Homemade Apple Sauce

Homemade Apple Sauce - LiveDineParty

After our weekend of apple picking a few weeks back, I still have some apples to use up so I decided to make some homemade apple sauce to go with our Sunday dinner.  Homemade apple sauce is so much better than the stuff you buy in the store.  The texture is better because there are chunks of apple and it is not just pureed.  And more importantly, it is much less sweet and the true flavor of the apples really comes out without all of the artificial flavoring that is added to the store-bought stuff.  This recipe is super easy and it made the house smell amazing for a few hours!

I cooked this in a slow cooker because we were using the oven for our dinner, but it can also be cooked in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour if you don’t have a slow cooker.  I was definitely skeptical of the amount of citrus flavors in this recipe while I was making it, but it actually turned out perfect.  The citrus flavor added a tartness and complimented the sweet apples.  So if you are worried about the citrus and thinking about eliminating it, take a risk and give it a try.  I don’t think you will regret it.

Adapted from Ina Garten, via foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 1 large navel orange, zested and juiced
  • ½ a lemon, zested and juiced
  • About 6 to 8 apples (I used McIntosh and Cortland)
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

Peel, quarter, and core the apples.  Whisk together the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl and toss the apples in the juice.  Pour the apples and juice into the slow cooker.  Add the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Cook for about an hour, or until all the apples are soft, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Homemade Apple Sauce - LiveDineParty Homemade Apple Sauce - LiveDineParty

Homemade Apple Sauce - LiveDineParty

I will be storing the leftovers in the refrigerator to enjoy for the rest of the week!

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Exciting News…

We are buying a house!!!!

House - LiveDineParty

I am very superstitious and I have been holding back on sharing this news for over a month now.  But, today everything was finally finalized so I’m so excited to share the news.  The last month has been crazy busy, but I know one thing for sure I do not plan on putting myself through this process again for at least another 15 years.  The entire process from waiting to hear back on our offer, to the inspection, to signing the P&S, to getting the appraisal done has definitely been overwhelming at times, but it will all be forgotten once we can call it home.

After losing out on two houses in bidding wars this past Spring, we were so discouraged with the housing market in the Greater-Boston area that we had pretty much given up.  Why do people feel the need to pay way over the asking price??? It is an asking price, you should pay below that people!  And then we would watch HGTV and people were buying mansions for $300k in other parts of the country and it always seemed like people’s offers were always accepted, it just didn’t seem fair.  Sorry for venting a little, but it was stressful 🙂

Looking back now, I’m pretty happy we lost out on those houses because this house is just perfect for us.  It is in a small, picturesque town outside of Boston.  It has an amazing yard, the screened-in-porch I had to have, the character we wanted, a somewhat updated kitchen, a master bath and walk-in closet and it still has areas for improvement/projects where we can put our stamp on it.  And it is true what they say, you will have to give up something on your must have list.  For those of you that follow me on Pinterest, I did give up on having an amazing laundry room and huge kitchen, but hopefully not for too long :).  We are set to close on the house in mid-December, just in time to be living out of boxes for Christmas!  I am so excited to start cooking and entertaining in our new home and sharing it with all of you.

So, I apologize in advance if my blogging is a little more sporadic over the next few months while we pack and move.

And now, I’m officially spending the rest of my evening picking out paint colors with some champagne…

 

The Biggest and Best Party I Will Ever Plan…

Happy 1st wedding anniversary to my hubby!

Wedding Details - LiveDineParty

All of the pictures I’m sharing are from our amazing photographer, Zev Fisher.

A little history…Matt and I met studying abroad in Florence, Italy back in 2004.  Although we were both attending the same college at the time we had not met until setting foot in Florence.  We spent the next four months traveling around Italy, getting to know one another and living it up.  Almost seven years later he was down on his knee asking me to marry him and of course I said yes.

I absolutely loved planning every detail of our wedding day. And, although it was a lot of work and felt like I had a second job at times, the day turned out perfect.  Since planning our wedding really sparked my passion for planning and entertaining, it only feels right to share the details of the biggest and best party I will probably ever plan 🙂 and hopefully provide some guidance to brides along  the way.  My best piece of advice is be organized and decide early on what is most important to you on that day.

First, the venue.  This is should be the first step in planning any wedding.  Once you have your venue chosen, you know the date so that all of your other vendors can be booked and the look you are going for.  We chose the Taj Boston as our venue.  It is absolutely beautiful, an amazing location, and had unbelievable service.  We also chose to have a traditional ceremony at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Wedding Details - LiveDinePartyWedding Details - LiveDineParty

Now, THE dress.  What I thought I wanted I did not end up with.  I went in wanting a slimmer fit dress.  Although every dress I tried on was beautiful, I never truly felt like a bride until I put on a ball gown.  What I did end up with was the lace and the traditional, timeless look I originally wanted .  There were a few dresses that I was deciding between, but when I put this dress on by Oscar de la Renta I fell in love and felt like a true princess.  And, when both my mom and my mother in-law started to tear up that sealed the deal.  Trust me you will know when you find it just take your time 🙂  It is actually two pieces which people are still surprised by when I tell them.  My veil was a cathedral length veil with a sheer ribbon edge (also by Oscar de la Renta), shoes were Badgley Mischka, jewelry was from Nordstrom, hairpiece was from Etsy, perfume was Chloe and my something blue was the garter.

Wedding Details - LiveDinePartyWedding Details - LiveDinePartyWedding Dress - LiveDineParty

Wedding Details - LiveDinePartyWedding Details - LiveDinePartyWedding Details - LiveDineParty

The bridesmaids also looked fabulous in their Jim Hjelm eggplant dresses.  Since we got married in the Fall, I wanted a rich color that would go great with Fall flowers.  Bridesmaid dress shopping was sometimes not as fun as wedding dress shopping. I found it completely overwhelming because there are a million options.  Thank you to my bridesmaids for trying on so so many dresses for me, and I was so happy with our choice.  I made it a point to consider everyone’s body type when shopping because I wanted everyone to feel comfortable in the dress and be happy to wear it!

Wedding Details - LiveDinePartyThe flowers…I LOVE flowers so this was important to me when planning, but it can also get ridiculously expensive quickly.  Try to find a local florist instead of one that you always see amazing photos of in magazines.  They can usually recreate what you see in pictures for a fraction of the price.  We went with a local florist, Blooms of Hope.  Nicole worked out of her house and she did an amazing job with our flowers for a much more reasonable price and she also donates half of the profits to charity!  I decided to go with all white flowers except for the bridesmaid’s bouquets to add a pop of color.  My bouquet consisted of roses, garden roses and ranunculus.  On the wrap I added a string of Rosary Beads and a Cameo from my grandmother who couldn’t be with us that day (my something old and something borrowed).  The bridesmaid’s bouquets had antique hydrangea, eggplant calla lilies, wine ranunculus, wine dahlias and free spirit roses.  The centerpieces were a mix of high and low (a good way to cut costs but still have the drama) with all white roses, hydrangeas, and dahlias.

Wedding Flowers - LiveDineParty Wedding Details - LiveDineParty

Wedding Flowers – LiveDineParty

Wedding Flowers - LiveDineParty Wedding Flowers - LiveDineParty

After attending several weddings, I realized that guests always remember the food so I wanted to make sure we had great food.  Our hors d’oeuvres included baby lamb chops, mini lobster club sandwiches, pigs in a blanket, truffled fontina risotto fritters, scallops wrapped in bacon and, my personal favorite, mini beef wellington. The first course was a Zucchini Risotto with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil.  For an Entrée guests had the choice of Filet Mignon with Double-Stuffed Potato, Roasted Tomato, Asparagus and Red Wine Sauce or Roasted Chilean Sea Bass with Fricassee of Asparagus, Morels, Green Beans and Shallots, White Asparagus Sauce and Micro Greens.  And, the cake was delicious…Vanilla Cake with Espresso Essence and Coffee Mousseline.  We also had a dessert table with Italian pastries for late night snacking.

Wedding Menu - LiveDineParty Wedding Menu - LiveDineParty Wedding Menu - LiveDineParty Wedding Cake - LiveDineParty

Wedding Cake - LiveDineParty

Wedding Menu - LiveDineParty

Don’t forget all the DETAILS…Since everything had started in Italy and it has such a special meaning to both of us, we wanted to incorporate Italy into our wedding day.  All of the table names were cities in Italy and our guestbook was postcards from different parts of Italy.  Also, all of our guests that stayed at the hotel got a welcome bag that included a welcome letter with a list of local restaurants and attractions, water, and snacks. I always feel like personal touches make a wedding…otherwise it’s just like any other wedding.

Wedding Details - LiveDineParty

Wedding Details - LiveDineParty Wedding Details - LiveDineParty

Weddings are expensive (no surprise here) and the details can add up, so anytime the opportunity arises for a DIY moment, take it!  My sister is quite crafty so she did all of the ceremony programs, menus that we put at each place setting, table name signs, signature drink signs and guestbook sign.  They came out amazing!

Wedding Details - LiveDineParty

After spending all of this time planning I was able to relax, have fun, enjoy the day and take in the little moments with my new husband that I will never forget.  And, don’t worry, something will go wrong but the good thing is no one will realize it besides you!  So if you are thinking of hiring a wedding planner…I’m available!

To many more years…

Wedding Details - LiveDineParty