Category Archives: cooking


My Favorite Summer Drink

A friend of mine [Kayti Haugh] first turned me onto this beauty a few summers ago back in Brooklyn [Thank you!].  Depending on where you are in the world, this drink is known by many names … Calimocho, Rioja Libre, and Joté to name just a few.  I call it a Cherry Coke and I take mine on the rocks.  Red Wine and Coca-Cola.  It’s as simple as that.  Ahhhhhhh, refreshing.  [Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.  Trust me – it’s divine.]


cooking spotlights

Spotlight: Lucid Food Author, Louisa Shafia!

I love cooking, but I rarely follow recipes to the tee.  If I want to find out how to make something, I usually scan the ingredients list, close the cookbook and just wing it.  Last Christmas one of my gifts was Louisa Shafia’s cookbook, Lucid Food.  It is one of the first cookbooks I actually read and actually followed all the directions.  Food is personal and her cookbook tells a story through her appreciation of food.  She has had the honor of cooking at Millenium and Roxanne’s in San Fransisco and Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit in New York City.  Her love for food and eco-friendly practices resulted in the start of her catering business, Lucid Food in 2004. Her cookbook features seasonal recipes that draw from a variety of cuisines.  Indonesian Corn Fritters, Seven Vegetable Miso Soup, Crispy Yuba Rolls, Watermelon/Apple/Lime Shake, Dungesness Crab w/ Fennel & Orange, Poached Quince in Orange Blossom Water … is your mouth watering yet???  A wide range of delicious food peppered with eco-conscious tips and earth friendly alternatives – and it’s all pretty easy to make.  Cooking good food doesn’t have to be complicated and Louisa’s food is a testament to simple & sophisticated dishes.


After featuring her recipe for Cucumber & Pomegranate Salad on my blog, Louisa sent me a thank you email [much to my surprise] and gladly obliged to answer a few questions for the blog.  Through our email conversations, I learned that she lives in my old home of Williamsburg [Brooklyn] – which made me like her even more!  Here is what she had to say ….

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A Tall Drink of … Basil

One of my most favorite scents in the world is fresh basil.  It’s so clean and crisp and natural … sort of like fresh cut grass, but better … because you can eat it.  I have never been a big water drinker – I need some flavor in my beverage – so lately I’ve started flavoring my water with basil.


I love it!  You get the fresh scent with each sip and a hint of the spicy mint flavor of the basil.  I just rip a few leaves in half and stir them into my glass or into a large pitcher.  In my latest CB2 catalog, I came across this Ceylon Pitcher with a filter on one side so you can flavor your water, brew tea, whatever.  Must have!!

ceylonAnd don’t stop with basil.  Water tastes great when infused with cucumber, mint, lemon, lime, and orange too.  A great spring / summer taste sensation!


Reader Recipe: Veggie Sushi

The following post was sent in by reader, Sara Bimmel of Star Costumes in Toledo, OH.  Sara has an appetite for DIY, all things macabre, and of course Veggie Sushi!  I hope you enjoy her tutorial recipe!

At Home Veggie Sushi by Sara Bimmel

If you want gorgeous results with minimal effort, look no further. It helps to have a few pieces of special equipment to create these lovely works of edible art, but they’re easy to use, so don’t panic!

Head to your local specialty-foods store or Asian grocery and pick up a flat sushi paddle and a sushi mat.  [Often they come packaged together.]  You’ll also need a bag of sushi rice, which cooks up sticker and thicker than basmati or regular white rice. Finally, you need sheets of flat nori seaweed that you can use to wrap the sushi.

All set? Okay. Cook some rice according to the directions on the package. While it’s steaming and simmering, chop your desired fillings into long, thin strips. I’ve had good luck with thin carrot sticks, avocado slices, cucumber sticks, and fried sweet potato sticks, but you can use whatever you like—including fish, if you’re so inclined.

When the rice is finished, give it a few minutes to sit away from the heat so that it gets nice and sticky. Lay one sheet of nori seaweed on your sushi mat. One side will feel a bit rougher, and that side should face up. Use the sushi paddle to pat a thin layer of rice on top of the seaweed, but leave a rice-free margin of about 1/2″ to 3/4″ at the top of the nori.
Add your fillings about 3/4″ above the bottom edge of the rice. Don’t pack them in too tightly or the roll will be hard to close. When you’re ready, take the bottom edge of the mat and roll it up with the nori. Roll until the bottom edge of the nori forms a complete loop and meets more rice. Then peel the mat back slightly and keep rolling until your roll is completely sealed.

Believe it or not, that’s all there is to it. Slice it up into bite-sized pieces, serve with some wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger, and enjoy!


Cool Find:

While going through my RSS feeds this morning, I happened upon a post from Talk Crafty To Me about one of the coolest recipe sites [Recipe Look] I have ever laid eyes upon.  It is the creation of Artists & Designers, Amelie Labarthe and Tom Ballhatchet and filled with readers’ drawings of recipe instructions.  So clever – and the drawings are pretty amazing.  Many of them would look great as prints to hang in the kitchen …

Risotto alla Milanese by Emilie Boudet


Roasted Potato Wedges by Rachel Rauch



Cool Find! Jar Tops – Mason Jar Lids

I love the look of mason jars.  I even have one I use as drinking glass … so I was pretty excited when I saw these Jar Tops on Re-Nest!


Available at Unica Home – Set of 5 lids for $25.00 in Charcoal or Green.


Tasty Cucumber & Pomegranate Salad

I will admit it – before making this recipe I had never eaten a pomegranate.  I have had pomegranate juice, but this was the first time I’ve purchased the whole fruit.  I had Mike open it up and get the seeds out for me [it kind of looked like a pain to me – thank you, honey!].  I popped one in my mouth – a little crunch, a little explosion of deliciousness!   Yum!


This Cucumber and Pomegranate Salad recipe is adapted from my Lucid Food cookbook by Louisa Shafia.  It’s fairly quick and easy to make and should be devoured immediately.

You will need:

2 Cucumbers [halved, peeled, and seeds removed – or use little Persian cucumbers like I did and just peel and slice]

Seeds of one Pomegranate

2 chopped scallions [original calls for just the greens, but I used the whites too]

Some fresh cilantro

Feta Cheese

Salt & Pepper

Lemon & Sweet Grapefruit [or a Lime]

Olive Oil

Just chunk up the cucumbers and add 3 or 4 tbs of pom seeds, the scallions and cilantro.  The original recipe calls for lime juice, but I didn’t have any around so I used the juice of a sweet grapefruit and a lemon.


Squeeze the juice in and add a little drizzle of olive oil, some salt and pepper to taste, and then toss together.  Crumble some feta cheese on top and enjoy!  This salad is super refreshing.  I’m addicted.



Christmas Cookie Roundup

It is no secret that I love cookies.  In fact, I have a few almost every night with a glass of milk while relaxing with Mike on the couch after Ava finally goes to bed.  My favorite – chocolate chip – and I cheat by baking up batches of Pillsbury’s Simply Cookies [as you will find out in tomorrow’s post, I am not a baker].  Growing up, we always had trays and tins full of cookies to eat at Christmastime.  My gramma must have been baking them in her sleep.

One of my holiday favorites are Russian Tea Balls [or Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes].  I have lost more than one of these in my glass of milk.  Nutty, cakey, little balls of goodness covered in powdered sugar … and fairly easy to make!  I found a great recipe for these at Peppercorn Press.

[Click image for recipe]


How cute are these little gingerbread houses?!?!?!  Thanks to Megan of Not Martha you can print out a pattern and start building your own tiny houses to accompany your mugs of coffee, hot chocolate, egg nog, etc.  Mike and I were thinking this recipe would be great to make little Santa’s to hang on your mug or snowflakes or candy canes or whatever.  Maybe one day I will give it a try and if you do, I would love to see the results!

[Click image for recipe]


While we’re on the subject of gingerbread, check out this recipe for Gingerbread Man Cookies [on a stick!] created by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.  Kids will LOVE these!

[Click on image for recipe]


Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking? is to thank for these Chocolate Snowballs.  It’s basically a delicious chocolate cake and some cream cheese frosting rolled into cute little balls of goodness and dusted with powdered sugar.  Mmmmmm.

[Click on image for recipe]


Now, this next recipe isn’t exactly a cookie, but it is a major Christmas sweet treat staple for my family [Ohio].  Buckeyes aka Peanut Butter Balls.  Sugar coma, here I come.  The family recipe Michelle from Brown Eyed Baker [or her old blog, Sugar & Spice] uses is pretty close to the Buckeyes my gramma makes.

[Click on image for recipe]


I love chocolate and Mike loves candy canes, so these Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies are perfect for us.  Just looking at them makes my mouth water.  Get the recipe from Susan at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy.

[Click on image for recipe]


Who can resist the crunchy creamy goodness of an Oreo?  Not me.  And even better?  A Homemade Oreo from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  OMG these look amazing.  Milk!!!  I need milk!!!!!

[Click on image for recipe]


And to wrap things up … I couldn’t have a Christmas Cookie Roundup without including some fruit and nuts.  This recipe for Cherry Chocolate Nut Cookies comes from Sybil Brown, via Taste of Home.

[Click on image for recipe]


So there you have it.  Eight amazing Christmas treats to fatten up Santa [and your friends].  If you have an awesome Christmas cookie recipe, let me know and we can share it!  XO!


Amazing Birthday Cakes Anyone Can Make!

My little Ava babers turned one this week – unbelievable!  I baked her an organic chocolate cake with chocolate icing and spelled out “Happy Birthday Ava” in puffs – her favorite treat.  I thought she would just dive right into the cake when we set it in front of her, but instead she daintily picked off one of the puffs and put it in her mouth.  She wanted nothing to do with the cake.  Eventually she got into the frosting when she started smashing her treats down into the cake, but there was no face in the cake like I expected … maybe next year.

I just made a chocolate sheet cake – no fancy schmancy decorations, but next year for Ava’s second birthday I plan on going all out.  I found these amazing cakes that actually seem fairly simple to bake and decorate – no elaborate piping, no fondant, no ‘cake boss’ skills required.  Just a little imagination and a whole lot of love!

This super cute Castle Cake uses sugar and waffle cones for the turrets and you could customize this cake in so many ways with your own candy choices.  For more details, visit the Parenting website.


I found this Sledding Party Cake recipe at Better Homes and Gardens.  Coconut snow, pretzel rod trees, and cute little teddy graham sledders!


I think this Cookie Crown Cake with M&M and gumdrop jewels is so pretty!  Find out how easy it is at Family Fun.


The Family Fun site also has an A to Z list of cute cupcake ideas like this Mini Monster!


I found this cool site called Birthday in a Box – they have everything you can imagine to put a party together – including this awesome Daisy Cake Pan!


And this Dinosaur Cake Pan!


Have you made an amazing birthday cake??  Send me a picture and the recipe and I’ll feature it on the blog!!!


Spicy Goat Cheese & Corn Quesadillas

It’s official – we are moving to Chicago!!!  So long NYC!!!  As you can imagine, things are busier than normal around here.  Ava is determined to walk [and wave and clap and jibber jabber all day long!] and we have tons of stuff to pack, so I am lucky if I get five minutes of peace.  Somehow I still manage to find the time to cook … but it has to be quick and simple and of course delicious.  I made this quesadilla for lunch the other day in less than 20 minutes.  Go, Shannon!

To make a Spicy Goat Cheese & Corn Quesadilla … [and if you can’t handle the spicy, just leave out the hot sauce!] …

First, cook some corn.  I just microwaved some frozen corn, but this is also a great way to use up those end of season ears of corn sitting in the crisper.  Add chopped scallions, fresh chopped basil and/or cilantro, and diced tomatoes to the corn.  Then add a few dashes of salt and pepper and squeeze in some hot sauce.  Next, crumble up some goat cheese and mix it all together ….


Heat up a little bit of canola or vegetable oil in a skillet.  Place tortilla in skillet [I used whole wheat tortillas] and spoon in some of the goat cheese & corn mixture onto one half.  Fold the tortilla over, cook on one side then flip and cook on the other until golden brown.  That’s it – all done!  Easy!

Spicy Goat Cheese & Corn Quesadilla

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