February 6, 2016

A Last minute Game Day spread

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The big day is just one day away and it’s not too late to throw together an easy and impressive spread. The key is to keep the menu simple; I know, Superbowl food is the best. And it’s tempting to want to make everything, but stick with us and you will be sure to wow your crowd.

The key to our menu is efficiency. We grilled chicken and used it two ways : Chicken nachos and chicken tortilla soup…get it…”soup”er bowl. Pretty creative, right?

Here’s how to get it done:

Start by grilling your chicken…and if you live in NYC, this will most likely take place out on your small patio with a tiny, tiny grill. We used Kingsford charcoal to make for an easy fire and seasoned our chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper but feel free to add some cumin, chili powder and garlic powder, for an extra kick of flavor.
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Once the chicken is cooked to perfection, you can set it aside. First up – Chicken Nachos. Nachos come in all shapes and sizes, and we love them all. We simply chopped up the chicken (you can also shred with two forks), and layered it on top of the chips along with shredded jack & cheddar cheeses. Layer. Layer. Layer. You cannot have too many layers!
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Pop it in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, or cheese is bubbly. Remove, top with homemade pico di gallo and shredded cilantro.
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Then set out additional toppings on the side, so guests can create their ultimate nacho combo. Try jalepenos, scallions, salsa, guacamole, chili and sour cream. Nothing says Superbowl like a nacho bar!
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Now that we have our nachos ready to go, let’s get started on the chicken tortilla soup. We love this recipe, but we used our grilled chicken instead of the baked chicken it calls for. The beauty of this dish is it can be made completely in advance and simply warmed up as guests arrive. And don’t forget the toppings! A nice dollop of sour cream, sprinkle of Monterey Jack cheese, a few avocado chunks and of course a nice dusting of chopped cilantro. You can also throw some more of your crispy tortilla strips right on top as well.
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We happened to have these brown bowls in our LMP kitchen…don’t they look like footballs?
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So now that our main dishes are done, we wanted to throw together one more quick item to round out our spread. What are we missing? DIP! Watch how simple this bacon cheddar dip is…I bet you even have all of these ingredients already in your house – cheese, bacon, scallions, sour cream and a package of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mix.
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We served ours with blue corn chips and some sliced veggies.
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So now it’s time to set the table. Pick up a roll of kraft paper at Michaels for your tablecloth. Then mark yard lines using masking tape. The 50 yard line was drawn using a white paint marker.
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Hang a piece of chalkboard paper on your wall and you can create an easy “scoreboard” menu.
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Plastic tumblers are perfect for beer, but it’s easy to misplace your glass or confuse it with someone else’s. Well, we’ve got you covered. Game Day tattoos applied to each cup are the perfect way to let your guests personalize their drinking vessel and show their team spirit at the same time. Here’s how we did it :
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CHEERS!
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Photos by: Dave Robbins Photography

xx, Michelle
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February 5, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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I have to be honest. I really have trouble coming up with lunch dishes lately. On occasion, there are days where I will just open the fridge and eat what falls out. This folks was one of those days. The first thing I spotted was some leftover Foccacia bread which I had made the night before to accompany our pasta.

Ever make this bread from scratch? It’s the same concept as making pizza dough and but even easier. OR even easier than making the dough from scratch is buying a ready made pizza dough and following the steps to make the Foccacia. Or wait. Even easier than all of that is buying a foccacia bread at the market. I like option 3 best but it really is fun to make it yourself.

I had a few pieces hanging around, some suspect goat cheese, frozen sweet peas and when I moved over the peas I found some edamame.

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All good ingredients to slap on top of this bread right?

Before I get to the recipe I wanted to tell you about the brunch I made for my son this past weekend. Yep. The baby turned 25. A quarter of a century old. OH to be 25 again. He was such a cutie as a baby and his brothers were pretty darn sweet too. These are my three musketeers who look a bit different now. I can’t with these guys….I just cannot.

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My eldest son is turning 30 in May, the second eldest will be 28 in March and the little guy just turned 25 last week.

The whole family joined in on the celebration and it was great success. So where are the pictures from this brunch? There were NONE. It was the first time no one took out a camera. I have no clue why. My only guess was ….everyone was so hungry they didn’t want to do anything but EAT. And eat they did. At one point I was the only one in the kitchen and there was complete silence coming from the dining room. I thought they left but they actually had their mouths too full to speak.

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The sign of a good meal is silence and forks moving around.

Here was the menu:

Berry Mimosas
Pan Fried Cajun Shrimp
Cheese Noodle Kugel
Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Pecans and Poppyseed Dressing (thank you Daniella)
Cold Soba Noodles with fresh vegetables and snap peas (thank you Mandy)
Egg Salad
Tuna Salad
Smoked Salmon (lox)
Cream Cheese
Assorted bagels
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake
Chocolate Babka
Fruit and Berry Cheesecake (thank you Cruz)
Mixed Berries

Um.

I have to tell you. I made enough to feed an army and there was hardly any leftovers. I love leftovers ya know why?

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Because today’s leftovers are tomorrow’s lunch.

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FOCCACIA WITH GOAT CHEESE, AVOCADO, SWEET PEAS & EDAMAME

One Recipe Foccacia –Click Here or feel free to use store bought

-1 avocado, smashed
-¼ cup each steamed sweet peas and edamame
-¼ cup of shredded red cabbage if desired
-¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
-extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste

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1) Toast a few pieces of foccacia that have been been shmeared with olive oil
2) Layer avocado, sweet peas, edamame, red cabbage and crumbled goat cheese
3) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve warm

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xx, Debi
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January 29, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Did I tell you that I got a Vitamix as a holiday gift from thefeedfeed and Vitamix? Well. Yessiree I did and I’m very thankful to both of them for sending this my way. The only way I can describe this piece of machinery is…..

It’s the Ferrari of blenders.

Here are some of things IT MAKES:

1) the best smoothies EVER
2) HOT soup….yes HOT
3) frozen desserts – I can’t even
4) juice
5) milk from nuts and other things
6) dough
7) batters
8) nut butters
9) dressings
10) ground flour
11) purées
12) dips and spreads

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And to top it all off…….it cleans itself….yes there’s a cleaning program button too.

What more do you need? I wish it would also do my laundry but I won’t push my luck.

My husband has been using it more than me lately as he is juicing and smoothiefying all his vegetables – Yes, it’s January and he’s on a diet.

This past weekend, I thought it might be a good idea for me to finally take this baby for a whirl. I had all the necessary ingredients to make a berry frozen yogurt (two is all you need….can you believe that?)

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Oh and I wanted to dress it up with mint. Mint is one thing that grows in our garden. I think I may have mentioned that in the past. The thing about mint is this…..when it grows…….IT GROWS. It actually takes over. Like a viral plant. I have seen cases where mint can grow from one backyard to the neighbours. It’s insane. Well, up until a few weeks ago I picked my last sprig of parsley from the garden.

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Believe it or not, there was still some hearty mint out there. Last week it snowed – A LOT. I wasn’t sure if the mint had endured the frost and amount of snow that came down but I needed to check it out. This was it folks. Buried beneath a heap of snow, I struck gold, or mint in this case. I think I have finally come to the conclusion that our garden is closed for the season.

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Here’s what I ended up with. A bowl of heavenly deliciousness. This was the easiest thing ever to make and you can serve it straight from your Vitamix OR do what I did…….freeze it a bit longer so that you have a nice solid scoop to work with.

I’m sorry but I can’t stop looking at this.

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The colour.

The texture.

The everything.

I love you Mrs. Vitamix.

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2 Ingredient Black & Blue Frozen Yogurt
-1½ cups (360 g) yogurt (for Vegan you can use coconut yogurt)
-1½ lbs (680 g) frozen berries (I used blackberries & blueberries)

1) Place all ingredients into the Vitamix in order listed.
2) Select the Frozen Dessert program.
3) Start machine & blend for 55 seconds.
4) I needed to use the tamper to get all the frozen berries to blend.
5) Serve immediately or place in freezer to firm up a bit more.

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xx, Debi
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January 28, 2016

A Valentine’s Day Project Playdate

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What’s the best way to spend your time when you’re trapped inside for the city’s 2nd greatest blizzard of all time? Project playdate of course!

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Lucky for me, I didn’t have any plans to go anywhere the morning or afternoon of the big NYC snowstorm last weekend. I was just in charge of setting up project playdate for Valentine’s day, which of course…was a great pleasure for me.

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So let’s start off with our Valentine’s day craft. You guys…this is such a good one!

We called on our friends over at Imagination Lane and they recommended eraser painted tote bags. This consists of:

– tote bag
– Heart cut out and taped to the face of the bag
– paints
– tacky glue, q-tips and jewels or rhinestones
-pencils

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The kids had to dip the eraser part of the pencil into paint and press hard all the way around the heart which they later ripped off to find a hollowed out heart pattern on their bag.

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They took this craft very seriously and now proudly stroll around with their toys in these bags.

For the snack…I started the playdate with pancakes and waffles. Don’t start saying “What? How does she do all that”!?! They were frozen. I threw them in the oven for 3 minutes. BUT….to make brunch a little different and festive of course…I set out heart shaped cookie cutters and powdered sugar for the kids to play with. Boy was that ever fun!

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After breakfast and crafting, I realized hold the phone Sally. I haven’t had a cup of coffee yet!  WHAT?! So we popped a movie on for the kids to have a short break, brewed some coffee and took a breathe. That lasted for about 4 minutes.

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We had one meltdown, a lot of shoving over who gets to sit directly in front of the ipad and “I want WATTTTERRRRRRR”.

Ok nipped that all in the bud with popcorn that I popped fresh at 10am and back to the movies we went.

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That’s when I broke out the cocktails. Don’t worry – they were “10am” appropriate.

I served “Strawmosas”. What is that you ask? I took a piece of basil, mint and placed it into a glass and then topped with pink prosecco. I garnished the glass with strawberries but you could slice them and drop them into the glass if you’d like.

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Snowstorm? what snowstorm?

If you’re planning a project playdate or Valentine’s Day party of your own, let us help you! We have the most adorable pink party full of tableware and decor. You can Shop the Box here.

xx, Seri
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January 27, 2016

Are you ready for some football?

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Well, it’s that time of year again…when wives across the country can rejoice once again because football season, aka the longest 17-weeks of my life, is finally coming to an end. My husband recently announced that he “doesn’t watch much TV.” To which I replied, “Oh so the 12 consecutive hours you are parked on the couch every Sunday doesn’t count as TV?” Don’t get me wrong, I like football too. But after one game, I’m all set. But what I do love is a good Superbowl party. Nothing says Football Sunday like a cold beer and a plate of hot wings. And some fun and festive decor, of course!
So you already know how much we love our Balloon Time Helium tank – makes throwing together an impromptu party that much easier and more affordable. Would you believe we set this all up in under 30 minutes? Believe!! You can too!
We started by lining our table with a piece of astroturf from Home Depot. We keep a roll off this stuff in our closet and just cut pieces whenever we need. Use masking tape to create yard lines down your “field.” We then blew up 15 standard 11-inch balloons to create our goalpost. Stick a piece of heavy duty packing tape on the back of each and line them up into a U shape.
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The trick here is to not over-inflate the balloons. Try to inflate them just enough so they create a circular shape, which will make a more even goal post.  About 3/4 way inflated works perfectly.
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We then blew up two white 11-inch balloons and decided to have a little artistic moment with our Sharpie.
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For the Big Game, we loved the idea of drawing a football helmet or your favorite team’s logo right onto your balloon. Try using your team’s colors for even more game day spirit!DSC_0369 DSC_0371 DSC_0387
Another fun DIY we want to share is a referee balloon. It’s super simple; Just gather black electrical tape, bakers twine (or any string/ribbon) and a white balloon.
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Blow up a white 11-inch balloon full size.DSC_0348
Tie your bakers twine to the end of the balloon, and the other end to your Balloon Time Helium Tank.
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Measure a piece of black electrical tape and place vertically onto the balloon, while holding it steady beneath you.
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Repeat all the way around the balloon, being sure to pull the tape tight to avoid wrinkles or air bubbles.
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For a pop of color, we tied a bright yellow whistle to the bottom of ours to weight it down. After all, a referee always needs his whistle.
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Now it’s time to  set the table. We started with this gorgeous beverage container from Food52. Doesn’t it look like a great big Super Bowl trophy?
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We designed and printed out simple water bottle labels and attached to each bottle. You could easily use team specific labels – check places like Etsy for easy downloads.
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Next we kept it simple with crisp white bowls of popcorn and chips.
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And of course soft pretzels! These might be my absolute favorite game day snack.
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Instead of the usual cardstock food place cards, we put our helium tank to use once more. We used 5-inch yellow balloons and inflated them about 3/4 way…just until they float.
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We then tied bakers twine to the end and attached a yellow whistle to weight it down. Using a sharpie, we wrote on each balloon and voila! Easy food place cards.
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How cute is this little guy??? We absolutely loved how this came out!
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Lastly, we created some football balloons using masking tape and brown balloons. Thanks to our Balloon Time Helium Tank we were able to do all these DIYs and still had leftover helium!
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Start by blowing up 11-inch brown balloons and tie with bakers twine.
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Cut one long strip of masking tape for the center of the laces.
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Then repeat in the opposite direction and with shorter pieces.
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That was easy, right?
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Finish off your setup by hanging or leaning a chalkboard behind your food table. You can also use chalkboard paper, and tape it up behind your table. We actually used chalkboard paint and painters tape to create our chalkboard scoreboard right on the wall!
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So, who are you rooting for on February 7th??

CHEERS!

xx, Michelle
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Party conversation
  1. Cristy Stewart harfmann

    Love this party setup. You make me want to buy a helium tank. Never thought about drawing on the balloons.

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