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Wedding Wednesday – Postal Service Update

As wedding stationers we are very thankful for the United States Postal Service and can’t imagine sending invitations any other way! They have just announced however that as of August 1, 2013 they will no longer deliver mail on Saturdays. While this shouldn’t effect mailing invitations much it’s something to be aware of when selecting your RSVP date. Hopefully it will help keep the post office up and running for years to come as they estimate a savings of 2 billion dollars by eliminating Saturday delivery!

Also, as of last week stamps increased by a penny again so if you bought lovely wedding postage and haven’t used it yet (assuming it’s not Forever style) then you’ll need to purchase an additional 1cent stamp to make sure it gets there! Always check with the post office before sending out invitations as the size, shape and weight are all factors for cost as well!

Tasty Thursday – Ina’s Chicken Chili

Ina’s Chicken Chili is one of my favorite dishes! It’s delicious all year round and goes great with cornbread! Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
  • 1/8 cup minced garlic
  • 2 red bell peppers cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 2 green bell peppers cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano diced tomatoes
  • 4 chicken breasts
  •  Freshly ground black pepper

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.?Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Cut it into 3/4-inch chunks.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  4. Add the bell peppers, chili powder cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add chicken to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.
  7. Serve with the toppings – sour cream, cheese, etc.

 

 

* Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa

* Photo courtesy of Not Without Salt blog

 

 

Tasty Tuesday – Maple Pecan Pie

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! It’s hard to believe it’s January already! I have several recipes from the last few weeks that I am dying to share and am going to start with one divine desert! I have been intimidated by pecan pie for quite some time. I’ve not always been a fan because oftentimes the taste is off and I think I figured it out – corn syrup! This recipe calls for pure Vermont maple syrup instead. It makes it quite a pricey pie but trust me, for special occasions this is a beauty!

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie, recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 rolled-out round of basic pie dough
  • 2 cups pure maple syrup, Grade B*
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
  • a healthy splash (ok, a shot) of Bourbon – we used Old Granddad because it was in the liquor cabinet at my in-laws, not sure they actually make that anymore but age matters in bourbon right? It sure tasted good!

* A great note about syrup courtesy of WS: Pure maple syrup, made from the boiled sap of the sugar maple tree, comes in three grades. Grade A Light or Fancy syrup, sometimes called Grade AA, is clear gold and has a wonderfully subtle flavor, but its delicate character does not hold up in cooking. Grade B syrup is produced only in Vermont and has more maple flavor than Grade A. Sometimes called “baking” or “cooking” maple syrup, it is ideal for use in this recipe. Grade C has a robust, molasses-like flavor and is used primarily in making commercial table syrups.

DIRECTIONS

Press homemade pie dough into pie pan, flute the edges and if you have extra dough use cookie cutters to create flourish pieces!

Refrigerate or freeze the pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F.

Line the pastry shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or raw short-grain rice. If you’re going to use rice, use a lot of it! I did not and my crust was very puffy. Bake for 20 minutes, then lift an edge of the foil. If the dough looks wet, continue to bake, checking every 5 minutes, until the dough is pale gold, for a total baking time of 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the maple syrup to a boil and boil for 8 to 10 minutes to reduce. Make sure to watch the pan as this can get really big, really fast! Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof measuring pitcher. The syrup should be reduced to 1 1/2 cups. If necessary, return the syrup to the saucepan and continue to boil until sufficiently reduced. Let cool to room temperature before proceeding.

In a bowl, stir together the eggs, brown sugar, reduced maple syrup, salt, melted butter, vanilla, and bourbon until well mixed. Add the pecans and stir well. Pour into the partially baked pie shell, making sure the pecans are evenly distributed.

Bake the pie until the center is slightly puffed and firm to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until just slightly warm, about 1 1/2 hours, before serving. This step is very important, the syrups need time to gel and harden. I didn’t wait long enough on Christmas so we ate soupy pie, delicious pie but a bit soupy! Not my best presentation!

Serve with homemade whipped cream and enjoy!

Gift Guide – Giving Back

While we’re sharing gift ideas for our friends and family let’s not forget that this is the season of giving. There are a myriad of charities to donate to so we decided to share some of our favorites. Donating to your favorite charity is also a great way to share on your wedding day!

Please feel free to comment and let us know where you send good tidings!

Sandy Hook Elementary

This holiday season I think Sandy Hook Elementary is top of mind for most of us. This is one of the easiest and most thoughtful ways to send thoughts and love to the victims and family members who have suffered from this horrific targedy. The Connecticut PTSA has met with the PTA and community leaders in Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary and are spearheading the following efforts on their behalf:

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook
Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school! Get Creative!!  No two snowflakes are alike. Make and send snowflakes to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT  06514, by January 12, 2013.

Coins for Sandy Hook
Students can collect spare change to support their peers at Sandy Hook.  Other fundraising ideas include Walk- A -Thons, Spirit Days, Pajama Days, etc.

Please send contributions to “Connecticut PTSA Sandy Hook Fund” by February 14, 2013.

Ongoing Fundraising Efforts
Donations are being accepted indefinitely to the: “Connecticut PTSA Sandy Hook Fund” to support the ongoing needs of the Sandy Hook Community. Send checks to “Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514.

Mail snowflakes or donations to: Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514.  Phone: 203-281-6617

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the East Coast this year and the relief efforts are still heavily underway. There are many ways to donate and we’d love to hear your ideas! For now, visit the Red Cross or HSRF to learn how you can help.

ASPCA

Pups are near and dear to our heart as Tucker is part of the family. Donate to ASPCA and help all of the homeless and sick furry friends out there.

Any Soldier

This was my donation of choice last year and I think it’s really important to remember our those who are fighting for our freedom. Any Solider  is an excellent way to support our troops and send them holiday cheer. Visit Lovely Little Deatails’ blog to see how to donate.

Heifer International

Kate Spade herself turned me on to Heifer International. How can you give a gift of hope to a family across the world? Partner with Heifer International to do it! Your gift will help provide livestock, seeds, or training to a family struggling with hunger and poverty. Visit their website for more info!

Gift Guide – for the Martha of the house

Our favorite gifts for the Martha of the house!

Who doesn’t want a professional gift wrap cutter?! This has my name written all over it!

Available at Grandinroad for $69.

Wouldn’t this make life easier? It’s the little things that count.

Available at Best Buy. 

Remember my meringue mess last year? If I had a Mauviel Copper Bowl I think we could have avoided that!

Available at Sur la Table

I’m obsessed with these sheets! What a perfect addition to the home at Christmas time!

Available at Garnet Hill

The most beautifully scented candle of all times. Matt and I first discovered these after we had a New Year’s Eve cooking snafu!

Available at Thymes

Give someone a luxurious throw that can wrap up in when the weather is oh so cold out! We’re in love with this herringbone throw from Serena & Lily!

Available at Serena & Lily

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