Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

I can’t believe it’s almost Turkey Day! Where’d the time go? For the past few years, I have helped my mom cook for Thanksgiving. She usually handles the main parts of the meal and I am left with the desserts, the appetizers and the signature Thanksgiving cocktail. Since Thanksgiving is almost here, I have been racking my brain to think of just the right recipes. I’ve consulted a few friends and family for help and have done some research online. I think I’ve come up with some great options and would love to share them with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll want to try one out at your Thanksgiving celebration this year. Fancy that!


Honesycrisp Apple Sangria (from


  • 3 cinnamon sticks (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 honeycrisp apples, chopped
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine (I suggest a light-bodied Spanish variety)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups apple cider*
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (or juice from 2 medium oranges)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Club soda, to taste


Place the cinnamon sticks, apples, and orange slices in a large pitcher. Add wine, apple cider, brandy, orange juice, and lemon juice. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for 6 – 24 hours.

For decoration, you can also moisten the rim of your glass with water and dip into a mix of cinnamon and sugar.

*Makes 6-8 servings

Photo taken from Sally's Baking Addiction from

Photo taken from Sally’s Baking Addiction from

Sparkling Pomegranate Punch (from


  • 3 tablespoon(s) sugar
  • 1 cup(s) pomegranate juice
  • 2 750-milliliter bottles sparkling wine, chilled
  • 3/4 cup(s) late-harvest white wine, such as late-harvest Riesling chilled
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup(s) diced fresh pineapple, 1/2 inch
  • 1/4 cup(s) pomegranate seeds
  •  Ice cubes, for serving


In a punch bowl, dissolve the sugar in the pomegranate juice, stirring vigorously. Add the sparkling wine and late-harvest white wine, and then add the orange slices, diced pineapple and pomegranate seeds. Serve the sparkling pomegranate punch over ice cubes.



Cranberry Brie


  • 1 large sheet of puff pastry dough (usually in the freezer section)
  • 1 round or wedge of Brie cheese (do not remove rind)
  • 1/3 cup cranberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 F

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Lay the pastry sheet on the baking sheet.

Center the Brie in the middle of the pastry. Spread the jam evenly over the top of the Brie. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the jam. Fold the pastry over the top of the Brie, sealing the openings.

Bake about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Put on a nice platter and surround with crackers.


Caramelized Onion, mushroom, Apple and Gruyere Bites (from

Note: I made these last year for Thanksgiving and they are definitely a lot easier to make than they seem. I might just have to make them again this year!

Photo taken from

Photo taken from



  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1½ granny smith apples, cubed into ½” cubes
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1½ oz. grated gruyere cheese
  • 2 tbsp. chives, minced
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 package (1 pound) of frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten


In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and the 1 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let the filling cool to room temperature.

Position 1 rack in the upper third and 1 rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the same pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and sugar and stir to coat the apples. Cook, stirring, until the apples are just starting to caramelize and have softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the onions and stir in the cheese, chives, thyme and the 1/8 tsp. pepper.

Cut the puff pastry into 2-inch squares and place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing the squares about 1 inch apart. Brush the pastry squares with the egg mixture and place a heaping 1 Tbs. filling in the center of each square. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, until the pastry is crisp underneath and golden brown on top, about 25 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the tarts cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature.

*Makes 32 tarts.



Apple Crumb Pie

Photo taken from

Photo taken from


  • 1 already made pie crust
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups thinly sliced, peeled cooking apples
  • ½ cup chopped pecans


On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch circle. Transfer pastry to a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. Trim; crimp edge as desired.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt.

Add apple slices and gently toss until coated. Transfer apple mixture to the pastry-lined pie plate. Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture (see below for directions).

To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes more or until top is golden. Remove from oven; sprinkle pie with pecans (sometimes I leave out the pecans). Cool on wire rack.

Crumb topping directions:

Stir together brown sugar, flour, and rolled oats. Using a pastry blender (I usually just use my hands and a knife), cut in butter or margarine until the topping mixture resembles coarse crumbs.


Mini Pumpkin Pies (from


  • 2 prepared pie crusts
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Roll each pie crust out onto a floured surface to a rough rectangle about 11 inches square. Cut each pie crust into 12 3-inch rounds. Fit the little pie crust circles into 24 mini pie dishes.

Separate one egg, and place the egg white into a small bowl. Beat the egg white until slightly frothy, and brush the edges of each mini pie crust with egg white. Place the remaining yolk into a bowl, and beat with remaining 2 eggs. Mix the softened cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice into the eggs to make a smooth filling. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling into each crust.

Bake the pies in the preheated oven until the crust edges are golden brown and the filling is set, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool before eating.

*Makes 24 mini pies


Words of Wisdom to My Future Children from Their Mid 20-Year-Old Mother

Photo taken from Flickr and photographed by Ole

Photo taken from Flickr and photographed by Ole

  • Don’t let the little things get to you.
  • Work on living in the moment. It’s all you have.
  • Remember that everything happens for a reason. Everything.
  • Go with your gut feeling. It’s usually right.
  • Respect yourself enough to know when it’s time to walk away from something.
  • Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. If you do this, people will gain confidence in you too.
  • Stand your ground and stick up for what you believe.
  • Have your own opinions, don’t just go along with what everyone else thinks and feels.
  • If you can dream it, it can happen.
  • Listen to your parents. They are always right.
  • Never settle for anything or anyone. What you’re looking for is out there and possible. Be patient.
  • Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing.
  • Be polite and treat people the way you want to be treated.
  • You can tell a lot about a stranger just by if they hold the door for you.
  • Listen to what people have to say. Sometimes you’ll hear more than you expected.
  • Laugh a lot. Life is a whole lot better when you can laugh at yourself and at the little things.
  • Your friends are gold. Remember how important they are and remind them this periodically.
  • You will get your heart broken many times in life. That’s OK. It builds character and helps you grow.
  • A relationship should make you a better version of yourself. If the person you are with does not help you grow and make you a better person, get out of the relationship.
  • Sometimes something that was right for you when you were in your late teens isn’t always good for you in your mid-20s.
  • Grandparents grow older as you grow and it’s hard to see them age. Nothing helps make this easier, but remember the good times and accept the change. There’s still so much to learn from them at every stage in your life.
  • A pet can be one of the best investments you make. Just be sure that before you invest, you have time to care for it and love it the way it is willing to love you.
  • Get a hobby. It doesn’t have to be something cliché or typical. Do what makes you happy and content.
  • Learn to listen to yourself and know when to say “no” to people. Do what YOU want to do and what’s best for you.
  • Stay positive in every situation. It will get you further in life. If you’re truly able to master this, it will drive people crazy! Not many people possess this ability.
  • Live healthy. Mind, body, and spirit. Listen to your body and what it needs. Make exercise a normal part of your life and eat what you want, keeping everything in moderation.
  • Make sure that if you were to die tomorrow, there’s at least one person who knows all your secrets and would help keep your spirit alive in everything they do in their life.
  • If you have a best friend, don’t take this for granted. There are many people who will never have the chance to experience this type of relationship. If you have to question if you have that with someone, then it’s probably not the case. When you have a best friend, you know it.
  • Enjoy the little things. They make the big things.
  • In every type of relationship you have, always be honest and upfront. It saves a lot of time and builds more trust.
  • Make sure you are passionate about your job and your career. If that passion exists, it will never feel like work.
  • Always be open to meeting new people. You never know where it will take you.
  • You’ll fight with your mother a lot when you’re a teenager, but she’ll become your best friend and biggest supporter after you get through this stage.
  • It’s OK to ask for help sometimes. It shows humility.
  • Don’t ever do anything for someone expecting to get something in return. Do it because it’s something you WANT to do.
  • Never compare your life to someone else’s life. You only see what they want to show the world.
  • Be sensitive to others. You never know what they’re going through.
  • Money isn’t everything but unfortunately, it does make life easier. Remember this and work hard for every dollar you earn.
  • If you’re anything like your mother, the cure for anything is your best friend, ice cream and the beach.
  • Spend time alone. Never be afraid of this.

Even though I can provide you with advice, there’s a lot that you will have to learn on your own. You will only learn this through experience. I could continue to write, but no matter how long I make this list, there will still be more to add. I’m sure you will add to my list one day and that’s what will make it your own. Fancy that!

Another Year, Another Candle

Photo taken from Flickr and photographed by Rosie Alyea

Photo taken from Flickr and photographed by Rosie Alyea

I recently celebrated my birthday. I love birthdays no matter whose birthday it is. But, this year things were different. I was excited to celebrate and I had such a good time with my friends, but I started to realize that birthdays are so much more than just the celebration and party.

The older we get, the wiser we get (at least that’s what they say). This year, I felt this to be particularly true. I started to realize what I was really celebrating.

I was able to reflect on the past 20-something years and the good times and bad times and see how far I’ve come. I was able to step back and give myself a pat on the back for all of my accomplishments and finally let go of the mistakes I have made, putting those behind me.

I started to realize that it wasn’t about how many friends I had at my birthday brunch, but the quality of friendships I have with the amazing four friends that were able to attend. As I sat back laughing at one of their jokes, I was able to appreciate that each friend has contributed something different to my life and to our friendship.

Each friend was from a different part of my life. Whether it was a work friend, a college friend or a childhood friend, they were all there to celebrate with me. They might have been celebrating my life and the next chapter, but I was celebrating them.

I realized in that moment that birthdays are a time for celebrating another year in your life for all that’s happened and all that you’ve grown. It’s about celebrating it with those who have gotten you to that point. It’s like a “thank you” or a “you’ve put up with my sh*t and I love you for it.”

Birthdays are symbolic of change and growth. It’s about realizing what matters and knowing when it’s time to let go. It’s also about understanding and being OK with the changes in your life. Most importantly, it’s trusting that right there at that moment on that very day, the day of your birth, you are exactly where you are supposed to be in life with the people who are meant to be in it. Fancy that!

Fall Fun

Photo photographed by Alayna Shamy

Photo photographed by Alayna Shamy

The leaves have changed, pumpkins have appeared and Halloween is right around the corner! You know what that means; it’s officially fall. Fall is my favorite season. Part of the reason I love the season of fall is because it’s the season of my birthday and Halloween (my favorite holiday). It’s also such a great time to be outside enjoying the weather (not too hot and not too cold).

Since I call myself the ‘Fall Queen,’ I figured I’d share with you some of my favorite things to do during this wonderful season. Some may be traditional, typical things you’ve heard before, but I hope others will be new and surprising.

1. Apple Picking—Check out an orchard with friends and pick your own apples. It’s a lot more fun than you may think. Be sure to taste a few apple as you walk through the field and don’t forget to pick up some apple cider and apple cider donuts while you’re there!

 2. Pumpkin Picking—This is a must. Many places have apple and pumpkin picking at the same place, but you can go on separate days to get the full experience of both. Some places even have corn mazes and hayrides, which is always an added bonus.

3. Beach Day—I know this may seem like a crazy idea in the fall, but trust this beach girl on this one. The fall is the best time to go to the beach, especially in the beginning of the season in September and early October. There’s no one on the beach and you can still take in the rays while enjoying the calm, peaceful surroundings. I wouldn’t suggest wearing a bathing suit during this time of year, but instead enjoy the beach in a comfy sweat shirt with a hot tea or coffee.

4. Wine Tasting—I feel that fall is the best time for wine tasting. The weather is perfect and many vineyards host special events in the fall. Most people think of going to beer festivals during this time, but let’s not forget about the wine!

5. Festivals—I don’t think there’s another season that has better festivals than the fall. A simple search on the Internet will give you a list of all the festivals in your area including dates. I recently went to a Chowder and Rhythm Festival with all types of seafood chowder and MANY different lobster rolls…yumm! In the tri-state area, there are also many food truck and oyster festivals. I would highly recommend checking out at least one of these.

6. Day Trip—During the fall, many people are still missing summer. So, to keep the spontaneous and easy-going vibe of summer alive, take a short weekend or day trip. This trip doesn’t have to be expensive or far away, it’s just a nice change of scenery. Some of my favorite spots for short trips are Cape May, Lambertville, New Hope, Princeton, Red Bank and Philadelphia.

7. Haunted Hayride—You have to add a little spook in your life during this season. Haunted hayrides are a great evening activity in the fall. There are many places that host events and attractions designed to scare you and make you scream. Many of them have other options along with the haunted hayride where you can pay a package deal to take part in all of the action.

8. Football—Fall is football. Whether you attend a local high school game, college game or professional NFL game, football is a must. If you don’t want to go to see an in-person game, you can always enjoy it on TV. There are several bars that have outdoor seating areas with TVs, heaters and fire pits. What better way to spend a Sunday than sitting outside, drinking a beer, eating wings and watching football near a fire?

9. Make Caramel Apples—This is a fun project that can be done in a short amount of time. You can use the apples you bought from apple picking to make caramel apples! The easiest way is to buy caramel from the store, heat it up and dip the apples in it. You can also buy nuts or chocolate chips to put on your caramel apples. Be sure to decorate a few with fall sprinkles or little ghosts and bats. Spookyyyyy.

10. Have a picnic—The crisp fall air makes this season a perfect time to spend outside on a sunny day. Most people have picnics in the summer, but it’s not fun to sweat while you eat. In the fall, you can have a picnic in any park while enjoying the beautiful backdrop of the colored fall leaves.

11. Enjoy a Seasonal Drink—One of the reasons I love autumn so much is because I love anything pumpkin flavored. Many beer and wine companies release seasonal flavors during this time of year. There are also many restaurants and bars that make specialty martinis and cocktails to get you in the fall spirit. Change up your usual drink of choice and try something new. A pumpkin martini with whipped cream on top? It’s dessert in a cup. Fancy that!

Wedding Characters

Photo taken from Flickr and photographed by Lydia Arnold

Photo taken from Flickr and photographed by Lydia Arnold

I recently attended a wedding. Now, it seems that most people either love weddings or hate them. I happen to be one who enjoys them. I feel it’s such a happy time and a wedding usually means drinks, dancing and lots of socializing; some of my favorite things. But, I can see why people get frustrated with all that is expected of them when attending a wedding and the hassle that goes into blocking off your calendar for an event that lasts almost an entire weekend.

While I was at the wedding last weekend, I had to take part in my normal people watching (couldn’t resist) as I sat at my table eating my rather tasty and clearly homemade blueberry pie (Yes, they had pie instead of wedding cake. Apparently that’s how they do it in Idaho).

After observing the people at the wedding and the events that were taking place, I realized that no matter what type of wedding in the U.S. that you go to and wherever it may be located, there are three types of people who you will always encounter.

1. The drunk friend – When attending a heterosexual wedding, this person is often one of the groom’s friends. This is the dude that is secretly freaking out and feeling bad for himself that he’s wifeless, never the less, girlfriendless. He’s often walking around with a huge smile on his face and stumbling and slurring his words. By the end of the night, he’s usually patting the groom on the back way too many times and is so drunk that he has his tie tied around his head…it seemed like a good idea at the time.

2. The crazy bridesmaid – This is the equivalent to the male mentioned above, but this woman is DESPERATE. She was paired with the groom’s 18-year-old cousin in the bridal procession and everyone attending the wedding knows how mad and uncomfortable she is by the look on her face. As the wedding ceremony goes on, she starts to cry and everyone begins to realize that this isn’t just because she’s overjoyed that her friend found love. She practically knocks the other women over just to catch the bride’s bouquet at the reception, but still somehow doesn’t catch it. This is when it all goes downhill. She heads over to the bartender at the bar and is a drunken, emotional mess the rest of the reception.

3. The dance floor star – The dancing star is often the quiet, lay low type who surprises everyone. In the beginning, the DJ will usually try to get everyone to start dancing, but this dancing king or queen is usually never the first one on the dance floor. They have precise timing. Eventually, they casually walk toward the dance floor and start making small feet movements. The warm up doesn’t last long. Soon enough, they’re grabbing hands and twirling people around. The dance partners disappear to eat dessert and it’s all history. The moonwalk, the twist, the worm and even the dougie. You know how the story ends. Fancy that!

5 Reasons to Visit Maryland

Photo taken from Flickr and photographed by Kyle Kinzer

Photo taken from Flickr and photographed by Kyle Kinzer

Both New Jersey and New York have a special place in my heart, but Maryland is also a state which is dear to me. I went to college in Baltimore and have many fond memories of the place I once called my home away from home. After living there for four years, I have come up with a list of the best things that the state has to offer. Next time you’re planning a trip, consider Maryland and explore some of the options on my list.

1. Visit Annapolis – this town is full of rich history and has great scenic views since it sits on the water. You can catch a U.S. Naval Academy football game or take part in a walking tour of the capital. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to visit and museums to explore too.

2. Get Crabby – Maryland is known for its delicious crabs. It’s almost impossible to eat at a restaurant and not find crab on the menu. Schultz’s Crab House, P. Steamers and Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn are just a few places known for their fresh, seasoned crabs.

3. Explore the Inner Harbor – you can’t visit Maryland without making a trip to Baltimore to explore the Inner Harbor. There is a lot of great shopping and many restaurants in the Inner Harbor. You can even buy tickets to the aquarium. In nice weather, there are dragon paddle boats that you can ride on the water and there is also a water taxi that will take you around to different parts of the Inner Harbor.

4. Try a Brew – there are many breweries in Maryland. One of the most famous is National Bohemian beer or “Natty Boh” as the locals call it. While visiting Maryland, try to get to a brewery for a tour and a tasting. Be sure to make a reservation in advance since many tours book quickly. Some of the most popular breweries are: Flying Dog Brewery, Heavy Seas Beer and Evolution Craft Brewing Company.

5. Get Some Spirit – one thing you will notice almost instantly about Maryland is that Marylanders love sports and have a lot of pride for their home teams. If you’re visiting in the fall, try to get tickets to a Baltimore Ravens football game. In the spring and summer, attending an Orioles game is a popular thing to do and tickets are reasonably priced. Enjoy the spirit and excitement at the games and be sure to wear your purple or orange. Go Ravens!

Now that the weather is getting a little cooler, I feel this is one of the best times to visit Maryland. I would definitely suggest taking a trip soon because there’s so much to do and see. Who knows, you might love it so much you will want to go back. Fancy that!

Underground Thoughts


Photo from Flicker taken by Andreas Adelmann

Photo taken from Flickr and photographed by Andreas Adelmann

Most people living in major cities rely on some form of public transportation to get them to different locations throughout the city. In New York City, thousands of people use the MTA subway system as their means of transportation, and I happen to be a part of this fine group of people.

I am convinced that each time I walk down the stairs into the subway it takes months off my life and clogs about 100 more pores on my face, but I have grown to enjoy the entire experience and even find it entertaining.

After speaking with friends who also ride the NYC subway, I have found that I am not alone with my rather absurd subway thoughts. So, I’ve decided to share with you this inner dialogue because I am sure if you have ever taken a subway, you will definitely be able to relate. It goes something like this …


OK, here we go.

I wonder if my train will be here soon.

Ugh I probably just missed it.

Where’s my MetroCard? I better not have to refill it again, that line is so long. Why haven’t I bought an unlimited one yet?

Add that to the list.

Ahhh yes! It worked!

OK downtown … yup, that’s where I’m going.

Ugh I knew I just missed it.

What time is it? … I’m good.

Oh he’s cute. Great, that’s his boyfriend.

AWWWW look at that dog! Poor thing is probably so confused down here.

I hear a noise. It’s definitely my train … nope, other side of the tracks. Figures.

Whoa, that lady is walking a little too close to the edge.

That would be bad.

I wonder how many people drop their stuff down there. It doesn’t look like there is much but dirt and garbage though … and rats.

Yes, EW, that’s a rat.

That guy is always playing his guitar down here. I wonder if he actually makes any money doing that. Wow, that lady just gave him a dollar.


I hear it. Thank god.

Here it comes.

… Ugh no one moves fast enough to get through these doors. One day I think the doors are going to close on me.

Oh there’s a seat … no, not sitting next that lady. Never mind.

OK, three stops and I’m there.

Don’t look up. I can’t make awkward eye contact with anyone. That’s the worst.

I wonder if that guy knows everyone can hear his music. Taylor Swift? That’s embarrassing.

No, he definitely has no clue.

Oh look, there’s the dog. How cute, it’s sitting on its owner’s lap. That dog is definitely used to riding the subway.

I wonder if I’ll do that with my dog when I buy one.

All this screeching noise would probably make the poor dog go deaf.

What are these ladies doing? Oh, they spotted the dog.

Pictures?! They asked the owner if they could take pictures!? Oh my god. I guess they’ve never seen a dog before …

Why am I sitting on this seat? Isn’t there a subway bedbug epidemic happening?

Too late now, they’re probably crawling down my pants.

Is this my stop?

I always tune out that monotone announcement lady. I wonder if anyone actually enjoys hearing her voice.

Yes, finallyyyy.

Wait this looks different. I wonder if I got on a different subway car than usual.

Whatever. I’ll find a sign to direct me.

Don’t look like you’re reading the signs. I have to try to at least act like I know where I’m going.

… Well I do but I have no clue how to find daylight from down here.

That’s it! Yes!

Walk fast. Get me out.

Air! Ahhh. I made it.

OK, now what?

Wait, where am I?


Enjoy the ride. Fancy that!