How to Host a Simple Family Dinner.

Cross your fingers for a sunshiney afternoon.

Arrange a bouquet of fresh cut flowers in bright colors.

Cook a stick to their bones kind of meal.

(pasta bolognese, a fresh green salad, hot oven baked rolls with butter)

Serve that dessert they never get sick of.

Easter was such a treat this year. It was simple, but indulgent, with weather to compliment the mood. I was so happy to have found endless bouquets of ranunculus when I went to the market to buy flowers on Friday. They are my absolute favorites this time of season, and a great accessory to any table with their deep variety of colors. In an attempt to take the guessing out of the meal, we went with the family favorite. Like I said, want to host a seamless feast, just go with the favorites… sometimes simple is the best policy.

Just of a few of my favorite instagrammys from the day.. @thefreshissue

xoxo

Step by Step Fresh Pasta @ Oven&Fig!

As some of you may already know, I have quite a love for a local restaurant in my town, Alfredo BYO

Last month the owners and I came together to create a blog- which we decided to call the Oven and Fig. Adorable!

I am writing and photographing each piece we do together. Right now we are working on one post per month- in the restaurant business, time is oh so precious. It is such a blast!

For our Christmas edition we decided handmade pasta would be our recipe of choice…. You thought my hand rolled gnocchi were fun and delicious?

These little guys are quite a contender. 

Check out the new post HERE … and let me know what you think!

A How to Holiday.

Is it just me, or did Christmas come a tad bit early this year? Somehow I convinced my Dad that two days after Thanksgiving was THE DAY to buy a Christmas tree for his house. The house has 10 foot ceilings, so I am pretty sure, even when I am off to my own house, and my own tree, I am still going to love buying that monster. We literally bought a christmas tree in shorts, definitely a first.

But, just because my life became (prematurely) christmasy, does not mean I have stopped basking in the beauty of Thanksgiving. I didn’t get a chance to share it with you guys… except for the prep leading up to the big feast… so better late than never right? 

Let me begin by thanking Pinterest for the endless ideas and great inspiration. That stinkin website, I tell ya – a real life changer, right?

We had two tables set up this year. I am privy to this one (it’s in the sunny breakfast room, much better photo opps). 

Want to create this yourself? All you need is your magic wand and:

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Ginger & Spice & Everything Nice!

My head is so deep in the mixing bowl right now I am surprised I am even finding the time to write down my thoughts.

It’s midnight, I’m exhausted. Too exhausted to even remember what I actually did today.

I just snuck one of my gingersnaps out of the tupperware for my midnight snack. Certainly can’t forget that I made those today. They are sooo good it’s SILLY. Snappy and spicy with that thing that molasses does to a cookie. If I don’t stop I will go sneak another one.

The purpose of making them besides the obvious – tis the season – is that I need to make a bunch of different crusts that require gingersnaps to make an appearance. I have an order for a pumpkin cheesecake, there is another pumpkin cheesecake for my family dinner, and then a traditional pumpkin pie in the works.

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Where do you feel thankful?

Given the choice between keeping or breaking a tradition – I always stick with keeping it.

Except for one of the most insane Thanksgiving meals I’ve ever had at The Breakers in Palm Beach… like insane, like I had sushi and mashed potatoes on the same plate, and we walked away with freshly baked pumpkin pies to take home …. Thanksgiving is always a comfy cozy home thing.

In the post-divorce era, aka like 6 years ago, Dad and I decided we would create a Thanksgiving our way.

Dad is the savory, I am the sweet, and two years ago, a few days before Turkey day – this guy became chaperone of the whole operation.

Sleeping on the job, as usual.

There are lists and notecards and calendars for preparation all filed away in a little manila folder.

Quite a collection after all these years – but so necessary when it comes to seamless execution. Each day has it’s duties.

At the beginning of last week we ordered almost 45 pounds of Turkeys at the Farmer’s Market. I baked up 8 trays of cornbread, to be dried for stuffing. There was some serious produce shopping – but only for certain goods – potatoes, yams, sage, onions, leeks, peppers, lemons, chestnuts. A big Costco trip. And of course, some baking pantry restocking for me.

Today – 5 days prior to the big 30 person shindig – we prep all of the little things – this an onion and leek casserole.

The homemade apple pear sauce is in the freezer.

4 bowls of Dad’s cranberry and mission fig sauce is chillin.

Along with the vacuum packed sleeves of chestnuts – 15 pounds – which dad cooked and shelled already.

There is also no time to waste getting together what I need to decorate the house and the tables. Ash and I went for a long walk today collect a bunch of my favorite season’s most beautiful attributes. 

.. all of which required some serious bathing when we returned home. ew, bugs.

We also stopped at one of the most beautiful hidden little places. 

The sound of the water gurgling was like an instant chill-pill. 

If you want to check out more of the vision I am going for with this year’s family tradition – check out my Thanksgiving PinBoard

There’s a lot of this (Elle Decor). 

And THIS (Design Sponge).

I also just ordered a big roll of this off of Amazon this morning – to arrive, fingys crossed by Wednesday. 

Wait till you see what it will be used for. 

Eeee. 

Do you have family traditions for Thanksgiving that you love as much as I do? share share. favorite recipes? favorite dishes? 

We Love to Eat.

My Aunt Vera and I have this little thing we sing every time we are together at a dining table. 

It goes a little something like this … “Weee looveee to eeeeat”. 

If there was a way to combine that little song with Happy Birthday, we would’ve this week. All I did was e a t. And l o v e every minute of it.

It started with my favorite, a home cooked lunch by Tita.

It ended with a 3 hour dinner at Paramour in the Wayne Hotel.

There was…

Tita’s Arabic Chicken with Lebanese Cous Cous and delicious pearl onions. 

Tita’s most perfect hummus with warm pita and baby carrots.

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Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos.

Did everyone have a nice day off yesterday?! I know I did… I decided against posting because I wanted to be present with my family. I have been up in New Jersey since Saturday visiting my Mom. Yesterday was the first of several birthday celebrations I will have this week. Call me old fashioned, but some of my most favorite birthday times are with my family.

This particular Mexican Fiesta my mom threw together for me was amazing. The pulled pork tacos … perfect.

The recipe she used, she adapted from a food network recipe. Every time we are together, we always say how there are so many recipes we want to try, but we never get that far… so yesterday, was a brand new recipe, for a brand new dish that turned out beyond delicious. Like, so delicious that even though we ordered pizza for dinner last night, I was sneaking handfuls of the left over pork into my mouth before I even had a slice. It was so juicy and tender, and everything she made to go with it (I will fill you in on that too) was all exactly right. 

Click to Print!!

The prep and cook time amounts to about 4 hours so leave yourself some time. Mom made the pork Sunday night, shredded it Monday morning and we had the fiesta for lunch. 

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Arriba! Try This Quinoa.

Sometimes I am at a loss for words when it comes to naming a dish I created. 

In this case, I settled for the nothing less than corny rhyme option…

It does have spanish flair, I promise!!

This is the kind of dish you make the day you go to the produce market. The fresher the ingredients the better. 

Also, if you can find them, no salt added black beans are your best bet. Keep the meal simple, and too much salt can really screw things up…

Click to print!

This was probably my favorite quinoa creation that I have thrown together in a long time. The white wine is such a compliment to the sweet onions and honestly, what the heck is better than avocado and lime?

Garnish with parsley and dig in. 

From stove to table in less than 40 minutes!

xo

Dinner & Doritos.

Just a little night cap to tell you about another evening of kitchen magic in Apartment B. 

We have a Nile River flowing in front of our entry way from a neighboring business’ sump pump, so this afternoon – in order to boycott fording the river – I waited in the car for 20 minutes until Courtney got off the train. I didn’t feel like crossing the damn thing twice as we are going on 4 days of me soaking my $125 dollar leather gladiator sandals. 

The point of this anecdote… It was 630 pm and I WAS STARVING, watch water gush out of a wall every 5 seconds, waiting for Court to get off the train, wishing dinner would somehow miraculously show up in the car, but an Acme trip was a necessity before I could cross the river and step back in the kitchen.

My stomach was burning and eating itself, and once we finished up in the store, the car ride home felt like an eternity. 

How I could cook a dinner in this delirium is beyond me, but here it is: 

Tonight’s Do With What Ya Got:

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