Cinco de Mayo is always a cause for celebration at our house. It happens to be my fabulous little sister’s birthday so we have been known to break out the margaritas to toast her on May 5th each year. Also given my own personal affinity for the food and drink associated with the holiday, I’m on board with a fiesta regardless of the date. If you need a little inspiration for an easy fiesta-themed fete, scroll down for my most recent Cinco de Mayo display. I found the prettiest pastel paper picado banners to hang over the bar, and used a brightly colored striped towel for a tablecloth and some bold neon baskets for serving snacks. A few rustic wooden risers added some height to the scene, and I filled the table with colorful flowers to tie it all together. To plan your menu to go along with this fiesta check out the Sparkling Strawberry Basil Margarita I mixed up, add some Crispy Avocado Fries and Fire-Roasted Mexican Street Corn Bites for tasty appetizers, and cook up some Instant Pot Green Chili Tacos for an easy main-course! read more

If I open a restaurant menu and see Mexican street corn listed as an option there is a 100% chance I’ll be ordering it for meal — it’s one of my favorites. I included a recipe for it in my cookbook, and a few years ago I made a dip-version of this dish for a dip potluck party I hosted (one of the most fun get-togethers I’ve ever thrown!). I thought I would resurrect the dish and give it a new twist, this time using fire-roasted corn which I always snag in the frozen food aisle at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. This version gets tons of flavor from the fire-roasted corn, spices and citrus, and the crumbly cotija cheese. You can make the corn dish and serve it as a dip, but I wanted to up the presentation game and spooned heaps of it into scoop-shaped chips for individual servings. These little corn bites practically disappeared when I made them, so make sure you pop a few in your mouth before you share them with guests  — get the full recipe below:
read more

The fiesta-inspired recipes are rolling in this week and this is one of my favorites: Crispy Avocado “Fries” with a chipotle dipping sauce. I was testing this recipe recently while my brother was visiting and after the avocado fries came out of the oven we unintentionally shared the whole tray, hovering over the kitchen counter and going back for bite after bite. They’re addictive! A simple seasoned breading and a few minutes in the oven are all it takes to make these little bites;  while they’re cooking I mixed up a dipping sauce with spicy chipotle adobo flavors, tart lime juice and sour cream to balance the heat. Make sure to serve these fiesta “fries” with a margarita, it’s the perfect pairing. Get the full recipe below: read more

I have a couple of posts this upcoming week that cover one of my favorite party themes — fiesta! — just in time to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. One thing is for sure, it’s not a fiesta until the margaritas are served. I’ve never met a margarita I haven’t liked, it’s one of my favorite drinks and I decided to mix up a batch with summery twist for this new recipe. This sparkling strawberry basil margarita starts with a homemade strawberry simple syrup for sweet berry flavors, and then gets combined with tart lime juice, tequila and muddled basil. To give it that sparkling touch (and in my opinion, a really refreshing feeling) I topped each glass off with a splash of Topo Chico with lime. If you can’t find Topo Chico another lime-flavored sparkling water will do; and feel free to scale this recipe up to make it in a pitcher for bigger batches — just wait to add the sparkling water until you’re ready to serve! Get the full recipe below: read more

I am making plans for our vegetable garden this summer and just added all of the first farmer’s market dates to my calendar because I’m so excited for peak produce season! Once it’s spring and summer veggie time I’m so much more likely to get in my greens, whether it be grilling them up or tossing them in a bowl of pasta. This recipe is an easy weeknight-dinner version of the noodles-and-veggies classic: pasta primavera. I make quick work of it by tossing some of the vegetables (peas and asparagus) into the water to cook at the same time as the pasta, and sautéing everything else (like carrots, broccoli, squash and mushrooms) in one big pan where I make the sauce before tossing it all together. You can mix and match any of the vegetables in the recipe to customize it with your favorites, or use up leftovers in the fridge. To give it an extra fresh and bright flavor I’ve made this version with a lemon-basil twist. The citrusy zest, a final squeeze of lemon juice, and tons of fresh chopped basil really liven up the sauce and cut through the cream and parmesan that coats the fettuccini. Get the full recipe below! read more

Monday isn’t so bad today because I’m coming off such a good weekend high. We had our favorite Indian food take-out, started to build some raised beds in our yard for our summer vegetable garden, and celebrated Easter yesterday with lots of family and food (Jane ate approximately 25lbs of chocolate bunnies and pastel M&Ms). It was really a perfect, relaxing weekend – I even got to finish a great book (more on that below!).  I’m riding my good mood and hoping to have a productive week, and thought I’d kick it off a few links and updates: read more

Easter is next weekend, and to get your ready for your celebrations I’ve rounded up twenty of my favorites Easter desserts, brunch recipes, and dinner ideas. Plus simple DIYs for your Easter events, tablescape inspiration, egg decorating ideas, and everything you need to fill up those Easter baskets — scroll down for ideas! 

read more

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sometimes you just need a big bowl of pasta. This recipe uses one of my favorite pastas, tortellini, and crispy little bites of pancetta balanced with fresh spring veggies — english peas and sautéed leeks. Pasta is one of the meals I love to fall back on for busy weeknight dinners because you do so much with it in a short period of time! A few shortcuts I use are cooking the peas in the same water as the pasta (just add them in during the last few minutes of cooking time) and buying the pre-diced pancetta package at Trader Joe’s for perfectly cut cubes that crisp up fast in the pan. I even used some leftover chicken cutlets to top this dish to add in some protein; you could prep the chicken in advance to cut down on time. Get the full recipe below: read more

The start of this week was a little slow — rainy days and our whole family battling colds.  I was so excited to wake up this morning to see the sun shining and everyone feeling a little better. Nothing puts a spring in my step like actual springtime (and jumping in confetti, like we did at The Happy Place in Boston last week!). Sharing lots of spring-y finds, Easter ideas, fresh seasonal recipes and more in The Download this week, read on and enjoy the sunshine!
read more

If you’re read this blog, or skimmed my cookbook, you know that I’m a big, big fan of streamlining prep work and building efficient menus when it comes to entertaining. My goal is always to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my family, while still sharing a really tasty meal when we’re together for celebrations. This easy Easter menu has a few little tricks in it to get dinner on the table in record time! read more