We have been on a non-stop BBQ menu rotation the past few weeks between the Fourth of July celebrations, hosting a friend’s bridal shower, and my husband’s newfound hobby: cooking in his new Kamado-style smoker. There are zero complaints over here, I love all of the outdoor cooking and dining. I have found though, that my usual BBQ-side repertoire was getting a little bit stale. In an effort to mix it up, I decided to give a fresh spin to one of my favorite BBQ side — macaroni salad. I love a classic macaroni salad but have been looking for something a bit more grown-up and a tad bit lighter for these warm weather al fresco dinners. This version has a lemon-herb dressing that I made with tons of fresh herbs from the garden and bright citrus combined with Dijon and mayonnaise. For color and crunch I mixed in red peppers and red onions, and loads of cracked black pepper and peas. I’m definitely going to be adding this one to future BBQ menus! Get the recipe below: read more

I have been working on perfecting this summery side dish the past few weeks as I’ve made it for holiday BBQs, bridal showers, and a weeknight dinner. Each time it got a little bit better, and gobbled up in a near instant as it hit the table. It’s a simple mixture of ingredients that just happen to taste delicious during the peak of summer — bright mixed tomatoes, sweet grilled corn, and flavorful fresh herbs. My favorite part about this dish is that it tastes better the next day after all of the ingredients have marinated together overnight, so it’s easy to make ahead when you’re entertaining! The leftovers (if you have any!) are equally delicious — I tossed them over a bit of warm pasta for lunch the next day — YUM. Get the recipe below:  read more

We are halfway through the year (ah!) and I sat down this week to do a little bit of mid-year planning for the blog and my business. It involved the fun stuff: mapping out content, brainstorming ideas and events for my cookbook coming out this fall, and digging through my inspiration files. It also involved the not so fun stuff: finances and budgeting. Admittedly, I procrastinate that part as much as possible, until I can no longer avoid thinking about it. But, once I sit down and actually do the work, I always feel a lot better – like I have a clear plan and know what I need to do next. In reality, I should probably do that part first so I feel more relaxed and focused before I embark on the fun part. The process got me thinking about personal finances too, and how the same practices shift over when talking about all of those pit-in-your-stomach topics like savings and budgets. read more

We had some friends over for a very small, casual BBQ. It was a last minute get together, and I didn’t want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen since it’s been so very hot out lately. I made a few quick side dishes, my husband was in charge of smoking a brisket on the grill outside, and all that was left to think about was dessert. Given the soaring high temperatures, I decided to get some ice cream from our favorite spot (Hornstra Farm if you’re local!), and ice cream cones for serving. Jane is very into ice cream cones right now — she is fascinated by being able to both hold the cone and eat it. I get her fascination — what a wonderful, practical, and delicious invention! I decided since it was a special occasion that I would jazz the cones up a bit and dunk them in chocolate and sprinkles.  read more

Dinnertime can be hectic around here. The clock strikes 5pm and I know that I have to get a meal started at just about the exact moment that toddler-meltdown-hour is also about to begin. I almost think that there should be a cooking competition show where chefs have to make a dinner out of a mystery basket of ingredients while a toddler is pulling on their pant leg asking for some snacks – now that would be a cooking competition worth watching! read more

When I visit my parent’s house in New York, I always offer to do the dinner shopping because of their beautiful local grocery store. My mom laughs because whenever she asks me what I’d like for dinner, my response is always the same — let’s go to the store and get inspired. Looking at the ingredients is the best way for me figure out the answer to that question! On a recent trip, I was eyeing some fresh burrata at the cheese counter and tons of giant, colorful heirloom tomatoes. An idea sparked to mix up the tomatoes into a fresh, juicy panzanella salad with crispy bits of toasted Italian bread and bright herbs. Then I stuffed the panzanella into some of the larger tomatoes for serving and topped it all off with fresh, creamy burrata. It was a perfect dish to serve for lunch, or a side dish with A+ presentation for dinner parties. I even used some of the leftover marinated tomatoes and burrata and tossed them with warm pasta the next day for another delicious meal. Get the full recipe below!  read more

We are heading out on a family beach vacation in a couple of weeks and I’m so excited. We’re staying with friends on the Cape, and a big part of my excitement is rooted in starting traditions with Jane that meant so much to me as a kid. Some of my happiest childhood memories are from our family vacations to the beach. I remember spending the whole day in our bathing suits, with the salt water drying on our tanned skin as we played in the sand. I remember they joy of outdoor showers, and heading into town for ice cream cones after dinner. read more

I was at an event the other night where some delicious artisanal cocktails were being passed around. A few of the guests I was with weren’t drinking, so the bartenders made them a mocktail version of the same caliber. It got a conversation started among us that we were so appreciative to find more restaurants offering delicious mocktails as part of their menus. Now that I have a kid, I understand how nice it is to have a special drink for everyone to enjoy at parties; I always try to come up with a fun recipe that can taste just as delicious in mocktail form as it does in cocktail form. With the 4th of July holiday coming up, I thought I’d test a batch of a new mocktail recipe for festive patriotic entertaining. read more

June is flying by in the blink of an eye, thanks to lots of time spent on the road this month. I spent almost a week in NY visiting family and working out my parents’ house, came home and turned right around for a weekend getaway with my best girlfriends in Portland, Maine, and then I spent an overnight in Boston for a fun work event. Phew! I’m getting really really good at packing (still obsessed with packing cubes!) and even better at ignoring the growing piles of laundry. That’s how summer always seems to go though, gone in the blink of an eye as we cram all of our adventures into these few short weeks of warm weather. Sharing a few more of my summer adventures, warm-weather recipes, and reading list: read more