Giving all of the Thanks

While I think it is important to be thankful every day and take the time to appreciate the good, it is nice to have one day a year to remind us to do it anyways.

The past year has been full of changes for me but I am so grateful for each and every one. I started a wonderful and challenging new job, I moved in with the love of my life and I got the courage to start this little pet project.

This weekend also marks the one year anniversary of my being car-free. While I was initially angry at the woman who was speeding down my residential street, blew a stop sign and totaled my little car parked on the side of the road, it has had its benefits. I won’t rattle on about the health benefits of being forced to walk everywhere, never having to dd on wine tasting day trips or how efficient DC public transport can be when you give it a chance (it’s not) because it hasn’t all been easy. True story I took an Uber to the DMV because it was cold. And to the needlepoint store. And this one time to work. Overall though, there is something liberating about not having a car and being forced to get to know my city.

Because I’ll probably have to do it at dinner tonight anyways, here are a few things I’m grateful for:

  • My parents discovering Facetime and using it all the time
  • Friends who might as well be family
  • Coworkers who agree to eat all my baked goods when I can’t eat anymore
  • Fellow metro riders who try not to stare when I needlepoint on my way to brunch
  • Direct flights
  • Being in good health
  • Having the courage to be honest with myself about how I want to live my life

Since we're on the topic of Thanksgiving, here are a few of my favorite relevant stories and recipe round ups from around the web!

  • New York Times raised the bar by skipping the turducken in favor of the piecaken. Bold.
  • I don't have confrontational relatives but I still love SNLs ‘Hello’ solution to tough thanksgiving dinners. 
  • As a planner, I have a keen appreciation for make-ahead food, like this list of make-ahead desserts for Thanksgiving from Bon Appetit.
  • Speaking of pies, Vogue’s latest Sunday #foodporn roundup is all about everyone's favorite Thanksgiving sweets
  • Being my mother’s daughter I am all about the leftovers during the holidays. Glitter Guide’s beautiful DIY take away boxes make me want to jump ahead to after dinner so I can pack up a serving of turkey and mashed potatoes for lunch tomorrow!
Pretending I work in a Test Kitchen always brings about the sweetest kitchen experiments

Pretending I work in a Test Kitchen always brings about the sweetest kitchen experiments

What are you thankful for this year?

Potluck Favorite: Cookie Dough Dip

Years ago, I discovered cookie dough dip on Pinterest (because of course Pinterest is all over something as amazing as cookie dough dip). Since then, I’ve been spoiling my friends by making it for picnics and potlucks galore.

Since today is my office’s Thanksgiving potluck lunch, I of course had to make my go-to potluck dish! Now I know what you are thinking - cookie dough is not exactly typical thanksgiving food. Point taken. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the signup sheet, people had already claimed all of the pumpkin, cranberry and pecan options so I found an open spot under the appetizers tab and claimed it. I’ve gotten some push back for signing up for an appetizer and then volunteering cookie dough dip but I think once they try it, people will understand that this stuff is so good it needs to be eaten throughout the entire meal, not just saved for dessert.

Best enjoyed on top of salty pretzels, this dip is incredibly easy to make. After having had one of those weekends where no recipe goes exactly as planned, it was nice to end on a high note Sunday night with this dip. And since I’ve started spinning again, I felt way less guilty snacking on it (to make sure my coworkers will like it of course) than I probably should have. I’m okay with SoulCycle owning my soul if it means I can snack on sweets all day. That’s how it works right?

Do you have a go-to potluck dish?

Ingredients for Cookie Dough Balls

  • 6 Tablespoons of butter, softened
  • ½ Cup (100g) brown sugar
  • ¼ Cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Cup (125g) flour
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • ½ Cup mini chocolate chips

Ingredients for Dip

  • 8 Oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ Cup butter
  • ⅓ Cup (40g) powdered sugar
  • ¼ Cup (50g) brown sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ Cup mini chocolate chips

Recipe (adapted from a recipe by Taste and Tell)

  • Start with the cookie dough balls - In a medium-sized bowl, cream the butter and sugars  together
  • Beat in the vanilla
  • Gently mix in the flour and salt, followed by the chocolate chips
  • Using clean hands, roll the dough into balls of 1 inch diameter and set aside
  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and sugars for the dip
  • Mix in the vanilla and chocolate chips once creamy
  • Gently fold in the cookie dough balls

Thursday Things

As much as I love going on little mini trips and taking time outside of the city on the weekends, I find it completely throws off the rest of my week. Starting the week without having dropped off my dry cleaning, done laundry or prepared meals means that each day feels a little more frazzled than the next. I’m also starting to run low on sweaters so it is a good thing that the weather has been so mild here in DC!

That being said, I seem to still find time for distractions to help me kill the free time I don’t have. How convenient. Here are a few of the things that have been on my mind/distracting me this week:

  • As a lover of just about all things that come in my mailbox, I’m guilty of signing up for so many monthly subscription services. I did Birchbox for about a year until I literally could not find space for all of my sample-sized makeup products. Then, I picked up Happy Mail from a beautiful mess. The monthly packages of stationary and cards gave me an excuse to share my love of mail with everyone who would give me their address. Since I love mail so much I assumed years ago that everyone else does as well so I started gifting things like Sock 101 to people. Much like it sounds, it is a fun pair of socks per month. Most recently, I gave C a month of Carnivore Club. We are finishing up the last of the artisanal meats he got last month and I’m already craving more. Thank goodness Christmas is just around the corner.
  • Food52 put out their gift guide last week and I want everything on it. No really, can I have it all?
  • Katie released the newest installment of her Touch of Teal gift guide and she included the Nikon D3300 on the list. I invested in a grown up camera over the summer and after much internal debate (and google searches), I settled on the Nikon D3300. And boy am I glad I did! Even though it’s only been a few months I can’t imagine going back to my point and shoot. That being said, I wouldn’t mind finding a new macro lens…
  • Following a recommendation from my college roommate (my source for all things books, fashion and medical) I just finished reading Delicious!. I try to alternate heavy books about war and injustice with lighter novels to balance out my reading list and Delicious! was perfect. While predictable, the descriptions of the test kitchen and the main character’s enviable taste buds made it worth reading.
  • With Thanksgiving only a week away, my mind is working overdrive with planning what I can contribute. In my family, we used to make duck confit for thanksgiving rather than Turkey. This isn’t a canadian thing, just a Lamontagne thing. This year, I’ll be balancing both traditions, enjoy turkey on Thursday and duck on Friday. Why haven’t I been doing this all along?
I made brownies for book club from last week's brownie mix... just to make sure they were tasty. 

I made brownies for book club from last week's brownie mix... just to make sure they were tasty. 

The Fall Caramels You Need to Make Immediately

I don’t like committing to any one food, so I generally try to avoid saying that something is the ‘best’ food. That being said, if you like fall flavors and enjoy caramels, you have to drop what you are doing and go make these immediately.

I made these for a trip to the Maryland coast this weekend and they could not have been more perfect! The crisp fall air and citrus-colored tree leaves made for the ideal backdrop to enjoy the deep apple cider flavor in each bite. Too many descriptive words in one sentence? Maybe. But after weeks of strangely warm weather, it just felt right to enjoy fall flavors on a cool fall day and brag about it.

As with other candy recipes, this one requires a candy thermometer. If you don’t own one yet, I highly recommend investing in one. Amazon sells a variety of different models, all under $20, like this one, this one or lastly the thermometer I use.

Some tips for success to make the best caramel ever:

  • When picking an apple cider base, go with the non-alcoholic version that is found in the refrigerator at your local grocery store. Skip anything that might be kept in the juice aisle.
  • Once you start reducing the apple cider, prepare all of your other ingredients. While your caramel’s temperature might seem to be slowly creeping up, it will all of sudden start climbing very quickly so it is best to have everything ready.
  • If your knife sticking to the caramel, rub a little oil on it, preferably something unflavored
  • When cutting the caramels, go smaller rather than larger. These candies are super sweet so you will thank yourself for having trusted me and gone with the smaller size when you accidentally eat 10 of them in one sitting. I know this because I did not go with small caramels and I regretted it after my seventh caramel. They have apple in them so it counts as a fruit? Yeah, that might be a stretch.

Ingredients (Smitten Kitchen recipe)

  • 4 Cups apple cider
  • 1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Teaspoons flaky sea salt
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 Cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Cup (110 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 Cup (80 ml) heavy cream


  • In a medium saucepan, bring the apple cider to a boil over high heat until it reduces to a thick syrup (about 40 minutes)
  • Line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper, set it aside
  • In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and salt and set aside
  • Once the apple cider is done reducing, remove it from heat and mix in the butter, sugars and heavy cream
  • Clip on a candy thermometer and return to medium high heat until the thermometer reads 252 degrees (should happen in 5-10 minutes)
  • Remove from heat and mix in cinnamon and salt
  • Pour into prepared pan and let sit until firm (about 2 hours)
  • Once caramel is firm and cool, transfer to cutting board using the parchment paper and cut to desired size
  • Wrap cut caramels into strips of parchment paper and twist the ends closed.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.