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I want to come back in my next life as Giada DeLaurentiis. If you’re not familiar with Giada, you should be. She is the gorgeous, sugary sweet, incredibly talented Le Cordon Bleu trained face of Food Network. Oh and did I mention she was born in Rome? *sigh*. I DVR all of her shows and watch them religiously, my favorite being Giada at Home. It’s so touching to see how tight-knit she is with her husband Todd. They’re both in their forties [you would n.e.v.e.r. know it. She serves as further inspiration to maintain my skincare regimen as seen here] and have been a couple for 12 years. It’s also no secret how much she adores her daughter Jade, a.k.a. “Jadey”.

Giada’s meals are tasty, yet she always keeps an eye on things like sodium and fat content, which makes life easier. It also explains how she is a professional chef and yet is the size of a toothpick. Aside from her cooking talents, Giada has a flair for design, which she may have picked up from her hubby who happens to be a fashion designer for Anthropologie. Coolest. Couple. Ever.

Earlier this year, my two worlds collided [in a good way] when I found out that Giada was teaming up with the other love of my life, Target, to debut an exclusive collection of kitchenware designed by Giada. You can see the collection here.

Anyways, I was watching an episode of Giada at Home where she was cooking up these adorable little Cornish game hens and I thought I had to give them a try. After picking some up at the grocery store I came home and realized I didn’t have nearly enough ingredients for Giada’s roasted citrus-herb recipe, so I settled for my own variation. The birds came out juicy and succulent with crispy, sweet skin. Turns out my hens might just give Miss Giada’s a run for their money.

Rosemary-Clementine Cornish Game Hens

  • 2 Cornish game hens
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 clementines
  • zest of 2 clementines
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1 medium white onion

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rub hens with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place a clementine, an onion slice, a garlic clove, and a sprig of rosemary into the cavity each bird. Stuff garlic cloves under the skins. Place rest of onion around the birds. Arrange in a large, heavy, roasting pan. Drizzle more olive oil on top of hens. Roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together wine, clementine zest, chicken broth, and a drizzle of olive oil; pour over hens. Continue roasting about 25 minutes more, or until hens are golden brown and juices run clear.

By the way, as you can see by the photos I attempted to ‘truss’ my birds with kitchen twine. I think I fudged up the wings. This video explains how to do it.

I served my birds with a baked potato and poured the sauce from the dish over the baked potato – muy delicioso.

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If you’re looking for the easiest roasted chicken recipe around, look no further. I consider myself pretty adventurous in the kitchen. I’ll whip up cakes from scratch and slice ‘n dice with the best of ‘em, but for some reason the idea of roasting a chicken has always scared me [I'm aware of how pathetic this sounds].

if this cute little number doesn't get you into the kitchen, nothing will

I  was doing some casual grocery shopping at Jewel [a Chicago-area chain, also known as da Jewels] when I spotted some medium-sized drumsticks out of the corner of my eye. Normally I wouldn’t have looked twice but these beauties were FOUR DOLLARS for the package, 10 drumsticks per package, in other words less than a dollar per meal! Victory dance [speaking of bargains, the apron above is a steal for $32 from Anthropologie].

So each ‘stick was about the size of a fist and two would be enough for me, four for the bf, who f.y.i. has the metabolism of a 16-year-old . He could probably eat all 10 drumsticks deep-fried in blubber and still not gain an ounce. Some guys have all the luck. Anyways, that was my deal of the day and I had to scoop them up.

I was oddly excited about my new bounty. I’d never cooked drumsticks before and there’s just something about them that seems so rustic and filling, yet undeniably simple.

Behold, the most delicious [and easy] drumstick recipe.

[photo via we heart it]

Mediterranean Chicken Drumsticks

  • 4 medium-sized drumsticks
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil [this is for the rub only - doesn't include oil for searing chicken or drizzling on top of chicken. Normally I don't pay attention to oil measurements in recipes but I followed this exactly because you want the right balance of flavor for the rub]
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt [ditto]
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper [if you don't have a 1/8 tsp measurement, just fill half of 1/4 tsp with black pepper]
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper [if you don't have white pepper just use black pepper, so it'd be 1/4 tsp black pepper total]
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning mix [if you have none on hand, use oregano]

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over chicken. Drizzle some olive oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Wait until oil is nice and hot and sear chicken on all sides in pan. In a shallow baking dish [I used a pie tin], grate peel from lemon, squeeze out juice from 1/2 lemon, and add garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir until mixed.

The recipe I was borrowing from said to take the skin off the chicken but I left it on for added flavor. Coat chicken in mixture and arrange, bone-side up, in pan. Cover dish and bake for 30 minutes. Turn and baste chicken and drizzle a bit more olive oil and squeeze more lemon juice on top. Lower oven to 400 degrees, bake uncovered for 10 more minutes, then broil for 5 minutes.

[adapted from recipe found at allrecipes]

I served it with mashed potatoes and spicy corn [added cayenne pepper, salt + pepper to corn]. This one was a winner!

To full bellies and wallets,


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Perfection in a few words:

  • The delicious smell of a pot roast plugging away in the crock pot [recipe below]
  • The triumphant feeling of finding a pumpkin patch not too far from Chicago [Bengston's is only an hour drive... totally worth it] – I had to post some photos from our outing:

who doesn't love a good goat on a roof sighting?

bengston's, our patch of choice, + the tiny head of my wonderful bf

  • Homemade salted caramel hot cocoa [recipe below]
  • A great glass [or two] of rich red wine
  • Going to a football game with a thick sweater and a cozy scarf wrapped around my neck
  • Taking a long walk with my mom while watching the leaves fall
  • Catching up on some good books indoors under a soft blanket
  • Hearty homemade chili in front of a roaring fire

What are your ideas of fall bliss?

my darling niece + her pumpkin

Easy-as-Pie Pot Roast for Two [+leftovers]

  • 2.5 lb. pot roast
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup [if possible get low-sodium, that makes it easier to control the sodium content in this dish as it's prone to over-saltiness]
  • 1 package of dry onion soup mix [ditto]
  • 1 can of diet coke [or use regular... diet was just what I had on hand]
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • carrots [as much as you'd like]
  • mushrooms [ditto]

Rub roast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder [it's okay if roast is frozen]. Drizzle some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, drop in garlic cloves. After several minutes remove garlic cloves and add roast to pan. Sear on both sides.

While roast browns up, pour diet coke in crock pot. It sounds bizarre, but trust me this is the secret ingredient that no one, absolutely no one, will be able to put a finger on… I think the carbonation tenderizes the meat and the sweetness lends additional flavor. Okay now where were we - Line bottom of crock pot with onion slices, mushrooms, and carrots [I will say this is the first time I've used carrots and mushrooms in my pot roast recipe and they add such a depth of flavor - they're an absolute must from now on]. In a bowl, mix mushroom soup with onion soup mix. Remove roast from pan and coat in mushroom soup mixture. Place in crock pot with a layer of onions on top. Throw in garlic cloves and the rest of your mushrooms and carrots. Fill the [now empty] mushroom soup can with water and pour around roast.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours. Pour over brown rice or mashed potatoes and dig on in.

Homemade Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa

  • chewy caramel candies [2 per cup o'cocoa]
  • 2 cups milk [use your favorite kind of milk]
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • handful milk chocolate chips
  • marshmallows
  • kosher salt

In a saute pan simmer milk, sugar, and dash of vanilla extract. Add chocolate chips, a couple marshmallows, and one piece of caramel, stir to melt all. In separate pan melt one piece of caramel with dash of water. Add to chocolate mixture. Pour into a nice, big mug and add a pinch of kosher salt on top. Yum!

Wishing you the coziest of fall nights,

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