My Favorite Day of the Year - Valentine's Day!

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My favorite part of Valentine’s Day…hundreds of renditions of "My Funny Valentine" (Rodgers & Hart 1937 from the musical Babes in Arms) playing throughout the day...  From Frank Sinatra to Chaka Khan, Ella Fitzgerald to Big Muff, every genre of music imaginable!   

Call me a hopeless romantic but my absolute favorite day of the year is Valentines Day. Champagne, chocolate, roses, and hundreds of renditions of my very favorite song playing all day…what could be better than that!

About drinking champagne…the glass actually does matter! I love the Coupe, classic, nostalgic, elegant and romantic, but not good for bubbles if you are a big fan of keeping your bubbly, bubbly. The Flute is perfect for young Champagne and great for keeping the bubbles. The Tulip is my second fav…perfect for mature Champagne (aged to the point where it will not gain further complexity by continuing to store) and believe it or not a regular Wine Glass is ideal for high end more complex Champagne varieties.

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Needless to say, we make it a day of culinary traditions, starting with Chocolate Covered Strawberries and Valentine’s Brunch featuring Chocolate Waffles and Champagne. Gentlemen, don't forget the roses and the little blue box!

My Lobster Cocktail starter is the perfect beginning to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at home. So simple and can be prepared a day ahead of time and just put together at the last minute. Add a glass of your favorite champagne, what a way to kick off the evening!

Then, may I recommend a lovely Chateaubriand for Two! Slow roasted tenderloin with a rich and flavorful mushroom sauce and roasted vegetables, so tender, it will melt in your mouth! This dish is so simple to prepare, but don’t tell your Valentine, he (or she) will think you slaved all day!

I usually do Chocolate Soufflé for Valentine’s dessert, but this year, I am changing it up with my Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes with a Pink Champagne Glaze. The cupcakes can be made the day before, so all you have to do for dessert, is enjoy!!!

So, that’s it! My idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day. Of course it’s all about the food, delicious but simple to prepare and lots of champagne and chocolate, all while enjoying Your Funny Valentine

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Me and My Funny Valentine!

Me and My Funny Valentine!

New Year New You!

Tips for Simple, Healthy and Delicious Post Holiday Living...

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1.    Dust off the Vitamix and start the day with a power packed smoothie. By starting the day with fresh fruits and vegetables you are preparing your body with useful vitamins and minerals for fuel to get through the day. 

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2.    Snack on fresh raw vegetables or protein packed raw nuts. If you can make 70-80% of your diet raw foods you will be amazed at how you feel, and look!

3.    For lunch, go easy on the proteins and stick with a menu of fresh vegetables for lunch, salads with olive oil based dressings, vegetable soups, wraps, etc.

4.    Treat yourself to a balanced dinner with one protein and vegetables OR one carb and vegetables. Don’t mix complex proteins and complex carbs at the same meal.  For example Pasta with pesto sauce and vegetables is terrific, pasta with meat sauce, not so much. Sorry, pasta Bolognese lovers…but you can have your Bolognese sauce on zucchini noodles! 

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5.   Limit (or avoid) red meat

6.   Limit alcohol consumption to weekends and no more than 5 oz. of red wine per day during the week if you must have that nice glass of wine with your healthy dinner.

7.   Exercise daily, at least 30 minutes of cardio, a good paced walk, whatever your cardio pleasure. Remember to have a good stretch!

8.   Get plenty of rest. Disengage in social media after 9:00 pm, and let yourself get to sleep a little earlier.

9.   Drink lots of water. I start the day with 8 oz. of warm water with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and then I continue to drink as much water as possible throughout the day.  Keeping a full water bottle on my desk makes it easy to reach for it all day long.

10.  Don’t forget to breathe! When you feel stressed, take a deep breath, relax, and take time to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings. Schedule time for yourself to decompress and regroup.

Don’t totally deprive yourself. If you feel a need to splurge, do it, but do it in small quantities and occasionally. And remember, there is no better motivator than results. You will love the way you feel when those few extra holiday pounds come off.

Here are some great menu ideas and recipes to get your started!

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Holiday Entertaining Tips ~ Fun & Simple Style!

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1.  Casual Elegance is always my motif.  It’s easy, comfortable but still lovely and beautiful.  I want my guests to feel relaxed and content but also special.  I like an eclectic combination of casual and formal, all on the same table, makes it fun and festive without being over stuffy.

2.  Select a theme or color.  Choosing a theme and/or color helps make everything else come together with ease.  Of course, the holidays make it super easy because the main theme is already set. Then it’s down to selecting a color combination. Make it simple and use table top accessories you already have, just make them a little festive. Red, green, silver, gold, all fantastic holiday colors, and there is nothing wrong with simple white napkins, rolled and tied with a pretty gold holiday ribbon.  

3.  Welcome Guests with a Special Greeting. Set the tone with a simple glass of champagne with a rosemary stalk or my festive Holiday Bellini, blood orange, Prosecco and Grand Marnier, that will get your guests in a celebration mood!

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4.  Celebrate the Season.  Focus on flowers or greenery for the table that exude the holidays. Fresh herbs like rosemary stalks and fresh cranberries are a great way to decorate the table. I like using all white candles in hurricanes with fresh cranberries and rosemary around the candles. 

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5.  Fun Place Cards.  Wine corks make great place card holders.  Using a serrated knife, simply cut a ¼ inch slit into the top of the cork and slide the place card into the slit. I sometimes even use the wine corks as the place card by writing the names on the cork with a Sharpie!  Champagne corks are fun place card holders, especially for holiday entertaining!  Another fun and festive place card is a simple candy cane.  Punch a hole in your place card, and tie around a candy cane with holiday ribbon. 

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6.  Fun Water Service. How simple is just adding festive fruit or herbs to your water pitcher or water glasses, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, to make it extra special.  For the holidays I like serving water with apple slices and cinnamon sticks or orange slices with cranberries and sage leaves, even lemon slices with rosemary sprigs, all add flavor and festive décor.

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7.  Little Gifts.  I like to send a little gift home with everyone, even if it is just a simple chocolate holiday candy, a little bag of your Christmas cookies, even a candy cane with a pretty ribbon tied around it or a mini-bottle of their favorite cordial or liqueur.  A little something makes a lovely lasting impression. 

8.  Lastly and Most Importantly! Do as much as you can in advance! This simple task makes holiday entertaining so much easier! Entertaining is supposed to be fun for everyone, especially the host! You can do things like setting the table a few days in advance and a little prep every day really adds up to saving time and stress! Also, it is really not necessary to have several side dishes or desserts. One of my favorite lines, that I use a lot is, "more isn't always better, it's just more!"

Pear-Pomegranate Salad, Creamy Mashed Potatoes & Haricot Verts Roasted Shallots & Fennel

Pear-Pomegranate Salad, Creamy Mashed Potatoes & Haricot Verts Roasted Shallots & Fennel

Pick your favorite salad, potato or starch, and one vegetable that compliment your main dish, and stick with those. And don’t be afraid to let your guests help! It’s fun to cook together, and if they offer to bring something, let them! An appetizer, bottle of wine, even a side dish or dessert, it just makes the main event even easier on you! These are my sides this holiday to be served with my Porc Aux Figues for Christmas Dinner! 

Stay tuned for more holiday menu ideas and recipes! Feel free to reach out with any questions or recipe requests and in the meantime...

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Enjoy this holiday season and have fun entertaining your family and friends! Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a most wonderful year ahead!  Cheers!

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Merry Christmas from 21 Club NYC!

Merry Christmas from 21 Club NYC!

A Few of My Favorite Things - A Magical Day in New York at Christmas

"...Girls in White Dresses with Blue Satin Sashes, Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, silver white winters that melt into spring, these are a few of my favorite things..." 

"...Girls in White Dresses with Blue Satin Sashes, Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, silver white winters that melt into spring, these are a few of my favorite things..." 

These are a few of my favorite things, but my favorite thing during the Holiday Season...to be in New York City, there isn't a more magical place and time on earth!  Here's my idea of the perfect day in New York at Christmas with all of my favorite things... 

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1.  Start the day with coffee at St. Ambrose, the best coffee on the upper east side! Then grab one to go, and head towards the Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 2nd most visited art museum in the world. After perusing the exhibit of Modern and Contemporary Art...

2.  Stroll down Madison Avenue and make a stop at Zitomer's (76th) for a little funky gift and card shopping. You just never know what you might find there! A must stop is the Original Ralph Lauren Flagship Store in the Gertrude Rhineland Waldo Mansion, circa 1898 at 72nd & Madison. Modeled after the Chateaux of the Loire Valley in France, the rich history of this beautiful building along with Ralph Lauren's timeless and incredible design flair, make this truly the most amazing retail establishment in the world. It used to house all of the RL lines from mens wear to home collection. I spent the most magical day here during the blizzard of 2003. The snow was coming sideways down Madison Avenue early that December morning as friends of mine and I sat in the Home Collection Showroom, on a purple velvet sectional sofa, with crystal chandeliers above, fragrant holiday candles flickering everywhere, a fire blazing in the fireplace and, to make it more perfect, "It's a Wonderful Life" playing on the television above the fireplace mantel. You could see the horizontal pattern of the blowing snow through the windows to either side of the television screen. Did I say magical? Not to mention the staff offering us champagne as we began to feel the warmth of the fire.  We felt we had just moved into the most amazing Winter Wonderland, I didn't ever want leave! A moment in time I will never forget.

My Jeff outside the Ralph Lauren Flagship

My Jeff outside the Ralph Lauren Flagship

Inside the beautiful Ralph Lauren Flagship

Inside the beautiful Ralph Lauren Flagship

3.  Ice skating (or watching) in Central Park on the way to lunch. Walking through the park to Central Park South to make our way to Columbus Circle for my favorite lunch in the city, Nougatine at Jean-Georges. I can't tell you how many lunches we have enjoyed at Nougatine, but each one has been fantastic, and each comes with a story of its own. One in particular was taking our god-daughter and a friend for holiday lunch and meeting Steven Tyler, who could not have been more engaging. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, and as we left the restaurant, asked us, "who was that guy again?" Obviously, they were too young to truly appreciate our lunch mate or the conversation, but Aunt Gigi loved every second.

Nougatine at Jean-Georges, Columbus Circle

Nougatine at Jean-Georges, Columbus Circle

4.   Just enough time to drop by Harry Cipriani for a Champagne Cocktail on the way to afternoon tea at The Pierre. The scene at Cipriani is always good for a crowded bump on the shoulder, spilling a little of that deliciously sweet drink, but if your lucky enough, it only hits the floor and not you or your partner!  Then just a block to The Pierre for traditional holiday afternoon tea. A little caffeine pick me up, or just more champagne, either way, a delightful way to spend the late afternoon.

Afternoon tea at The Pierre

Afternoon tea at The Pierre

5.  Strolling down Fifth Avenue towards Rockefeller Center taking in the beautiful lights, decorations, and artfully crafted Christmas windows along the famous 5th Avenue shopping mecca. It wouldn't be Christmas in New York if you didn't just poke your head into Tiffany's and watch all the pretty little tiffany blue bags walk out the door for some lucky someone! Then, it's time for cocktails and wine while we view the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center at Morrell's Wine Bar. The best place for a glass of wine with all of your new best friends and spectacular view across the plaza to the tree!

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1 Rockefeller Plaza

6.  Dinner at the Sea Grill Rockefeller Center, where the beautiful dining room's windows are literally overlooking the Rockefeller Center ice rink, and while you are enjoying a perfectly prepared and very fresh fish dish, it almost appears as though if the skaters can't make their turn, they might just wind up at your table! Well, not really, but it is a magnificent and up close and personal view including a glimpse of the tree above.

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

7.  An after dinner drink or cappuccino at The Polo Lounge or Nat King Cole Bar (St. Regis), just across the street from one another on 55th and 5th. Since they are so close, why not have one at both! The perfect end to the perfect holiday day in Manhattan.

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Just a few of my favorite things! Can you tell I have mastered the art of eating and drinking my way across the upper east side? Well, it took years of practice, but each place, each story, each moment, and especially everyone that I have shared these moments with, holds a special place always in my heart.  May your holidays be filled with all of your Favorite Things!

PS...Tomorrow, a few more favorite things, Burgers and Bloody's at 21 Club and a theater matinee, can't do all my favorite things in just one day! We highly recommend "Hamilton" it was amazing! And, we got really great seats at a reasonable price on StubHub!

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays!

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Jeff and me in Central Park 

Jeff and me in Central Park 

Tasteful Holiday Sides

I love my Le Creuset! It makes holiday cooking easy, fun and colorful!

I love my Le Creuset! It makes holiday cooking easy, fun and colorful!

So, let's make this Thanksgiving thing simple and fun! For me, it's all about the sides and the beauty is that most can be prepared in advance, and then just heated through when its time to serve. Really, once you get the bird in the oven, there is time to get everything else together AND spend time with your family, friends and guests and really ENJOY the day! I love being in the kitchen, and holidays having other people in the kitchen with me, enjoying a beverage, snacking, telling stories, laughing and just having fun! I like having a few appetizer snack plates available as the guests arrive.  Not too much food, in anticipation of a holiday feast, but a few light snacks. I also like to keep the "feast" simple. There is no need for so many dishes on a holiday table, keep it simple, fresh and remember, it's really about the company and the celebration!

My favorite part of a Thanksgiving meal is the sides. I like to go with a theme, and then select sides that compliment each other. This year, there is such an abundance of fresh figs, I put together a rustic Thanksgiving menu for us utilizing these sweet little gems, along with my standard staples, like my Ciabatta Cornbread Stuffing (Jeff's favorite) and Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce

I know I said that the sides were my favorite part of Thanksgiving, but I am a big fan of a bite of something sweet to make a festive meal complete! This year for us, my Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake, Georgia Pecan Tart and a moist and delicious Fig Cake with ginger, walnuts and a lemon scented glaze. Please reach out for more recipes, I'd love to hear from you!

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Now, let's talk about wine pairings. We always begin with champagne, it's just a wonderful way to start a celebration. When it comes to pairing wine with a holiday meal, especially with turkey, I like a nice medium bodied Merlot. With its easy tannins and soft finish, Merlot doesn't overpower food, making a fabulous pairing with a holiday meal that usually has many diverse flavors. One of our favorites is this lovely Duckhorn Merlot, comprised of 90% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc, aged in 100% French Oak barrels.   

 

Wishing you and yours a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We have so much to be thankful for! Cheers to good health, much happiness and a simply delicious holiday celebration! 

Can you believe Christmas is literally 5 weeks away! Stay tuned for delicious food and wine pairings to get you through the holiday season! Until then...

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It's Fig Week!

Just for fun, I’ve been posting fun fig recipes all week. I love figs, and really take advantage when they are in season. Super healthy, full of potassium and anti-oxidants, figs are filled with fiber and compliment both sweet and savory dishes. So much diversity in these sweet little gems!

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This weeks feature

Porc Aux Figues               

with Port Wine & Fig Sauce, sweet and savory with tender and juicy pork tenderloin and a mouth watering port wine and fig sauce.

Click Here for the recipe! 

Honestly, I could put figs in or on just about everything or eat them just by themselves! I will miss having fresh figs until next season! Let me know your favorite ways to eat them, I would love to hear from you! In the meantime...

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Happy Fig Week! Next week we're getting ready for the holidays with lots of options for deliciously simple holiday side dishes! Our favorite time of year...See you then!

Primo Pairings!

For cheese pairings right through dessert…this week it’s all about the reds…red wines that is. As the weather becomes cooler and evening begins earlier, cozy gatherings to celebrate family and friends are a great opportunity to explore flavors and pairings with your favorite wines. I lean toward red wines this time of year for their warmth and depth. 

For cheese pairings right through dessert…this week it’s all about the reds…red wines that is. As the weather becomes cooler and evening begins earlier, cozy gatherings to celebrate family and friends are a great opportunity to explore flavors and pairings with your favorite wines. I lean toward red wines this time of year for their warmth and depth. 

A Cabernet Sauvignon with less alcohol and light tannins is perfect for aged cheeses. Semi firm cows milks cheeses such as aged Cheddar and Goudas pair exceptionally well with Cabernet, as do aged sheep and goat milk cheeses like Pecorino (sheep’s milk) and Sartori (goat’s milk). Rich, bold Cabernet pairs well with sharp cheddars and Gruyere. For creamy soft ripened cheeses like Brie, a lighter red variety, Pinot Noir or a light Merlot, would compliment the creamy, buttery flavor of the cheese. These light varieties also tend to compliment my favorite, Parmigiano-Reggiano, with its salty bite, which exaggerates the tannins in a heavier more tannic wine.

A Cabernet Sauvignon with less alcohol and light tannins is perfect for aged cheeses. Semi firm cows milks cheeses such as aged Cheddar and Goudas pair exceptionally well with Cabernet, as do aged sheep and goat milk cheeses like Pecorino (sheep’s milk) and Sartori (goat’s milk). Rich, bold Cabernet pairs well with sharp cheddars and Gruyere. For creamy soft ripened cheeses like Brie, a lighter red variety, Pinot Noir or a light Merlot, would compliment the creamy, buttery flavor of the cheese. These light varieties also tend to compliment my favorite, Parmigiano-Reggiano, with its salty bite, which exaggerates the tannins in a heavier more tannic wine.

When it comes to pasta, there are a multitude of choices, but one rule of thumb, is to pair based on the sauce. Tomato based sauces are very acidic, and therefore pair well with medium weight red wines such as a Chianti or Merlot. As you add more richness or protein, such as meat (i.e. Bolognese), a bolder red pairs beautifully, Barolo, Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. I like a nice Merlot with this spicy tomato based Spaghetti Calamari.

When it comes to pasta, there are a multitude of choices, but one rule of thumb, is to pair based on the sauce. Tomato based sauces are very acidic, and therefore pair well with medium weight red wines such as a Chianti or Merlot. As you add more richness or protein, such as meat (i.e. Bolognese), a bolder red pairs beautifully, Barolo, Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. I like a nice Merlot with this spicy tomato based Spaghetti Calamari.

There isn’t a more popular pairing for red wine than steak, especially a nice bold and balanced Cabernet.  Tannins bind with proteins and fats, which steak has plenty of! I could do an entire blog on pairing different types of steak with red wine, but for today, I’m thinking about my Chateaubriand, the center cut of a tenderloin, lean, rich, yet subtle in flavor and melt in your mouth texture. With an earthy mushroom and herb sauce, a nice young, lower alcohol content Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect choice to bring out the flavors of both the steak and the wine.

There isn’t a more popular pairing for red wine than steak, especially a nice bold and balanced Cabernet.  Tannins bind with proteins and fats, which steak has plenty of! I could do an entire blog on pairing different types of steak with red wine, but for today, I’m thinking about my Chateaubriand, the center cut of a tenderloin, lean, rich, yet subtle in flavor and melt in your mouth texture. With an earthy mushroom and herb sauce, a nice young, lower alcohol content Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect choice to bring out the flavors of both the steak and the wine.

My favorite red wine pairing…chocolate, of course! These rich and delicious Chocolate Cupcakes are just screaming for a nice glass of Merlot to compliment their deep chocolate flavor and decadence!  

My favorite red wine pairing…chocolate, of course! These rich and delicious Chocolate Cupcakes are just screaming for a nice glass of Merlot to compliment their deep chocolate flavor and decadence!  

I hope you try one of my pairings with your favorite glass!  Let me know how it goes and which wines you selected with each dish, I would love to hear from you!

In the meantime...

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It's National Pumpkin Day!

I've been celebrating Pumpkin Day all month long, creating fun new recipes and enjoying preparing and updating some of my old ones. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, I've selected a few of my favorite pumpkin delights to share with you...enjoy!

Simply click on the highlighted dish names for the recipes.

Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Toasted Hazelnuts and lots of Parmigiana!

Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage, Toasted Hazelnuts and lots of Parmigiana!

Creamy Parmigiana Pumpkin Zita with a hint of Amaretti

Creamy Parmigiana Pumpkin Zita with a hint of Amaretti

Pumpkin Ravioli with brown butter, sage and toasted walnuts

Pumpkin Ravioli with brown butter, sage and toasted walnuts

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake, my go to Thanksgiving dessert

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake, my go to Thanksgiving dessert

I hope you enjoy preparing these simple pumpkin recipes as much as I enjoyed preparing for you! Please feel free to share and don't hesitate to reach out with your comments! I would love to hear from you! Wishing everyone a safe, healthy and Happy Halloween!

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Pretty in Pink on National Chocolate Cupcake Day!

We are coming out in Pink...and Dark Chocolate to recognize and support Breast Cancer Awareness Month! I don't know of any better combination than Chocolate and Pink Champagne!

We are coming out in Pink...and Dark Chocolate to recognize and support Breast Cancer Awareness Month! I don't know of any better combination than Chocolate and Pink Champagne!

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These Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes are the bomb! So rich and velvety, and for an extra special touch for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I added a little Rose' Glaze for a touch of pink!  Having a little dark chocolate craving? I've included a gluten free version!

Click Here for the recipe!

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And you thought Rose' was only a summer beverage...Check out the Rose' All Day Wine and Music Festival in Dallas, October 29th! In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the event will donate $1 from every ticket to the AIRS Alliance for reconstructive surgery. 

I say Rose' All Year!!!

My Angel, Jeff, pretty in pink to honor Breast Cancer Awareness, enjoying @whisperingangel Rose' ... All he needs is one of my chocolate ganache cupcakes! 

My Angel, Jeff, pretty in pink to honor Breast Cancer Awareness, enjoying @whisperingangel Rose' ... All he needs is one of my chocolate ganache cupcakes! 

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5 Good Reasons to Have a Second Cup of Joe

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Something about fall, when the mornings are a little cooler, that makes me go for an extra cup of coffee in the morning! I grew up on coffee, which was a huge social occasion in our home. My grandmother used to let us dip our toast with honey in coffee for breakfast when I was just a little girl and I felt so grown up as a young teen when I was offered to “have coffee” with the grown ups at the end of a dinner party for the first time.

I love the taste of coffee, straight up, black, just by itself, no sweetener, no fancy flavors, no cream…just coffee. I have two cups every morning to start my day. (Right after my warm water with lemon, but that is a blog for another day!) Whatever your coffee pleasure, here are a few great things to know to justify your love of this super beneficial bev.

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1.     Coffee (caffeine) enhances concentration and productivity.

2.     It is a stimulant that boosts brain function, alertness, focus, and even increases memory!

3.     By helping sustain intensity and energy, coffee is the perfect pre-strenuous workout beverage.

4.     Rich in antioxidants, coffee can lower the risks of some forms of cancer, reduces the risk of Parkinson’s Disease and provides protection to the heart. In addition to these health benefits, coffee is especially concentrated with flavonoids, which have been reported to have anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties.

5.     Coffee also stimulates stomach cells to release more hydrochloric acid which aides in         digestion.

A 2010 study in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that regular moderate amounts of caffeine has an inverse correlation to cognitive decline and can actually help to protect and heal the brain. Everything in moderation of course, in this study, moderation was defined as 1-3 cups of coffee per day.

So, now when you enjoy your morning coffee, you can feel good about all of the benefits that cup of joe is delivering to your body…a super great way to start the day!  Time for my second cup!  Oh, and if you want something sweet and yummy to go with yours, try one of my warm and soothing Pumpkin Muffins! (click here for the recipe)

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Why Farm to Table? 5 Good Reasons

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Beyond the obvious, nouveau restaurant catch phrase, what does Farm to Table or Farm to Fork mean… really?  So, you go to your local farmer’s market on a Saturday morning, bring home some beautiful fruits and vegetables, even meats, cheeses, eggs, nuts and baked goods, then get in the kitchen and cook a little dinner with them.  Simple right?  Yes!  It is so simple and so good!  Good for you, good for the community, good for the environment and good for the economy!  This concept is nothing new but a re-connection to our roots and an attempt to minimize the distance that food travels and must be preserved before being eaten. 5 Good Reasons for Farm to Table:

It's Good For You. The health benefits of fresh local are undeniable.  Since it is not being transported from a long distance, local fruits and vegetables can be picked at the peak of ripeness, not beforehand, when they have not yet fully absorbed their nutrients, to make up for shipping time which means you are eating them at the peak of their flavor. According to the San Diego Tribune, the average produce travels 1500 miles to reach your grocery store, a large percentage of which is coming from outside of the country.

Local Community Impact.  By supporting local farmers you are supporting your own community, creating demand for labor and getting out in a fresh, healthy environment to visit, taste and enjoy!

Environmental Sustainability.  If produce travels 1500 miles at an average of about5 miles/gallon in a large transport truck, it takes 500 gallons of fuel per truck, not to mention emissions polluting our air.

Animal Welfare.  By supporting local farmers who do not practice in industrial factory farming, you are supporting animal welfare.

Economic Impact. By supporting the local farmers, you improve local economic vitality, increase labor demand, and decrease the need for a large supply chain, imports and shipping costs to the food that you are buying.    

Not only are restaurants adopting this brilliant concept, schools are offering Farm-to-Cafeteria lunches promoting healthy eating and nutrition education. Check out my list of my favorite Farm to Table restaurants across the country on Gigi’s Dish List. (click here)

Enjoy this beautiful start to fall, with healthy farm to fork foods!

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Romantic Fall Getaways

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Okay, so you’ve been with the kids all summer, taken your family vacation, and enjoyed every moment.  Now, it’s time for a little romantic getaway just for the two of you! Of course, when I’m looking for a getaway, I always look for a great place to recharge, but it’s really about the food for me, which makes for the perfect all round getaway experience.  Wining, dining and romancing is what this getaway is all about! Here are a few of my favorite Romantic Getaway spots that offer a comfy, cozy environment and fabulous cuisine.

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Auberge du Soleil, Napa Valley @AubergeSoleil

Calistoga Ranch, Napa Valley @CalistogaRanch

Twin Farms, Barnard, Vermont @TwinFarms

Blackberry Inn, Walland Tennessee @blackberryfrm

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California @Post Ranch Inn 

Little Palm Island, Florida Keys @LittlePalmFL

Inn at Little Washington, Virginia @InnatLittleWash

 

This week’s feature, one of our favorite romantic spots, and my recommendation for your fall romantic getaway, Post Ranch Inn and the Sierra Mar Restaurant. Check out their website Postranchinn.com. We have visited Post Ranch and Sierra Mar many times and it has to be one of my favorite dining experiences. The food and wine are fabulous and the view simply spectacular. With the quaint and wonderful town of Carmel just minutes away, and of course, beautiful Pebble Beach, there is so much to do and see close by, or you can just stay on the cliff of Big Sur and enjoy each other! My recommendation for a fall getaway. 

The vistas at this most magnificent spot are spectacular. Enjoy your romantic getaway, whether traveling near, far, or just having a special staycation at home!

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Located on the Monterey Peninsula, 140 miles south of SF, 94 SanJose 25 Monterey 20 Carmel, down State Route 1 through curves and cliffs and the most incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged CA coastline with the Santa Lucia Mountains bordering the east and the Pacific bordering the west. Activities include hiking, bird watching, wale watching and beaches.  High in the cliffs, site the most beautiful hideaway, Post Ranch Inn and the Sierra Mar Restaurant. 

Summer Travel Series - Vail

This week’s feature – The Vail Valley - Where the air is crisp and cool and the red sky sunsets take your breath away! #SummerintheRockies Read on for my favorite places and Colorado inspired recipes!

“I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.  You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply, Rocky Mountain High, Colorado…” John Denver Circa 1972

“I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.  You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply, Rocky Mountain High, Colorado…” John Denver Circa 1972

The summer mountain climate makes for incredible fresh local produce!  The Farmers Markets are amazing show casing local farmers’ and artisans’ works, fresh pastries and confections.  My idea of a perfect day is shopping the farmers market and coming home to create a fresh meal with the day’s bounty. 

The local Palisades Peaches are so sweet and juicy and though just perfect all on their own, I love to cook with them and have so much fun creating fun recipes that include these delicious wonders.  A traditional peach crumble, arugula salad with grilled peaches and goat cheese, even in a vegetarian Bolognese with wide pasta noodles, a fantastic, fresh and simple summer meal.

My traditional Peach Crumble.  Click here for the recipe

My traditional Peach Crumble.  Click here for the recipe

When it comes to dining out in the Vail Valley, there is an array of terrific options, in fact, a few of my favorite restaurants on earth are right here in the Vail Valley.  It’s all about the lunch for me and on a special occasion I love to splurge on a long late lunch as my only meal of the day.  Being a July girl, we are usually in Vail for my birthday. My favorite lunch is @SweetBasilVail where we spent my birthday this year, starting with Rose’ Champagne and Truffle Fries…what could be more decadent than that for a special celebration!

Sweet Basil Vail...One of my Favorites!

Sweet Basil Vail...One of my Favorites!

In addition to super great dining, the summer activities are limitless here and there is something for the entire family.  Healthy living is key with so many great hikes, biking trails, paddle boarding lakes, tennis, golf, super great kids camps, water rafting and fly fishing…the list goes on.  It really is the perfect family summer camp!  Did I mention that I caught 6 rocks and a tree while trying to fly fish?  Jeff is a very talented fly fisherman however, otherwise, we would starve if we were counting on me to catch dinner!  

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My fisherman!  Jeff catching our dinner in the beautiful rapids of the Eagle River. As you can see, the end result is delicious. Trout is probably our favorite white fish, flaky and light, with a delicious mild flavor. There is nothing better than fresh caught fish. A beautiful Rocky Mountain Trout Amandine. Click here for my recipe!  

Preparing for our Trout Fishing Adventure!

Preparing for our Trout Fishing Adventure!

Enjoying our last days of summer in Colorado. We are so blessed to be able to spend a good part of our summers here.  It truly is God’s country!