September 26, 2017

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte

Even though it might not fully feel like it, fall is officially here! The day that they were available, Maggie and I went to Starbucks to get our inaugural Pumpkin Spice Latte’s.

They were so delicious that it inspired me to make my own version – spiked, of course, to enjoy on the weekends!

Here’s what you need:
-espresso
-Bailey’s
-milk
-whipped cream
-pumpkin spice
-cinnamon sticks
-sugar
-honey
-espresso maker

Here’s what to do:
1) Brew some espresso.  While it brews, in a saucepan, combine 1 cup milk, 1 tbsp. sugar, 2 tbsp. pumpkin puree and 1/2 a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.  Heat up slowly on low heat, stirring to combine ingredients.  Once mixture is hot, remove from heat and whisk until milk is foamed.
2) While espresso is brewing, get two separate, flat plates. Squeeze some honey onto the first plate, and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar onto the other one.  Rim your glasses first with honey and next with the cinnamon sugar mixture.


3) In each rimmed glass, pour 1 oz. of Bailey’s.  Add espresso on top of Bailey’s in each glass. Then, add pumpkin foamed milk, filling each glass about 3/4 of the way.
4) Top with whipped cream.  Garnish with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice and a cinnamon stick.

I promise – this baby is as delicious as it looks! Grab your flannel scarf and warm up with the help of this latte.  Oh wait, just kidding.  It’s still 80 degrees.

Until next week… Cheers!

 

xx, Abby
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September 25, 2017

A Chic & Easy Halloween Party

Last week the fall holidays kicked off with Rosh Hashanah and from here on out it’s just holiday after holiday. The best of the bunch, in my opinion, is Halloween because there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate.

Every year, we sell a limited edition Halloween Party in a Box and this year may very well be my favorite.

We tailored this Halloween’s Party Box to both the young + old. Whether you’re hosting a Halloween playdate for the kids or adults only cocktail soiree, we’ve got you covered with this party for 8 people.

In the box you’ll find a chic collection of tableware and decor. One of my favorite items is the plastic cauldron that can be used in so many ways. We found an assortment of fall flowers in the market and used the cauldron as a vase to make a beautiful arrangement for the table. We put the flowers into a cup before placing into the cauldron to avoid leaking.

You can of course use the cauldron so many other ways. If you plan to purchase this party in a box for a children’s party at home or in their classroom you can fill the cauldron with snacks!

The black and white balloons that we have included this year are my favorite. Simply take them to your local party store to inflate with helium or grab yourself a Balloon Time Helium Tank to inflate the balloons at home. Use the balloons as a backdrop for your table or to take photos in front of with the BOO balloons that are also included.

Since it’s Halloween, you can get away with serving a menu of sweets at your party. We went over to our local bakery, Empire Cake and picked up a red velvet cake with a buttercream frosting and asked if they could drizzle the top with red frosting. Now stick a knife into the cake and scream!

How about some witches broomsticks for mini donuts? Pretty perfect right? And we made these with decorative wheat that I had lying around in a jar at home. Find the DIY for these broomsticks here.

You’ll find a tub of mini pumpkins in this Party Box which can be used in so many different ways. We found some bamboo skewers in the kitchen and stuck one of these pumpkins on each to make drink stirs. You could use them as confetti for the table, to top on your cake and so much more.

Now how about a little fun since it’s Halloween…? We included a set of Halloween themed tattoos that are SO FAB for the kids and/or adults! They are so easy to put on and come off with soap, water and a little scrubbin’.

As for the tableware, it’s disposable (make sure to recycle!) but you could also hand wash the items (I would keep that glitter cutlery for-eva!) and reuse.

You can clearly see how chic this box is but now I’m going to prove to you just how easy it is to set up. Watch and learn friends…

Find the Little Miss Halloween Party in a Box for sale here and now on Etsy too!

Happy Halloween!

xx, Seri
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September 15, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

The issue with having a garden in your backyard is keeping up with the endless amounts of provisions you reap if you are lucky enough to have a good growing season. Enter Steve. He is out there on a daily basis picking reaping the benefits of what he has tended to all summer long.

The majority of the time, he ends up eating half of the ripe tomatoes the second he picks them off the vines and then comes in swinging another baseball bat size zucchini which really has no place for me to store in the kitchen. Those zucchs are really great to use in so many recipes during the summer.

I bet you didn’t know that you can freeze shredded zucchini. Neither did I until I saw it on Pinterest the other day.

There was one zucchini in particular that was sitting and staring at me from the kitchen counter. It was literally driving me crazy to look at because, I mean, really? It didn’t go with the new decor. In fact, zucchinis don’t go with ANY decor.

We have a giant fridge but there was no room for this sucka anywhere inside of it. Why? Because this guy had too many brothers and sisters that were already occupying the space reserved for humongous vegetables. It looked exactly like the Goodyear Blimp and each time I saw it on the counter, I cringed. I finally had enough and said “off with his head (and butt)”.

I threw the whole thing into my food processor and shredded it until I could no longer recognize it’s similarity to a big flying balloon.

So what was I going to do with all this zucchini?

Easy.

I had all the makings of a chocolate banana bread within my reach and I figured why not just add in the zucchini for a “healthy factor”. Who am I kidding? Between the chocolate and sugar, this wasn’t super “good for you” but it sure was delish and rated on a scale of +10 according to those who tasted tested it. Once again, I threw in substitute ingredients that really should have been other things but somehow this came out just fine.

Example 1:

I used 45% dark chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips for the guts.

Example 2:

I didn’t really need to throw in a banana, yes I know I said it was a chocolate banana bread but I had to change the title due to the fact that I used half a banana in the recipe. Otherwise, it would have just been called a chocolate zucchini bread. It was a last minute entry from the fridge before it hit the garbage. Gawd I love dead bananas. Oh and by the way, if I had a whole banana I would have most definitely added it in but half was better than nothing.

Example 3:

I used a small container of blueberry greek yogurt instead of plain greek yogurt because I didn’t have any and I certainly wasn’t running to the market to get a large container when I only needed a 1/4 of a cup.

My motto is “use what you’ve got otherwise it will rot”.

What’s the worse thing that could happen? Usually nothing.

Here’s what transpired when I sent a text out to my three boys with a picture of this bread. One of them dropped everything and came up to the house to ensure the gets at least two pieces. The other two were delivered the balance this week and my eldest said “that bread should be illegal”.

If you want to hide your zucchini and puddles of chocolate, this ones for you.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BANANA BREAD 

– 1½ cups grated zucchini
– 1 cup all purpose flour
– ¼ teaspoon baking powder
– ¾ teaspoon baking soda
– ¾ cup semi sweet chocolate chips (I used mini)
– 1 bar dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
– ½ cup good quality cocoa powder
– ½ cup white sugar
– 2 large eggs
– ¼ teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– ¼ cup vegetable oil
– ¼ cup GREEK yogurt
– ½ ripe banana, mashed

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a loaf pan by lining with parchment paper or nonstick spray. In a large bowl mix dry ingredients together with chocolate chunks. In another bowl whisk together sugar,eggs,vanilla, yogurt, oil & mashed banana. Mix until smooth.
2) Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Don’t overmix. Add in Zucchini and mix until the Zucchini is dispersed evenly throughout the batter. Place batter into loaf pan and spread out evenly. Take chocolate chips and sprinkle over batter, press them in lightly with your hand.
3) Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

xx, Debi
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August 29, 2017

Lemon Shandy Beermosa

Breakfast cocktails are another one of my favorite parts of summer.  They typically tend to be created for warmer weather destinations, and therefore can be indulged in throughout the summer.

We have a lot of beer from our friends at Narragansett from the shipment they sent us for Luke’s 5th Birthday Party, so I decided to use their very popular Del’s Shandy to test out a popular breakfast cocktail that I have seen on a lot of – the Beermosa!

Here is what you need:
-1 can Del’s Shandy
-orange juice
-prosecco (or another sparkling white wine)
-fresh orange slices

Here is what to do:
1) Pour your shandy into each cocktail glass, filling each about halfway.

2) On top of shandy, pour about 3 oz. of OJ, leaving some room at the top of each glass.

3) Top off each glass with some of your sparkling wine.  Garnish each rim with an orange wedge.

Sip, and enjoy! Maggie and I paired these with some mini donuts for a breakfast treat, and it was the perfect combo.

Enjoy this cocktail as you salute the last few days of summer.  Cheers! Until next time…

 

 

xx, Abby
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August 25, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Wait….

It’s still summer right? Lately, I’ve been so caught up in all the kitchen reno’s and weddings that I almost forgot to post these simply beautiful refreshing drinks.

They are 100 percent pretty enough to serve at your next party or whenever. I used to make floats all the time, until I figured out that there was more to this recipe than using a can of soda pop and a scoop of ice cream. These were just made on a whim one day with ingredients that were at hand, which in my opinion, is embarrassingly easy.

Let’s face it. I’m not a drinker, so you won’t see many cocktails on this blog BUT….if you do happen to see a recipe that can be spiked on here, feel free to let loose. This specific one can be made with any sparkling, non-alcoholic drink or just throw in some bubbly Proseco or champagne if you feel inclined.

Feeling extra summery? Add in a touch of purple like I did, with this fresh rosemary. How in the world can you not, when they produce these out of control purple flowers? COME ON.

Oh and another thingie…..this was one of the first things I created when the new kitchen was almost completed. I had the contractors in that day and was working at my island while they were drilling and installing the cabinetry. Good thing I use Manual Mode on my camera and put up a nice background! Amazing what you can blur out with a little tweaking. Which brings me to this. Many of you have asked what kind of camera I use and what modes I shoot in.

First of all, let me explain that I’m by far NOT a professional photographer. Ya, ya, I know my pics are pretty good, but by no means are they STELLAR. Having said that, I’m going to give you a few tips here today.

1) Get yourself a DSLR camera. It doesn’t have to be top of the line (although that is something that I have contemplated changing, because I think I need to step it up a notch). I use a Canon Rebel T5, with the lens kit that is included, plus a 50 mm lens for close up shots. I also bought a Vivitar Magnification Kit which is great for ……..I dunno…….getting up close to the fur on a peach? It was something that I was told to buy a while ago and have used it once. Not necessary, but looks impressive in your camera bag.
2) Shoot in daylight. How many times have you heard this from food bloggers and food photographers? A billion? Yep. They are ALL right. It’s absolutely imperative that you take advantage of any daylight you can grab to shoot the best photos of food. I like shooting in my north facing window, but now that my kitchen island faces south, it works just as well. Just be aware of too much light overpowering the images. Use reflective boards and try to shoot without bright sunlight. What happens when it’s already dark and there is no daylight? Well. I have an indoor lighting system which I use once in a blue moon, because frankly, it’s just not my cup of tea. It’s a last resort, and if I’m desperate for a photo, I will set it up and make it work. THERE IS NOTHING LIKE NATURAL LIGHT. NOTHING…….
3) Manual Mode v.s. other modes. Okay, you’re going to unbox your camera and wonder what the heck to do with that dial at the top. There are lots of options here and whatever you do, NEVER, I repeat never, shoot your food in AUTO. I think they should rename this mode to L. (lazy mode). Learn to use your camera, take a photography course – I did a day course and it was invaluable. I tend to shoot in Manual all the time now and it’s the absolute BEST. I will dedicate a full post on how to shoot in Manual, but in the meantime, I will let you in on my favourite settings. Depending on the light in the room, I shoot with my ISO set at anywhere from 200 to 800, APERTURE at f2.5 to f4.5 (if I really want a good background blur, I can scale that down to f1.8) and my shutter speed hovers between 1/50 and 1/100 depending on how much light I’m dealing with.
4) To tripod or not to tripod, that is the question. You may not like this, but I ALWAYS shoot freehand. I need to get up into my food and I find a tripod just gets in my business. What about camera shake? I balance my camera against an object or just hold it really tightly to ensure that my hand doesn’t move. Videos are a different story. That’s the only time I use a fixed position on a tripod.
5) Shooting in the Raw. And no, that doesn’t mean taking pictures in your birthday suit. I shoot all my photos in raw format. Yep, that means that camera and computer space is eaten alive by the shear size of these photos. THERE IS NOTHING LIKE SHOOTING RAW.  This is why. When shooting in a format like JPEG, image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed with RAW, you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.
6) STORAGE. Buy yourself an external hard drive to place your photos on, so you have room to store them. Here’s a quick fact. I love editing my photos on my Ipad. I have 64GB of storage space on there. What I need to do is change my settings on my mobile device to store my pictures at low resolution. As we speak, I have over 18,000 photos on there. Is that nuts? Yes. I also store all my photos on ICloud, but I don’t trust those APPLE people as far as I can throw them. I have a large 2TB hard-drive which has every single photo I have ever taken. I don’t even want to know what that amounts to, because I shoot 200 plus pictures for every single recipe I do.

That’s it for now. I don’t want to bore you too much, but I am going to give you more tips on how to make your food look beautiful in photos in an upcoming post. Stay tuned and in the meantime, try these drinks. They are guaranteed to float your boat.

MANGO TANGO SUMMER FLOATS  

– 1 part mango juice
– 1 part sparkling water, proseco or champagne
– 1 part fresh tangerine juice
– 1 part pink lemonade
– 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
– 2 – 3 tangerine segments, seedless
– 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
– crushed ice

1) Fill your glasses with crushed ice.
2) For each drink, place first four ingredients in the glass, add in tangerine segments, scoop of ice cream and garnish with fresh rosemary.

xx, Debi
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