An Easy Kale Salad for Christmas Eve

Getting the menu right for a holiday is all about balance. I try not to, for example, have too many carb-heavy dishes because you don’t want your guests to feel bloated. Plus, I’m really all about the sides. Plus, the sides can be so colorful! I love the sweetness and the crunchieness of this salad paired with the creamy bolognese pasta I’m serving up on Christmas Eve.

Can I let you guys in on a little secret? I don’t like kale. Well, I didn’t. And I was like, “you have to massage your kale? Too much work.” This coming from the girl who goes to 4 grocery stores every weekend just to shop for the week. I mean, really? So anyway, I made this salad, and I massaged the kale, because nobody has time for bitter kale, and I actually apparently really like it!

90 Second Cocktail Sauce Recipe

T-minus 5 minutes to guests’ arrival and you’re putting out the shrimp cocktail and realize – there’s no cocktail sauce! Or you just want to be a show off and be able to say you made your own cocktail sauce. Either way. This 90 second cocktail sauce recipe is perfect for shrimp cocktail and, I gotchu.

You know I love recipes that you can customize yourself, I’m all about that you-do-you-boo-life. So, scroll down, grab the recipe, memorize the proportions and then you do you!

Creamy Bolognese Pasta Sauce Recipe

Entertaining guests is something hubby and I love to do year round, but there’s really something special about hosting a holiday. While we don’t host Thanksgiving or Christmas, Christmas Eve is our one night we get to host a special holiday for friends and family. I love to take the approach of a more casual evening, with simple foods and flavors that really warm you up and make you feel cozy.

This year’s menu is so super simple – shrimp cocktail, this creamy bolognese sauce, a few simple side dishes and mini pumpkin pies. It’s all about the company. Well, and a little bit about the music, too.

The mix of beef and sausage brings a little something extra special to the dish, and if you wanted to really shake it up, you could use spicy sausage – watch out! I should note, too, that any ground meat could work, so you can change it up based on what you like. I recently saw a bolognese with lentils, must try that next!

5 Cute Cookies & Milk for Santa Sets

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is leaving cookies and milk out for Santa (and carrots for Rudolph, of course), along with a letter to Santa. I remember every year really thinking about what I hoped Santa would bring and tuck under the tree for me, writing it in a letter, putting it out along with cookies (a bribe?), and waiting for the magic in the morning to see a bite taken out of the cookie and the milk gone. A little dose of magic and such a sweet memory!

I love these little cookies & milk sets for Santa, and what a cute little gift to give to our friends with kiddos with my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

 

Vineyard Vines Set, $65.00

Gift Guide: For the Baker

Bakers gonna bake, right?! I wish I was really a baker, you know, like someone who actually knew what they were doing beyond their handful of go-to recipes. But I am so blessed, my jeans not as much, to know a few bakers in my life. Here are a few suggestions for the bakers in your life!

 

  1. A gorgeous baking sheet set. 2. A cookbook to up the ante. Is it actually a baking book? Hmmm…. 3. Creme brulee set. Because everyone needs a kitchen torch. 4. Pie weights! 5. A stand mixer. 6. A bread maker, but only on the condition to be a taste tester for every batch. 7. A beautiful pie dish. 8. A cool spice or ingredient, like fancy flours, vanilla powder, high quality vanilla.

Are you a baker? What else would you wish for?!

Gift Guide: For the Cook

I think this guide is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most! These gifts are great for the cook in your life. You know, the one that is always trying new recipes, and trying new gadgets, and is just at home in the kitchen.

Okay, they’re all the things that I would love to get but would never buy myself. Which is what makes a gift great, isn’t it?

  1. What’s Gaby Cooking cookbook. I love her laid back, fresh, Cali style. 2. An immersion blender. Everyone needs one. I have this set and love it. 3. A great All-Clad pot in a size that works for a lot of different things, from pasta, to chili, to stew, to cranberry sauce. 4. Paella set. 5. A good quality knife. I have this Shun knife, which is meant for veggies, and is amazing. 6. A cutting board that holds a tablet. So handy. Also love this one from Food52. 7. Sous vide cooker. 8. Air fryer. 9. A chopper. Such a practical gift, I never had one until a friend gifted me one, and I love it! So nice to have one, especially when I’m cooking so many different things at once. 10. A pasta maker or pasta maker attachments for the KitchenAid stand mixer.

Gift Guide: For the Foodie

Okay, I know we are all probably foodies here, but stay with me. This gift guide is for the one who is really more into the eating food than cooking or baking (promise, I’ve got a gift guide right around the corner for the cook and the baker!). Surely, you’ll find some overlap for anyone on this list, but really it’s been put together for that I-love-food-but-I-can’t-really-cook gal or guy.

  1. Who doesn’t love a little gift set?! Your recipient will only need to add pasta & cheese to this crate (or include a really pretty pasta and a nice block of parm!) 2. Cheese markers & some nice cheeses. 3. A wine bag (stashed with some bottles!) 4. Or combine that wine bag with a Vinebox subscription. 5. Cute ornaments, like an avocado or slice of bacon. 6. This book that literally makes me want to go out to eat every single weekend and not cook a thing. 7. Foodie dice, so cute! 8. Really, really good olive oil for dipping.

Gift Guide: For the Hostess

Gift giving is my love language – I wish I had bags of money hiding under the mattress just so I could give everyone little gifts! This year, we’re kicking off the gift guide with the hostess in mind. Some of these are great for actual hostess gifts, and some for the hostess with the mostess in your life.

  1. Whisky Truffles, for a little gesture. (Or up the ante with a nice bottle of whiskey & some glasses). 2. Record player. I love playing old vinyl when we have company. 3. Apron, oven mits. Can you have too many? 4. A chic ice bucket. 5. Chemex coffee maker. 6. Rewined candles. Any scent, but Champagne is my fav. 7. A baguette cutting board/server. For all the even pieces you could want! 8. My go to: cheese knives. Really lovely hostess gift but also great for the hostess in your life. Pair with a nice cheese and cutting board to amp it up. 9. A gorgeous corkscrew. 10. A fondu pot. Legit such a great gift for the go-to house in your circle!

A few more ideas for hostess gifts:

  • A nice bottle of wine in a cute cloth bag.
  • Flowers in a pretty vase.
  • A pie, in a leave-behind pie dish.
  • Flowers scheduled to arrive the day after an event. (Bouqs are my fav!)
  • Serving platter, cheeseboard.
  • A basket with cheese, jams, nice crackers.

What are your go-to hostess gifts?

Oh, Christmas Tree

This November marked 3 years with our home and I can’t believe it. Time has gone by so quickly! Each year, we’ve layered our Christmas decorations – especially our ornament collection – and added a little here and there.

When we first bought our home, I couldn’t wait to dress it up in holiday trimmings and have all our friends and family gather with us.

 

 

Each year, I add to our Christmas ornament collection by a few (dozen…don’t tell on me). I’ve been aspiring to dress our tree the way my mom did hers every year – completely dripping with an eclectic mix of ornaments.

When Al and I travel, we’ve begun a tradition of collecting an ornament from our trip. It’s a fun way to remember our adventures without filling our home with unnecessary things. I could sit and stare at our tree for hours – it’s really my absolute favorite feature of our holiday decorations.

 

 

Holiday Gifting: The Gentlemen

I can’t even tell you how much fun I have picking out gifts for Hubby. Al doesn’t really buy himself much throughout the year, and if he does it’s more related to a hobby, like a new golf club or new kicks for the gym. Christmas is my time to shower him with love, and some things I know he’ll really appreciate, but would never buy for himself.

One gift not on this list that was a huge hit from last year was two nights in Washington DC and dinner at our favorite restaurant. I picked a weekend, booked a hotel, and made a reservation for us – it was the perfect, thoughtful gift, and something I knew we would both really enjoy. It would go perfectly in the duffel bag below!

No. 1 A sharp looking fleece // No. 2 A leather watch, because he has a dressy steel one, but he neeeeds a casual leather watch! // No. 3 The Nest thermostat, which he received last year and LOVES – big hit! // No. 4 Bose noise cancelling (wireless) headphones // No. 5 A beer making kit – who doesn’t love a new hobby?! // No. 6 For his nicest of bourbons (Pair with a nice bottle of his favorite liquor for a brother or father or father in law gift!) // No. 7 A duffel bag – for a quick weekend getaway // No. 8 A more fashionable pair of sunglasses – don’t ask 😉