I haven’t been back here since I was 21 years old, but it didn’t take long for me to remember why this is my favorite city in the world.
Angelina’s has the world’s best hot chocolate, and their salads aren’t too shabby either.
I mean, come on:
My mom and my sister, to make a very long story short, were invited to the Chanel show during Couture Week. I’ve rarely seen my mom more excited than when their invitations (which, without question, I’m sure were more expensive than the cost of an entire wedding) were delivered to our hotel.
Honestly, I don’t know why I always seem to get so lax about posting during the summer, but it’s probably because there’s so much more going on.
Late Sunday night, I got back from a 10-day trip to France with my mom and my little sister. We spent a couple days in Paris, went down to Bordeaux for wine-tasting, then back up to Paris again. I used to live there in college, and I hadn’t been back since, and honestly, I forgot about how much that city makes me feel. Everything is so vibrant and beautiful and exciting and – most importantly – grounding in a way I can’t even fully describe. Paris brings out the best in me.
This was the first girls’ trip my mom and sister and I have taken in a really long time, and we had a blast. We had experiences, dinners and wine among the best of my life, scenery that could have been out of a movie and I also got some serious quality time with two of the people I love most in the world.
This post is a two-parter, for sure. It may actually end up being a three-parter, since I just spent 40 minutes editing pictures and I’m not even to Bordeaux yet (and I’m still on Paris time, which means it’s 8.18 p.m. EST and I’m exhausted.) Happy Bastille Day, France!
Ohhhh, the Nutribullet is just about the best thing I’ve ever purchased in my life. It makes eating (or drinking, I guess) healthy the easiest thing ever. Brendan and I have a smoothie every morning, and if I don’t, I feel like I’m missing something all day long. This smoothie tastes as if it has 4 times the calories than it actually does.
CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIE (makes 1)
3 ice cubes
Almond milk (1 cup)
1/4 c. frozen strawberries
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. honey (I’ve been using Newkirk Honey, which is locally made and 100% incredible)
Blend everything together really well. Serve with a straw and enjoy.
Every good soft pretzel bite deserves something even better to dip it in or spread on it. There’s this awesome restaurant in town, POSH at The Scranton Club, which serves fresh-made soft pretzels accompanied by this incredible dip in lieu of your usual bread basket. Their food is fantastic, so even though I usually want to eat this whole basket, I try to show some self-control so I can still have room for dinner. Then, I just make this soft pretzel bite/roasted red pepper dip at home.
I don’t even like roasted red peppers, but this – blended with cream cheese, feta, lemon and seasonings – is out of this world. I’ve taken this combo to a couple parties this year, and it quickly became my most-requested recipe.
ROASTED RED PEPPER DIP (inspired by POSH at The Scranton Club)
A confession: I never made anything bread-related before this, and these (along with the feta and roasted red pepper dipping sauce) were one of the biggest hits of anything I’ve ever made. That’s how easy this recipe is. You can go full flour on this recipe, or half it with whole-wheat flour for a healthier version – they’re equally delicious (seriously.)
This is so easy to make that it actually makes you feel guilty about buying chicken stock from the store. You basically have to force yourself to be lazy enough not to make this, especially when you make roasted chickens as much as we do. It’s basically a collection of what’s left in your fridge, some simmering, then freezing for fresh chicken stock all day, all the time.
HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK (makes about 3 quarts)
1 chicken carcass (from a roasted chicken – I use this after we’ve used the bulk of it for recipes)
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, cut into quarters
Kosher salt & pepper, approx. 1 tsp of each
1. Get a big stockpot, the biggest you have.
2. Throw in the chicken carcass, parsley, carrots, onion, salt & pepper.
3. Fill to the top with water – for me, this was about 12 cups.
4. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 hours over very low heat, stirring every once in a while.
5. Taste, season, then remove all the chicken, veggies & parsley.
6. Store stock in large mason jars in the freezer (I stuck them in the fridge for a couple hours so they didn’t break while going from boiling to freezing) and thaw to use when needed. Enjoy.
Lasagnas are a labor of love, especially when you do them right. When I take the time to make one of these, especially when it’s entirely from scratch, I double the recipe and freeze another one, just because they take so much time and effort. And then, on days when NEPA misses breaking the record for coldest day ever by one degree, and I’ve spent the day before with a wicked stomach bug that made me feel like I was dying, barely slept because of it, woke up at 2.45am for a 4am taping of morning show (with Ryan Leckey, who, admittedly, I love) at the hospital, then coordinated five more interviews – one of which includes scrubbing up (?? in? what’s it called when you just observe) with a reporter and photographer for a VERY graphic, and incredibly advanced, knee replacement surgery – and am now waiting to connect the final interview of the day so I can just take a freaking nap already, do you know what I do? I take that second lasagna out of the freezer and start letting that beautiful thing defrost. This is homemade with love right here – my Mom’s meatsauce, noodles from scratch, a nutmeg-y bechamel, some kale and fresh parm…dinner’s going to be the best part of this day.
I know that “Healthy” and “Cheesy” don’t usually go together, but trust me, these do. Plus, veggies, which I’ve been trying to eat in some capacity at every meal. This winter has been unbelievably cold and snowy, and we’ve made some stick-to-your-ribs meals that come together pretty easily, warm you up really well and leave enough for lunch the next day, too. Here’s one of them.
2 cups fully cooked, diced ham
2 lbs. potatoes, washed, peeled and sliced very thin (a mandoline helps a lot – just be careful!)
2 heads broccoli, washed and cut into florets
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 vidalia onion, diced
2 tbsp. butter
5 tbsp. flour
2 cups grated cheddar, or cheese of choice
1 cup 2% milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 pinches nutmeg
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1. Heat the oven to 375.
2. In a French oven, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, stir, then cook until translucent, approx. 4-5 minutes.