Mad Monday | Vive la France!

7.14.14

Today is the French equivalent to Independence Day, better known as Bastille Day. It commemorates the day that the Bastille prison was stormed and signifies the end of complete monarchy, the birth of the sovereign, and would eventually lead to the creation of the (First) Republic.

Like the 4th of July, food is an important part of the celebration. Sometimes French food can be seen as fussy and complicated, but here are a couple options that aren’t.

French 75

French 75

Serves 2

  • shots gin (Hendrick’s is a good choice)
  • shots Cointreau
  • squeeze of lime
  • 1 to 2 tsp sugar
  • Sparkling wine (Champagne or Prosecco), chilled
  • Ice
  1. Add enough ice to your cocktail shaker to fill it about a third of the way.
  2. Add the gin, Cointreau, lime, and sugar, then cover and shake well. Strain the drink into tumblers chilled with ice.
  3. Finish off each glass with a big splash of sparkling wine. An additional lime wedge is optional.
  4. Keep pouring ‘em.

macarons

Macarons

These Raspberry, Blueberry, and Champagne Cream Macarons  are a great option for any occasion. Not to be confused with macaroons, which are lovely coconut or ground almonds circular cakes often mistaken for macarons. Macarons are tiny bits of decadence. They come in many flavors and shades, but when done right they are divine!

hambaguette

Ham Baguette with Arugula and Camembert

Servings: 2

Ingredients

1 baguette
4 tablespoons butter
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fig jam
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
4 ounces thinly sliced jambon de Paris
3 ounces Camembert, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 cup baby arugula
Directions:
  1. Slice the baguette in half lengthwise, cutting about three-quarters of the way through.
  2. Evenly coat the cut sides with the butter and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the fig jam & mustard over the butter on both sides.
  4. Layer the ham, Camembert and arugula on the bottom half of the baguette.
  5. Fold over the top half of the baguette and press gently to close.
  6. Cut the sandwich into the desired number of pieces and serve.

Renewal Sunday | Extracting Flavor

7.13.14

I have shared my recipe for making vanilla extract before, but many don’t know there are many things that can be used to make extracts. There are so many flavors that can be used and extracted, but I found this recipe for one using lavender.

lavender fields

Lavender is a very hearty plant, and can grow in most regions. The properties of lavender are calming and soothing. That’s why it works well in teas and herbs. Lavender is something many see in open fields or bouquets and centerpieces. But lavender actually has some great uses in the kitchen. Many teas and rubs include lavender as a spice. There are other unique ways to use lavender, such as sugar and pepper. There are a few different types of lavender, but the most common is English and French lavender, but you may not know there are only a few varieties that you can cook with. The most common culinary versions are munstead, white ice, and hidcote. Whatever you prefer, however adventurous you are, this recipe may help you take your food venturing a little further.

lavendar extracts

Making extracts are simple. It’s a basic equal parts sugar and water, with a little of whatever flavors you want to add towards the end. This recipe is for lavender, and any other essences you want to try. Be adventurous with your options, but be conservative with the flavors until you know the exact results.

Makes one 1/2 liter bottle

  • 3vanilla pods or 3 handfuls of dried lavender
  • 2cups vodka
  1. Add the vanilla or dried lavender to a clean 1/2 liter bottle or jar, then add the vodka.
  2. Mix the bottle by inverting it a couple of times.
  3. Seal the bottle or jar and keep in a cool place for 1 to 2 months.
  4. Use your homemade extracts in all of your baking endeavors.

I would say to find some smaller jars from a home goods store to store your extracts. It makes things easy to store and just makes things pretty.

Adding lavender to any recipe will enhance the flavor. Be adventurous and enjoy the flavors of nature.

 

Throwback Thursday | 80’s TV Sitcoms

5.22.14

Ok, so I’m a sucker for the 80’s. It was a part of my childhood that I still reminisce about often, and I truly do miss that period. What I miss the most is the television lineups that we had then. Not to slight the television shows now, but the shows in that decade were meaningful, inspirational, and entertaining still. We had humor, drama, legal, and situational sitcoms that stayed on the air during the school year, and went on hiatus for the summer. The primetime lineup was diverse and very appealing to all age groups.

Jem

 

Misfits

Ok, so I know this wasn’t a primetime show, but I just have to express my fondness for Jem and the Holograms. I watched this show in the afternoons and still occasionally get the theme song in my head from time to time. The Misfits were wild and sneaky, but made good cartoon bad girls. Ok, now moving on…

the love boat

 

One of my favorite shows in primetime was The Love Boat. I would watch this show and drape a sheet around me to simulate the moment the belle of the Captain’s Dinner came down the ship’s sprawling staircase. Hey, what did most 8 year olds want to be besides the belle.

small_wonder

Now Small Wonder was one of those shows that didn’t last very long, but along with shows like Charles in Charge and Perfect Stranger, Small Wonder was a quirky and funny show about a robot girl who was discovering family.

Family Ties

A great family drama was. This show embodied a unique dynamic of characters who were well matched and showed the diversity of a family.

The-Cosby-Show

And the infamous Cosby Show...there are so many moments that still have meaning in today’s life and culture. This family (and show) truly represented the average American family makeup, and sent very powerful messages about growing up and learning through the process. Man, I loved Thursday nights at 8pm!

Exploring and creating shows with a variety of family situations was a common theme throughout the 80’s. There were also shows, mostly comedies, that showed a different kind of family situation. Charles in Charge, Who’s the Boss and The Facts of Life were shows that created a variety of situations that may not be typical, but we could still relate to their experiences. Plus, being hilarious helped.

Now, there were plenty of drama on television then. I think it was some of the best ever, but I’m biased.

There were a mix of cop and legal dramas, such as Miami Vice, as well as pure drama (ie. Dallas, Dynasty). These shows sometimes had a form of comedy to them, but they were all so cool and truly entertaining.

WKRP

Now there were also some slap happy comedies, as I call them, that were mostly funny but had the occasional lesson you can learn from their mishaps. One I still love today is WKRP in Cincinnati. The characters were hilarious, but their jobs were very meaningful for the times. There were a lot of story lines that I didn’t get as a kid, but it still made me laugh. Watching it today as an adult, I see how impactful some of the stories were, but it’s probably more funny now.  

So if this was how you changed the channel and found your viewing pleasure for the evening, let us remember the wonderful variety of our primetime lineup.

Happy #tbt

Tasty Tuesday | Twisted Fish (Sort of)

5.20.14

I love fish, but sometimes it can be a bit bland just baking it. So I decided to kick up the meal a bit by making a menu of Parmesan Tilapia, Sauteéd Green Beans, and Roasted Golden Potatoes.

Don’t get me wrong, baked fish is good, but pan fried Italian tilapia just has so much more flavor to a light fish.

IMG_3062

I decided since I was adding a flavorful fish, why not make the sides just as flavorful. So I decided to use my culinary degree skills and add some sautéed fresh green beans and oven roasted golden potatoes.

Since I’m not really big on following recipes to the letter as law, I’ll simply say this about the individual menu items:

IMG_3061

Italian Tilapia

2 fillets
Season with salt and pepper, or preferred seasonings
Plate of Italian breadcrumbs
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup of vegetable oil

Mix the breadcrumbs, cornstarch, and parmesan on a large platter, mix with fork. Place the seasoned fish fillets in the breadcrumb mixture, cover and pat both sides. Place gently into a pan of hot oil. I used my cast iron skillet to fry these in. Let the fish cook fully on both sides, generally about 5 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the fillets.

IMG_3072

Sautéed Green Beans

2 cups of fresh green beans
1 half of white onion, sliced
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a stainless steel pan and melt the butter. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the beans and turn heat down to medium. Sauté beans until soft, but not mushy. You can add a tablespoon of water if your beans start to stick or your pan gets too hot. This will help to soften the beans.

IMG_3068

Roasted Golden Potatoes

3 medium size golden potatoes
Herbs de Provènce
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven at 400°F. Cut the potatoes into small cubes. Season to your preference and coat with oil. A trick I learned in culinary school when cooking potatoes in the oven. Take the pan you will be using, coat with oil and put in the oven while its preheating. While you prepare the potatoes to cook, heating the pan will heat the oil, and when you add the potatoes to the pan it will sizzle. What that does is essentially quick fry the outside of the potatoes, and will give the potatoes a nice crisp on the outside. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove and sprinkle a little kosher salt on top. Potatoes need a lot of seasoning.

Well, here was the final product:

IMG_3078

Fabulous Friday | Craft Cocktail

5.16.14

Today is the beginning of the weekend, and for me it’s been a long week. A very emotional and stressful, at times, week full of roller coaster ups and downs. So, I thought it would be a generous act to share a few craft cocktails with you on this #FabulousFriday.

scrappys bitters

 

Scrappy’s Bitters first hit the bitters scene around 2008 when crafting wasn’t very widespread. Today, crafting while making cocktails has exploded the mixology industry and the sale of and demand for bitters has grown exponentially.  Part of their success can be attributed to their commitment to organic ingredients and no artificial flavors or colors. Scrappy’s “craft” bitters are perfect representations of the ingredients they contain along with a balance of carefully selected herbs and spices. Here is a recipe using the crafted bitters that is sure to pique the interest of a cocktail voyeur.  

Martinez Cocktail

Martinez Cocktail

Martinez

1 oz Old Tom Gin

2 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange Bitters

1/8 oz Maraschino

 Add all ingredients to cocktail mixing glass filled with ice. Stir for 30-45 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

Devil_in_disguise

Devil in Disguise

Devil in Disguise

2 oz Arco Blanco

1 oz. Cointreau

1 oz Cranberry Juice

.75 oz Hibiscus Syrup

Muddles Raspberries

jan2012_dolceamaro

Amaro dolce

2 oz house-made Amaro

3 dashes Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters

¼ oz Calvados

Whatever your preferences are in match ups, enjoy and have a safe weekend. Happy #FabulousFriday.

Throwback Thursday | Return of the 80’s

5.15.14

You know there is a cliché that says everything that is old becomes new again. It seems that things come in and out of style all the time. Fashion is no exception. If you’ve been following trends lately, I’m sure you have seen the cropped shirts and leggings making a staggering reappearance.

80's Madonna

 

Today, I want to take you down memory lane. I may be biased, but the 80’s were some of the best years of my life. From television shows to fashion accessories, I loved everything 80’s (and still do). Here are some of my favorite things I remember fondly.

The Purple One

princepurple_jpg_595x325_crop_upscale_q85

appollonia2

This movie needs no explanation. Purple Rain was one of the 80’s best films, and of all time! It will never get old.

Jem and the Holograms

Misfits

Jem

Jem and the Holograms was one of my favorites growing up. The main character was a strong female influence and  the typical situations on the show displayed how you can keep your dignity and integrity as a person, all while being fabulous and talented.

Denim Jackets

tiffany 80s denim jacket

image

The denim jacket was a huge part of our 80’s wardrobe. And like all trends, they all come back. The denim jacket is making a comeback, and will surely be a staple once again in our wardrobes. This one from H+M is just an example of how much the denim jacket has not changed much.

The Stirrup Pant

image

The stirrup pants were a phenomena that came in an array of colors and patterns, and it was a sign that you had true style. As a Catholic school girl, I didn’t get to wear these often, but on free dress days I would go straight for my stirrup pants.

See-Thru Phone

image

In middle school I begged my mom for my own phone line I the house just so I could get one of these phones. They were the coolest thing to see when they rang! It was a glorious day when I finally got mine.

Let’s Get Physical

image

Being a dancer most of my chiodhood, leotards were a huge part of my weekend wardrobe. And with the influx of aerobic exercise classes that inundated the 80’s, the leotard was the uniform for most aerobics classes.

Shoulder Pads

image

Now Ms. Collins wore a mean shoulder pad in the day, but these pads are taking on a new role in making a dramatic expression in fashion today.

image

Flashdance

image

Everyone from the 80’s and beyond remembers the infamous water bucket scene with Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance”. Well that scene sparked a phenomenon with legwarmers and leotards. But the off the shoulder shirt was her signature contribution to 80’s fashion.

Wherever you were in the 80’s I’m sure you osned or sported some of these items. Those were the days and I do miss those times, but they made me who I am today. So if you have any memories you want to share, feel free. Pictures, memories, etc. Happy #tbt sharing!

Wedding Wednesday | Weather Mishaps

5.14.15

Outdoor weddings are always beautiful and exciting. If the elements cooperate, the possibilities are endless to what you can do outdoors for a wedding.

beach_wedding_isle

 

But if mother nature doesn’t cooperate, there are ways to avoid a wash out…no pun intended.

wedding-insurance-bad-weather-outdoor

 

Mother nature can ruin or bless your special day. And with the many types of weather disasters that are possible, rain is probably the least of your worries. There are rising storms, such as dust and tornado storms, that are really taking over the weather patterns lately. So when planning your special day, there are some tips you can follow to avoid total disaster.

  1. Secure backup plans – make sure that the location where you are having your outdoor wedding has a backup location choice in case the weather does not cooperate. Check the weather patterns prior to make sure you can make a sound judgement.
  2. Ensure that your guests are comfortable – the heat can be brutal on your guests and make them uncomfortable, sick even. Make sure that there is ample water and cooling stations for guests to retreat to. Maybe your venue has a place for guests to come inside and get cool.
  3. Purchase wedding insurance – Wedding insurance has become more common with all the weather tragedies and random accidents that are becoming more prevalent. Accidents can be prevented, but when they can’t it’s always good to have a backup plan to protect you and your spouse-to-be.

So while you’re planning that outdoor wedding, be sure to take into consideration that the reality of uncontrollable weather patterns.

 

Wedding Day Dust Storm

Wedding Day Dust Storm

But, if you get caught with your umbrella blowing backwards, make the most of it…like these people:

Enjoy your day, have the breeze blowing through your veil, but be smart about it and make sure to protect yourself.

Mad Monday | Mother of a Weekend

5.12.14

Mother’s Day was yesterday. I spent time with my mom for the weekend helping her with some things around the house. Those things she needed an extra hand with. It was the least I could do after all the things she’s done for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One project that took the most time was painting/staining the deck back to its original color. Back in 2000 when we first moved into the house, it was new construction and a big move for my mom and step dad who had just got married 4 years previously. This house was a big step for all of us, and it was cool! For 12 years my step dad took care of that house and him and my mom made it a home. Even though I no longer live there, it will always be a home. After my step dad passed in 2012, my mom had to take care of the house all by herself with some help here and there from friends and myself.

jake

 

So this project was something 2 years in the works. The deck needed to be re-stained and protected after 12 years, so this year we decided to do so on a weekend I would be at the house already. Not the typical Mother’s Day activities, but we both love DIY projects, so we decided to take on the project. So here’s a before:

IMG_3002

So after 6.5 hours of painting intricately and getting between each spindle and railing, this is the after:

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I’m still in a little bit of pain, but I’m pretty proud of the accomplishment. I get to say I did that and it looks pretty cool. Here’s some more shots of the deck.

It’s been a long weekend, but one that had it’s rewards. I hope you all had a happy Mother’s Day. I enjoyed mine.

Mom’s are special people!

Wedding Wednesday | Spring Palettes

5.7.14

There are some unique color palettes for spring weddings. I like different shades, but some of my favorites are bright tones and deep jewel tones.

pantone-spring-fashion-palette

Pantone Spring Fashion Palette

Pantone, a trusted source in color choices and development, has thousands of colors and blends of color to choose from for any occasion. You can put different color combinations together from their database.

white fall table

Orange and Blue Table

Orange and blue are a great spring color combination that is vibrant and lively. Something that works wonders for any special event. The more lively the decor, the more that will be passed along to the guests and attendees.

lime-green-themes

Lime Green Theme

I love bright colors with white. It makes the color pop and stand out, but still makes the event look clean and vibrant. Lime green goes well with most other colors, but with white it sticks out. For spring, lime is a great color to express the new growth of the flowers and trees.

bright wedding palette

Bright Wedding Palette

Now bright colors combined together can also make for a vibrant affair. Bright blues, yellows, pinks, and oranges together make for fun options for decor. Bright peonies and gerbera daisies with turquoise and persimmon color bowls, add in gold silverware and gilded glasses. Just seems regal and extra special.

garden chic wedding-color-palette

Try this varietal palette for a garden wedding affair. The palette includes multiple colors that are found in gardens everywhere. These colors are subtle and they all compliment each other. It’s just pretty and simple, but invigorating.

chartreuse gray white wedding cover

Lastly, my favorite combination of bright and neutral is chartreuse and gray. The contrast between the two colors is clean and drastic, but beautiful.

However you see spring through color, try something different. Try different combinations, whether you’re getting married or just going out with friends. Be daring with your color choices.

Happy #WeddingWednesday!

Tasty Tuesday | Mother’s Day Brunch Recipes

5.6.14

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Though it would be great to take your mom out to eat, but to avoid all the fuss and crowds try some of these tasty recipes for a brunch with mom.


MEYER LEMON CREPE CAKE

Meyer Lemon Crepe  Cake

 

Citrus Salad With Tarragon

Citrus Salad with Tarragon

 

Frittata-kale and artichoke

Kale and Artichoke Frittata

 

mini bacon and egg tarts

Mini Bacon and Egg Tarts

 

baked french toast

Baked French Toast

 

strawberry_kiwi_parfait

Strawberry, Kiwi, and Basil Parfaits

 

strawberry mango yogurt smoothie

Strawberry Mango Yogurt Smoothie

 

strawberry and asparagus salad

 

Warm Strawberry Spring Salad

 

Parmesan-Baked-Eggsjpg

Parmesan Herb Baked Eggs

 

Don’t fight the crowds, spend time with your mom in and enjoy each other’s company. Happy Mother’s Day!

Mad Monday | Cinco de MET

5.5.14

Well there’s so much going on today. Today marks Cinco de Mayo, a day of independence of sorts for the Latino community. Today is also the night of the famed and fashionable MET Ball.

fiesta

The Met Gala started back in 1971, and the themes have always been intriguing. This year’s theme is Beyond Fashion, and I’m interested to see how the stars interpret this theme tonight.

Cher and Bob Mackie at 1974 Met Gala

Cher and Bob Mackie at 1974 Met Gala

Here is a taste of the stars at Met Galas past:

Today is also Cinco de Mayo, the day that many Mexican-Americans celebrate the battle of freedom and democracy. What better way to celebrate than food and drink.

Ultimate Margarita

Ultimate Margarita

The Ultimate Margarita

1/4 cup fresh lime juice, about 1 large lime
1/4 cup silver 100 percent agave tequila
1/4 cup orange liqueur
1/2 cup coarsely cracked ice cube

Refrigerate the glasses if desired. In a shaker, combine the lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur. Add ice and shake 10 to 15 seconds, then strain into the prepared glasses.

You can use salt or sugar on the rim, but I prefer mine plain with just a lime to garnish.

For those of you who want to try something a little more adventurous, try jello shots. Not just any jello shot, flavored cocktail jello shots. I’ve featured these before from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.

Cucumber-Lime Margarita Jelly Shot

Cucumber-Lime Margarita Jelly Shot

Cucumber-Lime Margarita Jelly Shot

Difficulty:  Easy
Recommended Pan:  1-pound loaf pan (approximately 8” x 4”/20 x 10 cm)
Implements:  Muddler and a cocktail shaker
3/4 cup agave tequila
1 cucumber
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup frozen limeade concentrate (thawed)
2 envelopes Knox gelatin
1/4 cup Cointreau
Cucumber ribbons and Cayenne Sprinkle for garnish, if desired (recipe below)
Cut a three inch length of cucumber and coarsely chop (set remaining cucumber aside to make cucumber ribbons).  Place the chopped cucumber in cocktail shaker and muddle vigorously.  Add the tequila to the cocktail shaker, shake for a minute or so and set aside (no ice is needed).  Pour water and limeade concentrate into a small saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Allow the gelatin to soak for a minute or two. Heat over very low heat until gelatin is dissolved, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.  Strain the tequila mixture, and stir into gelatin mixture along with the Cointreau. Pour mixture into loaf pan. Place in refrigerator to set (several hours or overnight).
To serve, cut into desired shapes.  To make the cucumber ribbons, peel the length of the remaining cucumber with a vegetable peeler.  Tie each jelly shot with a ribbon.  Trim ends to desired length.
Makes 18 to 24 jelly shots.
Cucumber-Lime Margarita Jelly Shot with Cayenne topping

Cucumber-Lime Margarita Jelly Shot with Cayenne Sprinkle

Cayenne Sprinkle
1 tbsp large crystal sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix ingredients, and place in small bowl for dipping.
Now many of you know I’m a foodie and culinary school graduate, so food is the most fun part of any celebration. And Mexican dishes are some of my favorite to eat and cook. But since it’s Monday, and not all of us have a ton of time to cook a labor intensive meal, I suggest trying something simple: Nachos!
Simple Nachos

Simple Nachos

All you need is some ground meat, I prefer turkey, and seasonings of your choice. Heat and add to tortilla chips with all the toppings you love.

However you celebrate, be safe. What’s your favorite Mexican dish?

Are you going to be watching out for the stars’ fashion on the red carpet tonight at the Met Gala? We will be watching to see who’s wearing what. Who are you looking forward to seeing?

Have a Mad Monday!

Renewal Sunday | H2O

5.4.14

It’s Sunday and time for you to get ready for the week ahead. One thing I struggle with is drinking enough water. I hate water, but I know it’s necessary. Our bodies need water to survive and function. I always had to be told to drink more water by my doctors and mother. Ugh, I hate water.

water glass

We’re supposed to drink so much water per day, but most of us don’t really drink what we’re supposed to. Whether it’s because we’re too busy or we just don’t do what we’re supposed to, it’s a necessity to our well being.

underwater

Water is a powerful source of the earth. It’s one of the elements and is very important to our destiny and our past. It’s calming, has cleansing properties, and is truly powerful.

bad water

Today, think of water and its truly renewing properties. The cleansing ones, the ones that can help you move forward healthy and renewed.

water fun

To have a moment of peace, try and relax with a glass of refreshing water and do something good for your body. Take care of yourself this week, enjoy your time alone, and stay healthy.

peaceful water creek

Have a wonderful week.

Stylish Saturday | Kentucky Derby 2014

5.3.14

KD140_Primary_Date_PMS_WBG

Today was the 140th Kentucky Derby at the Churchill Downs. I love horses and as allergic as I am to them, I enjoyed riding them as a child. Horses are majestic beasts, but let’s be serious here. The real spectacle at the Kentucky Derby is the fashion, especially the hat.

kentucky derby hat

The importance of the hat at the Derby has been a factor since the beginning of the derby itself. Women have a chance to show their inner Southern Belle and gentlemen are able to  stand out fashionably as much as (or more than) the ladies.

Kentuky Derby Couple

Don’t hesitate to be different, but classy, at the Derby. Stay focused on the hat as a centerpiece. Be fashionable and chic. Be unique and stand out. Whatever you do, be you.

Here are some of my favorite fashions from the Kentucky Derby and Longines events:

The Derby has been dubbed the fastest greatest two minutes in sports, and mainly because of the hat. If you’re looking for a statement piece, Philip Treacy is definitely the designer to help you stand out and shine at a Derby event.

The turn out of the race was a bit unexpected, but the winner is…..

california chrome winner

California Chrome with jockey Victor Espinoza

I think I’ll add to my bucket list going to the Kentucky Derby with fabulous hat gear, and enjoy all the fun and social events. Happy Derby Day!!