the ultimate little miss blog

November 21st

Ready, Set, Weekend with The Garden of Eatin’

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This is probably one of the most stunning things I have ever made in my life. Back in the summertime, I made a similar recipe using a yogurt and fruit combo and kept it very healthy. From what I have been reading lately, dark chocolate is now the new yogurt and is considered to be good for you.
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Here’s some facts about the health benefits of chocolate that I found very interesting (and if this is true….COME TO MAMA BABY!)
1. Chocolate decreases stroke risk
2. Chocolate reduces the likelihood of a heart attack
3. Chocolate protects against blood inflammation
4. Chocolate helps with math – * I wish I knew this when I was in school because I suck at arithmetic
5. Chocolate may prevent cancer
6. Chocolate reduces the risk of diabetes
7. Chocolate is good for your skin
8. Chocolate can control coughs
9. Chocolate improves blood flow
10. Chocolate strengthens your brain
11. Chocolate makes you live longer – see cool fact below
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Jeanne Louise Calment lived to the age of 122—the oldest anyone has ever lived. She ate two and a half pounds of dark chocolate per week. Researchers found that eating chocolate actually adds two years to your life expectancy…..(two pounds of chocolate a week???!! It may help you live longer but what size jeans did this Jeanne Louise Calment wear??)
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Okay, so don’t just start binging on chocolate! Most of the chocolate you buy in the grocery store is heavily processed, which means that it has lost many of its healthy chemicals. And some of the research above supporting chocolate’s healthy characteristics was paid for by chocolate manufacturers….well duh. Check out your local organic food stores for the unprocessed kind. Um…if all of the above could remotely be factual, then why not indulge?
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The Garden of Eatin’s Chocolate Bark:
16 ounces melted best-quality dark, semi or milk chocolate (2 bars)
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
(colored melting chocolates, optional)
2/3 cup mixed toppings such as nuts, coconut, sea salt, cranberries etc. (might as well go wild since you are going to be scarfing down chocolate).
Can we talk about the ins and outs of melting chocolate for a second? I always like to speed things up in the kitchen. Lately I have been melting chocolate in the microwave and although the results are good, there really isn’t anything quite like doing this task in heat proof bowl over slow boiling water.
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How to belt out a perfect melt:
Place water in the bottom of the double boiler or a use a pot and a heatproof glass bowl that fits well inside and doesn’t touch the water (leave about a ½ inch space between the water and the bowl). Place the double boiler over low heat. Stir the chocolate constantly until it is melted. The water in the bottom of the double boiler should not come to a  high boil while the chocolate is melting. Working with chocolate has to be quick so that it doesn’t harden. Your chocolate should have a beautiful sheen to it and should be a good consistency for spreading. If by chance the phone or doorbell rings in the middle of this project and your chocolate turns to glop, fear not. There is a way to fix it. Just place the bowl over the water again and add a few drops of water to the chocolate, stirring constantly until you regain that smooth sheen and consistency back.
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Next:
Line a baking pan with wax paper. You can use a small baking sheet OR a 8 inch square pan. I opted for the pan because I wanted a thicker piece of bark to sink my teeth into…OH YA.
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Spread your melted chocolate evenly in the pan and dot with melted colored chocolates, if desired. I used the end of a chopstick to make my marble swirlies but this is totally optional. It was fun and pretty to do but let’s face it, if you are making this for yourself you don’t need to fuss. If you are considering this for a gift, which is an awesome idea, the possibilities are endless.
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Once your chocolate base is ready top, with any combo of goodies you desire. I used crushed pistachios, sliced almonds and coconut.
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Chill until firm and then crack em up with a mallet or just punch the heck outta of it with your fist.  I like this idea…don’t you?
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See ya next week!
debi @thegardenofeatin
xoxo
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categories: Baking, Dessert, Dinner Party, Gifts, Guest Post, Little Miss Foodie, Sweets, The Garden of Eatin'

November 20th

Friendsgiving Dinner

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I say this every year…Thanksgiving is my favorite food holiday. The turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts kill me with deliciousness. The holiday is always so perfectly timed with a cold front putting me in just the right mood for some warm home cooked food.
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Next week we are going to Toronto to spend this American holiday with my Canadian family. My sister is hosting a big dinner which she has been planning for weeks. She’s got a Pinterest board dedicated to our dinner and spreadsheets for her shopping lists and preparation schedule.
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Since next week I’ll be celebrating with my family, I thought it would be really nice to host a Thanksgiving dinner for some friends…Friendsgiving!
We invited over our friends Ilana & Mike and their daughters Mazzy & Harlow. The kids are all best pals and were so excited to hang out for a special night together.
Ilana came over early to help me set up. We drank wine and set the table together. Always a fun way to spend time with your friends and a great way to get them to help with dinner!
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I went a bit glam with the table this year. I had some sequin fabric and used it as a table runner down the center of my table. I normally host really large dinners so it was kind of nice to host something so small and intimate for a change. Because there were only four of us I went to town decorating the table because we still had so much space to put our food. Candles, wood planks, bud vases of fresh flowers and succulents made up my tablescape.
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I served a red wine with star anise floating to make for a festive looking drink. Was a great pairing to the dinner I was preparing.
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As for the menu, I went the traditional road with all the classics: Mashed potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta and a balsamic glaze, stuffing (which I made out of a bag…for the first time ever…wow was that easy…shhhh) and cranberry sauce. The one twist on my dinner was the turkey. I wanted to be different in some capacity so I found a recipe for a spatchcocked turkey. I had the butcher help to prepare the meat for me by removing the spine from the turkey and butterflying it open. What a BRILLIANT way to cook!  My turkey, who Michelle named Wilma for me, turned out incredible juicy and delicious! And guess what? Only took 90 minutes to cook!!  Can you believe it?  I couldn’t! Here is the recipe…trust me…you need to try it!
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For dessert I whipped up a pumpkin cream pie and served with a mulled wine in these fabulous Moscow Mule mugs that I found at Crate and Barrel.
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Tune in next week…I’ll show you how we set the kids table and will share some tips on folding napkins and how to serve your appetizers in a pretty way!
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What are you planning to serve for Thanksgiving? Any great recipes to share? Please do in the comments!
*Photos in this post were taken by the lovely Karilyn Sanders.

categories: Baking, Chicken & Turkey, Dinner Party, Holidays, Little Miss Foodie, Potatoes

November 19th

Giving thanks and giving back

Oh how I love this time of year. There is a undeniable chill in the air, the twinkle lights are starting to pop up everywhere and even though Thanksgiving is still a week away, the countdown to Christmas has begun (35 days!!) With such a long and joyous holiday season ahead of us, it’s so hard to not get caught up in the glitz and glam of it all. And while it’s the most ‘wonderful time of the year’ for many, there are millions of Americans who will tell a different story. Did you know 2.6 million New Yorkers cannot afford Thanksgiving Dinner? That statistic alone sent shivers down my spine. This holiday season, let’s take time out from our pretty tables-capes and festive decor to remember the real purpose of Thanksgiving. Let’s give back to those who need it most. Here’s how :

Feeding NYC 
If you are in the NYC area, Feeding NYC is a fantastic organization founded in 2001 which provides Thanksgiving meals to over 4,000 NYC families every year. Get involved by volunteering your time or simply donating; $35 buys a complete turkey dinner for one family.

Local Food Pantry
Contact your local food pantry, food bank or soup kitchen and offer donations or volunteer your time there. Every year, these organizations rely on people like you to help the people of their communities. Besides basic necessities, gift cards to local grocery stores are always a fantastic way to give back. Click here to find your local food bank or here for local food pantry.

Family-to-Family
This amazing organization will connect you to a family that is struggling to put food on the table.  The best part is this relationship will last way beyond the holiday season. Once a month you will be asked to shop and send a bag of groceries or make a donation to allow the organization to do so on your behalf.

Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels provides hot meals to over 1 million seniors a day! Even more astounding, they have nearly 2 million volunteers. Locate a local program and get involved or donate today.

Blue Apron
One of our favorite at home meal/ingredient delivery services has now partnered with City Harvest to provide more than 35,000 meals to families in need!

categories: Donations, Little Miss Foodie

November 18th

These guys…

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Every September our dear friends host a big BBQ at their summer house. Food, swimming and a lot of running around is what takes place and everyone has a blast.
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Well each year this BBQ falls on the first weekend following the summer which for some reason is the busiest weekend of our year.
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I haven’t attended one of their BBQ’s in the last 4 years.
I thought this year was gonna be different. The invite came out and my calendar was clear!! I was so excited to join in on the fun.
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Until…
The forecast came. Rain and wet. They moved the BBQ out to Sunday…the day I did book for an event. What a bummer.
I moved on and kind of forgot about it all until last week when an email showed up in my inbox full of the most beautiful photos from that day.
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Viktoria, the host and my friend, had hired a photographer, Marina Vykhodtseva who captured the most precious shots of my family.
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I’m sure you can imagine just how thrilled I was when I saw these beautiful photos which I will now always treasure.
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With thanksgiving coming up next week, these pictures remind me just how lucky I am to have such a special family who I love with all my heart. These guys are my everything.
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categories: Little Miss Mommy, Photography, Summer, Toddler activities

November 17th

Brunchin’ with baby B

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Weekends are meant to be enjoyed with brunch. Coffee, mimosas, bagels & schmear. That’s how I know Saturday and Sundays best.
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Well this weekend we worked with a lovely couple and their baby boy who was born on a perfect day for making his bris fall over Saturday brunch.
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I have two sons and remember all too well what each of their bris’s were like. I can tell you this…if I were to do it all over again (and don’t get excited, cause I’m not) I would hire ME to do the party for ME. HA!
No seriously, having a kid takes it’s toll on you. There is no way I could spray paint owls gold, set up a gorgeous spread of food and desserts and laminate a pretty sign for my coffee pot. Not to mention think of sending my guests home with favors….
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It was such a beautiful day to celebrate and we were honored to be involved in Baby B’s first party. Sending a big Mazel Tov to the happy parents and huge hugs to the lil man…we look forward to celebrating many more events with you all!
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categories: Brunch, desserts, Flowers, little miss party, Party, Party Stylists

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