12.18.2014

Wedding Countdown: 2 WEEKS!


We are just less than two weeks away from getting married! It is a bit surreal, filling out paperwork with my new last name on it. Kevin and I are just about done with all the planning of things but we have a few more loose ends to tie, including appetizers! I will be preparing the appetizers myself before heading to a restaurant for dinner with our families.
I do like the idea of Mushroom Bites, which I happened to make last New Year's Eve. They are easy to eat, and extremely flavorful - yummy, gruyere cheese!

Cheese... that reminds me!!


We took a trip to The Village Cheese Shop and had the most INCREDIBLE cheese ever! It will be a great (& expensive) treat for our families to try. The cheese is called Sottocenere al Tartufo with pieces of truffle in it! Delicious and a must for our wedding. I highly recommend trying it!


We picked up the last of our wedding favors today, which I cannot wait to share with all! Of course they are food & kitchen related. I also redecorated my cake stand to match our New Year's Eve "theme" since the most gorgeous little cheesecake will be sitting on it that evening. The colors of our wedding will be black, silver and gold - and anything sparkly! 


I won't give away anymore sneak previews. 
We look forward to sharing pictures from our day with you all very soon!

Francois Payard - French pastry Chef

What goes around, comes around.


Recently, I posted a review and a giveaway for Mrs. Renfro's Gourmet Salsas. I will only review and write about products that I truly like, and that I can give honest opinions about.
I was lucky enough to be the winner of someone else's giveaway, Chef Francois Payard. Lucky doesn't do justice in describing how I feel about winning this one. I've always had some type of luck on my side.. so when I do win things, I am not always shocked. This to me, was indeed shocking! I wasn't asked to review any of the following items, but I feel compelled to tell you about them.

I live close to NYC and although I have heard of Chef Payard, I've never been able to visit any of his shops or taste any of his delightful treats.. until now of course! I received a package from Felipe and Francois this afternoon at my office. To my surprise, there were quite a bit of treats in the box!

Macarons!
Chocolate!
AND
Chocolate covered almonds!

I guess they didn't realize that my wedding is less than two weeks away and these kind of treats are the last thing I should really be eating! ;)



When opening the package, we all said how beautiful the boxes looked. Yellow, sleek and smooth which really gives a ritzy feel to it. I read the first treat, Almond Givrettes - caramelized almonds dipped in dark chocolate and coated with confections sugar. Mouths started watering.


Next were the chocolates that were so gorgeously decorated. Each piece looking like artwork. Lastly, Chef Payard's macarons. I have been looking forward to the macarons most after seeing all the wonderful feedback from Francois' customers online. 


I will share some things that were said by my lovely coworkers after tasting these treats:
"This is the most decadent macaron I have ever tasted." - Annmarie K. (she had the dark chocolate macaron)
"The pistachio macaron is to DIE for, you must try one." - Uncle Ed
"OMG" - Patty C.
"WOW.. how have I never eaten [macarons] before today?" - Kevin, my fiance (trying his first macaron ever)
and last but not least,
"These are outsmazing!!" - ME, who also had my first macaron today. And yes, outsmazing is outstanding and amazing put together and is said often between Kevin and I when we love something!


The feedback from my coworkers was truly special, as I have never heard so many people rave about one product like that. My uncle Ed, who is probably the most picky person that I know when it comes to food, was really floored by the bursting flavors in the chocolates and macarons. Out of everything, the salted caramel chocolates were my favorite, as were the raspberry macarons. Kevin's favorites were the coffee macaron, and the arabica coffee chocolate - of course, anything coffee flavored!

Feeling very grateful and hope to visit Francois Payard Bakery soon! Thanks Chef!


12.09.2014

Review: Mrs. Renfro's Gourmet Salsas


A few weeks ago when at the grocery store with my fiance, Kevin, we
stumbled upon an aisle filled with bread, tortillas, chips, dips and
other goodies. While browsing the different chips and dips, Mrs.
Renfro's caught our eye. Chipotle Corn Salsa... how flippin' good does
that sound! Most people know that Kevin and I enjoy our kick of
spiciness.. so we decided to try it out.

After LOVING this salsa, I went online to search the name brand a bit.
I found a neat story about how Mrs. Renfro's came to be, which can be
found here. You can truly appreciate a product more when
you get to see who is behind the making of it.

I picked three salsas to review and hope that it will push you enough
to try them for yourselves! I am also giving away TWO salsas
of your choice from Mrs. Renfro's Gourmet Salsas. There are 18
different salsas to choose from - check them out! Use the entry form below for
your chance to win.
I will be announcing the winner on Monday, December 15th.


Note: All three of these salsas are gluten free. We all know how
popular GF is becoming!


Salsa #1 Chipotle Corn Salsa- I have to say that this one is my all
time favorite. The corn gives incredible texture yet the salsa is
still smooth throughout. It has the perfect punch of spice to it.
Tonight I added this salsa to my taco recipe and it really brought
everything together. A true Mexican taste! See below for pics.

Salsa #2 Garlic Salsa- Who doesn't LOVE garlic?! I was very surprised
by this salsa, and so was Kevin. Although it is called garlic
salsa, we just weren't expecting it to have such a powerful, garlicky
taste.. but it was strong, and it was great! The spice in this
specific salsa kind of creeps up on you in the after taste, which we
liked! Kevin voted this one as his favorite and he proved it by almost
finishing the jar tonight! I think this salsa would be a huge hit at
parties, as it goes with many different types of foods.

Salsa #3 Habanero Salsa- WHOA!! Don't let the pink top fool you. You
will need an iron tongue for this salsa. Highly recommended for the
HOT lovin' people out there, but for everyone else, consider yourself
warned. Kevin can handle heat.. (I mean look at his soon-to-be wife!
lol) .. he had trouble with this one though. We did dab a bit of this
salsa on our tacos (when I say dab, I mean dab!) and it was a
delicious touch.
I will admit, it has been thirty minutes after our tastings, and our
tongues are still tingling from this one! Next, I would like to try
the Mango Habanero flavor by Mrs. Renfro's, as I think the sweet mixed
with the spicy would be a perfect combo! 


To go with our taste test, we used the chips below. They are so easy
to eat and dip with AND they are GF too!



Mixing Mrs. Renfro's Chipotle Corn salsa into our beef taco recipe was
a great addition!
We look forward to trying another Renfro salsa in our next Taco
Tuesday night!















Below is the entry form to enter for your chance to win any two of the
salsas on Mrs. Renfro's site. To check out your options, visit their
website here. MRS. RENFRO'S SALSAS

Good Luck to all!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

11.26.2014

Hoisin Teriyaki Meatballs


Yummy! Meatball time!



These Asian style meatballs were delightful. Hoisin sauce is a favorite in our house, so I hope you all enjoy the recipe we created!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 20-25 meatballs
**I serve these over white rice**


What you will need:
1.5 lb ground beef (85% lean)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 tbs soy sauce (low sodium)
1 large egg
1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbs soy sauce (low sodium)
1/3 cup teriyaki (low sodium)
1 tbs sherry cooking wine
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
Scallions, to garnish


Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a larger bowl, mix together (with your hands) the beef, garlic, scallions, salt & pepper, soy sauce, egg and breadcrumbs. Form golf ball sized balls with the mixture and place on baking tray.

3. Bake meatballs in oven for 9 minutes, turn them over, and bake for an additional 9 minutes. (18 minutes total).

4. When meatballs are just about done, mix hoisin, soy sauce, teriyaki, and sherry together in a bowl. Heat a wok or medium sized sauce pan on medium heat.

5. Once wok/pan is hot, add in sauce and heat for about 1 minute. Lower heat, add meatballs to sauce and mix until all are coated.

Add sesame seeds & scallions to garnish. Serve over white rice, or by themselves for an appetizer.








11.15.2014

Chocolate Covered Bananas


When my fiance, Kevin, had his knee surgery, one of the doctors had sent him an Edible Arrangement to our house. In the fruit arrangement, there were chocolate covered strawberries and bananas. Kevin LOVED the chocolate covered bananas! I decided to try and make them myself as a surprise for him since he had a long day at work this weekend. They came out great!


What you will need:

6 bananas, peeled and sliced into 3's
1 bag (11.5 oz) of milk chocolate chips
2 tbs coconut oil
Toothpicks or Popsicle sticks
*Optional: crushed peanuts, coconut flakes, crushed almonds, sprinkles, etc.


Directions:

1. Place bananas on wax paper lined baking sheet. Keep in freezer for one hour.

2. Once the bananas are in the freezer for at least an hour, boil a medium sized pot of water and bring to a simmer. In a metal/heat resistant bowl, pour in chocolate chips and coconut oil. Place bowl over simmering pot of water and mix with spatula until melted, about 3-4 minutes.

3. Have your toppings prepared (if any). Remove bananas from freezer and poke with toothpicks or popsicle sticks.


4. Pour melted chocolate into cup and dip each banana slice into the chocolate until fully covered. Place dipped bananas back onto wax paper lined baking sheet. Once all bananas are dipped, place back into freezer for 30 minutes.

5. Remove from freezer and place into refrigerator until ready to serve. Let "thaw" for about 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!




10.31.2014

Boston Lettuce (Salad Recipe)


If you've never had Boston lettuce, you are truly missing out! My mom is a member of Sang Lee farms on the East end of Long Island and they provide you with a basket full of vegetables each week in the summer. Boston lettuce was introduced to us through one of these baskets.
This lettuce has a velvety, buttery texture and can be found in some grocery stores. As explained on Wikipedia, Butterhead- Also known as Boston or Bibb lettuce, is a type of head lettuce with a loose arrangement of leaves, and is known for its sweet flavor and tender texture.
*All lettuce should be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed.*
Here are some ingredients that we LOVE to mix with our Boston lettuce:

  • Sliced red onion
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Toasted walnuts (yum!)
  • Craisins
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese (or sometimes fried goat cheese patties!)
  • Optional: Green/Purple Olives, Grilled chicken, Croutons, etc
Dressings:
Sang Lee Farms also sells an incredible organic dressing called, Asian Vinaigrette
We also like to use Paul Newman's Lite Sesame Ginger Dressing - all nutrition info in link.

10.26.2014

Kiss My Apron: Wedding Update


Some happy/sad news. My fiance, Kevin, and I had a large wedding planned for May 2015. We decided that focusing on a house was a lot more important than 6 hours of one day. Our wedding has officially been canceled, and re-planned for New Year's Eve! The last month has been ups and downs of planning and making decisions about our big day! I can finally say that the stress has been relieved, and we are all set for it. I look forward to updating you all with pictures from our intimate ceremony with our immediate families. After the wedding, we will be back to eating normal, and experimenting with new creations! Dieting has been dreadful, but I wake up each morning and remember that I have to wear a WHITE dress - eeeek! lol We appreciate the support my family and friends have given us! 65 more days!




Grilled Pork Chops with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction

I am going to bring it back to the first time my soon to be hubby made me dinner. Kevin and I met back in 2012 (match.com success story lol) and the first time he invited me over to his house, he made dinner. I love this story... 
So he chose to make boneless pork chops on the BBQ with broccoli and fried rice, which I later found out to be 90 second rice from the bag (HA! Not hating!) -- These cute, little thin chops must've been BBQ'd for 14-15 minutes, about 7-8 minutes too long lol.. I had to really use my jaws to chew these down! Thank goodness his BBQ'd broccoli was fantastic!
The effort was definitely an A+, but he still hasn't quite gotten the hang of cooking pork chops on the barby! I just bought one of those meat thermometers so maybe it will help! ;) Sorry, Kev, I do love ya and your grill marks are EXCEPTIONAL!

I've always heard of blueberry and pork chops being a big hit. I would tweak one thing - next time I would like to leave a few blueberries whole to add to the sauce. A little more texture would've been perfect! 

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed
3/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbs unsalted butter
6 bone out pork chops, thin cut
2 tbs Olive Oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
* I served this dish with steamed broccoli and carrots*

Directions:
Preheat your BBQ (medium heat)
1. Prep your pork. Brush your chops with olive oil and season with salt & pepper on each side.

2. Place blueberries in food processor and chop for a few seconds. 

3. Fill a medium sized pot with the balsamic. Using a strainer over the pot, pour in the blueberries and smash until the juice is into the pot with the balsamic, leaving the blueberry skins in the strainer. Heat on medium-low heat until simmering. Reduce sauce, about 15 minutes, stirring often. Start step #4 while sauce is reducing.

4. Grill pork chops for 4 minutes on each side. Let sit for 1-2 minutes.

5. Remove blueberry balsamic sauce from heat and add butter. Let cool 2-3 minutes, then drizzle reduction onto pork.










Homemade Peanut Butter Ice Cream

This was our first attempt at making homemade ice cream.. Usually I would wait to post a recipe until it is really perfected and foolproof, but this was pretty perfect as is!
Through facebook, I am apart of a local thirft group and found this cuisinart ice cream maker for sale. After researching a bit on Amazon, I offered a fair price and it was accepted. I know my fiance has been dying to make his own ice cream, so it was a great grab for us - especially being that it was brand new in the box!
I threw together some ingredients that we had at home to make peanut butter ice cream. I would highly recommend the cuisinart ice cream and sorbet maker - it worked better than expected!


Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 mintutes
Wait time: 2 hours (optional)

Ingredients
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbs peanut butter (I like Peter Pan)
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
Directions
1. Whisk together in a medium bowl: Milk, sugar and peanut butter, until evenly mixed (about 2 minutes).

2. Add in vanilla and heavy cream and mix by hand until combined.

3. Turn on the Cuisinart ice cream maker and slowly pour in ice cream mixture. Let churn for about 25-30 minutes.

4. Let sit in freezer for about 2 hours, until hardened.














 (Before Freezer)