Decluttering 101: Simple Guidelines to Get You Started

As you can see from my last blog post, I’m on a mission to do life differently. In addition to being intentional, I’m also simplifying and streamlining my life as well. One of the ways in which I’ve been doing that is by decluttering. I totally disdain clutter! I pride myself on not keeping a lot of stuff, but lately I’ve decided to really pare things down and purge. While I couldn’t live a minimalist life, I can certainly learn to live with less!

I’ve never been a materialistic person. Things don’t move me. People do. Places do. Stuff? Not so much. I have no problem with letting things go, but I in the past few weeks, I’ve realized that I could delve even deeper and get rid of more. I just don’t want to be bogged down with things. At one point, I had over 60 pairs of shoes! Really? I have half that many now because I only kept the ones I love—more on that in a few.

The top of the year is ideal to start fresh and begin anew so, I decided that part of this new lifestyle would include getting rid of the physical clutter as I strongly believe that it creates mental clutter. I don’t want any parts of that and I figure that you don’t as well so, today I’m going to share a few guidelines on saying adios to clutter. . .for good!

Everything Has a Home

Everything in your home should have a “home”—a place. This is my mother’s mantra when it comes to home organization and I stand in agreement with her. If it doesn’t then, you need to evaluate whether or not you really need it. Also, when things are where they belong, you can put your hands on them immediately. That’s golden. How many times have you or your children said, “Do you know where “such and such” is?” Not the case when things are in their proper place!

Only Keep the Things You Truly Love

I know you’ve heard this a thousand times so, now here’s the 1,001 time. . .If you haven’t used or worn an item in the last six months to a year, you don’t love it my friend and it’s gotta go! If an item(s) of clothing no longer fits or if a home decor item no longer fits your style, off it goes. Last month, I donated about four garbage bags of clothes that I was holding on to thinking that I’d lose the weight or I’d suddenly fall in love with the item again—NOT! You know what the funny thing is? I purge at least twice a year and I still had four bags of clothes. Ridiculous. And I have a little more tossing to do. Geesh!

A quick tip for your closet: Once you’ve worn something, turn the hanger around  in the reverse direction and keep it that way. Every six months, assess which items remain un-turned and those are the ones you donate. It’s that simple. The hangers don’t lie, people! I will get into more detail about the closet in a separate blog post as it deserves a post dedicated just to conquering it! Stay tuned.

Here’s another jewel for sentimental things (which are tougher to part with): I love giving and receiving greeting cards. Love-love! I have purged quite a few, but I must admit that I have a hat box full that I need to go through. So, this is what I’ve decided, if they’re simply signed by the person, they’ve gotta go. However, if there’s a nice note written inside the card, I’ll keep it—maybe. Sorry, friends and family, it’s like that and that’s the way it is! *in my Run DMC voice*

Edit (and Then Edit Again)

It’s so hard to say goodbye to things we really like even if we haven’t worn or used them, but throughout the year think about things as you use them or wear them. Do you use or wear the item often? If it’s a piece of clothing, do you feel great when you wear it? Does it flatter your body? If not, place it in your donation bag and mull it over. If you haven’t removed it from the bag at the six-month mark, then it’s safe to say you’re ready to say farewell.

Two things that make editing easier is that you can either donate or sell items. Donating to Goodwill or The Salvation Army will give you “the feels” because you know that someone in need will be able to benefit from your donation. Making money by selling items, may ease the pain because you can pad your bank account with the money from the sale(s). These days, there are so many options if you choose to go this route besides the tried and true eBay and Craigslist:

Poshmark (women’s clothes, accessories and shoes only)

Tradesy (designer women’s clothes, accessories and shoes only)

Decluttr (DVDs, textbooks, tablets, cell phones, video game consoles, etc.)

Letgo (clothes and everything else)

Then, there’s Freecycle which is a nonprofit organization. Their mission is to reduce waste by creating a sharing movement. So, instead of donating or selling your items, you post them online to other members in your community for free! It promotes giving so things are no longer piling up in our landfills. Good stuff, huh?

One In, One Out Rule

Consumerism is synonymous with being American (a lot of other cultures too) so, it’s inevitable that we will accumulate more stuff. Look, we’re going to shop! Period. The thing to do is to employ the “one in, one out rule”. This means that if you purchase something, then something must be donated or sold. It’s that simple. If you buy two things, then two things must go. You get the idea. It doesn’t matter what you do with it, just know it’s got to get the heck out of your home!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing tips on closet organization and decluttering other areas of your home here on the blog and on Instagram. In the meantime, I hope this gives you a little guidance as far as ridding yourself of unnecessary stuff. It’s in the way literally and figuratively! This quote sums up the beauty of decluttering perfectly. . .

 

Photo Credit: Popsugar

 

 

 

 

Blog Takeover by Darilyn Tyrese: New Year, New Choices.

 


Greetings Fabuleux Living Ambassadors!

My name is Darilyn and I’m taking over the FL blog for a day each week in the month of January for the purpose of giving you ideas on how to integrate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. I am a proud vegan! The concept of veganism can be a head-scratcher for many, but now it has become very mainstream due to movies like What The HealthForks Over KnivesFat, Sick and Nearly Dead and Vegucated. Veganism is the conscious choice to abstain from meat, seafood, eggs, dairy and animal by-products. It is also the compassionate choice to take leather, fur or any animal made body products out of your closets and off of our vanities.

I love this lifestyle so much that I became a vegan lifestyle consultant, natural skincare mixologist and vegan blogger! I live for natural products, fruits, and veggies. More importantly, I know I am still living because of the choice I’ve made to pay attention to what I eat and use on my body.

Now, don’t panic ya’ll! This January takeover is not meant to scare, guilt nor condemn you. I merely want to show you practical ways to get started while giving you permission to eat the “fun foods” too! It’s January and as Angela mentioned in her life-affirming post, now is the time for an overhaul of our habits.

Contrary to popular belief, you can still have your ice cream, cookies, chips and popcorn with the vegan lifestyle. It’s not all brown rice and bean curd. That doesn’t sound like fun and it’s surely not sustainable. The root word of lifestyle is LIFE. Your life calls for eating on the go, eating home cooked meals, eating while driving, eating at parties, etc. You can do all of these things while being vegan.

I like to tell my clients and readers that they should ease into this lifestyle in the beginning by eating more veggies and little less meat. Over time, you will feel a change and you will desire to make more compassionate choices. Progress is a lot easier to maintain than the burden of perfection. So, let’s get started!

What can I eat?

You can eat anything made without eggs, dairy, meat, and seafood.

Here’s a small listing of my favorites. . .

  • French fries/Potatoes
  • Veggie Burgers
  • Ice Cream (Ben & Jerry’s has delicious vegan flavors)
  • Snacks (did you know that Oreos and Nutter Butters are vegan?)
  • All veggies and every fruit imaginable
  • Grains (rice, quinoa, egg-free pasta)
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Beans and Legumes
  • Pizza (no cheese, no meat)
  • Bread (egg-free)
  • Soups
  • Homemade Tortilla Chips or Tortilla Chips without animal by-products
  • Chipotle
  • Falafels
  • Thai Food
  • Indian Food

Is the vegan lifestyle expensive?

Like ANY lifestyle, you control the parameters. It can be as expensive as you’d like, especially if you are eating a lot of pre-packaged foods. Or, it can be as cheap as you’d like if you are willing to make things from scratch. Throughout my 5 years of being vegan, I have experienced every income bracket from making $60,000 per year to being on food stamps. I have never been forced to eat meat because I couldn’t afford veganism. Additionally, veganism isn’t about what you can’t eat, but rather what you choose not to eat because of animal cruelty, environmental impact, and your health. It is a conscious choice. If you have strong enough reasons to integrate more fruit and vegetables into your lifestyle, you will alter your behavior and soon it will become a really great habit that saves animals, the environment, and your cholesterol.

Why are you vegan?

I am vegan because I watched my mother die.

I had the privilege of taking care of her on her deathbed. I had the privilege of watching her go from a thriving, youthful person to a frail, double amputee. I also had the privilege of observing how a lack of water, fruit, vegetables, and exercise directly contributed to her overall health.

I am vegan because my health depends on it. As a plus-size, black woman,  I have factors working against me. I know that vegetables work for me. I have observed how my skin has cleared up, how I sleep blissfully, how I no longer have allergies and how I only get sick once per year (if that). The lifestyle works if you work it!

I’m looking forward to helping you werk it in the grocery aisles this month! See ya next week and follow me on Instagram and check out my blog for more meal ideas and vegan inspo!

 

 

Get a Life (Literally): Tips for Creating A Life Plan

Happy New Year! The beginning of a new year is when we all vow to make some changes in our lives. Some of us make resolutions. While others may set goals. Whatever you call it, I think most of us take this time to reflect on what we’d like to accomplish. Well this year, I decided to create a life plan. It’s just what it’s called—it’s a plan for your life. Think about it, we plan everything else—vacations, weddings, parties, our weekends and yet most of us are drifting aimlessly through life because we haven’t planned it. I think the top of the year is the best time to create a blueprint for one’s life. We have a blank canvas so, what better time to design the lives we want!

There are two main reasons why I wanted to create a life plan for 2018. One, I feel like life itself gets in the way—work, family commitments and the general busyness of the day—of my pursuing what truly bring me joy and happiness. Two, my 49th birthday is in less than two weeks and I think that this year before I turn 50 (I’m calling it my “50 Eve”), is quite significant. I’m certainly not where I thought I would be at this age and I’m determined to make the most of it and do what I need to do to curate the life that I desire. It’s easy to do whether you’re a man or a woman, but women in particular, spend so much time nurturing others and we tend to put ourselves last. In my line of work as an Executive Assistant, it’s quite easy to do. I spend my days making sure that the executive I support has work-life balance, takes vacations, goes to the theater, spends time with his family and quite frankly, live a wonderful life. In a word, I’m his “lifestylist”—I style his life. However, I haven’t done the same for myself! Hmm…something is wrong with that picture!

Well, I’ve decided that this year I need to totally focus on myself and my dreams. Of course, I’ll still be the loving and kind Angela that some of you have come to know and love (smile), but I’m going to direct a lot of that towards myself and it’s okay! My theme for 2018 is “Be intentional”. I started doing that today when I created my life plan. Writing things down today helped me to chart a path to the life that I really want to live! Don’t get me wrong, I have a good life, but I want to live a great life! God wants that for us too. Scripture says,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~ John 10:10

So, this year is my year to be deliberate about how I live my second half and start living life instead of it living me! Are you with me? I’m tired of living small and beneath my privilege especially as a believer in Christ Jesus! Let’s walk through this process. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. This is merely a guide, but remember investing in yourself is the biggest investment you’ll ever make. . .

Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

How would you rate your life? – On a scale of 1 to 10, ask yourself if you’re satisfied with your life, somewhat satisfied or not satisfied at all. Identify several categories such as family, friendships, career, finances, health/wellness and self-development and put the rating next to it. Be honest.

What is the current state of your life right now? – Summarize what’s going on in your life. Think about your family, career, health, business, relationships, your spiritual life and your emotional well-being.

What brings you joy? – Reflect on what you enjoy. Think about all of the things in your life that are going well. Include people, activities. etc. that make you happy.

What sucks the life out of you? – Unfortunately, you need to take a moment to think about what (and who) wears you out! What causes you stress or anxiety? What or who is toxic in your life?

What are the challenges in your life? – Identify the road blocks that hinder you from living the life you really want. Is it your weight? Procrastination? A draining friendship or relationship? Do you dislike your job?

Imagine what your ideal life would look like. – In detail, describe what kind of life you want to live. Take the time to think about what a truly rewarding and fulfilling life would look like to you. Describe what you’d be doing and with whom and how you’d feel. It’s very important to be very specific and clear about what you want.

Next, list up to 5 life categories that you rated above and put each one on a piece of paper. Write a vision statement for each category. I opted to write scriptures and prayers that correlated to each category. However, do whatever you’d like. Think about what needs to happen for you to get from where you are to where you want to be. These three or four action steps need to be measurable and specific. For example, don’t just say “I want to lose weight.” Say, I will exercise three days a week for one hour. That’s very specific, right?

After you’ve done this for every life category, you now need to execute it! That’s where I am. I just finished my “2018 Life Plan” a few hours ago. I’m about to put some way markers on my calendar as well as carve out time to review my plan on a weekly basis to monitor my progress. In addition, I need to identify an accountability partner who knows what my plan is to keep me on task.

Let’s be clear, I know there will be disappointments and even setbacks, but I want to be better positioned to deal with them! Honestly, writing the plan out was very cathartic. I feel good already! I wrote my vision and I’m walking into all that God has for me! I’m excited about what’s to come in 2018 and beyond!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Entertaining Tips

Merry Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year is finally here!

I’m sure, like me, you are knee-deep in the hustle and bustle of it all so, I just wanted to take a moment to give you some quick tips to make the holidays less hectic for you via flashing back to some old posts (so nice, thought I’d do it twice):

Entertaining Prep Tips

Whether you’re planning a holiday brunch or dinner, these tips will help you pull off a successful affair!

The Perfect Christmas Eve/Christmas/New Years Brunch Dish

You have a enough going on this holiday season between wrapping gifts, shopping, baking cookies, decorating and attending numerous holiday parties, right? Just typing all of that exhausted ME! LOL! So, make things easier on yourself by preparing my Croissant Breakfast Casserole. Whether, preparing breakfast for your family on Christmas morning or hosting a huge brunch for family or friends, this one-dish wonder will be a hit!

A Crowd Pleasing Appetizer

Do you need an appetizer for your guests to nosh on while you’re putting the finishing touches on dinner? Or an appetizer for your holiday open house, then don’t forget Hot Spinach Dip! You won’t go wrong by adding this dish to your menu! Everyone, and I mean everyone, LOVES it!

Quick tip: If you want to make it even more special, bake and serve it in a bread bowl. Hollow out a bread round, fill with the dip and bake. One less dish to wash and perfect if you’re taking it to someone’s home because you won’t have to worry about getting your dish back. Now, that’s fabuleux, right?

Just wanted to give some things to keep in mind as you’re entertaining throughout the holiday season. There are a few other tips on the Fabuleux Living Instagram page (@fabuleuxliving). Remember, that if you don’t see anything on the blog, that I more than likely have posted there.

I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

Countdown to A Fabuleux Thanksgiving (Final Days): Tips for A Stress-Free Feast

First of all, I owe you all apology for not posting last week’s timeline action items! Yikes! I had to get the last two blog posts done and then I had some technical difficulties, but I’m going to get you on track. Promise!

One quick note, If you’ve purchased a frozen turkey, hopefully it’s already defrosting in your refrigerator as it takes approximately 6 days before it will completely defrost.

So, without further delay, let’s just get into what you can get done this week to make your Thanksgiving less stressful. . .

Today

Clean the fridge. Use today to clean the refrigerator in preparation for all of the food you’ll be storing after tomorrow’s shopping trip for perishables. Now, is the ideal time to purge any expired food and eat any leftovers. This is critical as you need to ensure you have room for all of the food you’re preparing. Note: If you’re expecting a lot of guests, I would suggest using coolers as extra storage space for keeping food chilled. If that’s the case, dig those out as well. 

Prep your guest rooms. If you’ve having out-of-town guests, use today to get anything that your guests may need or want. I think it’s nice to have snacks and water on the nightstand for your guests. Also, any toiletries they may have forgotten would be welcomed as well. Even place chocolates on the pillows. Small gestures like that go a long way. Your guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness! And speaking of which, have your wi-fi network name and passcode printed on a card or put it in a frame next to the bed or on the dresser. Now, they’ll REALLY appreciate that!

Pull all of your serving and decór items. Work through your menu and pull all of the platters and corresponding utensils out that you’ll need for every single dish. Don’t forget the gravy boat! Also, gather your china, silver, stemware, vases, candles, candleholders, etc. too. Wash everything and set aside, but not before placing a post-it in onto each piece indicating what dish you plan to serve on it. This is also a good way to assess what you have and need. You may have forgotten that Uncle Bobby broke a platter when he was helping you after having one too many last year! LOL! This is a good time to add whatever you need to your list! Amazon Prime is your best friend this week. . .

Make your turkey brine. Check the FL Instagram account for DIY brine tonight. Store, covered, at room temperature.

So fresh and clean. Take your tablecloths and napkins to the cleaners for pick-up tomorrow.

Tuesday

Double-check your lists and go grocery shopping for perishables and any you missed. By now, the non-perishables should’ve been purchased. Check to see if you’ve covered everything on your list. If not add it to your perishables list which you’ll be shopping for next week. What about your decor and equipment? Have everything you want/need? Again, you can order from your new best friend to get anything you need by tomorrow!

Bake your cornbread for stuffing and refrigerate. Instead of buying packaged bread cubes, bake your own cornbread and stash it in the fridge.

Make your turkey stock. Go the grocery store and buy 4 pounds of turkey legs and necks and make your turkey stock. Divide it among plastic quart containers and store in the fridge. You’ll have whatever you need for soup, stuffing and gravy. If you really want to be ahead of the game. . . .

Show off and make your gravy too. Since you have your stock done, why not go a step further and knock out the gravy? Once it’s cooled, put it in quart size containers and place in the fridge.

Brine your turkey. If you’re getting a fresh turkey, pick it up today and brine it.

Wednesday

Remove turkey from the brine. Take your bird out of the brine and refrigerate.

Prep your veggies and herbs. Chop your onions, peppers, celery, herbs, etc. for the stuffing. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Bake your desserts. Defrost your pie crust (if you’ve already prepped and froze it). Bake your pie and/cakes tonight so, you’ll have the oven free tomorrow for the dinner items.

Set your table and the buffet. Get your table set as well as your buffet. Check the FL Instagram account for tips on this tomorrow!

Make any cold side dishes. Today is a good day to make your salad (and dressing if you’re making one from scratch), cranberry sauce (again, if you’re making homemade) and anything else that can be refrigerated.

The Big Day

Morning

Determine your oven strategy. Look at your entire menu and determine which dishes are baked at the same temperature and plan to bake simultaneously.

Make like a caterer. Set-up a breakdown station in your kitchen or your garage/carport. Place a garbage can at the station so you early discard food scraps from plates. Organize soaking stations so the food doesn’t harden on the plates.

About five hours before dinner is served:

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator. This will take some the chill off and speed up the roasting time! Yaaaassss!

Chill beverages. Place any bottled waters, sodas, wine, etc. in coolers to get chilled.

Get the java and tea started. Place coffee in the coffeemaker, fill creamer and sugar bowls, and put fresh water in the tea kettle. This will get you a few minutes ahead of the game when it’s time to serve dessert.

After Dinner 

Take that offer to help. Remember the folks you turned turn when they offered to help earlier? Well, you need them now so, get them to help you clear the table and take dishes o your breakdown station. Have someone else, get the dessert plates, cups and saucers for tea/coffee set-up. Put one of your helpers on dessert duty so you can tend to other things.

Game time snacks. Have a few light things like popcorn, tortilla chips and nuts on hand in case someone wants a few munchies while watching the big game.

Entertain the children. Make sure that you can keep them busy during the festivities. It’s a long day for them. Shucks, it’s a long for the adults! So, if you have space, designate a room for them to play board games, do puzzles/crafts, watch movies or play video games. Maybe have them plan a talent show and they can entertain the guests after dinner. How cute is that?

Get prepared for Christmas. While you have so many hands on deck, get those nephews to pull your Christmas decór from the attic or the garage so you easily access it for decorating in the coming weeks. Hey, you just fed them a delicious meal so, don’t feel bad about putting them to work! Ha-ha!

Enjoy your family and friends. That’s what this season is about so, take the time to enjoy them! Yes, the dinner is important and of course, you want things to be just so, but it’s the love of those people around the table that means the most. Don’t get so caught up in the details that you miss that.

Remember to also check the Fabuleux Living Instagram page (@fabuleuxliving) as I’m sharing some other tips there as well! Don’t want you to miss anything!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mandarin Orange Olive Oil Cake

I’m not going into a lot of pomp and circumstance about this cake, not that it doesn’t deserve it. I just want to get this recipe to you pronto. Plus, we’re only days away from Thanksgiving so, we have no time to waste. So, here’s the skinny. . .I have one of the best cake recipes ever in the form of this Mandarin Orange Olive Oil Cake. You’re like huh? Did she say olive oil in cake? What the what? I know, but you must trust me (yet again) on this one. You’ll love this aromatic cake—it’s scrumptious!

Together with Whole Foods, I’ve prepared this divine cake to add to your Thanksgiving dessert table. As I mentioned, I shopped at the new Riverdale Park, MD store and purchased lovely Satsuma mandarin oranges from their wonderful produce department and grabbed some Whole Foods 365 extra light olive oil and eggs. The result was beyond amazing!

Let me begin by telling you that I’d never heard of olive oil cake until earlier this year. I don’t know about you, but when I think of olive oil, I think of savory dishes, not dessert! However, while perusing the web, I found a fellow blogger’s take on Maialino’s (a NYC Italian restaurant) recipe. It was insanely good! It was the sweetest surprise. . . literally! It was the moistest cake I’ve had that doesn’t have one drop of butter in it! The crumb is so incredibly tender. If 40 is the new 30, then olive oil cake is the new pound cake! Seriously. It’s that good!

This uncomplicated and refined cake is a crowd pleaser. It will not disappoint. I’ve baked Maialino’s recipe (and tweaked it) countless times since I discovered it back in April. The consensus? Everyone loves it and so do I! You’re talking to the girl who loves to bake with butter and I’m telling you, this cake is amazeballs! It’s healthier to bake with olive oil because it contains monosaturated fat, compared with butter’s saturated fat. And since olive oil is a natural emulsifier, it improves both the moisture and texture of the cake.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, the olive oil taste is very subtle. However, it’s important to use extra virgin olive oil because anything stronger will be too peppery and grassy which is fine in salad dressing, but not necessarily good for the flavor in cake. Whole Foods’ 365 extra virgin olive oil has a nice, light flavor that balances out the citrus very nicely in this cake.

And guess what? I have an early Christmas present for you. . .This olive oil cake, like other oil-based cakes, only requires you to whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl, whisk the wet ingredients in another, and then combine the contents of the two bowls. You’ll have this cake in the oven in 5 minutes—that’s not an exaggeration. It’s in the oven for an hour and voilá, you’ll have a slice of heaven on your plate! Here’s another jewel—this cake can be made ahead as it will keep for up to 3 days and will still be incredibly moist! Merry Christmas!

About Satsuma mandarin oranges. . . .They’re a citrus fruit whose origin is Japan and they’re typically available in the fall and winter months. The flesh is extremely juicy and they are considered the sweetest of all the citrus varieties though they offer a degree of acidity. They caught my eye because they still had the leaves on them. Aren’t they gorge?

The mandarins also reminded me of my great-Auntie, the entertaining maven in my family. She used to make the tallest three-layer mandarin orange cake with Cool Whip frosting. It was so insanely good! My Auntie passed away this past June so, this cake is an ode to her as this will sadly be our first holiday without her.  It’s a deconstructed version and I’ve elevated it a bit with the fresh whipped cream and honey-mandarin orange compote, but she is definitely the inspiration. I think she’d be proud . . .

Mandarin Orange Olive Oil Cake 

Yield: 8 to 10 servings         Cook Time: 1 hour

 

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/4 cups full fat buttermilk (or whole milk)

3 large eggs

1 tablespoons grated mandarin zest

1/2 cup fresh mandarin juice (from 2 to 3 mandarins)

Fresh whipped cream

DIRECTIONS

Step 1

Heat the oven to 350° F. Oil, butter, or spray a 9-inch springform pan. (If you don’t have a springform, use two 9-inch cake pans and start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.)

Step 2

In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, milk, eggs, mandarin zest and juice. Add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined.

Step 3

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Serve with honey-mandarin orange compote and fresh whipped cream.

Honey-Mandarin Orange Compote: Peel 3 to 4 mandarin oranges. Remove pith from the mandarin segments. Repeat. Place in a bowl. Drizzle in 1 to 2 teaspoons honey. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir gently.

 

After that huge Thanksgiving meal, you don’t want anything too heavy. This cake is the perfect bite (even without the compote and whipped cream). This cake stands on its own!

Couldn’t get the lighting right on the previous shot so (sorry!), had to do a close-up so you could see the tender crumb and the hints of zest! Yummy!

 

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sides Have It!: Creamy Confetti Corn & Lemon Butter Haricot Verts

Thanksgiving is all about the turkey. You know, I get it. It’s is the star of the show, but would it be the same without its co-stars aka the side dishes? I don’t think so. I mean turkey is good, but the side dishes make it great! So, today, I’ve partnered with Whole Foods to bring you not one, but two incredibly delicious and simple side dishes—creamy confetti corn and lemon butter haricot verts—that are great for the holidays and beyond!

I haven’t shopped in Whole Foods in a while, but there’s now a brand spanking new one in Riverdale Park, MD (the first store in Prince George’s County—woo hoo!). Just a few miles from my home, I immediately walked in the beautiful and spacious store and exhaled. I immediately remembered what I’d missed most once I walked through the doors—the beautiful produce department. It’s the next best thing to a farmer’s market!

In addition to the gorgeous vegetables and fruits I used for today’s recipes (as well as tomorrow’s), I used Whole Foods’ 365 products and they didn’t disappoint. Check out everything I purchased in the photo below.

Creamy confetti corn is something that you’ll prepare long after the holiday season because it can accompany any entrée. What else is there to love about this dish? First and foremost, it’s one of those one-pan wonders that we all need in our lives especially during the busy holiday season. Two, it’s prepared with half & half and cream cheese. Last, but certainly not least, it’s topped with crumbled bacon. OMG!

So, you may ask where the confetti comes in? Good question—it’s the beautiful red, green and orange peppers sprinkled throughout this dish. All of these flavors meld together and I’m telling you, it’s a party in your mouth. I’m doing my happy food dance! Hence, the need for confetti!

Oh, and the bonus? You can make this creamy confetti corn dish two days before Thanksgiving and place it in a baking dish and warm at 325 degrees for 15 minutes on the big day! Insert more happy dancing here!

Creamy Confetti Corn

Yield: 8 servings              Cook Time: 30 minutes

 

INGREDIENTS

8 slices bacon, chopped

2 16-ounce packages frozen yellow corn kernels

¾ cup chopped onion, white, yellow or red

1 ¼ cup chopped peppers, red, green and orange

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

½ cup half & half

2 teaspoons sugar

salt and pepper, to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

Step 1

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon until golden and crisp. Drain the bacon on a paper-towel lined plate and discard all the bacon grease except for 2 teaspoons.

Step 2

Add the corn, onions and peppers and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes. Add the cream cheese and half & half, stirring until the cream cheese melts and the mixture is evenly combined.

Step 3

Stir in the sugar, salt and pepper. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve warm topped with the reserved bacon.

*****

Side dish number two is definitely a staple on the dinner table—green beans, but these are haricot vert which is French—”haricot” (bean) and “vert” (green). Unlike regular green beans, these are more tender and cook a little quicker. I think they’re more refined and elegant too so, they make a nice presentation as well.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of green bean casserole and this dish is much brighter and lighter than the Thanksgiving staple because of the fresh lemon and the tomatoes (which are optional). This recipe is so simple you can pull it together in ten minutes! Who doesn’t need that on Turkey Day?

Lemon Butter Haricot Verts

Yield: 8 servings               Cook Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 lbs. haricots verts

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (optional)

1 teaspoon sea salt

cracked black pepper, to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

Step 1

Stir together all ingredients except haricot verts and grape tomatoes in a bowl until combined well.

Step 2

Cook beans in a large pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts water), uncovered, until al dente (crisp-tender), about 6 minutes, then drain.

Step 3

Place the butter mixture in a skillet on medium heat. Add the haricot verts to the pan until coated with the butter about 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 4

Toss the grape tomato halves into the pan until they blister, another 2 minutes or so.

Note: You can make this dish even lighter by replacing the butter with olive oil.

Ta-da! Just like that, two side dishes done! These recipes are perfect because they don’t require use of your oven which is prime real estate when you’re preparing a huge holiday meal. In addition, I think that holiday plates could use a burst of color which both the creamy corn confetti and the lemon butter haricot verts certainly are!

I hope these two lovely side dishes grace your Thanksgiving table and become new favorites for you and your family!

 

 

 

Let It Whip!: The Simplicity of Making Fresh Whipped Cream

Fresh whipped cream is ev-er-y-thing! I mean everything! I know I say this often, but you’ll never buy it from the store again once you’ve made your own. It’s the truth! You won’t. With very little effort, you can have fresh whipped cream in a matter of minutes AND just in time for Thanksgiving!

I shared a fresh whipped cream recipe in my post for Strawberry Shortcake awhile back, but today we’re going to make it the star because let’s be very clear, it IS! Whether, you’re putting it on dessert, waffles, pancakes, fresh fruit, hot chocolate or coffee, fresh whipped cream is the perfect addition. Fresh whipped cream is creamy, light and airy—something you simply can’t get from a can or a tub.

Although I bake from scratch, I know everyone doesn’t. *gasp* It may not be your jam so, if you must buy a dessert from the store *clutching my pearls*, please elevate it with fresh whipped cream! That will certainly take it to the next level and almost make anyone forget that the dessert isn’t homemade. Almost anyway. LOL!

Here are some tips for making perfect fresh whipped cream:

Cream matters. The kind of cream is important. You want to use whipping cream (30 to 35 percent fat) or heavy cream (36 percent fat minimum). Pasteurized is better than ultra-pasteurized because it will whip up easily and hold peaks better. If you can only find ultra-pasteurized, you’ll still get a decent whipped cream—no no worries.

Chill. Not you, silly—your large bowl (preferably metal) and whisk/beaters. The colder the cream is, the quicker it will whip and the loftier your peaks will be. Make sure that your cream is well-chilled too. Room temperature cream won’t incorporate air.

Pump up the volume. Whipping cream will whip up to three times in volume. So, one cup of whipping cream will yield about 3 cups of whipped cream. Keep this in mind especially if you only need a small batch. I don’t know why you would. . .I’m just sayin’.

Slow and steady. Whipping cream is simply a matter of incorporating tiny air bubbles into a fatty liquid. The science of it all, is that the fat molecules align with the air bubbles, hence making them stable. The bubbles then cling to each other, forming a thick foam. Using a lower speed to begin your whipping prevents the cream from getting warm too quickly and you’ll build up smaller bubbles, for a more stable foam.

Wait for the sweet stuff. Add sugar once the cream has thickened up some. Same with any other additions or flavorings. Speaking of sugar, for the best results, use confectioners (aka powdered sugar). Why not regular granulated sugar? Well, confectioners sugar contains a bit of cornstarch which helps the cream hold up longer after its whipped and it also dissolves faster. Also, granulated sugar can make whipped cream grainy which is not what you want.

Let it whip! Now, that you’ve added the sugar or other flavorings, you can increase the speed. Whip the cream until soft peaks form. How can you tell when you have soft peaks? It will be thick enough to hold its shape yet still be fluffy and billowy. If you overbeat it, you’ll soon have butter on your hands. That’s another blog post. . .

That’s it. Two ingredients and you have fresh, light whipped cream on your table literally in a matter of minutes. If you really want to get fancy, here are a few additions you can make (all measurements are based on 1 cup whipping cream):

Chantilly or Almond. For vanilla-scented cream, add 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon sugar. Some say vanilla is a must for whipped cream in general. Sometimes I add it and sometimes I don’t, but if you want a subtle vanilla taste, then this is perfect. Almond is another delicious option just replace the vanilla extract with almond extract and increase sugar to 1 tablespoon.

Maple. Add 2 tablespoons of PURE (the real deal) maple syrup instead of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla. This one screams fall.

Cinnamon. Simply add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Another one that’s perfect for the season.

Bourbon. To prepare this decadent spiked whipped cream, add 1 tablespoon bourbon to the whipping cream along with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

The last three variations are perfect for Thanksgiving desserts like pecan pie, sweet potato pie/cake, pumpkin pie and apple pie. I hope you consider adding fresh whipped cream to your holiday dessert menu this year. You can’t deny that it’s definitely up there as one of the easiest recipes ever. So, even if you’re not a baker, you can dazzle your guests by whipping up this recipe. Simplicity at its finest (and most delicious)! How fabuleux is that?

Bon appétit!

 

 

Countdown to A Fabuleux Thanksgiving (Week 3): Tips for A Stress-Free Feast

We’re two weeks from Thanksgiving, folks so now it’s time to get this train moving. This week we need to make our lists and check them twice! Oh, by the way, some tips will be on the Fabuleux Living Instagram page (@fabuleuxliving) so, make sure you check there for little nuggets that are too short for a blog post, but still awesome things to have in your Thanksgiving preparation arsenal! Let’s jump right into what you should be doing this week, you hostess with the mostest!

Week 3

Confirm your headcount. Hopefully, this week, your family and friends have told you whether or not they plan to join you for dinner. If not, make another push and finalize your list so you can proceed with planning.

Divide and conquer (the grocery list). You will not get all of the shopping done at once nor do you want to. Why? Because you’ll have to go back to get the perishables Thanksgiving week. So, thoroughly scan your menus and create two lists—one non-perishables and one perishables (dairy and produce). Before you shop, look through your cabinets, fridge, pantry and china closet (for platters, serving pieces, etc.) to see what you already have on hand as not to duplicate anything.

Shop. Head to the grocery store and purchase all of the non-perishables—canned goods, spices, flour, sugar, extracts, seasonings, etc.—anything that won’t spoil, buy it. Next, head to stores like my personal fav Homegoods or Bed Bath & Beyond for your serving pieces and any equipment you don’t have as well.

Order your turkey. If you’re preparing a fresh turkey, call your grocer or butcher and place your order pronto.

Make your pie dough. “Gift “your guests with pies made with flaky and buttery crusts made from scratch. They will feel so loved knowing that you went the extra mile and made pie with homemade crust. Prepare the crust and freeze it (forming it into discs) and you simply defrost it in the fridge overnight.

Get your biscuit or rolls going too. While you’re rolling in the dough (LOL!), you should prepare your biscuits or rolls too. Whatever recipe you’ll be using, instead of popping it in the oven to bake, you’ll just cut (biscuits) or form balls (rolls), place on baking sheets and put in the freezer for 30 minutes. Next, remove them and put in freezer bags. They’re ready to bake on Thanksgiving Day! No need to pop a can or buy frozen bread full of chemicals when you can have fresh homemade bread! That is a such a pro move!

You can do all of this over the weekend and just think of how much time you’ll save the week of Thanksgiving! I’m telling you, doing these things will makes things less crazed for you (and make you feel like such a rockstar). It’s all about the preparation. That’s the key. If you’ve prepped, you won’t have to resort to last minute things like store-bought pie crust and bread. Tackling it early also helps you to put your best meal on your table for your guests. I mean just look at all of the prep you’ll get done this weekend alone—more than half of the shopping will be done, turkey ordered, and you’re on the road to having homemade pie AND bread on your table. How fabuleux is that?

 

 

 

 

Countdown to a Fabuleux Thanksgiving: Timeline for A Stress-Free Feast (Week 4)

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Goodness gracious! Today is November 1. Tomorrow, we’re nearly four weeks away from Thanksgiving Day! Wow, where has the year gone? No, seriously. It’s crazy, but I’m not going to harp on that because the clock is ticking. . .

I know you’re like, “Angela, this is too early. Come on, it’s just November 1. I’m taking off the week of Thanksgiving so, I’m good to go.” I’m sure you are, but this year, I have a little help for you whether you’re a novice or a seasoned cook to ensure that you have a fabuleux Thanksgiving feast! The holidays are hectic, but my weekly timeline and delicious recipes will take some of the anxiety out of preparing for the meal that kicks off the holiday season. Today, let’s get rolling with the “Countdown to A Fabuleux Thanksgiving” series! We have T-minus 22 days until the big day!

Week 4

Invite guests. Contact family and friends to get a headcount so, you can plan accordingly. Whether you’re calling people, emailing or sending smoke signals, have your guests get back to you by next week. This is imperative so, you can get the ball rolling. People will ask what they can bring and you should let them even if it’s something as simple as ice or much-needed like folding chairs. Your guests want to contribute so, allow them to do so! Don’t be a hard head.  I’ve learned this over the years. . .

Set the tone (and parameters). Give some thought to the kind of meal you’d like to have. Do you want something casual? Formal? Buffet or sit down? Think about what direction you want to go in and then you can take it from there.

Start planning your menu. Are you going with a traditional meal or do you want to add a little twist this year? Trying new recipes? Get your creative juices flowing and craft your menu. Pull out your cookbooks, print recipes from the web and set them aside to use as a guide for your grocery shopping list.

Keep it simple. Planning your menu can get out of hand and the next thing you know you have three meats, five side dishes and six desserts. Oh yeah. That’s real—especially for those of us with Southern roots. Don’t do it! You know I’m talking to you. Dial it back significantly. Write the menu, walk away from it and then edit it. You’ll thank me on Thanksgiving Eve when you’re not in the kitchen at midnight. Sidebar (but related). . .we live in a culture of excess and waste. We throw away a lot of food so, relaxing on the menu offerings is a mindful thing as well especially when so many don’t have anything to eat.

Be a realist. You have the perfect menu, but honestly ask yourself if you can handle it all on your own. That’s a real question and I think this is where the stress comes in because we tend to take too much on. This is a moment to be honest and figure out what you can do and enlist some help on the things you need assistance with. Next, determine what can be outsourced aka purchased from the store.

Easy does it. Repeat after me, every dish doesn’t have to be an over-the-top gourmet dish. This is another thing I’ve learned over the years. One year, I decided to make a crown rib roast for Christmas. It was beautiful, but have I done it again? Nope. Why? It was too much for my family (except for me and my Mom). I know we want to color outside of the lines, but during the holidays, stick with the tried and true traditional dishes. In the words of the O’Jays, “gots to give the people what they want”!

Make a list of the supplies you’ll need. Do you have all of the pans, serving pieces, china, platters, glassware, tables, seating to entertain? If not, make note of what you need and purchase, borrow or rent it from your local party store. If you purchase, consider eBay or secondhand shops because you can find some great deals! One tip, remember that china doesn’t have to match, especially if you’re using vintage pieces, it’s quite charming to mix and match pieces.

Get your house in order. Entertaining isn’t about just the food. You’re welcoming guests into your home whether for the afternoon/evening or for the weekend. This is the time to start thinking about refreshing your guest rooms if you’re having visitors from out-of-town. Buy bedding, tablecloths and towels. Shop for any décor items too such as candles, vases, a fall wreath and welcome mat. Also, get anything repaired now because handymen (and maid services) will be swamped in the next few weeks with requests from other hostesses!

Don’t fret if you’re on hostess duty—you’ve got this! Now, I’m not going to lie and tell you that hosting a holiday meal isn’t daunting. It is, but that’s where planning and getting into the nitty-gritty of the details come into play. By getting a jumpstart on things, you’ll be able to be a guest at your own fête! Thanksgiving 2017 will be one of your best (and less stressed) yet!