Dinner Party Recipes: Kale Caesar & Beef Tenderloin

Happy Tuesday friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Our first married Thanksgiving was nice, albeit tiring! I was glad we were able to fit in all the families, and it was so nice for Bryce and I to be together (we did Thanksgiving and Christmas apart when dating), but I went back to work exhausted yesterday, haha!

We visited Bryce's grandmothers Thursday-Friday and I think Millie had the most fun of us all, as she got lots of play time in the wide open outside at their houses in the country! We then came home to Richmond Saturday, and got visits in with both of my grandmothers and parents the rest of the weekend. In between all the family time, we squeezed in buying a Christmas tree (though it's still in a bucket of water outside) and I began to work on some of our other Christmas decorating. I also took advantage of some of the crazy Cyber Week deals and bought a few gifts. If you haven't checked out my gift guides yet, be sure to check them out: Here for ladies, and here for gents!

And now for today's post! When I jumped back into blogging a couple weeks ago, I got some requests for recipes! I always love posting tasty, and attainable, recipes on here. I thought as a follow-up to my recap of Bryce's birthday dinner party (here), I could share a couple of recipes we served that night!

I'm a bad blogger and don't have pictures for the beef tenderloin, and my salad pictures aren't the best, but I know you'll forgive me!

First up is the Kale Caesar with Toasted Breadcrumbs from the cookbook Host that I received as a bridal shower gift. This recipe was perfect for a dinner party, as it was easy to prep ahead. If you ask me, the toasted breadcrumbs were the best part! As always, my personal comments are italicized.

Kale Caesar with Toasted Breadcrumbs
serves 4 (this was not our main course and kale is hearty, so I actually served 8!)

for the breadcrumbs:
2 tbs olive oil
2 slices country bread, roughly torn into chunks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the dressing
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
6 tbs olive oil
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the salad
1 large gunch kale
1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
toasted slivered almonds (this was not in original recipe, but I'm nuts about nuts in salads and decided to add them!)

Make the breadcrumbs
In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bread pieces and toast until crispy and golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate an season with salt and pepper.

In a blender or food processor, pulse the toasted bread until pea-size crumbs form (about 15 seconds).

Set aside.

Make the dressing
In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, 1/2 cup pecorino cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the sald
Toast the slivered almonds. I put mine on foil in the oven at 350F for 5-10 minutes, until slightly browned.

Remove the stems and ribs from the kale and slice the leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch ribbons. in a serving bowl, toss the greens with all of the dressing and using your hands, massage the kale for 30 seconds to help tenderize it. Let the kale rest for 5 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and toss. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of pecorino cheese and almonds and serve.

Next up might be the simplest recipe I've ever posted! It's actually one of Bryce's Nana's recipes. You might remember her Peach Cobbler recipe, here! I have no picture, as I was enjoying wine and company too much for photos by the time we got to the main course, but trust me that this is a crowd pleaser! Even better, prep is easy peasy and once you put it in the oven, you have pretty much 0 work to do until it's time to serve, meaning you get to visit with your guests!

Easy Beef Tenderloin
serves 4 (I obviously doubled the recipe, as we were serving 8)
1 lb raw beef tenderloin
butter, softened to room temperature
garlic salt (I also think truffle salt would be amazing here!)

Wash and trim tenderloin. Pat dry.

Let it come to room temperature, usually takes about an hour and a half if cold from refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 500F.

Place in foiled pan (2 layers of heavy duty foil).

Cover with soft butter and lots of garlic salt (I know this is not technical, use your judgment!).

Bake at 500F for 18-20 minutes and turn oven off. Do not open oven door!

Leave in oven for additional 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with foil. Let rest for approximately 10 minutes before slicing.

Voila! Yumminess abounds!

What are your go-to recipes for dinner parties?

Have a great day!


Holiday Gift Guide: GENTS

Happy Hump Day friends!

I don't know about y'all, but I'm ready to gobble gobble and have some time off for the Thanksgiving holiday!

Thanks for some great feedback from the Ladies Guide on Monday (here, if you missed it!). I was glad to hear that many of you look forward to my guides each year, just as I do!

I'm excited today to be sharing the Gents Gift Guide with you today! Not gonna lie, I'm pretty proud of myself for making the time to actually get you this post today!

As always, this is inspired by Bryce and includes many of his own favorite belongings! Again, I condensed it down to one big guide and worked to include mostly items under $100! This post does include affiliate links, meaning I can earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

This list has me swooning! I've always had a type...good thing Bryce embodies it completely!

What do you tend to gift the men in your life?

After the expenses of the wedding and honeymoon, we've decided to keep things simple this year and just do some small stocking stuffers! 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Holiday Gift Guide: LADIES

Happy Monday, friends!

Did you have a good weekend? 

Ours was lots of fun. Bryce and I had a weekend full of quality time together, which was so nice, as he has been traveling quite a bit for work this fall.

I also was thrilled to have plenty of time this weekend to create my ladies' holiday gift guide. I decided, rather than doing several separate guides, to condense it into one bigger guide this year. I still worked hard to come up with an assortment (mostly under $100!) to please all the ladies in your life, though! I did skip the little lady version this year. I always enjoy creating that one, but now being a few years removed from the classroom and also not a mama yet, I thought it best to leave the kid guides to the "pros." 


I hope you have some great new shopping ideas! I do love creating these each year, and usually end up making my Christmas shopping list in the process! This guide has many items I already own and love, and then, the rest is filled out with items I'd love to have myself! It does have affiliate links, meaning I can earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking, however, as always, you can be certain that what I share here is genuine. You'll also see that some of the items I share have no affiliate link, because I want to share great gift ideas with you, regardless of whether or not I make a dime!

I'm hoping to have time tonight and tomorrow night to put together a gents guide, as well! I always try my best to have these created in time for Black Friday sales (some of which I noticed have already started early). 

What's on your Christmas list this year?

Who do you have the hardest time shopping for?

For those of you longtime readers, do you like this new condensed guide? 

Have a great day!


1987 Birthday Wine Dinner


I don't know about y'all, but for me this has felt like a long week!

I'm enjoying the creative energy that comes from writing again and hoping to find time to create my holiday gift guides this weekend! Last year I only managed to make ladies gift guides. This year, I may try to do gents, too, but reduce the amount. When I was doing 6 for the ladies, 6 for the gents, and 4 stocking stuffer guides it took a lot of time! Each guide takes at least an hour, so at a minimum, I was spending 16 hours on guides, outside of my normal "work" hours. Definitely no time for all of that these days!

I am trying to make time for the blog again, though. We hunker down more as the weather cools, so I'm hoping to get back into at least a semi-regular schedule again this winter. We'll see...

All that being said, I never got around to sharing Bryce's 30th birthday back in March!

A few months before Bryce's birthday, he began researching and ordering 1987 wines to try. We decided it would be fun to have a fancy dinner party to taste the wines surrounded by good friends. It was so fun!

Of course my mind, first and foremost, went to the table. I really enjoyed designing a tablescape that would reflect Bryce. I knew incorporating a decoy was key, and I selected the pintail below because it has special significance to the both of us. It is a Chris Martin decoy, and I actually picked it out! I love that Martin's work has more of an artistic and contemporary style, and I just couldn't resist that fabulous blue beak! His normal home is actually in my ultra girlie sunroom, but I brought him out for the occasion!

The next key elements were finding a tablecloth and fun napkins (funny story about the napkins, below!). The Kate Spade tablecloth was a Home Goods find, and the napkins are from one of my favorite sources for table linens, Pomegranate!

Once that all came together, it was simply a matter of zhushing things up a bit! I love how our new everyday dinnerware provided a nice, fresh look. It is the Emma Collection from Pottery Barn. I also knew that white hydrangeas were key, and drove all over town to find them in late March (Fresh Market for the win!). I was fortunate to be able to borrow the wooden stand and candleholders from my mother-in-law, as well as the gold chargers which were a last minute addition. I made the place cards myself with scrapbook paper!

The "Happy Birthday" banner was made from the same scrapbook paper and grosgrain ribbon!  made a similar one for the mantel and also got "30" balloons!

In the kitchen I set up this little bar area featuring none other than childhood Bryce! He was a cutie! I also ordered these napkins with his monogram, BECAUSE, when the blue napkins above arrived, "his birthday napkins," he was a bit disappointed. When I had told him I'd ordered napkins for his birthday he'd thought I meant monogrammed cocktail napkins, like our friend Frank has for his bar area. Not wanting to upset the birthday boy, I put in a rush order to have these babies at his dinner party!

So now for the courses! We started with Veuve, oysters, and baked brie. Katie's recipe is a go-to I've been using for years! It is so easy and fast, too! It takes 15-20 minutes in the oven, so I put it in right as guests were about to arrive!

Next up was a salad course! One of Bryce's groomsmen, Alec, and his wife, Allison, attended the dinner party, so I looked to this Host: A Modern Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Feeding your Friends (perfect for the occasion!) cookbook they had gifted us at a shower for dinner party inspiration. In it, I found a recipe for a kale caesar that was ahhh-mazing! I will have to share it with you soon!

For the main course, which I was having a little too much fun, and maybe a little too much wine tasting, to photograph, we had beef tenderloin (recipe coming soon!), roasted parmesan potatoes, and roasted asparagus. We selected this menu specifically because it contained items that could easily be prepped ahead. I wanted to ensure I was present in the celebration and not just stuck in the kitchen all night!

Finally, you can't have a birthday party without cake. I ordered a "dessert cake" from a local favorite, Sweet Fix, which was the perfect size for our party of 8. I selected dark chocolate with a salted caramel filling, Bryce's favorites!

Can you tell a lot of wine had been consumed at this point?

I snapped this picture amidst the cake consumption, and remember just feeling so happy in the moment! Surrounded by some of our closest friends, at a beautiful table, after a delicious meal...there's nothing quite like it!

And I also couldn't resist snapping an aftermath photo...that's a lot of wine!

And for the wine enthusiasts, here are the 1987s that we drank:

The Penfold's was the group favorite!

How do you celebrate milestone birthdays?

Have a great weekend!


Gray Kitchen Love

Hello strangers!

Long time no blog!

A part of me feels the need to reflect or explain my lack of blogging, but the only real explanation is...I haven't made the time! I miss blogging, and have ideas for posts all the time, but ,when it comes down to it, in my free time I choose other things than writing in this space regularly!

That being said, GRAY KITCHENS have inspired me to sit down and blog.

This gray kitchen to be exact:

Let me start from the beginning...

Some of you may have seen on my Instastories last week that we're doing some very minor kitchen updates. And when I say minor, I mean it--just a few cosmetic changes that I'm hoping will make a big impact.

I've never loved our kitchen. The oak cabinets just feel blah to me, our granite is black with brown and gray flecks which I'd never ever choose myself...and to top it all off it has popcorn ceilings with terrible lighting. You can get a little glimpse here.

All that said, it's a starter home, and upgraded enough. This just isn't the home to put time, money, and resources into creating a "dream kitchen," so we've kept things as is.

That being said, we had a leak from our bathtub above the kitchen that's caused some damage to the ceiling. The leak has been tackled, but the ceiling could use some work and we decided to use the damage as an opportunity to get rid of the popcorn ceiling and update the lighting! We might also paint the walls in the meantime. I'm thinking something like Sherwin Williams Sea Salt.  For lighting, I've ordered this flush mount in Natural Brass and am considering this or this small pendant in brass for above our sink. I might also update some of our hardware. Finally, we're going to have a roman shade made in this fabric for the window above the sink. I'm on the hunt for an aqua/turquoise trim to add a little color to it as a border on the shade. Thinking grosgrain might be a nice, preppy pop!

So you might be thinking, where does the "Gray Kitchen Love" come in? The only gray you've mentioned is the gray specks in the granite you don't like. Well...a dream would be to have our cabinets re-done. I've always dreamed of a white kitchen with marble countertops. In fact, I've wanted to paint our cabinets white forever...until seeing the Insta picture above!

I immediately took a screenshot when first seeing itand haven't been able to stop thinking about this fabulous butler's pantry since! And now...I think that I may prefer gray cabinets to white! 

We have white appliances, all in great working order, so gray really wouldn't work in our kitchen, but it's still fun to dream!

Here's some more gray cabinet eye candy:

Also loving the mix of white and gray cabinetry in these photos. Best of both worlds?

What are your thoughts?

Gray is having a big moment right  now, and in a few more years it may feel dated.

At least I'm in no hurry to make a decision!

How do you balance home updates with budget and life stage?

Do you find yourself swayed by trends?

What's your dream kitchen?

Have a great day!