27 April 2012

Friday Favorites

In lieu of Friday Favorites, I'm giving my husband a little shout-out. Sunday not only marks the one-year anniversary of THE wedding, but six months since my own nuptials!

M, what a wonderful six months it has been.  Some days it feels like we've been married forever {in a good way} and other days it feels like the wedding was just yesterday.  I love the life we are creating together.  You are my support system, my biggest cheerleader, my personal comedian, and dedicated dishwasher.  You are my best friend.  I have no idea what the next six months looks like for us, but I'm excited for them.  Thanks for choosing me to be your wife.  I love you big time.

26 April 2012

Flat Out Fabulous

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L-O-V-E these adorable flats! They're from Ivanka Trump's line of shoes {love her!} and each solid-color pair is less than $100.  I've been looking for a new pair of leopard flats, and I think these may be the ones!

25 April 2012

Duchess Denim

So I realize that Wednesdays on this blog are quickly turning into a "How to Dress Like the Duchess of Perfection for Less" tutorial.  And I am totally OK with that.  If you, sweet readers, are anything like me, you probably gobble this stuff up.

I popped into our local mall this weekend {a.k.a. the most depressing place in the world} and went into a New York & Company and an American Eagle.  I couldn't tell you the last time I went in either one of those places, but I've been on the hunt for the perfect pair of colored denim and I'll look anywhere.
 And there they were.  An almost identical pair of coral Duchess jeans for less than $50! They're NOT jeggings, so they do not fit super tight.  This is a positive in my book. 
NY & Co. also had some great colored denim, albeit more pastel pink than coral.  Still very pretty and less than $60.  They're almost sold out online, but my local store had a great size run in stock.

I've been really struggling with the colored denim trend. I love the look, but the pairs I love that fit well are not in my price range.  And the ones that are in my price range, thus far, have been terribly ill fitting.  If you've had similar issues, I would definitely look into these local mall options. I had great success!

24 April 2012

Spring Cocktail

I'm just dying to try this very pretty and oh-so-Frenchie cocktail featured in this month's Martha Stewart Living. Lillet Rose is a relatively new product from the maker's of Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rouge, French aperitif wines. It's supposed to have "the aroma of flowers and ripe berries."

Don't these just look perfect for a bridal shower or a Mother's Day brunch?  Chin chin!

23 April 2012

Menu Monday

We had lots of good eatin' last week.  Enjoy!

Natty Boh Brats
I married a Baltimore boy, which means there is a lot of Natty Boh in my life. My MIL bought these brats for M and he was SO excited to have them for dinner last week.  I served them with baked beans and a corn, avocado, and tomato salad.

Om nom nom, I want to marry this salad.  I wanted to drink the marinade/dressing. I just love a good steak salad. This one was refreshing and a terrific combo of flavors.  And it took basically zero time to make.

Crispy Salmon and Meyer Lemon Spaghetti with Asparagus {Food Network and Eat, Live, Run}
 I paired my go-to salmon recipe with this pasta recipe and it was a winner.  You can't get meyer lemons at my grocery store, so I just used regular lemons and it turned out just fine.  And Jenna was right: this meal is PERFECT with a nice, buttery Chardonnay.

 These. Were. Awesome.
I used Cabot Hot Habanero cheese and a Williams-Sonoma chipotle rub seasoning in place of the pepperjack and chili powder/cayenne powder combo, respectively. So, so, so good.

Bon appetit!

20 April 2012

Friday Favorites

We all know how I feel about toile. I can't wait to pick up one of these Harry Barker toile beds for the pup when they're available in June! 

This adorable Run for the Roses Derby party featured on Hostess with the Mostess.  I've always wanted to host a Derby party and this post is full of fabulous ideas.

My new blog crush, Eat, Live, Run.  I've been making Jenna's recipe for black bean burgers for over a year now, but for some reason, I'd never taken the time to explore her blog until last week.  I tend to get kind of obsessed when I make a new discovery and Jenna's delightful blog is no exception.  Case in point: Two of the four dinners I made this week were Eat, Live, Run recipes.

Six Weeks to Sleeveless workout.  I need to start this workout STAT. We are just 3 weeks away from our first wedding of the year, and exactly 6 weeks away from my 5-year college reunion.  Tricep dips, here I come!

What all inspired you this week?  I'd love to know.
Have a fabulous weekend!

19 April 2012

Target Finds

I popped into Target last Saturday for my weekly pilgrimage.  Some people go to the spa. I go to Target.  I get a big ole Diet Coke and just wonder around aimlessly.  It centers me.

I've been on the lookout for some cute, inexpensive work dresses and this little number caught my eye.  You can't tell from the picture, but the neckline has a fun, woven/braided detail going on.  The dress sells for $24.99 and if you click here, you can get a $3 off coupon to use in stores.

I've gotten so many compliments on it and it's very comfortable.  I styled mine with some bronze wedges and my big gold watch.  

And after Julie posted an Instagram pic of this mascara, I picked up a tube.  I am always on the lookout for THE mascara.  And honestly?  This little $3 tube is one of the best I've ever used.  I've only had it for less than a week, so I can't comment on if it dries out/flakes over time, but so far, I am loving it!

Have you had any good Target finds lately?  Do share!

18 April 2012

the perfect spring dessert

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OK. So I know I just posted a strawberry cake recipe last week.  But this one is different. I promise.

The other day, I had an abundance of strawberries in the fridge that were going to go to waste.  I got a little carried away during a strawberry sale at the grocery store and my eyes were bigger than my stomach.  I was looking for a way to use them up and I stumbled upon this recipe that I pinned from Smitten Kitchen last spring.  Deb's recipe came from this Martha Stewart recipe.

Oh. my. WOW.  Please go home and make this cake today.  It's one of those cakes that it so simple that it almost seems virtuous.  Like a breakfast food.  Not that I've eaten any for breakfast...ahem.  I made some freshly whipped cream with just a touch of vanilla and sugar to go on top.  I'm not sure I'll ever make strawberry shortcake again.  This is easier and so much better.  And perfect for spring and summer.
*Don't make the mistake I did and get paranoid and overcook it for 10 minutes.  If you see a wee bit of gooey crumb on the tester right at 70 minutes, it's OK. Take the cake out of the oven.

*I followed Deb's advice and that of some commenters and reduced the sugar in the cake to 3/4 cup, leaving the 2 tablespoons on top.  I still found the cake to be sweet, so I think the full cup may be too much.

17 April 2012

The Kate Effect, Part Trois

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So we all know that the Duchess of Perfection loves her some L.K. Bennett 'Maddox' wedges.  Who can blame her? They are gorgeous, classic go-with-everything shoes.  But currently selling for $285 at Nordstrom, they're not in everyone's budget.

Enter the Kylie wedge.  These sell for only $26.99 at Payless.  And right now, BOGO is going on, so you could treat your bestie to a pair as well!  You can get Kate's look for a 10th of the price.

16 April 2012

Menu Monday

Linking up with Rachel again today. Enjoy!

This ended up being a totally different recipe in my kitchen. My grocery store was out of basil and doesn't sell sustainable cod, so we ended up having haddock with mint-parsley sauce.  It was still very tasty, especially the sauce.

Mushroom Frittata {Cooking Light October 2009}
 We loved this meal, mainly because we were starving and it came together in a matter of minutes.  I used tarragon instead of thyme and I added a little Dijon mustard.  I think next time I would use herbs de Provence instead.  I served it with my favorite Ina salad.

No-brainer.  Dave's Gourmet Red Heirloom Sauce + Pasta + Red Wine {2008 Trio} = Happiness.

Simply Grilled Chicken and Spring Pea-sto with Whole Wheat Penne {Melissa d'Arabian and Rachael Ray}
Let me preface this by saying that I loathe Rachael Ray.  She annoys me to no end.  But occasionally, she has a few good recipes.  Kind of the culinary equivalent of a blind squirrel finding an acorn every once in a while.  Anyhoo.
I've made the original recipe many times and it is delicious.  But this time, I totally overestimated what ingredients I had in my kitchen and had to improvise.  Basically, I put the peas in the food processor with some jarred pesto, some fresh lemon zest and juice, and some fresh mint and that was the sauce.  It was delicious and was the perfect side for my favorite grilled chicken recipe.
Bon appetit!

13 April 2012

Friday Favorites

the most perfect bedroom ever, by phoebe howard. of course.

the loveliest blue-and-white iPhone cover 

 my new subscription and online membership to cook's illustrated. what took me so long? it is the absolute best!

these lilly earrings are too perfect for our city's upcoming festival. but they're backordered too late! if anyone spies these in their local lilly store, i will happily pay you to scoop them up for me.

this luscious asparagus soup from one of my favorite food bloggers is just calling my name. it just screams spring.

happy weekend!

11 April 2012

Triple Decker Strawberry Cake

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 

 I clearly have berries on the brain right now.  All I want to do this weekend is whip up my favorite strawberry cake and sit down with a fork and a glass of ice cold milk and go to town.  Proceed with caution to the following recipe; the frosting is highly addictive.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Triple Decker Strawberry Cake

1 (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix NO pudding*
1 (3-ounce) package strawberry gelatin
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
Garnish: whole strawberries

Beat the cake mix and next 7 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 1 minute. Scrape down the sides, and beat at medium speed 2 more minutes, stopping to scrape down sides, if needed. (Strawberries should be well blended into batter.) Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cakepans.

Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.

Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Spread Strawberry Buttercream Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired. Serve immediately, or chill up to 1 week.

*Duncan Hines is about the only brand that makes white cake mix without pudding.

To make ahead: Place finished cake in the refrigerator, uncovered, and chill for 20 minutes or until the frosting sets. Cover well with wax paper, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To freeze, wrap chilled cake with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
2 (16-ounce) packages powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 20 seconds or until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and chopped strawberries, beating at low speed until creamy. (Add more sugar if frosting is too thin, or add strawberries if too thick.)

10 April 2012

Dear 16-Year-Old Me

I grew up in an area where all the girls start fake baking in middle school.  Being super duper dark tanned in the middle of January when you hadn't been on vacation anywhere was totally the norm.  I'm proud to say I have never set foot in a tanning bed and won't ever do so.  But I have been guilty of laying out in the sun for too long with too little sunscreen.  I've had a few bad burns.  I'm not innocent.

I saw this article on MSNBC yesterday and posted it to my Facebook wall along with the simple message, "Ladies, STOP fake baking". In turn, a friend of mine posted the below video.  Watch it all the way through and try not to cry.  This video encouraged me to do something I've been putting off for awhile: I made an appointment for M and me to go to the dermatologist for full body checks, much like Barefoot Bird and the Badger did last year.

I urge each of you to do the same thing and make time for 10-minute monthly skin checks.  You can get more information here and tips for staying stylish while being smart can be found at sun savvy.

As we approach the lazy days of summer, let's all be safe while in pursuit of that perfect glow.  Try a spray tan or tanning lotion.  Or better yet, embrace your natural skin color and be beautiful just the way you are.

09 April 2012

Menu Monday

I'm linking up with Rachel over at In No Simple Language.  Lots of great menu ideas!

Butternut Squash Pasta

My bloggy friend, Jennifer at Belclaire House, posted about this pasta sauce a few weeks ago.  When I saw that our T.J. Maxx had a big display of it, I stocked up.  I created this recipe based loosely on Jennifer's.  I sauteed half of a large Spanish onion and a chopped red bell pepper in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Then I tossed in an entire package of sliced sweet Italian chicken sausages and let those brown.  I deglazed the pan with some white wine, and then poured in the entire jar of sauce.  Once that had heated together, I tossed the sauce mixture with a pound of cooked linguine and topped with grated Parmesan. The whole meal took maybe 20 minutes and it was so good! Definitely more fall flavors than spring, but we didn't care.

Grilled Filet Steak and Arugula {Ina Garten How Easy Is That?}

Yeah, I can't find a picture online of the original recipe and we devoured ours before I remembered to make a real-life picture.  So you'll just have to make it yourself.  I made NY strip steaks instead of filet, so I adjusted the cooking time accordingly.  Other than that, no changes. I made this meal to celebrate M's first win as a head coach and it did not disappoint.

Hot Dogs, Macaroni and Cheese, and Broccoli
This meal equals childhood summers to me.  I'm pretty sure we had this for lunch or dinner at least once a week.  I "upgraded" our meal by using organic ketchup and organic boxed macaroni and cheese, which may be the yuppiest thing I've written to date.  M and I actually fought over the remaining macaroni and cheese. I'm not proud of this.  But I won.

Coconut Cupcakes {Southern Living March 2007}
And I was so pleased with how my cupcakes turned out! I just used my go-to coconut cupcake recipe, but I toasted the coconut in the oven and topped with my favorite Cadbury Mini Eggs. So cute.

Bon appetit!