A Boston-Based Lifestyle Blog
They say a party with out cake is just a meeting. Well, I say a party without appetizers fits the same criteria. Even if I’m just having a few people over for casual drinks, I almost always make two things: a cheese plate and a small crudité platter. I always feel like I’m being super healthy when I make a veggie and dip tray, but let’s be honest — vegetables are only there as vehicles to get the most amount of dip possible in my mouth — real talk people! Alouette Cheese sent me some of their new Le Bon Dips to try and I attempted a little stylists’ trick to make my crudité look extra appealing: I made a dip bowl out of veggies!
You can try this trick at home, it’s very simple. Start with a small head of raddichio, purple cabbage, or savoy cabbage (or get creative with other vegetables! Slice a small sliver off the bottom of the head of cabbage so that it can sit flat without rolling. Then slice the top inch or so off the top of the head to form the bowl shape. Next you have to hollow it out, using a sharp knife at an angle, slice what should be a cone-shaped hole out of the center of the head, leaving about half an inch of a bowl border around the edges. Use a smaller paring knife to cut away pieces from the inside and keep removing the insides until you have a bowl that works for your plate. Then fill that veggie bowl up with your favorite dip! I tried the Alouette Le Bon Dip in fire roasted vegetable and basil, zucchini, parmesan — try adding a few fresh herbs to the top of the dip before you serve it for a special touch!
Please note: This post was sponsored by Alouette Cheese, all opinions, ideas, recipes and photography are my own.
Guys, let’s talk about wine spritzers — why does this drink get such a bad rap? I have to start this blog post with a shout out to my brother-in-law who inadvertently inspired this idea. Sometime last summer we asked him to whip us up a drink at a family party, and maybe-sort-of-jokingly he told us he was going to make us wine spritzer. We giggled when he actually made them and brought them over to us, but guess what? They were really delicious. They can be light, crisp, and fruity — which are some of the most basic tenants of a good summer cocktail option. Plus they have a great name! A spritzer just sounds refreshing, doesn’t it? I decided to take a stand and stick up for the poor little wine spritzer and make one of my own with mixed fruits and IZZE sparkling waters:
- Step 1: Fill a stemless wineglass or tumbler with ice and mixed fruit of your choice.
- Step 2: Fill the glass 1/2 to 2/3 full with a fruity, light white wine.
- Step 3: Top with a flavored sparkling water (I love the Mandarin Lime IZZE flavor!)
- Step 4: Clink! Times to cheers glasses with friends and enjoy a summer evening outside.
Please Note: This post was sponsored by Izze; all images, ideas and content are my own.
I love my apartment, and I love summer, but gosh is it hot in my home right now. Once the weather gets warm, our place heats up and just never seems to cool down again until summer is over (the perks of living on the top floor, right?). The idea of turning on the oven can just about send me into a fit of tears, so we’ve been eating a lot of quick, simple summer salads for dinner around here. My new favorite combination is can barely count as a recipe, it’s just a few quick ingredients tossed together: baby arugula, cubed cantaloupe, chopped up prosciutto, crumbled blue cheese, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, good balsamic, and lemon juice. Need a few more summer salad ideas? I included a list of some of my favorites below:
- Antipasta Pasta Salad
- Greek Potato Salad
- Mason Jar Layered Salad
- Grilled Peach and Arugula Salad
- Watermelon and Mint Salad
- Eggplant Caprese Salad
I feel like I claim a lot on here that my recipes are pretty easy — which makes sense because while I love to cook, I’m not the most patient person (and hate following a complicated recipe step by step!). But this recipes? I mean you almost don’t even have to look at the instructions below. All you need it some fresh white fish, a few pieces of butter, and chopped up tomatoes, shallots, corn and chorizo — wrap it all up in parchment paper and pop it in the oven while you have a glass of wine and scroll through instagram for 20 minutes (you know that’s what I do when I’m waiting for dinner to cook — no shame here!), what’s better than that?
- 1 lb Cod or haddock loin
- 2 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 ears of corn
- 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
- 1 small chorizo link, chopped
- 2-3 small shallots, chopped
- Fresh lemon and chives for garnishing
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place cod loin, divided into 2-3 portions, in a pan lined with parchment paper. Salt and pepper cod, drizzle with olive oil, and disperse cubed butter over fish.
- Combine corn, tomatoes, shallots and chopped chorizo, spread out over fish.
- Pull parchment paper up over fish and fold edges to seal. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until fish is cooked though.
- Garnish with a squeeze of fresh lemon and chopped chives. Serve over rice.
We’re calling this the ‘summer of boats’ — I kicked off the summer with a tour of Newport harbor, have enjoyed some lovely ferry rides, and this past weekend myself and ten of my best friends used Vimbly to book tickets on the Adirondack III to sail around the Boston Harbor for an afternoon. We were celebrating a very special birthday for my friend Taz, complete with a boat-side cheese plate, mini-cupcakes, and champagne for our ride. It could not have been a more perfect day, or more gorgeous weather, and we even got the best seats on the boat — it felt like our own little private excursion since we all got to sit together in the separate back area of the boat. Our harbor ride reminded me of two things: 1) gosh I love have a cocktail while out on the water, what’s better than that? and 2) we have a lot of fun when we decide to use our weekends to try something new and break out of our normal routines. So, here’s to more fun weekend activities that break the mold (and thanks Vimbly for giving me the opportunity to realize that!). Now, where are we boating to next?
Please note: Vimbly offered me a complimentary chance to use their site and try out their service. All opinions and images are my own.
Last summer, my bestie and I had a girls night and picnicked while watching an outdoor movie in the park. We both kicked ourselves for waiting until the end of the summer to finally do it, and I made a promise to myself that this summer I’d do it much more often. We live in a small apartment, so it’s not convenient to store big coolers or picnic baskets — I usually just grab a small tote and fill it up with a few essential picnic ingredients: 1) A cozy blanket — I love the Gunn & Swain Mexican blankets. 2) A few festive drinks — IZZE sparkling juices are tasty, and all you have to do is pop them open, no need to cart around glassware (but striped straws are encouraged!). 3) Snacks! I hate having to bring a knife and cutting board for a cheese plate – the less we have to carry, the better. To solve for this I took a mason jar and layered ingredients to make individual cheese plate ‘kits’ — this one has mixed nuts, dried apricots, sharp cheddar, salami and crackers. 4) Bring some cloth napkins, they’re eco-friendly, and since they’re a bit heavier than a paper napkin they won’t fly away. Throw it all in a fun tote, grab your sunnies and girlfriends, and you’re ready for a day in the park!
Please Note: This post was sponsored by Izze; all images, ideas and content are my own.
Guys! It’s National Donut Day! Why didn’t I take the day off of work to celebrate? Silly me! I’ll celebrate this momentous occasion by rounding up three of my favorite mini-donut recipes from blog posts of the past — hope you enjoy some of my favorite sweet treats today and celebrate too!
- Apple Cider Donut Cupcakes. These are addictive, and what I would consider my favorite Fall donut recipe (that’s a thing, right?).
- Donut S’mores Pops. I’m a genius for dunking chocolate mini donuts into melted marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers, right? I’m a MAD genius for then putting them on a popsicle stick and making them into donut-pops.
- Mini-Donut Birthday Cake. I made this for my donut-loving girlfriend for her birthday (a fun story, I thought it would be a great idea to carry this cake on my lap in the car ride over to her house without a cake carrier, things almost ended in a major chocolate-covered disaster, but it was delicious nonetheless!)
I had one of those *pinch me, is this really my life?* moments this weekend while being treated to a luxurious getaway by Lark Hotels at their newest property in Newport, RI. I was so lucky to be invited with a group of awesome bloggers and creatives to stay in the newly opened Gilded Hotel, participate in some fun activities, and cruise around the historic ocean town to learn a bit more about the area.
The hotel was an absolute feast of eye candy, designed by Rachel Reider. The tagline of the hotel is ‘A Clever Twist on a Golden Age’ and the decor certainly lived up to the moniker. Jewel tone paint colors, ornate mirrors, lacquered surfaces, and gold accents gave the whole space the vibe of a funky, modern-day Great Gatsby party. A few of my favorite details — the graphic pink wallpaper in the hotel’s lounge, the whimsical garden courtyard, and the over-the-top design of the front desk and breakfast area.
When we weren’t ogling over the crazy gorgeous decor of the space, the Lark Hotels team had us busy with tons of fun activities. We toured some of the Newport Mansions, and got to see some of the historic opulence of the Newport area that inspired the hotel’s design. We had manicures on the hotel veranda, private croquet lessons in the courtyard, and took an afternoon sail boat ride around the harbor to tour the local area. And after dinner both nights, we ended the evening in the hotel’s pool room which had a moody library vibe for champagne, cookies, and some games.
It was a hard adjustment to come back to real-life on Monday after such a luxurious weekend (I am still dreaming of the tapas-style breakfasts served at the hotel!). I’m so happy I got to spend the time with such an amazing group of fun, inspiring women, and grateful to Lark Hotels for truly treating us like we lived in the Gilded age. If you’re looking for a fun spot to stay in Newport, or want to getaway with some girlfriends for a relaxing weekend, I can’t recommend the space enough. Now, we are we going to travel next to and do this again?!For more pictures of the weekend and the hotel, be sure to check out the hashtag #GildedGetaway on Instagram.
Please note: Lark Hotels hosted us for the weekend and gave us complimentary stays at their property. All opinions are my own.
It was a pretty glorious long weekend, we packed our bags and headed south to Nashville with two of our friends for some fun. We stayed the Union Station Hotel (it’s an old train station!) and spent the long weekend exploring (aka eating our way through) the city. Researching our trip and sharing a guide to the interesting spots we find in a new city are almost as much fun for me as the actual vacation — so prepare for a very comprehensive recap below!
The very first thing in our to-do-list when we landed was to get some classic Southern food, and several folks had recommended Hattie B’s hot chicken (and the potato salad and pimento mac and cheese also came with praises!). I was actually in pain when we left — not because I felt sick from the food, but because I could-not-stop-eating it was so good. The mac and cheese a bit too saucy for me, but the chicken was awesome — I got the mild because I’m scaredy-cat, Mike got the hot and loved it. Another classic Southern recommendation was the famous Loveless Cafe. If you visit Nashville and aren’t from the area, know that it’s about a 25 minute cab ride outside the city, but SO worth it. I always get nervous that places like this are going to be overhyped but it wasn’t at all, it exceeded my expectations. They are famous for their biscuits and I thought they were delicious, but the star of the meal was the cheesy hash brown casserole. I’m delighted to let you know that my friend Colleen we were traveling with actually ordered the cookbook as we were eating brunch just so we could see the recipe, so they’ll definitely be recreated in the future. We saved our more refined meal choices for dinner, including a stop at Husk Nashville. I had been to the Charleston location before, and loved that the design of the Nashville outpost was similarly in a retro-fitted antique home that was a nod to the city’s heritage. I ordered a roast chicken and it was delicious; the highlight was snagging a bit of my husband’s dessert — a rhubarb tart. We stumbled upon another great restaurant in Germantown per the recommendation of an awesome bartender (more on that later) called Butchertown Hall — it was a fun little surprise that we stumbled upon it and it ended up being so amazingly tasty — we shared carefully crafted cocktails and family-style feast of brisket and homemade sausages. The absolute highlight of the trip was eating at Rolf and Daughters though; I think the four of us said “oh my god” no fewer than 100 times in between bites at this spot. Every dish was phenomenal, the service was impeccable, and we had such a fun time in the lively space (which can sometimes be lacking in nicer-restaurants!). If you ever find yourself in Nashville, please eat here. We did supplement all of this massive meals with a few more casual spots, mostly just to give ourselves a break and digest. We spent one morning in East Nashville and had breakfast and cold brew coffee at Barista Parlor — this place was like a giant hipster playground and I loved it. They had breakfast sandwiches on biscuits and homemade pop tarts! Remember how I said this was one of our smaller meals? We also checked out The Pharmacy in the same neighborhood and enjoyed some burgers and drinks in their backyard beer garden. What did you do besides eating you ask? We did visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, and saw Hatch Show Print – the famous music-poster print shop connected to the museum. We also wandered up and down Broadway and checked out some of the famous Honkey-Tonk music spots. There was some shopping too! Whites Mercantile was probably my favorite shop we visited, and I found some fun things in vintage shops. A few other stores I thought were gorgeous — Imogen and Willie and Fuselage. Oh and we stopped into lots of fun bars for cocktails too. Remember that bartender I mentioned earlier? There was a laid-back spot called 12 South Taproom in the eponymous neighborhood where we met the worlds most helpful bartender named Patrick who gave us great local tips, kept our beers full, and talked with us for the better part of an afternoon. Another great spot that I wish we had been able to spend more time at, but was closing early for a private event, was Pinewood Social. I’d seen tons of write-ups about this multi-functional space that’s part coffee shop, part bowing alley, bar, restaurant, and outdoor lounge and was excited to see it in person. The drinks and the decor were almost too much for this instagram-obsessed gal to handle. And then our favorite late night spot that we went to not once, but twice, was called Losers (next to a bar names Winners, can’t make this stuff up) — this dive bar had the coverband of all coverbands playing and we drank and danced until the wee hours of the morning. And with that, we headed back on a plane to Boston and I’m a dire need of a detox and diet, but it was so worth it and so much fun!