Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Oh Great Mystery

#Happyholidays everyone! Getting into the #spirit of things this week 🎄#diy #vintage #ornament #wreath

I've had a lot on my mind lately, and I've had a hard time getting out my fleeting, fragmented thoughts. Certain things I thought I'd forgotten about always seems to come into focus once the shimmer of holiday lights fill the sky. Really there's nothing of great importance, just the same age-old ennui I seem to get this time of year. Must be lack of vitamin D.

This carol always seems to help though, so I thought I'd share:

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heav'n and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
     Worshiped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Things I'm excited about right now:

Downton Abbey Christmas Special - somebody get me a sexy farmer please. Just kidding, my city boy is pretty awesome, but I wouldn't say no to a few chickens... 

Quince - I know I'm late to this party, but they make seriously good pie!

Sunday Suppers - does that not look like the coooolest place to work? I'll be hosting my own friendly supper this Sunday, a Feastival if you will, to practice for Thanksgiving and because do you really ever need a good reason to be merry with friends? No, you do not. 

Also... the NJ Turnpike - Typically I am not a fan, but something about driving home for the holidays with Jeff and Taco and a car full of gifts for everyone makes me feel all warn and fuzzy. I am such a winter baby. Actually they all sound good right about now - trains, plains, automobiles, you name it!  

Not exciting, but worth mentioning:

One of my guitar strings snapped a little while ago and I'm embarrassed to say I've never replaced them (owned the thing for a few years) so someone tell me what to buy!! 

That's all for now :-)

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Grown Up Halloween

I did not buy any candy for Halloween this year.

I also didn't work very hard on my costume either (I got very lucky and found everything I needed at a rummage sale earlier in the month). I did however, attempt making caramel for the first time (pictured above). When I need a recipe for something sweet I typically start with David Lebovitz. He tells lovely stories about his life as an expat in Paris.

Caramel is tricky, and a bit dangerous if you're not careful, so I was nervous (especially since baby Taco was weaving around my feet throughout the process, and I did not want him to get accidentally spilled or stepped on).  I should not have doubted Mr. Lebovitz, though, because the recipe worked perfectly.

Not really being sure what I would use the caramel for I decided to keep it simple and just let it harden in a baking sheet instead of turning it into some sort of fancy sauce or toffee. I scattered a few crushed pecans and some chia seeds to add texture and I'm pretty happy with the result.

Instead of the typical rager one might attend for Halloween while still in college, my friends and I had a pretty tame night wandering around the east village drinking pumpkin beer :-)

The best costume I saw was a man disguised as a bush. 

And here's Dolly - 

Say hello to #DollyParton #happyhalloween

...workin' 9 to 5 oh what a way to make a living...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Apple of my Eye

Another family recipe for you. 

I made an apple pie last week just for fun (also to celebrate Boss Appreciation Day, and also because I had a plethora of apples from my weekly fruit share). 

This is one of those recipes that I've got memorized thanks to making it with my mom a zillion times growing up, which she originally learned from her mom (and Pillsbury ). The crust recipe is all Carla though.

It's a hand-me-down that I'm very grateful for!

First, the crust - if you follow the directions it's seriously fool proof. 
  • 2 cups sifted All Purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 8 oz. butter, chilled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces (two sticks) 
  • 1 TBSP sugar (sometimes I use honey or agave) 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup water

Dice the butter then wrap it back up and put it in the freezer for a few minutes along with the paddle for your standing mixer. In a small bowl, stir the salt and sugar with the water until fully dissolved, then add to freezer to chill. Once the butter is chilled and firm add it to your standing mixer and cut with the flour for about 45 seconds on a medium-low speed. Add the water solution all at once and run the mixer on medium until the dough forms. This should not take more than a minute to come together. With floured hands form dough into two round discs, wrap in wax paper and set aside to chill in the fridge. 

Now for the filling:
  • 6 cups (or more) peeled sliced apples*
  • 1/2-2/3 cup sugar (to your taste)
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • dash salt
  • 2 TBSP flour, divided
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 cup milk 
*I like to use mostly granny smith because I looooove the tartness, but go ahead and blend whatever apples you like!

Preheat the oven to 425*F

In a large bowl, toss apples with sugar and lemon juice and let stand 5 minutes for sugar to dissolve. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and 1 TBSP flour, toss to combine. Taste and feel free to mess with my measurements if you want a little more or less of something. But don't skip the flour or your pie will be soup. 

Once the filling is prepared, roll out one crust disc on a lightly floured surface to approximately 14" diameter, no less than 1/4" thickness. Place in 9 inch glass pie dish, trim edges and return to freezer.  Roll out second disc and set aside. Remove pie dish from freezer and fill with prepared apples. Spread the remaining 1 TBSP flour evenly over apple filling and dot with little chunks of the 2 TBSP butter. With a pastry brush, spread a thin layer of milk around the edge of the crust. Set your second crust in place on top of the apple filling and crimp the edges to seal. Slice a few slits for steam to escape and brush the whole crust with the remaining milk. 

Bake the pie in the middle rack for 40-45 minutes, or until juice begins to bubble through your slits!

Have fun with it! Everyone loves pie :-) 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tiramisu For You!

Everyone needs a good pick me up* now and again. This user friendly tiramisu recipe will do just that, especially when paired with a good strong caffè latteWhile we may no longer agree about all of the aspects of this recipe, I did originally get it from my Nonna. Mine always winds up with a bit more booze in it than hers does ;-)

*Quite literally actually, the term tiramisu actually means "pick-me-up" or "to lift up") 

Made #tiramisu last #weekend (step one) #tiramisu #recipe coming soon

For the custard:
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup & 2 tsp sugar, separated
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1 lb. Mascarpone cheese

And the rest:

  • 2 or 3 cups espresso, brought to room temp
  • as much dark liquor that you're comfortable with (lol I usually use 1 cup of brandy)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash salt (trust me)
  • 1 & 1/2 packs of lady fingers
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Set up your espresso to brew while preparing the custard. 

In a medium pot whisk the yolks with the 3/4 cup sugar, add the cream and bring to a low boil over medium heat while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Fold mascarpone into egg mixture in three or four parts, whisk until smooth and set aside.

Whip egg whites with 2 tsp sugar until soft peaks form, then fold into custard so that there are no visible streaks. 

Add your liquor of choice, vanilla, and salt to your espresso in a shallow bowl (for dipping) and stir to combine. 

In a 10x10" deep pan alternate layers of lady fingers (quickly dipped in espresso mixture) and custard. You should be able to get three full layers, ending with custard. Refrigerate, and dust with cocoa powder just before serving. 


Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Friendliest Flower

I had a "You've Got Mail" moment this afternoon at Starbucks ordering my coffee. You know there's something wrong when you're embarrassed by how ridiculous your order sounds out loud -

"tall and dirty chocolate chai latte for Jacqueline!" 

What I thought I ordered was a small chai with an espresso shot. Of course I was asked to clarify if I wanted it with milk or if I wanted real tea - umm.... somehow I wound up saying yes to the brand new chocolate chai they were featuring and the rest is really not that important. I will have to order red eyes all next week to make up for that ridiculousness.

Anywayyyyy - here is the reason I've got Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan on the brain:

Aren’t #daisies just the happiest flower? Thanks @mmchuck !!!! #you’vegotmail

My lovely boyfriend, bless his heart, has endured "You've Got Mail" far too many times than he probably cares to admit. It is my favorite movie. And as such, I watch it every time I'm sick enough to stay in bed, or if  I get bored of whatever's on TV that week, or whenever I feel like I'm falling out of love with New York.

In this movie, Meg Ryan proclaims that Daisies are the friendliest flower - and I agree! They do a damn good job of brightening up a room :-) Jeffrey remembered this, and surprised me with a bunch for our anniversary last night! He gets an A++++ for that!

It has officially been three years since we dove into this thing head first, so to celebrate we splurged on a super tasty, super french dinner last night in the West Village. We ate snails and lots of delicious meat and we shared a crème brûlée that was absolutely perfect. 

I hate to be that girl that turns to mush but seriously - I feel very lucky.
I feel like I'm slowly becoming the best version of myself, and it's got a lot to do with this wonderful guy I get to spend my days with <3

In other words...
Jeff you complete me
So far so good &lt;3 @mmchuck happy anniversary :-)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Salmon Salad Recipe

let's all pretend that it's no big deal to give up pasta.

I made a decision last weekend that in order to feel remotely comfortable putting on a bathing suit for the last (and first) time in NYC this summer I would have to cut out all delicious things for a week until Labor Day. This was a silly decision, made on a whim, and I didn't even make it a whole week. But none-the-less, I did get to try out a new great recipe that was tasty and healthy :-)

I've read about countless spice rubs before and always seem to opt for a wet marinade but I figured that most marinades would add unnecessary sugar. Instead I toasted some spices and ground them in my lovely (but often unused) mortar and pestle. 

My Spice Blend included:

  • Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • Fennel Seed
  • Black Sesame Seeds
  • Sea Salt
  • Crushed Red Pepper 
  • Dried Shallot
With a tablespoon of olive oil I rubbed the spices into the salmon and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour. Right before I was ready to sear it, I chopped a few peppers and tomatoes and made a quick salad dressing.

Last night&#8217;s five spice rubbed #salmon - #recipe on the blog tomorrow  Tomatoes are cheery little buggers!

Dressing: (all approximate measurements here)

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
2 Tablespoon Chinkiang Black Vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
sea salt and fresh ground black papper, to taste

and voilà


Five-spice rubbed #salmon salad with chinkiang vinegar dressing

Monday, August 26, 2013

Canning craziness / the most productive birthday ever

This is what #breakfast should be always - toast with velvety #ricotta cheese, #cinnamon and #homemade #strawberry #jam :-) minus the paper plates :-/ It&#8217;s #canning season!! #sundayfunday (at Martinsville)
Busy #canning Putting summer into jars :-) #canning #tomatoes
These #peppers are like #fire in your mouth - and we&#8217;re #making #salsa with them!! (at Martinsville) #Peach and #pepper #jam anyone? (at Martinsville)
This is a yummy zucchini chip that @crusso59 made -#madebymom #betterthankalechips :-p All in a days work :-) #canning with @crusso59  (at Martinsville)

My lovely mother will be one year older tomorrow, but we decided to celebrate early with a weekend jam packed with canning experiments!! (see what I did there? hehehe)

Growing up Italian, I became (spoiled) accustomed to fresh tomato sauce at an early age. Growing up in the North East poses a few issues seeing as the average grocery store tomato selection leaves a lot to be desired. My family solves this problem every August by bottling up all the summer goodies we can, so that we have enough for the whole year.

We have not once run out.
That's a lot of tomatoes.
Seriously, it takes forever.

This year was different! We decided to forego the never ending back ache that is washing bushel after bushel of tomatoes in kiddie pools for something new. I mean, we still did two bushels of tomatoes, we're not totally throwing away tradition - but we decided to keep it small this year so that we could attempt some brand new totally exciting recipes!

Added to the roster this year was the following:

Roasted garlic and onion salsa
Mango Peach and Jalapeno salsa
Dill Pickles
Pickled Cherry Peppers
Pickled Carrot Spears
Pickled Asparagus
Jalapenos packed in olive oil
Peach Jalapeno Jam
Tomato Basil Jelly*

*this last one bombed - the jelly failed to gel so we were left with sugary tomato juice in a jar. Not sure what to do with that...

We only made a couple jars of each so I'm sure we'll have run out in just a few months, but I'm glad we bucked tradition a bit and learned some new things. I cannot wait for the carrot spears to be fully pickled. I plan on throwing a brunch for their unveiling so I have a good excuse to make bloody Mary's by the pitcher!

Definitely not a bad way to spend a day in Jersey :-)

I&#8217;m on a train!! Hello New Jersey  (at nj transit raritan valley line)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Free and Easy Down The Road I Go

Even NY sleeps sometimes :-) #LES Seen in the #LES Good morning #vacation :-)  finally tackled breakfast at Shopsin&#8217;s #cleanedtheplate with @mmchuck  (at Shopsin&#8217;s General Store) #roadtrip #vacation :-) #thegardenstate (at Holland Tunnel) #workit #grillin #GoldenNuggetFlea with @mmchuck
at Golden Nugget Flea Market Seen at the #goldennuggetflea in #lambertville #NJ (at Golden Nugget Flea Market) Seen in #NewHope #PA (at New Hope, PA)at New Hope, PA at Lambertville, NJ Well hello there! (at New Hope, PA)
 at Union Square New Hope, PA

1 & 2: Good morning LES! - not for morning people
3: The remnants of a delicious pancake breakfast at Shopsin's General Store in Essex Market
4: On our way to the 'burbs
5: Jeff - Grill Master Extraordinaire
6: Golden Nugget Flea Market!
7 & 8: Some serious looking carvings and a cow without a bell
9 - 12 & 14: In and around New Hope, PA
13: How does Homemade Sunflower Honey Ice Cream sound? I'll tell you. Delicious.


And the perfect ending to my long weekend?

Coffee at Bercli Parc with the boyfriend


A lovely end to a lovely vacation - coffee with @mmchuck before work this morning  (at Berkli Parc)

Friday, June 21, 2013


Please forgive me - as I fully intend to gush and be annoyingly happy throughout this entire post. 

Some of you know already, but I joined a CSA. Stands for Community Supported (or shared) Agriculture. Basically - I now pay for all of my veggies for a whole season up front - straight to the farmer to help with upfront production costs. And when the food is all grown up I begin picking up weekly shares :-)

Well this past Tuesday was my first pick up!!!

An array of greens I've never seen/heard of, along with some bok choy and garlic scapes...

friendly looking radishes and little baby garlics!!

Picked up my first #csa share yesterday- yummy!!

Check out these purple #greens :-) #washingtonsquarecsa

Even a little visitor! We had to let him go though. 
He's been released into the wild -aka - whatever green things are left in the pots on our balcony
Found a little friend in the boc choi from the #csa

Making dinner! #csa

Dinner consisted of sauteed bok choy with garlic scapes and oyster sauce in broth with won tons :-)

#CSA and I are going to get along just fine :-) #whatsfordinner

Can't wait to see what shows up next week!! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

An Adventure in the Adirondacks

Jeff as the  #BrawnyPaperTowelMan - #camping in the #Adirondacks

This post is a long time coming (from Memorial Day Weekend) -
but I couldn't not acknowledge the coolest place I've ever camped!
As you can see, we started off great with the Brawny Paper Towel man as our driver :-)

We spent a cozy six hours crammed into the minivan watching the sun ebb in and out from behind the clouds.   As I'm sure you all remember, the forecast for Memorial Day weekend was not great, but we had our hopes up anyway. Eventually the clouds took over, and gave way to steady rainfall for the rest of the evening.

With or without the rain - Indian Lake is still a sight to behold. We grabbed a pontoon and hopped over to our little island where a warm fire and some pretty good bourbon awaited us.

#camping in the #adirondacks on #IndianLake

Once we setup camp under the canopy of trees the rain really wasn't so bad.

#camping on #indianlake

#camping on #indianlake

Day One ended with a roaring fire and some spiked pine needle tea :-) Success.


Day Two:

We woke up (still bundled from the frigid temp the night before) to Sun!! While we couldn't really call it warm, the sunshine on our faces made everyone extremely happy. We split up into two groups - one for hiking and one for fishing - and took to the pontoon to explore surrounding islands for the afternoon.

(almost) the whole gang - #camping

Lisa on the #Pontoon at #indianlake

When the sun began to set we corralled everyone back onto our own island.
Some continued to fish. All continued to drink into the night :-)

#fishing on #indianlake

Day Three:

Fish! While it definitely wouldn't feed all twelve of us, we were still impressed with the catch!

#Fish for #breakfast anyone? :-)

Monday was warm and beautiful - everything you want on the last day of a trip.

Even though we spent the morning packing in a hurry to get back to the dock for checkout, we all basked in the warmth as much as we could. Being so bundled up all weekend didn't allow for any tanning, but on Monday we all burnt real fast.

The last shot I took was from the pontoon pulling away from our little island oasis.
All I can say is that I am already mentally packing for my next trip up this summer!

Our little island on #indianlake