Thanksgiving just might be my favorite holiday, so it’s not a huge surprise that I find a way to celebrate it multiple times. Brett and I kicked things off with Friendsgiving two weeks ago. On Thanksgiving we volunteered with my family at a shelter in Philadelphia. We were in charge of mac ‘n’ cheese (used this recipe from last year) and decorations – two of my favorite things! It was a nice change of pace from the traditional Thanksgiving at home, and it felt good to give back. The next day, Friday, we made the usual Thanksgiving feast at home. I made corn pudding and a brussels sprouts salad — the salad is apparently a much modified version of tabbouleh from Michael Solomonov’s Zahav cookbook. It was so simple but so good, and provided a nice, fresh crunch on an otherwise buttery and cheesey (and delicious) plate. On Saturday Brett and I went to his sister’s for a “siblings-giving” potluck. We made roasted carrots and potatoes, but nothing compared to the rack of lamb his brother-in-law cooked up. Still thinking about it. And finally, on Sunday, we had “Italians-giving” at my dad’s house – chicken parm and penne alla vodka!


Most years I make a little list of things I am thankful for. So, to keep tradition alive, here we go:

Brett, my family and friends (especially my three (!!) 91 year old grandmas and “my” nieces and nephews), Brett, Facetime, cookbooks, nail polish and lipstick, Chanel mascara, PJs, New York City, flannel sheets, fireplaces, paperback books, naps, whiskey, wine, taxi cabs, the Obamas, pop music, Liberty of London florals, elevators, fresh ricotta, pepperoni, pizza (and pepperoni pizza), Muji pens, airplanes, Italy, Maui, ribbon, Bread’s Bakery, iced coffee with almond milk, fresh flowers, J.Crew, online shopping, sprinkles, good olive oil, ruffles, wall paper, fresh herbs, rain boots and sunglasses, This American Life, gchat, magazines (I still subscribe to three!), cheetah print, animal shelters, and all dogs and cats but especially my most precious babies – Pico and Moose


Manda Cooks: Orange Bourbon Cranberry Sauce


When Friendsgiving rolls around, I always sign up for Cranberry Sauce because it’s so easy to make and use. This year I made Orange Bourbon Cranberry Sauce – it was tangy and sweet, with a little smokey kick from the bourbon. It was more interesting than a traditional Cranberry Sauce, but still paired perfectly with everything on the menu. I also put it on top of crackers with brie for an easy appetizer.

You’ll Need:

1 bag cranberries, rinsed and picked through
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Juice and zest from 1 orange
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon bourbon

Combine everything in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until most of liquid is absorbed and cranberries have popped.


Manda Travels: A Long Weekend in SF + Napa


A few weeks ago Brett had meetings in San Francisco on a Thursday and the following Tuesday — the perfect excuse for me to fly out and meet him in between for a long weekend in Northern CA! We spent two days in San Francisco with one of my best friends Emily and her boyfriend Robbie. Thankfully their priorities align perfectly with ours (food first, activity second, sleeping a close third). We ate really, really well. After two days in SF, we spent two days in Napa, where we continued to eat really, really well. And drink really good wine, of course. Some highlights from the trip below!




Coqueta: On our first night we went to Coqueta for dinner. Although the portions were a bit small, the food was incredible. I’m still thinking about the Suckling Pig (!) and the Patatas Bravas.
Don Pistos: We went to Don Pistos on Saturday night. We had three different meat dishes (I think the pork chop, pollo asado and a pulled pork special) and it was some of the best meat I’ve ever had. (And yes, I know I went 15 years without meat but trust me). The restaurant was loud and dark, but the vibe worked well on a Saturday night.
Ferry Building Farmer’s Market: We walked through the Farmer’s Market and grabbed lunch before we drove out to Land’s End. Emily and I had open faced smoked salmon toast, and Brett and Robbie had chorizo and egg sandwiches. Insanely good all around.
The Girl & The Fig: I love the atmosphere and food here, it’s a must if you are in Sonoma. I had eaten here four years ago, and everything was as great the second time as it had been the first. We sat outside on the patio and shared a brussels sprouts salad and mussels, among other things.
Redd Wood: Brett and I ate here on our last night in Napa. We’re spoiled by pizza in New York, but Redd Wood held its own. The chicken wings that showed up at our table compliments of our server were a highlight. As was my jack & diet after a day of wine 😉
Oxbow Public Market: Our hotel was a two minute walk from here, thank goodness. We had amazing breakfast tacos from C Casa, and some of the best oysters we’ve had from Hog Island Oyster Co. I also picked up some fun flavored salts from Whole Spice.


Copain: Our favorite winery that we visited! Amazing views.
Dark Horse: Definitely more of a fun/more energetic vibe here, we each did the sparkling wine tasting.
Hope & Grace: Brett and I did the full wine and cheese tasting at this tasting room in Yountville. Really friend staff and some of the best red wine we’ve had.
Scribe: A young, hipster winery recommended by a friend. The vineyard was actually closed so we went to a pop-up tasting in downtown Napa – great wine, and apparently a very chill vineyard to visit. We’ll add it to our list for next time.