Hopsters Brewing.

A few weeks back I surprised my husband with a brewing session at Hopsters in Newton for his birthday. I wouldn’t consider myself a big beer drinker, but ended up having so much fun just going through the whole process of brewing and bottling it. We picked a recipe (crystal wheat beer) and the brewers at Hopsters helped us measure our ingredients and work through the brewing process. Then we went back after the beer fermented for a few weeks and got to bottle it — which I found to be the best part (look at those American flag caps!). You can even design your own label, and my husband came up with a very clever name — don’t you think?IMG_3497.JPGIMG_3512.JPGIMG_3513.JPGIMG_3514.JPG

 

 

Mason Jar Salads.

I am absolutely terrible at packing my lunch for work — I try to bring leftovers every once in a while, but I tend to prefer heading out for lunch to get something fresh. When a copy of Mason Jar Salads and More showed up in my mailbox though, I figured it was good motivation to make something tasty to bring along with me to work this week. The book has lots of good tips for layering salads and meal ingredients in mason jars to keep them fresh and crisp (dressing on the bottom, and pack down ingredients over it to keep other ingredients from getting soggy!). I took inspiration from the book’s caprese pasta recipe and made my own version: spinach tortellini with pesto, mozzarella, grape tomatoes, red onions, grilled corn, and more tortellini on top — the flavors melded together great!

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BHLDN Fall.

Boston Bloggers had the pleasure of hosting a preview of the Fall bridal collection at BHLDN in the Chestnut Hill Anthropologie this month. Even with our wedding already behind us, I can still appreciate the gorgeous dress selection at the BHLDN boutique — the good news is that the bridesmaid dresses, shoes, and accessories are all still in my sights to wear as a wedding guest! And the decor items are just so cute, they’re perfect for parties and the home too. The Anthropologie team pulled out all of the stops for our group — sweet treats, Mumm Napa champagne, gorgeous florals by Ladies of Foret, and darling little paper flowers in gold leaf vases for guests to take home at the end of the night! (A special thanks to Katie Noble Photography, who captured images of the event shown here).

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#CreativeOvernight.

A few weeks back  I was super lucky to be invited to a little ladies getaway adventure up in the Catskill Mountains, NY. The ever-talented Lauren of Lauren Wells Events schemed up the Creative Overnight as a way for a bunch of creative ladies — photographers, designers, writers, florists — to take a few days off and recharge over pool-time and cocktails and fun at the Graham and Co in Phoenicia (this hotel was to-die-for-cuteness). It was a total blast, we lounged by the pool (despite some grey weather!), made flower crowns at the direction of Krissy of Pollen Floral Design, and ended the night with several trips to the taco truck that visited our hotel along with a group viewing of a Wes Anderson movie. It was so nice to have the time to chat with lots of local creatives and meet a few new faces too — here’s hoping this becomes an annual event!

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Eggplant Caprese Bites.

On a recent trip to the farmer’s market, I spotted the cutest little mini eggplants (I learned they’re called fairy tale eggplants) and had to scoop some up to experiment with. Given the warm weather recently, I decided to use them in a summer-temperature-friendly appetizer — eggplant caprese bites. I washed the eggplants and sliced them into thin, 1/4 rounds, then dunked them in a whisked egg batter and dredged them lightly in Italian bread crumbs. Using a large skillet, I browned the eggplant in olive oil, and then let them come up to room temperature while resting on a clean paper towel to remove some of the oil. Then comes assembly time — on a toothpick I stacked up tomatoes, eggplant rounds, halves of mini-mozzarella balls, and fresh basil leaves. Right before I served them I sprinkled the bites with sea salt for a little extra flavor. Aren’t they so bright and cheery?

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Occasions Magazine.

I’m so excited to have been interviewed by the folks at Occasions Magazine recently, hop on over there and read all about my entertaining style, tips, and inspiration!

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Scenes from the weekend.

I had a little weekend away visiting coastal Portsmouth, NH for bachelorette excursion to celebrate one of my best girlfriends. The weather was grey, but the rain held out for a boat cruise around the Portsmouth harbor. I packed a little boat-picnic with prosciutto-wrapped-melon, cheese and crackers, and some tasty grapes and marcona almonds (and of course we got some cocktails aboard!). The rest of the weekend was a success, we shopped around town and hit up the always adorable Gus & Ruby Letterpress, filled our bride-to-be up with margaritas and Mexican food, and then danced our toes off until the band packed it in for the night. It was a really fun weekend, and probably one of the nicest group of girls I’ve ever bachelorette’d with!  And now comes the hard part — recovering from the weekend! 20140804-200619-72379599.jpg20140804-200621-72381171.jpg20140804-200620-72380317.jpg20140804-200621-72381435.jpg

 

 

Roasted Tomato Eggplant Pasta.

After what feels like dozens of hot nights in our apartment, it finally cooled down enough this week that turning on the oven was an option. Getting back into the kitchen was such a good re-charge for me this week, especially with all of the amazing seasonal produce available to play with! I needed some comfort food after a long weekend of partying it up at a friend’s wedding so I went with a pasta dish — something quick and simple. I roasted a small eggplant, a container of quartered grape tomatoes, and two heads of garlic with some EVOO and salt and pepper at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. While that cooked, I made angel hair pasta and tossed it with half a lemon’s juice, torn basil leaves, about a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter, and some parmesan cheese. Once the vegetable mixture was well roasted, I pulled the cloves out of the garlic heads and smash them up with the tomatoes and eggplant, and tossed all of the ingredients together with the pasta and a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water. It totally hit the spot — the roasted garlic infused the eggplant and tomatoes with so much flavor, and all of the ingredients came together for a fresh but hearty meal. 20140729-075547-28547218.jpg20140729-075543-28543386.jpg20140729-075545-28545209.jpg20140729-075544-28544309.jpg20140729-075546-28546026.jpg20140729-075548-28548272.jpg

 

 

Blood Orange Buzz.

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a cocktail recipe — the past few weeks have been jam packed with summer fun, but I’ve barely been at home to test out new ideas! The folks at Brugal sent me some of their rum last week to test out, so I took this as the perfect occasion to get mixing! I was inspired by a blood orange soda that I grabbed at the store and paired with some elderflower liquor and fresh citrus:

  • 1.5 oz of Brugal rum
  • 0.5 oz of Elderflower Liquor
  • 2.5 oz of Blood Orange Soda
  • Fresh Lemon juice
  • Ice

Pour rum and elderflower liquor over ice and stir. Top with blood orange soda and a squeezed wedge of fresh lemon juice. Serve with a lemon garnish.

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Please note: Brugal Rum provided me with product samples, all opinions and recipes are my own. 

 

 

 

Island Creek Oyster Farm.

Last weekend I had the amazing opportunity to visit Island Creek Oyster Farm down in Duxbury, MA. My husband is a big fan of oysters and got me into them a few years ago too — now we’re both oyster-obsessed and love checking out new varieties whenever see them pop up on the menu at local restaurants (we’ve even done some at-home-shucking too!). No matter how many we try though, we always come back to Island Creek’s as our favorites. After being invite to visit the OysterPlex and meet the folks that run ICO, I’m even more committed to my favorite oysters now. ICO Farm 5ICO Farm 14ICO Farm 6Chris and his team took us through the history of building the ICO OysterPlex and brand, and showed us how they cultivate and farm the oysters from ‘seed’ to harvest. It all started on the shore where we saw the greenhouses where the team grows their algae to feed the oysters at the seed stage. From there, we followed the seeds through their life cycle and ended up out in two boats on the water where they grow  in trays in Duxbury Bay until they’re ready to harvest.

ICO Farm 8ICO Farm 1ICO Farm 1120140725-102216-37336811.jpgICO Farm 9Duxbury Bay is absolutely gorgeous. After visiting the oyster trays out in the water, we stopped at the ICO float out in the water where they process and sort the harvest each day and enjoyed some of the oysters that had just been plucked out of the water — doesn’t get much fresher than that! A few beers and glasses of rosé wine were enjoyed with the oyster-feast as we met Skip Bennett, founder of Island Creek. My favorite anecdote from the day was hearing about how Skip drove into Boston one day to try to offload a surplus of oysters to local chefs. He showed up at the back door of East Coast Grill in Cambridge with his pick-up truck and his oyster haul. East Coast Grill was the first place to buy wholesale oysters from Island Creek, and the rest was history!ICO Farm 1020140725-102215-37335876.jpg20140725-102217-37337668.jpgICO Farm 4ICO Farm 2

It felt like a once in a lifetime experience to get to visit the oyster farm where some of our very favorite seafood treats come from. I also learned so much from Island Creek team about oysters, (did you know it only takes 18 months to grow a full size oyster shell?! I thought it took years upon years!), the benefit of aquaculture and oysters to the environment, and the great things that ICO does to give back to the community with their foundation. Thanks so much to Skip, Chris, and the rest of the Island Creek team for such an awesome day

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