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Every year at our annual New Year’s Eve celebration, I stock the bar with the usual suspects (champagne, wine, beer) and then add one signature drink to the mix that is festive and easily prepared in advance. This year my color scheme is revolving around mints and golds, so I thought a peachy colored drink would look great on the bar. After some brainstorming, I landed on a grapefruit juice based cocktail that I’m calling the ‘Grapefruit Sparkler.’ To make a batch for yourself start with a pitcher or carafe and mix together 3 cups of chilled grapefruit juice, 1 cup of white rum, and 1/4 cup of elderflower liquor — use this ratio to double or triple the recipe depending on how large your party is. To serve, pour the mixture 3/4 of the way full in a flute and top the remaining 1/4 of the glass with a bubbly prosecco and a sparkly drink stirrer — cheers!

Grapefruit Sparkler Cocktail 1 Grapefruit Sparkler Cocktail 2 Grapefruit Sparkler Cocktail 3Find similar champagne flutes here: Anthropologie | Waiting on Martha

Well guys, I’m certainly foodie and the party planner of my family — but I’m certainly not the fashionable one. I leave that job to my stylish sister Mara, and I’m super excited to announce that she’ll be joining the DomestiKatedLife team and contributing a monthly style column with tips and ideas for looking your best! To kick it off, she’s rounding up some last-minute accessory additions for the perfect New Year’s Eve look: 

‘Tis the season to sparkle! With New Years Eve just around the corner (how did that happen so fast?), here a few ideas for accessories you can add to dress up a little black dress that’s already hanging in your closet (or consider buying a new one — this Old Navy version is under $20!). One accessory not pictured: copious amounts of champagne—cheers!

New Years Eve Outfit

Party Time HeadbandBaubleBar EarringsPop Fizz Clink BangleClutchKate Spade Heels | Little Black Dress

Do you have one of those recipes in your back pocket that works for just about any occasion? Mine is so simple it’s almost embarrassing: Rice Krispy Treats! It’s the one thing that I always get asked to make for friends’ parties. For a recent holiday party I decided to add a fresh twist to my classic recipe and make a Neapolitan version with classic flavor layers of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream. It takes just a simple modification of the  traditional Rice Krispy Treat recipe, full instructions below:

neapolitan rice krispy treatsneapolitan rice krispy treats 1 neapolitan rice krispy treats 2neapolitan rice krispy treats 3 neapolitan rice krispy treats 4 neapolitan rice krispy treats 5neapolitan rice krispy treats 6neapolitan rice krispy treats 7

Following the traditional instructions to make Rice Krispy Treats, prepare the ingredients and press a layer of the classic flavor into a lightly greased baking pan. Work quickly to add the next layer so they don’t cool too much — the strawberry layer is exactly the same recipe as the classic Rice Kripy Treat, but when you’re melting the butter and marshmallows together you want to add in 4 drops of pink food coloring and 1 tsp of strawberry extract (you can usually find these near the vanilla extract in the baking aisle!). Press the strawberry mixture directly on top of the classic layer. Next, make the chocolate layer with the same classic recipe, but mix in Cocoa Krispies in lieu of Rice Krispies. Then, pour the Cocoa mixture on top of the Strawberry layer and cover with a large piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling-pin to roll over the parchment paper and press the layers down. Set them aside and let cool completely to solidify. When you’re ready to serve them, flip the baking dish upside down with the parchment paper on the table, slowly lift the dish up and reveal the compressed layers. All that’s left to do is to cut them up into squares with a serrated knife, and try not to eat them all in one sitting!

This weekend I was in major need of some comfort after a long string of holiday parties and maybe a few too many glasses of champagne (shh!).  My usual go-to comfort food is a bowl of pasta, but I decided to mix it up this time and try a savory chicken dish with a creamy sun-dried tomato sauce, lots of sautéed mushrooms and shallots, and a little crispy bacon and goat cheese just to amp up the richness. Full recipe below if you’re in need of comfort food too!
Cream Sun Dried Skillet Chicken Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 1 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 2 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 4 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 3

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large chicken breasts
  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 small shallots
  • 2-3 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil (reserve oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup of light cream
  • 1 tbsp of goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan, plus extra for garnishing
  • 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Heat a large cast iron skillet on high and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and brown in the hot pan on both sides.
  • While the chicken is browning, roughly chop mushrooms, shallots, bacon and sun-dried tomatoes; mince garlic.
  • Remove chicken from pan when cooked through,  add 1/2 tbsp of the sun-dried tomato oils  and 1 tbsp of butter to the pan, then toss mushrooms, shallots, bacon, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté mixture. (Scrape the pan to loosen any browned bits from the pan).
  • Lower heat to medium and stir in 3/4 cup of light cream, 1 tbsp of goat cheese, and 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese; stir continously to break down the cheese and incorporate the tomatoes flavors with the cream.
  • Add the chicken back to the pan while the sauce cooks and thickens.
  • Remove from heat, garnish with fresh parmesan cheese and torn tarragon leaves.
  • Try serving over pasta or a bed of spinach.

Over the weekend the lovely team at Jonathan Adler invited me to host a little Holi-DIY party for some of my best Boston bloggers buddies in their Chestnut Hill store. Our project for the day was a felt-monogram gift tag that doubles as a keepsake ornament once your friends and family open their gifts! I used a simple tutorial to create the monogrammed felt tags and everyone crafted up a bunch in bright jewel toned (and Jonathan Adler-inspired!) colors. Honestly, what’s better than a chilly winter morning working on holiday crafts with your girlfriends? After popping a little champagne, the JA team sent us home with some festive holiday swag — the perfect ending to a Holi-DIY fete! Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 9Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 3Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 8Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 7Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 5Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 6Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 2Jonathan Adler Holiday DIY 4

This weekend I made it a point to go check out the Eat Boutique Holiday Pop-Up Shop in Fenway, in an effort to keep my shop-local spirit alive!  The pop-up shop is run by the lovely Maggie Battista and the whole space is beyond darling — I gasped a little bit when I saw the gorgeous lettering on the windows right outside the shop. They’re fully stocked with delicious artisan food gifts — everything from cookbooks to simple syrups, tasty jams and baking mixes, and even some fun party supplies from The Flair Exchange and Knot & Bow.  I was lucky enough to stop in while Apotheker’s Kitchen was doing a tasting of their honey-sweetened chocolate covered marshmallows and had to bring home a few to add to my obligatory tree-trimming hot cocoa! The Pop-Up will be open Thursdays though Sundays until the 21st, so be sure to go check it out (and don’t forget to take a look at the jam-packed line-up of special events each day so you can join in on some tastings and demonstrations!).IMG_5447.JPGIMG_5451.JPGIMG_5450.JPGIMG_5453.JPGIMG_5449.JPGIMG_5448.JPG

The Harvard Common Press is celebrating their New England ties by hosting a virtual cookbook potluck with a bunch of local food writers. So when they reached out to me to join on the fun, I of course said yes and said I’d bring the cocktails! I dug through the Harvard Common Press’ book Party Drinks! and found one recipe that seemed like the perfect fit for the occasion: a Ward 8 — named for the 8th Ward of the city of Boston. In a cocktail shaker over ice you pour 4 oz of Rye, 1/2 oz of Grenadine, 1/2 oz Simple Syrup, and fresh lime juice. Shake it up, strain it out into two glasses, and garnish with an orange and cherry, and of course give a clink of the glass and toast to something fun!

partydrinkspartydrinks1partydrinks5partydrinks3partydrinks6Please note: Harvard Common Press sent me a complimentary copy of Party Drinks!; all photographs and opinions are my own. 

I’m rounding out our 2nd annual Shop Local holiday series today with an interview with Abby of Farm and Fable — one of my favorite shops (and shop owners!) in the South End. Be sure to check out the rest of the series here.

SouthEndShop_01Tell me a little bit about yourself and your shop, and how you got started.
Abby: I grew up in a 300 year old farmhouse with a family that loved to garden and cook so a lot of what I do is a product of my childhood and is really second nature to me. I started cooking when I was old enough to stand on a stool and stir a pot. I worked in and out of the restaurant industry over the years but took a big old detour and went to law school. I became a product liability litigator at a big law firm. It will surprise no one that for a girl happiest barefoot in a garden, gathering herbs for dinner with her big goofy dogs by her side, law firm life wasn’t a great fit. I was determined to get back in to food so I went to work for Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery. It was during that time that I worked on a concept that would allow me to combine my love of cooking, vintage and all things entertaining related. I really wanted to create a kind of clubhouse for people who are as geeky as I am about food and that is really at the heart of Farm & Fable. 

SouthEndShop_04Are there any go-to items that you offer that you always recommend for holiday gift giving? 
Abby: I love the holidays because it is the one time of year that we really embrace tradition and sentimentality. I think that a good holiday gift should be selected with an eye to either traditions you already have or new traditions you want to start. In my family, traditions always center around food. That’s why for grown-ups I suggest our handmade recipe card boxes from Belle & Union or our keepsake recipe journals from Celina Mancurti which include a page with each recipe for “Notes for Future Generations.” I just love that. For tiny chefs we have the sweetest apron sets from Oddette Williams. I love to decorate gingerbread houses with my nieces and nephews and having their own special apron makes that time seem even sweeter. 

SouthEndShop_07This is the time of year that we always need hostess gifts? What are you recommendations for the best thing to bring when attending a holiday party or visiting someone for the weekend?
Abby: A good hostess gift is like a good houseguest: helpful, pleasant to be around, thoughtful, and doesn’t take up too much space. I love the two gifts sets we have from Farmhouse Pottery. One has a great hand-thrown, hand-glazed salt pig along with Maine farmed sea salt. The other has a small hand-thrown, hand-glazed syrup pitcher along with Vermont maple syrup. They both come packaged in a reusable wooden box complete with gift card. We tie them up with a red grosgrain ribbon and they are ready for gifting. 

SouthEndShop_03You are a bit of an experts on cookbooks given the selection in your shop — what are your favorite new books this year? Any cookbooks that you always go back to for great holiday recipes? 
Abby: This fall was a fabulous season for new cookbooks. I am loving A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus from Renee Erickson. It is arranged seasonally and by menu which I really love for home cooks. I’m also really enjoying Jeremy Sewall’s New England Kitchen which I think makes a great gift for any local food lovers (or people like me who can’t stop eating at Row 34 or Lineage). 

SouthEndShop_05One of my favorite things about shopping local is the way that the community supports each other — what are your favorite places to shop in Boston? 
Abby: I am so lucky to live and have my shop in the South End. I managed to get all of my holiday shopping done in one afternoon without leaving the neighborhood. For my sister-in-law I got a cozy sweater at Flock (and one for myself). For my sister I got a sparkly fun necklace from M. Flynn. For my nieces and nephews I stopped by Tadpole for books and toys. For my mother I picked up the cutest embroidered potting apron from Niche. For my father I went to Urban Grape for a special bottle of scotch. For my brother, brother-in-law and boyfriend I went straight to Sault because Philip’s taste is impeccable. For my friends I stocked up on lip balms and lotions from Follain. I’ll swung by Olives & Grace for stocking stuffers. Of course my own list includes a few of fabulous vintage pieces from Pioneer Goods (hint, hint). 

SouthEndShop_11

What would you tell someone that’s thinking about shopping local this year? Any words of wisdom about why you think it’s important? 
Abby: When you shop local you aren’t just supporting the store you walk in to. Lots of local shop work with other local makers to fill our shelves. Our cutting boards are from South Boston. Our oyster knives come from Cambridge. Our copper pots and pans are from Rhode Island. Shopping with little shops like mine keeps a whole host of business afloat.

All photos credited to local Boston photographer: Bring to Light Photography.

All this week I’m sharing my 2nd annual Shop Local holiday series on the blog. Hear from the best of local shop owners about what they’re loving this season and where they love to shop!  Today we’re talking with Philip, owner of Sault New England — one of the most beautifully curated shops I’ve visited — and the eye behind the gorgeous @SaultNewEngland instagram handle.  Check out the rest of the series here.

SouthEndShop_19Welcome Philip! Tell me a little bit about your shop and how you got started. 
Philip: After working as a Visual Merchandiser for over 18 years I decided I would try my hand at opening my own retail shop. SAULT Opened in the fall of 2011 with the idea of creating a shop that would be focused on guys clothing and some gift products.  It’s a small shop but still feels easy to shop around and explore. Its worth the trip in if you find yourself in the South End of Boston.

SouthEndShop_22I personally find it super hard to shop for the guys in my life — are there any go-to items that you offer that you always recommend for holiday gift giving? 
Philip: It always depends on the guy, Tech is big with the iPhone, and we have wood covers for them along with some fabric covered cords that are cool and unusual. Winter accessories are always good — we have leather iTouch gloves that are perfect for a guy who’s into fashion. We also have a great assortment of personal care items that bundle well together: add some shave cream by Urasa Major, Razor by Harry’s, and  a few bars of beer soap to one of our Dopp kits by Owen and Fred and you have a personalized gift for any guy.

SouthEndShop_21How about some smaller items in the shop? Any good stocking stuffers?
Philip: Stocking stuffers are always a great seller. We have a ton of great gifts for every type of guy from your brother to your grand pop and every man in between: wallets by Jack Spade,  Cashmere blend socks, cool bottle openers made in the USA,  and even the classic nostalgic balsa wood plane that was a staple for every all American kid.

SouthEndShop_20One of my favorite things about shopping local is the way that the community supports each other — what are your favorite places to shop in Boston? 
Philip: Some of my favorite shops to buy gifts for the ladies in my life just so happen to be in the same neighborhood as our shop. My favorite shops are PATCH NYC, Hudson, Olives & Grace and Niche.   

What would you tell someone that’s thinking about shopping local this year? Any words of wisdom about why you think it’s important? 
Philip: Shopping local is so important to your community and town. Local business give back more to their areas in so many ways. It increases foot traffic and lowers crime, Small shops help create a sense of community and culture to neighborhoods that reflect the people who live there and help to raise the value of surrounding real estate.  Shopping local is a true investment into your neighborhood.

All photos credited to local Boston photographer: Bring to Light Photography.

All this week I’m sharing my 2nd annual Shop Local holiday series on the blog. Hear from the best of local shop owners about what they’re loving this season and where they love to shop!  Today we’re talking with Jason Owens of Bee’s Knees Supply Company in Fort Point. Check out the rest of the series here.

BeesKnees1

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your shop, and how you got started.
Jason: I started cooking as a teenager from the school of Grandma. Eventually I started working my way from being a busboy to owning my own restaurants, and Developed a passion for curating food and beverage for my menus and decided to open a store selling the things I love and that are made in a way I admire.

What’s the secret to picking out items that make for a great, cohesive gift box? 
Jason: Each gift box ends up being different. Customers usually pick a theme and we customize it to their needs. The only “secret” is to ask questions. You need to know about people receiving the gift to make sure the chosen product will fit their life style. The goal is always to make them enjoy something they like or have them discover something new they end up liking.

BeesKnees2

Are there any go-to items that you offer that you always recommend for holiday gift giving? 
Jason: A good bottle of wine, unique beer, irresistible chocolate, one of our wine shop gift items and some specialty items along with recipes that people wouldn’t ordinarily splurge on — and never forget to grab a greeting card!

BeesKnees3_edited-1

This is the time of year that we always need hostess gifts? What are you recommendations for the best thing to bring when attending a holiday party or visiting someone for the weekend?
Jason: Create a customized gift box, grab a small gift item, like something from Mackenzie Childs or keep it simple with bottle of wine or craft beer in a nice gift bag.
BeesKnees4One of my favorite things about shopping local is the way that the community supports each other — what are your favorite places to shop in Boston?