Holiday drinks are just the best. There's something so cozy and special about this time of year and enjoying a fresh new cocktail. I've compiled my six favorites below. Happy Holidays!
Cranberry Champagne Cocktail
1-ounce cranberry juice (sweetened)
1 wedge lime
Champagne or sparkling wine
Instructions: In a chilled Champagne flute add cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime. Top off the glass with Champagne. Garnish with 3 or 4 cranberries.
This recipe is from Tyler Florence, you can find this and other recipes here.
Hot Mulled Cider
16 cups pure apple juice or fresh apple cider
(Four) 2-inch cinnamon sticks
2 oranges, peels and juice
8 whole cloves
6 star anise
Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour into mugs and serve.
This recipe is from Ina Garten, you can find this and other recipes here.
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce ginger liqueur, such as Domaine de Canton
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch grated nutmeg
Cinnamon stick, for garnish
Instructions: Shake all together the vodka, ginger liqueur, lemon juice, agave syrup, grated ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
This recipe is from Rachel Ray, find this and other recipes here.
Classic Pisco Sour
1/2 cup Pisco or brandy
2 limes, juiced
1 tablespoon fine granulated sugar
1 large pasteurized egg white (optional) (see Note)
2 dashes bitters, such as Angostura
Ice, for serving
Instructions: Place the brandy, lime juice, sugar, egg white and bitters in a blender. Blend until the egg whites are frothy. Serve over ice.
Cook's Note: Egg white optional. Do be aware this recipe calls for a raw egg white, so please use pasteurized eggs. But if you prefer, you can substitute the egg white powder or simply omit.
This recipe is courtesy from Ingrid Hoffman, you can find this and other recipes here.
Rumchata Egg Nog
¼ c. sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
5 egg yolk
⅓ c. sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp. Nutmeg
1. Make cinnamon-sugar rim: Combine cinnamon and sugar on a shallow plate. Moisten the rim of each glass with water and dip into the cinnamon sugar. Set aside.
2. Make egg nog. In a large saucepan, whisk egg yolks and sugar to combine. Add milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, and turn on heat to medium low. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not boil. (If using a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 160 F.)
3. Remove from heat, stirring in heavy cream and RumChata. Refrigerate until chilled.
4. When ready to serve, pour into cups and sprinkle with additional nutmeg. Garnish with cinnamon sticks if desired.
This recipe is courtesy from Alton Brown, you can find this and other recipes here.
White Christmas Margarita Punch
10 ounces silver tequila
8 ounces grand marnier
8 ounces lime juice
8 ounces coconut water
8 ounces canned coconut milk
6 ounces coconut cream
6 ounces coconut rum
6 ounces simple syrup
1 teaspoon coconut extract (if desired)
For garnish: sprigs of rosemary and fresh cranberries
Instructions: Mix all ingredients together well - I find that for a large scale drink like this with something cream(the coconut). It works best to make it in a large measuring glass or bowl and whisk it all together as opposed to shaking it. If desired, you can add 1 to 2 teaspoons of coconut extract for more islandy coconut flavor. Taste and add more syrp if you lie more sweetness.
This recipe was found on Food Network, you can find more about it, here.
Wish you a lovely holiday season filled with joy, love, and smiles. If you try one of the recipes above, I'd sure love to hear about it. Cheers!
Sometimes selecting fruits & veggies can be a challenge. Knowing when they are at their peak ripeness and what to do once you leave the store. That's why I've compiled a list of the most popular thirteen fruits and veggies of the season along with how to select and store them.
Hopefully this takes away some of the guesswork, making you feel more comfortable to buy and store your produce with confidence. Cheers!
When you think of fall, what are the recipes or ingredients that come to mind? For me it’s casseroles with mushrooms, purees of squash and sweet potato, soups and ravioli, basically all of the comfort foods.
The season of boots and falling leaves is here and all the yummy food that fills my belly is warm and nourishing. I’ve compiled below some of my favorite recipes
Roasted Cauliflower Pizza
1 lb. pizza dough
½ medium head cauliflower, thinly sliced
1 small red onion
½ fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 ¾ cups gruyere cheese, grated
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
½ tsp. salt
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Dust a baking sheet with cornmeal. Shape pizza dough into 16-inch oval and place on the prepared sheet.
2. In a large bowl, toos cauliflower, red onion and parsley with olive oil, crushed red pepper (if desired) and salt. Fold in Gruyere cheese.
3. Scatter vegetable mixture over dough. Bake until cauliflower is tender and crust is golden brown and crisp, about 20-25 minutes.
Chickpea and Kale Rigatoni with Smoky Bread Crumbs
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. smoked paprika
½ c. panko
8 oz. fresh chorizo (or hot italian sausage), casings removed
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 c. chicken broth
chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 ¼ lbs, kale, stemmed & chopped
12 oz. rigatoni
2 oz. manchego cheese, finely grated, plus more for serving
1. In a large skillet on medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add smoked paprika and cook stirring often, for 30 seconds. Add panko and a pinch of sale and cook, stirring until toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer crumbs to plate.
2. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil on medium-high. Add chorizo; cook, breaking up with spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced by one-third, 4 to 6 minutes.
4. Add chickpeas and cook until heated through, 2 minutes. Stir in kale and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cook rigatoni as label directs. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid, then drain the pasta and return to pot. Toss with chickpea mixture and Manchego, adding some of the reserved cooking liquid if pasta seems dry. Serve sprinkled with breadcrumbs and more cheese, if desired.
The Best Stovetop Mac And Cheese
via Gimme Some Oven
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups water
4 cups milk
1 pound uncooked pasta (I used cavatappi)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground mustard
4-5 cups (16-20 ounces) freshly-shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup freshly-shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add flour, and stir until combined. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Then pour in 1 cup of water, and stir or whisk until mixture is completely smooth and begins to thicken. Gradually pour in the remaining water and milk, stirring until evenly combined.
2. Stir in the pasta, salt, garlic powder, and mustard until combined. Then continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mixture just reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the low simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 9-10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.
3. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheeses until melted. Taste, and season with additional salt (and black pepper, if you’d like), as needed.
4. Serve immediately, and enjoy!!
Butternut Squash Casserole with Leeks, Prosciutto and Thyme
3 lbs butternut squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive-oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 leeks-white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly slices crosswise
6 large eggs
2 ½ cups half-and-half
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
8 ounces baguette, crusts removed and bread cut into ½-inch dice
4 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter a 9 by 13 inch ceramic baking dish. In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Spread squash on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for about 15 minutes, until tender, tossing once halfway through. Let cool.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt the butter in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until tender, about 20 minutes, Let cool slightly.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs with half-and-half, cheese, 1 teaspoon of salt and a ½ teaspoon of pepper. Stir in the bread and let stand for 10 minutes. Fold in the squash and the prosciutto. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake for about 1 hour, until lightly golden on top. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Curried Carrot and Apple Soup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
7 gingersnap cookies
1 tablespoon madras curry powder
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon finely grated, peeled, fresh ginger
2 thyme sprigs
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish
Chopped mint, for garnish
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion, leek, fennel and a generous pinch of each of salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, 9 minutes. Add the carrots, celery root, apple, gingersnaps, curry powder, garlic, ginger and thyme and cook, stirring, until the carrots and celery root soften slightly, 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are very tender, 25 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs.
2. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender with the sour cream and vinegar until smooth. Reheat the soup if necessary and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped mint and cilantro and serve.
What are some of your favorite fall recipes? I always love learning new recipes, feel free to put the link below!
Paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Low-carb, Low-sugar, Juicing, Smoothies, there are many approaches to eating. It can often be overwhelming to sort through the specifics. Not to mention trying to figure out what is the best for your body.
What we often forget to take into consideration is that every body is different. What works best for your friend or sister, may not work in the same way with your body. It seems odd but we are all completely unique in our genetics, metabolism, vitamin deficiencies, and supplement needs.
One diet I hear about a lot about lately is the ketogenic diet. Perhaps you too have seen everyone and their best friend posting about it? Let’s dig in and see what this keto thing is all about, shall we?
The basics of the ketogenic diet are:
In a ketogenic diet, you essentially want to get your body into - ketosis. When your body enters ketosis, you burn fat in a different way. You enter ketosis when your ketone levels are 0.8 millimoles per liter. Source.
As it turns out, when you give your body less carbs to fuel itself, as you do in a keto diet, it has to find an alternative source to burn, which is why it turns to burning fat. Because you are consuming less carbs and more fats, your body turns the fat you consume and the fat on your body into what are called ketones. And ketones cannot be stored as fat like glucose can due to digestion. How interesting is that?
You may be asking, this keto diet sounds interesting, who would benefit from eating a ketogenic diet? According to WebMD those wanting to reduce inflammation, lose weight, have more energy and, there is the opportunity for more studies to determine whether people suffering from heart or brain disease or even acne could benefit from a keto diet. The diet change has also been hailed in helping with seizures since the 1920s as well. Source.
According to sources, The Ketogenic Diet is suggested as a short-term change rather than a long term eating regimen. This is something to note for navigating and formulating a long term plan for the optimal health of your body.
Please note the information provided above is in no way medical advice and should you be interested in adjusting your diet, please consult a licensed health care professional.
Have you tried the keto diet? Gone paleo? I'd love to hear more about your experiences in the comments below!
Perhaps you have a bit of a sweet tooth. Which is fine for general indulgences but if you’re trying to be a little healthier, eat less sugar, or just generally give your body a break from constant sugar infusions, than maybe some low to no sugar options could prove helpful.
4-Ingredient Easy Vegan Brownies
I came across this awesome recipe from Minimalist Baker that fakes the traditional brownie pretty good. I mean, no sugar-free brownie will be exactly what a brownie is, but this one comes real close. The true star of the show is the dates and cocoa. With just four ingredients, this recipe is incredibly easy to make, and leaves you feeling satisfied and quite good about what you just ate.
2 cups tightly packed dates, pitted (measured after pitting // make sure they're fresh! If dry, soak in warm water 10 minutes, drain, then add to processor)
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup salted peanut butter* (if unsalted, add a healthy pinch of salt to the batter)
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1/3 cup cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup dairy-free dark chocolate chips (optional // we like Enjoy Life)
1/2 cup roughly chopped raw walnuts (optional // or other nut of choice)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line a standard loaf pan (or similar size pan) with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Add dates to food processor and blend until small bits or a ball forms. If your food processor has a difficult time processing the dates, ensure there are no pits in the dates and that your dates are fresh and sticky. If too dry they can have a difficult time blending. (It may also be an issue of food processor strength if it has a hard time blending.)
3. Once blended, separate the dates into chunks using a spoon. Then add hot water and blend until a sticky date paste forms. Scrape down sides as needed.
4. Add peanut butter, coconut oil, and cacao powder and pulse until a sticky batter forms. It should be tacky and thick (scrape down sides as needed). Lastly add chocolate chips and walnuts (optional) and pulse to incorporate.
5. Transfer batter to lined loaf pan and spread into an even layer. For a smooth top, lay some parchment paper on top and use a flat-bottomed object (like a drinking glass) to press into an even layer.
6. Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes - the edges should be slightly dry. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then carefully lift out of the pan using the edges of the parchment paper and let cool on a plate or cooling rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing. The longer they cool, the firmer they will become.
7. Enjoy warm or cooled. Store leftovers covered at room temperature up to 3 days, in the refrigerator up to 5-6 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month (let thaw before enjoying).
Banana Nice Cream
Another way to curb that sweet tooth is with nice cream. Have you heard of it? It has been around for quite some time though has recently gained momentum as more people notice the satisfying effect without the sugar high or stomachache that can follow a traditional ice cream binge.
The recipe essentially starts with frozen bananas, which we all have. You know those last few bananas of the bunch that you look at in the morning and think oh yeah those are started to turn brown, I really need to eat those. And then the next day and the day after as inevitably the bananas turn more brown in the time you haven’t yet gotten to them. At that point there are two options- banana bread or banana nice cream. And both require freezing. And when you’re doing so, it really just depends on how much time you have or if you’re trying to get the bananas in the freezer before they become trash material. What I like to do is take off the peel before freezing. I find that makes it easier in the long run. Removing the peel once its frozen to the banana is perfectly doable, just takes a little more time and effort. And I’m all into things that save time and energy, who’s with me?
The recipe I really like is from Oh My Veggies. I've provided it below.You won't believe how easy it is.
When it’s time to make the nice cream, break your bananas into 3 or 4 chunks each, so they fit into your food processor. You’ll want to use at least two bananas per batch, unless you’re using a very small blending device.
Some fat will add richness to your nice cream, so try stirring in some almond butter, peanut butter, tahini, or coconut cream. A tablespoon or so for every banana should be plenty.
Now blend everything up! This might take some patience, depending on the type of blending device you’re using. The first couple of rounds often yields what looks like a bunch of frozen banana crumbs. Stop, scrape down the insides of the bowl, and continue blending. You can add a splash of non-dairy milk to help the process along, but don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with a smoothie instead of nice cream.
Eventually you’ll start to see your bananas transform into a creamy mix that resembles soft serve ice cream. Give it a taste-test and adjust your add-ins if needed. Once you’re done you can also throw in any additional ingredients that you don’t want blended up, like pieces of fruit that you’d rather keep chunky. One of my favorite tricks is to melt some dark chocolate chips, drizzle them over the blend, and then pulse the the food processor a few times. The chocolate will solidify really quickly and you’ll end up with chocolate flecks throughout.
This recipe is one I can’t wait to try - dates with nut butter. I’ve heard there’s just something special about it. You can opt for the Medjool Dates which tend to be bigger and more moist, or regular dates are fine and just as sweet and delicious.
This recipe is even easier than the previous recipes if you can believe it. All it requires is splitting the dates in half, removing the pit if there is one, some dates have the pit removed before you buy others have the pit in. Then you simply drizzle tahini (or nut butter) and then some honey or agave, if you’re wanting a little extra dollop of sweetness.
I found this one, pictured below from Nourish Everyday and I can't wait to try it.
16 medjool dates
1/2 cup tahini (I used hulled tahini in this recipe)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
1. Place tahini in a small saucepan and place over a low heat on the stove, so the tahini softens. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup (if using all of them) and combine. Add in the shredded coconut and mix again to form a thick paste. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
2. While the tahini mixture is cooling, remove pits from the dates, carefully slicing down one side of the date only, so you've got something to scoop the tahini mix into.
3. Stuff each date with approximately 1 heaped teaspoon of the tahini mix, placing them on a tray/plate as you go. Once all the dates have been stuffed, place in the fridge or freezer for one hour to firm up. (They may need slightly longer in the fridge; I usually put them in the freezer).
4. Enjoy! These can be kept in the fridge or freezer. They should keep well for about three months if frozen.
These recipes will definitely help you curb that sweet tooth on days when you’re wanting to switch it up and not go to full indulgences. Do you have a favorite healthier dessert recipe? Drop in below, I’m always into trying out new recipes! :)
Summer is here and that means get-togethers, bbqs, and patio hang out sessions enjoying all the glory this time of year can bring. The sun is out and the time is now to seize the day, enjoy special conversations with friends and family while soaking in the summer sun. I’ve compiled a couple recipes because everybody appreciates a guest who contributes to the party and says their please and thank you’s.
Watermelon Mint Salad
Have you ever tried the watermelon-mint combo? As if watermelon wasn’t refreshing enough on its own, add some mint to it and the combination is quite surprising. The moisture from the watermelon helps the mint incorporate into the salad. And this is such an easy dish that you can throw together in a matter of minutes because it only has two ingredients. Cutting the watermelon is essentially most of the recipe and I’m sharing a hack for that too! Enjoy!
1 small seedless watermelon, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
Optional: feta cheese crumbled on top
Watermelon cutting tip: First things first you need to cut off each end of the watermelon which allows for a flat (and safe) surface for cutting. Next, position the watermelon on one end. The positioning will make it easy to remove the rind. Think of it as carving. And don’t forget to use a sharp blade, a dull one will probably lead to frustration and you have a bbq to get to! Continue cutting until the last of the watermelon rind has been removed. Then, cut the watermelon ball in half, again to create that flat surface. Then cut into strips and then cubes of your desired size.
This image and method was borrowed and adapted from my fellow blogger over at Fifteen Spatulas. Check out her awesome recipes!
Cucumber Tomato Salad
Is there anything that reminds you of summer more than cucumber? From cool cucumber salads (like the one below) to cucumber-infused cocktails, to cucumber juice, I’m pretty sure you can do just about anything with cucumbers. And when paired with tomato in an awesome sauce, there isn’t anything better. Not me mention this recipe and super easy and quick and you probably have most ingredients already at your house.
1 large cucumber, peeled & thinly sliced
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon mayonnaise or vegenaise
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper in a large bowl (just a pinch of each)
Combine all ingredients and mix until vegetables are coated. Enjoy!
I would love to hear how your culinary snack adventure went and if you enjoyed these recipes. Do you have an easy snack recipe? Leave it below!
As the weather gets nicer, navigating the food scene at spring and summer barbecues can be trickier than sometimes expected. You hop out of the car with your pasta salad in tow and immediately start chatting with the host. After an hour you’ve already gone through four plates of seven-layer dip and two drinks – not exactly the healthiest appetizers. Today, I’m going to give you some ideas for eating healthy and still enjoying yourself at the next barbecue you attend.
As I mentioned earlier, dips are pretty common at barbecues because they are easily made, can sit out for long periods of time without refrigeration and please different palettes. Unfortunately, dips are often made with tubs of sour cream, cream cheese, or mayo – while versatile and delicious, not the best base ingredients. That being said, you still have options.
Dips are often served with a variety of veggies, which truly are a great snack, anytime. If you are allocating space in your belly for dip, choose wisely. If there are a few dips that sound good, take small spoonfuls of them. Whether you choose to take dollops of one or multiple dips, I highly recommend that most of your plate remain filled with veggies. In my own experience, I’ve found that when I eat veggies plain or with a little amount of dip as an appetizer, I’m less likely to over eat or snack later at night.
You can also go the cold turkey route, where you go straight for all veggies. And while taking a plateful of veggies without dip might make you feel self-conscious, the way I see it, you’re saving room in your belly for the good stuff! Why would you want to fill up on spinach dip when you know you can hang tight and enjoy a delicious burger or hot dog later? And of course, the spread of dips is often tempting and putting a small dollop on your plate – there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s called moderation.
The air smells like charcoal, it’s official, the meat and veggies have hit the grill. I find the main course part of a barbecue to be the trickiest to navigate. How do I eat a balanced meal when all I want is a burger or two hot off the grill?
Don’t worry; I got you girl. If you think you may want multiple burgers, hotdogs, or brats, I recommend simply forgoing the bun. By not having the bun or buns with your meat-of-choice, you are saving more room in your belly for the protein and yummy toppings that go along with it! A great way to add more flavor to your bun-less meal is to snag some sliced onions from the tray of offerings and kindly ask the grillmaster to toss them on the grill. Grilled onions are a wonderful addition and add great flavor.
If you want a lighter protein, see if the host has any chicken or veggie burgers on the menu. In the last few years, these options have become more common at barbecues. You can always ask the host casually via text if they will have any lighter protein options on hand for the event. If the host responds with a no, then that allows one of two things you happen: the host can offer to run to the store to get some or you can offer to bring your own if the host is good with grilling it.
First things first. Does anyone else remember the saying that helps differentiate between ‘dessert’ and ‘desert?’ I know I have committed this to memory so that I’m not always trying to distinguish between the two. Dessert has two ‘s’ because you always want some more. And there you go!
Luckily, I’ve found summertime desserts usually contain a lot of fruit. Similar to how I talked about filling up on veggies when scoping out appetizers, I highly recommend filling your plate mostly with fruit and only having one or two small other treats.
In my opinion, I think the best fruits come during the summertime. I much prefer having a bowlful of fresh fruit for dessert during the summer because it’s (a) delicious and sweet, (b) relatively light as far as desserts are go. On the other hand, chocolate is always good, so I’ll have a mini brownie alongside my plateful of fruit to balance it out and satisfy the chocolate craving.
The warm summertime weather means the need to stay hydrated is even more important than during other times of the year. Water can be a bit boring by itself, especially at a barbecue. Take a stroll over to the fruit plate and toss a few pieces of your favorite fruit into your cup to create your own infused water. If you want to take things a step further, fill your fruit cup with sparkling water and add a cute straw to your cup and you won’t miss the soda.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Emerging from the subte at la Casa Rosada, the pink presidential palace in downtown Buenos Aires, you step into a historical playground. All around is grandiose Italian and French style architecture, homages to the immigrants that built this modern city.
The nearby Metropolitan Cathedral, museums, and university campuses make this cosmopolitan center a well-tread place. While strolling this area during lunch means encountering crowds of porteños, or dwellers of Buenos Aires, you can escape the hustle by taking a seat at Café Tortoni, the oldest known café in Argentina, and arguably South America.
Built in 1858 by a French immigrant named Touan, Café Tortoni has a long and complicated history. This storefront is a piece of history to both see and to taste. Constructed to mimic street cafés in France and named for a café frequented by Parisian elites, the building is intricately adorned with sleek molding, marble tabletops, and a 1.4 million dollar Tiffany glass ceiling! Walking inside, framed artwork and historical images hug the walls, embodying a visual timeline of the café’s past.
At the turn of the 20th century, another Frenchman, Don Celestino Curutchet, bought the café. While he was owner, a group of painters, writers, musicians, and journalists who frequented the café formed the “Agrupación de Gente de Artes y Letras” (“The Association of Arts and Letters”).
The group of regulars met habitually in the basement. It was around this time the basement was used for various events, from group meetings to poetry readings to tango shows. Even today, the basement is still a popular venue for jazz, tango, and poetry readings. If venturing into an old basement isn’t your thing, then just head to the back where there is a designated area for playing billiards, dominoes, and dice. Classy, right?
Just as Paris coffee shops are known as popular meeting spots for prominent artists over the course of history, Café Tortoni has a fine list of famous former patrons, Albert Einstein, the king of Spain, tango singer Carlos Gardel, and writer Jorge Luis Borges to name a few. Today, the table that Borges regularly sat in is even adorned with a wax sculpture of the famous Argentinean writer!
While the visual aesthetic of Café Tortoni is enough to make it worth the visit, one must not forget the overall focus of this establishment: coffee!
Just as most Buenos Aires architecture imitates European buildings, the café culture stems from the Italian and French cultures of immigrants that call the city home. In Buenos Aires, meeting somebody at a café to catch-up or stopping by for a mid-morning coffee break is common practice.
In Argentine culture, it is custom to meet your friends around 5 or 6pm for coffee and pastries (called la merienda), which provides you with a caffeine boost to fuel the rest of the night’s activities, including dinner. That’s right-- even on weekdays, Argentineans typical dinner time is around 9pm!
In traditional Argentinean cafés. there are various options of tasty, caffeinated drinks to choose from. A common pick is café con leche, which is simply coffee with steamed milk. Almost all cafés offer a deal of café con leche con medialunas, which translates to “half moons,” which are croissants.
There are other coffee drinks: café (shot of espresso), cortado (same as macchiato: espresso with milk to cut bitterness), lagrima (steamed milk with a drop of espresso) and on occasion, capuchino (cappuccino). It’s good to note that when ordering any of these beverages, especially a simple café, it will never be served alone. Expect some form of cookies or small snack served on the tea dish, along with a small cup of sparkling water and sometimes orange juice on the side. It is good to remember the direct translation of coffee in Spanish is café, and ordering this will get you espresso, not a plain cup of Joe.
Generally, café fare varies widely. Pastries of many sorts are always available, and some places even serve full lunch and dinner. Going to a café will always be a sit-down affair. Anticipate decent-sized menus at most locations—they want you to stick around and enjoy yourself! If you are at Café Tortoni specifically, the chocolate con churros is famous and unique. It’s sipping chocolate served with 3 small churros that are filled with an Argentinean classic, dulce de leche!
The French influence here is quite obvious, and you can generally choose from savory or sweet treats. Another cultural favorite is the submarino, which is steaming hot milk served with a bar of milk chocolate that you melt into the glass cup yourself and drink like a hot chocolate. If you have kids, or maybe just a sweet tooth, this is definitely the perfect order!
While new stores like Starbucks have made their way into Argentinean cities, the longstanding café culture will always exist, and is a small piece of culture that represents Argentina’s roots. Places like Café Tortoni, which has witnessed almost 160 years of Buenos Aires history, are a testament to the strength of the café tradition. While the country has been through difficult, tumultuous times, the café culture remains a major aspect of every day porteño life.
I’m a big fan of DIY projects. And while I haven’t brewed my own beer just yet. I was curious about what all goes into it.
I bet reading the post title you thought “Huh, how many people actually brew their own beer?” With the sudden interest by the public at large in micro-brews and IPA’s the answer is, a lot more than you think. Before you head out to the store or hop on Google and clear out some space in your home to start your own brew, there are couple items you’ll want to know.
Brewing your own anything (unless it’s coffee) typically isn’t cheap, at least to begin with. And brewing your own beer is no exception. The average cost of an at-home brewing kit is around $100. Add to that the ingredient kit and your cost is in the $130.75 range. Remember you’ll need to order bottles and caps unless you’ve done some upcycling and can reuse old bottles. This a great way to me conscious of your carbon footprint. If you do plan to buy fresh bottles and caps your total will be around $141 – which works out to be around $17 per six-pack.
Each batch will make about eight six-packs and moving forward, the only recurring cost will be ingredient kits, which cost about $30. So let’s say you make six batches every year that will be an annual cost of about $320. Depending on how much you spend on beer every year, brewing your own may or may not save you money in the long run.
Brewing beer can be a bit of a process. A batch of beer ferments for at least two weeks – the specific length of time is dependent on the type of beer you decide to brew. After the fermenting period, two weeks of bottle conditioning are next. The purpose of conditioning your bottles is to provide an environment for the yeast in your beer to continue to ferment and enrich the flavor of your beer after it’s been bottled.
All in all, it is awesome to learn new skills and if brewing beer is something you want to check off your bucket list it certainly will be a fun experience. And who knows, you may find so much joy in it that your microbrew will be found on the shelves of the local grocery store. Happy brewing!
Spring is just around the corner, and you know what that means, summer is almost here and.it’s time to hit the road, or plan our dreams of hitting the road. And whether you’re dreaming about going or actually going, you need to made a packing list.
If you’re looking for some creative inspiration, a few visuals, or direct links where to buy what you need, why not let us do some of the legwork for you for your spring warm weather cruising?
First and foremost, put your phone (and chargers), identification, passport, all travel documents and necessary medication into your purse or carry-on. You won’t be able to go anywhere if you forget this stuff.
Now, for everything else...
Carnival Cruise Line suggests limiting luggage to a maximum of one bag per person for cruises 3-5 days and no more than two bags per person for cruises 6 days or longer. The aim is for each bag to weigh less than 50 pounds (this helps to avoid extra or unexpecte bag fees if you are to flying to your cruise port city).
Royal Caribbean International suggests also packing a “small carry-on bag that contains travel documents, a change of clothes, bathing suit, workout clothes and any medications you may need” so that you don’t have to wait for your checked bags to arrive in your room before you begin exploring. Use something like this Shake Bag for your carry-on. It will double as a beach bag later, and will also free-up valuable room in your suitcase. This bag in particular is awesome because it carries a ton of stuff, has a mesh bottom that opens by releasing a snap, and allows you to shake out any unwanted sand or debris.
Well, now that we have that figured out, what should you put into your actual luggage? HerPackingList.com is a great resource when planning and packing for ANY trip.
Let’s start with the obvious...swimsuits and coverups. For 3-5 days, take two suits--either two bikinis that you can mix and match in different combinations or one bikini and a one piece (which are totally in style and available in countless adorable looks). I would also pack two cover ups, then one can be airing out or drying while you're wearing the other.
For longer than five days, add one more swimsuit and one more cover up.
You’ll also need sunglasses, a hat or visor, sandals and two beach towels, if they aren’t provided.
For daytime activities that don’t include lounging by the pool or beach as well as for meals, sundresses, shorts, rompers, and blouses are all perfect choices.
All of the above pieces could easily dressed up or down. They could be paired with sandals, wedges, or tennis shoes depending on the activity.
Optimistically, we also suggest packing workout tennis shoes, one pair of workout socks for each day on board, 3-4 sports bras and tops, and 3-4 workout bottoms--all quick-dry or moisture-wicking--as most cruise ships are well equipped with first-class workout facilities and fitness classes. These outfits are helpful because they can also be worn for any off-ship, active excursion or tour.
Since we mentioned shoes...in addition to the tennis shoes and beach/pool deck sandles previously mentioned, you may also want to pack a few additional pairs. Some of us never thought we would see the day, but the Birkenstocks of yesteryear are back and bigger than ever, plus they won’t take up much room in your bag, go ahead and toss them in.
And add a pair of comfortable, casual shoes that can be worn with skirts and dresses, but aren’t necessarily athletic shoes, like these Converse Chuck Taylors.
For evening, try to pack pieces that will work for either casual dinners or more formal activities depending on how you style them, like this Love Stitch Maxi from Nordstrom Rack (that comes in about 100 colors). These are perfect because they’re loose and can be worn with just a soft bandeau bra. Plus, if you’re a little sunburned, they’re light, airy, and incredibly soft. If you want to wear it casual, wear it with a sandal and no jewelry. If you want to dress it up, add an espadrille wedge, a statement necklace, and bangle bracelets.
Some cruise lines will hold 2-3 formal dining nights, plan accordingly and maybe throw in something with a little flash, like this Adrianna Papell embellished gown.
Function over form is a good rule of thumb when packing for trips like this. Instead of packing a bulky handbag, try securing a cross-body bag that will go with most everything you’ve packed, like the Patricia Nash Barcelona Saddle Bag and a wristlet or clutch for dinners.
And…whatever you do...don’t forget your sunscreen!
What are your must have items for a week-long cruise? Do you recommend a specific cruise line for first-timers? What are your favorite activities and excursions? Can you tell us your favorite island cocktail or mocktail? Shout it out in the comments below.
Summertime isn’t the only season we crave this American classic. Check out these new takes on this staple dinner option.
An Italian Twist
Liven up your standard beef patty with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, fresh chopped garlic, and finely chopped parsley. Nix the American cheese for some rich and gooey mozzarella cheese. Serve your Italian creation on two slices of lightly grilled Texas Toast or hamburger bun rubbed with garlic butter.
Classic Burgers with a Twist
After Memorial Day hitseach year, it seems like burgers become a staple in most people’s diets. After a while, the taste of a traditional beef burger patty can get a bit old and your taste buds crave something exciting. Here are some ways to enjoy a burger with a delicious twist.
The Updated American
At your next barbecue, try this updated version of the classic burger – why completely reinvent the wheel? Mix ground beef and pork to form delicious, juicy patties. Serve with thinly sliced with red onion and crisp apple (I recommend using Granny Smith or Lady Alice apples). Serve on a toasted Kaiser bun with a thin coating of Dijon mustard.
Greek food doesn’t only mean gyros and stuffed grape leaves. Use ground lamb meat to serve as the base for your Greek burger. Stuff each patty with two tablespoons of feta. Top each burger with fresh tomato and red onion slices and serve on a toasted bun smeared with tzatziki sauce.
I’m always looking for new recipes. What’s your favorite way to spice up the classic American burger?
Summer is the best time to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. Whether you’re freezing them for later in the year or enjoying some delicious food at a barbecue, it’s hard not to surround yourself with the tasty offerings of the season. The best part about these foods? They are packed with vitamins and nutrients! Today, I’m going to be sharing with you a few of my favorite fruits and veggies and the benefits they provide.
If you’ve kept up with social trends at any point during the last five years, then I’m sure you’ve heard at least something about the ‘going vegan’ trend. While many select a vegan diet because of humanitarian reasons, one thing that has remained consistent is veganism’s reputation is the constant use of lettuce. As a relatively adventurous eater, I’ve discovered some incredibly tasty recipes that hold true to the vegan diet. Here are just a few of my favorites.
Cumin Roasted Carrots
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves (2 teaspoons) minced garlic
1 ½ tablespoons cumin
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine the olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix together.
Add the carrots and combine until they are well coated. Then spread out onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until tender. Toss with a spatula half way through.
Remove from oven and serve immediately. Top with fresh parsley if desired.
3 cups cooked white rice
(day old or leftover rice works best!)
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (thawed)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce
On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.
Add the pea/carrot mix, onion, and garlic. Stir fry until tender.
Add the rice and soy sauce and blend all together well.
Stir fry until thoroughly heated
Deep Fried Pickles
1 cup dill pickle chips
1 cups homemade ‘buttermilk’
(1 cup almond milk + the juice of ½ a lemon)
1 ½ cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Heat the oil to 350
Drain pickles and pat with a paper towel to get rid of extra moisture.
Place the buttermilk in one bowl and in another bowl combine the following: flour, salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper
Place each pickle in the buttermilk then dredge in the flour then back into the buttermilk then dredge into the flour again.
Once the heat is at 350 – fry the pickles 4 at a time. Fry until golden brown – place the fried pickles onto a paper towel (It will drain the excess oil)
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
9 fl oz warm water
Place flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
Add yeast, sugar, salt, olive oil and water and stir until combined.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes or until smooth.
Place dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap for 30 minutes or until dough has doubled.
Turn dough out on a floured surface and punch the dough to remove excess air.
To make the pizza: top with your favorite pizza sauce and/or your favorite toppings and bake at 450 degrees for 13-14 minutes.
Are some of your favorite recipes vegan? What are your favorite things to cook?
I don’t know what it is about summertime, but during the warmer months I crave refreshing, satisfying sweet treats. Rather than craving heavy chocolate cakes and overly sweet danishes, I have my eye on desserts with plenty of fresh fruit (bonus points if the dessert is cold or frozen). Thankfully, summertime desserts are chocked full of fruit that’s in season which is good for all of us with a sweet tooth. Rather than eating desserts with many cups of sugar, we can feel guiltless eating desserts with a natural sweetness from fresh fruit.
While grocery stores may stock fresh berries and other fruit year round, the season for these naturally sweet beauties is usually the summertime. Because of this abundance of fresh fruit, there is no need to buy canned fruit that contains many extra sugars and preservatives that are typically a part of fruity desserts during the colder months. I love how during barbecue season there are large bowls filled with a variety of fresh fruit for dessert. If you crave a little more sweetness, there are low-calorie ways to incorporate some additional sugar. Top off your bowl of fresh fruit with a dollop of Cool Whip or fresh whipped cream or a scoop of low-calorie ice cream (my favorite is Halo Top Chocolate) or frozen yogurt. If you’re watching your wallet in addition to your calories, I have good news. It is very inexpensive to make fresh whipped cream and frozen yogurt in your very kitchen. If you’re craving the cool sweetness of ice cream, Halo Top ice cream always has coupons or cash back deals if you use shopping apps like Ibotta.
When the weather is consistently peaking above 90 degrees, my inner child craves a Popsicle. Unfortunately, now that I’m older I know that one Popsicle can have as many as 16 grams of sugar, which is a lot of sugar. Thanks to modern kitchen technology (if you want to call a fancy ice tray technology), you can pick up a silicone Popsicle mold from any big box store for a few dollars. Once you you’re your mold, read the washing directions and wash it thoroughly. Some molds cannot get washed in the dishwasher so make sure you follow the directions. Making fruit pops at home is as simple as filling the molds with your favorite fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice or lemonade. It takes about two hours for the fruit pops to freeze completely; the time may vary depending on your freezer.
One dessert that is commonly considered to be a healthier option is Jell-o, both their pudding and clear gelatin mixes. No one can deny how simple it is to whip up any of those mixes and serve for a large crowd. Similarly, you cannot deny how much sugar is in just one serving of either of those desserts. One serving contains about 19 grams of sugar; this number may fluctuate depending on the flavor, but not by much. If you crave some chocolatey flavor, I recommend tossing in a handful of dark chocolate because of the low fat and sugar content. While many people opt for milk chocolate instead of dark because of the sometimes-bitter tasting quality of dark chocolate, it provides a good balance when tossing in while a bowl of fresh fruit.
This is by no means an extensive list of every healthy dessert out there – these are just some of my favorites. I’d love to know what your favorite healthy desserts are – let me know in a comment down below!
With help from Kristine Circenis.
Summer is a celebratory time if for no other reason than the typically beautiful sunshine filled days and warm evenings. For me and many others, nothing makes a celebration feel quite as exciting as a delicious cocktail. Like summertime barbecue food, cocktails can be a delicious concoction of extra sugar and calories that are not healthy. The biggest culprit of the extra grams of sugar and high amounts of calories? The mix. Today, I will be sharing my favorite ways to enjoy low calorie cocktails that do not detract from any summertime celebration.
As delicious and convenient margarita, daiquiri, and sweet and sour mix are, they are the main source of calories in any mixed beverage. Not only are there added calories from obscene amounts of sugar in each of those mixes, oftentimes there are preservatives which allow those mixes to be shelf stable for long periods of time.
The healthy alternative? Fresh fruit juice. Did you know that sweet and sour mix is just a combination of lemon and lime juice? Did you know that an authentic margarita is made with only lime juice? There are a plethora of drinks that can be made with fresh fruit juice. When using fresh fruit juice, your beverage contains natural sweeteners from the fruit and will taste significantly better. Perhaps my favorite part about using fresh juice is that I realize how few ingredients I need to make a delicious adult beverage.
Like with premade cocktail mixes, the added calories from alcohol are hidden in the flavoring. Flavored liquors and specialty liquors (think Bailey’s, Kahlua, etc.) have more calories than plain vodka or rum because of the flavoring that they contain. Personally, I’m not a big fan of most flavored liquors because of the added sweetness, but if you are, you can have better control over the flavors using fresh fruit juices and making your own simple syrup.
What about wine? Great question. A glass of wine ranges in calories from about 100 – 150 calories per 5 fluid ounces aka a reasonably sized glass. If you’re choosing to have wine, I recommend making your own miniature sangria by filling your glass with your favorite fruits first before the wine.
Healthy Cocktail Recipes
Here are a few of my favorite low calorie summertime drinks:
1 shot silver tequila
½ shot triple sec
Juice of one lime
1 shot silver tequila
¾ cup tonic water
Juice of half a pink grapefruit
1 shot white rum
1 shot simple syrup (bring equal parts water and sugar to a boil; let cool)
Juice of one lime
1 bottle of white wine
½ lemon cut into slices
½ cup sliced strawberries
½ cup sliced peaches
With help from Kristine Circenis.