hey guys..the holidays are rapidly approaching and we all know what that means…parties, parties and more parties…full of friends and family sharing delicious food and drinks together. It’s the best time of the year!
I recently did some recipe development and a photo shoot for one of my clients, Seven Barrels, maker of premium infused Italian olive oils and vinegars with delicious flavors from natural ingredients. For the holidays I created a series of recipes featuring their Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar and Meyer Lemon Olive Oil – a delicious, sweet and tart flavor pairing that’s perfect for the holidays.
I decided to make some party food because we all like parties and appetizers / small bites are the way to go to keep them fun and social! My recipe for Sausage and Mushroom and Cheese Turnovers is an absolute flavor bomb and they’re super easy to make!
They’re stuffed with sweet Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, green onions, mushrooms, cranberries and mozzarella all wrapped up in buttery flaky baked puff pastry topped with sesame seeds. They’re the perfect crunchy, savory, cheesy bite in your mouth, with a hint of sweet and tart from the cranberries, lemon olive oil and raspberry vinegar for dipping.
You’re definitely gonna want to make these for all your holiday parties..trust me, they won’t last long 😉
Heat 2 tablespoons of Seven Barrels Lemon Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook for about 5 minutes until it starts to brown, crumbling while cooking to separate the meat. Add the green onions and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes until the veggies are soft and meat is cooked through. Drain the fat and excess liquid, set cooked mixture aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked sausage mixture with dried cranberries or tart cherries, ricotta, mozzarella cheese, 1 beaten egg and 1 tablespoon Seven Barrels Raspberry Balsamic vinegar to make the filling. Season with a dash of Italian seasoning, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
On lightly floured surface, roll one sheet of puff pastry into a large 12-inch square. Cut pastry sheet into 9 (4-inch) squares and brush edges with egg wash.
Place 1 rounded teaspoon filling on each square; fold to make a triangle; seal with fingers or fork. Place the triangles on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a large rectangular baking sheet and brush egg wash over the top of the turnovers, pierce 3 slits on top of each one, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, repeat steps above with the remaining sheet of puff pastry and sausage, mushroom and cheese filling to make 9 additional turnovers. Bake again at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Sprinkle sea salt and chopped rosemary (or thyme) on top of the turnovers for garnish. Serve immediately with Seven Barrels Raspberry Balsamic vinegar for dipping.
You can also substitute spicy Italian sausage or ground beef for the sweet Italian sausage.
To make a thicker dipping sauce (Balsamic Glaze), heat the vinegar in a saucepan over medium high heat until it reduces by half, drizzle over turnovers or serve as a dipping sauce on the side.
Hey guys, it’s the 4th of July! One of my favorite holidays ever. Sunshine, pool parties, beach days, picnics on the patio, campfires, grilling, and the season of FUN.
I’m sure you’ve had your fill of July 4th recipe posts this week and to be honest, so have I. We all love to grill and have backyard BBQs with tons of picnic salads, burgers, ribs, chicken, hot dogs, strawberry shortcakes and berry pies. Thanks to everyone who has shared their recipes as I always love to see what everyone is making and get some fun ideas for future posts and food parties! So, this year I’ve decided to actually ENJOY my holiday — by relaxing, reading, hanging out with the fam, cooking, eating and drinking, and spend less time working, stressing and blogging. I always think it’s the perfect time to focus on blogging and my portfolio because I have extra time, but I really just need a BREAK. I’m sure you can relate.
But, I couldn’t pass up posting this outta control good recipe for my Best Deviled Eggs EVER – they’re creamy with mayo and mustard and eggs, with a delicious tang of vinegar and hot sauce and seasonings, plus an irresistible crunch from the dill pickle relish, finely minced celery and sweet onion. OMG. I could eat the whole tray. REALLY. (And I”m pretty sure you will too, my deviled egg lovers in the universe! 🙂
1 teaspoon Deliciously Dill Blend (The Spice Hunter)
2 dashes hot sauce (RedHot or Crystal), plus more for serving
Dash of paprika, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Place eggs in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook eggs 7 minutes. Turn off heat and let eggs sit in hot water for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse eggs in cold water and transfer to a bowl of ice water; let sit until cool. Peel eggs under cold water once cooled.
Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, celery, dill relish, sweet onion, mustard, vinegar, herb seasonings, and hot sauce in a mixing bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Halve eggs lengthwise. Mix the egg yolks into mayo-mustard-relish mixture andplace whites on a plate.
Gently mash into a dressing; season with salt and pepper. Using a small fork or spoon, fill egg halves with yolk mixture.
Top eggs with freshly cracked pepper and more paprika and serve with hot sauce.
Make Ahead: Eggs can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill egg
whites and filling separately; fill just before serving.
You can also garnish the eggs with some minced chives or green onion or bacon.
So the big day is right around the corner..Super Bowl, yay! I’m not really partial to either team and am not even a huge football fan, but i LOVE LOVE LOVE the Super Bowl simply because of the fun parties, the commercials, and the food and drinks, of course.
So in spirit of the football party season, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite game day recipes that are perfect for a crowd. Finger foods, appetizers, dips and spreads and small bites to party in style! Stay tuned later this week for some fun cocktail ideas for the big game too..may the best team win! #gopanthers #gobroncos
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year simply because it’s a time when the leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler, and you have an excuse to stay inside to watch football with friends and family and gather around the table with some delicious party food!
Whenever I host a party, I like to create a smorgasbord of food that’s easy for people to grab. I love bite-sized finger foods and tapas-style spreads that are fun to make and eat. My idea for a great fall football party is Meatball Madness – an experiment with different types of meatballs paired with unique sauces, fillings and bases to eat them on.
For this post, I decided to make some Greek Beef Meatballs with Tzatzkiki Sauce served on toasted flatbreads,
and some Asian Chicken Meatballs with a Spicy Peanut Sauce served on Gem Lettuce Cups as thought starters for this party idea, but I’d love to hear from you what other themes, flavors and creative ideas you would incorporate when you throw your own Meatball Madness Party!
You can mix and match different themes with different fillings and flavors for the meatballs, for example – you could make Spanish Meatballs made with pork, chorizo and onions and create a Roasted Red Pepper Aioli to dip them in and serve on toasted pita. Or you could make traditional Italian Meatballs with Cheese and Tomato Sauce on mini slider buns topped with fresh basil and parsley. Or make German Meatballs with Bratwurst and Sauerkraut with a Grainy Mustard Sauce served on mini Rye breads – the possibilities are endless and super fun to come up with!
There’s nothing better in the Summer time than fresh seafood. Lobster is one of my favorites and an indulgence, at that. Lobster Rolls and Lobster Salad are great picnic and backyard BBQ dishes to serve a crowd. But once the end of Summer arrives, I start to crave some comfort food and one-pot dishes for the cooler days ahead.
This is a classic recipe for Maine Lobster Pie, something I made in a recent cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education – it’s a luscious pie made with fresh Lobster meat, cream, sherry and butter (um, not diet-friendly!) topped with a buttery, crispy topping made of Ritz crackers, melted butter, Parmesan cheese and paprika. We made a bunch of pies in small ramekins for appetizers, but you could also make one big luscious pie in a medium pie dish and serve it as a main one-pot course with a salad and some rice or pasta on the side.
It’s perfect for entertaining guests during the holidays, or even just for a homey comforting dinner on a crisp Autumn night. Go on – indulge a little. I won’t tell anyone.
Yield: Makes 6 appetizer servings, or 1 whole pie.
Lobster Pie Filling
10 tablespoons butter (1 ¼ sticks), divided
½ cup good quality sherry
Meat from 2 cooked lobsters, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups half and half
4 egg yolks, beaten
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup crushed Ritz crackers
½ teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons melted butter
Fresh tarragon, chives or parsley, minced, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter, add sherry and boil 1 minute.
Add lobster and remove from heat. In a medium saucepan, melt remaining butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles; cook at least 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Drain and reserve the sherry from the lobster meat, then slowly whisk sherry and half-and-half into the mixture until thoroughly blended. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper, adjust to desired to taste.
Spoon 4 tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl. Add beaten egg yolks, 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition.
Return egg mixture to sauce and mix well. Whisk constantly over low heat about 3 minutes; do not allow to boil, or the eggs will cook and get clumpy. Remove from heat and add lobster. Turn into four individual ramekins or a small, deep pie plate.
Combine topping ingredients, blend well and sprinkle over pies. Bake about 10 minutes to heat through and until the topping gets crunchy and golden brown. Garnish with some fresh tarragon, chives or parsley, if desired.
Spring is here, and there’s nothing better than gathering a few friends together for a casual get together with some canapés and cocktails featuring the fresh produce of the season. Fava Beans, Baby Garden Peas and Strawberries are a few of my favorites that start popping up in April and May with the first bloom of Spring.
I love to use my KitchenAid® 13-Cup Food Processor for making quick and tasty dips and spreads – I simply toss all the ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and give it a few whirls to make easy canapés and appetizers for sharing with friends.
An easy, fun idea is to serve crostini with a spread made of baby garden peas and fava beans, mixed with roasted garlic, mint, greek yogurt, feta cheese, lemon zest and olive oil. The flavors are bright, and it’s a light and healthy appetizer, perfect for spreading on toast and serving with fresh veggies for dipping. I love to serve them with some light Spring cocktails made with vodka, lemonade, fresh strawberries, mint and soda – perfect complement for the bite sized crostini! You can also make crostini with different veggies such as roasted red pepper, artichokes, avocado, olives – whatever you’re in the mood for!
It wouldn’t be the holidays without catching up with friends and family and coming together for a fun holiday brunch with friends that I only get to see a couple times a year. There’s nothing better than gathering in the kitchen and around the table to eat, drink, and laugh together over some great food and drinks.
We decided to all bring a dish for our brunch (I love potlucks!) – I made a Caramelized Onion, Ham and Gouda Tart, my Sister brought a Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Vinaigrette. We also had homemade Chicken Empanadillas from my friend Julie, a Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Casserole by Donna (our gracious host!) and Rachel’s Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread was to die for! Teresa brought some gorgeous Christmas cookies and Peppermint Bark for dessert. Here’s a roundup of our recipes for the perfect holiday brunch..enjoy!
This savory tart recipe is perfect for the holidays and easy to make. You can either make it in a 9-inch tart pan or in a pie dish. It has tons of chunky ham, lots of gooey melty cheese, and caramelized onions, covered in a creamy egg custard with herbs baked in a crunchy, flaky pie dough. You could also substitute crispy bacon or prosciutto for the ham, and use any melty cheese you like. The caramelized onions and garlic give it a tangy sweet flavor that goes perfect with the cheesy creamy custard.
1 refrigerated pie shell dough (fresh or store-bought)
3/4 cup Gouda cheese, sliced or shredded (can also substitute Gouda, Cheddar or another soft cheese that melts well)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Roll out pie dough into a 9" pie dish, overlapping dough 1 inch over edge of pie dish. Flute edges.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and butter and onions.
Saute onions for about 5 minutes until soft, add maple syrup and stir.
Saute onions for another 5-10 minutes until they become caramelized and golden brown, add garlic and cook another minute or so. Remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together sour cream, egg, egg yolk, light cream, fresh thyme, parsley and salt and pepper to make the custard filling.
Scatter the caramelized onions into the pie shell, and top with diced ham and cheese.
Pour custard over the top evenly into the shell. Bake tart for 10 minutes.
Take tart out of the oven and cover the crust edges with strips of foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until bubbly and golden brown..
Let tart cool on a wire baking rack, cut into wedges and serve.
Note: if using homemade dough, pre-bake tart shell covered in foil with dried beans or pie weights at 400 degrees F for 15-17 minutes, then and add meat and veggies and custard filling and bake for additional 20 minutes or so until the tart is set.
Recipe inspired by Andrew Zimmern's Bacon-Onion Tart, Food & Wine Magazine
This is one of my favorite Winter salads made with a gorgeous combination of flavors and textures. It has fresh sliced pears, toasted pecans, crumbly bleu cheese and red onions, bathed in a slightly sweet honey vinaigrette.
3/4 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1/2 head romaine lettuce or 1/2 bag mixed greens, chopped
1/2 large red onion, sliced thin
3/4 cup crumbly bleu cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1-2 pears, cored and sliced
3 tbsp veg oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey, heated
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned.
Chop lettuces and slice onion, add to large salad bowl with cranberries.
Core and cut pears into thin slices. Toss some into salad, save some for topping.
Heat honey and make dressing; toss with salad ingredients, top with crumbly bleu cheese and sliced pears.
Combine vinegar, warmed honey, salt and pepper in a blender or whisk together well in a mixing bowl.
Slowly stream in olive oil whisking vigorously until all oil is blended into a gorgeous vinaigrette dressing.
This is a classic recipe for Chicken Empanadillas (or empanadas). It has a flaky buttery dough surrounding a savory mixture of shredded cooked chicken, onions and spices, then lightly fried to crispy golden brown perfection. Serve with fresh tomato salsa for some extra heat and Latin flavor.
1 tbsp. Evoo
½ lb. cooked chicken breast & thigh
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
¼ cup Tomato Sauce
6 Spanish Olives Stuffed with Minced Pimientos, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. Sofrito
1 packet Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
1 tsp. Minced Garlic or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. Dried Oregano Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shredded chicken and cook until browned, breaking up meat with a spoon, about 10 minutes.
Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.
Stir in tomato sauce, olives, Sofrito, Sazón, garlic, oregano and black pepper. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll out discos until ½” larger in diameter. Spoon about 1 tbsp. meat mixture into middle, fold in half to form a half moon; moisten edges with water and pinch to seal closed, or seal with a fork.
Fill a deep saucepan with oil to a depth of 2½”. Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking (350°F on deep-fry thermometer).
Cook Empanadas in batches until crisp and golden brown, flipping once, 4 – 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a side of salsa.
Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
This is a healthy and delicious gluten-free egg casserole made with spinach, sautéed mushrooms, onions and cheese baked into a fluffy savory dish that will feed a crowd and leave room for the heavier fare at the brunch table.
1 large bag (10 oz. each) spinach
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz)
1 1/2 packages (8 oz. each) sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Gluten-Free Bisquick® mix
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
Sprinkle spinach, 1 cup of the cheese, the mushrooms and onion in pie plate.(I personally recommend sautéing the onions and mushrooms for a few minutes first to soften them before adding to the casserole.)
In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into pie plate.
Bake 35 to 38 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe for Monkey Bread is sure to be a huge hit at your next brunch gathering with friends. It's super easy to make, using Pillsbury biscuits and is topped with brown sugar, butter, walnuts and cinnamon baked into a caramelized construction of sweet buttery goodness. It won't last longer than 5 minutes - promise!
As I reflect on 2013, this has been a year filled with challenges and opportunities, adventures and growth both personally and professionally. Good times and bad times, which I’m thankful for and have made me stronger. Wishing all of you a Happy New Year 2014 and health, happiness and good eating! Cheers! xx
Summer is in the air and it’s that time of year to cool down with some refreshing Stoli cocktails and light small bites for the patio or beach. I love melon in the Summer time, especially paired with cucumbers with their light flavors that make a great refreshing cocktail.
I created a Cucumber-Melon Martini that’s made with Stoli vodka, cucumber liqueur, agave cayenne lemonade (or regular lemonade or limeade), garnished with cucumbers, mint and cubes of honeydew melon. It has a hint of sweetness from the lemonade and a lovely refreshing flavor from the melons and cucumbers and a spike of minty freshness and kick of heat from the cayenne lemonade.
A great small bite pairing to go with the martinis are Prosciutto, Melon and Feta Bites. They’re super easy to make and just as light and refreshing as the cocktails that go with them.
A little bit sweet, a little bit tangy and a whole lot delicious. Here’s to the lazy days of Summer! ENJOY 🙂
Stoli Cucumber-Melon Martini
1 part Stoli vodka
1 part cucumber liqueur
2 parts lemonade or limeade
Garnish with Cucumber slices, honeydew melon cubes and fresh mint sprigs
Pour vodka and lemon or limeade into a drink shaker over ice. Shake well and strain into martini glasses. Drop cubes of melon into the martini. Garnish with cucumber slices and fresh mint sprigs.
Makes 1 cocktail.
1 package of prosciutto, sliced thin and cut in half (about 20 slices)
1 package of feta cheese, sliced into ¼ inch sliced cubes
8 ounces honeydew melon, cubed
8 ounces cantaloupe melon, cubed
Prep all ingredients by cutting the feta cheese and melons into similar size chunks. First layer the melon with the feta, then top with a slice of prosciutto folded into small squares and secure with toothpicks. Serve on a platter along with the Cucumber-Melon Martinis.
Makes approximately 20 small bites.
Note: You can also include watermelon in the mix for some extra flavor or serve the bites over arugula with a cucumber melon vinaigrette. Simply throw the melon and cucumber slices in a blender with some olive oil and vinegar, a dash of salt and pepper; then drizzle over the bites.
I recently went on a cool roadtrip with some friends over to Teterboro, NJ to go on a private Factory Tour and Tasting event at Sun Noodle’s Ramen Lab, led by Kenshiro Uki and George Kao, owners and managers of the 6,000 square foot ramen noodle factory. I met Kenshiro and team at the NY International Foodservice and Restaurant Show a few weeks ago in the Japan Pavillion and was impressed by their authentic ramen noodles and how they pair them with specific broths and toppings to create Ramen dishes from varying areas of Japan. I found out about their tasting tours from a friend who urged me to go and sample some of these amazing noodles, which have been the leading Ramen maker in Hawaii since 1981 and more recently in LA. Owner Mr. Uki and Chef Nakamura decided to open the Ramen Lab not only to produce their unique and amazing noodles, but also to educate the public and Ramen-obsessed Chefs and foodies on the process of how it’s really done in Japan.
Upon arrival, we were given crazy hair caps and Mr. Kao took us behind the scenes for a private tour of the factory to see the machinery and ingredients that they use to make all the different varieties of their ramen noodles.
We then headed up front to a 6-person tasting bar where Executive Chef Nakamura dazzled us with his authentic Japanese cooking techniques as he prepared the five different Ramen dishes for us.
Our first bowl was a ramen soup that is popular in Tokyo, with thin, yellow noodles in a chicken broth base made with soy sauce topped with seaweed, green onions, bamboo shoots and colorful fish cakes.
The second bowl was Kyushu-style in a creamy white broth, made from slow-cooked pork served over thin, straight white noodles. The Chef added the noodles dramatically to our bowls and then garnished them with roasted garlic oil, sliced pork, mushrooms and scallions.
Our third bowl of Ramen was a Sapporo-style dish made with wavy yellow noodles topped with wok-cooked ingredients, including miso, vegetables and ground pork. The fresh hot corn was topped with a pat of creamy sweet butter and the ingredients were all nestled in a gorgeous spicy miso-based broth – this was definitely my favorite of all of them!
Our fourth bowl was Mazemen, which consisted of fat, round noodles served in chicken fat topped with a dark savory sauce, topped with a soft-boiled egg, sautéed mushrooms and fried crispy bits to give it a nice crunch.
Last but not least was a bowl of Tsukemen, which had chewy, wavy noodles that we dipped in a savory, brown broth with fish flavors, spices and green onion slivers.
The coolest part of all was just sampling all the different textures and flavor combinations which are meticulously planned and prepared and served with style. They encouraged us all to eat the Ramen quickly and not be afraid to slurp or be a bit messy, as that is the way the locals eat them on the streets of Japan.
Check out Ramen Lab online and book your own tasting tour for only $40-60. Sun Noodle doesn’t sell their Ramen to the public (primarily only to Chefs and top Japanese restaurants such as Momofuko and Chuko in NYC), but if you want to buy some of their packaged fresh or dried Ramen you can find them at a Japanese mega market in NJ called Mitsuwa Marketplace (among other fun and authentic Japanese items and produce!)
Sun Noodle Ramen Lab
375 N St
Teeterboro, NJ 07608 | (201) 530-1100
The Crosby Hotel Bar is a fun, trendy place in SoHo I have passed by several times but finally took some friends to on a Sunday afternoon recently. With it’s sun-drenched lounge, modern decor and lighting and a buzzy atmosphere this is a perfect spot for a weekend cocktail and brunch. The menu has a great variety of small plates such as Pulled Pork and Beef Sliders, a Smoked Mozzarella, Bacon and Ricotta Flatbread with Caramelized Onions (see photo above!), Leek Potstickers, and Lamb Kofta Kabobs plus a whole slew of other tasty treats to pair with a nice glass of wine. They also offer entrees of fish, short ribs, burgers, steaks, sandwiches, risotto and plenty of gorgeous veggies sides to accompany. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun – you can sit at the bar or at one of the cozy lounge couches in the atrium and also enjoy breakfast, brunch and one of their signature cocktails with friends. The hotel also serves an English Afternoon Tea in The Crosby Bar all day. It includes a variety of teas served in the traditional style with delicious cakes, scones, tarts and sandwiches. Champagne is a glamorous addition and residents can also take their tea in the drawing room. Don’t miss it.
I don’t know about you but I absolutely LOVE homemade fresh pasta over store-bought fresh or dried pasta any day of the week. But, if you have ever made it before you know that it’s a total labor of love mixing and kneading the dough, and flattening it through a hand crank machine or cutting into those gorgeous shapes by hand. There’s a great new machine called the Viante Pasta Maker that makes all of this so easy to do it’s almost crazy to not get it. With a powerful mixing motor and 10 interchangeable cutting discs you can make restaurant-quality vermicelli, ziti, tagliatelle, fettuccini, spaghetti, rigatoni, pappardelle, linguini, and biscotti in minutes. Just pull the slider to extrude dough into your desired shape. No more hand cranks or crazy kneading and cutting by hand – for only a buck and a half (about $150) – this makes anyone’s pasta obsession so much more fun, and gives you more time to be creative with all the toppings and sauces. Love it.
I stumbled upon this place one night while I was walking home and was immediately drawn in by its stunning artwork, interior design and sparkling chandeliers when you walk in the door. Originating in Brooklyn, Forcella is know for its Neapolitan-style pizza made in their wood burning ovens that reaches over 1000 degrees, cooking the pizza in 90 seconds flat. They claim to have a secret recipe for the dough, that makes it perfectly chewy and crispy with all those gorgeous browned puffy bits on top.
I sampled the four-cheese Arancini rice balls and the Truffle Parmesan Fries with Aioli for a starters while sipping a lovely Aperol Spritz at the bar. They have a great happy hour too – 2 for 1 drinks and reasonable small plates such as Prosciutto and Cheese, Fried Calamari and Grilled Octopus. For lighter fare, you can try one of their salads or a sampling of fresh handmade mozzarella and burrata.
Their Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas, created by their certified pizza master, Guilio Adriani, come in about 20 different varieties (or you can create your own). They also have a nice selection of entrees such as Risotto, Ravioli and Pasta, Grilled Lamb Chops or Pan-Seared Jumbo Shrimp wrapped in Bacon in a Brandy Cream Sauce (which I have yet to try but it sounds divine!)
Visit their two additional locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn or the Bowery – all are open 7 days a week – until 11 pm Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Definitely worth a visit (if just to watch them make their fabulous pizzas in one minute!)
377 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016
I found these awesome, colorful illustrated Bon Appetit foodie totes online at A-Thread and fell in love with them at first sight. I might just have to get one of each! Designed by the team from TheyDrawandCook.com, the Bon Appetit Tote comes in four designs – each a gorgeous, one of a kind TDAC illustrated recipe. Choose from Butter Beans, Chocolate Apricots, Hot Toddy, and Pretty Parsnip.
The tote is made from 12 oz natural cotton canvas and features a slip pocket in the side gusset – the perfect place for sunglasses, wallet, or a bottle of wine. The bag measures 10″w x 14″h x 5″d, and the handles are 24″ long and 1″ wide. The best part is that with each purchase of this tote, a donation will be made to the World Food Program USA and will feed 5 children!
There’s something about homemade Strawberry Jam that takes me back to my childhood when my Mom would pick fresh berries from her summer garden and make big batches of this sweet lovely jam for us. I haven’t experimented with canning yet but have been dying to make my own homemade concoctions – but in a tiny NY apartment i just haven’t found the space to store all the canning equipment and jars to do so. Ball now has a cool automatic jam and jelly maker that makes the process of making jellies and jams easy with a machine that does all the work for you.
The FreshTECH™ Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker with SmartStir™ Technology brings ease and convenience to homemade jams and jellies. The jam maker stirs the ingredients while it cooks so you don’t have to! Use your favorite fruits, fruit juices and even peppers to create delicious, natural jams and jellies in under 30 minutes. It is the perfect tool for both new and experienced canners, and a great way to incorporate fresh ingredients for healthier eating. The pot has a nonstick interior, making for easy clean up between batches. The pot, glass lid and stirring paddle are dishwasher safe. Can’t wait to get my hands on this fun tool so I can recreate Mom’s Strawberry Homemade jam in a flash!
Check out the video showing how cool and fun this machine is!
Get it online at Amazon.com. Photo credit: Ball USA.
7. Elephant Ceramics by Michele Michael
I can’t remember exactly where i first discovered Elephant Ceramics, but I fell in love with this gorgeous work the second I saw it – thinking these pieces of art would be perfect for my food styling and photography props. I have always loved ceramics and actually took a class once to make some of my own – I love their rustic and artistic nature, and imperfect organic shapes and textures. Michele Michael is the creator of this beautiful line of ceramics, from her studio on the coast of Maine. – The calm and cool white, blue and green palettes and rustic textures of her pieces emulate rugged, coastal scenery which seems to be an obvious source of inspiration for her gorgeous handmade creations. Can’t wait to get my hands on some of these beauties and I’m sure you will too once you see them.
This is a new fun Mexican joint that just opened in Murray Hill – created by The Spotted Pig and The Breslin team. Located inside the cool POD39 Hotel, it has a snazzy bar in front that opens into a huge recreational room in back, complete with lounge couches and tables, a second bar, fireplace, and two ping pong tables. The atmosphere is buzzing with after work crowds and is perfect for happy hour if you just want to grab a few margaritas and some authentic Mexican bar snacks. They offer amazing small tacos (2 per plate) ranging from $3 to $6 (steak, pork, chicken, cauliflower curry and Korean BBQ) and have great homemade guacamole and tortilla chips, crispy pig ears, quesadillas, beef chili, beer-braised short ribs, Morrocan Lamb on Naan and more. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner – you can get your Mexican fix any time you like in this delicious fun and trendy casual spot.
EAT Boutique is the brain-child of Maggie Battista, a dynamic food blogger and business woman I have met a few times through IACP and the Cookbook Conference in NYC. Her site is full of gorgeous photos, fun stories, and best of all – create-your-own gift boxes full of awesome foodie items and small batch foods by boutique food makers. EAT Boutique’s team curates seasonal and regional homespun gift and tasting boxes as gifts for food fans, and also sell their cool discoveries individually for the home cook. They have also recently started hosting intimate tasting events and convivial local pop up markets for their favorite food makers, cookbook authors and small batch food fans in different cities. You’ll find goodies such as a delightful box of macarons, exotic sea salts, handmade ceramics and kitchenwares, gourmet syrups and ice creams, vinegars, sauces, coffee and teas or local made wine, and I guarantee you’ll find something you love on this site!
So who DOESN’T like an awesome rockin’ outta this world Mac and Cheese? I usually make my own but when I’ve got the craving for that ooey gooey cheesey bowl of sin and don’t feel like cooking I always order online or make a visit to S’Mac in Murray Hill or the East Village in NYC. First off, they have about 11 different flavors and varieties. Secondly, you can order four different sizes depending on how hungry you are (Nosh, Major Munch, Mongo or Partay!). Last but not least, they are all made to order with awesome ingredients and baked to a crunchy, gooey existence served in a cast iron pan giving it that brown crispy crust with a melted world of yum on the inside. Choose from Classic Four Cheese, Cheeseburger, Alpine (Gruyere and Bacon!), Napoleanata (Mozzarella with roasted tomatoes, garlic and basil – yum!), Parissiene (Brie, roasted figs and Shitake mushrooms and fresh rosemary), Indian Masala, Buffalo Chicken, or you can create your own fantastic flavor combination with whatever meats, cheeses and veggies you want. Choose from traditional elbows or whole-wheat pasta and add a topping of buttery, crunchy breadcrumbs to make it even more sinful. Once you taste this You can also get your lip smacking goodness, you’ll never open a box of that yellow-powdered cheese stuff again.
It’s that time of year again – holiday parties filled with plenty of cocktails, socializing and finger food much to our heart’s desire to celebrate this sparkly season. I teamed up with a photographer friend of mine, Maike Paul, to do a Holiday Cocktail Party photo shoot and we had waayyyyy too much fun!
We chose five of our favorite cocktails to concoct, style, shoot (and drink, of course), along with a few nibbles to compliment. So here’s the lineup: Whiskey Sour with Stuffed Mushrooms, Classic Martini with Spiced Mixed Nuts, Mulled Wine with Cheese and Crackers, Pisco Sour, and a luscious White Russian for dessert. I know you’ll love all of these recipes for your next holiday cocktail party as much as we did. And Happy Holidays to all of you – CHEERS!
1 small lemon wedge
Turbinado sugar, for rimming glass
1/4 cup bourbon, preferably Maker’s Mark
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar, preferably organic
1 cup ice cubes
Rub the lemon wedge around the rim of a 12-ounce rocks glass. Place turbinado sugar in a shallow dish. Dip the rim of the glass in the sugar to coat; set aside.
In a large cocktail shaker, combine bourbon, orange juice, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and ice. Cover, and shake vigorously until all ingredients are well combined and cold. Pour into prepared glass, and garnish with orange slice.
1/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
Fresh ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons EVOO
16 large white mushrooms, stemmed
White Truffle Oil (a few sprays or 1-2 tablespoons for brushing)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped fine
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Stem the mushrooms and chop the stems into fine pieces, set aside. In a mixing bowl, blend together bread crumbs, cheese, chopped mushroom stems, garlic, parsley, chile flakes, garlic salt and pepper with EVOO. Adjust olive oil amount to your liking until filling is soft and blended well.
Stuff mushroom caps (cavity side up) with the filling (generously) on a greased baking sheet. Spray or brush truffle oil on outer mushroom caps.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are golden brown. Garnish with fresh mint.
Makes 16 servings.
Classic Dry Martini
1 2/3 oz Gin
1/3 oz Dry Vermouth
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with twist of lemon peel or olives.
Sweet and Spicy Mixed Nuts
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup cashews
3/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash Louisiana-style hot sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine the salt and spices; set aside. In a large heavy skillet, melt butter. Add cashews, pecans and cashews; cook over medium heat until nuts are lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with spice mixture. Add the brown sugar, water, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until sugar is melted.
Place nuts on a large baking sheet lined with foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until nuts are golden brown. Remove from oven and let nuts cool before serving. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 2 cups.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.
Mulled Red Wine with Brown Sugar
Two bottles of fruity red wine (Zinfandel or Merlot)
Zest strips from one orange
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
Put the peppercorns, fennel seeds and cinnamon in a large tea ball or wrap them in cheesecloth and secure them with kitchen string. In a large saucepan, combine aromatics with the wine, bay leaves and orange zest.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered for 30 minutes. Remove the aromatics and orange zest strips. Stir in the sugar until dissolved.
Serve warm in glasses or mugs with a variety of cheeses and crackers and spiced nuts.
Recipe from Food and Wine Cocktails.
2 oz Pisco
1 oz Lemon or Lime Juice
1-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1/4 oz Sugar
1/2 Egg White
Shake all ingredients except bitters with ice. Strain into champagne flutes.
Dash with bitters and drag with a toothpick to make design.
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Kahlua
Half and Half Cream
Pour coffee liqueur and vodka into ice-filled old fashioned glass and fill with milk or cream.
Alternatively you can shake it all up in a cocktail mixer and strain over ice.
Garnish with coffee beans or cocoa powder.