A Friendsgiving Day to Remember

Turkey dinner from Bristol Farms!

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A Delicious Turkey Prepared with Bristol Farms’ Own Brining Blend!

According to a 2018 Thanksgiving Dinner Trend Report by Bristol Farms, 52% of people surveyed said Thanksgiving Dinner leftovers last between 1-4 days.

Friends, I can attest to that.

We celebrated a Friendsgiving Dinner this past weekend and all leftovers were gone by Wednesday!  

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It was a special gathering at our home where we welcomed my in-laws, including my brother-in-law and his wife who live in Bakersfield.

With a visit so close to Thanksgiving,

I knew we had to celebrate our family reunion with a traditional holiday menu so I turned to my favorite grocery store to do the shopping!

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know I’m a huge fan of Bristol Farms— a SoCal grocery chain that offers a great selection of quality and organic foods. I shop at Bristol Farms Mulholland (Woodland Hills), which is close to home.

I was excited about our Mary’s Organic Free Range 19 lb. turkey and discovered that Bristol Farms developed its own Brining Blend too!

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I’ve always used the Brine method to prepare a turkey.

It usually requires purchasing a bunch of ingredients like specific herbs, special salt and hard-to-find spices, boiling all the ingredients and placing the whole turkey in the solution known as brine. Then you leave the turkey in the brine for 8-12 hours before the bird is ready for the oven.

With Bristol Farms’ Brining blend, I saved a lot of time since all you have to do is add a cup of the brining blend with a gallon of water and boil. Once the mixture cools, you wash the turkey, place it inside a container, (we used a bucket) pour the brine over it making sure it’s fully covered and place it in the refrigerator letting it soak for up to 12 hours.

The turkey turned out really juicy, full of flavor and our guests loved it. Plus, all leftovers are gone (which is probably the best indication of a tasty turkey, if I do say so myself).

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In order to focus on the actual meal,

I had to be practical about the tablescape. Time was of the essence and I knew I would spend a lot of time preparing the food and have little time left to decorate the table so I purchased festive Thanksgiving-themed paper napkins, fresh flowers, a bundle of wheat stalks and even name cards for each place setting. Again, all items were purchased at Bristol Farms.

In the store’s bakery section, I found small trays of Pumpkin Pie cupcakes (baked with organic ingredients). Instead of making pumpkin pie, why not offer each guest a yummy pumpkin pie dessert with cream cheese frosting!? yum!

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I decided to keep sides and appetizers simple.

I bought a variety of cheese, crackers and spreads from Bristol Farms to offer guests ahead of dinner. Our dinner sides included roasted brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, green beans and Pepperidge Farms cubed stuffing.

My mother in law made a delicious sweet potato casserole and also brought cranberry sauce. By the way, did you know the item most forgotten at Thanksgiving Dinner is cranberries? That’s according to the same Bristol Farms 2018 Thanksgiving Dinner Trend Report I mentioned earlier.

So yeah, thanks Grandma Dotty!

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Overall, we had a lovely dinner

with lots of laughs, great food and memories to last a lifetime.

The entire meal for seven adults and two kids cost about $200. This doesn’t include beverages since my broski Mikey and his wife Rosita took care of the drinks.

More about Mary’s Organic Free Range Turkeys sold at Bristol Farms:

•   NO Antibiotics Ever
    •   Non-GMO Corn and Soybean Meal
    •   NO Animal By-Products
    •   NO Pesticide Treated Grains
    •   NO Grains Grown with Chemical Fertilizers 

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For those who’d rather avoid spending long hours in the kitchen,

Bristol Farms offers a Cooked Holiday Box Dinner that serves 8. The dinner includes all the fixings– a Whole Roasted Turkey 8-10lb; Green Beans Almondine 2lb; Cornbread Stuffing 2lb; Mashed Potatoes 2lb; Candied Yams 2lb; Turkey Gravy 30 oz. All for $119. You can pre-order here.

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So there you have it friends,

A glimpse of our Friendsgiving Dinner experience, which, despite the general stress that comes with getting everything ready, was sooo worth the time and effort.

Did any of you host a Friendsgiving Dinner this year?

I’d love to hear about your experiences and preferred recipes!

Thanksgiving Day 2018 is a week away. I hope you all enjoy a wonderful time with your loved ones and save room for dessert!

Thanks for reading!

Xo,

-Anabel M.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Anabel Marquez
Mexican Independence Day Snack Idea

¡Viva Mexico!

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An afternoon snack-turned-history-lesson

Being a proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and trying to do my best to raise boys who are culturally aware, I decided to make a unique snack on September 16 for Mexican Independence Day.

Brief Mexican Independence Day History Lesson—

In the early morning hours of September 16, 1810, a Catholic Priest named Miguel Hidalgo rang the bells of his church in the small town of Dolores in the state of Guanajuato and called the congregation to revolt against Spanish rule (BTW, I just got the chills typing this).

That famous Cry of Dolores was basically a call to arms, triggering the Mexican War of Independence. The war itself lasted over a decade. Mexico’s independence wasn’t declared until September 28, 1821 but Hidalgo’s strong will and call to action to take back his country is what Mexicans celebrate on September 16.

With that said, the boys asked nothing about Mexican Independence Day!!

They wanted to know the meaning of the eagle located on the center of the Mexican flag.

So let me begin with my attempt at making Mexican Flag Graham Cracker Snacks:

Ingredients:

  • Graham Crackers

  • Kiwi

  • Strawberries

  • Cream Cheese

  • Walnuts

  • Cilantro bits

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To Make these

All you have to do is 1) dice the fruit 2) spread cream cheese on the graham crackers 3) use Walnut pieces to create an eagle look-alike in the center 4) Add tiny pieces of cilantro to look like the cactus where the eagle is standing 5) cover the left side of the graham cracker with the diced kiwi 6) Cover the right side of the graham cracker with diced strawberries 7) Enjoy!

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Now to the Mexican Eagle Story

and why there’s an eagle at the center of the Mexican Flag.

The question from Benny was: “Mama, why is there an eagle on the flag?”

Here was my simple explanation (which actually resulted in many more questions from Benny afterwards, but we won’t get into that):

Many years ago in Mexico, the Aztec people needed to know exactly where to build their city.

Their leader, a God named Huitzilopochtli (pronounced Weet-zee-low-poach-lee), told his people to search the land and when they came across an eagle standing on a cactus, eating a serpent— that would be their sign to make that place their home.

When the Aztecs arrived in Mexico City, they saw an eagle, standing on a cactus and eating a snake. So they made Mexico City their new home!

The eagle was placed on the Mexican Flag to remind people of the sign the Aztecs looked for— and found— before moving there:

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After our history lesson, we got to eat the crunchy snacks!

Tip: In order to avoid the fruit and cream cheese from making the graham crackers soggy, eat immediately after preparing!

Thanks for reading!

Xo,

-Anabel

Anabel Marquez
Sutter Home & Spicy Salmon, a perfect dinner combination!

This post is intended for an audience of adults age 21 and older. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SutterHomeSweetOnSpice #CollectiveBias

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Some days after a long work day that’s followed by a heavy traffic commute, I just want to get home, sit in my backyard, enjoy a glass of wine and watch my little boys play hide and seek.

Ideally, my husband would be preparing a lovely dinner for us which would pair nicely with a second glass of wine to be enjoyed before evening mommy duties involving baths, story time and lullabies, take over.

I’m able to daydream about this relaxing scenario because it happened recently and it was amazing!

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On a recent Friday evening, I was flustered with the amount of traffic on the I-5 Freeway coming home from Downtown Los Angeles. My work day had been long and stressful with a project deadline that seemed impossible to meet. Nevertheless, I got everything done and was ecstatic about going home.

Upon arriving, I noticed my husband was preparing dinner. I had purchased all the ingredients to make a delicious Spicy Jalapeno Garlic Salmon recipe over the weekend but my dear hubby decided to surprise me with this dish after my long day at work.

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Then I realized I had a bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel!

I was happy because Sutter Home is one of my favorite, California-based, family-owned wine brands (which also happens to be very reasonably priced).

The Sutter Home White Zinfandel varietal was perfect for making this occasion a little more special! Plus, did you know Sutter Home sweet wines pair perfectly with spicy foods? This is important for me because as a Mexican-American woman who grew up enjoying spicy foods, I always look for drinks that pair well with my love of Latin, spicy cuisine.

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Sutter Home White Zinfandel is made with delicate aromas that lead to sweet, creamy strawberry and melon flavors and a crisp finish. If you pair it with the Spicy Jalapeno Garlic Salmon dish, you’re in for an exquisite, easy-to-make meal that’s light and enjoyable.

Here’s the quick recipe for this delicious dish. It requires only five ingredients:

Ingredients (Serves Two):

  • 2 Salmon Steaks (I purchased fresh organic salmon from my local grocery store)
  • 2 Fresh Jalapenos
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 3 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 15 Chive strands
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Instructions

  1. Prepare salmon steaks by cleaning them and if you wish, removing the skins (I personally love the skin so we didn’t remove them)

  2. Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.

  3. Dice the jalapenos, garlic and chives. I diced them finely to make it look more like a chunky sauce.

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  1. Mix the diced ingredients into a bowl with the soy sauce and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

  2. Marinate the Salmon in the mixture with a spoon (you can also do it with your hands but beware– the spiciness of the mixture is real!!

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  1. Once the salmon is covered in the mixture, set it on a skillet or oven tray.

  2. Bake the salmon for half an hour. It may require less time, depending on the thickness of the salmon filet.

  3. Remove from the oven and serve paired with a glass of Sutter Home White Zinfandel

This particular recipe would also pair wonderfully with Sutter Home Moscato!

After our backyard dinner, everything felt calm and relaxing. While my husband and I enjoyed our Spicy Garlic Salmon, my sons ate fish sticks, strawberries and apple juice…hehe.

These memories are what make family time so special! And speaking of family, did you know Sutter Home Family Vineyards has received over 400 medals? I would be happy to award them with an extra ten medals for helping transform my long stressful workday into an enjoyable evening with my family.

Friends, have you enjoyed Sutter Home wine? What recipes have you paired your favorite Sutter Home Wine with? They have a number of wine varietals for all of your enjoyment and entertainment purposes!

Make sure you visit the Sutter Home website to learn more about the varietals and see more recipe inspiration!

Thanks for reading!

Xoxo,

-Anabel M.

Anabel Marquez
Cold Bunny Treats for a Hot Easter Weekend

A Cold, Cold Bunny!

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Somebunny's gonna scream for Ice Cream!

If there’s one Bunny dessert that will go hand in hand with the hot weather expected in LA this Easter weekend, I would have to say it’s going to be Bunny Ice cream!
And no, I’m not referring to the actual Bunny brand ice cream (there is such a brand) I’m talking about a super cute, fast and yummy way to serve a cold scoop of frozen deliciousness and make it Bunny-themed, given the festive Spring occasion.

The kids will love it because they get excited anytime there’s ice cream and they love when mom makes fun and themed snacks for them.

Adults will think you’re a genius with too much time in your hands when this really only requires about 10 minutes of prep time.

They’re Bunny shaped ice cream cones that require nothing other than homemade, candy bunny ears.

Ingredients

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To make these— you will need the following:

*white candy melts
*pink sprinkles (I used pink sugar pearls)
*vanilla ice cream
*waffle ice cream cones
*Parchment paper

The trick is in the bunny ears.

I like the bunny ear tips to look pointy rather than round, so I used the end of a spaceship cookie cutter mold to give them a pointy shape.

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Instructions

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1. Place the white candy melts in a microwave safe bowl and microwave them for a few minutes— just enough to make them melt but not all the way to the point they bubble.
2. Place scoops of the candy melt on parchment paper and let them cool. You can put them in the fridge to make this process faster. Once they’re set, mold them to give them a Bunny ear shape. Make sure they’re all approximately the same size. I used the tip of a space ship cookie cutter mold to make things easier.
4. Once you have the bunny ear shapes, carefully place the sprinkles along the center (use leftover candy melt to serve as glue).
5. Serve a round scoop of vanilla ice cream inside a waffle cone.
6. Insert Bunny ears.
7. Enjoy!

I used a small scoop of ice cream which is nice to limit the amount of sugar intake!!

But also it gives the illusion that Bunny is inside the rabbit hole and you can only see the top of its head.

I hope you have a fun weekend!
Temperatures in LA are expected to reach the high 70's.... perfect for an Easter-Themed ice cream treat.

Happy Easter friends and thanks for reading!

Xo,

-Anabel M.

Paperless Post & Honey Toast!

E-Cards That Matter

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A Toast Themed Day for my Honey Bear Husband

This is a sponsored post. I received a Paperless Post Credit in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

I've always been one to encourage hand-written notes over emailed messages. I actually enjoy making an occasional trip to the US Post office to buy stamps and mail cards.

But on occasion, a product will come up that completely sweeps me off my feet, making me rethink my modus operandi. And that's what happened when I discovered Paperless Post, an e-commerce company that focuses on design-driven online AND printed stationery, including greetings, invitations, birth announcements and wedding suites that you can customize, e-mail or print if that's what you prefer.

The user-friendly service guides you through every step of the process, whether it's sending a design to print, uploading your logo for a company event or keeping track of your RSVP list online, Paperless Post has you covered. It's simple and there are tons of designs to choose from, in several categories.

 A sampling of Save The Dates featured on Paperless Post

A sampling of Save The Dates featured on Paperless Post

Since I'm planning a few events this year (Toby's baptism, birthdays, a Christmas Party, etc.) and life seems to be getting busier, I figured I would give Paperless Post a try and rid myself of extra work.

The first Paperless Post greeting I sent was for my husband and I will share the story behind it.

Paul was having a bad week. I was having a busy week. Our communication was off and we barely had the energy to keep our evening routine with the boys. To make matters worse, Paul was asked to work an extra shift on his day off! He could have declined, but he owed his co-worker a favor.

Meanwhile, as I was getting ready to head home, I stumbled upon a painting of a bear-shaped honey bottle on a sidewalk in Downtown LA. 

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I got home and once the kids were asleep and Paul was preparing for his extra work day, I decided to login to my Paperless Post account and look for an e-card to send him before he took off the next morning. Looking through the designs (there are many, including some by well-known designers like Kate Spade), I paused for a moment and walked to the kitchen, where I found Paul squeezing some honey out of a bear-shaped bottle into a fruit bowl.

This was really funny considering I had just seen and photographed a honey bear bottle painting on the ground in Downtown LA. I shared the photo but he didn't seem to think much of it.

Then I returned to my computer and low and behold–– there was a Paperless Post greeting card with the a bear-shaped honey bottle design! Call me crazy but I saw this a sign!

 Customized E-Card: Paperless Post

Customized E-Card: Paperless Post

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The honey bear bottle gods were trying to tell me it was time to make Paul feel better about his bad week with a sweet honey message. I customized the card by adding my name since the message was on point. Then I simply added his email address in the recipient line and hit send.

By the time we woke up in the morning, before heading to work, he read his Paperless Post e-card. Then, to make things extra special, I fixed him a hot coffee mug and a few slices of honey toast to send him off right.

He seemed happy and grateful about the e-card gesture and even more so when he found the breakfast snack I had prepared for him– Honey toast!

How to use Paperless Post

If you're ever in a similar situation or if you simply want to send a greeting card, an invitation, a thank you note or create a flyer, the process is simple. Here's what you need to do:

1. Visit www.PaperlessPost.com

2. Create an account using your email address

3. Depending on the type of card you want to send, the service charges a few coins. While the honey bear greeting card was free, when I'm ready to send invitations for Toby's baptism, I will purchase coins. You can buy coin packages in a few easy steps and the pricing is really reasonable! Twenty coins for example, will cost you $6. Every time you customize or issue a card, the system will charge you the number of coins for that particular project.

4. Send your cards and make others smile!

I hope you consider Paperless Post for your next, well, anything! It's fun, easy and hassle-free.

Thanks for reading and have a great day, honey bears!

Xo,

-Anabel M.

 

 

Yougurt+Fruit Apple Bowls for Breakfast

For the Apples of my Eyes!

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A Healthier Breakfast Alternative for Kids

My weekend breakfast routine with the kids almost always involves pancakes, often times in different shapes and colors and with different designs, to keep things fun. Benny and Toby love eating them, I love making them... but after a while, pancakes need a break too!

The kids love syrup on their pancakes and though delicious, I know there are many other awesome and healthier breakfast alternatives.

That's why I decided to get a little creative over the weekend and make fruit yogurt bowls out of Granny Smith Apples.

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I contemplated making watermelon or honey dew melon bowls but then I realized the boys would probably not finish one on their own. Getting them to share one would have been a bad idea since we're going through a phase where sharing is not currently trending at home...

So I went with a smaller fruit– Apples.

Apple Bowls are small enough to be thoroughly enjoyed by kids, they can hold enough yogurt to make the little ones feel satisfied and topping them with fresh fruit makes them even more appealing! Best of all they're this easy to make:

Start out by locating a few nice, round and large Granny Smith Apples. Slice the top part of the apples, removing the stems.

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Carve out the mid section of the apples with a knife and spoon until you create a good size cavity. Make sure you don't carve too deep in order to avoid puncturing holes that can make the contents leak later.

Fill with your kids' favorite yogurt and top with small fresh fruit bits & other goodies. I used cuties, peach slices, bananas, strawberries, almonds and Cheerios. Other ideas to use as toppers include: granola, kiwi, blueberries, chocolate shavings, diced melon and even gummy snacks!

The best part is watching them finish the yogurt and take a bite out of their apple bowl. When was the camera when I needed it!?

I hope you consider this easy and yummy breakfast option. Your kids will seriously thank you. Mine did!

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Thanks for reading!

Xo,

-Anabel M.

Message Heart Valentine's Day Pancakes!

Yummy Love

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Valentine's Day Breakfast Idea

Here's a little breakfast idea we tried over the weekend in anticipation of Valentine's Day: Message Heart Pancakes!

They are so, so very easy to prepare and make for yummy, colorful Valentine's Day themed cuteness.

Here are the three (3) tools you need to make these at home: 1. heart-shaped cookie cutters 2. alphabet cutter molds 3. food dye.

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It all starts with pancake mix. I used a regular Aunt Jemima Box that only requires water. Once I had my batter, I divided it evenly in five small bowls. I squeezed a couple drops of food dye into each bowl, mixed each one thoroughly and turned each one into a different color.

Meanwhile, I sliced a Melon into slices about half inch thick in order to make it possible to press down with the letter molds.

I poured the pancake batter on a small round-shaped pan and tried to make sure they didn't stay on either side too long, in order to preserve the color!

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Once the pancakes were done, I used the heart cutouts to shape them.

Then I cut fun words like "XOXO" and "LUV" out of the melon and placed them over the heart-shaped pancakes.

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Breakfast was ready and the boys consumed it all before I had a chance to get more photos!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!

Thanks for reading!

Xo,

-Anabel M.