• Try These Clean Holiday Treats!

    Happy Holidays, Everyone!

    While this time of year is usually the happiest, it’s not always the healthiest. From cookies to fried latkes, many people (myself included!) find it hard to escape the unhealthy temptations.

    A sweet lover through and through, I am usually overwhelmed by the amount of sugar-filled treats that come by way. Do I get sick of them? Um, hello! Never! But, I do know it’s not the best idea to ride a constant sugar high.

    That being said, I’ve come up with a couple recipes to make your holiday indulgences more or less guilt-free.

    Let’s get a cookin’!

    PRO TIP: Bring one of the following treats to your next party! Should you feel the need to let loose (a.k.a tell yourself you’ll start that diet tomorrow), you can snack on these yummy and nutrient snacks instead!

    Peppermint Chocolate Bark

    4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
    ¼ cup coconut oil
    ¼ cup honey
    8 drops peppermint essential oil

    Place chocolate and coconut oil in double boiler on medium high heat. Once it is all melted, turn off heat and add the honey and peppermint essential oil. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet and in fridge or freezer until hardened. 

    Donna’s Hot Nuts

    2 egg whites
    2 cups roasted almonds
    2 cups roasted cashew nuts
    2 cup walnut halves
    2 tbsp curry powder
    1 tbsp ground cumin
    1 ¼ tsp cayenne peper
    1 tsp ground cardamon
    1tsp ground cinnamon
    2 tbsp honey

    My mom’s recipe! Mix everything together and place it on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 min at 250°F.

    Coconut Oil Fudge

    ¾ cups coconut oil
    ¾ cups cocoa powder
    ½ cup coconut milk
    ⅓ cup raw honey
    2 teaspoons vanilla essential oil
    A pinch of salt

    Mix the ingredients together and put it in the fridge to harden.

    5-Ingredient Brownie Bites

    2 eggs
    1 banana
    2 scoops of Quest chocolate milkshake protein

    Mix and bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes. Spread a little Nutella (not so clean) or nut butter (clean) and top with crushed nuts.

    Save the calories and eat the sweets!

    Peace & Love,

    Emily Burkhardt

    Feature image via One Little Project

  • New Year’s Day Outfit Guide

    The Morning After

    The best cure to a NYE hangover? A New Year’s Day brunch, of course! Oh, and an outfit for the day that is easy and effortless—basically one that doesn’t give away how tired you actually may be. After a long night filled with dancing and drinks (or just drinks and the ball drop on TV), you’ll want to feel as good as possible the morning after NYE, trust me.

    Since it’s the vey first day of the year, why not go out with a bang? Assuming you looked amazing on the last night of the year, what is one more day? I mean, the way you start 2016 is key.

    Below, I’ve put together some options, most which are on the more comfortable side but still brunch appropriate. Nothing more perfect for a Bloody Mary. Happy New Year!

    Photography Via Strawberry with Lemon

     

     

  • Gift Guide: Your Bestie

    She’s your everything. Seriously, you may as well be dating.

    Drinking Accessories

    Making bitching about life more fun

    Intimates

    Independent women don't need no man

    Something Pretty

    She deserves it

    Knick Knacks

    Just for fun

    Chic Sketch

    Turning your bestie’s Instagrams into fashion sketches!

    An affordable way to show her you support her in all of her Instagram endeavors.

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  • Foolproof Thanksgiving Dinner

     Use the hashtag #LoCooks on your pictures to show us your Thanksgiving dinner!

    Thanksgiving Turkey (1000x1000)

    Foolproof Turkey

    1. 1 raw turkey (can be frozen, but you must start thawing it 2-3 days before Thanksgiving)

    2. A ton of kosher salt

    3. A ton of butter or duck fat

    4. Black pepper

    5. Canola Oil

    6. Cinnamon Stick

    7. 1 Apple, halved

    8. 1 Onion, halved

    9. Fresh Rosemary, thyme, sage

    10. Your best beer

    11. Your best white wine

    12. A very large plastic bag

    13. Large roasting pan

    14. Thermometer

    15. Twine

    1. Dry brine your turkey 2 days before Thanksgiving while allowing him to thaw out in the fridge.  Wash the turkey, removing the neck and organs (but save them for gravy), and dry the bird very well.  Next, turn your huge-ass plastic bag (must be air-tight once closed) inside out and set aside.  So as not to cross-contaminate your salt, put the salt you’ll be using for the brine in a bowl separate from the salt you always use.  Rub kosher salt all over the outside of the turkey and also underneath the skin on the breast.  Be very gentle when peeling the skin away from the breast meat as you don’t want it to tear.

    2. Wash your hands and grab the inside-out bag, wrapping it around the turkey so once the bird is in the bag, it’s right-side out again.  Tie the sucker shut (tight) and place the turkey breast side up in the fridge until Thanksgiving.

    3. On Thanksgiving preheat your oven to 500 F.  Take your turkey out of his bag and rinse all the salt off of him.  Dry him very, very, very well again and set aside.

    4. In a microwave-safe container (I just use a piece of tupperware), microwave your halved onion and apple along with your cinnamon stick together with some water for about 3 minutes until soft.

    5. Prepare to season the bird, butter and oil him up, and fill the cavity – aka have your butter and oil ready to go along with salt and pepper in specific bowls (so you don’t cross contaminate), and your onion, apple, cinny stick, and all your herbs.  Make sure your roasting pan is out and ready to go and your twine is on-hand to truss.

    6. Salt and pepper the turkey very generously (but be prepared to move fast after this with your butter as the salt brings out moisture which repels the fat from sticking) outside and inside the cavity as well.  Like at least 3 handfuls of salt.  Seriously.  Massage the salt and pepper into the turkey.

    7. Butter the entire turkey, massaging into the breast as best as you can without breaking the skin.  Insert onion, apple, cinnamon stick, and a bunch of fresh herbs into the cavity.  If you’re making my Sage Stuffing Recipe def use some sage!

    8. Tie the legs together using twine.  Watch this video on how to truss a turkey.

    9. Create a shield for the breast of your turkey using aluminum foil (this is Alton Brown’s genius idea) and set aside.

    10. Drizzle canola oil all over the outside of the bird so he is completely oiled up.  Leave no part oil-free.  Place your turkey breast side up in your roasting dish and into a 500 F oven for 30 minutes.

    11. After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 and allow the bird to finish cooking for another 2 to 3 hours (depending on the size).  Add some beer and wine to the bottom of the pan.

    12. I wouldn’t recommend using the pop-out thermometer (generally included in most turkeys these days) to indicate total done-ness of the turkey.  If the pop-out thermometer is in the breast and it pops out, the breast meat is done but the legs will definitely NOT be (they always take longer, just like on a chicken).  If you’re super brave you can remove the turkey from the oven at this time and remove the legs from the rest of the body and put them back in the oven to continue cooking without over-doing the breast.  If you choose to do this, simply set the breast and carcass aside on a cooling rack (over a cookie) sheet and let rest.  Your thermometer should be in the deepest part of the thigh without touching bone, and should reach 160 before you determine your legs are done.  160 is basically the magic number.  Hit it and pull your bird out.  Go to 170/175 like the Health Department recommends and you’re going to have a dry turkey.

    12. Allow your turkey to rest for 20 minutes minimally no matter what.  If you’ve removed the legs or chosen to keep them on, still let all the parts rest to allow the moisture to be sucked back in.  Simply pop the bird back into the oven momentarily before serving to heat him right back up.

    13. SAVE THE BROWN BITS from your pan for gravy.  That recipe comes next week!

    Time: 30 minutes to prepare the dry brine, about 4.5 hours start to finish for preparing and cooking the turkey

    Level: Medium

    Serves: Depends on how big your turkey is!

    Sage Thanksgiving Stuffing 2

    Sage Thanksgiving Stuffing

    1. 1 loaf of good sourdough bread cut into small cubes and dried out in the low-heat oven until stale

    2. 3/4 to 1 stick of butter

    3. 1 large onion, diced

    4. 4 celery sticks, diced

    5. 2 heaping tablespoons of dried sage

    6. 1 Jimmy Dean or Farmer John’s Sage Sausage

    7. 3 cups of good chicken broth (can add some Better Than Buillon flavoring to increase flavor)

    8. Salt and Pepper to season

    1. Cut bread into cubes and dry the cubes out on a cookie sheet in a 250F oven until dry, stale, and toasty.

    2. Melt butter in pan, add diced onion and celery until soft, add sage, salt, and pepper.

    3. Cook sausage in a separate pan until just about done, then add sausage and fat to softened onion and celery.  Check the seasonings – you’ll need quite a bit since you’ll be adding bread and chicken stock.

    4. In a large bowl mix veggies, sausage, and bread making sure to coat the bread with the fat.  Taste test.  Add more salt, pepper, and sage per your taste!

    5. Pour 3 cups of broth over stuffing and mix together well.  Each piece of bread should be coated with fat and stock.

    6. Put stuffing mixture into a buttered 12×16 (or is it 10×15?) glass dish.  Bake in convection oven at 375 for about 40 minutes (if it’s coming out of the fridge).  Stuffing will be bubbling at the base and crispy and yummy on top.

    Serves: 6-8 people

    Oven: 250F and 375F

    Time: 90 minutes

    Level: Easy

    gravy

    Gravy

    6 tablespoons butter + more for other steps

    6 tablespoons flour

    Chicken Broth (about 8 cups)

    Turkey neck and giblets

    Half an onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

    1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

    Half a celery stick, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

    2-3 bay leaves

    Parsley stems

    Kosher Salt

    Black Pepper

    Juice from Turkey Roasting Pan

    Brown Bits from Turkey Roasting Pan

    White Wine to deglaze

    1. The day before Thanksgiving, make the base for your gravy by making a roux then adding chicken stock until it boils and thickens.  To do this, melt butter completely in a sauce pan then add flour, whisking together into a paste and cooking for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly over medium heat.  Add hot chicken stock (about 5-6 cups) to the pan, stirring constantly to avoid clumps.  Allow the gravy base to boil so the starch in the flour expands, thickening the gravy.  Boil for 5-10 minutes.  Allow gravy base to cool completely and refrigerate until Thanksgiving.

    2. On Thanksgiving, brown neck and giblets in butter in a large sauce pan.  Once browned remove from the pan, melt some additional butter and brown onion, carrot, and celery.  Add the bones and giblets back to the pan, add chicken stock (or turkey stock if you have it) to cover, bay leaves, parsley stems, and black pepper.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 1-2 hours.  Strain , cool the liquid and set aside.

    3. When the turkey is finished cooking, pour the juice from the pan into a bowl and allow the fat to come to the top.  Spoon the fat off of the turkey juice.  Over medium heat, deglaze the brown bits off of the pan using white wine and by scraping the bottom of the pan.  Add turkey juice, the turkey liquid from the bones, and the gravy base to the pan.  Allow the gravy to boil to let the different liquids come together.  Scrape any fat that comes to the top off of the gravy.  Season with salt and pepper until it tastes just right.  If your gravy needs to thicken, you can boil it down further (the saltiness will intensify so be careful) or add a bit of flour and butter paste (take soft room temp butter and mix it with equal parts flour) to the gravy, stirring to thicken (it must boil).

    Serves: 8-12 people

    Difficulty: Medium

    Time: 3 hours over the course of 2 days

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    Crispy Brussel Sprout Salad

    With Pomegranate Seeds

    From BlissfulBasil

    For the Salad
    • 2 pounds brussels sprouts
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
    • ¼ cup pine nuts
    For the Lime Vinaigrette
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • ½ tablespoon tahini
    • ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
    • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    • black pepper, to taste
    1. Preheat oven to 350F.
    2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
    3. One at a time, trim the brussels sprouts and separate the leaves. You will need to trim the base of the sprout a few times to get as many leaves as possible from each. Add the leaves to the baking pans and repeat with each sprout.
    4. Once all of the leaves have been added to the pans, drizzle each pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and massage the oil into the leaves. Spread the leaves out evenly over each pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until most of the leaves are crispy and just turning golden. Make sure to toss the leaves every few minutes as they bake to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
    5. While the leaves are baking, make the vinaigrette by adding the lime juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, tahini, maple syrup, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk for 15-30 seconds until incorporated.
    6. To serve the salad, add the leaves to a serving bowl or tray along with the pomegranate seeds and pine nuts. Pour the dressing over, toss to coat, and serve immediately. 

     

    The-GREAT-pumpkin-pie-recipe-with-my-secret-ingredient-its-absolutely-my-favorite-recipe-for-pumpkin-pie._

    Pumpkin Pie

    From Sally’s Baking Addiction

    • Homemade Pie Crust (full recipe makes 2 crusts: 1 for bottom, 1 for leaf decor)
    • 2 cups (15oz can; 450g) pumpkin puree1
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) packed dark brown sugar2
    • 1 Tablespoon (15g) cornstarch
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger3
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg3
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves3
    • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
    • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk (I use 1% – any is fine)
    • 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon milk, for brushing
    1. Preheat oven to 375º
    2. Whisk the pumpkin, 3 eggs, and brown sugar together until combined. Add the cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, cream, and milk. Vigorously whisk until everything is combined. Filling will be a little thick.
    3. Pour pumpkin pie filling into a warm pre-baked crust. If you did not use a deep dish pie pan, you will have too much filling. Only fill the crust about 3/4 of the way up. Use extra to make mini pies with leftover pie dough scraps if you’d like. Bake the pie until the center is almost set, about 55-60 minutes give or take. A small part of the center will be wobbly – that’s ok. After 25 minutes of baking, be sure to cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil or use a piecrust shield to prevent the edges from getting too brown. Check for doneness at minute 50, and then 55, and then 60, etc.
    4. Once done, transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours.
  • How To: Create Your Holiday Tablescape

    Set The Table With Me

    Candles6

    With the holiday buzz officially here and Thanksgiving days away, my mind has been busy working up fabulous tablescape ideas for all the dinner parties, family gatherings, and celebrations in the works.  When it comes to decorating a table I’m a Daydreamer.  I’m practical and come up with a structured plan, but within that I love to allow myself to be inspired: by nature, walks through the park, visits to the Farmer’s Market, what I already have stored away that I can upcycle, and second hand shops.  I’ve been throwing dinner parties for a decade now so my formula of combining aesthetic inspiration with structure works well.  Here’s how I do it, with the critical elements you’ll need and should consider for your own holiday table shared below.

    Candles

    I always start with candles when setting my table.  They add mood lighting, a nice scent if you choose to go down that route, and a warmth unlike a standing lamp or overhead lighting.  The most gorgeous tables are lit only by candle-light but there is definitely a time and a place for that type of setting based on how casual or fancy your event it.  If it’s black-tie, go candle crazy!  If your holiday event is filled with family and is a bit more relaxed, anchor your table with candles but use supporting elements like flowers and fruits to create additional places for the eye to go.

    I know that for the holidays a taper candle with holder is standard, so I like to go with something totally different for my setting that will surprise and delight my guests.  This year I’m choosing a variety of scents from Bijou Candles, the Parisian-inspired company known for their gorgeous floral candle holders and their French inspired scents.  The floral-shaped bases are made from reusable resin and are inspired by vintage milk glass vases.  The combination of scent and style here makes them the perfect choice for my festive holiday table.

    I’ve chosen three scents: the Tabac Noir Bijou with notes of smoky tobacco leaf and rosewood, Ambre Tubereuse Bijou with bright, clean mandarin zest and deep amber, and Bois de Vanille Bijou with woodsy notes, sweet vanilla bourbon, and lime.

    Color

    Once I’ve found the perfect candles, I begin to consider color.  It’s critical to think seasonally but just like the choice of Bijou Candles instead of tapers I like to surprise my guests with a color palette that’s unexpected.  Red and green, or blue and silver are classics for sure, but why not go with something a bit more special?  My color palette for this year’s holiday table include black, white, gold, many shades of yellow and green, with some muted brown and grey thrown in.  Very fall harvest, oui?

    Candles1

    Black is a shade that you don’t see gracing the table often, but considering how dramatic it can be I’m not sure why it’s not more prevalent!  My table is a dark wood, and my black Tabac Noir Bijou candle lights up beautifully on it, creating a glow that’s almost amber.  I absolutely love the combination of yellows too, the milky yellow of the Ambre Tubereuse Bijou pairing nicely with the mustard yellow of some Asian pears placed deliberately disconnected amongst some leaves and loose floral arrangements.  I’ve chosen gold tableware over silver, and am using simple french linen napkins to sit in guests’ laps.

    Finally, green always delights me – in every possible shade.  The greyish green of my lavendar Christmas tree goes nicely with the hints of grey in the flowers, and creamy Marcona almonds tie everything together with a hint of caramel here and there.

    Unexpected Elements

    Candles2

    Even though I’ve been upcycling for years without knowing the terminology, there are always recycled elements on every tablescape I create.  The upcycled item you’re most familiar with?  The mason jar, of course.  Not a regular in me repetoire anymore however, I’ve moved on to bigger and better items!

    This year my upcycled pieces are Bijou candle holders used as salad and snack bowls!  When your candle has come to the end of it’s lit life, simply pour out the remaining wax and give them a good scrub and wash, and voila – bowls!  I’ve placed almonds, raspberries, and other tasty treats in the petite Bijou holders, and small salads in the classic sized holder.


     

    Now that you know my tricks for setting the table, it’s your turn to own your very own Bijou Candles for your table too! We’re giving away one large Bijou, one petit Bijou and 2 refills of your choosing from the Boudoir collection to a lucky reader! Enter below after heading over to Bijou to browse the scents and taking their candle quiz to identify your favorites!
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • TheLoDown