A Delicious Late Summer Surprise

SunsetHarbourTown.jpg

Where did summer go? I don’t know about you, but didn’t this one seem especially fast? The highlight for me was my birthday weekend when Jeff surprised me with a wonderful birthday dinner celebration in a spectacular wine cellar. I knew he was up to something, but would never let on and spoil his surprise, of course.  We spent the night before at the wonderfully chic Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah, Georgia enjoying the day in the city and the rooftop terrace at the hotel.

Then, when I arrived at the venue for dinner, I was be greeted by 20 of our closest friends…surprise right! But that wasn’t even close to being the real surprise. As I was seated at the table and read the beautifully crafted menu for the evening, I noticed something super special, the menu was comprised entirely of dishes from my new book! In honor of the launch this month, Jeff had arranged with the chef to prepare the evening’s event with an appetizer, a choice of 3 entrée’s and dessert all from Fun & Simple Gourmet. Needless to say, I was more than surprised, speechless in fact (which is not easy for me…ha!) and so touched that Jeff arranged such a special evening with our dearest friends.  Chef Nick at the South Carolina Yacht Club was so gracious and prepared the dishes perfectly, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the delicious food, incredible wines and beautiful evening in this magical setting.

SCYCWineCellarBW2.jpg
SCYC Menu.png

I thought it would be fun to share the menu Jeff and Chef Nick selected as well as the recipes, all from Fun & Simple Gourmet. Now available here on the website, Amazon and select independent book stores and kitchen shops. (Click on the photos for these recipes!)    

It’s hard to believe we are already into our normal back to school routines, shorter days and fall flavors. I love cooking in the fall and now ready for the temperatures to become a little cooler, it sure still feels like summer! Enjoy your last days of summer weather and in the meantime…

Live Well™.png
Gigi Watermark Script 50k BIG®.png

With Chef Nick in the Wine Cellar at the beautiful South Carolina Yacht Club. Chef and his staff were amazing with every detail for our very special evening. I was so honored to have Chef Nick prepare my dishes from Fun & Simple Gourmet. Everything was superb! Many thanks Chef!

SCYCWineCellar.jpg

5 Great Recipes for a Delicious 4th of July!

4th of July Aruba Beach  copy_0.jpg

"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!

GigiBook_0034.CR2.jpg

 

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!

 

livewelllovewelleatwell copy.png
Gigi Watermark Script 50k BIG®.png

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!

 

Romantic Fall Getaways

BigSur2.jpeg

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.

IMG_3866-2.jpg

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!

GiGi-Script-50-Grey.jpg

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!  

JTFIsherman2 copy.jpg

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! 

  

Summer Travel Series - Colorado Summers

This week's feature, beautiful Aspen Colorado! 

This week's feature, beautiful Aspen Colorado! 

Downtown Aspen

Downtown Aspen

The Little Nell Aspen

The Little Nell Aspen

This week's feature, Aspen.  Though known for being a great ski town, Aspen is also filled with a rich history of early settlers and miners heading west.  Check out Jeff's historic walking tour of Aspen, you will find this little western town's history fascinating!

One of the first things you'll notice in Colorado in the summer is the incredible flowers everywhere you look, in all shapes, sizes and colors of the rainbow.  They just make me smile!

Cascade of beautiful flowers Aspen Streets

Cascade of beautiful flowers Aspen Streets

Downtown Aspen Shopping

Downtown Aspen Shopping

A few of my favorite restaurants are right here in Aspen.  For lunch it has to be Ajax Tavern @thelittlenell right at the base of Ajax Mountain, and The Wild Fig, just across from the famed Wheeler Opera House.  My favorite dinner spots Casa Tua for Italian @casatuaaspen for a super great menu, Ellina @ellinaaspen and a clubby Steakhouse, Steak 316.  Don't forget to check out what's happening at Belly Up Bar @bellyupaspen, for an intimate look at fantastic entertainment.

When breakfast comes into play, I can’t resist the Lemon Soufflé Pancakes at Element 47 @littlenellaspen on the pool terrace.  They are delicate, light and spongy with a sweet raspberry sauce.  Here is my version of this favorite breakfast dish, I think mine are pretty close!

Lemon Souffle' Pancakes -  Click here for recipe!

Lemon Souffle' Pancakes - Click here for recipe!

Shopping in Aspen is nearly as much fun as hiking the beautiful Maroon Bells! From elegant designer boutiques to home decor and cowboy boots, not to mention stunning art galleries featuring exquisite collections, there is something to appeal to everyone!

Kemosabe  Boots, Hats, Jewelry and Buckles

Kemosabe Boots, Hats, Jewelry and Buckles

I shot this beautiful landscape on the way back from Aspen.  Colorado truly is God's Country! Hope your summer travels bring you to the Rockies sometime soon! Send me your travels and photos from your favorite summer trip! I would love to post them on the blog!

Live well, love well, eat well...travel safely!

 

GiGi-Script-50-Grey.jpg

 

 

 

Summer Travel Series - Charleston, America's #1

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

The Pineapple Fountain represents the true meaning of the crowned fruit, Welcome, Friendship and Hospitality, the very essence of this fantastic city. There is a reason why Charleston is voted #1 in North America and #2 in the world by Conde' Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure, it's rich history, natural beauty, amazing culinary and southern hospitality, make it not just a world class summer vacation destination, but a fantastic getaway any time of year! 

The Charleston Battery

The Charleston Battery

Charleston is much more than cobblestone streets and classical architecture, it has become the culinary capital of the southeast, in this city, "History Reigns, Food Rules!" 

There are over 200 restaurants in this beautiful city, offering everything from slow cooked traditional southern food and barbecue, to farm to table and fine dining, including several James Beard award winners.

Husk-Restaurant-Charleston-5-800x545.jpg

Award winning Sean Brock's Husk and it's sister restaurant, McCrady's, members of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group and two of my favorites. Husk, Bon Appetit's 2011 Best New Restaurant in America, features a modern take on farm to table southern food whose menu changes daily based on the fresh ingredients of the day.  McCrady's set in a 4-story Georgian House, circa 1778, home of Edward McGrady, which he opened as McCrady's Tavern, has been many things since his death in 1802, but today stands as both a tavern and adjacent haute cuisine multi-course tasting room. Another favorite is the Hall Family's Hall's Chophouse. Jeannie and Bill Hall opening Hall's in 2009 joined by sons, Tommy and Billy, this family has spent all of their lives in the hospitality industry.

A true neighborhood hot spot offering a well rounded menu for all palette's, live music and the best Gospel Sunday Brunch in town!  In fact, Jeff and I went for brunch once and stayed through dinner enjoying gospel and jazz all afternoon long!  And, by the way, we were among several other tables who did the same thing! 

 

Did I mention shopping? A day on King Street is a shopping extravaganza! From fine art and antiques to designer boutiques, book stores, home decor, chocolates, cosmetics and coffee shops, King Street is Charleston at it's best.   

Rainy day of shopping on King Street!

Rainy day of shopping on King Street!

Hotels range from Belmond's Charleston Place, to lovely and quaint B&B's and guest houses. There is truly something for everyone in Charleston. Whether you are a foodie, shopper or history buff, Charleston has it all. Check out Jeff's historic walking audio tour of the city at historicwalkingtour.com! I hope you can add Charleston to your summer travel planning!  You will be glad you did!  Send me your photos and favorite places!  Happy July!

GiGi-Script-50-Grey.jpg

Summer Travel Series - Celebrating the 4th of July!

Fireworks in historic Boston Harbor. Founded in the 1600's and where the American Revolution began, what a perfect 4th of July vacation destination! While you are there, check out Jeff's audio historic walking tour with 50 historic sites on a beautiful walk through the city.  Click here   to view the tour! Where are your summer travels taking you?

Fireworks in historic Boston Harbor. Founded in the 1600's and where the American Revolution began, what a perfect 4th of July vacation destination! While you are there, check out Jeff's audio historic walking tour with 50 historic sites on a beautiful walk through the city. Click here  to view the tour! Where are your summer travels taking you?

"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

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.

Celebrating right here at home...Hilton Head is a great place for the 4th!

Ocean Lounge, Sea Pines Beach Club, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island, SC

Ocean Lounge, Sea Pines Beach Club, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island, SC

A 4th of July tradition...whatever the holiday menu...always ends with my scrumptious Red Velvet Cupcakes with creamy mascarpone and cream cheese frosting, my favorite part of the holiday!

My Red Velvet Cupcakes... Click Here  for Recipe!

My Red Velvet Cupcakes...Click Here for Recipe!

GigiBook_0034.CR2.jpg

 

The best part about celebrating holidays is that the festivities always revolve around family, friends and food! Though my favorite part of the 4th of July is the cupcakes, the fireworks are a close second!

Happy 4th of July!

 

GiGi-Script-50-Grey.jpg

Summer Travel Series - Travel Tips

It's Summer!  Have Suitcase...Will Travel!!!

It's Summer!  Have Suitcase...Will Travel!!!

Summer is here...  Some say finally...I say already?  But ready or not, it is upon us, summer!  It is time to start thinking about summer travel planning.  I hope our summer travel series leads you to a great summer trip, destination, restaurant or even just a new fun recipe.  I want to hear from you!  Please send me your summer travel questions and your feedback!  If you choose one of our recommendations, send me your photos, I'd love to post to the blog!  Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy summer!  Bon Voyage!

Practice makes perfect as they say, and after many years of doing it, I pretty much have it down to an art.  Summer vacation travel is exciting, but seems to bring with it an added level of stress by nature.  Summer travel is meant to be fun…so let’s see what we can do to help keep it that way!

First make a packing list of the types of items you will need, depending on your destination and planned activities.  Packing smart is the key to stress free travel.   

Pack light!  Lighter weight summer clothing makes this even easier.  Choose knits and cottons, fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily. I can actually go for two weeks in a carry-on bag, I know what you are thinking, impossible right?  Stick with me here.  Pick a color and plan around it using the Rule of Three.  No more than three bottoms and/or 3 tops that are interchangeable among each other, this is where your color selection comes in, plus it really makes choosing what to take so much easier!  Pack layers and ladies don’t forget a little black dress, the most versatile item in your closet.  Dark fabrics don’t show stains and can be worn more often.  If you roll clothes, place those items on the bottom of your bag and folded items on top.  Pack small light colored clothes and undergarments in Ziploc bags, squeezing all the excess air out.

Think what you can do without, and don’t pack it!  Only take jewelry that you are actually wearing to travel, which not only keeps is simple, but also helps to prevent leaving a “little” something behind. 

Shoes:  Rule of Three.  Pack one pair of dress shoes and one pair of casual shoes, and of course, if you plan to visit the gym or hit the tennis courts, one pair of tennis/workout shoes.  Of course, you will be wearing one of these for travel, so you really only need to “pack” two.  Stuff shoes with sunglasses, charge cords, other smaller items that will fit inside.  If you are taking your golf clubs, don’t forget to utilize extra space in your golf travel bag for items that would take up unnecessary space in your suitcase, shoes in particular, tennis rackets, etc. 

Pack liquids and cosmetics in small travel containers and place in sealed Ziploc bags, which helps with organization and prevents leakage.  Place vitamins and supplements in Ziploc bags avoiding bottle bulk.  

There you have it.  Stress free travel…just in time for your summer vacation!

Check out this   video   featuring all of the many wonderful activities at   Sea Pines Resort  !

Check out this video featuring all of the many wonderful activities at Sea Pines Resort!

Gigi Script Grey 50.jpg

 

 

Don't forget to pack the camera! Okay, iPhone 7 with Portrait Photography feature!

Don't forget to pack the camera! Okay, iPhone 7 with Portrait Photography feature!

JT and me enjoying the Ocean Lounge, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island.

JT and me enjoying the Ocean Lounge, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island.

If you haven’t made summer travel plans as yet and you are still looking for a fabulous destination for you and your family to spend time together in an amazing setting with incredible culinary…my summer dish list recommendationSea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island.  The best family vacation spot in the world!  Happy Traveling!  And if you are in my neighborhood, please reach out! 

Our home.  Beautiful Harbour Town, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Our home.  Beautiful Harbour Town, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Preparing your home:  Turn off toilets, or water altogether.  Pour a little bleach in the toilets.  Turn off the icemaker and remove the all but a couple of ice cubes.  This way you will know if you had a loss of power while you are away.  Chances are if the cubes have melted, the food in your freezer has also thawed at some point.  Remove foods and condiments from the refrigerator that will be spoiled by the time you return.  Leave closet doors ajar for air circulation and in summer or warmer climates, leave AC turned on to 78-80 (F) degrees.

If you are traveling by air, ladies, always carry a wrap or sweater on the plane.  And children should pack (with supervision of course) and carry their own bag!  I see some of the cutest roller bags being pulled by the most proud children when I’m traveling.

Traditional Low Country Boil .   Fresh local South Carolina Shrimp, Smoked Kielbasa, Red New Potatoes and Fresh Corn on the Cob.  Click  here  for recipe!

Traditional Low Country BoilFresh local South Carolina Shrimp, Smoked Kielbasa, Red New Potatoes and Fresh Corn on the Cob.  Click here for recipe!

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!

 

April in Paris...Oui Oui!!!

"I never knew the charm of spring, I never met it face to face.  Till April in Paris, this is a feeling ...what have you done to my heart."  Vernon Duke 1932 (paraphrased)  Audrey Hepburn once said, "Paris is always a good idea." (Sabrina 1954) I tend to agree!  Especially in spring.  This month, we explore my favorite great places to stay, play and eat in France along with a couple of my favorite Francais inspired recipes!  Savourez et trouvez des plasirs!

L'Avenue Paris (Avenue Montaigne Of Course!)

L'Avenue Paris (Avenue Montaigne Of Course!)

This corner restaurant at the lower tip of the Golden Triangle of Paris, with it's outdoor patio has to be my favorite spot in the City of Love.  Jeff and I went once for an early lunch at 11:45 am and ended up leaving sometime around midnight!  Well, there was a walk down the Avenue late that afternoon before returning for cocktail hour which led directly into dinner, meeting new friends, etc.  One of the most memorable days of my life!  I think Jeff was just trying to keep me away from the fabulous shopping along Avenue Montaigne where you will find everything from Haute couture to ready to wear, albeit for me, just maybe the best window shopping in the world!   

This week, let's start with one of my favorite french cheeses and appetizers.  A wonderful creamy french brie or camembert with sautéed mushrooms, herbs and toasted baguette slices.  I could just have this for a most satisfying dinner paired with a lovely red Bordeaux.  Delicieux et satisfaisant.  Send me your favorite french inspired dishes!  Bon Appetit!

Follow my blog on Bloglovin' where you can follow all of your favorite blogs and discover new ones!