The Perfect Thanksgiving Table Scape


Thanksgiving is fast approaching and whether you are hosting the holiday for 4 or 14, you want to impress your friends and family when it comes to your tablescape.

Well, I wanted to share with you the details from our Thanksgiving table. I invested in these pieces last year but all of them are still available. The only difference is the pumpkins in our centerpiece. However, I have found a very close match (that I have seen in person), and not only are they gorgeous but they are also on sale! 

When I chose this tablescape I started with the color wheel. I wanted a "soft" glamorous table instead of the traditional orange and yellow thanksgiving garb. This way I could use these pieces year-round. I then assembled the rest of the table around our classic Vera Wang china that Dallas and I received from our wedding registry more than 10 years ago... and YES! The set is still available! 

We added silver chargers in two different textures, a natural ratton runner that is sure to go with any tablescape, chunky crystal candlesticks that won't break the bank, and finally eucalyptus garland from Target to add some greenery. You could also use fresh greenery that will create an amazing aroma, but I prefer the longevity of the faux garland that I can easily store and have year after year. 


Smoothies On A Rainy Day


I can't believe it! Tomorrow Cashton turns 4 and today we were suppose to be celebrating with family and close friends but hurricane Delta had other plans for us. It felt terrible to do, but mid week I made the decision to "raincheck" Cash's birthday celebration to next weekend. Try explaining that to a 4 year old!

Since we've been stuck inside all weekend, we have been eating all of the junk food! Pizza, pasta, candy, popcorn... you name it, we've had it. So this morning after realizing that this weekends activities and diet were both a wash (literally). I've come to the conclusion that we need something healthy in our lives. 

Cash loves kitchen activities that he can help with, even though he only really eats chicken nuggets, fries, veggie/fruit pouches, bananas, pizza, goldfish and chips. (I know. I'm Mom of the year.) 

Anyway, I recruited his help to make fun fruit smoothies this afternoon. It gives him exposure to new foods (even if he won't eat them today ... maybe with exposure he will later on down the line) it lets us work on vocabulary, and gives him something to do, to break up the rain day movie-o-rama. 

Today we made "Triple Berry" fruit smoothies. We always keep lots of berries and bananas around our house so this one is an easy fan favorite. 

1 Banana 
1 Cup Blueberries
1 Cup Raspberries
1 Cup Strawberries
1/2 Cup Blackberries
1 & 1/4 Cup Almond Milk
1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt 

Blend and enjoy! 

We freeze our berries to give it a thicker consistency but you can use all fresh fruit too! 

LauRen's Easy Chicken Pot Pie


During quarantine, I have been trying all kinds of recipes. My husband Dallas just says I’m nesting since I’m pregnant but I wanted to share this easy gem with you. Homemade Chicken Pot Pie…and “it’s easy as pie to make!”
Ingredients and Grocery list:

  1. 2 pre-cooked chicken breasts, diced into small bite-size pieces. I typically just get a whole roasted chicken and use all the meat.
  1. Frozen vegetables. They work better than canned, they’re already diced which saves a bunch of time!
  1. Diced Onion
  1. Melted butter
  1. Store-bought pie crust from the freezer section.
  1. Puff pastry sheets for the top of your pie, so that it is nice and flaky. You will have to cut it down.
  1. Can of cream of chicken soup
  1. Salt and pepper
  1. Thyme, Parsley, Herbs, or just use poultry seasoning
  • Start with a medium to large saute pan. Add some butter to it and let it heat up.
  • Add your diced onion and allow to soften, then all of your herbs/seasonings, heat.
  • Sprinkle in frozen mixed veggies and allow them to soften, break up any stuck together.
  • Stir in chicken with all contents.
  • Pour cooled mixture in and cook for 10-15 mins
  • Take out of the oven and add top crust, just laying the crust to meet the edges.
  • Cut X slits on top to allow steam to escape.
  • Brush whisked egg on top layer if you’d like it to brown really nicely.
  • Bake at 420 degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  • Let it cool when done for 15 minutes before slicing so it comes out nicely.

The only real prep necessary is dicing your meat and simmering your onions. Beyond that, it is just throwing it all in to make your filling!

Luce Italian Ristorante In UpTown Charlotte


This past Saturday, Dallas and I had a date night scheduled. We had originally planned to visit the brand new Italian restaurant Volo in Meyers Park however I didn't realize that you needed a reservation to get in and they were "fully committed".

Since I was craving Italian (and baby Strager gets what baby wants) I started searching for highly-rated Italian restaurants in our city that we hadn't been to before. We decided on Luce Italian Ristorante in uptown Charlotte. They had a great Yelp rating and I had always heard good things. I jumped on Open Table and snagged us a 7:30 reservation.

We hit a few snags after that. Apparently, Luce isn't the easiest to find uptown. The restaurant is tucked away in the courtyard by RiRa's and does not have street valet parking on the block that it faces. Instead, your GPS will take you to the Hearst Tower which is a bit confusing because the entrance is in the back of the building. After driving around the neighborhood a few times, and two calls to the restaurant we finally maneuvered to the parking deck, through the lobby of the Hearst Tower and into the restaurant. However, at this point, we were 20 mins late for our reservation and our table was passed over, so we had to wait another 15 mins for a new spot. Typically this wouldn't be a big deal but being pregnant and in heels, after walking a city block, I was pretty wiped not to mention starving.

When we finally sat down in the small 30 tabletop restaurant we were greeted by an Italian man from the north of Italy name Emmanuel. Emmanuel was friendly and accommodating, especially when I couldn't decide between Gnocchi and the Carbonara. He offered to make me a special plate with a little of both! I thought that was so kind of him and both were amazing. Dallas ordered the Seafood Mare in broth and it was also delicious.

Of course, no dinner is complete without dessert. Although Dallas and I were pretty full we attempted to force down one of my favorites, Tiramisu, and I am so glad we did! It paired well with Dal's cappuccino and it was the perfect cap to our meal.

I am happy to say after a rough start, I was pleasantly surprised by Luce and I will be back for sure!

Four Ingredient Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


Happy Sunday! I hope you all are out and about enjoying this gorgeous weather! Cashton is down for his afternoon nap so I thought I would jump on here and share a recipe I am baking right now. If you follow my blog, you might know that we go through a TON of bananas in our house as they are Cash's favorite fruit. However, from time to time we don't use them all and I HATE to throw away food, so I found this recipe on Pinterest and modified it to fit our needs. 

I love simple recipes that aren't full of empty calories with hydrogenated oils, fats, and garbage in them. This chocolate chip banana bread is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth with only four ingredients.


1.5 Pounds Of Bananas - That's about 4-5 medium bananas. The riper the better. This will naturally sweeten the loaf. 

1 Cup Peanut Butter- I use organic but any peanut butter will do. You can also substitute with almond butter.

2 Cups Oatmeal- Oats give the bread texture. This is the perfect sub for flour and if you want to go gluten-free you can use gluten-free oats.

1 Cup Chocolate Chips- I use dark chocolate of course, but you can use your favorites.

That's it! The original recipe called for these ingredients to be blended in a blender but I was unsuccessful with this method. It's a little more work but I prefer hand mashing the bananas, oats and peanut butter together, then adding the chocolate chips last. 

Place mixture in a lightly greased 9x5 loaf pan. Bonus points if you have parchment paper to line the pan as well. Bake for 30 mins in the oven at 350 degrees and you're good to go! 

Make sure your bread is completely cool before removing it from the pan.

Hosting Thanksgiving : Champagne Turkey Recipe


My absolute favorite part of Thanksgiving is cooking the turkey! There is something about getting up early with my son Cashton and prepping the bird while we watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This year after my prep work was done I made everyone a light egg cup breakfast ( I will share this easy recipe in a future blog) and headed off to a holiday spin class with my sisters-in-law. It felt great to get our sweat on for 45mins at CycleBar, especially knowing the feast ahead.   

My goal was to have my 18lb turkey in the oven by 11am which is why I rinsed the dry brine off the turkey,  made the bird stuffing, and marinated the veggies for the pan before I left for spin. That way all I had to do when we got home was throw the veggies in the bottom of the pan, stuff the bird and get that big boy in the oven! 

Here is my recipe for the perfect champagne turkey. 

Shopping List:
William Sonoma Dry Brine
Brine Bag
Chicken Stock
Stuffing (I use Stove Top Turkey Stuffing) 
Tin Foil  

  • 24 hours before cooking, take thawed turkey and rub with dry brine. Place in brine bag and refrigerate overnight. 
  • This is an optional step but you can marinate your veggies in chicken stock the night before as well. Just mix carrots, shallots, garlic, and celery in a large zip lock bag and add stock.
  • The next morning rinsed brine off bird and dry. Place on rack in roasting pan and mix melted butter and seasoning together. Brush bird with mixture and slide a few slices of butter under the skin around the breast. Garnish with rosemary. 
  • Add veggies to the bottom of the roasting pan. The veggies and drippings are AMAZING when done.
  • Make Stove Top stuffing. I recommend 3 boxes. 
  • Stuff bird right before baking and tie legs together with twine. 
  • Bake at 350. The time is based on the weight of your turkey but I have included a time to weight chart below. 
  • Let bake uncovered for 30 mins only basting with chicken stock until skin is browned, then cover with tin foil and start alternating between champagne and stock every 30 mins. 

Caramel Apple Mimosa:
If you listen to our show you may know that my mother is a wonderful bartender and she always comes up with the most amazing cocktails for my events and holiday parties. This year she opted to make a Caramel Apple Mimosa for our brunch spread before Thanksgiving dinner. Here is what you need to make this sparkling beauty happen! 

1 1/2 oz of Stoli Vanilla Vodka
Apple Cider
Garnish with rosemary and whole cranberries 
Caramel, cinnamon, and sugar for the rim

Table Design: 
When it comes to table design, I have been working on this look for weeks. I really wanted to use our wedding china that we have only pulled out a handful of times in 10 years. I revolved our silver Vera Wang Grosgrain settings and chargers around the soft gold hues that our dining room is decorated in. I enhanced these colors by renting gold Chiavari chairs from Party Reflections and adding white and gold pumpkins along with crystal candlestick holders for our centerpieces. To keep these colors from falling flat I wove eucalyptus garland through the table runner for a pop of green.

Our Aupair Elena was sweet enough to help me with place cardholders. I have terrible handwriting and I am well aware of it. Elena also helped me with the labels from Cashton's birthday party so I knew she was the right person for the job! I found some adorable Thanksgiving place cards at Sur la table. They were 2 dimensional and featured a turkey with real feathers for some holiday flare. 

When we sat down for dinner this year I started to reflect on our Thanksgiving holidays of the past and decided that this Thanksgiving was my favorite of all. It's not often you can get BOTH sides of your family together, especially when they are scattered along the east coast. This year's turkey feast left me feeling extra loved and blessed like no other. 

Perfect Pumpkin Pie For Thanksgiving


This Thanksgiving our family is doing something we haven't done in years. We are entertaining both sides of our relatives for the weekend and we'll be hosting thirteen for dinner Thanksgiving day. 

We will be preparing two twenty-pound turkeys, one in our deep fryer and the other in the oven with my Champagne recipe. Our family has divided the rest of the menu so that not one single person has to carry the load. The other dish that I have volunteered to make is pumpkin pies. 

I found a simple recipe on Pinterest but things didn't quite go the way I had planned on my first go-round. However, after making some adjustments I think I have perfected these blueprints for the perfect pumpkin pie!   


  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs & 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 unbaked deep-dish pie crust
  • 1 sheet of roll out dough 


  • Preheat oven to 425-degrees. Prepare a pie crust in a pie plate. I put my store-bought pie crust on a cookie sheet to give the pie more stability when taking it in and out of the oven. Egg wash the sides of the pie crust so that it does not burn.

  • Combine all wet ingredients in a bowl and the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Then in a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the wet and dry ingredients until smooth. Pour into pie crust.

  • Bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35-40 minutes. You'll know it is done when you can tap the middle and it doesn't jiggle. If the pie is baking faster then you like on top, feel free to cover with foil.

    While the pie is baking roll out the store-bought dough and use cookie cutters to produce the designed you would like on top of your pie. I opted for fall leaves. Spray your cookie sheet with Pam and egg wash your cutouts. Bake alongside your pie until golden brown.

  • Cool completely before serving.

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