Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Not Your Mama's Meatloaf

In an effort to mix up weeknight dinners, I opted for a chicken meatloaf. I was really happy with the recipe! The end result was very moist and flavorful and will definitely be added to fire meal plans.

1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1 medium carrot, diced(or a big handful of mini carrots if you're like me)
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
Splash of white wine 
1/4 cup ketchup 
1 teaspoon garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste 

Preheat oven to 350. In a skillet, heat butter until melted. Add onion, carrots, and white wine and sautée until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and sautée for another minute, until fragrant. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl (or stand mixer) and mix until combined. Place mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and contribute baking for 15-30 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli (or whatever you have!). 

Pumpkin Spice Kiss Cookies

Pumpkin spice kiss cookies

I love baking on the weekends. I turn on some jams (usually Bob Marley or Adele), gather my sous chef (Poppy and sometimes Penny), and get to it. I find the whole experience calming and a little therapeutic. Baking is so precise, which I find very calming (hello, type a). 

{Pumpkin Spice Kiss Cookies}

With fall approaching, I decided to get my pumpkin spice on in the Ladybug Kitchen this past weekend. 

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup pumpkin purée 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1.5 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
Pinch of salt 
1 bag pumpkin spice Hershey kisses, unwrapped, divided (1/2 cup will be chopped and added directly to the batter) 
1/2 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons cinnamon 

Make space in your freezer for 2 cookie sheets. 
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper (or silpats if you're fancy) 
Mix together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy; about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and vanilla, beat for 1 minute. 
In a small bowl, whisk together cinnamon, cloves, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add it to the sugar mixture and beat until combined. Add in chopped kisses and mix until combined. 
Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours (or overnight) 
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk the 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon together, set aside. 
Scoop single tablespoons of dough, roll into balls, dredge in the cinnamon sugar mixture, and place on the cookie sheets about 2" apart. Bake for 12 minutes. 
Remove the cookies from the oven, transfer the parchment paper lined cookies to a new, cool cookie sheet (or you can just slide the parchment paper into a level spot in the freezer). Press a kiss into the middle of each cookie and immediately put the cookies into the freezer so they kisses don't completely melt. 
Let cookies chill about 20 minutes then you're good to go! 

Summer Weekend Recap

 Darling Husband and I both took Friday off of work to hang out and recharge. We had a lovely Date Day that started with al fresco lunch at Red Rocks; fish and chips for him, fish tacos for her. Then we went boating on Lake Norman. It's very rare we go out on the lake just the two of us and it was so incredibly relaxing! We floated around, sipped cocktails, and talked. It was perfect. Friday night we grilled brats for dinner and had a big green salad with my new favorite salad dressing.
{Saturday Lunch}

Saturday we had our dear friends come into town from Raleigh! They brought their two little girls and we had a blast. We ate lunch, which consisted of ham & Swiss sliders, cotton candy grapes, pesto pasta salad with peas and tomatoes, and strawberries. It was light enough we didn't feel like we couldn't slip into our swim suits, but filling enough to that we weren't famished while out on the lake. We changed and headed out onto Lake Norman. You never know how small children are going to handle a boat for the first time, but both girls did great!! Their mom surprised them with matching Ariel dolls and it melted my heart. What a sweet and thoughtful surprise for her daughters! After a few hours of floating and hanging out, we headed home for burgers and hot dogs. I was sad when they had to leave and felt overwhelmed with gratitude for our friendship. They're such a nice family and are just easy to be around! 

{LKN Lounging}
Sunday we helped our friends with organizing (me) and garage storage (Darling Husband), then headed to the pool to cool off after swearing our way through the projects. It was a fun afternoon and I felt instantly soothed to see everything organized and put away. Type A much? We circled back with our friends for dinner, drinks and ice cream and ended the evening winding down at home.

Book Club

I love to read; always have. When Darling Husband and I first moved into our neighborhood I dreamed of starting a book club. Now, after about a year of living in our home and developing friendships with our neighbor's, my dream has come to fruition! Our first book club meeting is at the end of September and I am so pumped on the book we chose!

{This Month's Book Club Read}

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave is about a women who discovers her fiancé has been keeping an explosive secret- and it comes to light one week before their nuptials are set to take place. So, like any sensible woman, she flees to her childhood home, a vineyard tucked away in beautiful Sonoma. While she returns seeking comfort from her parents and brothers, she quickly discovers her fiancé isn't the only one who has been keeping secrets. Dun dun dun! 

I'm looking forward to diving into the novel this week. It's sounds like it'll pair nicely with a glass of wine at our book club meeting! 

Also, if you're an avid reader, check out BookBub for daily emails on highly discounted books! 

Wine Night

I love being the hostess. Two to three times a month I like to host wine night in my home for some of my girlfriends. It's a nice way to break up the week, catch up, and relax a little. This past week I didn't feel like getting too adventurous with the snack portion of wine night, so went with my go-to appetizers: gougères and caramelized onion phyllo cups. I didn't have any Brie on hand for the phyllo cups, so I opted for Yancy's Fancy steakhouse onion cheddar instead and it was delicious!! The savory snacks paired nicely with wine. 
{Beverage options}

{Steakhouse Onion Cheddar Phyllo Cups}

{Gougères in a nautical bowl

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Thank You: A How-To

Writing a good thank you note is a skill everyone should have in their back pocket. A nice set of stationery (I'm a huge fan of Crane & Co.) and a sincere note can go a long way.  

{Crane & Co. Stationery}

Always begin with the date at the top right corner, opposite the salutation. And don't back date it or future date it, just write the damn date you actually wrote the note. It's never too late for a thank you note!

The greeting: Begin with "Dear (salutation and surname, if a more formal relationship) or (first name if a more casual relationship) 

The gratitude: Start the body of the note directly under the "r" in "dear" for uniformity. 

Be sure to lead with "thank you" and go on to explain what you're thanking them for (is it a gift, an event they hosted, a kind gesture, etc.). 

Be sure to also include how you'll use it (we'll use the stand mixer to whip up birthday cupcakes for years to come! Or we had such a wonderful time at dinner the other night, the roast was fabulous! Or the get well soon flowers were just beautiful and really were a bright spot in my day!, 

After that, include an until next time. We can't wait to celebrate future birthdays together! Or looking forward to another dinner together soon, next time we'll host! Hopefully I'll be back at our work out classes soon so we can sweat it out together! 

Be sure to also reiterate your thanks. Thank you again for such a thoughtful gift. Or thank you again for having us to your home and for the lovely dinner and company. Or you're so sweet to think to cheer me up while I'm under the weather. 

Finally, include the closing goodbye (love, best, cheers, etc.) 

Whenever I know I am going to an event where thank you notes are sure to follow, I make sure to keep a list in my phone of who have what. That way, I can make sure everyone revives a thank you. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Girl Time

A girls' night out was the perfect way to break up the week! A few of my neighbor girlfriends got together to grab dinner and see Bad Moms. 

{My Night Out Outfit - Gingham Top & White Jeans}

We went to dinner at Red Rocks, which rarely disappoints. Darling Husband and I are big fans of their brunch - fried chicken and biscuits, to be exact. I opted to split the almond grouper with asparagus and risotto and it was delicious! After finishing up dinner, we scooted down the block to the movies. Mild panic ensued when the marquee sign said the movie was sold out; but we all got tickets (phew!). 

The movie theatre has a bar, so after everyone got their wine and snacks of choice, we settled in to watch the movie. It was hilarious!!! Katheryn Hahn stole the show. I'm already planning to have a viewing party at home when it comes to HBO or Amazon or whatever. Jammies will be required. 

Afterwards, we pit stopped at TCBY for some fro yo and met up with everyone at Corkscrew for a nightcap and to discuss the movie. Everyone agreed it was funny and parts really resonated with my mommy friends. 
{Not a bad looking crew!}

It was such a fun evening with wonderful women. I am so lucky to have great neighbors who make for some pretty kickass friends.