Do you have big plans for Memorial Day?! We’re planning to do a few home projects as we settle into our new place and enjoy any good weather in Central Park (please don’t rain!). While the extent of our grilling this weekend will be indoor grilling, I couldn’t help but think back on our experience grilling at Brooklyn Bridge Park last summer. Talk about a city moment! I can’t think of a more stunning backdrop for grilling. It was such a fun family memory and I’m so glad we snapped photos and some video to capture how great it was.

 

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It was around this time that I fell in love with Halloumi Cheese. (or Grilling Cheese) It’s the one thing you’re probably not planning on grilling that you SHOULD! This ingredient is so fun to work with and fairly fool proof. The texture is similar to feta cheese and the taste reminds me of queso fresco. It can be grilled or fried and is really mild. I like threading it onto my Marinated Veggie Skewers before throwing them onto the grill. Admittedly I eat all of the pieces of cheese first! It’s addictive!! I found this exact brand at my Whole Foods today for only $4.99, which is worth every cent. Definitely pick some up for your grilling festivities this weekend!

 

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Happy Mother’s Day weekend!  We’re planning to celebrate with an extremely low-key game plan. We moved last weekend and we’re still getting settled, so I’m hoping to find some time to relax and enjoy our new apartment. (It’s so great!) All I really want for Mother’s Day this year is to sleep in – and that’s exactly what I intend on doing. Enjoying a simple breakfast with my boys wouldn’t be so bad either- I love the idea of making these simple avocado toasts. I hope the day is as stress free as possible and that includes the cooking. This couldn’t be easier for breakfast, yet it still will feel fresh and satisfying. And Ollie has a thing for avocados which is a bonus.

 

 


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The warm weather has me thinking about pie. I know what you’re thinking… pie is all about the colder months and holiday season. Not for this girl! Cherry, apple, and peach pie are some of my absolute favorite pie selections and are best enjoyed in the summer months. If I had to choose a favorite, I would undoubtedly go with apple pie. This is well-evidenced in the fact that I included my All-American Apple Pie recipe in my book, Kitchen Confidence (recipe below).

 

When we were planning the photography shoot for my cookbook, I was really excited about creating a gorgeous image to showcase my apple pie recipe. I immediately thought of my friend Stephanie of Stephmodo, as she has impeccable taste and makes the most darling pie boxes that fit an individual piece of pie. How darling would it be to show up for a summer picnic with boxed slices of pie for your friends? I think they would also make for a great party favor. Lucky for you, Stephanie sells these boxes in her Etsy shop, A La Modo. You can check out her selection of boxes and other French goodies here.

 

Here’s the image we came up with.  I’m so pleased with the result!

 

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Photo by Sara Remington

 

 

Below are a few more images showcasing Stephanie’s fabulous boxes.

 

 

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a la modo LLC pie box kit geranium trio

 images courtesy of Stephanie Brubaker

 

 

Now for the recipe… it’s everything apple pie should be! The all-butter crust is the perfect canvas for my well-balanced spiced apple filling. Try it out this summer and let me know how it goes!

 

INGREDIENTS

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered
4 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Perfect Pie Dough, recipe follows
One 7-ounce tube marzipan almond paste
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

 

PERFECT PIE DOUGH:
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, chilled or frozen

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

 

 

Cut the quartered apples into 1/2-inch slices and mix with the lemon juice in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples, toss to coat and cook, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle the sugars, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and allspice over the apples and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture to thicken, and then let cool completely.

 

 

Roll out one of the Perfect Pie Dough discs on a floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate, giving yourself a 1/2-inch overhang. Roll the marzipan between 2 pieces of parchment paper into a 9-by-1/8-inch-thick circle. Place the marzipan over the bottom crust. Dock the bottom crust, using a fork, and fill the pie with the apple mixture.

 

 

Roll out the second pie dough disc to fit on top of the apples. Place on top of the pie and trim the edges to about 1/2-inch overhang. Pinch the top crust to the bottom, fluting the edge or pressing to seal with the tines of a fork. Vent the pie by cutting 4 slits in the top, and brush with the egg wash.

 

 

Transfer the pie to a sheet tray and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before serving.
Mix the flour and salt together in a food processer. Add the butter into the flour mixture and pulse until you have large pea-size chunks scattered throughout.

 

 

Add 8 to 10 tablespoons ice water slowly, while stirring with a fork, just until combined. Transfer to a floured surface, divide in half, shape into 2 discs and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.


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Did you catch me on the Rachael Ray show this morning?  I had a blast whipping up two tasty desserts with Rachael in her kitchen.  If you missed the segment you can check out the Fluffer-Nutter Truffles segment here and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart segment here.    If you would like to try the recipes, they are posted below!

 


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Fluffer-Nutter Truffles

 

Ingredients
1 container peanut butter sandwich cookies (such as Nutter Butter)
1 container Marshmallow Crème
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup crushed peanuts

 

Preparation
In a food processor, pulse cookies until they form a coarse meal. Add in the marshmallow crème, marshmallows, peanut butter and salt. Let the food processor run until well-combined.

 

With a small scoop or melon baller, scoop the mixture into balls. Roll the small into your hands to smooth them a bit. Roll the balls on the crushed peanuts to coat them.
Place into an airtight container.

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

 

Ingredients
3/4 pack 12-ounce peanut butter sandwich cookies (such as Nutter Butter)
1/2 stick of butter, cubed
A pinch of salt
1 10-ounce bag milk chocolate chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
Coarse salt (for garnish)
Crushed Peanuts (for garnish)

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a food processor, pulse peanut butter cookies until they form a fine meal. Add a pinch of salt and butter. Pulse until it resembles wet sand.
Dump the peanut butter cookie crust into a tart pan and press. Make sure to press to the edges and up the sides of the pan. Place the crust into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Over a double boiler, melt chocolate and peanut butter, stirring occasionally. Once completely melted and smooth, remove the top of the double boiler off the heat. Slowly whisk in the cream. Once smooth, pour the ganache into the tart crust. Sprinkle with coarse salt, crushed peanuts and decorate with leftover cookies.
Let sit and room temp until set or pop in the fridge for an hour.


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Finally…Spring is here!!! I sat down last night to plan out our Easter dinner menu– to say that I’m looking forward to it would be an understatement! I’m a fan of filling my holiday tables with a few traditional family recipes and a few new dishes as well. The two recipes I’m most looking forward to making are my Pickled Asparagus and my Deviled Eggs with Candied Bacon. I was smacking my lips while writing out my grocery shopping list! Both recipes are perfect for this time of year and would be a lovely addition to any Easter table. I’m planning to pick up a honey glazed ham from our neighborhood butcher so that I can really focus on making extra tasty sides. I’m also looking forward to the leftover ham sandwiches  and egg salad sandwiches we’ll have next week.

 

What are you planning on making? Do you look forward to the sides just as much as the main dish?

Pickled Asparagus recipe here.

 

 

Deviled Eggs with candied bacon recipe here.

 

 


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