Cranberry, Pecan, and White Cheddar Cheese Ball Recipe

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This post is about cheese, what more do you need to know?

This summer has been filled with a lot of wine and toasting. What goes good with wine? Cheese. (Actually what doesn’t go with cheese?) This savory and sweet cheese ball goes well with both white wine and red wine as well as fun conversations with girl friends or long talks on docks with your love. (I made this cheese ball for both a girls’ night in as well as our anniversary trip to the Finger Lakes.)

It’s easy. Super easy. So if you’re still looking for a last-minute recipe to make for a Fourth of July get together you’ve found it!

I hope you all have a fun long weekend celebrating with friends and family. My best friend gets married this Saturday and I’m a ball of emotions. It’s going to be a beautiful wedding weekend. Think of me as I nervously await my Matron of Honor speech – I’m terrified of public speaking!  But in all seriousness, I can’t wait to celebrate her and her love all weekend long. They are the most adorable couple.  Cheers to them! 

Now go and enjoy some wine with this awesome cheese ball:

Cranberry, Pecan, and White Cheddar Cheese Ball:

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 Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Chopped Pecans
  • 8 ounces of Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 8 ounces, weight Shredded Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1-½ cup Dried Cranberries

Directions:

  • Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the chopped pecans evenly over the baking pan and bake for 5 minutes.
  • In a mixer, beat together the softened cream cheese and the shredded white cheddar cheese. 
  • Add in the pecans, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Mix until everything is well blended. About 5 minutes. 
  • Remove the mixture from the mixer and form it into a ball. Wrap the ball in Saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes. (I did mine the night before and let it sit in the fridge over night because of timing)
  • Remove the cheese ball from the fridge and remove the Saran wrap. Cover the cheese ball in dried cranberries. You will have to push the cranberries into the cheese ball to secure them into place.
  • Serve with crackers and enjoy! 

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spread 
xoxo Katie

St. Patrick’s Day Fun! (and Bailey’s Brownies)

St. Patrick's Day Street Festival

Happy St. Patrick’s day everyone! I hope you are able to let your inner Irish out (hey, everyone’s Irish on March 17!) and celebrate. You know I love any good reason to celebrate and dress, cook, decorate with a theme.

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Ryan and I celebrated with friends at a local street festival. We donned our brightest green outfits and took in some Irish music and dancing and of course drinks. It was so lovely to be outside and in the sunshine. Before we headed to the festival we enjoyed some drinks and snacks at home, including these fun Bailey’s Brownies

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(bonus: they are a weight watchers recipe! Scroll to the bottom for the recipe). The festival provided ample people watching, good laughs, and the oppurtunity to dance in the middle of one of our cities busiest streets. Sláinte!

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Lancaster St. Patrick's day street festival

katie and ryan couple at St. Patrick's Day

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Low-Fat Bailey’s Brownies

low fat weight watcher's baileys brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup  flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • About 2/3 cup chopped white chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
  • Green food dye

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, Baileys, vanilla and applesauce together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in 1/3 cup white chocolate chunk pieces.
  4. Pour the batter into the greased pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  5. Bake for about 18 minutes. Let cool completely.
  6. Once brownies are completely cool, heat remaining white chocolate in a microwave safe dish for about 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds. Add oil to the chocolate and stir. Add food dye.
  7. Glaze the brownies with the green white chocolate.

One Brownie – 4 Weight Watchers Points. (makes 16 brownies)

Today we woke up to another blanket of snow. (Just when all the old snow melted!) Hopefully this is the last. Spring IS coming. How are you (or did you) celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day?

xoxo Katie

A Simple New Year’s Eve

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Happy 2014!

The past two days have been full of countless toasts, hopes, and inspirations for the New Year. We had a blast ringing in 2014 at one of our favorite places – our home. I honestly think that last time I celebrated New Years at home was back when I was in high school. We all know I like a good party and any excuse to drink champagne and wear sequins.

In the past I always wanted to try new things on New Years – I’ve done the all-inclusive dance parties, the warehouse parties, the house parties, the gayborhood bar hopping, the ski lodge trip, and the tropical island trip. Most have been disappointments (oh except for the tropical island one – last years New Years in Puerto Rico was unforgettable). Yes, I have fun memories with girlfriends but usually the bad outweighs the good. There is too much stress over what to do, what to wear, who to kiss at midnight, and how long it takes to get a drink at the bar. The night usually ended in some combination of exhaustion, being broke,  tears, and regret.  How is that any way to start a New Year?

This year I switched it up a bit. Back in the Fall we decided to spend New Years Eve at home with just the two of us. The fall was a busy time traveling around seeing friends. We wanted to wake up in our own bed and have the night to ourselves. Simplify – one thing I plan to achieve this year.

I rearranged our furniture and made it so we would spend the night eating and drinking upon a huge pile of blankets and pillows in our living room surrounded my candles and strung up twinkle lights. It converted out little home into a cozy, romantic, love nest for the night. We dressed up a bit, made some favorite appetizers, and toasted the night away.

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We eventually changed into sweats and watched a few episodes of Breaking Bad (yeah we’re a little late to that party!) before the clock struck midnight. I was so happy to use our Champagne flutes from our wedding and as we clinked our glasses after midnight we shared our hopes for the New Year. We facetimed with family and were in bed by 1:30. (On a side note, my parents were up partying until 2:30 …hmmm how things change!)

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On New Year’s Day we hosted my family for the traditional New Years Dinner. We loved welcoming everyone into our home and feasting together. It was a great way to welcome 2014.

I may just be getting old, but I loved staying in together.

Happy New Year! The best is yet to come!

xoxo katie

Celebrating in NYC

Sometimes life has a way of throwing you subtle reminders of what is important in our little lives. This weekend that reminder was given to me by a screaming mentally ill street person in the East Village. But let me regress…

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I spent the weekend in NYC celebrating the 30th birthday of one of my best friends, Jeanette. Being in NYC at Christmastime, you find yourself surrounded by all the glamorized Christmas cheer – the tree, the ice skating, the window displays, the pop up Christmas tree vendors, the chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The thousands upon thousands of people. I was so excited to get off the train, find my friend a few blocks away and start celebrating. And then I stepped foot into Penn Station and wanted to escape the swarms of stressed out and angry people.

Walking the three blocks to the subway station to meet Jeanette took longer than my commute to work. People were just standing in the streets looking around and NOT moving. The idea of staying in this midtown crowd and attempting to walk to Rockefeller Plaza was dismissed as easily as the idea of eating sauerkraut for the rest of my life. Once we finally made it onto the Subway, we felt like smushed cattle and were sweating like pigs. Not exaggerating. I was literally counting the seconds in my head until we reached our stop. I don’t know how anyone could live in Midtown NY and brave doing any errands during the month of December. All the things that could be enjoyable were not.

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No, This picture does not document the crowds that were around Macy’s and Penn Station.

We literally jumped out of the subway and ran up the stairs and were greeted with the much more friendly and livable NY that I love, the East Village. Although I couldn’t live here now, the village always fills me with romantic thoughts of what life could have been like had I chosen to go to school in the city and lived the bohemian life as a poet. (everyone had a crazy dream like that, right?!). I love the vast array of cafes, bars, boutiques, and pop up street shops, and the fact that there are zero crowds anywhere. Jeanette also asked for perfect weather, and mother nature did not disappoint. We were greeted with beautiful 70 degree weather on the weekend before Christmas.

We and two other girl friends rented out an apartment from AirBnB. With a refrigerator, bathroom, and two beds it suited our needs. We were ready for a night of roaming the streets and bar hopping. Girls’ weekends are like a little retreat. A time to recharge your girly batteries and laugh about silly things. I got a serious workout this weekend by laughing alone. I hardly took any photos – the night flew by.

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After we shared two bottles of the finest champagne (ie J Rogets at $7.99 a bottle – still on a tight budget at 30!) we hit up a Cuban place for dinner. Other highlights included a few champagne cocktails at the French inspired Bougioues Pig, bourban drinks at the highly pretentious speak easy themed Death and Co. and finishing the night as the oldest people in the bar at The Library (but thank god for cheap drinks!).

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As I end my 30th year, I am definitly starting to feel older. My hangovers are more intense, I get tired very easily, food sticks to my hips like superglue, I choose staying home over going out and yoga pants over tight dresses and I managed to go out in NY without going broke or feeling like death the next morning. It was pretty fantastic! I’m all about being a thirty-something. Aging is something to be proud about. Twenties were a confusing and fun mess, thirties feels like a new life is starting.

No, I didn’t forget about that subtle reminder life threw my way this weekend:

As we were walking out to get provisionals for the evening (cheese and Champagne), life handed me my subtle reminder. While crossing Houston St we crossed paths with a man who could barely stand up straight and looked like he just drank his weight in grain alcohol screaming “I’M AWAKE! I’M WALKING!”

How true dear man. How true.

Yes, this is the gift we should be most happy for. To have the ability to wake up every day, to go out into this world and make the most of it. We are given the gift of living – the rest is up to us. We are blessed with the power of freedom and choice. As long as you are awake and walking you have the power to choose how you want to live your life. Go out and be and that person. Don’t waste another minute.

I’m going to embrace my life.

xoxo katie

 

Cheers to you! {The Poinsettia Cocktail}

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Linking up with Amber (Mr. Thomas and Me) and Erin’s (Hooley with a Z12 Days of Blogging Christmas link up.

Today’s prompt:“Holiday Cocktail”

Let’s give three cheers for it being the weekend before Christmas!!! I’m sure there are a lot of holiday parties and celebrations this weekend. I love any reason to celebrate! Every little milestone deserves a little attention and I love creating and naming cocktails for every special occasion. Life is too short – toast everyday! This is why I believe you should always have a bottle of Champagne in your fridge – ready to pop whenever life surprises you!

Today I’m sharing a favorite holiday cocktail, pictured above, and of course the main ingredient is bubbly!

Come join me by the tree and let’s toast to the holiday season with my Poinsettia Cocktail!

1 oz. Chambord  liqueur
4 oz. sparkling Champagne
1/2 oz. cranberry juice

Pour the sparkling wine into a champagne glass. Over that, pour the Chambord and the cranberry juice.

Light, refreshing, and perfect for any special occasion.

And speaking of something to toast to! I’m now offering sponsorships for fellow bloggers, shops, or authors! Now through Christmas take 50% off all sponsorships (all priced under $5 originally) with code: LOVECHRISTMAS

(but act quick! This sale is only offered to the first 5 takers!)

We have a lot to toast to in this upcoming week. Ryan is currently completing is last final exam of this semester. Cheers to only 3 semesters of Law School left! Tomorrow I’m heading up to NYC for the weekend to celebrate best friends thirtieth birthday and then Sunday the Christmas festivities kick off as my brother and his wife are going to be in town. Can’t wait for a few days of relaxing time with family and friends. That’s my favorite part of the holidays – being together and celebrating.

What are you toasting to this Christmas?

xoxo katie

Weekend Wrap Up – 90’s party in DC

Hello hello hello!

I’m having an exhausted Monday morning after a fun-filled weekend. Friday night started off with a celebration for my Pop Pop’s 88th Birthday. I joined him for dinner and a nice one on one visit. Then the rest of the family and some friends came over for cake and ice cream. At 88, Pop Pop is still as vibrant and full of love as ever. I spent some time interviewing him. Stay tuned later this week for a fun video of wisdom from Pop Pop!

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While visiting him at his lovely retirement communty, I learned that Emma Stone’s (girl crush alert!) grandmother is also a resident. In fact, Emma Stone visits frequently and showed my love for Lancaster in this nice article in the community’s magazine:

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Fun, right?!

On Saturday, Ryan and I went to Washington DC to visit my best friend and college roommate Laura! Of course we couldn’t visit any museums to due to government shut down, but we had fun enjoying the beautiful 85 degree weather! I love Laura’s cute neighborhood and all the colorful row homes.  We had a front stoop BBQ with some Old Fashioneds.

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Emily, Laura, and Ryan

We then go ready for a 90’s Party!!! Kel (from Kennan and Kel, All That, Good Burger fame) was hosting a awesome and tacky 90’s party at the most frat boyish bar ever. And we just HAD to be there. There is nothing more that Laura and I enjoy more than a good costume party!

So we got all jazzed up in our best 90’s gear and did our hair in the best Spice Girls’ style. FYI – my hair crimper from 1989 still works!

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90's party

ryan and katie 90's party

You can bet we got some good stares on our 30 minute walk to the bar.

Once we arrived, we imbibed in some Pop Rocks cocktails and rocked out to some good 90’s jams. Too bad most of the people there were like 5 in the 90’s and most of their outfits were not even close to being 90’s themed. Nice try, kids. Like for instance — Heath Ledger’s 2008 joker showed up — um what about Jack Nicholson joker instead?

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No! Not from the nineties!

Kel finally showed up. He was so sweaty and gross.  I should have asked him if he’s heard from Amanda Bynes lately…

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Ah what a night!!

Sunday we had a nice little brunch and walked around the city before driving home.

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After a full month of weekend travels Ryan and I are both ready for a quiet weekend at home. I love getting around and visiting friends but boy am I ready to do things around the house and explore our own lovely city.

xoxo katie