Fruit Lovers Only

The season for fresh juicy peaches and vibrant berries is here. Last weekend, the peaches and berries were on full display at the farmers market.  I am already regretting not buying more of them.   The season is short and you must take advantage of your local farmer’s bounty.  Pick them yourself if you have the time.  Such a wonderful summer activity.  I have found two different ways to enjoy these summer delights from epicurious that if times allows, I will give a go.  Otherwise, I will add them to my greek yogurt or enjoy them one bite at a time while lounging on deck.

Peach Salad, Blueberry and Corn Crisp from epicurious.  And if you are really up for enjoying some peaches long after the season then this jam looks damn tasty (maybe it is the bourbon that caught my attention).

Pesto Perfect

Pan Seared Salmon With Spinach Basil Sauce

Came home from the farmers market with a bounty of fresh basil and salmon.  I did a quick surf on the web and found this lovely recipe from Whole and Heavenly Oven for pan seared salmon with spinach basil pesto sauce.  Pesto is one of those easy peasy dishes to whip up quickly.  The vibrant green sauce has just a few ingredients and boy is it good.  It is so summer!  I did a hybrid of Whole and Heavenly Oven’s  recipe with my favorite pesto recipe from Silver Palate (sorry but it is so damn good!).  I wanted to insure that I would have extra sauce to enjoy throughout the week.

At the end I did 1 cup basil, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts, 3 garlic cloves, lemon instead of lime, 1 cup of olive oil, 1 cup fresh parmesan, and salt and pepper.  Pesto is one of dishes that you can play with by adding a little more or a little less of any of the ingredients and you will be enjoying it by the spoonfuls!  Happy cooking!

image from Whole and Heavenly Oven

Irresistible With Every Bite For A Sweet Weekend

A hot summer day doesn’t really have you wanting to turn on your oven.  But these yummy chocolate chip cookies from Smitten Kitchen will have you running to the grocery store for the chocolate chips and turning on the oven.  Perfect when you need a little something sweet to accompany that cold glass of lemonade.  Here is a recipe to keep in your back pocket for those days when your sweet tooth kicks in.  Of course everyone has the basic Toll House recipe but this SK recipe really seems to take them up a notch.  My 11-year-old who was looking for an activity had fun making them and is a huge fan.  What more can you ask for?!  Happy baking!  Happy Weekend!

Personally I would add a little less chocolate chips (we used Ghirardelli semi-sweet) to the recipe otherwise perfection! image and recipe from  Smitten Kitchen

Light Bites and Sips For Summer Nights

Le-Grand-Aioli-Classic French Dish

Summer Cocktail

The Fixings For A Cocktail

Always searching for entertaining dishes that can be made ahead for those hot summer nights.  Pick up your fresh produce from your local farm stand to serve up the rainbow.  Being able to have friends over with little effort is the goal but in all honesty nothing goes without effort and some prep.  Here is a fab classic French platter that I will be giving a go to share with friends.  Bring this lovely platter to any summer gathering for something to noche on. Try Goop’s Green Goddess dressing for a healthy alternative to the aioli.    I also stumbled across a bright and light cocktail that can be sipped all summer long. Hydrating with watermelon sounds pretty perfect to me.  I am also sharing a lovely list of 30 Rose`s to enjoy from Food & Wine.  Time to trade in the red for all those lovely shades of pink.  Cheers to summer!

images @ Food 52 and Epicurious

Party At Home!

Nothing makes me happier than hosting a party.  I have learned over the years it is the gathering rather than the actual meal that brings happy smiles.  I always try to create an easy prep ahead menu.  My goal is no cooking once the guests have arrived.  I want to have fun too!  We just celebrated my father in law’s 85th birthday.  It was truly a lovely evening with family.   Here is a peek at how I tackled the night.

Meat Sauce
Make Ahead Bolognese
Roasted Veggies
Roasted Veggies (carrots, asparagus, tomatoes, and beets) Ready To Be Plated
Party Prep
Side Dish Platters Ready
Party Prep
Appetizer Platters Ready
Power of The FLowers
Gathering Fresh Flowers The Day Ahead (my favorite task!)

In my past life, I worked for a gourmet shop.  I learned every aspect of the business.  At the time I never knew how useful working a barista bar (my love for a cappuccino began here), cooking in a kitchen, cutting fancy cheeses, to catering parties would stay with me.  What I learned is so valuable.  Planning ahead is critical.  So I spread my planning over a few days. The menu is simplified.  It is not a time for me to get fancy or try anything new.   During our time in Amsterdam,  we hosted parties all the time.  Learning to be simple always delivered happy results.

Easy Snacks
Tip: Take Cheese Out A Few Hours Before Serving
Pre Dinner FInger Foods
Had A Little Help From My Local Cheese Shop, Formaggio KItchen
Kale Salad & Those Make Ahead Roasted Veggies
Table Runner Decorated By The Grandkids
Party Decorations

The party was on a Friday night.  The weekend prior I came up with my menu and planned out the two days leading up to the party.

Wednesday: Grocery shop, make bolognese sauce (requires patience but worth it), call in catering order for appetizers.

Thursday:  Find a window to flower shop, set up space, hang my Dutch party flags ( bought these for my son’s 1 st birthday and I hang them every year for his birthday), wash and clean veggies for roasting.

Friday:  Prep salad greens, roast veggies mid day, and place platters in their spots.  Everything done by 3:00 so I can head out to pick up Aleisi and the catering.

What’s left: Music playlist! Cook pasta (task given to my husband), toss salad and arrange veggies 15 minutes before serving.

isostilo style
MY Old Blouse and My New Neon Pothos Plant Are Ready To Party!

FYI:  Whatever you serve or plan, remember that guests are thrilled to be invited and to have a night off:)  Pizza and friends is always a winner and I often take this option.

Give this bolognese recipe a try.  I make mine with all beef and add 1 cup of milk before step 3 (which is a recommendation from the original recipe from the restaurant Al Forno) This restaurant is a MUST if you find yourself in Providence, Rhode Island!

Super Bowl Sunday or Any Other Day

Any excuse to make guacamole!  Today is the day for the Pats and all their fans! Here is my contribution to the day.  I am dicing, mashing, and squeezing while grooving to the tunes of The War On Drugs.  An absolute favorite band of mine (I could go on and on about my obsession with this band and please don’t turn it off).  A perfect start to my Sunday!

8 Ingredients
mashed/cubed avocados, chopped cilantro, diced red onion, diced jalapeno, minced garlic
squeezed limes, ground cumin, and salt
The War On Drugs
currently playing!
Such A Fan



Here’s What’s Cooking

I am so smitten with Smitten Kitchen.  I follow this site more than any other food website for inspiration.  Smitten Kitchen is so beautiful to explore.  The recipes are well laid out and easy to follow.  I am constantly seeking out easy, healthy and flavorful recipes with a refreshing spin on basic ingredients.  Here are a few new recipes that I will be cooking up from Smitten Kitchen!  I’m also well stocked on chickpeas at the moment.

Smitten Kitchen
sheet pan meatballs with crispy tumeric chickpeas
Smitten Kitchen
quick pasta-e-ceci-pasta with chickpeas
fried rice with zucchini, tomatoes and parmesan and how about that egg!