Monday, December 30, 2013

Baked Brie with Cranberries, Cinnamon + Pecans

Christmas may be over but we continue to celebrate in our house long after December 25th. For the entire 12 days of Christmas to be exact! This Christmas has been extra special for us and I never want it to end. 

The celebrations continue this week as we say hello to 2014! As we get ready for a cozy night in with friends, I'm menu planning for New Year's Eve- babies and bubbly included! I am loving the idea of several small bites instead of one big meal. 

If you are still in need of some tasty bites to add to your New Year's Eve spread, I have the perfect addition. This is a wonderful holiday appetizer that everyone seems to love. I made this last year for my family's pre- Thanksgiving dinner cocktails and appetizers and we added it to our pre- Christmas dinner menu this year as well. I made a second batch when we celebrated Christmas with Mark's family this weekend and even the smallest people in the house gobbled it up! 

In a big crowd, one just doesn't seem to be enough. So go ahead and make an extra! Your dinner guests will thank you.

Baked Brie with Cranberries, Cinnamon + Pecans

1 wheel or wedge of Brie cheese
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1/3 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
a few shakes of cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt butter. Add nuts and a few shakes of cinnamon. Saute for 3-5 minutes until nuts are toasted.

In a baking sheet, lay out puff pastry and place brie on top. Place cinnamon/butter/nut mixture on top of the brie followed by the brown sugar then the cranberries. Wrap the brie with the puff pastry. Brush with egg to finish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until pastry is brown and nicely puffed. Serve with crostini and apple slices.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a Merry, Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Allison Parker Designs: WINNER!

Someone is getting an early Christmas gift from Allison Parker Designs & Baby Will!

Congratulations!!! Jodi, I will put you in touch with Allison so that you can order a onesie of your choice from her shop.

Thank you to everyone who entered and next time you need a baby gift, don't forget to check Allison's darling shop.

Merry, merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

{Lemon + Rosemary + Vanilla} Williams-Sonoma Stovetop Aroma

Christmas time always seems like the perfect time to simmer a little stovetop aroma to make your home smell warm and cozy as you bring friends and family in to celebrate the season. I have always loved the orange/cinnamon/clove combination, but I tried a little something new last night and it was divine. My cousin Meg brought this over to my mom in a jar as a hostess gift and I needed to make it right away! This is the scent that is burning in Williams-Sonoma stores and it is positively delightful!

Lemon + Rosemary + Vanilla are a trio made in heaven.

I sliced on lemon and added it with a few sprigs of rosemary to a small sauce pot. I filled it 3/4 full with water and added 2 Tablespoons of vanilla extract. Simmered on low leaves your house smelling fresh and cozy. Just add water as needed.

Prepared in a mason jar with some raffia and a gift tag, this makes a wonderful hostess gift! Just swap the vanilla extract with an actual vanilla bean to keep the liquid clear. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What Will Ate

Exciting things are happening in our kitchen...Will has started eating REAL FOOD! There was no doubt in my mind but it's official, this baby LOVES to eat. About a month ago, he started becoming very interested in our food. We eat dinner together as a family every night and the little guy has been paying close attention to our forks, knives and spoons as we take each bite. He has been MORE than ready to explore the delicious world he lives in.

Long before I was pregnant, I knew that making my own baby food was something I would do. My mom did it for us and I have always wanted to do the same. Not only is it easy, but there is 100% control in what goes into the food, which is important to me in feeding my little one! I'm so excited about introducing Will to new foods and flavors. 

Sophie gifted us this baby cook book (Cooking for Baby) and I just love looking through it! Her sweet boy Jack has enjoyed so many meals from this book and I can't wait to cook up all of this goodness for Will. My Beaba Babycook Pro is going to be my new favorite kitchen gadget!

I had grand plans of serving Will avocado for his first bite, but since my avocados weren't quite ripe enough, we started with sweet potatoes...and he LOVED them! Our little buddy was practically lunging towards the spoon, pulling our hands closer to him and making so many happy noises as he gobbled them up. After a few days of sweet potatoes, avocado made an appearance. We are introducing new foods every 3 days.

I'm looking forward to making many more baby meals for my sweet little eater!

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Special Treat from Little Will + Allison Parker Designs

Picking out Will's outfit for the day is one of my favorite things to do- I just love dressing my little boy. "Outfits" are fun, but the most practical choice for a day of play, errands or just relaxing at home is a comfy pair of pants from BabyGap and a onesie. My dear friend Allison makes the most darling custom onesies. She started making them as gifts for friends and eventually, decided to open her own Etsy shop. When Will was born, she gifted him with a whole package full and since then, I have made a few other purchases. 

Allison Parker Designs makes one-of-a-kind onesies using hand drawn patterns and adorable designer fabric. The Christmas designs might be Will's favorite! Not only are these onesies cute for little ones, but they are so easy for wear and play. They would be fun stocking stuffers this Christmas season for pregnant friends or new moms!

My little peanut turned six months old on Monday and in between Christmas magic and experimenting with Will's first foods (more on that later!!), it seems that it has been a week of celebrating. And what better way to round out this fun week than with a special treat from Will and his favorite Etsy shop!

Allison is giving away a onesie to one Peace, Love and Good Food Reader! The winner will receive one free onesie of their choice (long or short sleeved) from Allison's etsy shop. No fancy rules or a million steps to enter. Just leave a comment letting us know that you want to win! The giveaway runs through next Thursday, December 19. The winner will be announced next Friday. 

Good Luck!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pumpkin Pecan Cranberry Upside Down Cake

This festive little cake was the result of gathering ingredients from my kitchen and hunting for recipes that included them. I started with fresh cranberries and pumpkins, and knew that I would probably need some butter to make it GOOD. Pecans were a no brainer and brown sugar seemed like another appropriate ingredient to add to the bunch. After a quick search and a few key words using my ingredients, I found this DELICIOUS cake recipe. Pineapple Upside Down Cake was one of my favorites growing up and I had no doubt this version featuring pumpkin, pecan and cranberries would be a nice seasonal twist! 

The cranberries are sweet, yet tart, the nuts are gooey and decadent and the pumpkin is just enough.

If you need a quick, yet impressive dessert to share with friends this Christmas season, this one is a winner. Served warm with vanilla bean ice cream is totally the way to go.

Pumpkin Pecan Cranberry Upside Down Cake
recipe from Sis. Boom Blog

16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
6 Tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Pour the brown sugar mixture into the bottom of the cake pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the cranberries and pecans. Place them in the pan over the brown sugar mixture. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin and canola oil. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir until combined. Carefully spread the batter over the cranberry pecan topping. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.

Place a large plate or platter on top of the cake. Invert the cake and plate together and remove the pan. Carefully peel off the parchment paper.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holly Jolly PJ Party!

It's a VIRTUAL PAJAMA PARTY!!! Will and I had so much linking up for Halloween, so obviously we are back for Christmas! It really is the most magical time of year. Because Christmas pajamas? They are the BEST kind.  We are so excited to join the fun with Darci and friends! I can't wait to hop around and see all of the other little elves getting ready for Santa!

I have always LOVED a baby in snuggly pajamas and now that I have my own, it's a whole new level...especially at Christmas time. Festive pajamas were a staple in my house growing up and I have already started sweet little Will on the right track! He has a giant stack of Christmas PJs on rotation right now and I never want this month to end!

This tiny scrunched button nose is my very favorite part of his smile!

Of course, my little boyfriend's room needed a mini tree. This is the same tree I had in my room growing up! I love going into Will's room each morning when he wakes up and before going to his crib, I turn on his tree. It's magic. I strung together this pom pom garland last week while watching The Sound of Music live and I just love how cheerful it is with the multi colored twinkle lights.

Next up, I'm on the hunt for matching pajamas for everyone!!

Merry Christmas to all...

...and to all a good night!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Whipped Ricotta + Herbs

Today's recipe comes to you courtesy of The Glitter Guide. This cute little website offers all kinds of cheerful things and has become one of my favorites. If you don't already subscribe, it's a fun, easy read and always puts a smile on my face.

This recipe is SO EASY, and it seems silly to give it its own post, but it's also too good not to share. I have made this twice already- two weeks ago for a progressive dinner party and last week for our pre-Thanksgiving dinner happy hour. Both times it was a giant hit and when someone asked for the recipe, they couldn't believe how easy it was. I'm hosting an annual girls Christmas dinner in a few weeks and I do believe I'll be adding this to my heavy hors d'oeuvres menu. 

Make this a night ahead for extra flavor!

Whipped Ricotta + Herbs
recipe from The Glitter Guide

Ricotta cheese (full fat)
Fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used rosemary, sage and thyme)
Sea salt
Good olive oil

Whip ricotta in a food processor for 30 seconds. Chop up fresh herbs and fold in with the ricotta. Add a dash of salt to taste. Before serving, drizzle with good olive oil.

I served my ricotta with toasted baguette slices. (Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, or until nice and toasted) My other favorite way to enjoy it? With a spoon. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

{DIY} Pottery Barn Garland

I love, love, love Pottery Barn's Christmas decorations. In fact, I love their decorations all year round and if I could jump in the catalog and live, I would. I made this Pottery Barn inspired wreath two years ago and it's still going strong! I'm going to add wreaths to all of my windows this year as well with simple red bows. It's going to look like a Christmas dream! 

This year, I added a little Pottery Barn twist to my mantle garland and I absolutely love the way it turned out! I used floral wire around the ornaments and affixed them all over the garland. I used plastic gold ornaments that I have had for several years now and I think this was the perfect way to re-purpose them for Christmas 2013. I find that most garland isn't thick enough, so I twisted two strands together then fluffed for a fuller look. I'm still working on the rest of my mantle but for now, here's a little peek at my finished golden garland! The Pottery Barn look for a tiny fraction of the price.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turkey, Pear and Brie Paninis with Caramelized Onions + Cranberry Relish

Weeks before Thanksgiving arrived, I had big dreams of using leftover turkey for these paninis. Surprisingly, I have never been a huge fan of the classic turkey, cranberry sauce and mayo day after Thanksgiving sandwich but this panini? This is something I can get behind.

We had these for dinner last night and my sandwich loving husband was especially impressed. Melted brie, crisp pear and cranberry relish make for the perfect pals on this turkey panini. The extra 10 minutes it took to caramelize some onions was SO WORTH IT.

If you are still swimming in Thanksgiving leftovers, grab some good crusty bread and all of this goodness, and make yourself a panini!

Turkey, Pear and Brie Paninis with Caramelized Onions + Cranberry Relish

D'Anjou pear, sliced thin
Brie cheese, sliced thin
Cranberry relish
Caramelized onions

Just pile that sandwich high, friends! Brush either side with olive oil and place in a panini press until the brie is nice and melty. If you don't have a panini press, toast the bread before assembling your sandwich and broil it in the oven, open faced.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cranberry Crostini with Blue Cheese, Walnuts + Arugula

The Christmas season is officially upon us and I am looking forward to spending the week decking the halls and making merry! Our Thanksgiving was certainly a special one this year and we have so, so much to be thankful for. Thanksgiving day started with my favorite event of the year- The Turkey Trot! It's just not Thanksgiving without this favorite lovie tradition. We spent the day with my family at my parents house and little Will just loved his first Turkey Day celebrations. 

We started off our Thanksgiving feast with a little cocktail hour (per usual) and I made the appetizer and drink menu. It's not a Nido holiday without a signature sip! These cranberry margaritas from How Sweet It Is are TO. DIE. FOR. I am looking forward to many more of these over the next several weeks. 

To round out the margaritas, I made some whipped ricotta with herbs, and these lovely little bites we have here. I altered the original recipe just a tad and they were a hit! I love the melty blue cheese with the tiny sweet bite of cranberries. I'll be finding reason to see more of these crostinis this holiday season!

Cranberry Crostini with Blue Cheese, Walnuts + Arugula
recipe inspiration via epicurious 

1 french baguette, 1/4" slices
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
8 ounces blue cheese or gorgonzola, crumbled
1 shallot, minced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
baby arugula
olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice baguette and arrange on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil on the top of each slice and bake until crisp, about 5 minutes. 

In a small bowl, combine walnuts, blue cheese, shallot, cranberries and toss together. 

Spoon mixture on top of baguette slices. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until cheese melts, about 4-6 minutes.

Finish with a leaf of arugula on top.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sparkling Cranberries

I kicked off my Thanksgiving week prep by testing the recipe for these sugared cranberries. Our cocktail glasses will be filled with these Fresh Cranberry Ginger Vanilla Margaritas with sugared cranberries to top them off. I cannot wait to toast with these tasty sips as we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday. 

These sugary little bites will surely be making many appearances in my house during the Christmas season. Not only will they make a festive addition to cocktails, but I think they would be great on a dessert table. The sugary coating followed by the tart pop of the berry is oh-so-delightful!

The original recipe is titled "Sugared Cranberries", but sparkling sounds much more festive. Everything is better when it sparkles.

Sparkling Cranberries
recipe from Cooking Light, December 2003

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup superfine sugar

Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (do not bring to a boil or the cranberries may pop when added) Stir in cranberries and pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. 

Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving steeping liquid if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet and allow to dry for 1 hour. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cooking Light Blogger's Connection

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! The Charlotte air is exceptionally crisp, Will has on his Reindeer pajamas and the Christmas music is streaming. The most wonderful time of the year is officially upon us!

As I finalize my holiday recipes and make my grocery lists, it dawned on me that I never shared this exciting news. A few months ago, I was asked to join the Cooking Light Blogger's Connection and needless to say, I am THRILLED. Cooking Light stands as one of my favorite magazines and it's always a treat when I receive a fresh issue each month in my mailbox. It's like getting a cookbook in the mail every month. So many of my staple recipes have come from Cooking Light. Whether I follow the recipe to a "T", or simply use it as inspiration, I can always count on Cooking Light to offer healthy, wholesome recipes and some of the best ideas. 

As part of the Blogger's Connection, I will be featuring a couple of Cooking Light recipes/inspiration per month. In addition, there will be a few other perks here on my blog such sharing new products and even some possible giveaways!

This is not a paid position. In exchange for my blog posts, I receive a subscription to Cooking Light (which I have already subscribed to for nearly 4 years) and a few treats in the mail from time to time. I had the chance to review their new cookbook, Lighten Up, America! and I have a copy on my bookshelf and another copy to give away in the next couple of weeks! 

You can check out all of the other Cooking Light bloggers, here.

Thank you, Cooking Light, for allowing me to be a part of this!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The New York Times' Essential Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just under a week away and if you are like me, you are flipping through your cookbooks and scrolling through Pinterest to find the perfect recipes for your holiday meal. My dad sent me this article from The New York Times which not only includes links to great recipes, but also a great visual of the classic players in the Essential Thanksgiving meal. 

EVERY year, I get asked what kind of Thanksgiving my family has. I think most are surprised when I tell them that is doesn't include a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs to kick off the meal. My family tends to go the traditional route with a twist! My mom's homemade stuffing includes Italian sausage and dried cherries. We skip the green bean casserole (even though my sisters and I secretly LOVE it) and usually do something fancy with brussels sprouts or asparagus. We have made pumpkin gnocchi and butternut squash soup as "starters". We do at least two types of cranberry sauce and last year, my sister accompanied my Grandma's pumpkin pie with homemade cinnamon ice cream.  If I could choose JUST ONE thing to eat at my family's Thanksgiving meal, it would be my mom's stuffing. I would share the recipe, but there isn't one. You'll have to come over and watch her make it. 

Whether you are hosting the holiday, or contributing just a few dishes, this guide is a fantastic one to go by!

*image from The New York Times Online

Here is a roundup of some of the recipes I've been eying.


Emeril's Brined and Roasted Turkey (we love a brined turkey and have been using Emeril's method for years!)

Cranberry Sauce-



Something Orange-

Green & Snappy Vegetables-


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Little Will- 5 Months!

This little cutie turned FIVE MONTHS OLD on November 9. He's almost half a year old and it's blowing my mind. We don't go back to the doctor until December for his 6 month appointment, but I jumped on the scale with him and I think he is over 14 pounds now!

Will continues to be the sweetest, happiest and easy-going little lovie. We have really seen his little personality come out this past month as he surprises us with new tricks on an almost daily basis!

We are so close to catching him roll from his back to his stomach. We know he can do it because we often find him on his tummy in the mornings but we have yet to catch him in action. It is the funniest thing to watch.

The bumbo finally got some use this month and Will LOVES it. It's a great way for him to see what's going on and be in the middle of everything. Our giant new kitchen island has plenty of room for him to sit and play while we cook, eat dinner or entertain guests. He just loves it. 

While taking a bath a few weeks ago, Will started blowing bubbles with his mouth and we were thinking it was just a natural reaction to being near the water and trying to keep it out. As soon as he got out of his little bath, he was still sticking his tongue out and blowing bubbles and has been doing it ever since. He has definitely figured out that it makes us laugh.

Will still loves to kick and wiggle all over the place when he gets excited. His left leg really gets going and he smiles with his entire face. These monthly pictures are proving to be harder and harder to take thanks to Mr. Wiggles.

He is so expressive and makes the funniest little faces. We can't help but smile...even when he gives us that perfect little pout. 

During mid-October, one of my best friends from college came to visit with her little girl who is almost two months older than Will! Susanna and he fell in love the moment they laid eyes on each other. It's so much fun when friends have babies! We were so excited about their meeting that we forgot a mom picture!

We also had a quick visit from one of my other college bests, Allison! She is due with a baby boy in February and I cannot wait. Baby P and Will are going to be the cutest little pals.

The highlight of October was most definitely Halloween! I loved Halloween as a kid but having a baby of my own this year took it to a whole new level! Every year, my mom would help us with our costumes- we had some of the most creative ones. Doing the same thing for Will was such a treat. I saw this costume on Pinterest probably two years ago and told Mark that whenever we had a baby, this would be his/her first Halloween costume. William made the cutest little bowl of spaghetti and meatballs we ever did see. 

Our neighborhood has a Halloween parade every year to kick off Trick-or-Treating and bringing our little guy this year was so much fun.

It was also so special to have an impromptu visit from my parents the night before Halloween. They arrived with festive treats in hand for baby Will...

pumpkin pajamas included!!!

This little boy LOVES his dog. Every day he becomes more and more interested in what Wrigley is doing. His little head follows Wrigs around the entire room and he loves running his hands over those doodle curls. It was a tough adjustment for the dog but I think he is finally settling in with his little brother. They really do love each other. 

Little Will continues to brighten our days and complete our world. 

We can't imagine our days without him and we are so thankful for this little family of ours.

Happy five months, Little One!