Category Archives: hostessing

Butterscotch Baked French Toast




IMG_6121

My parents were hosting a brunch the day after the stateside celebration of my cousin EM and Kristina’s wedding, and my mom was all, “Just bring something over that everyone will like. Brunch starts at 11.” So, since A. I planned on being mildly hungover B. I love sleep, especially on the weekends, more than anything, and C. I still wanted to make something good, I started searching for make-ahead brunch meals that I could put together the night before and just throw it into the oven the next morning. When I found Smitten Kitchen’s “boozy baked french toast,” the words read like a song. This was the one.  I love Smitten Kitchen, and I love anything that tastes this good with minimal effort, and I especially love the post-event rehash with some of my favorite trash-talkers (my family).

If you’re looking to throw together something that requires little effort the day before, but is hands-down amazing – and also may or may not soak up your New Year’s hangover – this french toast is here to save the day.

BUTTERSCOTCH BAKED FRENCH TOAST (serves 6, generously – barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Continue reading

Favorite Holiday Appetizers




Holiday Appetizers

Looking for some holiday appetizer ideas? Look no further. These are some of my very favorite, tried-and-true, crowd-pleasing apps. Get ready to be really popular and whatever party you’re going to. Happy Holidays!

Pear, Prosciutto and Honeyed Goat Cheese Apps with Thyme

Pear, Prosciutto and Honeyed Goat Cheese Apps with Thyme

 

Salmon and Avocado Apps with Lemon, Dill and Sesame Seeds

Not gonna lie, I felt pretty pleased with myself making these. The saltiness/savoriness of the salmon combined with the creamy avocado is perfect, they have 4 ingredients, tops, are chock full of Omega-3s – the “good for you fats” – which help with your cardiovascular health, eyesight, joints and a whole bunch of other things, have a hint of the bright flavor of lemon (which adds detox benefits) and if you use Wild for Salmon’s Dill and Orange Gravlax, you can skip the dill altogether. I did a couple of these with a light coating of toasted sesame seeds, but that’s up to you. These were ready in no time, and gone in about that same amount too.

SALMON AND AVOCADO APPS WITH LEMON AND DILL (makes about 30)
– 3 avocados, cut into approx. 3/4 inch chunks
Wild for Salmon’s Dill and Orange Gravlax (or smoked salmon if you can’t find this, but please try because this is amazing.)
– juice of 1 lemon
– pinch of kosher salt
– sesame seeds (optional)

1. Cut the avocados into approx. 3/4 inch chunks. 



2. Add to a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and the pinch of salt – this will keep the avocado from browning.

Continue reading

Salmon Appetizers with Cucumber, Dill, Red Onion and Creme Fraiche

These little guys are our go-to appetizers for almost every gathering, and they’re also the first things that disappear. They’re fantastic. For these appetizers, I’m psyched to be working with Wild for Salmon, a Pennsylvania company run by Steve, a thirty-something who went from Penn State to Idaho to Alaska, where he (luckily for us) learned how to catch this amazing wild salmon, and then decided to bring that skill, and those products, back to his home state. I’ve been a fan of Wild for Salmon for a couple years now, always buying it at Hillside Farms, but getting to see the business itself was awesome – it’s a family-run operation (I met Steve, his mom, his wife Jenn and their adorable daughter Ava Jane while I was there) and they really care about what they produce, and where it comes from. Steve and Jenn either go on regular fishing trips to Alaska for Wild for Salmon’s products, or they personally know the fisherman who catch it for them, which is really impressive. I used their Dill & Orange Gravlax for this recipe, which was perfect – there is no mistaking the difference between this and the usual farm-raised salmon that you buy at the grocery store. Get in touch with Wild for Salmon and treat yourself to the real deal. 

Thanksgiving is this week – bring these apps to wherever you’re going and watch them disappear in no time flat.

SALMON APPETIZERS WITH CUCUMBER, DILL, RED ONION AND CREME FRAICHE (makes about 40)
– Sturdy Potato Chips (Kettle is good, but you can always make these yourself – & please do, because they’re awesome, simple & way healthier for you than the ones you buy at a store)
– 1/2 English Cucumber, chopped 
– 1/2 Red Onion, minced
– Fresh Dill
– Creme Fraiche – we used this Lemon-Dill sauce and that was terrific, or you could always just use cream cheese

1. Get everything grouped into little stations for quick assembling.

2. Chop the cucumber and mince the red onion.


3. Get out Wild for Salmon’s gorgeous Dill & Orange Gravlax. 

Continue reading

Destination Wedding

We just got back from Puerto Rico to celebrate my cousin EM & Kristina’s wedding. The wedding was one of the prettiest I’ve ever been to, the food at the resort was amazing, and it was so great being able to spend that kind of time with my cousins, our friends and family. Lots of cocktails and catch-up sessions, both of which are my favorites. I’m already looking forward to their stateside celebration at the end of this month at the Westmoreland Club, when we can all be together again!

Food was amazing – also, my standard 3-drink brunch order
Brothers <3
Villa loungin’

My mom is great at many, many, many things. Picture taking isn’t one of them. Outtakes of Collyn and me trying to get one good shot.
My cousin Erin, her husband Brian and their son Ethan
…Did I mention that the food was amazing?

Last cousin picture before EM became a husband!

Seriously, this reception. Unbelievable.

The bride and groom (one of my favorite couples, ever) – how gorgeous are they??

This space was so, so pretty. Look at those flowers!

Welcome to the family, Kristina!!!

25

Bren’s parents are visiting from Colorado this week, so before an awesome dinner at AV, we hosted our parents at our place for drinks and apps. I made a cheese plate, roasted butternut squash soup shooters and that World’s Greatest Pumpkin Dip that Brendan’s been dying to try. Oh, and attempted to make Moscow Mules using Bren’s new copper bday mugs, but that may not have been the best cocktail ever. We’ll just have to practice. 
 
Happy birthday to the smartest, kindest, funniest, most interesting man I’ve ever dated. I love you, Journalist Brendan Gibbons!

 

Bagels a la Heather

Sometimes I get recipe ideas from the weirdest places. In this case that place was, “Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me.”


Chelsea Handler is hilarious and apparently the world’s greatest liar. Her coworkers and friends – who wrote this book together about the times she’s full-blown made up the most ridiculous stories ever, which they believed 100% – seem like they love her despite this. And “Lies  That Chelsea Handler Told Me” is just another in the series of Chelsea Handler books that made me laugh out loud. 

In a small paragraph written by Chelsea’s coworker and panelist Heather McDonald about her breakfast, though, I read:  “You slice the bagel, scoop out all the carb-infested middle, then toast what’s left, and pile on light cream cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and a hint of fresh lemon juice. You get all the crunch and flavor with half the calories!” This, of course, spoke straight to my heart. 

My parents had this gorgeous dinner party last night, and Brendan and I slept over afterwards, and for breakfast this morning I came down to the bagels and coffees for us from my dad. My parents had everything for these Heather McDonald bagels in their fridge, so there you go. I wasn’t feeling great so I made these, got a glass of fresh-pressed OJ and went upstairs to have breakfast in bed, which was exactly what I needed. When’s the last time you had breakfast in bed? Make this and Treat Yo’ Self.

BAGELS A LA HEATHER 
– Bagel
– 1 tbsp. capers, chopped
– 2 tbsp. cucumbers, chopped
– 2 tbsp. tomatoes, chopped
– thin layer of cream cheese
– squeeze of lemon

1. Scoop out the “carb-infested middle” of the bagel. Toast.

 

2. Add a thin layer of cream cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes and capers. Top with a squeeze of lemon and enjoy.







Cape Cod 2014

I’m finally back after nine days of one of the best vacations of my life. This is the second summer in a row that I’ve gone up to Cape Cod, and I hope that this is the beginning of an awesome summer pattern. It is so unbelievably gorgeous up there, so relaxing and just so charming. Here’s what I did for the past week and a half:

– Read 3 different books and 1 new screenplay

– Ate some of the best food I’ve ever had and did not cook a single thing

– Went bike riding, much to Brendan’s delight

– Saw JAWS on the Cape but didn’t see any sharks in real life, luckily

– Had at least one lobster roll a day

– Averaged 13,000 steps until my goddamn fitbit battery ran out of juice (obsessed)

– Slept until about 10am most mornings

– Spent EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. on the spectacular beaches of Chatham

– Got to have some serious quality time with my mom, dad, little sister, boyfriend and family friends – and what’s better than that?  I love you guys – thanks for a wonderful vacation!!

Spent the halfway point at Pepe’s Pizzeria in Connecticut, holy moly. Bren and I split almost a full pie of the fresh tomato and shrimp.

Finally at the beach!

The incomparable hydrangeas that populate the Cape, and our first lobster roll of the trip at the Squire

Family dinner at Pisces, which was beyond delicious and really cute too.

One of my favorite parts about our relationship is how easily we can make each other laugh (even when one of us is brushing their teeth)

Mom and Dad on the beach

Family <3

Probably my favorite dinner of the trip at Del Mar, where I had stuffed zucchini blossoms, about half of Brendan’s mushroom tart, local Cod and this incredible blueberry pie

My mom (waving from the door) is the cutest

Sunsets on the beach

Best lobster roll of the trip at The Canteen in  the ever-eclectic Provincetown

Brendan’s first time seeing Jaws, ever!! No better place to do it than 20 miles away from where it was filmed. 

An entire cooler of whoopie pies (and the most amazing breakfast burritos ever) at The Corner Store

Fresh pasta, The Prisoner wine and hilarious conversation with the world’s greatest parents at Buca’s

A lunch at the Wild Goose Inn that still makes me full just thinking about it – incredible

Amazing dinners and late night dance parties

Beach reading and cocktail hours with Dad

Love. 

See you next summer!