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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Fancy Valentine's Menus to Make at Home | Beef & Chocolate

There is something about Valentine's Day that just calls for Beef & Chocolate - and red wine, of course.  I love a fancy Valentine's Dinner with a really special meal... especially if we get to enjoy it at home in front of the fire... in the comfort of our slippers.  

I've compiled some of our favorite luxury meals to make at home including this table setting and flower arrangement from a couple of years ago.  I'm still wild about those flowers!

I think the key to enjoy "fancy" cooking at home is making it easy on yourself.  It doesn't get much easier (or better) than searing filet steaks.  It is our #1 favorite meal at home... so much so that I hardly ever order it in restaurants anymore.  The Barefoot Contessa has her "engagement roasted chicken" as in, after you make this for your boyfriend it is so good that he will propose.  I could say the same about knowing how to sear the perfect steak... so many people assume you can only get a good steak in a restaurant.

I would serve these with mashed potatoes and a yummy shallot and mushroom cream sauce, if we're feeling very fancy.

If you are in the mood for more of a sweet sauce, this steak is perfect.   Ribeye Steaks with a Sweet Shallot Wine Sauce

This is my all-time-favorite meal, Beef Stroganoff.  It can be made fancy (like this with sliced filet and pappardelle pasta) or veeerrrry simple with ground beef and egg noodles (a weeknight staple around here).  

Onto the Chocolate Part of the Evening!  

This was made from Ina's Chocolate Ganache Cupcake Recipe - good for a cake or cupcakes.  I used my Dripping Chocolate Icing Recipe for the glaze.

This is the 2nd most popular recipe on my entire blog... can't imagine why!  They are so simple to make, with really easy ingredients - and they are amazing.  

This is something we always order when we see it on the menu.  It is so easy to make at home - especially with store-bought croissants.  

Another at home favorite is homemade Turtle Pecan Puddles.  These take about 20 minutes to make and such a treat!  Don't skip the salt sprinkling on top, my favorite part : )

I hope you all are planning a sweet night with your loves - in or out!

Valentine's Day Dinner Party Table Setting | Coral, Orange & Pale Pink Roses

I'm reposting this table setting from three years - still obsessed with these flowers! 

Over the holidays we wanted to have our closest friends over for a special dinner... and then we got busy and now it is almost February.  So, I'm making it up to them by hosting a Valentine's dinner party complete with an all Barefoot Contessa menu. 

The entire party was inspired by roses I found at Trader Joe's - spray roses in coral, orange and pale pink.  I bought them on a whim and then decided that I needed to have a Valentine's Day party.  In fact, those roses were the only thing I needed to buy for the table, and at $5 per bunch (for a total of $15) I think they are an amazing centerpiece.  It is a little fancier than I typically set a table for dinner with friends, but I thought it would be fun to gussy it up a bit. Here is a step-by-step guide for how I made this arrangement.

I pulled in our grey wingback chairs from the family room - with their blankets and pillows, they make it such a cozy table.

The menu is a bit over the top!

Here is what I'm planning :

Parmesan Crisps
Caramelized Bacon
Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin (I can't get enough...)
Balsamic-Roased Brussels Sprouts
Truffled Mashed Potatoes
Chocolate Cassis Cake

What do you think?  Too much?  Too rich?  Or just right for an indulgent holiday...?

I love how this white rose that was mixed in with the pale pink ones opened up completely.  It looks like a real garden rose.

Here is a link to the step-by-step instructions with flower buying tips (Trader Joe's for these, $15).

Notice, I decided to change the vase after I had completed the arrangement.  I love how the footed vase gives the table a more fanciful, ornate feel - very different than the clean modern vase, which I also love.  It is so interesting how such a small choice, like a vase, can completely influence the entire feel of a table/party.

Here are a couple of photos that show you what's going on adjacent to the dining room to help you get a feel for the mood - the fire is roaring.

... and Mr. is cuddled up in his spot.

I'm sending everyone home with these homemade Salted Caramel Turtle Puddles.  Yes, they are as good as they look.  Maybe better.  This is the second batch I've made in 4 days... the first went too quickly.  AND they are the easiest candy I've ever made.  Easy and amazing... dangerous.

Here is the recipe for the "Puddles" - they are sooo good.

Here is the easy-to-pin strip!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Very Big Sale | 15-30% + Free Shipping | Restocked Essentials

Shop the Very Big Everyday Occasions Sale >

*Also, I'm working on a new look for Everyday Occasions... what do you think?!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan with Leftovers | Slow-Braised Shredded Beef

Yesterday, I made a huge batch of slow simmered beef for Drip Beef Sandwiches for the Super Bowl... and of course, we have leftovers.  Thankfully, the beef was cooked with beef stock, onion and garlic seasonings, so it can translate into many different flavors - Italian, Mexican & American.

Last week, I shared how I turn freezer meatballs into lots of different meals (crumbled in soup, meatloaf, etc).  This week, I thought I would share what I plan to do with this delicious leftover beef.  Here are some easy ideas that can transform braised shredded beef into quick and yummy dinners.  
Later this week, I'm going to share some of my freezer/leftover philosophy (along with some new products to help!).

Beef Ragu

This recipe begins by slow braising beef in tomatoes and herbs.  We already have the slow-braised shredded beef, so I'll simplify this recipe by sautéing some onions and garlic, then adding some red wine and canned whole tomatoes.  After this cooks for about 10 minutes, I'll add the beef.  For a weeknight meal, we'll definitely be using regular dried pasta - or Emma's new favorite, frozen cheese ravioli : )

Shredded Beef Tacos

This photo is of some grilled chicken tacos, but I could do the same sort of set up, except with shredded beef... or we might just go the pico + cheese + lettuce + sour cream route.   Either way, I'll make some fresh guacamole : )

Braised Beef & Vegetable Soup

Usually, this soup starts with braising beef, then adding vegetables and past at the end.  Instead, I will just start with beef, beef stock, wine and add vegetables and pasta.  The entire should take about 20 minutes.

Tuscan Beef with Mashed Potatoes

This is a similar recipe to the Beef & Vegetable Stew, but combines lots of interesting flavors like Rosemary and Olives.  It can be served with bread or mashed potatoes... or both!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Superbowl Menu Ideas | Steak Nachos, Mini Lobster Rolls, Spinach Dip, Sliders

Superbowl Menu Ideas | Steak Nachos, Mini Lobster Rolls, Spinach Dip, Sliders

It always seems a bit strange to go from Valentine's Day goodies right into Football favorites... but, that is February for you : )   I don't know about you, but after all of these sweets, a big pan of Oven-Baked Steak Nachos sound good to me!

Here are all of my game day favorite foods that would be great for a party : 

Easy to make ahead of time, bake, then top with fresh ingredients.  If you don't want to cook the steak, buy some brisket or pulled pork from a BBQ shop - really yummy.

A classic from a few years past!

*This made more sense last year when the Patriots were playing, but I'm always up for Lobster Rolls : )

I made this about 10 times during the holidays... and I might make it again.

This is what I'll be making - Great in a crockpot!

Everyone loves sliders, especially topped with an onion ring, melted cheese and BBQ sauce.

An upgraded extra meaty game day staple.

What are you making?!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Valentine's Day Sale | Pink Boxes, Heart Sprinkles, Candles, Tags & Ribbons

Valentine's Day Sale
This is the last week to order goodies for Valentine's Day!  Lots of items are on sale (up to 50% off) + I'm offering discounts on entire orders, the more you order the more you save.  Time to stock up on favorite essentials : )
Orders over :
$50 save 15% = code : Feb-15
$100 save 20% = code : Feb-20
$150 save 30% = code : Feb-30
Shop the entire Valentine's Collection, here.
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