Summer Solstice

June 21, 2014

It's only fitting that the Summer Solstice falls on a Saturday. Celebrate with beach trips, bike rides, lounging by the pool, eating ice-cream & popsicles, making s'mores by the fire, or whatever you see fit. It's gorgeous, so get outside! Happy Summer everyone!

Bourbon Banana Bread

June 18, 2014

There is nothing like noshing on a freshly-baked piece of banana bread wile having your morning coffee. And, who doesn't like bourbon? And while it would have been fun (and entertaining) to watch my family devour heavily booze-laden banana bread at 8am, I opted to add just enough bourbon to intensify the banana and nut flavors. Shredded dark chocolate weaves into the banana bread, giving every bite a subtle cocoa essence. This bread is perfect to make for the weekend (or anytime for that matter), as I can guarantee you it will probably be consumed as a not only breakfast, but as a snack, coffee counterpart, and dessert too.

Bourbon Banana Bread
Makes one 9x5 loaf pan

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1 Tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large bananas, smashed with a potato masher
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped with a knife
2 ounces dark chocolate, shredded/roughly chopped with a knife

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick spray, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

2. In a kitchen mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (using a hand-mixer is fine, too), mix the sugar and eggs on medium for about 1 minute. Add the bourbon, vanilla extract, and molasses. 

3. Turn the mixer to a lower speed and add the vegetable oil,  then the smashed bananas.

4. Add the dry ingredients that were set aside in the beginning. Mix until the flour mixture is combined (dont overmix!). Add 3/4 cup of the chopped walnuts and chocolate and fold them in with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to incorporate them. 

5. Pour into the loaf pan that's been coated with nonstick spray. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup walnuts over the top. Bake for 60-70 minutes (when a toothpick comes out clean from the middle, it's done).

Bon Appetit everyone!

Summer Beauty Essentials

June 17, 2014

1. Bumble & Bumble 'Surf' Spray, Sephora, $15 for 1.7oz: This sea salt hair spray gives hair beachy, voluminous waves. Just spray in damp, washed hair and let air dry. You'll have textured, casual, waves. Wrap a few random strands of locks around a curling iron, then comb through with fingers for a more evening-ready beach look.

2. Trader Joe's Coconut Body Butter, Trader Joe's, $5.99: I know what you're thinking, body butter from Trader Joe's?! But this body butter is seriously amazing - rich and conditioning - it's a new favorite of mine. It also smells like a tropical summer, so: win, win.

3. Essie's 'Roarrange' Nail Polish, CVS Pharmacy, $8.50: I love to go with a pretty, vibrant shade of nail polish for summer. Sun-kissed skin looks amazing with punchy shades, and this sherbet orange-ish color does the trick.

4. Olay CC Cream - Total Effects Tone Correcting Moisturizer with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 15, Ulta, $19.54: This CC cream evens skin tone, hydrates, illuminates, and is an SPF - ALL in one. Ah-ma-zing.

5. Nars 'The Multiple' in 'G-Spot,' Sephora, $39.00: This is my go-to beauty product for the summer season. Sweat? No problem. This blush stick highlights and adds a shimmery, bronze color to cheeks, eyes, and lips but doesn't streak because of its' cream base.

6. Pixi 'Shea Butter Lip Balm' in 'Coral Crush,' Target, $8: This lip balm was in my Birchbox las month, and I have fallen in love.  It moisturizes and conditions while adding a perfect coral tint - great for adding extra color to your lips for a beach day or even an evening out.

7. L'oréal Voluminous Carbon Black Waterproof Mascara, CVS Pharmacy, $7.79: Smudge-proof mascara that also gives you big, voluminous lashes? Yes please. No one likes raccoon eyes during a day at the pool or beach (or even in the evening due to humidity!) so this is a definite go-to option of mine.

Creamy Parmesan Polenta & Cod

June 16, 2014

As the nights warm and summer's official arrival date quickly approaches, I find myself craving lighter fare (especially during weeknights). I decided to take polenta - a side dish that's known to play a part in heavier meals (when coupled with something like braised chicken or short ribs)- and make it summer-appropriate. When paired with light, flaky Cod, roasted-thyme vegetables and a glass of rosé, the creamy parmesan polenta instantly transforms from a Winter to Summer dish.

Serves 5

1 cup corn meal or corn grits
4 1/2 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock (I prefer using beef or chicken stock for more flavor)
1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp salt.

Directions: Heat 4 cups of stock to a boil. While whisking,  slowly stream 1 cup of corn meal into the boiling stock. Add the 1 tsp. salt. Whisk to prevent any clumps, then reduce the heat to low and switch to using a wooden spoon to stir. 

About every 5 minutes, check on the polenta and give it a good stir. Make sure to scrape the sides down and the bottom of the pot. Around the 25-30 minute mark it will LOOK done, but keep cooking until around the 40-45 minute mark (I promise it will be that much better!). Have a 1/2 cup of stock reserved handy on the side, this way if at any point the polenta looks too thick, add stock a little at a time to loosen it up and keep it creamy.

Once the polenta is cooked (about 40-45 minutes), turn the heat off and add the Parmesan and butter and stir. Taste and add more salt if needed. 

Serves 5

1 cup cherry tomatoes
8 ounces Crimini mushrooms, cleaned 
Handful of thyme sprigs
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Directions: Toss the tomatoes and mushrooms with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme sprigs. Roast in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes. 

Serves 5

5 Cod fillets, aboout 5 ounces each
Olive oil
Smoked salt
Fresh-ground pepper

Directions:Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron pan. Sear the cod on each side. Once seared, place the cod fillets on a sheet pan and finish cooking in a 350 degree F oven for 7 minutes.

FOR ASSEMBLY: Layer the creamy polenta on the bottom of the plate or serving dish, add the thyme-roasted vegetables and then place the Cod on top. Garnish with pea shoots for extra color and freshness. Serve with a crisp, refreshing glass of rosé.

Bon Appetit!

Father's Day Gift Guide

June 6, 2014

Father's Day is upon us! While it's much more difficult (in my opinion) to shop for Father's Day versus Mother's Day gifts, I have compiled a few things that I think any dad will love. From BBQ accessories to shave and gin-making kits—these are some fun, classic, and functional gifts dad will surely love.

1. Homemade Gin Kit, $49.95
2. Hario Cold Brew Coffee Pot, Amazon, 34.80
3. Bluetooth Smart Grilling Thermometer, Lowe's,    $39.95
4. Leather Plaid Phone Wallet, Fossil, $45
5. Fossil Chronograph Tachymeter Watch, 44mm, Nordstrom, $93.75
6. Ray-Ban 'Chris' Gradient Sunglasses, Ray-Ban, $115
7. Dollar Shave Club Membership, $6-9/month
8. The Prophets of Smoked Meat, Amazon, $18.74
9. Homemade Gin Kit, $49.95

Lemon-Curd Thumbprint Cookies

May 31, 2014

When baking, I love testing out recipes and later tweaking and tailoring them to my likings. Except when a recipe is so good on its' own, it would be doing it an injustice to alter it. One of my favorite food television personalities is by far Ina Garten. I love her simple, easy breezy approach to cooking and entertaining, and not to mention every single recipe I have tried of hers is outstanding. Her lemon curd is so good you will no doubt be eating it in spoonfuls from the bowl. Lemon curd is amazing on so many things--from spreading it on toast, to using it as a tart filling or even as a cookie filling like I did here. The subtle nuttiness from the almond cookie paired with the tart, bright lemon curd makes for a scrumptious bite.

[Lemon Curd, recipe here; Roasted-Almond Cookies, recipe here]

Have a great weekend!

Farmer's Market Haul

May 12, 2014



1 head Cauliflower: Last week I opted to use this for a more healthy choice, and this week it's quite the opposite - as I'm planing on frying these florets up and pairing it with a flavorful yogurt sauce (kind of like this).
1 bunch Carrots: Perhaps I'll try this recipe out this week.
1 bag Sugar Snap Peas: I am cooking these sweet peas up tonight for dinner: a fried brown rice & shrimp dish.
4 ears of Corn: This corn is SO GOOD. I used an ear yesterday, raw, in my salad. And probably will continue to add it to salads and such for the rest of the week.
1 bunch Leeks: I love leeks! Since they are part of the onion family, they're great in just about everything. I sliced them up and used some in these petit crab cakes I made over the weekend.
4 baskets Strawberries: Strawberries are so sweet and succulent right now! If you love margaritas (which, who doesn't?!) whip up a fresh strawberry margarita like I did last night. Just muddle some fresh, sliced strawberries with mint and lime juice (if you don't have a muddler, just use the back of a wooden spoon!). Then add a touch of simple syrup (simmer equal parts sugar and water until the sugar dissolves), silver tequila, shake with ice, and top with club soda. Voila! Heaven in a cup.

Hope everyone has a fab week!