Thanksgiving (video)

This weekend was a blast, it was tiring, but man was it fun! Both Jay and my family came and celebrated Thanksgiving here at our house.  We are so lucky to have such wonderful family (on both sides).  Everyone pitched in and it turned out to be a really enjoyable day.  We got some shopping in on Friday, saw Hunger Games, had a fun dinner out with the family, and by Saturday were totally and completely wiped.  Thank you family for traveling here, helping me as I panicked the past 3 weeks about the turkey (Mom!), and making so much food I won’t have to cook again until Monday!

Below is a quick video of Thanksgiving – the prep, family, and then getting our Christmas tree!  It’s crazy how quickly Christmas will be here.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving too!

xo- j

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Umm that wind was wild

Soooo the wind this weekend was absolutely insane.  I thought our house was going to blow over at least 3 times!  This is the part of dog ownership that totally sucks.  Going out in 20 degree wild wind is not my idea of fun at 8am…yuck.

The cold weather does lend itself to crazy heavy and delicious meals though, which I love.  I made tortilla soup on Sunday without a recipe and it came out really really great (going to share in a minute).  Every single recipe (even the ones that said “easy”) online had 55 ingredients.  I am a good cook, I can handle making something difficult, what I don’t want is to have to spend $30 on spices I will only use once, and waste vegetables that I won’t cook with again soon enough.  Plus, the grocery stores were so busy this weekend, I nearly had a fist fight in Trader Joe’s (ok I didn’t, but I wanted to!).  Anyway, here is what I did, and like I always say (and mean it) it came out really great!

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WHAT YOU NEED:

1 1/4 lbs of chicken breast cubed((ish)
15 oz can diced tomato & green chilies fire roasted (Traders! or buy separately)
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (this decides the heat)
1 chopped medium onion
2 boxes Swanson Mexican Tortilla Broth (greatest product ever)
1/2 tbs garlic (to taste)
Some garlic salt, onion powder, s&p
Lime, Avocado, Tortilla Strips, Cheese, Sour Cream (all optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Put chicken, tomato/chile, chipotle peppers, onion, garlic, & broth in the crock pot on high.  Let this cook for about 2 hours.

2. Use a ladle to take out the chunks of chicken, onion, tomato & pepper.  This doesn’t have to be exact, but make sure to get the big pieces of chicken.  Put this in the blender and blend it up quickly. Don’t purée this, just give it a light, quick mix.

3. Put it all back in the crock pot (do the blending in batches) and add the seasonings you are going to want.  I added about 1 tsp of onion powder, garlic salt, and just a pinch of salt. Now let this cook for another couple hours (or 10 minutes if you need dinner).

4. You’re basically done.  Scoop it out and enjoy with whatever toppings you like.  I did some lime juice, pinch of cheddar, tortillas and sour cream, but honestly, it would have tasted great without these additions too!

Mmm.

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On a totally different note, thanks to Jay for being my cheerleader.  Saturday I really missed my friends.  Everyone was together in NYC &  NC and I was struggling a bit with how much I missed them.  I love our new life here, but there will always be days I miss the ease of having my best friends right around the corner (whether it’s college or Brooklyn).  Thankfully, I have Jay, who not only completely understood, but got me ground beef disturbing Taco Bell for dinner, played a flower game with me, and reminded me of how lucky I am.

xo-j

Thanksgiving Table

We are having Thanksgiving at our house this year, and I’m really excited, and also terrified!  I’ve never made a turkey or hosted a legit dinner for 14 people before…but I’ve made a million lists, and purchased (I think) everything we need.  Anyways, the best part has been getting to plan for the table and making decorations.  I found the cutest mason jar mugs last week, and have been picking up all different glass bottles/jars over the past month to make different groupings for the centerpieces (need a bunch since the table will be so long!).

Here is some of what I’ve done so far:

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(Place Cards / Remember which drink is yours / Thanksgiving Party Favor)

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I’m so happy with how everything turned out!  Now, as long as I don’t destroy the turkey we are good to go!

xo-j

Fall Wreath

Fall is my absolute favorite.  And since it is already Christmas according to stores, I wanted to make a fall craft that wasn’t completely pumpkin centered and would work through Thanksgiving time.  This is a really easy diy that doesn’t break the bank or take up your whole week.  I love how this turned out!  If you feel like making your own for the house or as a sweet gift, the directions are below…

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WHAT YOU NEED:

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Yarn – I got a sort of mustard and white really thick knitting yarn
Decorations – I bought a cheap fall bouquet and some berries from Michael’s
Wire wreath base
Scissors

DIRECTIONS:

1. I bought two colors of yarn because I wanted to have a guide for where I would place my decorations.  I did about an 8 inch section of white yarn.  A bit of advice here is to wrap the yarn around your hand and only do small sections at a time.  If you try to use the whole 40 yards you are going to go insane wrapping it, so cut it into smaller sections.  First, as easy as it sounds, make a knot around the wire rim and begin to wrap.  Wrap this section a bit loose but also very thickly so that you will be able to stick your decorations through later.

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(do you see my special helper in the background?!)

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2. Take your second color and begin to wrap around the rest of the wreath.  Like I said above, do this in smaller sections, hiding your knots as you go along. Wrap this really tight. I found the best way was to wrap 3-4 ahead and then push them down tightly.

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3. Here is what you should now have:

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4. I decided to take the remaining yellow yarn and go over the section again but loose and chunky.  This gives the wreath a lot more character.  (I know, I just said character describing a wreath).  Also, don’t forget to make sure your dog is badgering you the ENTIRE time and stealing your yarn.

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5. Now decide how you would like your decorations to look.  I did mine first on the table so I could see how they looked best, then began to stick them through the white portion of the wreath.  I cut up the bouquet making sure to give myself enough wire on the back of each flower to wrap it through…

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6.You are done!  Now hang it up or give as a gift!

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xo-j

Thankful Thankful

I know it’s a bit after Thanksgiving, but if anything being home reminds me of all the things I’m thankful for…

I’m thankful for…

…my family…

…this little guy…

…having a wonderful home to go visit…

…and home looks like this…

…that it’s holiday season and I feel like I deserve to eat every kind of junk there is…and mom’s cooking too…

…and of course that it’s finally Christmas season and Jay and I are having our first Christmas living together…

(a million decorating and pictures of us to come)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and long weekend!

 

 

 

Carrot Cake (I totally won an award)

Last week I made carrot cake for our friendsgiving and another one for Jay’s office Thanksgiving.  Turns out they were doing a contest and my cake won!! Yes…we won a carving knife, and not a trip to the Bahamas…but still, it won!!

I wanted to share the recipe to this amazing cake (thanks Mom for always sharing your recipes and being the best non-professional cook ever)…

CARROT CAKE

What you need:

For Cake:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla

1 – 8 1/4 oz can of crushed pineapple (drained)
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped nuts (optional…but totally adds to it)

DIRECTIONS
preheat to 350

First sift the first four dry ingredients together (I don’t have a sifter, I just fluff it around a bit with a fork)

(like my picture shadow in that?!)

In a separate bowl beat the eggs.  Then beat the sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla into the eggs…

Once that is ready to go mix the egg mixture and dry ingredients together…

Now grate up those carrots! This is by far the worst part but it pays off! Once the carrots are grated mix the carrots, pineapple, and nuts into the egg/flour mixture..

Beautiful!

Pour into a lightly greased pan (I used baking Pam) and bake for 55 minutes.

Time for the FROSTING!

What you need:
1 – 8 oz cream cheese softened
1/4 lb butter softened
1/2 to 1 lb powdered sugar (depending on taste)
1 tsp vanilla

Go ahead and leave out the cream cheese and butter while the cake cooks so it can soften. Wait patiently…drink wine…yum…

Ok now your cake is baked…let it cool!

Mix up your frosting while the cake is cooling.  Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together.  Gradually stir in the powdered sugar.  This is the best part because you get to stop and taste check.  I only use about a 1/2 lb of the powdered sugar, but if you are a sweet tooth you may want more…

Then frost!

Now you are all done and ready to enjoy the best cake you will ever have…

I would have taken a picture of it cut open to eat, but by the time we got to friendsgiving we ate it all too fast!

Everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

xo- J