Highs and Lows

April started out as a doozy and I have been anything but inspired. But today, oh today, it feels like things are picking up…if because of nothing else it feels like spring has sprung!

I now present you with a long overdue recipe.

Blackberry Gin n’ Tonics (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 12 blackberries
  • 20 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 lemons
  • 12 ounces gin (or vodka)
  • tonic water
  • ice

ingredients

Directions:

  • Set out four glasses
  • Place 3 blackberries, 5 mint leaves, juice of ½ lemon
  • Fill each glass with ice, followed by 3 ounces of gin
  • Muddle the ingredients using a fork
  • Add tonic water, stir and serve

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“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. “

- William Shakespeare

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Xo.

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Too Sweet

This week I had the intention of sharing shamrock sugar cookies in honor of St. Patty’s Day, but my apartment is currently overflowing in delicious baked goodies.

This past weekend I celebrated my 26th birthday (oy) and can’t even begin to tell you how lucky I am. The weekend was full of friends, champagne, brunch, flowers, a random concert and so many sweets.

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I promise to find something healthy to share with you next week :)

Xo.

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Mama Mia

There are very few people in this world that would tolerate, let alone love you after you had broken their toe and locked them in the basement (among other things) all by the age of three. I am lucky enough to have that rare individual as my mother; and yesterday was her birthday!

My mother is not one for elaborate parties, so I hopped on the LIRR to celebrate with cocktails and a home cooked meal.

Chicken Meatballs

adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground chicken, preferably thigh meat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (the recipe calls for ground fennel, but I couldn’t find any)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Drizzle the olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and use your hands to evenly coat the entire surface.
  •  Combine the chicken, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, wine, salt, fennel, and pepper in a large bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. The mixture may seem quite moist; this is okay.
  • Roll the mixture into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (roughly golf ball size), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even vertical and horizontal rows to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.
  • Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°F (74°C). Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.

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The meatballs are a great stand alone dish, so I simply paired it with roasted broccoli and portobello mushrooms, a caprese salad and rosemary bread.

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Happy birthday Mom; I truly don’t know what we would do without you!

mom

Xo.

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Cookie Monster

The other night literally all this girl wanted was cookie, so I raided the kitchen in hopes of finding a random cookie. After an unsuccessful raid, the thought of running to CVS crossed my mind but it was cold I was too lazy to leave my apartment so I consulted my Pinterest boards and found this delicious low-cal. cookie!

Flour-less Chocolate Cookies (72 calories per cookie)

Ingredients:

  • A bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (plus extra for coating the dough)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray

ingredients

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F and spray the nonstick baking sheet
  • Microwave 1-2 minutes, 1 cup of chocolate chips in a glass bowl. Be sure to check frequently
  • Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks
  • Gradually add 1 cup sugar to the eggs and beat until it resembles soft marshmallow cream
  • Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in a bowl
  • On low speed, add dry ingredients into marshmallow mixture
  • Add melted chocolate and the remainder of the chocolate chips and mix
  • Take a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball (repeat)
  • Pour powdered sugar into a bowl and generously coat the balls
  • Place onto baking sheet and cook for about 10 minutes (until the cookies are puffed and tops are cracked)

marshmallow

balls

Now here is the most important part, learn from my mistake! The cookies MUST cool for 10-15 minutes before you transfer them to a baking rack, otherwise you will have  a hot, gooey, chocolatey mess on your hands.

cookies

I brought these into the office the next day and they went like hotcakes! Apparently, when you tell people that a cookie is only 72 calories you better move or risk getting pushed out of the way.

Xo.

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Cheese Please

Well here is the first “hosting” post!

Last Friday I decided to have the ladies over for a wine and cheese party, which turned out to be a success; but then again most things are when wine and cheese are involved….

As per usual, I skipped over to the West Side and hit up my beloved Trader Joe’s.

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The Cheese:

  • Mild – Double Cream Brie and Chevre
  • Blue – Gorganzola
  • Semifirm – Manchego
  • Super-aged – Smoked Gouda

Tip – Five cheeses may not seem like a lot, but it is! You’ll be surprised to find out that it serves at least 12 people. (This girl will be living off of cheese for the next week)

Sides & Spreads:

  • Prosciutto
  • Salami
  • Basil Pesto
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Apple slices (Gala)
  • Crackers (wheat, cracked pepper, veggie and white)
  • Sliced French Baguette

Tip – Get creative with your sides! Apple slices were a great light alternative to constantly munching on crackers. Next time I’ll be including vegetables as well.

Creating the Cheese Board:

  •  The cheeses were paired with the corresponding knives, so it went soft cheeses (left) to hard (right)
  • Using some tan card stock and toothpicks I created labels for the cheese
  • Cranberries and apple slices were spread between the cheeses
  • The meats were arranged on a wooden tray (the roomie is vegetarian so I wanted to keep it separate)

Cheese

For the final touches I simply lit a few unscented candles and arranged Sweet Peas and yellow Mums into vases and mason jars.

Spread

Hosting a wine and cheese night is a lovely alternative to a traditional dinner party. It gives the you the opportunity to sit and enjoy your guests company instead of keeping track of what’s cooking.

Xo.

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Shenanigans

This week was unfortunately not spent in the kitchen due to these gremlins…

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Cats are jerks; expensive but adorable jerks.

Please come back next week for some kitchen adventures!

Xo.

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Nothing Like The Present

When will I learn that nothing productive ever occurs after margaritas at Blockheads?! I’m leaving for Chicago in a few short hours and am frantically shoving clothes into a duffel bag because Trixie and I decided to meet for dinner margaritas last night.

In the midst of running around I baked this delicious treat for this weekends gracious hosts.

Banana Bread With Nutella Swirls

adapted from Weight Watchers

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 egg whites beaten
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
  • Nutella

batter

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Grease and flour a loaf pan, set aside
  • In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, oats and sugar
  • In a small bowl mash the bananas then add the oil and whole egg. Mix thoroughly.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix.
  • Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites until they form medium stiff peaks.
  • In three additions fold the egg whites into the batter
  • Pour half of the batter into the pan
  • Using a butter knife take a dollop of Nutella and swirl into the batter.
  • Pour the rest of the batter in and repeat the Nutella swirling
  • Bake for about 45-50mins (the top should be firm)

bread

Once the bread cooled, I wrapped it up using tissue paper, twine and a few sprigs of lavender.

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Now the hustle to LaGuardia Airport begins, but not before I give this face one last smooch!

Gus

Xo.

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