Best Buy makes planning your wedding registry fun with these top five picks

Some think that picking out the engagement ring is tough – and in some cases it is. The right “size, shape, color”, is it new or something that is a family heirloom. When it comes to picking out your registry, you can breathe a sign of relief because Best Buy wedding registry takes all the stress out of your wedding planning with home goods that you’ll both enjoy. These are my top five picks from Best Buy to help any engaged couples new life together the best.

1 – TV anyone? This is awesome for gathering around for date night, simple movies and let’s not forget all the sports that your spouse (and possibly you too) will love to watch with family and friends.tv1112 – Technology is key in the 21st century. How about new matching mobile devices, music players or laptops? This makes staying in touch and getting those thank you notes off to your guests easier.  They also have an awesome “Geek Squad”, that can help you with any of your computer related questions. phone11

3 – New appliances may be needed in your new home and how about that washer, drier or stainless steel wine fridge you’ve had your eye on. While these may seem big-ticket items, they are great for “Group Gifting”. What’s that you ask? It allows gift-givers to give any amount they want, so couples can ask for the gifts you really want and not worry about price point. Great for your officemates or bridal party who want to pool funds for your gift.wine22

4 – It’s party time and a new stereo and/or speakers will set your party off right! Music systems will help with amazing surround sound for parties both in and out of your home. Placing your speakers near or via blue tooth, will have your guests enjoying every moment.musicsstem1

5 – I don’t know about you but nothing makes for a great party but awesome food and cocktails. That’s why a microwave, toaster, blender or coffee maker must be on your registry. Fun food just completes your new home and cocktails  or coffee make everything meal perfect all year round.coffee1

Best Buy has a great choice of gifts that will fit any registry request. Remember that all items $199 and over can be considered for their “group gifting” option. This allows you to ask for what you really want, without asking your guests to spend more than they are comfortable with—so dream big. Remember Best Buy Wedding Registry has Free Shipping, No Minimum.  So whatever your “Top Five” products, big or small, expensive or affordable, all ship for free saving your guests money.

So check out Best Buy and take the stress out of your registry planning. Now back to finding the perfect dress….

While a huge Best Buy fan, this is a sponsored post and I’ve been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

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Get Physically and Financially Healthy the John Hancock | Vitality Way

Its finally SPRING!! YIPPIE!!

Now is the time to get moving and even small steps will help you not only get fit, but lead a healthier and longer life. John Hancock teamed up with Chris O’Donnell, star of NCIS: Los Angeles to help us all recognize that getting healthy means physically, emotionally and financially. Even small steps are better than no steps right? Working in partnership with Vitality, John Hancock is offering an entirely new kind of life insurance that rewards you for living a healthier lifestyle.  What would you do with #5MoreNow?Infographic_LiveHealthier_915x6731-copy

The John Hancock | Vitality exclusive partnership is offering a new kind of life insurance that integrates wellness benefits with life insurance products. This means you will really save on your premiums. The more you save, the more you are rewarded. So how does it work? After you complete your life insurance process you take an online Vitality Health Review to help determine your “Vitality Age” (it just means your overall health). Then you receive a personalized goals assessment to help you on your way to a healthier lifestyle. To help you along, John Hancock will give you a free Fitbit to track your progress. SCORE!! As you gain in your “Vitality Status” you can earn even more savings and rewards. For example, Policyholders can earn travel, shopping, and entertainment-related rewards and discounts, including half-price Hyatt hotel nights, 20-50% off major brand cruise packages, and gift cards from leading retailers like Whole Foods, REI, iTunes, Starbucks, Fandango, and more.5More_small

This is a wonderful opportunity and truly important for you as a new couple. Life insurance isn’t something that one thinks about immediately or at all…until it’s too late. Honestly, it should be one of the first things you do together as a couple. Protect each other. Get healthy together and in the end you will save a lot of money on medical expenses.

You can find out much more by going to the John Hancock website http://www.jhrewardslife.com/ This is the best investment you can make for yourself and each other.

 

 

Wine Wednesday: Wine-Braised Pork with Chestnuts and Sweet Potatoes

Legendary chef Jacques Pépin sears pork shoulder to make a terrific crust, then braises it slowly with stock, wine, chestnuts and sweet potatoes until it’s meltingly tender.

 

braidespork

  1. One 4-pound boneless pork shoulder
  2. 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  3. Pepper
  4. 1 onion, finely chopped
  5. 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  6. 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  7. 1/2 cup dry white wine
  8. 5 parsley sprigs, plus chopped parsley for garnish
  9. 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound vacuum-packed roasted peeled chestnuts (3 cups)

Season the pork with the 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Heat a large cast-iron casserole over moderately high heat. Add the pork, fat side down, and add 1/2 cup of water. Cook until all 
of the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook over moderate heat until the pork is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Flip the pork and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 5 minutes longer.

Add the onion and garlic to the casserole and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, wine and parsley and thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat, turning once, until the pork is just tender, 2 1/2 hours. Add the sweet potatoes and chestnuts, cover and cook until the pork and sweet potatoes are very tender, 30 minutes.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sweet potatoes and chestnuts to a platter. Strain the jus into a bowl and degrease with a spoon; season with salt and pepper.

Slice the pork and arrange it on top of the vegetables. Garnish with parsley and serve with the jus.

Make Ahead The braised pork can be refrigerated overnight and reheated before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Medium-bodied Côtes du Rhône is rich enough to go with this pork and has enough fruit to go with sweet potatoes.

 

Wine Wednesday: Spicy Korean Grilled Pork

Pounding slices of pork tenderizes the meat, making it thin enough to take on the flavor of the marinade and allowing it to cook fast enough to stay moist.

Bill Kim Spicy Korean Chili Marinated Pork w/Soba Noodles. A120306 Food & Wine Grilling Olympics June 2012

  1. 1 cup Chinese fermented black beans (5 ounces); see Note
  2. 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
  3. One 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  4. 1/2 cup Korean chile paste (gochujang); see Note
  5. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  6. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  7. 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  8. 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  9. One 3-pound trimmed boneless pork shoulder roast, cut crosswise into twelve 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing

Put the fermented black beans in a bowl and cover with water. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop the beans.

In a food processor, combine the black beans, garlic and ginger and pulse until finely chopped. Add the chile paste, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar and blend well.

On a work surface, pound the pork slices 1/8 inch thick. Lay one-fourth of the pork slices in a large, shallow dish and coat with one-fourth of the black bean marinade. Repeat with the remaining pork and marinade for three more layers. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Remove the pork from the marinade, leaving just a thin coating on the meat. Brush the pork with oil and grill over moderate heat, turning every 2 minutes, until nicely charred and cooked through, about 6 minutes.

Chinese fermented black beans and gochujang are available at Asian markets and from amazon.com. Or substitute an equal amount of Chinese black bean sauce or any kind of Asian chile paste.

Serve With

Vegetables or chilled noodles.

Suggested Pairing

Tannins in red wine can intensify the heat in chiles, so for this dish, look for a fruit-forward Grenache-based wine.

Wine Wednesday: Short Rib Stew

I got this from a chef in my neighborhood. I’ve tried it and OMG!! This is sooo rich and amazing.  What chef does the day after (if there is any left) he makes sliders. So…if you try this on Friday night…how about some sliders for the weekend football game?  Hmmmm.  Enjoy!

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3 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups dry red wine

3 cups veal or chicken stock

6 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 large onion, cut into 1-inch dice

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered

1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped

8 sage leaves, coarsely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

 

In a large bowl, toss the short ribs with the flour. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Working in batches, cook the short ribs over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 6 minutes per batch. Discard the oil.

Return the meat and any juices to the casserole. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, 8 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the meat is tender, 2 hours.

Skim any fat from the stew. Stir in the carrots, potatoes, parsnips, onion, mushrooms, thyme and sage. Cover and simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Juicy, berry-rich Shiraz. Southern French Reds. Chilean Cabernet Sauvigno or Sangiovese from Tuscany. With the Sliders – any wheat beer goes well.

Ken Paves says You Are Beautiful with his hair care collection

The Ken Paves You Are Beautiful Collection combines the latest hair care technologies, typically found only in salons, with natural, good-for-your-hair ingredients that allow women everywhere to celebrate and enhance their natural beauty. His unique vision and signature hairstyles incorporate innovative, confident and sexy designs that are translated into products that not only touch the hair, but the lives of the women who use the collection.kevinpUtilizing high quality ingredients, sophisticated scents and luxurious packaging, the You Are Beautiful collection provides consumers with high-performance, salon quality results. All You Are Beautiful products are formulated with a proprietary blend of 100% essential oils, ylang ylang, geranium, citrus and more. Because Ken cares deeply about the health of the hair itself, the line is made without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, neurotoxins, aluminum, glycols or synthetic fragrances and dyes. The luxurious range includes shampoos, conditioners and styling products for all hair types.

The collection ranges from $13-$19 and will be exclusively at Walmart and online at www.walmart.com.

 

Wine Wednesday: Red Velvet Molten Lava Valentines Day

I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day.  I mean, I appreciate the thought of the day, but I hate that on this day, men (ok, and some women) make themselves crazy on what “thing” to buy to show their partner how much they love them. COME ON…one day to show love?? What happened to the other 363 days of the year? My relationship now is at the place where I want to exhibit love with someone who loves me….as well as likes me. That makes my heart sing and better than any gift that can be bought.   So create these cakes not just on Valentine’s day but any day.
Happy Valentine’s Day honey….
Lava Cakes
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons red food coloring (I really like the gel colors)
coconut whipped cream, whipped cream or ice cream, for serving (optional)
Ganache
4 1/2 ounces (about 3/4 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup canned coconut milk or heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. First make the ganache. In a microwave safe bowl add the chocolate and coconut milk (or heavy cream). Microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring between each until melted. Once melted stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and place in the fridge.
  2. Grease 6 (4 ounce) ramekins or 4 (6 ounce ramekins) and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Heat the chocolate and butter together on low in a small saucepan, stirring until just melted. Watch it closely to make sure it does not burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and salt until smooth.
  4. Add the eggs to a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer beat the eggs and slowly add the sugar until the eggs are pale in color, about four minutes. Add the vanilla extract and food coloring, mix until combined. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to fold the chocolate into the eggs until just combined. Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins.
  5. Now grab your ganache from the fridge and spoon about 1-2 heaping teaspoons of ganache (you will not use it all) right into the center of the ramekins. Use a spoon to scoop the red velvet mixture over the ganache. Cover the ramekins and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. After 15 minutes remove from the fridge and place in the oven. Bake for 10-20 minutes (10 minutes for 4 ounce ramekins and 18 minutes for 6 ounce ramekins). Loosen the edges of the cakes with a butter knife and turn out onto plates. Serve immediately with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I also added some toasted coconut, shaved chocolate and pomegranate arils.

Most of all, spend it with someone you love…Hopefully they love you as much back!