Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Faves



Checking in on this wintry afternoon with a little edition of Friday Faves. It's such a cozy day here which is always welcome at the end of the week. I'll take any excuse to snuggle in for the day. 



I cannot get enough of these Bulletproof Peppermint Mochas! I'm normally not a sweet coffee drinker, but Starbucks Peppermint Lattes call my name this time of year. It's the best festive treat. Thankfully, this homemade version is so easy to whip up and much healthier, too! A perfect mid-afternoon treat. Plus with the addition of collagen- PROTEIN! (and good hair, skin and nails, too)



Attention moms and dads...World Market sells pre-built gingerbread house kits! I seriously love these people. All we had to do was decorate, which really is the best part of it all anyways. 



Look at all of this beautiful, fresh greenery! We are team real tree in our house and over the past few years I've started using more and more fresh greenery during the Christmas season. I added fresh eucalyptus to my pine garland last year and loved it so much that I recreated it this year! I usually do a refresh halfway through the season but Trader Joe's makes it easy. 

I'm ready to do some Christmas cookie baking! I think I may have been Santa in a past life because this time of year I ALWAYS want to end the day in my pajamas, sitting by the Christmas tree with a glass of milk and some cookies. Sally's Baking Addiction is my go to for ALL THE TREATS. 

Stuffed Mushrooms are never a bad idea. 

If you're local to Charlotte, here's a link to 25 Picks for where to see Christmas lights in Charlotte! And here's my own little list of favorites that I posted here last year. 



We have a giant magnolia tree in our backyard and I've always had grand plans of using the leaves to make beautiful things. I finally got a little crafty with them and now I can't stop. I made swags for our garage lanterns and a big wreath for inside. I also did a swag for our mailbox and added some greens from our tree. Maybe I'll attempt some garland next!? I got a ton of questions about the wreath when I posted a picture of it on Instagram stories so maybe I will post a tutorial next week.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Apple Cider Mules



I know. Another apple cider cocktail. But I swear I haven't been sitting around all season enjoying happy hour! We are full on Christmas over here and enjoying every minute. We've decked the halls and every corner of our house just seems extra cozy and festive this time of year. We've built a gingerbread house, constructed a foam Nativity and enjoyed special cups of hot chocolate. Tomorrow we'll make snow angels, go ice skating and eat a whole roll of tollhouse cookie dough. Just kidding. Sort of. 

It is no secret that I LOVE this time of year and these little ones of ours certainly make it extra special. I want to bottle up their excitement and joy with it all. Every day of this season is just so much fun with them. 

This cocktail though. In case you have some cider sitting around from Thanksgiving, MAKE THIS. Or even if you don't, go to the store and MAKE THIS. I love Moscow Mules- 50% because they are delicious and 50% because the mugs are just fun to drink out of. The best part about a mule is that as long as you have ginger beer and good vodka, you can basically add your own mixer and call it a mule. 

Holiday Happy hour is calling! 

Apple Cider Mules

2 oz. vodka
2 oz. apple cider
2 oz. ginger beer
sliced oranges + cinnamon sticks (for garnish)

Mix these right in the glass! Combine all ingredients, stir and finish with ice! Garnish with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick. 


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Apple Cider Old-Fashioneds



Hello! I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with plenty of deliciousness and family time. It came and went so fast but we had the best time! It's so crazy to me that December is a matter of days away. We wish for Fall to come so quickly and we blink and it's Christmas. WHOAH. But it's the very best time of the year and I plan on soaking in every minute.

As long as the holidays are here, I want to be drinking apple cider in my cocktails. Whether it's cold or warm, there's something about cider in a drink that is like sipping on a giant hug. It's the perfect mixer this time of year!

There Apple Cider Old-Fashioneds were a hit with my family this year. They pack a punch and if you don't like them as strong as the recipe makes them, just keep adding more cider. The measurements you will find below are good for one drink, but it's easy to multiply the portions and make these in a pitcher. Trust me- this is a good idea if you're enjoying happy hour with a crowd. 

If you need me, I'm over here researching other apple cider cocktail recipes. 

Apple Cider Old- Fashioneds

2 ounces apple cider
Dash of Angostura Bitters
1 tsp. of brown sugar OR simple syrup
2 ounces Bourbon OR Rye Whiskey
Ice
Slices oranges and apples, for garnish
Cinnamon sticks, for garnish

In your favorite cocktail glass, combine apple cider, bitters, simple syrup and whiskey. Mix it up, then add the ice. Pop in fruit and cinnamon sticks for garnish! 


Monday, November 20, 2017

Easy Paleo Sunday Meatballs




Spaghetti and Meatballs are the Hallmark of a proper Italian Sunday. When the weather gets cooler, a bowl of pasta is like a big hug and comforting in all of the best ways. Meatballs just taste better on Sundays. I posted a quick picture of these meatballs on my Instagram stories last night and got tons of comments asking for the recipe- so here you go! This is probably the most un-appetizing picture I've ever posted, but hope to update it next time I whip these up, which will likely be very soon since this a menu staple in our house.

This is my base meatball recipe and what I always go by. Turkey, pork, sausage, beef- it all works! I keep the ratio of meat to seasonings the same and tweak as I need depending on what I am making. One thing that always makes a big difference is browning the meatballs on the stove for a bit, and then finishing them in the oven. If you have time to babysit the meatballs for a few minutes on the stove, don't skip this step!

I LOVE meatballs mixed with breadcrumbs and parmesan, but I promise you won't even miss it with this recipe. The flavor is amazing, especially if you have fresh basil on hand. We had these with a simple marinara over spaghetti squash for a healthier Italian Sunday.

Enjoy!

Easy Paleo Sunday Meatballs
1.5 lbs. ground beef (I like 80/20 for these)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
handful fresh basil, chopped
1.5 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with your hands until combined. (be careful not to over-mix!) Roll into ping pong sized balls and place on your prepped baking sheet. 

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Place meatballs in skillet and brown for 10 minutes, rotating every 2-3 minutes. You may have to do these in batches. Once they are browned, transfer back to the baking sheet. Bake for another 10 minutes or so. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Get That Glow: My Skincare Routine



With winter approaching, I always take extra care with my skin. I'm a product junkie and and always love reading these types of posts- so here you are! I'm also passionate about healthy skincare in general, as it's taken me a long time to feel like I am in a good place with my face. I struggled with acne and breakouts as a pre-teen and teenager and it was a sore subject for many, many years. After lots of trial and error, medicated face washes and even some prescription medicine, I didn't see much difference in my skin until I started paying more attention to what I was putting into my body. My daily diet is nowhere near perfect, but as a rule of thumb, I try to limit dairy, gluten and sugar. These three things in excess sends my skin into a downward spiral and the more I read, the more this is not surprising to me. 

A little over a year ago, I slowly started switching most of my skincare to Beautycounter. I love the company's mission and anything that's better for my skin!? Well, sign me up! I've always been so passionate about what I put IN my body, that I wasn't always paying attention to what I was putting ON it. I was a ride or die Neutrogena girl for years, but my skin hasn't been happier since making the switch! I love the Beautycounter products so much that I decided to sign up as a consultant. I won't focus on that too much here, but if you would like more information, or would like to be added to my Beautycounter Facebook group, send me an email!



Here's my daily routine. It's nothing crazy or intricate, but it really works for me. I love all of these products!

Morning:




1. Beautycounter Charcoal Bar- This is what I cleanse with in the shower. I LOVE this facial bar. It cleanses and purifies and has done wonders for my face. 



2. Neutrogena Toner- I still cannot part with this. It's the most basic toner and has been a part of my skincare routine for years. 



3. Beautycounter Nourishing Eye cream- because once you turn 30 "they" say you need it.



4. Beautycounter Rejuvinating Radiance Serum- Well, I'm not getting any younger and have added a few anti-aging products to my routine, this being one of them. We'll call this...taking preventative measures. In all honesty, this serum makes my skin so soft and my complexion more even. 



5. Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion- easily one of my favorite skincare products, I love this moisturizer! I apply this right before I put on my makeup for the day.


Night:




1. Nourishing Cream Cleanser/Exfoliating Cleanser- I switch these out every other night and always cleanse at night using my Clarisonic brush. I love that thing and have been using it for almost 7 years. It has been one of my best beauty purchases to date. 



2. Beautycounter Nourishing Eye Cream


2. Beautycounter Rejuvinating Radiance Serum


3. Beautycounter Brightening Oil or Rosehip Oil- Oil is all the skincare rage these days and now I see why. I've been using it for over a year and love how soft my face feels when I wake up. It's especially necessary in the winter when the cold weather dries you out. Rosehip Oil does wonders for your skin. It's packed with vitamins and antioxidants that help improve the skin's tone, texture and pigmentation. The Brightening Oil from Beautycounter is a new addition and after almost a month of use, I'm noticing more evenness in my skin tone.



4. Nourishing Night Cream- this is also a must! I actually take a pump of cream and add 5-6 drops of whichever oil I'm using, mix it in my hand and apply to my face.

EXTRAS:




I LOVE masks! I use one every 2-3 days and typically do them at night. My all time favorite is the Beautycounter No. 3 Balancing Charcoal Mask. This is actually the product that got me hooked on these products to begin with. I alternate with the No. 1 Brightening Mask




This Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Rosewater is the best! It's a perfect midday pick me up for your skin. The smaller spray bottle is perfect for on the go!




Castor oil is supposed to be the best all-natural product to promote lash growth so I thought I would give it a go! The jury is still out on this one but I'll keep using it! 

You can shop my Beautycounter page HERE and if you would like to be added to my Facebook group, just send me an email! Take care of your skin, everyone!!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kate's Magical Unicorn Sprinkle Cake



I'm not sure how it happened, but our little Princess Kate turned TWO a few weeks ago! Wasn't she just born!? She is just the best little girl in the world and we love her more everyday. I'm in denial that she's less and less baby and more of a toddler. She is sassy, sweet and hilarious. The princess of the family, for sure! We celebrated with family and it was such a special day! Little miss was eating up all of the birthday attention.



Any birthday in this house isn't quite complete without our favorite sprinkle cake. Will has now asked for a sprinkle cake two years in a row and it's looking like this is a Moore family birthday tradition. I took it to the next level and created this unicorn edition for Kate's birthday and I AM IN LOVE. 

A little back story on the unicorn obsession...as trendy as they may be, it was a little bit of an accident how they became Kate's "animal". Before she was born, my dear friend went to England and brought our baby girl back a souvenir. It was a piece of the official china comemorating the birth of Princess Charlotte. The design is a gorgeous gold lion and unicorn- and so the unicorn love started and here we are. 


This cake was not only magical, but delicious, too! I think I've finally found the very best birthday cake recipe. I added sprinkles to the batter making it funfetti, but I used this same cake recipe for my sister's birthday in September and everyone LOVED it. The consistency is perfect- it really is a classic white birthday cake. I'm convinced that Greek yogurt in the batter, plus folding the whipped egg whites in separately at the end makes ALLLLL of the difference here. 


To make the unicorn cake topper, I went back to the clay animal making days of my craft loving childhood. I found a tutorial online and spent a naptime one afternoon molding away. I purchased pre-made white fondant (found HERE) as well as gel food coloring (found HERE). For the sparkly horn and hooves, I used Wilton Gold Lustre Dust (found HERE) and simply painted it onto the fondant. This was my first time ever using fondant and I had so much fun! Any excuse to get crafty is always good for my soul.                                                            
             
  

Kate asked for "puhhhhple " frosting and how could I say no!? I mixed a tiny bit of pink and a tiny bit of purple to get this gorgeous light lavender and I think the color came out perfect. 



The BEST Funfetti Birthday Cake Recipe
recipe adapted from Craftsy

FOR THE CAKE-
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 cup full fat Greek yogurt 
1/2 cup sprinkles (jimmies are the best!)

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM-
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6-8 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Food coloring

Adjust oven rack to the middle position in the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and line the bottom of two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites until soft peaks start to form. This will take several minutes. Transfer them to another bowl. 

Switch out the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment on your mixer and in a large bowl (just use the same one that you whisked the egg whites in), cream the butter until fluffy and light, about 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed. Scrape down the bowl as necessary. Add the granulated and brown sugars and mix on medium high speed until combined and smooth, another 2-3 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. Add the vanilla and mix until just combined.

While on medium speed, add the yogurt and flour mixture alternately, in 2-3 additions each. Mix the batter until it is smooth and free of any lumps. The batter will be super thick. By hand, fold in the egg whites gently until no streaks of white remain. 

Lastly, add sprinkles to the batter and mix those in by hand as well.

Divide batter into the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Every oven is SO different, but I found that 33 minutes was the perfect amount of time for this cake! 

Once cakes are done, remove from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before flipping the pans over and removing the cakes. Wait until the cakes have cooled completely before frosting. 

To make the buttercream, in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat butter for 2-3 minutes until very smooth. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and the salt and beat until smooth. Keep adding powdered sugar in 1 cup increments, until it has reached your desired frosting consistency. If you find that the sugar is too thick, add milk or cream, 1 tsp. at a time, to thin it out. Add desired color and mix until done. 



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Great Pumpkin Beer Tasting



Back in September, when the first day of Fall hit, Mark and I celebrated in the most delicious way we knew how- with a pumpkin beer tasting! I went to town at Total Wine and built my own 6 pack, making sure to pick mostly new to us beers. Two of the beers we had are old favorites, but I couldn't pass them up and had to include them in our first day of Fall tasting. GIVE ME ALL THE PUMPKIN BEERS. It's like a switch turned on September 22 and I was in full on pumpkin. NO turning back now. 

Pumpkin beer is tricky. Too much squashy taste or too much spice can totally ruin the good vibes. I like a little pumpkin, a little spice and hint of sweet and that warm Fall feeling. I guess you could say I'm particular about my pumpkin beer! 

We didn't go in any particular order, other than saving what we predicted would still be our favorite to the very end. 

My rankings are as follows:

#1 Cottonwood Pumpkin (Foothills Brewing
I'm confident this will always be my most favorite of the pumpkin beers. I've loved this one for years and it's the perfect amount of spice and not too much sweet. If you can find this on draft, GET IT! It's so, so good. 

#2 King Don's Pumpkin (Catwaba Brewing)
This was another winner! Mark and I both really liked the flavors in this and it was the first beer of the night. Again, not too sweet and a good amount of fall spices. 

#3 Pumpkin Pie Porter (Deep River Brewing)
Over the past couple of years, I have grown to LOVE dark beers. They are a great way to end a meal or even as a little dessert beverage. This porter is rich and flavorful.

#4 Pumpkin Down (Ballast Point)
This was a little on the strong side but I enjoyed it for the most part! It was a little heavy on the carmel flavor to me and I definitely couldn't drink more than one but it was good.

#5 Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin (New Belgium Brewing
I wish I loved this but I just didn't. It was way too spicy for me and the spice overpowered all of the good things it had going. If you like a little spice to your beer, this is definitely for you! 

#6 Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy (The Traveler Beer Co.)
This was like a combo of pumpkin juice and an Arnold Palmer. I think I have decided that Shandys definitely aren't for me. 

A few other Pumpkin beers we are loving this season- Gordgeous, from Noda Brewing and Sycamore Brewing's Oh My Gourd. Both are great and local to Charlotte!