Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, everyone! I encourage you to take a moment to acknowledge how far you've come this year. Cheer for the things that went right and reflect, and learn from the things that didn't go your way. Remember 2016 may be ending, but your story is just beginning.

May your holidays be merry and bright!


What's the One Thing You Wouldn't Change about Yourself?

The new year is a mere two weeks away and that means many people are hoping for a blank slate. Enter the new year resolution, along with the never-ending goal to try to somehow find the willpower to resist temptation. But for once, let's table the constant pursuit for self-improvement. What if this year, we focused on the qualities we actually like about ourselves?

I'll go first ;) 

One of the things I've always admired about myself is that I've never taken drugs, although I've been in situations where I've been pressured to. And you know what? I never will. I like that about myself! It's like my own personal badge of honor. 

Your turn...What's the one thing you wouldn't change about yourself?

Say it loud, say it proud!


Affordable Christmas Gift Ideas

Photo: Terrain

'Tis the season for giving! But great gift-giving doesn't have to break the bank. It just means you have to spend a little more time thinking about what the recipient in your life wants or needs. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Best of all, most of these products are from Amazon. Good luck ;)

This beautiful personalized mug from TinyPrints. Also, get 25% off plus free shipping on holiday cards and other items. This offer expires 12/31/16

Get discounted holiday cards at Minted, too

What about doorbuster holiday deals on sport items from Fanatics?

Action figures for the little or not-so-little superhero in your life

Give him or her your regards to broadway with Hamilton's original broadway cast recording

What girl wouldn't kill for these cellphone camera lenses?

I bet she'd also go wild over this pink instant camera!

This mini portable charger for the special guy in your life that's always on-the-go

Why not get him this sleek wireless headphone while you're at it?

For your mom who can never seem to find her laundry bag

Dad would certainly get a kick out of this beer cooler


Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo: Honestly Yum

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Forget dieting and have a week full of delicious food and gut-busting laughter. 

Side note: I met David one year ago today. Happy anniversary, baby 😘


The Best Spiked Pumpkin Cheesecake Pumpkin Pie You'll Ever Have!

Over the years, I've repeatedly tweaked my pumpkin cheesecake pie recipe, and not to tune my own horn—but I think it has finally reached ultimate status. Whoop, whoop!

So without further ado, here's my updated and foolproof spiked pumpkin cheesecake pie recipe. I Hope you enjoy some version of it this upcoming Thanksgiving!

Ingredients (for two pies)

2 cans of pumpkin purée 
2 pounds of cream cheese
1 cup of sour cream
1 stick of butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 cup of light brown sugar
1/4 cup of honey
or granulated sugar
Pinch of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 teaspoon of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest
3 eggs
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of coconut milk
Splash of quality dark rum 
Pre-made pie dough


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prick pre-made pie dough with a fork and bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is brown in color. Remove and set aside.

For the filling:

Whisk heavy cream, coconut milk, rum, lemon zest, eggs, butter and vanilla extract together in a large bowl until well blended. Combine pumpkin puree, cream cheese, sour cream, baking powder, flour, sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a pan and cook on low heat for 10 minutes or until thickened.  

Remove pan from the heat and slowly incorporate cream mixture with a hand whisk.

Optional: transfer mixture into food processor for smoother consistency.
Pour mixture into pre-made pie crust and bake for 55 minutes or until the center is set. Cool at room temperature and serve warm with whipped cream. 

Bon appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!


My Ultimate Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

For some, the turkey is the star of Thanksgiving dinner. It inspires speculation and awe, but most often than not, it can be a complete letdown. There's nothing worse than gazing ravenously at a golden brown turkey only to have that anticipation peter out as you bite into something that mimics the texture of cardboard.

I've come to think of myself as the turkey whisperer! But I didn't get this sure of my gobble-gobble skills without a lot of trial and error, and deep frustration. It took me years to master my ultimate turkey recipe and it has been a staple on my family's Thanksgiving table ever since.

 Photos: Honestly Yum

I've gotten so many inquiries from family members and friends alike about how I manage to get such a flavorful bird each year. My secret weapon is so simple; I brine it. Brining is a process in which you steep poultry into seasoned water before cooking. If you've never brined your turkey before, I encourage you to give it a try this year. I promise you won't regret it.  Let's get started!

Ingredients (for a 16 pound turkey)

For the brine:
2 cups of salt
4 gallons of water
Black peppercorns
1 head of garlic
Scotch bonnet peppers (use your desired amount)
6 Carrots
2 large onions
6 celery stems
One clean 5-gallon bucket

For the aromatics:

*Thaw the turkey a day before making the brine.

At least two days before Thanksgiving, combine water, salt, peppercorns, garlic, scotch bonnet peppers, carrots, onions and celery in a large pot—boil the solution over medium heat. Cook until all the flavors are well incorporated into the water. Note: the water should be salty. Remove the solution from the heat and cool it down to room temperature.

Next, remove the innards and place the turkey into the 5-gallon bucket. Pour the brine solution over the turkey making sure that it's fully immersed. Place a lid over the bucket and store it in a cool, dry place until Thanksgiving morning. Note: The salt will keep the turkey from spoiling. 

On Thanksgiving morning:

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees farenheint.

Remove the turkey from the brine, pat it dry and place it into a roasting pan. Carefully lift the skin with your index fingers and distribute a healthy amount of room temperature butter throughout. Repeat the same process over the skin. Add aromatics into the turkey's cavity and tuck the wings underneath it.

Cover the turkey with the lid from the roasting pan or aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour. Next, remove the lid and reduce the oven's temperature to 350 degrees F. Then, cook for an additional hour.

Optional: after the last step, remove the turkey from the oven and use a basting brush to coat the skin with canola oil—this step ensures a crispier, golden brown skin.

If you plan to use a meat thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of the bird—be sure to avoid making contact with a bone for a more accurate reading. According to experts, a 16 pound turkey should be done cooking once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. But from my experience, 165 degrees F ensures you'll end up with a dry bird. Opt for 161 degrees F instead.

Tip: make sure to let the turkey rest for a minimum of 15 minutes before carving. And, speaking of carving, here's a thorough lesson on how to carve a turkey! 

Bon appetit!


Did You Vote?

It's election day! Be sure to exercise your most sacred right and vote. It wasn't that long ago that a large portion of our population—like women—were denied the right to vote. In fact, so many people have died to ensure that we could be included in this process called democracy. Today, more so than any other day of the year, we have the power to incite change. What's up for grabs? frankly, the future. Today is the day that we decide on the issues that most directly affect our lives, including women's rights, race relations and the economy. Yes, you might face long lines at your polling site, but remember voters in countries like Afghanistan contend with terrorist violence and still manage to cast their votes in record numbers. Please get out there and vote for the candidate you believe can best effect the changes you want to see for the next four years.

And, 133 reasons (and counting!) Hillary Clinton should be our next president.
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