Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflecting on 2013

First and foremost, Happy Birthday, Mom! I cannot believe how quickly this year has gone by, though I am extremely excited about what the New Year will bring. So much has happened in the past year, the good and the bad, and I wouldn’t trade any of it. I’ve grown so much personally and professionally and I know 2014 will be equally influential. I’ve decided to ring in the New Year by sharing some of my favorite moments from 2013. Thank you all for your support and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pan-Fried Tilapia with Balsamic Butter Sauce

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their family and friends! After our initial visit to the suburbs for the holidays, we decided to stay through the week and had such a wonderful time relaxing and spending quality time with loved ones. We made this dish for our family while we were home and it was such a hit I decided to share it. This has been one of our go-to recipes for a couple of years now, and while simple, it is delicious and indulgent. Tip: make sure you leave the glaze on low heat to prevent burning as it is mostly butter.

Pan-fried Tilapia with Balsamic Butter Sauce
Prep time: 5-10 minutes

-4 Tilapia filets
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-1/2 stick-2/3 stick unsalted butter (preference)
-1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
-salt and pepper for seasoning

Liberally season tilapia filets with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Once oil is shiny, pan-fry tilapia filets two to three at a time. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Once melted, add balsamic vinegar and garlic. Bring to simmer and keep over low heat for about 5 minutes until incorporated and slightly thicker. Drizzle sauce over fish and serve with side of your choice. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Christmas Carol

I am so excited for this upcoming week. My best friend from high school is flying into Chicago for a few days and we are going to go wedding dress shopping, see her venue for the first time and taste delicious food from the Fat Shallot among many, many other things. While my main goal is to be a supportive MOH, I am absolutely looking forward to splitting a bottle of wine and watching her struggle with Chicago’s temperature (she now lives in Pasadena).  In the meantime, to intensify my already prominent holiday spirit, I have decided to read my collection of Charles Dickens Christmas stories each night. While I’d normally be watching Tosh.0 re-runs on my DVR, and I still will, it’s nice to open a book and read a classic story next to a lit Christmas tree. My parents got me a leather-bound collection of Charles Dickens’ holiday novels a few years ago and I have since developed a tradition –of sorts- and read a couple each year by the Christmas tree. This year, I decided to start with A Christmas Carol, my personal favorite. What do you read to put you in the holiday spirit? 

P. S. My Holiday Gift Guide for those who are still shopping...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sassy City Chicks Event

Looking for last minute plans this weekend? Sassy City Chicks have teamed up with a slew of sponsors and brands to bring you an afternoon full of shopping, pampering, bubbly and more! This Sunday, join me and hundreds of others at the Magnificent Mile Double Tree from 12-5pm for an afternoon out of the COLD weather we have been experiencing, ridiculous, right? Better yet, Sassy City Chicks has offered my readers 30 VIP tickets that are first come first serve. The first thirty readers to use the code LivingEasy312 will receive a FREE VIP ticket to this event and enjoy complimentary spa treatments, bubbly and giveaways! Pop in for a break from the holiday crowds and enjoy! See you there!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Modern Winter Tablescape

This past Monday, The Second City Food, Wine + Social Club had its second event: a five-course dinner with sparkling wine pairings. The event went off without a hitch and we were so lucky to have Blair’s place (the Fox and She). The natural charm and d├ęcor of her apartment made my job extremely easy! Lauren, our Epicurean and I all arrived around 1 p.m. to transform the space and {sample the featured cocktail before we served it} J. The theme of Monday’s event was Modern Winter with a color palette of cream, dove gray and cranberry. To keep it simple, I created three centerpieces with a line of candles in between each vase; though my taxi driver almost didn’t let me into the cab with an 8-foot-tall package of branches, the centerpiece assembly was quite simple. With help from the Windy City Epicurean, lights were hung from the ceiling to create dim, yet intimate, lighting during dinner. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

How To: Holiday Champagne Tray

Yesterday afternoon, Dan and I put up our tree and decorated the rest of the apartment. Because we didn’t have to go outside, the snow made the afternoon magical and inspired us to continue celebrating the holiday spirit after dinner. We always tend to keep a bottle of champagne on hand for spontaneous celebrations or for last-minute gifts; but, I decided to use ours last night and I have no regrets. While Dan went out to get me a can of soup I could eat for lunch, I put together a Champagne tray that we could enjoy by the tree while we watched a Christmas movie. The tray made the Champagne special and personalized and I will absolutely be utilizing the champagne tray several times this holiday season. Simple to throw together, it would be the perfect addition to any holiday party and it would be a fabulous hostess gift. In the spirit of the Second City Food, Wine + Social Club’s second event, I was getting myself prepared to taste some bubbly! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Five

This past Monday, I posted an interactive Holiday Gift Guide highlighting gifts for friends, family, pets and more. While I can’t wait to do some shopping of my own, I want to make sure that I remember the true meaning of the season: giving. We should never forget the importance of kindness and compassion. I have teamed up with ASPCA this season to benefit pets who have been adopted and those who have not yet been rescued. You can find a link to my fundraising page on the sidebar or on the ASPCA link below. There are thousands of ways to give back this season; however, this week’s Friday Five will share five that are close to my heart.

1.      Chicago Food Bank
3.      Red Cross Chicago
4.      ASPCA
5.      Heifer International