Celebrating Lobster Season with 5 Fabulous Fun & Simple Lobster Dishes

 Warm Water Lobster Tails

Warm Water Lobster Tails

August marks the beginning of warm water lobster season in the waters of south Florida and the Caribbean. I am a bit partial to warm water lobster, which are known for their lighter flavor and tender meat, as compared to cold water lobster.  Also found in the waters of the Mediterranean and Asia, warm water, or “spiny lobster” have a long tail and head similar to that of their cold water distant cousins, but they do not have claws, rather long spiny antennae.  I say distant because although both varieties are crustaceans, they are actually from different species and families.

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The only edible meat of the spiny lobster is in its tail, tender, juicy and very sweet. That being said, there is something very special about the claw meat of a cold water lobster, but my heart belongs to the mild and tender meat of the warm water lobster tail.  Though cold water lobsters are harvested year round off the northern coastline of the United States and Nova Scotia, summer is considered lobster season. Warm water lobster season is August 1 – March 31, giving time in the spring for mating season and reproduction.

We have wintered in Nassau, Bahamas for over 20 years and consume a lot of lobster while we are there! It is fresh, abundant and is so simple to be prepared and in so many ways! I serve lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in appetizers and salads, and our continuous flow of house guests are always excited about which dishes they will experience during their visit.  Here are some of my favorites!

Simply click on the photos for the recipes!

There is just something decadent about Lobster, but it is truly so simple to prepare. I hope you will try some of my favorites and don't forget to share! Please send me photos of your favorites! I can't believe we are already in August. Enjoy these last weeks of your summer and...

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 My new lifestyle cookbook,    Fun & Simple Gourmet ,   is launching September 1st! Filled with my favorite fun and simple recipes for your healthy gourmet lifestyle! Don't forget to   Pre-Order   your copy today!

My new lifestyle cookbook, Fun & Simple Gourmet, is launching September 1st! Filled with my favorite fun and simple recipes for your healthy gourmet lifestyle! Don't forget to Pre-Order your copy today!

5 Great Recipes for a Delicious 4th of July!

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"The second day of July, 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival." -John Adams, July 1, 1776

Independence Day has always been my favorite summer holiday, maybe because it always includes two of my favorite things, fireworks and red velvet cupcakes! On Independence Day we celebrate the anniversary of our Declaration of Independence from the British Empire with parades, fireworks and yes, food! You will love all of my fun and simple recipes to help plan your 4th of July holiday menu, but first, a little history. The Declaration of Independence was finally approved and signed July 4, 1776, officially declaring the United States of America independent from Great Britain. Ironically, John Adams died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration, as well as Thomas Jefferson who also passed on this very same day. The two were also coincidentally the only signers of the Declaration of Independence to become United States Presidents.

How do you celebrate Independence Day? At our house, it's all about the food...of course! I like to change up the menu each year, but one tradition that is always on the menu, my red velvet cupcakes, and John Philip Sousa marches! (click on photo for recipe)

 These rich and super moist cupcakes are the perfect 4th of July Grand Finale!

These rich and super moist cupcakes are the perfect 4th of July Grand Finale!

Here are a few more fun and simple dishes on our holiday menu this year! Simply click on the photos for the recipes...enjoy! Don't forget to send me your food pics from your holiday table!

I know I said 5 great recipes for your delicious 4th...I couldn't help but share a couple more! We are celebrating right here at home this year...Hilton Head is such a great place for the 4th! Where are you spending your holiday? Send me your 4th of July photos, including your holiday table!       I would love to share...and feel free to share these recipes and menu ideas!

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The best part about celebrating holidays is that the festivities always revolve around family, friends and food! My favorite part of the 4th of July is the cupcakes, though the fireworks are a close second! From our little island to wherever you are...

Happy 4th of July!

 

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Gone Nuts...for Peanuts!

 One of the biggest food trends this year has been non-dairy milk alternatives, mostly plant based nut milks. Replacing dairy is a great way to enhance your healthy lifestyle! This week's blog includes several fantastic and delicious recipes using peanut milk, both plain and chocolate, from protein packed breakfast muffins, to light and healthy pasta, warm soothing fish curry and decadent desserts, like these gorgeous Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cupcakes!

One of the biggest food trends this year has been non-dairy milk alternatives, mostly plant based nut milks. Replacing dairy is a great way to enhance your healthy lifestyle! This week's blog includes several fantastic and delicious recipes using peanut milk, both plain and chocolate, from protein packed breakfast muffins, to light and healthy pasta, warm soothing fish curry and decadent desserts, like these gorgeous Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cupcakes!

In addition to being high in protein, other incredible health benefits associated with peanuts include biotin, an enzyme healthy B vitamin, heart healthy monounsaturated fats which lower stroke and heart attack risk, antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and reduce cancer risk and consuming peanuts may even protect you from gallstones!

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You've seen them all, almond milk, cashew, walnut, even hazelnut milk, but this is the first Peanut Milk, introduced by Elmhurst 1925. (@elmhurst1925) Peanut milk is dairy-free, non-GMO, vegan, lactose free and Kosher. With today's trends in food, turning to a more plant based protein diet, as a replacement for dairy products, nut milks have become a viable and popular alternative. In addition to their already produced almond, hazelnut, cashew, walnut and grain milks (oatmeal & brown rice), Elmhurst (@elmhurst1925) has developed the first peanut milk (regular and chocolate!) and it is delicious! 

They use a patented process called cold milking, producing a nut milk that is super creamy, flavorful and maintains the nutritional integrity of whole, raw Georgia peanuts (@gapeanuts) free of stabilizers, emulsifiers, gums or other chemicals typically used in nut milking and 6 grams of protein in every 8 ounces! (8 grams in the Chocolate variety)

I was honored to be asked, in conjunction with @Foodiechats and the Georgia Peanut Commission (@gapeanuts) to test the product in my kitchen where I had so much fun creating new dishes and improvising with some of my old ones. Check out these amazing recipes using peanut milk! From smoothies and protein packed muffins to start your day, to light and delicious pasta, warm and soothing fish curry and decadent peanut milk desserts! Simple to prepare and oh so tasty! (Simply click on the photos for the recipes!)

With all of these beautiful and delicious options, you can see why I went Nuts for Peanuts and had so much fun cooking with Elmhurst 1925 Milked Peanuts! Not to mention the many health benefits of peanuts!  Can't wait for you to try the recipes and please, send me your photos after you've prepared one of mine, or created one of your own! Hope you are enjoying the start of your summer...

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Vivid Veges! It's National Vegetarian Week

 A rainbow of fresh...look at all of this beautiful healthy color! 

A rainbow of fresh...look at all of this beautiful healthy color! 

It is national vegetarian week and what a great time to jump start a healthy lifestyle going into summer! This time of year is perfect for eating a little lighter as the temperatures begin to heat up and of course we want to look and feel good in our summer attire and swim wear. (check out the photos and recipes of some of my favorite vegetarian dishes below!)

There are a multitude of benefits related to a mostly plant based diet rich in fiber, folic acid, vitamins C, E and magnesium. In addition to feeling better, lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of heart disease, many studies suggest that eating a vegetarian diet can improve your mood, reduce the risk of diabetes, certain types of cancer, cataracts, and even kidney stones!

Eating “Vegetarian” doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor, in fact, most dishes that do not include meat have more flavor and are very satisfying. Here are a few of my favorites! I did throw a couple of vegetarian pasta dishes in the mix, but they can be prepared with gluten-free pasta or zucchini ribbons or spirals to keep them super healthy! (click on images for recipes)

“Vegetarians” come in several varieties. The common denominator of course is that none of these vegetarian diets described below include meat.

Vegan: (total vegetarians) whose diet includes only plant based foods.

Lacto-Ovo: whose diet includes only plant based foods, but do consume eggs and dairy.

Lacto: whose diet includes only plant based foods and dairy products.

Ovo: whose diet includes only plant based foods and eggs (no dairy)

Pescatarian: whose diet includes plant based foods and fish

Pollo-Vegetarian: whose diet includes plant based foods and chicken

Partial-Vegetarian: whose diet includes plant based foods, chicken and fish

I have been a Pescatarian most of my life.  Due to my A blood type (natural vegetarian) and a very sensitive digestive system, I consume mostly plant-based foods along with fish (no more than 2-3 times per week).  My weakness is definitely carbohydrates, I love my pasta, my favorite comfort food, but should be consumed in moderation due to the glycemic index (sugar content). I will touch on this in another blog coming soon.

Join me in celebrating National Vegetarian Week by sticking with a diet rich in plant-based foods (at least 80%) and maybe a serving or 2 of your favorite fish or chicken this week, and let me know how you are feeling by week’s end! I guarantee you will have more energy, sleep better and maybe even shed a few unwanted pounds! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts and experiences, and don’t forget to share photos of the “vegetarian” dishes you enjoyed this week! Cheers...

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The Greatest 2 minutes in Sports!

 April Showers Bring May Flowers to Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

April Showers Bring May Flowers to Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

It's spring in Kentucky and the first Saturday in May is all about the Run for the Roses!  Who will wear the coveted Garland of Roses this year?  A tradition that started in 1896 when the Derby winner was awarded a floral arrangement of white and pink roses.  The red rose became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

 Garland of Red Roses, more than 400 red roses and a crown, one single rose in the center to recognize the heart required to win this incredible race.

Garland of Red Roses, more than 400 red roses and a crown, one single rose in the center to recognize the heart required to win this incredible race.

Derby Pie, my favorite Kentucky Derby Tradition...well, except for a cool Mint Julep of course!

 Check out my recipe for  Kentucky Derby Pie !  It is rich, chocolaty and delicious, a perfect compliment to a sweet and minty julep!  Give it a try and send me your thoughts!   

Check out my recipe for Kentucky Derby Pie!  It is rich, chocolaty and delicious, a perfect compliment to a sweet and minty julep!  Give it a try and send me your thoughts!

 

Spring Entertaining - Heritage Style!

 It's beginning to look a lot like Heritage! Heritage Week 2018 Harbour Town Golf Links, Sea Pines Resort.

It's beginning to look a lot like Heritage! Heritage Week 2018 Harbour Town Golf Links, Sea Pines Resort.

It's time for the RBC Heritage Classic Golf Tournament on Hilton Head Island, the perfect occasion for spring entertaining! Whether you are fortunate enough to be on the island for the festivities or  just watching and toasting from home, you won't want to miss the tournament in this most beautiful setting, one of the favorite stops on the PGA Tour. And while you are watching, why not try my modern Bloody Caesar, with Clamato, lemon and nutmeg. A perfect spring entertaining cocktail with a Heritage Plaid theme! Get your Plaid On...and drink it too!

 My 50th Anniversary Cocktail Entry. Unfortunately, not selected as the Official 50th Anniversary Drink, but I wanted to share with   my   #plaidnation since it is Heritage Week! A perfect Heritage Brunch libation, in celebration of #plaidweek!  Happy Heritage!

My 50th Anniversary Cocktail Entry. Unfortunately, not selected as the Official 50th Anniversary Drink, but I wanted to share with my #plaidnation since it is Heritage Week! A perfect Heritage Brunch libation, in celebration of #plaidweek!  Happy Heritage!

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Since its inception in 1969, the Heritage Classic Golf Tournament has been the highlight of the year in the beautiful Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where I have called home for 35 years. The first tournament was played Thanksgiving weekend 1969 and its champion, a 40-year old Arnold Palmer claimed his first win in over a year. Jack Nicklaus, who designed the course alongside Pete Dye, also won the tournament in 1975. RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) has been the title sponsor of The Heritage since 2012 and this year offers a terrific field of exciting players competing for the Heritage Plaid Jacket and $6.7 million purse. Who will take this year's prize?

 Traditional Opening Ceremony at The Heritage.  A bagpipe parade and canon blast with the first shot into the Calibogue Sound

Traditional Opening Ceremony at The Heritage.  A bagpipe parade and canon blast with the first shot into the Calibogue Sound

Of course, spring entertaining on Hilton Head must include fresh South Carolina Shrimp, which are bountiful in the local waters, like this simple, elegant and flavorful shrimp cocktail.

  Rosemary Shrimp Cocktail.  With fresh local South Carolina Shrimp and a citrusy spicy sauce.

Rosemary Shrimp Cocktail. With fresh local South Carolina Shrimp and a citrusy spicy sauce.

Whether you are entertaining guests for an event, or just a fun gathering of friends and family, my Rosemary Shrimp Cocktail is the perfect dish. Spicy shrimp grilled on rosemary skewers with a tangy citrusy cocktail sauce, perfect with an RBC Bloody Caesar Cocktail! 

Wherever you are this weekend, I hope you will tune into The RBC Heritage Classic. Whether or not you are a golf fan, I am sure you will enjoy Hilton Head's majestic scenery. Stay tuned for more spring entertaining ideas.  In the meantime...

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 To see more of the exquisite Sea Pines Resort, click on the play button! Enjoy!

To see more of the exquisite Sea Pines Resort, click on the play button! Enjoy!

 

  

Spring is Here...Finally!

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I love the beautiful colors in our garden in the spring, especially our bougainvillea! Spring is a time of renewal, rebirth and rejuvenation with new colorful flowers, longer days and lighter fare. Spring entertaining offers an opportunity to get back outside for exercise, cooking outdoors on the barbecue and enjoy dining al fresco. This month I offer some great ideas for healthy spring cooking and entertaining!

  Tropical Mango Mahi.  Click here  for the recipe!

 Tropical Mango Mahi. Click here for the recipe!

This month's feature recipe is my Tropical Mango Mahi, grilled and served with a colorful and flavorful mango salsa, this flaky light fish is the perfect healthy meal, and oh so satisfying! Served with coconut rice, this tropical dish will make you feel you are living the island life at home!

So simple to prepare in less than 20 minutes total prep and cooking time, you can enjoy your guests and being outdoors with this delicious and easy dish. 

Enjoy with a nice light Sancerre, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

 Crisp, light Sancerre! Perfect for Springtime

Crisp, light Sancerre! Perfect for Springtime

And for dessert...Luscious Lemon Souffle'

  Click here  for recipe!

Click here for recipe!

Spring desserts are all about being light. This luscious lemon soufflé is just that! Light, lemony and delicious. It can be served warm or at room temperature on its own or with a luscious lemon creme anglaise. It could even be served cold with fresh whipped cream! Simple to prepare in advance, perfect for al fresco entertaining!

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I can't wait for spring to be able to be creative with outdoor "al fresco" dining! It doesn't have to be elaborate or time consuming. Use your own outdoor environment as a landscape and keep it beautifully simple. I love a comfy, casual, shabby chic look with clean simple colors. Enjoy al fresco dining in your beautiful room without a roof! 

Stay tuned for more fresh spring recipes and entertaining ideas, and healthy spring travel recommendations. Take advantage of these longer days!  In the meantime, 

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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

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!

 1 Rockefeller Plaza

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!

   
  
   
  
    
  
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    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. 

   
  
   
  
    
  
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    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.

   
  
   
  
    
  
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    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.

   
  
   
  
    
  
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    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.