Friday Style File: Birthday Dinner

top // jeans // necklace // bracelets // clutch // shoes
Happy Friday!  I'm celebrating my birthday this weekend, and I think this is the perfect look for a fun dinner at a new place I've been dying to try.  The top is a steal (less than $50!), and when it's paired with a stunning necklace like this one the effect is perfect.  The shoes are the perfect height and d'orsay style, and they come in other colors. 

We've got a busy weekend ahead - I'm running a race, headed to a baby shower, and celebrating my birthday.  This is also our last weekend to prepare before we have our first round of house-guests in our new house...eeek?!? 

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!



Ikea Coffee Table Hack

Several weeks ago, Josh and I were in Tampa for the day, and we spent a little time at Ikea.  Generally, Ikea overwhelms me.  This time, however, I came prepared and with a plan... 

my plan of attack

In my quest to decorate the living room, I knew we would need a long and narrow coffee table.  I'd spent some time online researching a few options, but I didn't find any that I loved that were within our budget.  After a few frustrating days I began googling Ikea coffee table hacks.  I knew I wanted something easy (I'm not the best DIYer) and something that would look nice in a slightly more formal living room.  

my inspiration
After a few quick searches, I came upon a tutorial on the Pink Avenue Blog for a hack of Ikea's Vittsjo Nesting Tables.  It looked easy enough - just some spray paint, glue, and hardware.  Imagine my surprise when it was just as easy as it looked!  I won't recap the full tutorial (you can see it here on the Pink Avenue blog), but I will say this is definitely one to bookmark and try.  The only step I changed was gluing the hardware before painting it.  (Josh says the glue sticks better metal on metal without the paint barrier.)  I'm thrilled with how it turned out, and I think it has the same feel as the inspiration table for a fraction of the price.  I also love that it's a nesting table - the smaller table top in the foreground can be completely removed.

The finished product...just needs some styling!

I have a few other Ikea hacks to share with you all in the coming weeks, but in the meantime I'm wondering about any of your favorite makeovers/hacks?  I'm slowly getting the hang of DIY projects, but it's always helpful to have inspiration from others.  If you've done a makeover/hack post in the past, please leave me a link in the comments so I can check it out.  

Happy Thursday!


Favorite Things: 2.26

// 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6
Just a few favorites to get you in the mood for Spring.  Be sure to check out the gorgeous back on this dress, appreciate the honeycomb detail on these heels, and snag one of these golden trays before they're gone!  Happy Wednesday.  

Recipe: Corn and Avocado Salsa

A quick birthday shout-out this morning...

Happy Birthday to my Chicken Little!  What a blessing you have been for the past 20 years.  I can't wait to see what the next decade brings for you!! xo

I am a huge fan of fresh salsa.  There is a Mexican inspired restaurant out at the beach with the best fresh salsa bar, and Josh and I sometimes drive out there for a quick meal.  My confession?  I go strictly for the salsa bar.  With my love for  good, fresh salsa fully exposed, I thought I would share one of my favorite recipes here today.  There is some chopping involved, but chopping just means you are using fresh, flavorful ingredients.  AND, it usually makes a big batch to snack on for the week - totally worth the effort in my opinion!

Corn and Avocado Salsa
Recipe adapted from The Gluten-free Kitchen



  • 2 ears sweet corn
  • 1 small red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 C. cilantro leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lime, finely grated
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  1. Whisk salsa ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Hold an ear of corn upright on a chopping board.  Use a large sharp knife and cut downward from the top, as close to the core as possible to remove kernels.
  3. Blanch corn kernels in boiling water for 30 seconds or until tender.  Drain and refresh under cold water.
  4. Combine corn with remaining salsa ingredients in a bowl.  
  5. Pour dressing over salsa to serve.

PS: Serve with corn chips for a gluten free snack or side.  Also, feel free to add a green chilly, deseeded and finely chopped to the dressing if you want a little kick!



Thought for the Week: Twenties

We had an early birthday celebration for my sister this weekend, and it got me thinking about what I would tell myself at 20.  As I approach my last year of my twenties, I'm struck by how much change occurred in 10 short years.  From little things like changing a college major or roommate to big life events like getting married, buying a house, and going to graduate school, my twenties have felt like a time when nothing was certain or settled.  Though I still can't claim to have it all figured out, there are certainly a few things that I've learned along the way: 

*See this decade for what it is - a time of growth and change.  Enjoy it.  No really, enjoy every day. Though time creeps in the micro, it flies in the macro.  Your twenties will be over in the blink of an eye, and you can't go back. 

*Invest time and energy into your friendships.  Your friends will become like your family when you move to that new city far from your hometown.  

*Don't forget about your family.  You're going through lots of changes, but they are too as you make your way into the world without them.  Call your mom...she wants to hear from you, AND she really does have decent advice.

*Go on dates.  Take an opportunity to get to know someone - it just might surprise you what you can learn from dating different people.

*Know that your first job isn't necessarily your last.  It also doesn't have to be the perfect job that fits exactly into the plan for your career path.  All jobs teach you something, and sometimes if a job pays for your rent it's worth it.

*Understand that your dreams may change.  Embrace this and don't see it as a step backwards.  This is the time to figure things out.

*Know your own value.  Don't let anyone walk all over you - in a relationship, a friendship, or a job.  You deserve to surround yourself with loving and supportive people, and if something isn't right - change it.

*Keep in touch with mentors, bosses, professors, etc.  If you find someone older and wiser who is willing to invest in your future hold onto that relationship.  If nothing else you just might need a recommendation for graduate school or a new job one day.

*Be willing to ask for AND listen to advice.  In this era of technology, it seems like things change at warp speed, and no one older could possibly understand your personal goals, struggles, or dilemmas.  While there are plenty of things older generations haven't faced first hand (#selfie), there are plenty of fundamentals that remain the same from decade to decade.  Find someone you trust, ask for their advice, and really take the time to listen to their response.  

*Travel.  It doesn't matter where you go or how little money you have to spend - just go.  As you get older, responsibilities will increase, and your tastes will require a larger budget to travel comfortably.  Go now, learn something, and enjoy.

*Put down your phone every once and a while.  Take time to invest in the people around you - the ones that are actually right there liking you (and not just your edited and carefully cropped photo), listening to your 140 characters in real time, and creating the memories that you will post on your wall.  The other people you are "connecting" with can wait.  Spend time with the people physically present.

*Pick up your phone every once and a while.  Nine times out of ten, a phone call can resolve an issue more easily, with more clarity, and with less angst than any text or email.  

*Don't put things into writing you wouldn't be comfortable with the entire world knowing now and in fifteen years.  This applies to social media outlets and emails.  And always, always check to make sure you didn't hit "reply all" before sending an email.

*Stay in shape.  What they say is true - getting older stinks.  Your knees will hurt more, your shoulders will get that hunched look from hours at a keyboard, and your metabolism will slow down.  Enjoy your late night cheeseburgers while you can but establish a fitness routine that you can tolerate... and keep it up.

*Have fun.  Go out with friends and dress up for theme parties.   There won't be many other times in your life when wearing 70's disco gear is socially acceptable.

*Learn to appreciate low-key nights.  We all need a chance to relax, watch a movie, and recover sometimes.  Every night does not have to be the best night of your life.

*Understand that at times life may be hard, may be boring, and may feel totally out of your control.  This is just a phase, and it will get better.  Discover what makes you feel grounded and seek that in the tough moments.

*Say yes.  If an interesting opportunity is presented that doesn't compromise your morals, safety, or values, pursue it.  You never know where it might lead.

* Surround yourself with people who inspire you, challenge you, and make you feel valued.  You are the sum total of the five people you spend the most time with - choose them wisely.

*Take a deep breath and relax.  You don't have to have all the answers right now.

What lessons have you learned along the way?  I'd love to hear from you!



Friday Style File: Live Laugh Love

shirt // earrings // blazer  [sold out - similar for less here and here]
bag // jeans // shoes

Happy Friday and welcome to the first "Friday Style File."  This is the first in a new series of Friday posts that will highlight styling tips, budget friendly finds, and a few splurge items.  (Thanks RHA for the inspiration on the series!)  For instance, this t-shirt is a whopping $15 from Old Navy, but it's styled with a much pricier Philip Lim bag.  Add these statement earrings (I've worn mine three days in a row now), cute flats, and a blazer for a chic look that can take you almost anywhere.  I love this look for travel, for brunch, for drinks with friends, or even just looking polished while running errands.  

What do you think?  Would you like to see more posts like this?  
Hoping you have a wonderful weekend!



Hors D'oeuvres

images: olives // manchego // goat cheese // apricots // hummus // carrots // cranberries // salami // almonds // crackers

There are few things in life that I appreciate more than a good hors d'oeuvres spread.  I actually think I could eat this every night for dinner and be perfectly content.  Dried fruit for a sweet and tart pop, buttery olives, crumbly goat cheese, manchego, and fresh hummus...divine.  When I put together a tray for entertaining, I also try to throw in some cured meat like salami for the carnivores - it goes a long way in keeping the boys (see: Josh) happy.

Call up some friends, dust off a cutting board/tray (I love this or this), open a bottle of wine (like this new favorite), and enjoy!



Favorite Things: Birthday Edition

earrings // clutch // running shoes 
power sheets // dress // top // workout shirt
print // flats // bracelet // coffee table book
Though it's not until early March, lately I've been getting questions about what I might like for my birthday.  It always surprises me to get this question, because I feel like we are still recovering a little from Christmas.  We aren't really into the warm weather that dictates fun new flip flops and beach tunics, but I'm tired of sweaters and boots.  The result?  A birthday wish list that's a little random but full of things I'm loving this very moment.  

The earrings are Dannijo and this is a pair I've had my eye on for a while.  I went to high school with Danielle (the Danni of Dannijo),  and I would love to have a piece of her line.  I'm also loving the Lululemon run swiftly tops and the Splendid shirting tops - especially in almond...love my neutrals.  The Power Sheets and Print are from Lara Casey.  If you haven't seen her website yet- visit immediately!  It will inspire you to be creative, follow your passions, and make every day count.  I'm dying to go to her conference in Chapel Hill (double bonus!!), but I'm thinking these goal setting power sheets will bring a little of her conference to me here in Jacksonville in the meantime.  I also couldn't make a birthday list without a pair of neutral pointy flats and animal print clutch...both are gorgeous investments that I would love forever.  Finally, I'm craving coffee table books.  We've been decorating and FINISHING our new built-in bookshelves, but that means we have space to decorate and fill.  I'm especially smitten with decor and fashion books like this and this, but I'm also loving the unique and fun concept of this one.  

Happy Wednesday!



Peanut Butter + Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Just a quick recipe post today to share my first attempt at gluten free baking with you all.  This cookie recipe comes from the back of the Trader Joe's oatmeal package, and it came highly recommended.  Though they don't taste like a traditional cookie, these cookies combine chocolate and peanut butter (SCORE!) and the oats give them a crispy touch.  Not too shabby if you ask me...

Peanut Butter + Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Trader Joe's Rolled Oats Package

  • 1/4 C. butter
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 3 C. rolled oats
  • 3/4 C. brown sugar
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C. chopped nuts (I omitted.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 C. peanut butter 
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, and butter and beat until creamy.  
  3. Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda and mix well.  
  4. Add peanut butter and mix.
  5. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and nuts.
  6. Scoop teaspoon of dough onto greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly brown on edges.  



Thought for the Week: Be Brave


When was the last time you really needed to be brave?  During my recent weeks of "over thinking," I asked myself this question more than a few times and the answer surprised me.  It occurred to me that I encounter small situations frequently that involve some degree of courage, but being truly brave isn't something with which I'm overly familiar.  

For most of my life, I've made safe and predictable choices.  The big decisions in my life have been carefully weighed, and without fail I've chosen the least risky and most responsible paths.  Now don't get me wrong- I wouldn't change a thing about my life or the experiences I've had thus far.  My only point is that I never went through a rebellious stage.  I never made the choices that had anything less than very clear and safe outcomes.  Risk taking is not in my DNA, and it's worked out pretty well for me thus far.  

Last week, however, I made a decision that took me to the edge of my courage and pushed me into bravery.  After weeks of debate, I decided not to pursue a career opportunity with an amazing team.  Every ounce of my responsible self wanted to take the job, but the career path and timing weren't right.  In an uncharacteristic move, I said no to the secure job, and I started working with Josh at HeroMe.  (Yes, you read that right - this "play it safe" girl turned down a steady job to join a start-up...maybe pigs do fly?!)

I know to some this might seem like a silly, overblown decision.  I can safely say, however, that this was the hardest choice I've ever made.  In general I am decisive, opinionated, and I know what I want.  But in this case, I was confused, scared, and felt like there wasn't a clear path to follow.  I spent more hours than I care to recall in prayer, asking for signs, and having internal debates with myself.  Now that I've made a decision, I'm at peace with my choice.  I feel the freedom to pursue opportunities that I love and that fit with my stage of life, and I feel so blessed to get to work with Josh everyday.  I don't know what the next few weeks, months, or years will hold, but I do know that I moved from courage into bravery when I said no.   

Before I close this post, I should note that the type of bravery I've described here is completely relative to my own life and experiences.  I know that I am blessed beyond measure, and I am fully aware that there are people out there who face much harder, tougher situations with more bravery than I can ever, ever hope to have.  To those truly brave ones - those facing illnesses, deployments, and hardships that I can't begin to imagine - thank you for being a wonderful example.



A Day for Love

Happy Valentine's Day!  Josh and I aren't into celebrating Valentine's Day, but we are planning to enjoy a fun dinner at home tonight.  I'll be making one of our favorites - greek shrimp, and maybe even some GF brownies.  (Lucky Josh, right?!)  

In all seriousness, I do think Valentine's Day is a wonderful reminder to celebrate the different friends, family members, and loves in your life - romantic or friendly.  Life can get so busy and hectic that it's easy to forget to tell someone you appreciate them, you care about them, or that you love them.  So take a moment today to slow down.  Hug your family.  Call up an old friend.  Smile at someone on your commute.  There aren't many days out there set aside to celebrate love, so let's make the most of this one.  

Happy Weekend!



Be My Last Minute Valentine?

donut // chocolate // flowers // champagne // note

I know, I know...none of you could have possibly forgotten that tomorrow is Valentine's Day. 
 BUT, just in case you did, don't panic.  Here's a game plan with plenty of options...

1. Swing by the grocery (or your favorite donut chain) and grab a donut or two.  Write a note that says "Donut you know you're my favorite?  Happy Valentine's Day!"  Prepare to be told how thoughtful you are for the next 364 days.

2. Chocolate is never a bad idea...and it doesn't need to be fancy.  A giant Reese's heart will often do the trick.  Extra points if you add cute phrases to the candy you pick. (ie: "Life would be SOUR without you" on a pack of Sour Patch Kids or "You bring me so much JOY" on an Almond Joy bar.)

3. Pick up a bunch of flowers at the grocery store or flower market.  These don't have to be expensive.  Even carnations or mums (gasp - I know) can look expensive and pretty when they are the same color and height.  Whatever you do- don't buy the pre-made bouquet of different cheap flowers though...stick with the 3 for $12 option in one color and variety, cut them to the same height, and pop them in a vase.  
4. Bring home a bottle of some fancy champagne (Perrier Jouet is a personal favorite.)  No worries if you wind up drinking it with pizza...it's all about creating a celebratory vibe.  

5.  Finally, never underestimate the power of a handwritten love note.  Take some time to think about the recipient, why you love them, and TELL them.  One of my most cherished possessions is a note Josh wrote me when we were engaged...I carry it with me in my wallet everywhere I go.  

Happy almost Valentine's Day!



favorite things: charlotte edition

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 and shade // 6

As I mentioned last Friday, we spent the weekend celebrating one of our favorite couples- in Charlotte! While we were there, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to re-visit some of my favorite spots and do a teeny bit of shopping.  Charlotte's got plenty of options for amazing shopping, so I had to be a bit strategic about my time (and geography.)  

My first stop was Trader Joes.  I stocked up on plenty of dried fruit, gluten free oatmeal, wine and these incredible chocolate chip cookies.  I might be a convert from homemade- these really are incredible.  They are super crispy and buttery - the only downside is that I could eat an entire bag in one sitting!  Sometimes you just have to sacrifice...

Next up was Handpicked in Dilworth.  I used to go to Handpicked for all of my gift giving needs.  They have tons of jewelry, scarves, bags, monogrammed gifts, and other fun things, and I can usually find the perfect thing.  This time I picked up this tan bag with a pop of neon.  It looks much more expensive than it is, it has tons of pockets, it's neutral with a twist - just perfect.

Saturday afternoon, I had about an hour and I wanted to stop into the Southpark mall.  The Southpark mall is huge and has TONS of amazing stores, but I knew I needed to be smart about my time.  So, I went to my old standby- Belk.  I know that doesn't sound that exciting, but the Belk in Charlotte is incredible.  They have tons of designers, great sales, and a selection that is unbeatable.  While I was there I spied a line by Leslie Evers.  She makes cute dresses that remind me of Trina Turk at half the price.  I loved this aqua number - it's casual, but thick enough fabric to keep you feeling polished but comfy.  I might remove the belt, but either way it's adorable.  Be sure to check out her other patterned pieces as well.  I also found this pair of jeans on super sale.  They are stretchy but hold their shape - the two most important criteria for jeans in my opinion!

Finally, I had to visit Dean and DeLuca.  I scored some of the GF Cup for Cup flour that Thomas Keller developed, and I can't wait to use it.  I also grabbed a "grown up soda" - dry cranberry and lime, and loved it.  Definitely a sugary drink, but a fun treat nonetheless.  It would also be perfect to have on hand as a "mocktail" for any of my pregnant friends out there.  

My last favorites aren't from Charlotte, but they are things I've had my eye on for a few weeks.  These Jeffrey Campbell heels are perfect for Spring, and I'm thinking of asking for them for my birthday.  I also love this Nate Berkus lamp for Target, and it's sitting in our Florida room on a test run right now.  It's a pretty gold during the day, and picks up the green in the room at night.  

I know that's tons of commentary on a favorite things post, but I just had to share.  Happy Wednesday!

Linking up with Morgan and the BIRTHDAY GIRL, Annie!



pizza pizza

What's not to love about pizza?  Warm bread, melty cheese, and decadent toppings.  When we lived in North Carolina, Josh and I ate pizza (from the same place) at least once a week.  It was usually our Sunday night splurge (or saving grace), while pulling into town from a weekend away.  Moving to Florida has had plenty of advantages, but we have yet to find a pizza place down here that compares to our old favorite.  

Several months ago, I picked up some pizza dough from the bakery section of Publix on a whim.  I went with the dough ball that has to be formed and shaped with some pretty intense rolling.  Not quite sure what I would do with the dough, I threw some figs into my cart and headed on my way home.  A few days later, I pulled the dough from the freezer and inspiration hit - fig, goat cheese, and balsalmic glaze would make a near perfect pizza.  Healthy?  No.   Delicious?  Yes.  

After that fateful night, I've been hooked.  I love rolling out the pizza dough and being creative with toppings.  One of my favorites is the addition of arugula tossed lightly in lemon juice to the top of an otherwise plain pizza.  

As a disclaimer: I am still eating gluten free, and haven't made too many (read: any) pizzas in the past month.  I bought some GF pizza crust flour made by Thomas Keller last weekend, so I am betting it will make a darn good GF dough.  More to come on that, but in the meantime I wanted to share these favorite combinations with you all so you can enjoy.

Homemade White Pizza


  • Pizza Dough (I prefer the dough ball from the bakery section of Publix.  I've tried Whole Foods as well, but Publix is my favorite.)
  • Flour for rolling out the dough
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese (It's worth it to use the fresh ball, not the pre-shredded)
  • Shredded mozzarella, parmesan, or other cheese of your choice
  • Toppings of your choice: 
    • Figs
    • Goat Cheese
    • Pears
    • Proscuitto
    • Arugula*
    • Truffle Oil**
*Toss lightly in lemon juice and add to top of fully cooked pizza.  
**Drizzle lightly over fully cooked pizza to finish.  

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour.  Lay thawed pizza dough on counter and roll into a circle or square about 1/4 inch thick.  Transfer pizza dough to a baking sheet or pizza stone.  (I use a baking sheet and silpat.)
  3. Mix olive oil and garlic in a small bowl.  Brush mixture onto pizza dough, taking care to spread evenly to the edges.  
  4. Slice fresh mozzarella into 6-8 thin slices.  Spread evenly over the dough.  Top with shredded cheese of your choice.  (The amount of cheese here is personal preference.  I love cheese, so I usually cover most of the dough with cheese.)
  5. Add other toppings as desired.  See above for my favorite combinations
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until dough is golden and cheese is bubbly.  Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.




original via

Welcome to the almost weekend!  We have another round of celebrating to look forward to, enjoying time with far flung friends and toasting the engagement of one of the cutest couples I know.  

We couldn't be happier for you G+L, and we can't wait to enjoy the weekend with you!

In other news, I'm hoping to sneak in some weekend fun by making a trek to Trader Joes (I discovered the best GF chocolate chip cookies there), stopping into one of my favorite spots to buy jewelry and gifts, trying out a blow-dry bar, and maybe even "brunching" at an old standby.  It's looking to be a fun weekend whether or not the sun breaks through these persistent clouds. 

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.



Red, White (diamonds) & Blue

 dress // earrings // ring // bag // shoes // lip gloss

The opening events of the 2014 Winter Olympics start today!  (Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow night at 8pm.)  The Summer Olympics are my favorite, but I will take any Olympic event I can get, and I can't wait to see our athletes take to the snow and ice.  

As tribute to Team USA, I put together a little red, white (diamond), and blue outfit for you today.  Add in some gold accents (and earrings that look a little like gold medals) to really show off your team spirit.  

Are you as crazy about the Olympics as me?  Will you watch any of the events?



Favorite Things: Pointy Flats

 1 // 2 // 3 (TONS of colors) // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 (A STEAL) // 8 
Lately, I've been loving pointy toed flats!  While I still have a soft spot for D'Orsay flats, there is something so classic about styles that cover more of the foot.  The pointed toe is the perfect compliment to ankle length pants, and it does wonders for lengthening the line of your leg.  (If you have short legs like me - this is KEY.) 

All of these options are budget friendly - all but the patterned pair are under $100!  While I usually don't mind investing a little more in shoes, I am hard on flats and usually look for budget friendly buys like these.  I also love the idea of metallics and tans as neutrals.  I think its the perfect way to freshen up a look for the coming warm weather month.

Wondering if I can just buy them all...?!

Linking up with Annie and Morgan for Wishlist Wednesday.



gremolata stuffed chicken

My adventures in gluten free living have continued, and I finally have a moment to share one of my new favorite recipes with you.  I bought my first gluten free cookbook a few weeks back, and decided to dive right in with this gremolata stuffed chicken.  It is delicious and full of flavor, and I think it is well worth the added effort of making the stuffing.  There is something about Italian and Mediterranean foods that makes them always worth the extra effort...  The only tricky part (for me) was finding boneless chicken breasts with the skin ON.  Whole Foods kindly deboned a few chicken breasts for me, and with a few extra minutes at the meat counter I was on my way.  Give this one a try and let me know what you think.

Gremolata Stuffed Chicken
Recipe from The Gluten Free Kitchen Cookbook

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts with skin ON
  • 1 C. flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbs. baby capers, rinsed well and drained (I used regular capers- not sure what makes a caper a "baby caper?")
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed (I used my ever faithful pre-chopped garlic.)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. finely chopped preserved lemon peel (Again, wasn't sure how to preserve lemon peel- so I just used lemon zest.)
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place parsley, capers, garlic, lemon peel in a bowl.  Rub in softened butter using your fingers.
  3. Separate chicken breast from skin by pushing your fingers or rolling the handle of a wooden spoon under the skin to lift and separate it from the flesh.  (This was tricky for me- I wound up with some skin more separated, but I just stretched it back over the meat as much as I could.)  Spread a quarter of the stuffing under the skin of each breast.  Pat skin back into original shape.  Brush chicken liberally with melted butter and oil.  Season with fresh salt and pepper.
  4. Heat skillet over medium high heat and brown chicken skin-side down.  Turn chicken and brown other side.  Transfer chicken to baking sheet and pour over any remaining butter mixture from the skillet.  Bake chicken breasts for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through.
  5. Remove chicken from oven and cover loosely with foil.  Rest chicken for a few minutes before slicing and serving.  Slice each breast on an angle.  Drizzle with pan juices to finish.  
Serve with cheesy polenta, roasted tomatoes, and grilled zucchini.  



Thought for the Week: Friendship

I know I don't need to tell you all this, but friendship is a beautiful thing.  Over the years, I have been blessed by friendships in numerous varieties.  Some for a season, some for a lifetime, some serious, and some totally random.  Regardless of the type, I find myself immeasurably blessed by the differences in each.

This weekend, I had the chance to have what one relative termed a "social weekend."  I bounced from baby shower to baby shower, to dinner parties, to girls lunches, and to super bowl viewings.  While these events afforded different types and levels of interaction, I always left with a bounce in my step and a feeling of contentment and love for my friends.  

Quick snippets of conversation between oohing and ahhing over a soft lamb or ruffled onesie provided the perfect check-in moments with new friends.  Chatting at a dinner party with a wonderful cousin (Hi, V!) left me feeling blessed, challenged, and inspired to read more books and blogs (and wishing NYC was closer...)  A "quick" phone call to one of my oldest and dearest friends allowed me to celebrate some of the little (and some of the BIG) changes happening in her life.  Each interaction was different and varied, but the common themes were there: friendship, celebration, and being interested in the life, thoughts, and opinions of someone other than yourself.  

I think that's the secret to great friendships.  It's not in the proximity, the number of times you talk each week, or the things you have in common.  It's more about the willingness to invest in someone else.  It's about celebrating babies, work promotions, and new houses.  But it's also about listening (and asking) about the more mundane things in life - those things we all face and sometimes just need to laugh about so we don't scream.  

So here is an open thank you to all of those wonderful friends.  Thank you for listening, asking, laughing, crying, and spending time on the celebrations and on the mundane.  Your friendship has blessed me more than words can express.  I'm one lucky lady and hope you all know how loved you are.