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festive tunes

December 9, 2013

My mom is in town visiting and she’s in the kitchen testing out recipes for her holiday party.

She’s making dulce de leche-coconut bars and these beef tenderloin bites are about to go into the oven:

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(Of note, I may not fit into my pants tomorrow.)

Anyway, we wanted to put on Christmas music, but Jennifer was a grinch!  She said she didn’t want to listen to it because it is so repetitive.

And actually, she’s right.  It’s only December 9 and I am already tired of Rocking Around the Christmas Tree and I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.

Enter Holidays Rule, my new favorite collection of Christmas tunes.  Have you all heard it?

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I wanted to tell you about it just in case you haven’t — everyone from Paul McCartney to Fun. to The Civil Wars is on the album singing traditional Christmas songs with their own twists.  Its perfect for an evening at home in the kitchen or at a big holiday party.

Merry, merry!  xoxo

chicken pot pie with cheddar-thyme crust

December 6, 2013


Most of my girlfriends from growing up are spread out around the country – from San Francisco on one coast to Charleston and D.C. on the other.  Sometimes we go a year or two between visits, and it really makes me sad not to have them in my day-to-day life.

In between my best friend Court having her first baby and becoming pregnant with her second, we had one of those long, wonderful evenings filled with wine and catching up and laughter and more wine.

But women cannot survive on wine and love alone.  We also shared an amazing chicken pot pie that night.

As soon as I got back to Houston, I set about trying to recreate it.  I think what I really wanted was to recreate our time together and to combat the longing to be nearer each other, of course.  But this warm, comforting pot pie is a pretty close second.

Chicken Pot Pie with Cheddar-Thyme Crust

4 bone-in chicken breasts
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
10 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne
2/3 c white wine
3 1/2 c. chicken broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 egg yolks
6 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tbsp. flour

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven and add the olive oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and place two of the chicken breasts in the pot when the butter begins to bubble. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes then flip and cook the other side for 5 more minutes. Remove to a plate then add the other two chicken breasts and cook for 5 minutes per side. Remove the remaining pieces of chicken to the plate.

Lower the heat to medium-low and add the carrots, onion, and celery. Sauté for 7-8 minutes, until translucent and slightly browned, then add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 5 more minutes. Add 3 tbsp. flour and the salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika, stirring until the flour and seasonings are absorbed then stir in the wine and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Cook for 2 minutes then add the chicken broth.

Add the chicken back to the pot and stir in the thyme. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks, heavy cream, and last tbsp. flour. Whisk in 2 tbsp. of the vegetable and chicken sauce to temper it, then add the egg mixture to the dutch oven and quickly whisk it in until just combined. Cook for 5-10 more minutes.

Remove the chicken from the bones and shred. Add it back to the thickened sauce. Stir and taste for seasonings. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.

2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/3 c. cold water

Pulse the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor quickly to combine. Add the butter pieces, grated cheese, and thyme and pulse until the mixture has a coarse crumb texture. Add half of the water and pulse, then add the other half and pulse until the mixture starts to come together. (If necessary, add more water 1 tbsp. at a time)

Turn the mixture out into a bowl and press into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for an hour.

To assemble:
Fill 8 individual crocks with the chicken mixture or pour it into a 9″x13″ dish.

Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness. Either cut in into 8 rounds to place on top of the crocks or roll it in one rectangle to place on top of the baking dish.

Cook at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

tuesday things, vol. 17

December 3, 2013

instagrammy favorite instagrams this week

A few things I’m thinking about, reading, or loving right now:

    • Brillant! Here’s how to peel an entire head of garlic in 10 seconds.
    • “Selfie” was just named the 2013 Oxford word of the year, which makes this collection of historic photos turned into selfies even funnier.
    • In a world where only 11% of engineers are female, toy company GoldieBlox is on a mission to “disturb the pink aisle” and get young girls interested in science and math. Their video will have you cheering by the end.
    • A comical look at some of the absurd items in the Williams-Sonoma catalog.
    • I just heard about this book and am dying to start it.
    • I was really glad to read this since I failed so miserably the one time I attempted a juice cleanse.
    • Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Like, A LOT.
    • Talk about a lot of wasted time.


christmas gift guide: stocking stuffers

November 26, 2013


These gifts are all under $25, making them great stocking stuffers as well as perfect for office gift exchanges:


1. Wine Tags – a cheeky way to present a bottle of wine.
2. Le Pen 12 Color Set – my favorite pens in a variety of jewel tones.
3. Grow Your Own Olive Tree – for those with a green thumb.
4. St. Jude Glass Knot Paperweight – well-designed and benefiting a good cause– a win-win.
5. Vosges Exotic Chocolate Bars – choose from flavors like bacon & chocolate, black salt & caramel, and sea salt & almonds.


1. Emi-Jay Hair Ties – made from a soft and stretchy material that has been hand-dyed and knotted.
2. I Am Not A Paper Cup – good for the environment, insulated to keep beverages warn, and microwave & dishwasher safe.
3. NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil – the convenience of a pencil with the application of a lipstick in a jumbo-size crayon design; instantly coats lips with rich pigment.
4. Teroforma Whisky Stones – chill drinks without diluting them.
5. Pagoda Note Cards – these stylish pagoda calling cards are a must for any Chinoiserie fan.


1. Straws of Steel – durable and eco-friendly, they’re also dishwasher safe.
2. Lobster (or Crawfish!) Needlepoint Key Fob – gives keys a colorful personality.
3. Fern Vegetable Bubble Bath – made with pure and natural vegetable based soap, sweet calendula petals, and chamomile… all known to soothe skin.
4. Brass Pineapple Letter Opener – the perfect decorative accent to your desktop.
5. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment – a hydrating treatment that nourishes, protects, and plumps the lips.


Check out the rest of the Christmas Gift Guides:
Wine Lovers
Cooks & Hostesses
Dog Lovers
Whisky Lovers

christmas gift guide: everyone

November 25, 2013


A few fun ideas that will appeal to everyone on your list:


1. Sferra Throws – this cozy throw blends soft color with cream in a herringbone weave and finishes it with a twisted, natural fringe.
2. Team Folding Chair – show off your team pride with these portable chairs.
3. Roll-Up Travel Charging Mat – minimize cable clutter and maximize style with this portable charging system that can refuel up to four devices simultaneously while occupying just a single wall outlet.
4. Coravin – the wine access technology leaves the cork in place, safeguarding the wine from oxidation and allowing wine enthusiasts to enjoy wine by the glass without committing to the bottle.
5. 22″ Foldable Carry-On – this lightweight luggage folds flat and stashes inside its protective vinyl bag for easy storage in your closet or under a bed.


1. Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker – pop in a pod and push a button for perfect espresso in a flash.
2. Mini Nativity Set – a perfect addition for a little nook to celebrate the season.
3. Bose Noise-Cancelling Earbuds – block the outside world with full-on noise reduction and enjoy superb sound.
4. Morphie Juice Pack for iPhone – this thin, protective battery case provides iPhones with up to 80% extra battery life.
5. The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert – this book helps readers scratch and sniff their way to expertise by introducing the basic components of wine—the fruits, the wood, the earth—enabling anyone to discover the difference between a Syrah and a Sangiovese.


1. Warby Parker Sunglasses – the sharpest frames around.
2. Photojojo iPhone & Android Lens Set – Fisheye, Telephoto, Wide Angle and Macro Lenses that allow phones to take pictures like professional cameras.
3. Sennheiser Wireless Headphones – marriage savers: one partner can read with no interruptions while the other watches TV in bed with these wireless headphones.
4. A.Heirloom Monogrammed Muddler – these sturdy and timeless muddlers have been reinforced with Corian to ensure that they hold up for years to come.
5. Simon Pearce Business Card Holder – the perfect gift for colleagues, recent graduates and entrepreneurs.


Check out the rest of the Christmas Gift Guides:
Wine Lovers
Cooks & Hostesses
Dog Lovers
Whisky Lovers
Stocking Stuffers – 11/26/13

christmas gift guide: gentlemen

November 22, 2013


Whether he is into the rugged outdoors, geeks out over technology, or is into fashion and style, there’s a gift for the man in your life on this list:


1. GorillaPod for iPhone – flexible, wrappable legs tackle any terrain for precise control in photo or video composition.
2. Yeti Tundra 45 – your man probably won’t need his cooler to be bear-proof, but just in case he does, the Yeti is for him. For everyone else, its a great, heavy-duty cooler that can handle 26 cans of his favorite beverage.
3. Pajama Set – the can’t-go-wrong classic for every guy (add a monogram for a custom touch).
4. Polar Bear Soft-Sided Cooler in Mossy Oak – the Polar Bear will keep ice for 24 hours in 100 degree heat and is easily portable.
5. Black & Decker Gyro Screwdriver – with gyroscopic technology for increased control, variable speed, and forward/reverse drilling.


1. The Total Outdoorsman Manual – this book is an authoritative, comprehensive, and entertaining guide that will enable anyone to master the outdoors and hunt, fish, and camp like an expert.
2. Persol Steve McQueen Folding Sunglasses – an excellent, timeless piece of contemporary functional design.
3. Tactical Grilling Apron – no more trekking back and forth from the grill to the fridge when wearing this ingenious apron.
4. Gaucho Belt – traditional Argentine polo belts (originally made in team colors).
5. Sperry Classic Topsiders – the iconic boat shoe, perfect for sailing or a casual dinner.


1. Monogrammed Needlepoint Wallet – these needlepoint wallets can be personalized with a variety of color combinations.
2. MacAlister Brickman Boots – built from Italian leather for unbeatable style and constructed with a stitched-out welt for unmatched durability.
3. Laser Putter – clip-on laser quickly attaches to virtually any putter and provides instant feedback on how well you’re lining up putts and how far you are from the hole.
4. Beretta Goose Down Shooting Vest – the durable nylon ripstop shell is filled with 80/20 goose down that keeps the wearer warm without weighing him down.
5. iPad Mini – whether he’s into watching movies, listening to music, playing games, or getting a little extra work done on the weekends, he will love the new iPad mini retina display.


Check out the rest of the Christmas Gift Guides:
Wine Lovers
Cooks & Hostesses
Dog Lovers
Whisky Lovers
Everyone – 11/25/13
Stocking Stuffers – 11/26/13

my grandma would be so proud!

November 21, 2013

I have always been a voracious reader.  If I am bored, I will pick up whatever is around and read it.  When I was younger and we used to go hang out at my grandma’s house after school, I loved looking through her magazines: Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping and Reader’s Digest.

In fact, I loved RD so much that my mom sent me a subscription to it when I was a freshman in college.  I am pretty sure I was the only 18-year-old on SMU’s campus that looked forward to Reader’s Digest coming in the mail each month.  I still love it.

So imagine my excitement when I got an email this morning from Reader’s Digest letting me know one of my recipes was featured on their Perfect Christmas Appetizers roundup.  How fun!

Thanks for reading!  xoxo

Crabmeat over Boursin
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces whipped butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. garlic salt or Greek seasoning
½ tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. dried dill
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. dried thyme

Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a food processor. With the machine running, add the seasonings, and process until smoothly blended.   Check and season to taste.

Crabmeat topping:
2 lbs. jumbo lump crabmeat – gently handpicked for shells and rinsed
lemon pepper seasoning, to taste
3-4 green onions, sliced
Season the crabmeat to taste with lemon pepper and finely chopped green onions.  Let sit in refrigerator an hour or so before putting on top of the Boursin for the flavors to meld.

To arrange:
Spread Boursin on platter about 3/4″ thick.  Gently pour and arrange the seasoned crabmeat over the Boursin.  Garnish with curled green onions and lemon halves. Serve with melba rounds.

christmas gift guide: ladies

November 21, 2013


Whether the ladies in your life are beauty-product-obsessed, into jewelry and fashion, love home decorating, or crave nothing more than time spent relaxing, there is something on this list for everyone:


1. Akola Project Necklace – these necklaces, which come in a variety of colors, are handmade by Ugandan women who are paid a fair wage, and the proceeds benefit their communities through water wells, vocational centers and agricultural programs.
2. Magazine Subscription – there’s nothing like spending a few minutes flipping through a magazine to get inspired, whether in the kitchen, around the home, or in life.
3. Soothing Lavender Body Wrap – helps soothe muscles and joints, with a lovely, relaxing lavender scent.
4. C. Wonder Leopard Sweater Dress – this chic sweater dress stands out in a crowd.
5. Oughton Limited Tote – a classic canvas tote that is the perfect size for a laptop and other essentials.


1. Monogrammed Compact Mirror – every lady needs a compact mirror in her purse, even better if it is a pretty one.
2. Cozy Pajama Set – nothing feels better against skin than the soft pima cotton in this stylish set of PJs.
3. Blue Compass Cocktail Napkins – these hand-embroidered Italian linen cocktail napkins are the perfect compliment for a cocktail.
4. Buxom Lip Gloss – a sheer, shimmering gloss that helps hydrate, plump, and shine with a luxurious, no-tingle feel.
5. Katie Spade Watch – Leonardo da Vinci said it best: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”


1. Wool and the Gang Knit Your Own Scarf Kit – knitting needles, yarn, and pattern instructions are included in these fun kits.
2. Panama Hat – woven entirely by hand in Ecuador from fronds of the toquilla palm, it’s the perfect touch to pretty much any ensemble.
3. Jayson Home Horn Vase – horns are the epitome of chic and this beautiful vase adds a twist of high style.
4. Kusmi Tea Essentials – 24 individually-wrapped muslin tea bags selected from Kusmi Tea’s 12 top-selling teas.
5. Diane James Peony Vase – a pretty pink peony takes center stage in a glass bowl with optic swirl.


1. Zara Home Silver Bamboo Frame – this classic style will fit right in to any setting.
2. Dainty Champagne Flutes – these Champagne flutes are both chic and sensible — they can double as bud vases.
3. By Paige Lobster (or Crawfish!) Slippers – evoking the coast, these needlepoint slippers are comfortable and stylish.
4. Twisted Pearl Necklace – a lovely addition to any outfit.
5. Greek Key Throw Blanket – this machine-washable throw is practical and well-designed, so she will want to display it in her home.

ladies-51. Monogrammed Memo Pad – whether it’s grocery lists or love letters, she can write notes in style on this memo pad, customized with her name or initials.
2. West Elm Baggu Tote – these striped and metallic bags are simple, stylish, and durable.
3. Nachtmann Slice Vase – stick a gift certificate to your favorite florist in this modern vase.
4. Turkish T Woven Towel – I love how these can be used as a swimsuit wrap, beach towel, or bath towel.
5. Hunter Sandhurst Savoy Riding Boots – stylish and functional, these rain boots make a statement.


Check out the rest of the Christmas Gift Guides:
Wine Lovers
Cooks & Hostesses
Dog Lovers
Whisky Lovers
Gentlemen – 11/22/13
Everyone – 11/25/13
Stocking Stuffers – 11/26/13

christmas gift guide: whisky lovers

November 20, 2013


For the Scotch, whisky and bourbon-obsessed:


1. Vinturi Spirit Aerator – enhances the flavor, bouquet, and finish of spirits by speeding up the breathing process and instantly aerating in the time it takes to pour a shot.
2. Riedel Single Malt Whisky Glasses – just like different glass shapes help highlight the notes in different wines, the elegant creaminess of top quality single malt whisky is especially pronounced in these glasses.
3. Whisky Advent Calendar – behind each of the 24 windows lies a different 3cl sample dram of delicious whisky.
4. Stag Glass Decanter – whisky lovers will enjoy displaying their liquid gold in this pewter and hand-blown glass decanter.
5. Sphere Ice Mold – these huge slow-melting ice balls chill drinks without watering them down too quickly.


1. Macallan 18 Year – a consistently great scotch whisky; it gets its smooth flavor from the sherry casks in which it is aged.
2. Highland Park 12 Year – from Scotland’s most northerly distillery, with creamy honey, plenty of citrus and green notes.
3. Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project – and experimental release of bourbons aged in an assortment of casks and settings, meant to be tasted side-by-side. (more info on the project here)
4. Blanton’s Special Reserve – a great ‘beginner’s bourbon’, it has sweeter taste profile with aromas of dry citrus, raisin and light vanilla.
5. Lagavulin 16 Year – with the massive peat-smoke that’s typical of southern Islay, but also offering richness and a dryness. (Favored by Ron Swanson, who thinks “clear alcohols are for rich women on diets.”)
6. Jefferson Reserve – a classic summery, light and supple bourbon which offers good, clean delivery, pleasant sweetness, hints of cigar leaf, pepper and toffee.


Check out the rest of the Christmas Gift Guides:
Wine Lovers
Cooks & Hostesses
Dog Lovers
Ladies – 11/21/13
Gentlemen – 11/22/13
Everyone – 11/25/13
Stocking Stuffers – 11/26/13

christmas gift guide: bibliophiles

November 19, 2013


For the people on your list for whom “I’ll just read until I finish this chapter”
means turning out the light at 3:30 am with a finished book.


1. My Book Club Only Reads Wine Labels Tote Bag
2. A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
3. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
4. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
5. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail But Some Don’t by Nate Silvercgg-books-1

1. Marsh Mission by C.C. Lockwood
2. Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader
3. Bringing Nature Home by Ngoc Ming Ngo
4. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkawamba
5. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseinicgg-books-5

1. Klevercase Classic Book Cover for Kindle
2. Well-Read Women by Samantha Hahn
3. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
4. The Where, The Why, and The How: 75 Artists Illustrate the Wondrous Mysteries of Science
5. This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral – plus plenty of valet parking! – In America’s Greatest Capital by Mark Leibovich

1. I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Tote Bag
2. My Ideal Bookshelf illustrated by Jane Mount
3. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
4. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
5. In the Spirit of New Orleans by Debra Shrivercgg-books-3
1. Assouline Books Candle
2. The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti
3. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
4. Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Enuma Okoro, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
5. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfieldcgg-books-61. Novel Teas
2. The Grand Bazaar – Istanbul by Laziz Hamani and Serdar Gülgün
3. The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
4. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
5. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert


Check out the rest of the Christmas Gift Guides:
Wine Lovers
Cooks & Hostesses
Dog Lovers
Whisky Lovers – 11/20/13
Ladies – 11/21/13
Gentlemen – 11/22/13
Everyone – 11/25/13
Stocking Stuffers – 11/26/13

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