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

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

As soon as the weather turns warm, we are on an all-grilling-all-the-time dinner kick! I’ve been making grilled chicken, charring up steaks, skewering shrimp, and kabob-ing just about every vegetable under the sun for the past few weeks. After all of these delicious grilled meals, I’ve been thinking of ways to push myself outside my comfort zone and experiment with some new dishes that are packed with flavor from this cooking method.  Every time I pass the fish counter at my grocery store, I notice a display of cedar planks and finally decided to give them a try with this new dish: cedar grilled salmon and potatoes with creamy lemon Dijon. read more

Last week we were visiting my family in New York for a very special occasion (and my favorite summer tradition) — my hometown’s fireman’s parade. Growing up we lived across the street from the local firehouse and our house was the prime viewing location for the parade. My parents always threw a big party, invited tons of friends, and put out a fabulous spread for guests. The party always signaled the ushering in of summer vacation for me and is one of my favorite childhood memories. The annual event definitely influenced my love of entertaining today! This was the first time I’ve been back to see the parade in several years so I knew I wanted to make some special bites to bring with us to the viewing party.  read more

I have been singing the praises of grilling season now for a few weeks. For good reason: there is no better way to quickly pull together a tasty dinner. In fact, I haven’t turned on our oven since we pulled our grill out of winter storage and onto the patio! One recipe that has been on near-constant rotation at our house recently is a simple grilled shrimp dish with a garlic basil marinade. I serve it with grilled veggie skewers of zucchini, red onions and tomatoes (brushed with the same flavorful dressing) and some warm couscous and fresh herbs. read more

I have been craving a fresh, fruity summer drink and mixed up a batch of this easy raspberry mint lemonade to quench my thirst! It’s such an easy recipe — just a few muddled fresh raspberries and mint leaves in the bottom of a glass, topped with ice and filled to the top with some good lemonade (sometimes I look for a sparkling version at Trader Joe’s!). If you’re serving it as a cocktail — which you totally should — add about an ounce of vodka to the glass before you top it with the lemonade. It makes a refreshing beverage to batch prep in a big pitcher for summer parties, and it looks so very festive with the bright green mint and red raspberries muddled in the glass. Leave the vodka on the side so guests can decide to spike it (or not!) to their desired drink strength. And set out some festive straws and long sprigs of more fresh mint to let everyone garnish their cocktails! read more

Over the long weekend we had several barbecues to attend, and I got the idea to make a little homemade hostess gift to bring along to each party. I felt like a real rockstar for coming up with the idea, some homemade limoncello infused with a lemon thyme simple syrup, and getting them packaged up in pretty glass bottles tied with baker’s twine and fresh thyme sprigs. Let me tell you what was not a rockstar move: forgetting them all in the fridge before we embarked on our day of BBQ-hopping! I didn’t realize until I got home that night, that all of my cute hostess gifts were still chilling in the fridge. The good news is, the recipe won’t go to waste — you can find it below to DIY yourself — and the drinks won’t go to waste either. I’ll be pouring myself a limoncello and soda spritzer tonight!  read more

I took a little hiatus from cooking when we were on vacation earlier this month, and struggled to get back in the kitchen groove when we returned. Sometimes when I get in to a “what should I make for dinner?!” panic and need dig into the pantry to get inspired. My friends at Ken’s Foods recently sent me some of the dressings from their line with some new flavors to try! My inspiration hit when I pulled a bottle of Dijon Honey Mustard dressing off the shelf. read more