{Things I Love} :: Holiday Entertaining

So we are full swing in the midst of the holiday season – the most wonderful time of the year! Food, cocktails, friends, family, traveling, gifts, and a whirlwind of social activities can sometimes be a little crazy and exhausting, so I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite things to help make your holiday entertaining a little easier, stylish and a whole lot more fun (and tasty!)

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday and amazing New Year 2018!

xo Kristen 

Entertainers Gift Box

Entertainers Gift Box 

Who doesn’t love a cozy and fantastic party with a gorgeous cheese board as a centerpiece? This Entertainer’s Gift Box is perfect for a cocktail party bursting with classic goodies like Marcona almonds from Spain, an olive wood serving bowl, sweet and savory spreads: Orange and Fig Jam, Pepper Jelly and Mango Chutney and Cracked Pepper gourmet wafer crackers.

Entertainers Gift Box

The perfect accompaniment for an assortment of cheese, prosciutto, salami, fruit and nibbles – and a beautiful addition for your holiday table!

$60, UncommonGoods.com

Marble and Wood Serving Board

Marble and Mango Wood Serving Board Set

This Marble and Mango Wood Serving Board Set is perfect for entertaining and goes hand and hand with the Entertainer’s Gift Box to display all that delicious cheese, crackers, salami, nuts and spreads! One side is marble and one side is wood, making it attractive and functional at the same time.

Marble and Mango Wood Serving Board

Pair fresh bread and crackers on the wood board with cheese on the chilled marble, or sushi on the cool side with tempura vegetables on the wood. The on-point arrow design unifies the two sections, integrating the contrasting materials. Foam pads on the bottom protect your tabletop. It makes a stylish addition to your tablescape or distinctive hostess gift.

Marble and Mango Wood Board

$55, UncommonGoods.com

Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand

Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand

This rustic Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand is a beautiful addition to your kitchen and handy tool to view recipes on your iPad or to hold a traditional cookbook.

Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand

It has a sturdy wood base and back and collapses or expands to lay it flat or prop it up on your counter.

Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand

Designed by Stacy Borocz, who has a carefully curated collection of antique and repurposed home furnishings and culinary accents for over a decade. She attends local markets and old homes, barns and warehouses to find the architectural elements for her designs, and no two pieces are exactly alike.

Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand

$95 Uncommongoods.com

Melting Pot

Fondue Melting Pot 

This Fondue Melting Pot is perfect for melting cheese to accompany your holiday table – serve with pickles, bread, olives, meat, and vegetables. The Melting Pot Includes a Boska Tapas Fondue Pot, Murray’s Fondue Blend,
Murray’s Sopressata Salami,  Crisp & Co. Grand Dill Pickles and crunchy Cipollini Onions.

$110, MurraysCheese.com

Anthropologie Enchante Wine Coupe

Enchante Wine Coupe

These imported Enchante Wine Coupe glasses by Anthropologie are gilded in a gold design and also come in stemless water glasses, stemmed champagne flutes and a small bowl. A gorgeous way to serve cocktails and snacks and ring in the New Year!

$20, Anthropologie

Winter Solstice Cocktail Kit

Winter Solstice Cocktail Kit

This fun Winter Solstice Cocktail Kit comes with all the right ingredients to serve up these citrusy refreshing drinks for your next holiday party – including the brandy, rum, bitters, orange liqueur and glasses. Simply add fresh fruit and juice and voila! you’ve got an amazing cocktail to entertain your friends with.

WINTER SOLSTICE

1.5 oz brandy
.5 oz rum
.25 oz orange liqueur
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
1-2 dashes bitters
Orange wheel, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1. In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine brandy, rum, orange liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters.
2. Shake until blended and well-chilled.
3. Strain into a couple glass and garnish with orange wheel.

Makes 1 cocktail

$173.50, Mouth.com

The Party Food Bible

The Party Food Bible

The Party Food Bible cookbook is the ultimate resource for all things holiday entertaining.  With over 565 recipes served up on everything from skewers to spoons, for fun and flavorful mini hors d’oeuvres, amuse-bouches, small bites and finger foods, stylish cocktails and desserts, you are sure to find some inspiration for your next holiday cocktail party!

$14 Amazon.com

Moonglow Cocktail Shaker

Moonglow Cocktail Shaker

This Moonglow Cocktail Shaker is a beautiful way to stir, shake and serve all your holiday cocktails in style!

$39 Anthropologie.com

Martini and Sweet Spicy Nuts

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.

Mini Sweet and Savory Tarts

Mini Sweet and Savory Tarts

These Mini Sweet and Savory Tarts I created are perfect for a holiday party! I made sweet mini cranberry apple almond tarts and savory bacon, veggie and cheese tarts but feel free to experiment with the fillings and flavors..so cute and easy to make!

Parmesan Garlic Artichoke Dip

Parmesan Artichoke Dip

This Parmesan Artichoke Dip with Homemade Pita Chips is one of my favorite holiday appetizers. Brimming with creamy cheese, roasted garlic, and tons of savory juicy artichokes with crispy homemade chips for dipping – this one will fly off your holiday table!

Truffle Potato Stacks

Truffled Potato Stacks

These Truffled Potato Stacks are crispy and savory and buttery and delicious! Sliced thin and baked with butter, garlic, parmesan and cheddar cheese and 7 Barrels Truffle Olive Oil in a muffin pan, then dusted with sea salt and thyme and served with tangy and sweet 7 Barrels White Balsamic Vinegar for dipping – they make a perfect appetizer or side dish to your holiday meal!

4 medium potatoes (Russet, Idaho or Yukon Gold)
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 garlic clove, minced)
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup Seven Barrels Truffle Olive Oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup sharp white cheddar, finely shredded
Coarse sea salt, for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped, for garnish (thyme, parsley or rosemary)
1/4 cup Seven Barrels White Balsamic, for drizzling

Preheat the oven 400 degrees F. Wash potatoes and cut them into very thin slices (about 1/8-inch), leaving skins on. You can do this by hand, or use a mandolin to make slicing easier and faster.

In a large mixing bowl, add the potatoes, dried Italian seasoning, garlic, melted butter, Seven Barrels Truffle Olive Oil, kosher salt and black pepper, grated Parmesan cheese and gently toss together.

Layer half the potatoes stacked in layers into a non-stick 12-cup muffin pan (or lightly grease a muffin pan), sprinkle half the shredded cheddar on top. Then layer the other half of the potatoes, stacking them to the top and add remaining shredded cheddar on top.

Cover with foil and place on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking another 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are crispy golden brown on edges and cooked through. Run a small knife around the edges of the of each stack to release them from the muffin pan.

Serve potatoes hot with a sprinkle of sea salt and chopped herbs, and drizzle them with Seven Barrels White Balsamic vinegar. Note: You can pre-bake these a day or two ahead and reheat them in the oven for 10-15 minutes on 350 degrees F.

Serves 6 (approx. 2 stacks per person).

New Years Soup

New Year’s Soup

A hearty and delicious traditional soup served on New Years Day – with black eyed peas and collard greens and ham for good luck and financial blessings for the New Year.

Ingredients

  • 2 (15.8-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, undrained
  • 3 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 2 (14-1/2-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups diced cooked ham
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups chopped fresh collard greens
  • Hot sauce for splashing

Instructions

In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except collard greens and hot sauce; mix well. Add collard greens on top.

Cover and cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours, or until greens are tender. Splash with hot sauce before serving.

Recipe by Mr. Food.com

Lobster Pies

Lobster Pies

These luscious Lobster Pies are decadent, delicious and the perfect way to celebrate the holidays and New Year. Bathed in a buttery creamy sherry sauce and filled with tons of fresh lobster and parmesan cheese then baked with a butter crunchy cracker crust. Divine, elegant and oh so good. Indulge!

Holiday Brunch Quiche

Bacon, Cheese & Pepper Quiche with Hashbrown Crust

This is a delicious spin on a holiday brunch quiche – you simply line a springform pan with shredded hash browns and cook until lightly browned, then add your quiche ingredients until bubbly and cheese is melty. Perfect for a New Year’s Day brunch or casual lunch with friends.

Ingredients

For the Hash Brown Crust:

  • 1 large package frozen hash browns, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • A dash of onion flakes, garlic powder and dill seasoning, to taste
  • Sea salt & pepper, to taste

For the Quiche:

  • 3/4 cup red, orange and yellow bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup 1-2% milk
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, diced
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions

For the Hash Brown Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Brush a small amount of oil to the bottom of a spring form pan and line with parchment paper, including the sides. Brush with more oil on top of the parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Combine the hash browns, melted butter, egg and spices in a bowl and place them in the pan pushing them up the sides to make a 1 inch crust for the quiche.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the hash browns get lightly browned and crispy.

For the Quiche:

  1. In a small pan, over low/medium heat, add a tablespoon of oil and sauté the peppers and onions, for 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl, combine the eggs, cream, milk, cheese and cooked bacon. Add cooled peppers and onions,  season with salt and pepper and pour into the precooked hash brown crust in the springform pan.
  3. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes.
  4. Serve hot or at room temperature, cut into wedges with a side of fruit salad and toasted holiday bread and butter.
 Serves  6-8.

Things I Love :: Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Holiday Gift Ideas for All Your Favorite People

The holidays are rapidly approaching and we all need a few fun ideas for gifting, now don’t we? This hot list below is full of great holiday gift ideas and things I love, perfect for your friends, family and coworkers – whether they love pampering, cooking, or just relaxing and having a cocktail by the fire, there’s a gift on this list they’re gonna love too!

Monogrammed Cocktail Glasses

Monogrammed Cocktail Glasses

Perfect-sized lowball glasses for whiskey and mixed cocktail drinks monogrammed with gold metallic vinyl will look stunning on display on your holiday table or bar cart.

seoulscrub set

SeoulScrub Mini Mix Body Scrub Set

Seoulscrub’s collections – defined by all-natural ingredients, fragrant scents and nourishing benefits are crafted to stimulate circulation and leave skin with a spa-fresh glow. The set includes 5 assorted scrubs including: Lemon Blossom, Creamy Coconut, Peppermint, Sea Mist and Suede Vetiver. YUM!

holiday sparkler set

Holiday Sparkler Set

This gift-worthy Sparkling Cocktail Kit includes a beautiful sparkling wine, craft gin, Washington D.C. limoncello and a bittersweet, floral liqueur. Basically everything needed to mix up swanky cocktails like a French 75, floral Spritzer or Limoncello Sparkler.

It also includes a set of four stemless shatterproof Champagne flutes from Govino, designed with a divot for your thumb – perfect way to celebrate the holidays!

Polaroid Cube+ 1440p Mini Lifestyle Action Camera with Wi-Fi & Image Stabilization

Polaroid Cube Mini Camera with WiFi

The black CUBE+ Lifestyle Action Camera from Polaroid makes it easier than ever to record and share all of life’s adventures. It has a built in video camera that shoots 1440p video at 30 fps, 1080p video up to 60 fps, and 720p video at 120 fps for slow-motion capture. Additionally, the camera captures up to 8MP still images. The CUBE+ also adds image stabilization for smoother looking video and built-in Wi-Fi for syncing with the CUBE+ app for iOS and Android devices. Super cool for any adventure loving photography buff!

Baked by Melissa Cupcakes

Baked by Melissa Mini Cupcakes

Six handcrafted cupcakes made from recipes in Melissa’s new cookbook! Includes Electric Tie-Dye, Ice Cream Sundae, gooey S’mores, Babka, toasty Caramel Coconut & sweet Sugar Cookie. The Dream Team is an exclusive first taste of a few favorite recipes from CAKES by Melissa! cookbook.

faux fur pillow

Fireside Faux Fur Pillow, Anthropologie

Because who doesn’t love a big, plush fluffy pillow by the fireplace? Yes please.

Boska Mini Fondue Pot

Mini Fondue Pot, Boska

Their ceramic mini fondue is perfect for sharing a quick fondue or tabletop tapas for two. Dunk rustic bread into melted cheese, swirl fruit in chocolate or enjoy a breakfast fondue of waffles dipped in warm syrup. Made of ceramic with a rubber wood base, it includes two stainless-steel fondue forks with wood handles and the pot is microwavable making it easy to melt chocolate or cheese.

Harry and David Gift Box

Holiday Wine Box, Harry & David

For someone special, send them this awesome box of gourmet treats in a festive gift box including Harry & David 2014 Ross Lane Blend Red, mulling spices, cheese, mixed nuts, Moose Munch popcorn, cookies, crackers and jam for this you can use a good blender from the best blender under 100 list so is affordable to you.

Cozy Fleece Robe

Cozy Fleece Robe for Him

Because what guy wouldn’t like a plush, cozy fleece robe for lazy holiday mornings?

Jacques Torres Chocolate Holiday Gift Box

Jacques Torres Chocolate Gift Box

A mouth-watering selection of premium chocolate bonbons packed in Jacques’ custom-made signature gift boxes. There is something for everyone with flavor schemes ranging from caramels, pralines, fruits, wine, teas, along with special edition holiday bon bons and a Happy Holidays Sleeve. Gorgeous flavors inside too: Spiced Wine (Milk), Swirls of Spiced Wine in Milk Chocolate, Merry Mint (Dark) , Mistletoe Mint in Dark Chocolate, Eggnog (White,  and Creamy Eggnog in White Chocolate. YUM.

rose-gold-cake-knife-set

Rose Gold Cake and Knife Set, West Elm  

Perfect for special occasions, this imported Rose Gold Cake + Knife Set adds simple elegance to any table. Use it for your next celebration, or gift a set to a friend. Great for pies, quiches and cakes! And well, rose gold is just super cool and pretty too.

bartender prep board

Personalized Cutting Board, Mark + Graham

Made for the cocktail connoisseur or the amateur mixologist, this personalize cutting board is crafted from solid maple wood, and answers all your cocktail glassware, quantity and garnish questions engraved on the board. Made by J.K. Adams, who, for more than 65 years, has been handmaking beautiful, sustainably harvested wood pieces in Vermont.

Beechers Cheese Set

Beecher’s Classic Cheese Collection

For the cheese lover in your family, try sending them this classic cheese collection from Beecher’s Cheese – one of my favorite places in NYC! These three cheeses have been part of the Beecher’s repertoire since the beginning. Enjoy them all side by side for a perfect, full-flavored cheese plate. Includes
Beecher’s Flagship 1/3 lb, Beecher’s New Woman 1/3 lb, Beecher’s Marco Polo 1/3 lb, and Beecher’s Original Crackers. Perfect with wine for a holiday gathering!

Bath and Body Works Candles

Yummy Holiday Candles, Bath and Body Works

The holidays are the perfect time for candles! And the candles at Bath and Body works are not only inexpensive but they have tons of yummy scents like Hot Cocoa and Cream, Spiced Apple Toddy, Campfire Donut and Vanilla Spiced Pear. Perfect way to spend a chilly evening cozied up by the fire with a cocktail.

Dr Smood Red Maca Superfood Powder

Superfood Powders, Dr Smood 

Dr Smood Superfood Powders would make a wonderful gift for the health and wellness-obsessed foodies on your list. They’re full of health-boosting goodness and are easy to use (they can be easily mixed into smoothies or juices, on yogurt or cereal or added to energy balls and no-bake treats).

There are a total of 13 beautifully packaged superfood powders, including Raw Cacao Powder, Spirulina Powder and Red Maca Powder. Each powder comes with an information packet, including a recipe and serving suggestions, and can be purchased at one of the five Dr Smood cafés in NYC or Miami.

Whiskey Chilling Stones Set

Whiskey Chilling Stones Set

This set of 6 handcrafted stone chillers comes in a hardwood tray with 2 tumblers and is perfect for chilling fine spirits without diluting them with ice. Fancy and perfect for the Scotch and Whiskey connoisseur in the family. 

faux shearling throw

Faux Shearling Throw Blanket

Cozy up with this sumptuously soft faux shearling throw and pillow set from Frontgate. Reversible with a down insert, is plush, soft, smooth and cozy… and great for movie night indoors with a hot chocolate or hot toddy!

CScents Candy Girl

CScents

My old friend and college roommate has just launched a new perfume line called CScents…she is a singer and musician, she even own a fender telecaster modern player, and has cleverly named all her scents around old classic songs like Juke Box Hero, Candy Girl and Strawberry Fields..brilliant!

spice and salt tower

Spice & Salt Tower

Simple unscrew each of these containers (12 grams each) of salt varieties from the larger tower and get seasoning. Try them on their own, or mix and match the following flavors: Fennel Thyme Salt, Porcini Salt, Sagemary Salt, Caraway Salt, Vanilla Salt, Sumac Pepper Salt, Aleppo Chile Salt, Smoked Paprika Salt.

PLAY! By Sephora

PLAY! By Sephora

These PLAY! by SEPHORA boxes includes a selection of subtle-yet-stunning makeup and skincare. A curated assortment of five trial-size samples, plus a beauty bonus, all in a collectable bag. Plus a PLAY! BOOK including how-to information and tips on the samples in your box and a PLAY! PASS redeemable for 50 extra Beauty Insider Points when used with a full-size purchase inside a local Sephora store. You can also subscribe to a $10/month subscription to receive different PLAY! boxes each month if you choose. FUN!

Beaujolais Nouveau Georges Duboeuf

Beaujolais Nouveau, Georges Duboeuf

This Beaujolais Nouveau is fruity, with aromas of red berries and cherry. It is fresh, flavorful, round and unctuous and perfect for the holidays and Thanksgiving dinner! This wine pairs well with tapas, cheese, charcuterie, poultry and salmon. Recommended to be served slightly chilled.

Georges Duboeuf’s Beaujolais Nouveau is mainly sourced from the southern part of the Beaujolais region, which is a patchwork of terroir ranging from sand, clay and limestone to granite and schist. The difference in altitude and latitude can influence the style of wine. Georges Duboeuf and his team tasted more than five thousand samples over two weeks to craft this cuvée. Harvesting of this wine is done manually, in whole bunches, from vines that are over 20 years old.

This wine pairs well with tapas, cheese, charcuterie, poultry and salmon. Recommended to be served slightly chilled.

Table In A Bag Food 52

Table In A Bag, Food 52

How cool is this foldable, packable pine table? It literally does come in a bag, and stretches out into an al fresco tabletop ready to host an entire picnic spread, whether at an outdoor concert, the park, the beach, or your backyard. Summer can’t come too soon 🙂

Slate Board Lazy Susan

Slate Board Lazy Susan

Perfect for the holidays to display all the gorgeous appetizers you are serving. And it’s made of slate, so you can personalize the message or label the food on the board. Love!

{Things I Love} :: August 2017

Things I Love August 2017

Hey guys! Can you believe Summer is almost halfway over (or more??) Time really does fly when you’re having fun, doesn’t it! Summer is truly my favorite season and as August rolls in, I’ve had a great one so far! Lots of trips to see family and friends in Upstate New York, my guy down in South Florida and West Coast Florida to St Petersburg and Clearwater Beach, and fun weekends in the city and beaches in NYC.

As much as I love the beach and warm weather and sunny days, I start thinking about the crisp Fall days ahead – and all the delicious comfort food recipes and seasonal produce coming into play that makes my heart skip a beat..cozy soups, fresh gorgeous salads and hearty casseroles and pies and roasted dinners..mmmmm. But wait..it’s only August…

So to celebrate the season, here’s a few shoutouts to some of the amazing and fun places, people, recipes and things I’ve been loving on this Summer – it’s not quite over yet! Hope you’re having a fantastic one yourselves and getting plenty of delicious bites and drinks, travel, quality time with friends and family, and some sun, sand and surf in too.

Cocktails at Sandbar in the sun…and gorgeous sunsets on the west coast of Florida…and that’s just the beginning.

Sunset

So here’s a salute to the best Summer ever and a few of my favorite things worth a shout out….

Sandbar Delray

Boston’s Sand Bar, Delray Beach

I recently visited Boston’s Sand Bar in Delray Beach with my boyfriend after a day at the beach and what a fun place this is! They have great happy hour specials everyday with 1/2 price beer, wine and cocktails and beach bar bites like Smoked Fish Dip, Conch Fritters, Peel and Eat Shrimp, Mojitos and Margaritas.

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Definitely a fun casual spot with a Tiki Bar and beach vibe for a relaxing weekend afternoon in the sun on the patio…cornhole, music, beach, cocktails, sun, loungy couches…what else can you ask for?

Edna Lewis's Peach Cobbler

Edna Lewis’s Peach Cobbler

I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing better in the Summer than a baked fruit cobbler – especially fresh peaches topped with crisp buttery pastry and vanilla ice cream – definitely something to scream about and a fav refreshing, juicy Summer dessert!

Kingsley Street Soaps

Kingsley Street Artisan Soaps + Candles + Lotions, Syracuse NY

I am such a sucker for Summer Arts Festivals and I found this awesome soap, candles and lotions company at the Park Avenue Festival in Rochester, NY last weekend! The scents are amazing and made with all natural ingredients – I absolutely LOVE their Sandalwood soap and Tobacco Leaf & Amber candle. Divine.

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Harpoon Harry’s, Punta Gorda FL

My boyfriend and I stopped in here last minute on our way back home from St Pete, FL one night to take a quick break from driving and make a pit stop. We stumbled upon the town of Punta Gorda, a sleepy little marina town in Florida and discovered the Fisherman’s Village on Charlotte Harbor, where this place is located, and it had the most stunning sunset and waterside views I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s a fun, casual bar and restaurant (think Popcorn Shrimp, Crab Cakes, Raw Oyster Bar and Grouper Sandwiches – yum!) and definitely worth a stop if you’re driving down the coast of West Florida. They even have this amazing Sea Foam sugar scrub in the bathrooms to add to the ambience.

yeahhhhhh…I think I could live here 😉

Balsamic Tomato Basil Pasta with Fresh Ricotta

Balsamic Tomato Basil Pasta with Fresh Ricotta

This is one of my favorite Summer recipes ever. I created it for my client 7 Barrels, with their delicious Sweet Basil Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar to make a gorgeous fresh tomato sauce with garlic and onions and then topped it the pasta with fresh basil, ricotta and parmesan cheese. So easy and light – it’s truly Summer in a Bowl.

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The Classic East concert, Citifield NYC

A few weekends ago my Sister came to town for The Classic East concert which was amazing! All the classic 70’s bands were playing over 2 days out at Citifield stadium. We saw Journey, The Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Earth Wind and Fire, Steely Dan and The Eagles! All my favorite bands on the planet!!!

Visit our Facebook page with more fun concert photos and live videos from the event!

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Dim Sum at Grand Restaurant, Flushing NY

On Sunday that same weekend, we decided to meet up with my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Jim for some Dim Sum at the Grand Restaurant in the New City Mall in Flushing, (Chinatown in Queens). If you have never had Dim Sum before, you’re in for a treat! They basically sit you down at a big table and the servers come by with rolling carts full of Chinese appetizers and small plates and you order whatever you want off the cart and they tally up your bill as you go! We had delicious dumplings in all flavors, fried shrimp, sautéed Bok Choy, a delicious Coconut Gel, Mango Rice Pudding and Custard Egg Tarts for dessert. So delish and fun! But beware, all those small bites add up fast!

green chili chicken lasagna

Green Chile Chicken Lasagna, Son of a Southern Chef

I just discovered the awesome food blog, Son of a Southern Chef, who is nominated for a Saveur Blog Award this year – I love his Southern comfort food recipes, writing style, graphics and sassy voice and attitude! This Green Chile Chicken Lasagna is definitely on my list of recipes to try, along with his Mac & Cheese, Shepherd’s Pie, etc..yum!

Love Ceramics

Love Ceramics @love_ceramic

I just stumbled upon this Instagram page of Love Ceramics today and absolutely love their gorgeous colors and patterns! Perfect props for my food photography and just all around artsy and cool. LOVE is right 😉

No Bake Super Muesli Protein Bars

No Bake Super Muesli Protein Bars, Evoke Muesli

I recently discovered these guys at the Park Avenue Festival in Rochester NY last weekend too and love their organic muesli..especially the Cocoa Cherry Chai flavor! This recipe for no-bake protein bars sounds awesome for the Summer for a quick high protein snack when you need some energy.

Chocolate Cherry Pisco Sour

Chocolate Cherry Pisco Sour, Drinking with Chickens

I have not made this drink yet but I absolutely love Pisco Sours and anything made with chocolate and cherries. So there ya go. On my bucket list to make before the end of summer. YUM. And Drinking with Chickens is the funnest name EVER for a cocktail blog so you need to vote for them in the 2017 Saveur Blog Awards for best cocktail blog because – the chickens. #OMG.

Hot Chicken Sandwiches with Pickles and Slaw

Hot Chicken Sandwiches with Pickles and Slaw, Rachael Ray Show

Hello, spicy chicken sandwich on steroids. I think I love you. 

Pincher's Crab Shack

Pincher’s Crab Shack, Naples FL

Another fun place my BF and I discovered on our little road trip down the West coast of Florida a few weeks ago for his birthday. It’s a fun crab shack nestled on the coast of Naples, where you can eat to your heart’s content a massive amount of fresh seafood at Happy Hour from 4-7 pm. 1/2 price drinks and super cheap goodies like peel & eat shrimp, clam chowder, crab legs, and raw oysters for $1 with a killer view on the water? Fork, yeah. 

Peachy-Chipotle-Chicken-Tortilla-and-Avocado-Rice-Salad-with-Pan-Fried-Halloumi-1

Peachy Chipotle Chicken Tortilla and Avocado Rice Salad w/ Fried Halloumi, Half Baked Harvest

Um, yessss. More peaches. Mixed together with tons of lovely ingredients to make a super delish salad – cilantro, lime, fried halloumi cheese, chicken, greens, all tossed in a vinaigrette dressing and topped with tortilla chips and jalapeños. Could this be the perfect salad in my life? Yeah, I think so.

Grilled Flatbread recipes

5 Grilled Flatbread Recipes for Summer, Culture Mag

OK so Summer isn’t over yet right? And let’s not put away the grill too soon either! Culture Mag does it again with these five awesome grilled flatbread recipes – Corn Chowder Flatbread, Eggplant Relish and Ricotta, Shrimp and Mixed Herb Pesto, Prosciutto-Melon, and Tomato-Peach with Blue Cheese and Basil. YUM!

Check out my Instagram feed to see some more fun photos of my food, music and travel adventures 🙂

Oh, and don’t forget to check out my Artful Gourmet Facebook page too for more adventures and photos and videos. Hope you guys are having a rockin’ Summer! Stay tuned for my Fall favs next month 🙂

Great Reads :: Top Cookbooks for Spring 2017

Great Reads: Top books for Spring 2017

Hey guys, so happy Spring! I haven’t done a post on Great Reads in a while and i have soooo many great books and cookbooks that I’ve read that deserve a big shout out!

Here’s a few of my recent favs that are definitely worth a read:

Salmon: From Market to Plate

Salmon, From Market to Plate by Maureen C. Berry 

For all you salmon lovers out there, this is your book. Seafood advocate and cook Maureen C. Berry will show you how to be sustainable salmon shopper and conscientious cook.

The book goes over the basics of how and where to buy different varieties of salmon and the best tools and essential ingredients for your kitchen to do so. She has 20 easy and delicious everyday salmon recipes included and they’re grouped by “In the Oven”, “On the Stove” and “On the Grill”, making it easy to learn different ways to cook salmon. There’s also some more advanced recipes from chefs and organizations that support sustainable fisheries and ocean conservation at the end.

Some of my favorite recipes in the book are simple and use fresh ingredients..Salmon with Roasted Apples and Walnuts, Farmers Market Salmon Salad, Salmon Corn Chowder, Grilled Salmon with Roasted Beets, Blue Cheese and Pear Vinaigrette, Pan Grilled Salmon with Cilantro-Walnut Pesto…and there’s so many more!

You can find Maureen tweeting @maureencberry and on Instagram @maureenc.berry. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and their feisty wire fox terrier.

Get the book on Amazon

Cook's Country Eats Local

Cook’s Country EATS LOCAL, 150 Regional Recipes

So this is such a fun cookbook and a roadtrip across the country with some of the best regional recipes ever! It actually makes me want to jump in a car and eat my way through every state, just like Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Actually, when I was a kid, my whole family (me, Mom and Dad and my Sister) packed up our stuff into an RV hooked up to my Dad’s truck and drove across the country for five weeks from New York to California and back. We saw amazing things like the Salt Flats in Salt Lake City, the Badlands (we fed the prairie dogs “Twigs” on the side of the road!), Mount Rushmore in South Dakota,  the Redwood Forest in Northern California, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, the Geysers in Yellowstone National Park, panning for gold in an old deserted Western town in Montana..and the list goes on. Ever since then I’ve been fascinated by travel and especially the food that comes from different regions of the country along with the history, culture and stories behind it.

The book breaks up the recipes into four regions featuring some of the top classical recipes in each: New England and the Mid-Atlantic, Appalachia and the South, The Midwest and Great Plains, Texas and the West.

The book includes anecdotes and stories on the history of the recipes and variations on some, along with colorful illustrations, side notes, cooking tips, photography and maps where you can find some of these recipes at popular hot spots across the country.

A few of my recipe favs in the book: Iowa Skinnies (a thinly cut fried pork chop sandwich with lettuce and tomato), St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake (need I say more?), South Carolina Shrimp Boil, Hoppin’ John (slow cooked Southern dish with rice, black-eyed peas and ham hocks), Rhode Island Johnnycakes (crispy corn cakes served with maple butter), Pittsburgh Wedding Soup (a Western PA version of Italian Wedding Soup with meatballs, kale, and orzo), Chicken Riggies (a classic chicken and rigatoni with tomato sauce baked dish from Utica NY), Prosperity Sandwiches (an open face sandwich melt similar to a Hot Brown from the Midwest), Texas Chicken Fried Steak and Chile Rellenos Casserole and Black Bottom Pie (chocolate custard, rum chiffon and whipped cream pie with a chocolate cookie crust) – OMG.

Check out the book on Amazon

Devoured: From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies

Devoured: From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies, Sophie Egan

This is a smart, funny and well-written book that delves into the American psyche of how we eat and why we eat, and sheds a unique light on the current food culture in America. Food writer and Culinary Institute of America program director  Sophie Egan examines the connections between our national values of work, freedom, and progress—and our eating habits (good ones and bad ones).

She explores many topics and questions such as why America is obsessed with healthy, GMO-free and gluten-free food; our obsession with having everything “our way” and instant gratification; our quick substitutes for real food while living such busy, scattered lives; and how American food is being influenced by global culinary trends and flavors. She analyzes workplace food experiences, fad diets, stunt foods, grandiose food marketing, and more.

Thought provoking and definitely worth a read! You can get it online here.

Here’s a few others worth a mention on the list (and all IACP Cookbook Award winners):

Scratch by Maria Rodale

Taste of Persia, Naomi Duguid

Deep Run Roots, Vivian Howard

Molly on the Range, Molly Yeh

James Beard’s All American Eats

{Things I Love} :: Summer 2016

My {Things I Love} list is back for Summer 2016 with some fun and interesting objets de desir, places, people, books, recipes, photography, food and drinks that I’m currently crushing on – not necessarily ordered in terms of my favorite – but are all worthy of a huge shoutout for their awesomeness in my opinion. Something that I love but could not add to the list, is playing videogames and using ELO BOOSTING services, but anyways, here’s the list, until next time, Happy End of Summer, and Bon Appetit!

fresh fish cookbook

Fresh Fish Cookbook

Jennifer Trainer Thompson‘s new cookbook has gorgeous photography, amazing seafood recipes and great stories of her living along the New England coast, all the while demystifying how to cook fish simply and deliciously. You’ll find recipes for soups and chowders, shellfish, fish entrees, side dishes, desserts and beachy cocktails for your next Summer seaside feast.

Jennifer is the author of over 20 books, a self-professed hot sauce maker and chicken chaser, and author of the blog Jump Up and Kiss Me, where you can find more of her food stories and recipes.

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https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Fish-Fearless-Grilling-Shucking/dp/1612123376

coconut rose petal ice cream

Coconut and Rose Petal Ice Cream w/ Cardamom Crumble

Not only is this a beautiful Summer dessert, it’s vegan, made with coconut milk and vanilla, fresh rose petals and a cardamom and oats crumble topping.  A dream come true.

Linda Lomelinos of Call Me Cupcake Blog

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Ken & Cook NYC

It’s currently #NYCRestaurantWeek, and we all know what that means. Bingeing on some of the most delicious food and drinks in NYC, without guilt of course, at $42 per person for dinner and $29 per person for lunch including appetizers, entree and dessert. I recently visited Ken and Cook with a friend for dinner the other night and I had a glorious feast of Ahi Poke Tuna, Seafood Ceviche, Filet Mignon with Basil Pesto Mashed Potatoes with a Chocolate Lava Cake w/ Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Tiramisu for dessert. With unlimited Prosecco on the house, at that. The atmosphere was lovely, the staff super attentive and gracious. In a great location in SoHo on Kenmore Street at the best table in the house. Must try – 100% delicious!

http://www.kenandcook.com

nora luther

Nora Luther Food Photography

Being a food stylist and photographer myself, of course I’m obsessed with all things food photography. I discovered Art Director Nora Luther’s food photos from another food blog I visit frequently and was blown away by her photos of food literally flying in the air.  So creative and very cool way to present food in a unique way.

blackberry crostata

Blackberry Chocolate Italian Tart with Coffee Creme Fraiche

OK. I absolutely love fruit tarts in the Summer. But blackberries and chocolate in a whole grain coconut flour crust? Topped with coffee infused creme fraiche? And what a gorgeous presentation at that, by Valentina of Hortus food blog. yes, please. 

pereg flours

Pereg Gourmet Alternative Flours

We all know that gluten-free is all the rage, and Pereg Gourmet just launched a new line of alternative flours this year to give consumers more cooking and baking options for gluten-free diets. They have 6 new varieties including Almond flour, Banana flour, Buckwheat flour, Chickpea flour, Coconut flour and Farro flour. All are gluten free except for the Farro, and are 100% natural, non-dairy and certified kosher. I was fortunate enough to get some samples myself, so it’s time to experiment with some fun recipes for Fall – hmmm, I’m thinking pizza, tarts and pies, homemade pasta..let’s see what I can come up with – stay tuned!

fried chicken gravy poutine

Fried Chicken and Gravy Poutine

O.M.G. – 5 words: fried chicken. gravy. fries. cheese curds. BACON. #yum

http://realfoodbydad.com/fried-chicken-and-gravy-poutine/

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The Capital Grille #GenerousPour Summer Promo

My friends and I visited The Capital Grille the other night on 42nd St in NYC to take advantage of NY Restaurant Week (yes, once again!) and to partake in their #GenerousPour Summer promo. For only $28, were able to taste a variety of 3 whites and 3 reds, handpicked by The Capital Grille to accompany our dinner menu. We had the Clam Chowder (super good!), Dry Aged NY Strip and Grilled Shrimp, Beef Tournados, and Pan-Seared Salmon (all amazing!) with Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes (to. die. for.) and an amazing Creme Brûlée (my favorite!!) for dessert.

My favorite wines were the Provenance Sauvignon Blanc from Napa CA, and the Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Cabernet (a bordeaux blend), also from Napa. We managed to stay for a few hours with full bellies and lots of generously poured vino and escaped for less than $100 each, including tip. Now that’s a delicious steal.

http://www.thecapitalgrille.com/events/the-generous-pour-wine-tasting

peach burrata salad

Peach Burrata Salad

This fresh summer salad is the perfect recipe for a light lunch or side dish for dinner. The saltiness of the prosciutto with the subtle heat of the red onion and the creaminess of the burrata is a seriously magical combination. And it’s stunning to look at too, is it not? I’m thinking a side of sparkling rose would just top it off beautifully.

http://www.designlovefest.com/2016/08/peach-and-burrata-salad/

french country cooking cookbook

French Country Cooking Cookbook

Another lovely cookbook from one of my favorite food bloggers, Mimi Thorisson of Manger. Filled with gorgeous as ever French styling and recipes and photos that will make your mouth water and wish you too were living in the countryside of France. Available Oct 25, and for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online…can’t wait to get my hands on it!

lobster tails

Lobster Tails with Mojo de Ajo & Grilled Corn Salsa

I love anything grilled, and this recipe absolutely screams Summer. Grilled lobster tails with garlic, chipotle, cilantro and lime marinade and a side of grilled corn salsa with more spicy flavors like jalapeño, onions, and basil. Sounds divine. Must make tonight.

http://www.upcloseandtasty.com/blog/2014/july/lobster-tails-with-grilled-corn-salsa

caprese mac and cheese

4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese

O.M.G. Pasta. Heirloom tomatoes and basil. All baked into a bubbly pot with 4 melty cheeses – cheddar, havarti, mozzarella and brie. Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest does it again. Gorgeous and delicious as always.

 

Top 10 {Things I Love} :: Winter 2015

My Top 10 {Things I Love} list is back for Winter 2015 with some fun and interesting objets de desir, places, people, books, food and drinks that I’m currently crushing on – not necessarily ordered in terms of my favorite – but are all worthy of a huge shoutout for their awesomeness in my opinion… Happy Holidays and New Year 2016! 

magpie cookbook

Magpie Cookbook – Magpie Artisan Pie Boutique is a popular pie shop in Philadelphia, owned by Chef Holly Ricciardi. This book is full of her famous pie recipes, both savory and sweet – from luscious quiches, pot pies and hand pies, to fruity, creamy and nutty pies like her bourbon-infused Butterscotch Pie recipe passed down from her Grandmother. Great for any pie-obsessed person and includes tons of great techniques on how to make different types of crusts and decorative touches for a gorgeous handmade pie. Ah, PIE.
Get it on Amazon

aria wine bar

Aria Wine Bar, NYC – This trendy cozy place has 2 locations: one in the West Village, and another in Hell’s Kitchen in NYC. Offering Venetian-style Italian Tapas, the menu has a plethora of delicious small plates, appetizers, pasta dishes, and salads all created for sharing. They have a great wine list, and the atmosphere is romantic and buzzing and the best part is the wine list offers the fruits of the world’s foremost lady vintners. Try the Mini Meatballs drenched in homemade sauce and melted cheese, the Sautéed Mussels in wine, or the Truffle Mac & Cheese. You won’t be disappointed! Another NYC fave not to miss.
http://ariawinebar.com

bacon jam

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread – Who doesn’t love bacon? Well now you can have it anytime on the fly. This delicious Bacon Jam is made with real bacon, brown sugar, and onions with three varieties that can all be simply spread on crackers or bread, elegantly spread to elevate appetizers, grilled sandwiches, pasta or to add bacon to any of your favorite dishes. Try the Original, Black Pepper or Red Chile and Garlic. Delicious!
http://thebaconjams.com

Trimino Protein Water

Trimino Protein Water – With the popularity of vitamin waters and fruit waters abound, there’s a new and improved kid on the block. Trimino Still and Sparkling waters are infused with 7 grams of protein, are caffeine and sugar free, and only 28 calories. And lots of fun flavors too! Strawberry Lemonade, Mixed Berry, Coconut Pineapple, Peach and Watermelon. Perfectly light and refreshing for and after workout drink or as a base for a fruity beverage or cocktail.
http://drinktrimino.com

Gala Pork Pie

Parker’s British Foods – Brits Victoria and Damian Parker have a serious love for British food, and learned the crafts of butchery, meat curing and pie making from some incredible British butchers, combining those skills with the best meats and recipes the British Isles had to offer. Then they got married, packed their bags and set off for a new life in America. Now based out of Buffalo, NY, they offer genuine British food like Pork Pie, Sausages, Proper Fish and Chips and a variety of British sweets, condiments, drinks, snacks and gifts for sale in their online store. Check ’em out, Mate!
https://www.parkersbritishinstitution.com/shop-online

extra virgin nyc

Extra Virgin NYC – Extra Virgin is a great little neighborhood spot located in New York City’s West Village. They offer delicious Mediterranean food in a buzzing dimly lit atmosphere with a fantastic wine selection and different varieties of extra virgin oils from around the world. Try the Fritto Misto – lightly fried calamari, zucchini and shrimp as an appetizer..it’s light and crispy and perfectly fried to perfection. The Prosciutto-wrapped Sea Scallops are equally delicious, served over Cauliflower Puree and Porcini Sauce with a Apple and Celery Salad on the side. The Short Ribs are to die for, and literally melt in your mouth, served over Truffled Mashed Potatoes (try these with a side of Grilled Broccolini..super delicious!) They also have a great Sunday brunch and lovely desserts..Another NYC fave, don’t miss it.
http://extravirginrestaurant.com

Jan Burtz Gold Luster Plates

Jan Burtz Luster Ceramics – Offered exclusively at ABC Home in New York City, these ceramics have a handprinted metallic border that lovingly outlines their natural and irregular forms. Made by hand from creamy porcelain and homemade glazes, these pieces bring us back to the basics, accentuating the fluidity and grace of hand-formed wares. Made in Jan Burtz’s Connecticut studio, no two pieces are alike. Also offered in silver and a variety of bowls, trays, platters, vases, plates and sizes. Adds an elegant rustic touch to any table!

Get them on ABC Home

Maple Syrup Cookbook

Maple Syrup Cookbook – I recently got this cookbook and absolutely love it! Why? Because I’m in love with maple syrup and everything in here has a recipe made with it. I made the French Canadian Maple Sugar Pie with Walnuts and the Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts for Thanksgiving and they were both delicious hit at the table! If you love maple syrup as much as I do you can’t miss this cookbook..get it! Immediately.
Get it on Amazon

Raised Bloom Baking Set, Anthropologie

Raised Bloom Baking Set – Who doesn’t love a little bling for the holidays, and better yet who doesn’t love Anthropologie??? This adorable baking set is made of carved stoneware coated in a lovely iridescent glaze including a rolling pin, pie server, measuring spoons, pie plate, whisk and a muffin tin. Almost too pretty to bake with!
Get it on Anthropologie

cranberry sauce

Colors of Nature Cranberry Sauce with Rum and Orange – Colors of Nature is a small, family owned company based out of Brooklyn NY that makes beautiful small batch sauces, jellies and cakes full of fresh ingredients and flavors. Try the Cranberry Sauce made with Rum and Orange – perfect for the holidays!
http://www.colorsofnature.nyc

Wine-Braised Chicken w/ Bacon, Veggies & Herbs

Wine-Braised Chicken with Bacon, Veggies & Herbs

As the weather cools down in the late fall season, there’s nothing I love more than cooking a big one-pot comforting dish on a Sunday afternoon. One-pot dishes are so easy to make, and the enticing smells from the oven are enough to wipe out any winter blues that might be coming on. Welcome my Wine-Braised Chicken with Bacon, Veggies and Herbs. 

KitchenAid 6 Qt Ceramic Dutch Oven

I love making hearty braised dishes with meat and vegetables because they’re easy and so good, especially in my KitchenAid® 6.0Qt Cast Iron Cookware. It’s big enough to make a meal for a crowd, and it’s enameled with cast iron inside which makes it the perfect vessel to cook slow braised dishes, roasts, stews, soups, chilis and any one-pot meals. It even has a grill pan inside the lid! How cool is that?

Wine-Braised Chicken with Bacon, Veggies and Herbs

My Wine-Braised Chicken has tons of goodness inside: chicken thighs, shallots, bacon, cipollini onions, garlic, fresh rosemary and thyme, bacon and carrots. It’s slow-cooked into a big pot of deliciousness with white wine, chicken broth, and then a reduced  au jus cream sauce served over the top.

Wine-Braised Chicken with Bacon, Veggies and Herbs

This is such a delicious and easy recipe to make and it’s pure comfort food perfect for a chilly Winter day. The best part is you only have to cook and clean in one pot, which is awesome. (More time to snuggle under the blankets and watch movies by the fireplace!)

I’d love to hear what you would make in your KitchenAid® Cast Iron Cookware by experimenting with my recipe. Would you use a different meat, like beef or pork? What vegetables would you substitute or add? Would you try a different sauce for the recipe?

Share your take on this Wine-Braised Chicken recipe on the KitchenAid Instagram page using #MadeWithKitchenAid for a chance to be featured!

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RECIPE AND STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS ON THE KITCHENAID BLOG!

Top 10 {Things I Love} Summer 2015

 

My Top 10 {Things I Love} list is back for Summer with some fun and interesting things/places/foods/drinks that I’m currently crushing on – they aren’t necessarily ordered in terms of my favorite – but are all worthy of a shoutout in my opinion… Happy Summer everyone 🙂

Herriot Grace Cake Pedestal

1. Herriot Grace 

Herriot Grace is a father and daughter-run company from Canada who makes a gorgeous variety of hand carved and handmade wooden objects: spoons, bowls, pedestals, candy dishes, serving boards, rolling pins, plates and mortar and pestle sets. Each one is uniquely made from salvaged chemical-free wood and they’ve also introduced a select line of exclusive porcelain dishware. The ceramic pieces are cast in small runs, and boast the rustic, tactile beauty for which their brand is known.

http://shop.herriottgrace.com

Cooking Class Cookbook

2. Cooking Class Cookbook

Of course being an advocate of fun, healthy cooking for kids myself as the host of Cooking with Color 4 Kids TV Show in NYC, I was impressed by this new cookbook by Deanna F. Cook. I love the visuals and step by step instructions and fun inventive ideas to make cooking for fun for kids!

It also teaches basic cooking techniques in kid-friendly language and offers recipes for making dozens of favorite foods from scratch, including French toast, granola, pancakes, sandwiches, smoothies, muffins, biscuits, applesauce, fruit leather, goldfish crackers, tortilla chips, Buffalo chicken fingers, pizza, sushi California rolls, pudding, and more. The recipes use fresh, healthy ingredients and feature imaginative presentations that kids will love to prepare (and devour), such as egg mice, fruit flowers, mini-meatballs, mashed potato clouds, and carrot coins. Includes fun stickers and other activities, and is super cute and fun for anyone with kids who love to cook or want to learn how to cook.

Get a copy on Amazon

Fig & Olive Oysters

3. Fig and Olive Restaurant NYC

My friend recently came for a visit from LA and wanted to try out some great food in the city while she was here. So of course, being the foodie tour guide extraordinaire that I am, had to find some cool new place to take her to. I found a place called Fig and Olive which I am absolutely in love with…the food and service were both amazing and I am definitely going back for more! They have an olive oil tasting served at the table you when you first arrive in all different flavors from different regions.

They specialize in Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and have tons of great choices on the menu including a Crostini Bar where you can choose from all different varieties to accompany your figs, cheese, olives and other small bites. We ordered the Lobster Bisque and fresh raw oysters for  starters, then had the Lobster Risotto and Seafood Paella for our main. Everything was beautifully displayed and tasted amazing. A must visit if you love Mediterranean food and are visiting in NYC..and they also have locations in LA, Newport Beach and Chicago.

http://www.figandolive.com

Coney Island Cheesecake

4. Coney Island Confetti Cheesecake

All I can say is – how fun is this? It’s a super cute confetti cheesecake I found on How Sweet It Is blog that was originally created by Rosie of Sweetapolita.

This gorgeous creation is colorful and sweet and made out of cheesecake, sprinkles, ice cream cones and nuts…just like a fun Summer day at the beach hanging at the amusement park.

Get the recipe: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/05/coney-island-cheesecake/

viniq

5. Viniq Shimmering Liqueur

When Summer arrives, I love to experiment with fun, fresh and new cocktail recipes. I received a sample of Viniq, which is a gorgeous  shimmering liqueur (yes, it shimmers when you shake the bottle)! A fusion of Premium Vodka, Moscato, and Natural Fruit Flavors, it’s refreshing and perfect for a cocktail out on the patio. I mixed the Ruby flavor with some Pomegranate Sangria Seltzer, a dash of fresh lemon juice and topped off the concotion with some fresh raspberries. Totally delicious and a great addition of sparkle for my 4th of July celebration. Comes in 2 flavors and lots of great recipe ideas on their website. Delicious!

http://www.viniq.com/

Lemoncello Restaurant

6. Lemoncello, Rochester NY

Everyone loves Italian food right? Well at least I do – it’s definitely one of my favorite foods to cook and eat on the planet. There’s an awesome spot in Upstate NY (East Rochester) called Lemoncello which is easy on the eyes as well as on the palate. Try the Veal French, a lightly egg battered fillet of veal (4 to be exact), with a gorgeous silky lemon butter wine sauce over linguine. Another specialty is their Lemoncello Veal (or Chicken) which is another light pasta dish served with sauteed veal, olives, artichokes, spinach and pasta in a lemon cream sauce. TO DIE FOR.

Chef Silvana Formoso is from Sicily which is reflected in their awesome menu. You can find a variety of salads, gourmet pizza, and delicious appetizers like Artichoke French, Calamari Fritti, Beef Carpaccio and Sauteed Greens and Beans. There’s plenty of amazing main dishes on the menu to choose from too – Cioppino, New Zealand Rack of Lamb, Pork Osso Buco, Stuffed Eggplant, Chicken Marsala and Milanese, Grilled Rib-Eye, Homemade Lasagna, Ravioli and Manicotti, Risotto and more. They even have BYOB on Tuesdays with no corkage fee, and you can enjoy the Summer weather on their outdoor patio and live music in the Summer. The decor is quaint and cozy, and the service is impeccable. They have a great wine list and all their bread is shipped in from Toronto and fresh baked in house every day so it’s still warm and crispy when it gets to your table! Owner Massimo Albano even gave us a shot of Limoncello for dessert on the house. Love this place and will definitely be back for more next time I’m in town! #delicioso

www.lemoncello.com

nature charm bracelet

7. Keith Lewis Studio

I recently went down to State College PA for a huge Summer Arts Festival at Penn State with some friends. It’s an annual show with amazing art, food, music and all the gorgeous jewelry, pottery, handcrafted gadgets and accessories a girl could want. One artist that stood out to me was Keith Lewis – he makes gorgeous handcrafted jewelry out of pearls and metal and precious stones that will make your eyes water out of pure lust.

www.keithlewisstudio.com

Flying Tiger camera bag

8. Flying Tiger Copenhagen

I recently discovered this groovy store a few weeks ago when I was strolling around the Flatiron District in NYC. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it but it reminds me of a cross between Target, IKEA, a boutique home / gadget store and flea market all in one space. They have all kinds of stuff for your office, home, kitchen, games, kids toys, party supplies, travel supplies and a million and one cool as can be highly designed, inexpensive gadgets. There’s only one store in NYC but you can always catch a flight to Copenhagen or Iceland or Japan if you feel the urge. If not, check out their cool stuff online. Unique, savvy and super fun.

http://flyingtiger.com/

 

crisco coconut oil

9. Crisco Organic Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil is all the rage these days, because it’s great for cooking in high temperatures, it’s a good fat and has a gorgeous flavor. There’s a new kid in town from Crisco and I had the opportunity to sample some of their new organic coconut oil. It’s perfect for frying and roasting veggies, meats, and can even be used in baked goods.

Check out some of their recipes and videos online to get some creative ideas on how to use it and cook with it!

www.crisco.com

authentic-italian-gravy

10. Redpack Tomatoes

Redpack is one of the top tomato producers on the market and I had the opportunity to sample some of their Petite Diced Tomatoes with Garlic & Olive Oil and their regular Diced Tomatoes. Because they are fresh picked and canned immediately, the flavor is always fresh and juicy and the tomatoes are pre-cut right in the can, making them convenient to use in all of my recipes.

Redpack Tomatoes

They also offer canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes and Redpack Tomato Sauce which are great for making all kinds of dishes like salads, sauces, pasta dishes, tacos, casseroles and more.

Redpack is one of many premium quality brands under the Red Gold Umbrella, which opened its doors in 1942. Today they produce over 100 different styles and flavors of tomato products in 20 different sizes and containers.

Check out all their product varieties online and get some great recipe ideas there too while you’re at it!

http://www.redgold.com/redpack

 

Top Ten {Things I Love} :: Spring 2014

Here are a few of my favorite things I am crushing on – some new and notable, and others just downright awesome and worthy of a shout out – people, places, things that are just absolutely THE BOMB.

Chez Josephine

Chez Josephine

If you’re looking for a magical place to wine and dine near NYC’s Theatre District, this is the place you must see and experience before or after a night on Broadway. Chez Josephine, owned by Jean-Claude Baker and Jarry Baker, is located on 42nd Street and 9th Avenue. This beautiful restaurant is in tribute to Jean-Claude’s mother (adopted) Josephine Baker, and a vivid return to 1920s and 1930s Paris – the city she loved and thrived in during her career as a premiere entertainer and stage and screen star. It’s a great place to relax with a cocktail and live music – the jazz piano and singers located in the center of the dining room will entertain you as you dine in this enchanting place. The decor is elegant and charming, with its ornate blue tin ceilings,  red velvet walls,  black glass chandeliers and life-sized vintage portraits of Ms. Baker throughout the restaurant. The French Bistro-style cuisine is delightful in every way with elegant cocktails, salads, entrees and desserts. On a recent visit I experienced a truly delicious and enchanting dinner here with a friend. We started out our meal with some lovely French Sauvignon/Semillon wine and an appetizer of Sauteed Jumbo Sea Scallops wrapped in crispy flavorful Prosciutto with a gorgeous sauce over the top. For our entrees, we ordered the Amish Roasted Chicken, over a bed of crushed zucchin, garlic and fresh goat cheese and their spectacular Lobster Salad. For dessert, we sampled the elegant Peach Raspberry Melba Ice Cream, Creme Brulee and Cappuccino before another cocktail to finish off the evening as we listened to the beautiful jazz music in the buzzing dining room. They also have a weekly Prix Fixe Sunday Brunch for $20 including a Soup or Salad for starters, a main Brunch item such as French Toast or Spaghetti Bolognese, and coffee or tea and a dessert. You don’t want to miss this place the next time you visit NYC. It will take you back in time and space to a beautiful early century Paris and envelop you with all the glitter and drama and beauty of Ms. Josephine Baker herself.

http://www.chezjosephine.com/

https://www.facebook.com/chezjosephine Facebook
https://twitter.com/chezjosephineny Twitter

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photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet

Paella
Paella

Tio Pepe

I recently visited this awesome Spanish restaurant in the West Village called Tio Pepe – and had an amazing meal there. We started out with some lovely Rioja wine and Stuffed Piquillo Peppers and Gambas al Ajillo — sauteed shrimp with garlic, olive oil, and Albarino wine for an appetizer, then had the Entrecote a la Parilla — grilled choice sirloin steak with garlic, olive oil and sea salt served with sauteed julienned vegetables and a potato cake; and Paella Valenciana — Saffron laced Bomba rice with clams, mussels, shrimp, chicken, and chorizo for our entree. For dessert, we had the luscious Flan al Caramelo — a traditional Spanish custard topped in caramel sauce to finish off our meal. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!

It’s in a gorgeous elegant space, with a back sun-lit patio area with a wood burning oven where they make their own pizzas and other main dishes on the menu, including the Paella. Tio Pepe is the only restaurant in New York – and one of the only in the US – to use this type of wood burning oven when preparing traditional Spanish fare. The oven was installed this year as a new addition to Tio Pepe, a cornerstone of the West Village for 44 years. Chef Jose Zamora joined Tio Pepe as part of the restaurants commitment to authentic Spanish cuisine.

The owners of Tio Pepe are Jimmy Sanz and his family. Originally from Spain, the Sanz and has been serving NY locals and tourists traditional Spanish and Mexican cuisine for over four decades at their stable of NY restaurants including: Tio Pepe, Casa Pepe, Las Ramblas, Burrito Loco, The Taco Shop and Da Rosina. Chef Jose Zamora is a native of Tarragona, Spain. He began his career working at a family friend’s restaurant. He received two culinary degrees, one from Le Cordon Bleu in the U.S. and one from the Institution Culinario de Cambrils in Spain. His cooking is inspired by both Spanish and French cuisine. He is devoted to using the best ingredients and implementing a simplistic stylist technique with dynamic presentation. As the new executive chef at Tio Pepe, his goal is to provide memorable dining experiences through passionately created culinary dishes.

http://www.tiopepenyc.com/

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photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet

YOTEL NYC

YOTEL

There’s tons of cool hotels in New York City – but I recently discovered one that is not only super cool but gorgeous inside with its modern design and rooftop patio deck outside.

YOTEL New York collaborated with NYC-based custom bike company Mott Street Cycles Customs (formerly STRADA Customs) in honor of Bike Month in May.  I got to preview these cool cruisers at the YOTEL X MSC: The YOTEL Cruiser Launch Event earlier this month for cocktails & light bites from China Grill Management’s brand new menus for this season at The Terrace at YOTEL New York. They had a live DJ and raffles to to win an MSC Customs bike while we sipped cocktails on the roofdeck.

The YOTEL x MSC Customs partnership provides a fun and eco-friendly experience that is integral to the New York City lifestyle and offers hotel guests specially designed bikes to use as a complimentary amenity throughout their stay.  The 2014 fleet of bikes feature three color variations – purple, green and white –along with the YOTEL logo, hand-painted wood grain fenders, leather grips and leather saddles, creating a distinct look exclusive to YOTEL and brand new for this year.  Guests can book their bike reservation through the concierge desk who will direct them to Bike and Roll at Pier 84, along 12th Avenue to pick up their custom cruisers.

http://yotelnewyork.com/

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photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet

 

Mouth

Mouth

Mouth is a really cool online foodie store, but it’s not your average online shop, it’s only indie food by indie artisan food producers and everything is handmade, small batch, and made in the USA. Mouth curates and hunts down the coolest new indie products on the market and then curates all these goodies into cool gift packages based on a holiday, occasion, or gift ideas such as: Birthday in a Bag, Breakfast in Bed, Bring Home the Bacon, Bee Happy Taster, or Brooklyn Taster, just to name a few. Maple Bourbon Bread and Butter Pickles, an endless array of honeys and jams, cheese, chocolate, sea salts, salami, cookbooks, herbs and spices, jerky, caramels, condiments, and the list goes on and on. This is a foodie’s dream come to true, and their site makes it super easy to search for and buy super cool gourmet artisan food to your favorite foodie friends and family. I could just shop here all day long.

http://www.mouth.com/

photo credit: Mouth

Bacardi Mango Fusion

Bacardi Mango

Bacardi just released nationwide the newest addition to its flavored rum family: Bacardi Mango Fusion. The new flavored rum fuses refreshing juicy mango and orange flavors and can be consumed as a shot or mixed with fruit juices, lemon-lime soda, or sweet-and-sour mix as a cocktail. It has a light, crisp flavor profile and is perfect mixed with OJ, or angostura bitters, or with Bacardi Coconut Rum and a splash of grenadine. Check out some of their new Cocktail Recipes!

http://www.bacardi.com

photo credit: Bacardi

SmashBurger

Smashburger NYC

If you haven’t tried a SmashBurger yet, well, you need to. They just opened a new location in NYC near the Empire State Building, and I was able to attend their Grand Opening not too long ago where they gave out free burgers all day long to New Yorkers to sample their goods. Their handcrafted burgers are smashed, seared and seasoned to order, using our fresh, never frozen 100% Certified Angus Beef. They have tons of amazing sides to go with of course, I tried the Signature Smashfries which are hand-tossed with garlic, rosemary and olive oil – and absolutely DELICIOUS. They also have fun menu items like hand-breaded haystack onions and fried pickles, hand-spun shakes, grilled or crispy chicken sandwiches, split and grilled hot dogs, crisp entrée salads and black bean veggie burgers with tons of fresh toppings including Truffle Mushroom, Avocado, and Spicy Jalapeno. This is no ordinary burger joint – it’s outta control super good.

http://smashburger.com/

photo credit: SmashBurger

Cherry Pom-Maia

Maia Yogurt

Maia is more than just delicious Less-Sweet Non-Fat & Low-Fat yogurt. It is packed with 25+ Billion strands of live active probiotic bacteria, Prebiotic Fiber, Protein, and all the other goodies you need to empower health & wellness. Maia’s  grass-fed milk comes from local dairy farmers (never giving their cows hormones) so every cup is fresher and friendlier to the environment.  Maia is Gluten-Free too! They have eight delicious flavors: Plain, Strawberry, Vanilla Bean, Raspberry Lime, Peach, Pineapple and Pomegranate Cherry. This Greek yogurt is rich and creamy and perfect for making Fruit and Granola parfaits, topping Quesadillas, or making a delicious low fat yogurt dip for crackers and fresh veggies. Delicious! Click here to see what all the buzz is about!

http://www.maiayogurt.com/

photo credit: Maia Yogurt

wonuts

The Wonut – Waffle Cafe, Chicago

First we had donuts, then we had croissants, then we had cronuts. Well here;s the coolest new food fad by a place in Chicago called Waffles Cafe  who’s created the WONUT. A cross between a waffle and a donut – these babies are made with a thick waffle batter in either chocolate, vanilla or red velvet. Then they are poured into an iron press and then deep-fried until they are crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Then the fun begins – they are glazed and topped with all kinds of gorgeous toppings – chocolate, sugar, maple, sprinkles, pistachios, cocoa, granola, dried fruits, marshmallow, chopped nuts, you name it. These sweet treats are selling for $2.35 a piece and yes, they’ve been selling like hotcakes since they invented these gorgeous things. I’m sure it won’t be long before they hit the streets of NYC. At least I’m hoping. Otherwise, it’s a great excuse to take a roadtrip to Chicago for one for these delightful creations.

a thicker version of their signature waffle batter. Red velvet, vanilla and chocolate batter get poured into the iron press and cooked to the perfect crunchy-on-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside texture. Next, the wonuts are dipped and fried in vegetable shortening, then covered in gobs of marshmallow, glaze and sprinkles.
Read more at http://www.foodbeast.com/2014/04/24/wonuts-waffle-donuts/#PhUiKMfIQYRxoMXA.99
a thicker version of their signature waffle batter. Red velvet, vanilla and chocolate batter get poured into the iron press and cooked to the perfect crunchy-on-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside texture. Next, the wonuts are dipped and fried in vegetable shortening, then covered in gobs of marshmallow, glaze and sprinkles.
Read more at http://www.foodbeast.com/2014/04/24/wonuts-waffle-donuts/#PhUiKMfIQYRxoMXA.99

https://www.facebook.com/Waffleschicago

photo credit: Waffles Cafe

The Redhead NYC

The Redhead NYC

This is a groovy little place I stumbled upon in the East Village one night when I was looking for a quick bite and a cocktail. It’s cozy, busy (in a good way), and the moody lighting and delicious wafts of the food will draw you in – just grab a seat at the bar and be prepared to swoon over their awesome menu of Southern comfort food and cocktails. Must try the fresh baked homemade pretzels with beer cheese, the redhead buttermilk fried chicken over creamy grits, with a soy-molasses jus, sesame, ham, b&b pickles. Other favorites are the cheeseburger with homemade waffle chips, the homemade bacon peanut brittle, stout braised short ribs, and the brussels sprouts seared in duck fat, wine and apples are to DIE FOR. And you can’t leave this place without trying their signature cocktail –the redhead fizz made with orange vodka, elderflower cordial, fresh lemon juice. This has to be one of my favorite finds yet.

http://theredheadnyc.com/

photo credit: The Redhead

Bocca di Bacco

Bocca di Bacco, NYC

Bocca Di Bacco is an Italian restaurant with six locations in NYC, their newest one opening on the Upper West Side on W 85th Street. It’s a favorite spot for celebrities, tourist and native New Yorkers and they are famous for their Sunday Brunch. Their top-notch Italian cuisine is designed by Food Network Judge Chef Kristin Sollenne, and they also have an excellent wine selection with 500 of the best wines from renowned Italian wineries. I recently went to the 7th Ave & 21st street location for dinner and sampled the Eggplant Involtini, made with fresh buffalo ricotta, fresh eggplant and mint served in a gorgeous red sauce. For dinner my friend and I had the Braised Short Ribs over Stewed Cabbage and the Roasted Pork Chops with Rosemary Potatoes. We finished off our lovely meal with a boozy dessert made with Prosecco, Mango Puree and Whipped Egg Whites topped with a sprinkling of ground espresso. Delicioso!

http://nycrg.com/bocca-di-bacco/

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photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet

Top 10 (Things I Love) :: 2011 / Happy New Year!

New Year 2012

2012

Well the end of 2011 is finally here. WOW. What a crazy, awesome, long year it’s been! I started my food blog last year around the holidays, and since then I have met so many amazing people in the food industry, learned amazing skills in my cooking classes, food styling and photography and food writing classes that I feel like a whole new person and am so happy I have paved new paths and opportunities in my food media career. Hoping everyone has also had an amazing year, with lots of love, laughter, cooking and eating – wishing you all a prosperous and Happy New Year 2012! 

Here are a few of my favorite posts, recipes, people and more from 2011 ::

IACP Conference, Austin TX

Food Network Wine and Food Festival, NYC

Tasting Table/KitchenAid Event in Soho, NYC

Favorite Recipes

Favorite Culinary Markets

Favorite Culinary Tools

Favorite Cooking Spices, Oils and Sauces

Favorite Cookbooks

Favorite Restaurants

Favorite Cooking Websites and Blogs

Of course there is plenty more things I loved in 2011, but this is just a list of my favorites. Wishing all of you a happy and prosperous New Year 2012. Happy eating, cooking and living! ~AG

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