Thirsty Thursday--Blood Orange Margaritas

So once again, I am posting my very favorite type of cocktail--
The Margarita.

This one is a super fabulous Blood Orange Margarita.
It is sweet, a little bit tart, and very, very dangerous.

I really don't know what I can say about these margaritas other than they are spectacular.
Blood oranges are just about my absolute favorite citrus fruit.  Sadly, they are only available for a very short time every year.  I'm lucky enough to have a tree that produces some fabulous fruit. So I get all giddy and start making everything that I can with the fruit.  I'm kind of like on "blood orange crack".  They are just so beautiful and taste so delicious!

(I found the recipe here and if you get a chance, you really need to check out her site.
It is full of gorgeous, delicious food.)

Blood Orange Margaritas
(slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is)

Printable Recipe

2 ounces tequila
1 ounce Grand Mariner
1 1/2 ounces simple syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces blood orange juice
salt for the rim, lime/orange wedges for garnish

Rim the edge of your glass with a lime wedge and dip in margarita salt ( I actually used blood orange sea salt).  Fill the glass with ice.  In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Grand Mariner, simple syrup blood orange and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds.  Pour over ice and add an orange or lime slice for garnish.


Chicken Noodle Soup

Today I'm going to share with you a dreamy Chicken Noodle Soup recipe.
This soup is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.
Now, don't mistake me.
 I'm not really a fan of the condensed, soggy noodle chicken soup.
What I'm a fan of is flavorful chicken stock, firm noodles, and fresh vegetables that make up this soup.

My friend Brittani shared this recipe with me.
It's a little different, in that it has potatoes in it.
But, I'm not complaining--who doesn't love a starch.
Potatoes and noodles--two of my favorite foods.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Printable Recipe

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
cajun seasoning, to taste (I used Tony's)
3-4 large bone-in, skinless chicken breasts
2 boxes of low-sodium chicken stock
1 bag of baby carrots
1 bag if small red potatoes
1 teaspoon celery salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
cajun seasoning to taste
1 pound pasta, (I used rotini)

In a large stock pot, melt the butter.  Season the chicken breasts with the cajun seasoning and place in the stock pot.  Brown both sides of the chicken.  Add one box of the chicken stock and equal parts water.  Boil the chicken until it is cooked thoroughly, about 20-30 minutes.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot and strain the water.  
Do not empty the water, just strain it.  Return the chicken broth to the pot and add the second box of chicken stock, carrots, potatoes, celery salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow the carrots and potatoes to cook for 20 to 30 minutes.  While this is cooking, debone the chicken and shred.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta ad dente.  
Add the chicken back to the pot and season to taste.

Serve the soup over the pasta.  (Do not store your soup and pasta together.  This will make your noodles soggy and will soak up all of your broth.)  

**The beauty of this soup is that you can customize it to however you want it to taste.  You can add other vegetables and herbs or keep it simple.  It is so easy.


A Few Family Room Updates

This weekend I added a few spring touches to our family room--

The bar cart

For the bar, I took away some of the crystal and silver and added some color--
lime green, my favorite.

I found this beautiful lime green ikat bowl, from C. Wonder.

and these super cute black and white chevron paper straws from The Party Fairy.

For the coffee table-

I added fresh flowers and a few books, full of color.

I love to display tons of gardening books and some great Thomas Keller cookbooks.
They look more like food photography books--the pictures are beautiful.
Also, I added Brian Batt's "Big, Easy Style"--all about one of my favorite cities.

Also, do you see the new cow hide rug??

I completely love it--I'll share more on this soon.

What's In My Bag--At Work

I thought that this would be a fun way to show what kind of beauty products 
and go-to items that I use everyday.
I did clean out my purse before I decided to share, due to the large amount of jolly-rancher papers and other miscellaneous trash items.
(I also discovered a whole lot of receipts that I had been looking for, who knew??)

First of all, I have to say that my bag is the perfect everyday bag.
You can fill it up, dress it up, and it works perfectly with almost any outfit.
I absolutely love it!!
And, who doesn't love J. Crew???

Banana Republic Calf-Hair Leopard Wallet
I bought this a few years ago for a pretty penny.
I used to only use it on special occasions, but recently I've turned it into my everyday wallet.
Why not???
It's fun and so beautiful.
I absolutely love to feel it.
Beware, it has rubbed off in a few places.

Sony earbuds
I work in an office full of talkative Speech Therapists and sometimes I need a little quiet
(no offense--you know I love you all dearly).
Also, I'm completely addicted to and sometimes can't stop listening--especially when I have hours of tedious paperwork.


Hello, Flawless Powder 
This powder is wonderful.
I wear it in petal.
It doesn't cake and I love to re-apply later in the day for a fresh look.

Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait De Gloss
I wear this color in Emoi.
It is a great shade of red.
I love wearing red lipstick--matches my hair and is so glam.

Juicy Tubes
I absolutely love juicy tubes for a quick color picker-upper.
I wear cherry burst.
It is very sheer, and looks great over lipstick.

Because you never know when someone wants to purchase from

I always carry a small purse-size perfume (that can't spill or make a mess)
for when I need a little fragrance pick me up.
I love roller-ball perfumes.
They are perfect for travel and work.
I usually never wear perfume during the day, 
due to working with the elderly and not wanting to irritate someone with my cologne.
I usually only apply if I'm going to have a drink after work or to an appointment.

Glass Fingernail File
You can find these at any local drugstore.  
I've had this one for about 5 years and it still works as well as it did the day that I got it.

This is the  most exquisite lip butter imaginable.
My friend, Rachal, gifted me this lip butter and I can't be without it.
I actually take it out of my purse every night and put it on my bedside table to use when I go to bed.
Yes, I am one of those people addicted to lip products.

Victoria's Secret Mints
These are the the best little mints ever!!

The small size is perfect for when you need a little pick me up at the end of the day.

Whenever you need to pull your hair up!!

So what's in your bag??
Is there a product that you can't be without at work??

I would love to know, what's in your bag??

A Few Projects

I have been so swamped lately,
 and am really excited to share a few projects that I'm currently tackling.

I'm currently working on projects in FOUR different rooms in my house.
As well as starting to work on our outside spaces, lots of projects coming for this area.
Three of the four projects are almost there.
I just need to wrap it up a little and do a little shopping.

Probably if I focused my attention on one, I could check it off my list, 
but what kind of fun would that be.
Until then here are a few sneak peeks of some of my current projects.
(I promise, full project disclosure to follow soon.)

You can also follow along on instagram for more project photos.

New rugs are always great.

Fun office art.

A bar cart re-vamp.

A little painting to come.

Bruschetta with Apples, Fig Jam, and Pecorino-Romano

This is probably one of my all-time favorite appetizers.
I love to keep all of the ingredients for when I have unexpected visitors.
It's so easy and so delicious.
It's also got everything--a little sweet, a little salty.

And, it looks super fancy-schmancy!!

Bruschetta with Apples, Fig Jam, and Pecorino-Romano
(slightly adapted from Food Network--Everyday Italian)

Printable Recipe

6 figs, halved
1/2 cup simple syrup
2 tablespoons brandy
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
24 baguette slices
olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
1 large Granny Smith apple
24 pieces of shaved Pecorino-Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the figs, simple syrup, and brandy in a small saucepan.Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then turn off the heat and set aside for 10 minutes.  Allow the figs to cool.  Transfer the mixture to a food processor.  Add the hazelnuts and blend until pureed.  Set aside.  (This will be good in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  I promise, it will not last that long!!)

Place the baguette slices on a heavy baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Top each with 1 teaspoon of the grated cheese.  Bake until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted and golden, about 7 minutes.

Quarter the apple and slice off the cores.  Cut each quarter into 6 thin slices.

Top each toast with 2 teaspoons of the fig jam, a slice of apple, and a piece of the shaved cheese.


Four Cheese Stuffed Ravioli with Spicy Marinara and Garlic Roasted Shrimp

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

I hope that all of you out there get a little smooching today!!!

But now, on to the recipe...

This is, by far, one of my most favorite dishes that I've made in a while.
It had all of the right components--
seafood, pasta, cheese, a bit of spice, and did I say cheese???

There is probably not much of anything better than cheese stuffed in a delicate homemade pasta.
If you've never ventured out into making your own pasta, I would urge you to do so.
It is a bit time consuming, but so worth the effort.
(If you don't want to make your own, some specialty food stores carry fresh pasta.)

Four-Cheese Stuffed Ravioli with Spicy Marinara and Garlic Roasted Shrimp

Printable Recipe

For the pasta:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1/4 cup water

For the ravioli:
(adapted from Annie's Eats)

1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded fontina
1/2 shredded parmigiano-reggiano
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Spicy Marinara
Garlic Roasted Shrimp

To make the pasta:

In a stand mixer, with a dough hook attachment, place the flour in the bowl.  Add one egg and mix at the lowest speed.  Once the first egg is incorporated, add additional eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next.  Add water and mix well.  The dough will form a ball.  It will be sticky.  Place the dough on a floured work surface and cover with an inverted bowl.  Let sit for at least one hour.  After the hour has passed, cut the dough into four pieces.  Place a flat pasta roller on the first setting and roll the first piece of pasta through the roller.  Fold the pasta in half and run in through the first setting several times, folding after each.  (You may want to lightly flour your dough if it starts to stick to the roller.)  Change the settings to the second and third in order and run the pasta through each one once.  Place the pasta sheets on a lightly floured surface.

Next, make the ravioli.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, fontina, parmigiano-reggiano, garlic, and spices.  Mix well to blend.  Place about 2 teaspoons fo the filling in a row on two of your pasta sheets.

Lightly brush water around the ravioli on the sheets and lay the additional two sheets of pasta over the ones with the ravioli filling.  Carefully press them together and cut with a ravioli or cookie cutter.

Make sure that the ravioli is sealed and place on a prepared pan if not going to cook right away.  (Lightly dust with flour and cover with plastic wrap if storing in the refrigerator--can be made ahead and stored for a few hours.)

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the ravioli until al dente, about 5-7 minutes.

Serve topped with Spicy Marinara and Garlic Roasted Shrimp.


Spicy Marinara

If you saw yesterday's post,
was a dinner full of beautiful, delicious food.

It's so great to celebrate on a special day with our friends.
(Really, we love to celebrate any day with them--it can even be just a plain old Tuesday night.)

This year I was responsible for the main course.

Four Cheese Stuffed Ravioli with a Spicy Marinara Sauce and Garlic Roasted Shrimp

It was pretty good, if I do say so  myself.

Today, I wanted to share the Spicy Marinara recipe.
(Don't worry, tomorrow I will be sharing the Four Cheese Stuffed Ravioli
and you can find the Garlic Roasted Shrimp here.)

I started making this recipe a while ago.
It's super easy and so delicious.
It is adapted from one of my favorite chefs, Michael Chiarello, from his cookbook
If you haven't checked out this cookbook, you should.
It is full of super tasty recipes.

Spicy Marinara
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley (flat-leaf)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
4 cups tomato puree (I usually use 2 large cans)
4 large basil leaves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon dried oregano
pinch of baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4-1/2 cup water or wine (to thin if it gets to thick)

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the parsley and garlic and cook briefly to release their fragrance.  Add the tomato puree, basil, salt, red-pepper flakes, and other dried herbs.  Simmer, stirring occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan, until it is reduced to a sauce-like consistency.  If the sauce thickens too much before the flavors have developed, add a little water or red-wine and continue cooking.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.  If the sauce tastes too acidic, add the baking soda and good for 5 minutes longer.  If it needs more sweetness, add the sugar and cook for 5 minutes longer.  (I usually always add the sugar and the water/wine.)


Our Valentine's Dinner

For the second year now, we have gotten together with some of our friends for a special 
Valentine's Dinner.

My friends, Vicki and Jeff, have always hosted in their spectacular house.
And this year we had a wonderful menu and a perfect time with great friends.

Vicki decorated her house beautifully, full of candlelight and flowers.
Everything was beyond perfect.

Christina, Vicki, me, and Heather.
(We were missing a few--hopefully they will make it next year.)

Here are a few pics of some of the delectable food and drinks that we had for our lovely little party.

We started this party last year, when all of us were sitting around complaining about eating out on Valentine's Day (not to mention other date holidays), and decided that it would be a wonderful idea to host our own dinner.  
We all bring one part of the meal.

My contribution to this dinner was the 
Four-Cheese Stuffed Ravioli with Spicy Marinara and Garlic Roasted Shrimp.
(Make sure to check back on Wednesday and Thursday for the recipes.)

The Perfect Pancakes and Homemade Syrup

There is almost nothing that I love more than breakfast food,
especially pancakes and syrup.

I've worked long and hard on this recipe and think that I've finally discovered 
the perfect pancake recipe with homemade syrup.

What makes these pancakes so delicious is that they are light and fluffy and 
absorb the pancake syrup perfectly.

I'm getting hungry just writing this!!

Pancakes with Homemade Syrup

For the pancakes:

3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 extra-large egg
3 teaspoons vanilla
5 tablespoons butter

For the syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla

To make the pancakes:

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, egg, and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix well.  Melt the butter and add to the mixture.  Combine well.  Grease a skillet over medium heat.  

Cook the pancakes on one side until bubbly all over.  This is when you will need to flip them.

Flip and cook on the other side until done.  Slather with butter and syrup.

To make the syrup:

Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a pan and bring to boil.  Boil for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is thick and resembles a syrup-like consistency.

Don't they look delicious!!


I've linked up with 

Let's Talk About Moisturizers

I've got to be honest.
I'm a moisturizing addict!!

I can't go to bed at night without it and I can't leave the house in the morning without it.

I feel like my face (and body) drink it up.
Especially as I'm getting older, my skin is getting drier and drier.
And my moisturizer is more and more important.

Here are a few basic moisturizers that I've used and what I'm currently trying (last one).
All of these are around the same price range (about $50) and are good for wearing under your foundation.

I do apply a really intensive moisturizer, in addition to my nightly moisturizer, usually once or twice -a-week, but I find that a nightly moisturizer is sufficient.
(There's just something about applying a $150.00 moisturizer every night that I just can't handle.)

Here are a few really good ones that I've had good luck with.
All are easy to purchase (local department stores) and are good for sensitive skin.


I don't think that anyone would be disappointed with any of these.
All are really good nightly moisturizers.

My favorites are the Clarins and Bobbi Brown moisturizers.
They are both creamy and leave my skin feeling really hydrated.

The moisturizers by Lancome and Dermalogica are really soothing.

I just recently tried the Nuxe Face Masque (Birchbox sample) and was really happy with this purchase.
It's very soothing and calming, and I really like the consistency.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

I don't know if you've figured it out yet, but I love peanut butter desserts.
See here, here, and here.

There's just something about super creamy peanut butter paired with rich chocolate ganache in a cheesecake.  
It's very rich, but oh so delicious.
So if you are looking for a fabulous Valentine's dessert, you've found it with this one.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache
 (adapted from gimme some oven)

Printable Recipe

2 cups finely-crumbled graham crackers
4 tablespoons melted butter
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together the graham crackers and melted butter until blended.  Press the mixture into your springform pan and press until smooth.  Bake for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and peanut butter and beat with an electric mixer on medium-speed until smooth.  Add the sugar and continue mixing until well combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until smooth.  Add the cream and vanilla.  Using a spatula, scrape down the bowl between additions, and beat until combined.

Pour the cheesecake mixture on to the graham cracker crust and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Bake until the cheesecake is just set and doesn't move when you jiggle the pan.)  Remove and let sit until it reaches room temperature.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Remove the springform pan, leaving the bottom piece.

To make the ganache:  In a double boiler, add the chocolate and cream.  Heat over simmering water, stirring until the chocolate is melted and until just combined.  Add the powdered sugar and mix well.  Spoon the ganache over the cheesecake.