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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Entertaining the for the Holidays

I love to entertain. Let me say that again, I LOVE to entertain! Something about having all the people I love in one place over food and drink, there is nothing better. If you are like me, your entertaining has improved tremendously over the years! Back in the day I thought a few bowls of chips and pretzels and few beverages were all a party needed. Boy, oh boy was I wrong. With the holidays fast approaching, (anyone else want to know where 2012 went?) I thought I’d share a few of my tips for hosting a successful holiday gathering:

1) Variety is key: This is my number one tip. Make sure you have a variety of food and beverages. I always like to have at least one non-alcoholic option, besides water, and depending on whether I am doing all appetizers or a sit down dinner, I like to have a few options. Something vegetarian, something gluten free, something fresh, something sweet.

2) Prepare as much ahead of time as possible:  Nothing is worse than feeling stressed, pressed for time and like you don’t have as much time to devote to getting yourself and your house ready right before your guests arrive. I always make as much as I can ahead of time, usually the day or 2 before hand, and freeze what I can until the day of.

3) Potlucks are the way to go!  Every year for my annual Christmas party I have an array of appetizers and sweets as well as a few beverages and then ask all my guests to contribute a dish to share as well. We end up with lots of delicious treats and no one goes hungry

4) Know your timing:  I have limited oven space, so I know that in order to make sure everything is cooked properly, and ready at the same time, I have to have my timing spaced out perfectly. This year, I’m asking for a new Breville Smart Oven, which will eliminate these worries! Until then, knowing what takes the longest and what doesn’t need to be piping hot when served helps me get meals on the table on time.

5) Have fun!  It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of throwing a holiday gathering, but I always make myself take a deep breath, put on my favorite Christmas album and remember that no matter what, I’ll be with the people I care about. And at the end of that day that is all that matter.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Breville.  The opinions and text are all mine.

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Cravings

We all get cravings. Like wanting a gyro at 5am. The need for a new pair of shoes, a glass of chocolate milk. Whatever it may be, we all get ’em.

Well for me a few weeks ago, it was fried chicken. I literally could not stop thinking about it. But I am not one to run to KFC and pick up a bucket. Oh no, I had to make it myself.

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Lucky for me, a good friend shared his family’s recipe and it came out super yummy! I can’t wait to make it again

Ingredients:

2 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Frank’s)

1 tablespoon salt

2 chickens, cut into 8 pieces ( I used a package of drumsticks and bone in breasts with skin still on)

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons backing powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

5 cups vegetable oil, or shortening for frying (I used peanut oil)

Directions:

1. In an extra-large zip lock bag, combine buttermilk, hot sauce and 1 tsp. salt. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat. Seal bag, pressing out excess air. Place bag in a bowl; refrigerate for 2-24 hours to marinate, turning bag over once.

2. In a pie plate or bowl, stir flour, baking powder, pepper, paprika and remaining 2 tsp. salt until well mixed. Remove a few pieces of chicken buttermilk mixtures and shake off excess liquid. Add chicken to flour mixture, turning to coat well. Place chicken on wire rack set over waxed paper, without letting pieces touch. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces, using a 2nd rack if necessary; let stand 15 minutes to set coating. Discard buttermilk mixture.

3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line two large cookie sheets with paper towels. Divide oil between 2 12-inch skillets, ( about a 1/2 inch in each skillet) and heat over medium heat until about 360 degrees on a deep fry thermometer.

4. Add 4 pieces of chicken, skin side down, being careful not to crowd pieces, to each skillet. Cover skillet and cook until chicken is light golden brown on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn pieces over and cook, covered (reducing heat if necessary) for 8-10 minutes (for white meat, 13 to 15 for dark meat), turning pieces every 4 to 5 minutes. Chicken is done when well browned on all sides and juices run clear when thickest part is pierced with the tip of a knife. Transfer chicken to lined cookie sheets to drain. Keep warm in oven and repeat with remaining chicken.

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Steps 1 and 2 complete! Ready to get fried

Not that I’m a health nut, but I knew I wanted to keep the sides light. I served it with fresh corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes and cucumber salad.

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Yum!

What are you craving?

Moving On

When last I posted, I was a tad vague about a personal risk I was taking. While I don’t really want to address said risk in great detail at this point (or ever really) I will say that it did not pay off, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It didn’t end up as I wanted, or really expected. But, I know it was a risk worth taking.   As the French say, C’est la vie. 

So now, moving on. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s Spring! Which is my favorite season! This year, more then ever before, new beginnings abound and while I am sad to say good bye, I am so excited for the future, (more on that in an upcoming post, I promise!)

In the spirit of all things bright, shiny, new and optimistic. Here are a few things I am excited about this spring!

 

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My fabulous new apartment that I am moving into in 2 short weeks! Not to mention the decorating and organizing!

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Lilacs, my all time favorite flower. And really, all the spring flowers that are in abundance now

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My upcoming trip to Napa for one of dear friends weddings and wedding season in general. This isn’t a super busy one for me, which may explain the excitement

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Coral, shorts, dresses, espadrilles and all warm weather clothes!

 

What are you looking forward to?

 

 

 

 

 

Take Risks

I’ll be the first to admit it, I am a total sucker for New Year’s. There is something about new beginnings that really get me. My birthday evokes the same feelings. Acknowledging what I am doing well, and making goals ( I hear other people call them “resolutions”) for areas where I can improve.

2011 was a very big year for me, and going back on the Eve of NYE, it was exciting to see how many of these goals I had set for myself I actually accomplished. This year is no different. I love my life, it’s wonderful and fulfilling. I am blessed beyond belief, and I know it. And I know, there is room for improvement and room for something else

If 2011 taught me anything, it’s that playing it safe gets you no where. If you had told me a year ago I would have an entirely different career and it all started by taking a teeny tiny risk, I would have told you that you had lost your mind because I don’t take risks. But I did, and it paid off.

So, I am taking another risk. This one is a little bigger, a heck of a lot scarier and the reward could be even bigger! Holy. Shit.

Last year I took major risks in my professional life and now it’s time for me to do the same in my personal life. I am so so excited for the wonderful things to come this year and am looking forward to this first risk and to see what it may lead to.

I still haven’t ridden a mechanical bull, but who knows, maybe this is the year!

Ducky Baby Shower

There are few things I love more then throwing a party! I especially love throwing parties for friends and family that I love as they embark on exciting new chapters in their lives! My dear friend and sorority sister is pregnant with her first baby. My roommate Lisa and our good friend Emily hosted her baby shower yesterday and it was a huge hit!

We had a great time planning a duck themed shower and it turned out so well!

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Brunch Spread

I  got to try out a new strata recipe that was amazing, and  make a few of my brunch favorites. The sour cream coffee cake, and spinach chorizo quiche with a potato crust, are perfect for these occasions.

The light grey and white color scheme was perfect for a gender neutral shower in mid-winter and who doesn’t love rubber duckies!

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The hostess' and the mother to be

It was a great day with good friends and good food.  Now we just can’t wait to meet the baby!

Staying Thankful

It’s been an emotionally trying couple of days to say the least. But if there is one thing I know, it’s that I am incredibly lucky and blessed and I truly do have so much to be thankful for. So, in an effort to get caught up on my 30 days of Thankful, here it goes.

Day 14: I am thankful for my mom. Not just because she is my mom and is amazing, but because my mom truly embodies Thanksgiving, all it is and all it stands for. My mom understands that as much as Thanksgiving is about the day and the traditions, it’s about the intent. It is about gathering together, with the people you love and saying out loud all you have to be thankful for. We did this Monday night as this is the first year I won’t celebrate on the actual day with my mom. While I am sad, I am thankful for the early celebration we had and I don’t say it enough but I am so thankful for my mom too.

Days 15 & 16: I am so thankful for all the people in my life. For my friends who make me laugh so hard I almost choke and/or cry. For my family, that drops everything they are doing to rescue me from a minor emergency. I am thankful for friends who understand if I can’t be somewhere, but ultimately want me there because it feels wrong if I’m not.

Day 17: I am thankful for me. I am thankful that as hard as it is, I know that everything happens for a reason. I am thankful that I was raised to look for the blessing and the lesson in everything, even when I am upset. I am thankful that I know there is always tomorrow and that everything will work out.