Last weekend was a multi-day celebration of my husband’s birthday; I am a firm believer in the “birthday week” over just one night of festivities. We planned to kick off the weekend with friends heading out to a concert (Huey Lewis and the News played, and yes they were awesome). To me, one of the best parts of outdoor summer concerts is the tailgating before the show. We were heading to the event with friends, and we own a tiny car that isn’t ideal for this type of pre-concert picnicking. Luckily Enterprise CarShare reached out me about trying their car-sharing program in Boston and it was the perfect opportunity to borrow an SUV that would hold our friends and concert tailgating spread!IMG_4313 read more

Please note: This post was created in paid partnership with Time Inc. and Chinet.

A few weeks back I got the chance to work with MyRecipes.com and Chinet to film a little video sharing some of my favorite tips for throwing festive summer BBQs — using everyday items like bandanas and mason jars and Chinet products. We tackled everything from the table decor (a DIY no-sew table runner!) to setting up your BBQ buffet (with a festive plate weight and bandana napkins) to creating a no-bake, red white and blue dessert perfect for the Fourth of July (because who wants to turn on the oven on a hot summer day?). Check out the full video below, and read more summer BBQ tips on myrecipes.com.

read more

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?

Eggplant Caprese BitesEggplant Caprese Bites 1 Eggplant Caprese Bites 3 Eggplant Caprese Bites 4 Eggplant Caprese Bites 5 Eggplant Caprese Bites 6

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

ICO Farm 3ICO Farm 16

 

On Sunday I had an awesome opportunity to take over the Boston Harbor Cruises’ Instagram account as they sent me on a little adventure to Provincetown. We took the BHC Fast Ferry out of downtown Boston and spent the day in P-Town exploring. Most of our time was spent checking out the Commercial Street shopping area, ducking into cute nautical shops and restaurants. We had lobster rolls at The Canteen for lunch, drinks on the porch looking out over the water at The Red Inn, cocktails on the waterfront deck at Pepes, and enjoying a clambake at the Lobster Pot to end our night. All along the way I snapped pictures of the cute Cape Cod cottages and nautical details. Twelve hours of eating and drinking and instagramming is pretty much my ideal day — thanks to Boston Harbor Cruises for the awesome opportunity! 20140721-210959-76199845.jpg20140721-211002-76202831.jpg20140721-211001-76201372.jpg20140721-211000-76200616.jpg20140721-211002-76202100.jpg

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a few simple ingredients can be combined to make something wow-worthy — and I totally feel that way about this easy to make summer salad of grilled peaches and arugula. I made this salad for a summer rosé party held by The Urban Grape, and it was a hit — the sweetness of the grilled peaches is a perfect balance for the peppery arugula and tang of reduced balsamic. Check out the recipe below and be sure to click over to Boston.com to read the full article with smart tips from Hadley & TJ of The Urban Grape  to throw your own rosé party!

Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_035 Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_025Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_045

Ingredients:

  • 6 Peaches
  • 1 cup of Mozzarella balls
  • 8 cups of Arugula
  • 1/8 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar

Peel peaches and cut into wedges. Heat grill and lightly coat with cooking spray to keep peaches from sticking. Grill peaches until marked on all sides. Set aside to cool. In a small saucepan, heat the Balsamic Vinegar on a medium-high heat, and let it reduce in half, about 5-8 minutes. As the Vinegar is reducing, toast pine nuts lightly in a small pan (be careful not to burn). In a large bowl, assemble arugula, layer mozzarella and peaches on top, and then sprinkle with pine nuts and dress with the balsamic reduction. Toss to serve.

Photography: Brian Samuels Photography

 

I had the pleasure of working with some really creative folks a few weeks ago on a rosé wine tasting party held by The Urban Grape. Helping to style a shoot like this really doesn’t count as work because I got to hang out all day with amazing company, eat a tasty lunch al fresco on a gorgeous wrap around porch, and learn all about (and taste!) delicious rosé wines on a warm summer day. I shared a few of my favorite outtakes from the day here, but click over to Boston.com to read the full article with smart tips from Hadley & TJ of The Urban Grape  to throw your own rosé party.

Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_064Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_001Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_057Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_027Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_094Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_037Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_093Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_069Urban Grape Rose Party Photo Shoot_01June2014_103

Wine: The Urban Grape

Photography: Brian Samuels Photography

Flowers: Boston Pollen

Glassware: Farm & Fable

 

There’s something a bit funny about me posting a recipe for a fish dish because  I never really had a taste of seafood until a few years ago. My husband loves fish and slowly got me to taste it when we would go out to eat at restaurants. Now I’m a seafood lover –I’m thankful he broke me of that picky-eating-habit — but cooking fish at home has been intimidating for me! I’ve experimented though and finally cracked a good basic recipe of baked cod that I then mix up with different toppings (kalamata olives and tomatoes is a favorite!). We saw some sweet yellow corn at the market this weekend and I decided to experiment with a baked cod dish that has a summer spin: corn, tomatoes, shallots and thyme — full recipe below!

20140622-194905-71345983.jpg20140622-194907-71347775.jpg20140622-194906-71346862.jpg20140622-194908-71348601.jpg20140622-194909-71349550.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of fresh cod
  • 2 tbsp of white wine
  • 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 thinly sliced small shallots
  • 2 ears of corn
  • Fresh thyme
  • Lemon
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and in a shallow baking dish arrange the pieces of cod. On top of the fish, pour 2 tbsp of white wine, and then sprinkle 2 tbsp of grated Parmesean cheese. Next, arrange 1/2 cup of quartered grape tomatoes, 3 thinly sliced small shallots, and corn kernels from two ears of corn. Top all of the ingredients with a generous amount of salt and pepper, 6-8 fresh thyme sprigs, the juice of one lemon and 1 tbsp of melted butter. Pop that tasty summer dish into the oven and let it bake for 15-20 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Serve over rice with fresh thyme.

Lemon and basil are one of those flavor pairs that I just can’t get enough of. I had a bunch of leftover lemons from a photo shoot last weekend, so I decided to dig through the pantry and make up something tasty to use them in.  My tasty result was a lemon basil pasta with skillet chicken and shallots. It was tasty, and you can  make it too — recipe below!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Boil water and cook pasta to al dente, reserve a few tablespoons of pasta water for sauce. In a skillet, heat olive oil and sauté two thinly sliced shallots. Once they begin to soften, add in chicken breasts that has been seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs de provence. When the chicken is browned and cooked through, remove to a plate and let rest. Add 1/4 cup of white wine to the pan, scraping up the shallots and browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Then add in 1 tbsp of butter, the juice of one lemon, and the reserved pasta water and let the sauce reduce for 4-6 minutes. Chop up the chicken into bite-sizes pieces, and toss back into the sauce with the pasta to combine. Then sprinkle the dish with freshly chopped basil and parmesan cheese before serving! Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I don’t know about you guys, but this past weekend felt like a summer weekend to me — we had our first warm night out on the porch with friends and sipped on some warm weather beverages. With Memorial Day coming up this weekend, I partnered with Seagram’s Escapes to put together a little DIY to get you in the summer entertaining spirit! I am a fan of all things nautical, and decided to customize some koozies to keep my cocktails cool as the temperature rises. Read on for instructions to create your own nautical drink koozies.

Seagrams Escapes Summer DIY 2

To start, use painters tape to mark off the stripes at consistent intervals on plain white drink koozies (I use the width of the tape to mark off where the next one starts to space them evenly). Once the stripes are taped off, paint the space between the taped lines and let it dry completely before removing the tape. Next, use a pencil to mark off your design — I used a stencil to draw an anchor for a nautical motif — and paint inside the traced shape. You may need to use two coats of paint when using a lighter color over a dark stripe. Be sure to let the koozies dry completely before using! 
Seagrams Escapes Summer DIY 3
Seagrams Escapes Summer DIY 5Seagrams Escapes Summer DIY 1Seagrams Escapes Summer DIY 4Seagrams Escapes Summer DIY 9If you’re interested in getting into the summer entertaining spirit, head over to the Seagram’s Escapes Facebook page and enter to win a Seagram’s Escapes party kit!

This post was sponsored by Seagram’s Escapes; all opinions and DIY ideas are my own. 

To make your own custom koozies visit:  Imprinted Koozies