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!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tomato, Corn + Zucchini Frittata

I love, love, LOVE a good frittata. I started making them when we lived in Illinois and they quickly became a favorite weekend breakfast. But what's better than having frittata for breakfast? Making it for dinner and eating the leftovers for breakfast the next day. Frittatas are also one of those dishes that you can scrounge up what you have in your kitchen to make your masterpiece. 

I like to load my frittatas with vegetables and every so often, bacon or ham may make an appearance. This Tomato and Zucchini Frittata from SkinnyTaste served as my inspiration. I opted for 8 whole eggs instead of 4 eggs plus 4 egg whites and swapped out the asiago for cheese I already had on hand. Corn seemed like a good addition so I threw some of that in, too. A splash of half and half made my frittata extra creamy.

Tomato, Corn + Zucchini Frittata

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1 cup frozen sweet corn
8 eggs
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup shredded mexican blend cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
salt  pepper to taste
1 medium vine ripe tomato, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium (about 10") skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion, and saute until translucent and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini and corn and saute for another 3 minutes. 

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, half and half, and cheeses. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Pour eggs into the skillet over the vegetables and gently move the eggs around, making sure the vegetables are even at the bottom. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the eggs start to set on the sides of the pan. Place tomato slices evenly atop the eggs.

Place skillet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until frittata is cooked and the center is set.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend! I just wanted to check in with a quick post re-capping my first visit to FlyWheel Charlotte! Yesterday morning, I kicked off the weekend with a friend at a FlyBarre class and while it kicked my tail, I enjoyed every minute! This class was a great diversion from my normal workouts and I think that adding one or two barre classes to my week would be highly beneficial. Having a dance background, I love this type of workout. I have tried a few barre classes at our local YMCAs but FlyBarre takes it to a whole new level. 

If you are local to Charlotte, there are FlyWheel locations in SouthPark/Cotswold right at Sharon Amity and Providence as well as an additional location in Ballantyne. By creating an account on the FlyWheel website, you can see what FlyWheel is all about, buy class credits and reserve your spot prior to class time. Your first visit is free! 

Click on my referral link below to create an account and reserve a spot in a class that looks good to you. 

Click HERE to visit FlyWheel!

This is such a fun workout atmosphere!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Granola

I have been experimenting with new Paleo recipes to add to the rotation and I am so excited about this one. Paleo granola has been on my radar for awhile now and I finally carved out some time for this treat. This recipe from Against All Grain (one of my favorite Paleo resources) served as my inspiration. I made some changes based on what I wanted to use and I'm very happy with the results. The nuts and syrup will definitely be serving as my granola recipe base as I experiment with different flavors and add ins. 

This granola skips on the oats and is made up entirely of nuts- making it Paleo, gluten free and super filling! Maple syrup naturally sweetens it and throwing in some dried cranberries at the end gives it extra flavor and color. This recipe makes quite a bit, which makes it perfect to have on hand for a few weeks of breakfasts and snacks. I like it with plain green yogurt but it would even be good eaten as cereal with milk. If you want to get crazy, sprinkle some on top of pumpkin or vanilla ice cream. 

Paleo Pumpkin Granola
recipe adapted from Against All Grain

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw pecans
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup Grade A Dark Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
3 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Place nuts in a large bowl and cover with water. Soak for about 8 hours, or overnight, rinsing and changing the water halfway through. 

Drain nuts, rinse and pour onto paper towels to soak up moisture. Once they have been patted dry, place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the texture resembles oats. (If you do not have a food processor, coarsely chopping the nuts on a cutting board will work. Because the nuts have been soaked, they are soft and easy to shop. I would probably not recommend using a blender).  

Add in syrup, coconut oil, pumpkin and salt. Pulse until just combined. Fold in shredded coconut with a spoon. 

Lay granola out on two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. 

Bake for 6 hours on 170 degrees, or until granola is brown and crunchy. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, November 1, 2013


This little bowl of Spaghetti and Meatballs had such a fun day yesterday.

We hope you did, too.

Happy, happy Halloween!!!