Friday, December 26, 2014

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

About a month ago, my fiance had surgery on his ACL. It's something that through us completely off schedule for the end of the year, but you do what you have to do. Anyway, we were pretty much confined to our apartment for about four days after the surgery, as there was no way he could go down the three flights of stairs. So, it was up to me to prepare something for us while we stayed in, and what would be more perfect than homemade chicken noodle soup (source here)! Read on for how I made it.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 celery stalks, small-diced
4 carrots, peeled and small-diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 quarts chicken stock or broth
1 can (15 oz) of cream of chicken soup
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
2 cups wide egg noodles

1. In a large pot over medium, heat the butter and olive oil. Add the chopped onion, celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables soften, which is between 6 - 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the stock, and the cream of chicken soup (my secret ingredient so the broth isn't too watery) and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the chicken and noodles, and simmer until the noodles are cooked, about 10 minutes more. Discard the bay leaves and season to taste!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

Sweater: BCBG Max Azria
Dress: Bailey 44
Boots: Lucky Brand
Belt: Alfani

I haven't been putting much effort into my outfits that I have been wearing to work recently. The holidays are such a busy time of year for us (like in just about every other industry), and most days I can't muster up much more energy than putting my hair up, pulling a sweater and jeans. However, now that Christmas is just days away, things are finally winding down and I had some time to do my hair, make-up, and pick out a cute outfit, too!

All of these pieces are things that I had had forever, but I just can't bare to part with! They are all so comfortable and broken in, but look a lot more polished than the turtlenecks and skinny jeans that I have made my unofficial winter warddrobe.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A week in Instagram

I love going on Instagram during the holiday season - I love seeing how everyone captures their city and their homes decorated for all the holidays, plus all of the lights and color! Here's what I've been up to the last couple of week on Instagram.

1. My fiance being a good sport and posing with the Target dog.

2. Celebrating my BFF's 24th birthday in Dupont Circle with the BEST martinis at Russian House.

3. From my boss, an advent calendar!

4. There's nothing like fresh cranberry relish.

5. My new placemats from Kate Spade! They are so festive and I love the glitter, of course.

6. The Christmas shop in Macy's in NYC.

7. Trying Ralph's Coffee, Ralph Lauren's first coffee shop.

8. The perfect nightcap, a caramel apple martini.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Theater

Dress: Kate Spade
Jacket: Anne Klein
Belt: Target
Tights: Betsy Johnson
Shoes: Coach

The first week of December (yup, I'll admit to being crazy behind on blogging), I went with my mom and aunt to see the Donny and Marie Christmas show at the National Theater in DC. To be honest, I wasn't really familiar with either of them, but my mom was convinced I would love the show, and she was right! I had the absolute best time. They did a mix of holiday songs, songs from musicals they had performed in, and they showed clips from when they used to be on television. It was a great way to get into the holiday spirit!

For the occasion, I wanted to get dressed up and look festive, but I did not want to wear traditional red and green, or red and black. So, I chose this neon pink Kate Spade dress that is much more me! To make it a little more appropriate for the cold winter weather, I wore it with thick tights, a little jacket, and of course a heavy wool coat on top for walking to the theater. Even though it was raining, I decided to wear heels, but pulled my hair back so I wouldn't have to deal with frizzy hair. 
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pumpkin Dream Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Decadent. If that's one word I would use to describe these cupcakes, that would be it. I pinned this recipe several years ago, and I finally decided to try it out a couple of weeks ago when I had a major sweet tooth. Although the recipe makes a 3-tier cake, I didn't have anything to store a cake like that in, so I went with the cupcakes! Here's how to make your own (and trust me, you're going to want to right away!)

For the Cake:
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk

For the Icing
12 oz (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line cupcake tins with liners and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl/stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla, pumpkin and vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk.
4. Fill the cupcakes liners about 2/3 of the way full, and bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. For the frosting, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Finally, add the  confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth. Ice your cupcakes with either a pastry bag or knife, and enjoy immediately!
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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cranberry Orange Relish

You know, I had every intention of sharing this recipe for cranberry orange relish before Thanksgiving, for timeliness. However, with the craziness of my clients because it's the holiday season, and the fact that my fiance's ACL surgery was just two days before Thanksgiving, it just did not happen. With that being said, I think this is a great dish for Christmas! Plus, if you're traveling, it's an easy dish to make ahead and just pack in a cooler to-go.

1 3/4 cups orange juice
1 cup of sugar
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon of cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
whole orange peel, in a strip
12 ounces of fresh cranberries

1. Combine all ingredients except for cranberries in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. 

2. Add cranberries to syrup, and cook over medium heat until berries burst, about 6 minutes. Cool, and transfer to a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

101 in 1001: November 2014

While not much more productive than last month, I feel like I tackled a couple of the more difficult items on my list. Hopefully with the holiday season and some more time off this month, I'll be able to accomplish more than usual. Seriously, who am I kidding. Well, I guess we'll see what happens!

27. Get a credit card.
I've had a credit card since I turned 16, but it was a student card meaning it didn't have a high limit, and it was still linked to my parents account so I never used it. With the help of my fiance, this month I sorted through all the offers that I have been receiving for months, and chose one that I think has the best benefits. Check!

55. Finish paying off my student loans
I certainly didn't think this would be possible so soon, but by paying nearly double or triple the minimum required payment, putting every extra penny toward my loan, and a generous donation from my Grandma who recently passed away, I have finished paying off my student loan. I feel so incredibly fortunate that this huge worry has now been taken off my plate (and I'll be able to start saving a little, too!)

76. Contribute dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Half done! For this Thanksgiving, I contributed my cranberry orange relish, the receipe for which I'll be sharing on my blog soon!

89. Convince my fiance to get a passport.
We know that we're officially going to St. Marteen, so I filled out the paper work for him, took him to get his photo taken, and helped him set up an appointment at the post office to turn in everything. We should be receiving it back in about eight weeks!
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