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
large handful of parsley
large handful of time
2 large lemons, halved
salt and pepper to taste

What You Do:

Combine all of the above in a large pot.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Cover with water and let simmer for several hours.  Strain out the liquid at the end and you have your stock.  Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for safe keeping.  You can seriously taste the difference!

#homemadechickenstock #chickenstock #chickensoup

Saturday, October 25, 2014

In Search of an Advent Calendar

Everyone who has met me for five minutes knows that Christmas is my favorite holiday.  I love everything about it but most of all the traditions that come along with it once a year.  Growing up we had this Rudolph Advent Calendar and you would move the little soft reindeer through the pockets until you reached Christmas Eve.  I loved it and the anticipation of Christmas.  Unfortunately, some how it has gone missing from all of my mom's Christmas stuff so I am in search of a new one for our family.  Since we just had a baby, I thought this was a good time to start looking for one.  It's a hard decision to make and so far I haven't seen one that feels like THE one.  So, if anyone has any fun ideas or suggestions, I'm all ears!

Here's what I've sourced so far:

Land of Nod 

Mark and Graham 

Garnet Hill 

Pottery Barn
I'd like to find something cute that engages my child (and/or future children) so I like the idea of moving something or a spot for little mini gifts or treats for them to get every day leading up to Christmas.  I've got my eyes peeled...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Roast Chicken with Bacon

I know I've been doing a lot of cooking with bacon lately but it seriously gives everything so much flavor!  I got this idea from none other than Ina Garten who I've been totally into on the Food Network lately.  She cooks her husband roast chicken every Friday night because it is his favorite dish.  I LOVE roast chicken  and frequently take a short cut by getting a rotisserie one from the store.  My husband hates them and complains every time I serve one for dinner.  But, for some reason, he really likes it when I roast a whole chicken.  Of course it is more work for me but if it means I get roast chicken, I'll take it!  Plus, there is the added bonus of getting to make homemade chicken stock from the carcass.

Ina kicked her roast chicken up a notch by crisping bacon on the skin while she roasted the chicken.  She pulled it off and used it in a salad that she served with the chicken and then the bacon was left giving the chicken great flavor.  Genius!  Ina's Perfect Roast Chicken recipe was my inspiration but I added lots of veggies in the roasting dish so that I had the sides (minus the salad) taken care of in one dish.

You can use any veggies you like - I chopped carrots, onions and Yukon gold potatoes for this.  Make sure you season them with salt and pepper.

For the chicken: get one whole chicken, remove giblets and wash and dry.  Season generously (both on the outside and in the inside) with salt and pepper.  Stuff chicken with an entire bulb of garlic (halved, no need to remove skin), 1 lemon (halved), 1 onion (halved or quartered - depending on what fits), a handful of fresh parsley and a handful of time. 

Set chicken on top of veggies and drizzle everything with olive oil.  Spread bacon on top of chicken.

Cook at 425 degrees for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Remove the bacon and set aside.  Add some dollops of butter to the top of the chicken and return to the hot oven and cook for about 20 minutes until skin is browned and crispy and chicken is cooked through.  

Make a side salad and top with bacon.  I had spiced pecans and blue cheese in my salad as well with balsamic vinaigrette.

Enjoy chicken with veggies and salad and you've got a delicious dinner that will serve at least 4 people!  Don't forget to save the chicken carcass for homemade chicken broth...


Monday, October 20, 2014

Chicken Veronique

You know how when you learn a new word that you've never heard before and then once you learn it, you hear it every where?  That happens to me all the time and it was just the same with Veronique.  I'd never heard the word before but in all of my Food Network watching and magazine reading while on maternity leave, I have come across the word several times.  It is French and I don't know exactly what it translates to but I'm assuming it means that it has grapes in it because that's what all the dishes seem to have in common.  Regardless, it was delish and surprisingly easy to make.  It looks really elegant and would be great to entertain with.  It also would be a fun holiday dish  - the green of the tarragon and the red of the grapes reminded me of Christmas!

What You Need:

3 chicken breasts, cut in half and seasoned generously with salt and pepper
3 tablespoons of butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 cup of red grapes, halved
1 cup of white wine
1/2 cup of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of fresh tarragon, chopped

What You Do:

Melt the butter in a large sautee pan and cook the seasoned chicken through letting the outsides brown up.  Remove the chicken and cook the shallots in the butter and chicken drippings.

Add the grapes and cook until warmed through, just about a minute or two.  Add the wine and scrape up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the cream and tarragon and let simmer for another couple of minutes.  Taste it and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Enjoy this deliciousness!

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with rice.

Friday, October 17, 2014

OKL Today!

I'll admit it...as much as I love email sales, I sometimes run out of time to get through all of the emails.  Or, things start to look the same.  Or, I am trying not to spend money.

But today I took a look at OKL and found some awesome pieces at great prices.  I don't have one more inch of space in my tiny house but if you do, you should definitely checkout this sale asap!  Not a OKL member?  Sign up here for their daily email sales.

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