BLUE BIRD BRUNCH plus a Le Creuset giveaway

Is there anything better than a warm weather brunch? The sun is out, every one is in a good mood, the champagne is flowing – it’s just magic all around. As you know, I love any (and all) excuses to throw a get together and hosting a brunch around a fabulous new serving dish is right up my alley. This weekend it was all about this gorgeous new Fleur Cocotte from Le Creuset.

Normally, I am very minimal and utilitarian about my dishes, but there is something about the embossed flowers on the lid and base of the cocotte that I couldn’t resist. Plus, it has a lovely matte finish that makes me feel all sexy and European when I am cooking.

IN FACT, I love it so much we are going to GIVE ONE AWAY!! Hop on over to @Lauren_Kelp and enter to win.

That way we can be cooking twinzies and make all sorts of delicious fun things in our fancy new Fleur Cocotte

Speaking of delicious things, have you tried a carrot ginger soup? Sister, I am hooked! We made one a few months ago and they have been on steady repeat ever since. I love this recipe (don’t worry, it’s below) because it’s light, fresh, super good for you, and wildly easy to make. PLUS, it is a dream for entertaining. It’s pretty and tasty – what could be better?

Keep scrollin’ on down for the recipe…

CARROT & GINGER SOUP
Author: 
Recipe type: SOUP
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 pound carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives
Instructions
  1. Heat ½ cup broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in ginger, carrots, potato and remaining broth and heat to a boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  4. In batches, carefully puree in a blender.
  5. Add water or broth if needed to thin to desired consistency.
  6. Reheat soup if necessary. Stir in lemon juice and garnish with chives.

Are you convinced yet that you need the Fleur Cocotte in your life? Don’t forget to head over to @Lauren_Kelp for your chance to win one! Giveaway is open to US only (sorry!) and we will be picking the winner tomorrow!

SHOP THE BRUNCH
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thank you Le Creuset for sponsoring this post. all thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own

KALE & AVOCADO SALAD lovely for a spring housewarming party

Party people, what’s happening?! Is this warm weather not the absolute best? Every time spring rolls around all I want to do is entertain. The windows are open, the grill gets fired up, and it’s a non-stop open house!

We recently moved in to a new space, so naturally we had to throw a housewarming party! I don’t know about you, but I LOVE housewarming get-togethers. Home ownership is a big deal and so it absolutely deserves to be celebrated and y’all know how I love to celebrate. But I also think that moving is a big deal and should be celebrated (congrats, you made it through a move….real life, that’s a big deal) so why not throw a housewarming party for a new apartment?! All the house parties!!

We are sharing four fabulous tricks to hosting a stress free housewarming party over on the Kendall Jackson blog, so head on over and get you some pointers. Real talk though, housewarming parties shouldn’t be stressful – don’t let them be. Who cares if you haven’t unpacked all your boxes and if the house isn’t perfect? There is something charming and refreshing about a space that isn’t perfect, you know?

Last week we hosted our little housewarming bash and I made my absolute favorite seasonal salad. I call it seasonal because it sounds like it won’t always be there, but truthfully, we have it in the dead of winter, so it’s really an all year round salad, it just tastes better in the spring-time. Meet the kale & avocado salad!

It’s got delicious chickpeas, yummy kale (that you rub a lemon vinaigrette on the leaves and it tastes like magic), and lots of avocado (because, hellllllo). It is perfect for a crowd and tastes like absolute heaven with a glass of crisp white wine. That is why we served K-J AVANT by the boatload. Salads and wine are like the grown up peanut butter and jelly and deserve to be enjoyed just as often.

Here is what I love about pairing a really healthy, delicious salad with K-J AVANT the earthy taste from the salad is sweetened by the vibrant fruity notes from the wine. The Chardonnay is crisp and cool and when it meets the avocado and chickpeas it is like a magical garden party. Plus, the price point is wildly affordable, so I always have it on hand for parties so we never run out!

Kale & Avocado Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
Dressing
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (fresh)
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped)
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup EVOO
Salad
  • 8 cups Kale (rinsed and chopped)
  • 1 15oz can Chickpeas (drained)
  • 1 ripe Avocado (diced)
Instructions
  1. For the dressing, combine lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Once thoroughly mixed, slowly add in the olive oil while whisking until creamy.
  3. Add your kale to a large bowl and pour the dressing over the leaves and gently massage the dressing in to the leaves (this takes the bitterness out of the leaves and ensures a nice lemon flavor with every bite)
  4. Rinse and drain your chickpeas and dice your avocado into little cubes and gently fold in to the salad.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate util ready.

So, what do you think? Ready to host a fabulous stress free housewarming party and with a delicious salad and Chardonnay pairing as the menu? We thought so!


this post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson, all thoughts and opinions are my own

DRINKING MUSHROOMS would you try the latest health trend?

Drink mushrooms for a healthier diet

Before you start thinking I’ve gone off the deep end, or have a penchant for psychedelics, hear me out… I’ve been adding mushrooms to my morning routine and it has been AMAZING! Mushrooms might just be the next big superfood and if they taste as good as Four Sigmatic’s, we are all in.

It is no secret that certain mushrooms are packed full of healthy heroes that help your immunity, digestion issues, and various other healing properties, but knowing, finding, and using those magic mushrooms has always been a bit of a hurdle. Luckily, a bunch of guys from Finland set out to make mushrooms (and all their good juju) more mainstream and now we have Four Sigmatic in all it’s glory.

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Here’s the shroom boom breakdown:

  • Mushrooms like reishi are adaptogens (turmeric is a popular adaptogen) meaning they help your body manage stress.
  • Their blend gives you the boost of caffeine without the jitters, in fact, it actively works to heal your body from stress induced issues
  • Reishi, Chaga, & Cordyceps are three main types of mushrooms the teas tend to focus on…
    1. Reishi is the Queen B of mushrooms because it helps regulate hormones, lower stress, and break down cortisol.
    2. Chaga has the highest source of antioxidants, helps lower cholesterol, and has been proven to help manage diabetes
    3. Cordyceps are really good for oxygen intake so it’s great for runners and athletes

MUSHROOM LATTE
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (i.e. almond, cashew, etc.)
  • 1 Four Sigmatic packet
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. In a small sauce pan, heat all ingredients to a simmer.
  2. Transfer the liquid to a blender and blend slowly until nice and frothy
  3. Pour into a mug and enjoy hot!

What do you think? Would you jump on the mushroom train? After a week of drinking their blends, I feel caffeinated without the jitters and have noticed that I am more steady and focused then ever before. Plus I feel bad ass because I am drinking mushrooms every morning.

HOW TO DECORATE CUPCAKES like you went to pastry school

Question for you – are you a baker? I am trying so hard to become a really awesome baker, but I have to master the patience portion. With cooking, you can throw in a little of this & a little of that, a dash of something unexpected, and voila – you feel like Gordon Ramsey. With baking, there is so much precision and attention to detail – neither of which I have. In a decision to try and up my kitchen game, I signed up for the Windy City Dinner Fairy cupcake decorating class at Macy’s last week & would you believe it was a total blast?! It was free, delicious, and I learned some seriously valuable frosting tips! 
How to decorate cupcakes like you went to pastry school

Nicole from Windy City Dinner Fairy taught us how to decorate cupcakes with a piping bag. Have you ever used one? We got a set as a shower gift and I have barely broken it out, but thanks to some pro tips (like, make sure your frosting is room temperature before putting it into the bag otherwise the icing won’t go on smoothly) and I feel like I have kind of got the hang of it. 

How to decorate cupcakes like you went to pastry school

If you are like me & have no idea what you are doing, here is a basic guide:

Round Tips: for lines, dots, writing, filling, and thicker frosting

Open Star Tip: star shaped decorations & perfect to make the below hydrangea flower frosting effect

Closed Star Tip: rosettes

Basket-weave Tip: for lattices & ribbonlike lines and boarders

To make the awesome hydrangea cupcake frosting effect (like the cupcake below), fasten your open star tip to your piping bag, fill with room temperate icing, and squeezing slowly place a drop of icing starting from the outer rims moving inward. Feel free to go as high as you want to go or as wide. It’s your cupcake, so have a little fun with is!

How to decorate cupcakes like you went to pastry schoolSo, what do you think? Ready to try out your new cupcake decorating skills? For more information on Windy City Dinner Fairy visit Nicole’s Facebook page and for upcoming information on Macy’s events, click here. Happy decorating!

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How to decorate cupcakes like you went to pastry schoolThis post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy’s; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

SANEM’S TRIFLE the best 30-second dessert ever

You know when you are going over to a friends house for a dinner party & you ask what to bring, and because your friend is nice, they are like “Ohmygosh, nothing, don’t worry!” Or maybe, “maybe a bottle of wine?” But you love this friend and you want to help out, so you say, “Okay, I’ll bring some wine, but I am also bringing over dessert. Nothing you can do about it.”
30-second dessert | Sanem's Trifle via Lauren KelpYou feel good because you’ve taken some of the load off your friend & that is a nice thing. You’ve got an extra bottle of wine from the last time you hosted, so that’s easy breezy. Done & done. You’ve crossed that off your mental to do list & all is well. Until the day of the dinner party & you’ve totally forgotten your really nice offer to bring dessert & you are running late & are starting to stress about it. What to do?!

Step away from the store bought pie, you don’t need it. Give me 30-seconds and a few simple ingredients and we will whip up such a delicious dessert, you’ll be on sweets duty for the rest of your dinner party attending life!
30-second dessert | Sanem's Trifle via Lauren Kelp

Meet your new favorite dessert, the Sanem Trifle <3. A girlfriend of mine, the lovely Sanem of Sanem’s Boutique, shared this trifle recipe with me and she swore that it was truthfully the best dessert & couldn’t be more simple to whip up.

So, naturally, we had to give it a try. Lawd, have mercy was she right. This dessert is crazy easy to make & really, really good. It’s wildly easy to make & perfect for individual servings or to make little ones en mass for a cocktail party.

30-second dessert | Sanem's Trifle via Lauren Kelp

Sanem's Trifle
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Sara Lee family size all butter pound cake
  • One quart Land O Lakes heavy whipping cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 box Salerno Santa's Favorite anise flavored cookies
  • 1 Jell-O box of instant white chocolate pudding
Instructions
  1. Rinse raspberries in a colander and set aside to dry.
  2. Follow instructions on the back of your pudding box. Make the pudding and set aside.
  3. Pour about 2 cups of heavy whipping cream into a large mixing bowl. By using a balloon whisk, whisk the whipping cream with powdered sugar for about 5 minutes. I seriously eyeball the amount of powdered sugar I add. Start off with a tablespoon or two and then add to taste. You will know your whipped cream is done when it reaches soft peaks.
  4. Take the pound cakes and place them on your cutting board. Cut them in half length wise. Take the cup your a going to "build" your trifle in and place it open side down on the pound cake. Press the cup down to cut out your pound cake. Push the round pound cake piece down into the cup with your fingers so it becomes the first (bottom) layer of your trifle.
  5. Your next layer are the raspberries. This layer will cover the entire piece of pound cake. Be generous.
  6. Third layer to creating the Razy P Trifle is the pudding. I add the pudding into a glad ziploc sandwich bag. I seal the top, cut a corner off the bottom of the bag. It helps me control the application of the pudding and looks much neater rather than adding the pudding with a spoon. Add enough pudding so that you have completely covered the raspberries.
  7. You are almost done! Now, take that fabulous fluffy whipped cream and do the same thing that you just did with the pudding. Add some whipped cream into a sandwich bag, cut a corner off and add your whipped cream over the pudding. Cover all of the pudding with the layer of whipped cream, and you are set!
  8. The anise flavored cookies play a role at the very end. I add some in a sandwich bag, seal the bag and crush the cookies. Remove the crumbs from the bag and garnish the top of your trifle. If you have a few extra raspberries you can add one two on top of the whipped cream and garnish the crushed cookies over the raspberries. Grab your spoon and dig into the layers of goodness, my friend!

30-second dessert | Sanem's Trifle via Lauren KelpStunning right? Promise me something, if you only try one thing on LK, have it be this. I mean, just look at it! Give it a try & let me know what you think. xo, LK

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30-second dessert | Sanem's Trifle via Lauren Kelp

CHAI CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES + our new favorite cookbook & a fun event!

One woman’s Vogue is another gals cook book – know what I mean? Between you & me, I never really got into fashion magazines. Truthfully, I enjoy Vogue & Vanity Fair more for the articles than anything else & while I absolutely appreciate the styling & editorial finesse, they never became a staple in my purchasing habits. But cookbooks are a different story entirely.

PS – Hey, CHICAGO! Scroll down to the bottom, I’ve got a special surprise for you!

chai chocolate chip cookies via lauren kelp

Give me a good cookbook & I will read it like an 11-year-old reading Harry Potter for the first time (or, fine, okay, also me every time I read it…I mean book 6 is just so freaking good!) A new cookbook is full of exciting possibilities – new recipes, yes, but also new stories, new ingredients to fall in love with, new ways to show your friends and family you love them, new ways to be thoughtful about your food & mindful of what you are putting into your body. In fact, I love cookbooks so much, I have given myself a strict monthly budget to indulge my little habit. December’s cookbook of the month is the latest from Nancy Silverton, Mozza at Home.

chai chocolate chip cookies via lauren kelp

If you don’t know Nancy, you should! She is the only chef to win both the Outstanding Pasty Chef & Outstanding Chef awards from the James Beard Foundation (i.e. big freaking deal). Mozza at Home is all about crowd-pleasing recipes for relaxed, family-style gatherings. Uhh, does that sound like anyone you might know?! She gives you the backstory on each recipe, where it came from, why it’s personally significant, and she tells the story of her time in Tuscany & you are tempted to put in your two-weeks notice & fly out to meet her. I just got the book yesterday but am already obsessed! I was so excited, I woke up this morning (yes, as in like 3 hours ago) and whipped up her Chai Chocolate Chip cookies & they are nothing short of magical. Enjoy with a cup of coffee or hot mint tea and you’ve just about died and gone to heaven. Grab the recipe below.

CHAI CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 dozen
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1¾ cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • 1⅔ cup + 2 tablespoons bread flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • 2½ sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1½ teaspoons grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1¼ lb chocolate (60% - 70% cacao), chopped into ½ chunks
Instructions
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position & preheat the over to 325.
  2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast them in the over for 10-12 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Feel free to shake the pan & adjust half way through baking, so nuts brown evenly. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool, & turn off your oven. Once nuts are cooled, coarsely chop and set aside.
  3. Combine the cake & bread flour in a large box and stir to combine.
  4. In another large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and pepper and mix until light in texture and color. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly in between.
  5. Add the vanilla and mix. Reduce speed and add in the flour and mix until no flour is visible. Add in chocolate and stir to combine.
  6. Cover the dough & refrigerate for at least 1 hour (preferably over night)
  7. Adjust the oven rack so one is on the top third and one is on the bottom third and preheat to 350 & set up two cooling racks.
  8. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into 1¾ ounce balls (smaller than a ping pong ball). Put 6 to 8 balls on each large baking sheet with at least 2 inches of space in between each ball of dough.
  9. Put one sheet on each rack in the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes, until light golden, but still soft. Switch baking sheet positions halfway through cooking time, so they bake evenly.
  10. Remove baking sheets from the oven and set on the cooling rack & let sit for 5 minutes.
  11. Repeat with the rest of the dough & enjoy!

chai chocolate chip cookies via lauren kelp

For all my CHICAGO friends, come meet me & Nancy at her book signing at the Macy’s State Street at noon on December 9th! I’ll be there from 12-1, so come introduce yourself & say ‘hi’ & I’ve got a special gift for you!

Looking for more fun holiday events? Check out this list of events happening at Macy’s this month!

chai chocolate chip cookies via lauren kelp


lauren buttonThis post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy’s; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

GLAZED FRUIT LOOP DONUTS

fruit loop glazed donuts via lauren kelp

Hello, hello my festive little friends! Are you getting in the holly jolly spirit? Are your bells a jingling? Okay, okay, I’ll stop 🙂 But seriously, I don’t think I have come down from a sugar high since Thanksgiving and I have no plan (well, no serious plans, anyway) of stopping until good ol’ 2017. I mean, I’ve never met a warm carb I didn’t like & todays recipe is no exception. Ladies & gentlemen, meet your new favorite brunch treat – the Glazed Fruit Loop donut. 

fruit loop glazed donuts via lauren kelp

She is sassy, a little unexpected, loopy for sure, but always a good time. Perfect for a holiday office treat, at-home brunch with the girls, a morning meeting, or hey, just to have on hand. Is the recipe easy? Uh, duh. Do I have most of the ingredients at home? Absolutely. Can I swap out Fruit Loops for another favorite cereal? I mean…if you must 😉

fruit loop glazed donuts via lauren kelp

So, normally, I am no a big donut eater, but one the occasional Saturday morning, sometimes I will wake up early & whip up a fresh batch. Or if we have friends staying with us, I think waking up to the smell of freshly backed donuts is a special kind of treat. My sweet husband sometimes switches up our normal breakfast cereal choice for something a little more…youthful, so last weekend I was feeling festive and decided to sprinkle the tops of the freshly coated donuts with fruit loops & my life has never been the same since. This recipe gets a big fat “Husband Approved” stamp and it’s a fun little indulgence. 

fruit loop glazed donuts via lauren kelp

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I bake, I have no regard for mess. Things are everywhere – flour in my hair, covering the counter, messy spatulas laying on the counter, open food coloring containers – it’s a bit of a war zone. But, with a little helping hand from method, I fear no mess! If you haven’t heard of method, I am sure you’ve seen their super fun colorful ads with mess everywhere & drippy ice cream cones – they are so well done, right? Anyway, between their line of hand soap, surface cleaners, and all-purpose cleaners, there is no mess you can’t candle. Yes, even a bag of fruit loops that spilled on the floor and you accidentally step in them and those adorable little loops turn into a million tiny crushed crumbs. Even that mess…

Best part? method is animal friendly, so that means no animal testing (HOORAY!) and all of their products are people-friendly (read as: biodegradable, vegan + gluten free) so nothing scary and funky going on inside the bottle. So what are you waiting for? With no mess to fear & a killer recipe, you’ve got some baking to do! 

fruit loop glazed donuts via lauren kelp

GLAZED FRUIT LOOP DONUTS
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
DONUT
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • ½ teaspoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
ICING
  • Food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups of Fruit Loops cereal
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix your flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Grab a small saucepan & combine unsweetened almond milk, white vinegar, vanilla extract, egg, and butter over medium heat. Whisk gently until everything is combined into a sauce & pour into dry mixture and stir until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into a doughnut pan & bake until 10-14 minutes. Remove & place on wire rack to cool.
  4. While your donuts are cooling, it’s time to whip up the icing! In a medium mixing bowl, add your powdered sugar, unsweetened almond milk, and vanilla extract, mix well until nice & smooth. If you want two different color icings, evenly separate into two batches & add in food coloring. To get this pink color, use one drop of red – for purple, use one red & one purple. Mix well until color is thoroughly blended.
  5. Place a paper towel under your wire rack, put the donuts on the wire rack, and glaze away!

fruit loop glazed donuts via lauren kelp


lauren buttonThis post was brought to you by method #FearNoMess

QUICK & EASY CHERRY PIE another easy Thanksgiving recipe

How are you doing, my little turkey master? Feeling pumped to have the gang together this weekend? What are you making? Are you excited? A little anxious? Well, sister-friend, have no fear cause we are here to help with all those last minute cooking needs! You’ve got the bird handled and possibly some sides, but now it’s time to fill in all the extra little details – rolls, appetizers, and most importantly DESSERT! Don’t know what to do and don’t know if you can handle another 45-step recipe? Girl, we got you. Try this 4 step, 30-minute prep cherry pie and don’t look back! Delicious, easy & a total crowd-pleaser — what could be better? 

easy thanksgiving cherry pie via lauren kelpeasy thanksgiving cherry pie via lauren kelp

THANKSGIVING CHERRY PIE
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 pie
 
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 cups pitted cherries
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • Store bought crust (9 inch)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F & place bottom crust in pie pan. Set top crust aside, covered.
  2. Roll out half the crust and line a 9-inch pie pan. Refrigerate until needed. Roll out the top crust and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine tapioca, salt, sugar, cherries, and extracts. Let stand 15 minutes. Turn out into bottom crust and dot with butter. Cover with top crust, flute edges and cut vents in top. Place pie on a foil-lined cookie sheet--in case of drips!
  4. Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Let cool for several hours before slicing.

easy thanksgiving cherry pie via lauren kelp


 

HOW TO HOST A FRIENDSGIVING

host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelpHello, hello you amazing holiday hostess! How are you feeling? The holidays are officially here – Thanksgiving is like, tomorrow, and Christmas is right around the corner. You are tempted to let holiday anxiety sneak in and mess up your killer girl-boss-ness, but you won’t let it. Here’s why – we got you. We are going to help make this holiday season off the freaking chain. Don’t worry about the turkey, the presents, the holiday dynamics. You know why? Because, life is messy and weird and that’s okay. There is beauty in the mess. There is joy in imperfections. And, change starts at the dinner table, so let’s make this season one of big bear hugs instead of worrying about the perfect pot roast – shall we?host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelp

Okay, so real talk. Now that everyone is freaking out that Thanksgiving is right around the corner (which means Christmas is basically here in the blink of an eye), your calendar is about to get a whole lot more jam packed. How is that possible, you ask? Well, your friends love you & they want to get together to celebrate. Not to mention all of the work outings, parent/significant others parents commitments, and all the other normal busy stuff that is going on – you are about to  be one busy gal.
host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelp

We propose HOSTING YOUR OWN FRIENDSGIVING! I know, I know, it’s not some revolutionary new idea, but it is awesome nonetheless. Gather your friends, work besties, neighbors, and whoever else you want to invite over & have one big low-key, super fun bash.

So, friends, here is our step-by-step, fool proof plan on how to host the most delicious, stress-free Friendsgiving of all time! Interested? I thought so! Keep scrolling…. host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelp

SET THE TONE

As you know by know, we are all about the attainable dinner party. We choose friends over fancy table settings any day of the week, but Thanksgiving is a special time, so we are going to do a bit of both.

If you are like me, and live in a small apartment, there is temptation to not have a lot of people over due to space. Ignore this temptation because it’s silly. We totally rearrange our furniture to fit in as many people as possible. I mean, who cares? It’s just furniture! You won’t hurt it’s feelings.

Figure out the largest room in your house & take it over. Push those sofas back, hide that coffee table in the backyard, or do whatever you need to do to clear it out & move a big table in (yes, folding tables from Ikea or Costco totally count as big tables). Round up some chairs & set the table however fits you.

You like pumpkins, great – do that! Going for more of a moody jewel tone theme – fantastic! I am not going to tell you how to decorate your table because you already know how. My goal is to encourage you to be the catalyst that gets everyone together. How am I doing? Pretty good so far, right?!

host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelp

MENU PLANNING

Everyone knows that a rule of thumb for a killer Friendsgiving is to make it a potluck. It’s the best because everyone gets to make their favorite dish, it takes the pressure of the host, and it’s so fun to try everyone’s favorites! That being said, it’s important (you know, as the host) to have a few dishes to get the party started.

We recommend this amazing sauteed green bean recipe & the most ahhhhmazing browned maple butter sweet potato recipe. Pair them with a glass (or two…) of Kendall-Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir & you’ve got the fixings for one heck of a party!

host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelp


photography by Constance Higley

This post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

HAPPY CARROT SOUP or "how to stay healthy during the holidays"

Oooh, hiiii! We’re all friends here, so let’s get real for a second…are you starting to feel anxious about the holidays? It is still warm & fall-like in Chicago, so as of today, it doesn’t truly feel like the holiday season is upon us. But…sadly, my appetite isn’t getting the memo. I am seeing visions of sugar plum everything & all I want is those adorable sugar cookies decorated like snow flakes, and don’t even get me started on pumpkin spice macaroons….I mean, come on!

This year, I am trying (desperately) to reign myself in and not go overboard by eating all the carbs in sight. Don’t get me wrong, there will be plenty of indulging, but my goal is to make room for some healthier options at the table this year.

healthy thanksgiving soup via lauren kelpThis year, I am trying something new at our Thanksgiving table – soup! Traditionally, we have never served soup at our holiday table, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start now!

I saw this happy little orange soup bopping around the internet & decided to give it a spin and I am so glad I did. It is a perfect alternative for butternut squash soup, if you are looking to find a less heavy option but still want to keep that killer taste. With a hint of ginger, turmeric, thyme, and crispy apple, it’s a sure thing! Don’t believe me? See for yourself!

healthy thanksgiving soup via lauren kelp

HAPPY CARROT SOUP
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 bowls
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, chopped
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ cup unsweetened Silk Almond Milk
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Heat your water on medium/high heat in a soup pot.
  2. Once hot, sauté the onions and garlic until light brown. Add in the carrots, apple and ginger & cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the butternut squash, sea salt, turmeric, thyme, cinnamon and pepper next & mix well. Cook another 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the vegetable broth and Unsweetened Silk Almond milk. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all vegetables are soft.
  5. Turn off heat and stir in the fresh lemon juice and maple syrup.
  6. Pour it in your blender & pureé the soup until smooth and creamy. Add in salt, pepper, & spices to taste.
  7. et Voila!

healthy thanksgiving soup via lauren kelpSo, what do you think? Easier than you thought – right?! Hey, girl, I mean it when I say, we are all about thoughtful living. No one wants to spend the whole day in the kitchen, so here’s to the recipes that are delicious, healthy, and get you spending as much time with family and friends as possible!

healthy thanksgiving soup via lauren kelp


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.