top 5

Top 5: Food Bloggers I Love

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I love making my own recipes and trying out new places to eat, but I also find a TON of food inspiration through other bloggers. Whether it’s really amazing food photography, irresistible recipes, or just a unique perspective, there’s always something new to try and be inspired by.  Some of these bloggers I’ve met, and some I haven’t (but maybe will someday!) and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

In no particular order…

Our Best Bites
Kate and Sara are two friends cooking up some amazingly delicious looking things (and I love that they have an orange slice as part of their signatures at the bottom of each post!). There’s everything from recipes to tips on food photography making it easy to find what you’re looking for. You’re pretty much guaranteed to find a tried and true menu selection here. And personally, when I think about my bestest friend Sam, it just makes me happy to see two awesome ladies working together on a food blog that they clearly love doing!

We Are Not Martha
Another example of amazing women working together is We Are Not Martha. Susie and Chelsee definitely has plenty of food ideas, but also add lifestyle tips, fun tutorials, and offer us a glimpse into their personal style. To me it doesn’t get much better than seeing a recipe for Candy Corn Ice Cream, and then a tutorial to make your own glitter flats all in the same place.

Everything I see on Bakerella’s blog makes me want to IMMEDIATELY get in the kitchen and try it. I’ve made cake pops with her recipe/tutorial a few times, and every single time they are a huge hit. I just got her new book for Christmas (from Sam, she clearly knows me very well) and now it’s just a matter of picking which project to try first. I really admire her creativity and love how she shares the things she loves with her readers (everything from Star Wars cookie cutters to cute cupcake liners).

The Pioneer Woman
What doesn’t Ree do? Her blog tagline is “Plowing through life in the country… one calf nut at a time.” Am I the only one who finds that hilarious? Besides her great recipes and amazing photography, she has a unique voice in her writing. I really enjoy her posts, and have found myself actually laughing out loud from her sense of humor more than once (awkward if someone overhears you, but whatever). I love when she does photography contests or just showcases of the photos people have sent in to her. I feel like our lives are very different (She’s in the country, I’m a city girl. She’s a mom, I’m not quite ready for that.) but still, I connect with her writing for some reason.

The Cupcake Blog
Pretty sure this one should be self explanatory. A whole blog devoted to cupcakes. Yup, I’m a fan. I love seeing some of the intricate designs they showcase, along with adorable cupcake related items. It’s mostly a conglomeration of things found around the web from blogs, flickr, tumblr, or items submitted by readers with links to the sources. Just seeing a cupcake makes me happy, and this blog is perfect for that.

Hope you enjoy these awesome blogs as much as I do!

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Top 5: Food (and drink) Experiences for 2011

With 2010 drawing to a close, I’m already thinking ahead to all the fun food and drink experience that await us in 2011. We still have a ton of restaurants to try on our Restaurant Wish List, new recipes in the making, and events to look forward to. In no particular order, here are the Top 5 Food Experiences I can’t wait for in 2011!

2011 Minnesota State Fair
Our bestest friends, Sam & Jason, live in MN (I think I’ve mentioned that many times, but anyway) and absolutely raved about the Minnesota State Fair held in August each year. I’ve never been to a state fair before. It wasn’t really something you heard about living in NY growing up. But two words make me want to go more than anything else: fried pickles. And looking at Sam’s post on the fair in pictures makes me wish it would happen every day. I’m pretty determined to make it out to MN this year at the end of August for at least a few days to experience a true state fair with my best friends!

Meet-ups with the Ladies of MA Girls’ Pint Out

This past year the fabulous Rebecca brought a chapter of Girls’ Pint Out to Massachusetts. Started in Indiana, this beer appreciation group (for the ladies only!) is really exciting to me. I’ll be contributing to the MA GPO blog and helping to plan some upcoming events. I love getting to explore the world of craft beer with the girls!

New Addition to Our Kitchen
I recently came to the conclusion that I can no longer survive without a KitchenAid stand mixer. Dane has been talking more about learning to make breads, and I’m finding that it’d be significantly easier to develop these skills if we had an appliance to help out. Now I’m on the hunt for a great deal, even though I know it’s really tough to find a sale on a mixer. Wish me luck. I hope to add a new KitchenAid stand mixer to our home soon!

Learning to Make Fresh Pasta
I have always wanted to learn how to make my own pasta. Pappardelle, ravioli, fettuccine. When it’s fresh, it’s even better. I don’t know what I’ve been waiting for, but in 2011 I want to teach myself and make some fabulous dishes with Kristen and Dane’s homemade pasta. (Conveniently, you can buy a pasta attachment for a KitchenAid stand mixer. The possibilities would be endless.)

Sugaring Season in Vermont
Again, one of my goals involve our friends Sam & Jason. Last year Sam’s dad built a sugar house, which is used to collect sap and make maple syrup. We got to see it in the works, during construction over the summer. While we talked with Sam’s family we learned all about sugaring, including that the sugaring season happens in late February and March. They were sweet enough to invite us back up for the sugaring season, and we hope to take advantage of the invitation this year to see maple syrup in the making!

I hope you’ll follow along as we (hopefully!) get to have these experiences in 2011. Cheers to the wonderful things that 2010 brought, and best wishes for a delicious new year in 2011!

Top 5: Mickey Mouse Shaped Foods

Our trip to Disney starts TONIGHT! We fly out of Boston after work into Orlando. The plan is to rest up when we get there, then head out starting on Saturday to all the parks with our best friends Sam and Jason. This has got me thinking (besides thinking about all the restaurant possibilities, which you’ll definitely see when we get back) about all the foods we’re going to see shaped like the famous mouse himself, Mickey.

I remember as a kid having Mickey shaped ice cream bars, and sometimes my mom would make pancakes shaped like Mickey. I’m sure Disney capitalizes on this like crazy, so I did a little research and here’s what I’m most looking forward to seeing.

Mickey Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Besides just loving chocolate covered pretzels, these pretzels are shaped like Mickey and then dipped into fun toppings. I’ve heard these can be found in the Magic Kingdom and I definitely plan to give one a try.

Mickey Waffles
From everything I’ve seen/read about Disney, these waffles seem like a staple at any brunch spot you might visit while in and around the parks. I feel almost guaranteed to encounter these, and fully intend to smother them in syrup and eat them when I do.

Mickey Chocolate Covered Apples
Anything covered in chocolate is good by me (well, almost anything). I absolutely LOVE apples dipped in caramel and chocolate, and look how intricate the decoration is on these!

Mickey Tomatoes
I was totally fascinated by these when I first saw them. The ride ‘Living with the Land’ in Epcot showcase the history and innovations in agriculture throughout different climates and  four greenhouses (that actually grow vegetables used at restaurants on the Disney grounds). These greenhouses grow Mickey shaped vegetables, including these tomatoes, and cucumbers. Interesting…

Mickey Ice Cream Bars
Already mentioned these, but they make me nostalgic. What better place to have one that Disney World? Hopefully it’s warm enough for me to enjoy!

I can’t wait to see some of the other creative ways Mickey comes up in foods while we are in Disney! I’ll make sure to give everything a try. For the blog, of course.

Top 5: Foods I Want Delivered to my Doorstep

A few weeks ago, Dane sent me an Edible Arrangement to work (just because I was having a rough week). Smart man. Really, I can’t think of anything that could have cheered me up quite like chocolate covered strawberries in the middle of a really stressful week. That got me thinking, if you can get chocolate covered fruit delivered, what other things are out there? I obviously had to do some research and found my Top 5 Foods I Want Delivered to my Doorstep.

In no particular order…

Edible Arrangements

I know I just talked about this, but it was so lovely to have this fun arrangement delivered to my office. Not to mention I absolutely love chocolate covered strawberries (as I’m sure you do too), and love how the arrangement was done fresh that day. It’s a fun conversation starter and you can share everything (well, if you want to).

Gourmet Cheese of the Month Club

Yes, that’s right, the Cheese of the Month Club. Everyone’s heard of it, maybe heard people make fun of it, but I would love to get a different gourmet cheese every month. It’d be the perfect way to ensure my brand new cheese board gets some use on a regular basis. If anyone is looking for the perfect gift for me, this is it.

Cake Truffles

We saw these on the Phantom Gourmet and I’m hoping we eventually order them (maybe our first anniversary celebration?). Cake truffles. The name alone should have you intrigued. Cake + Truffle = There is no way this could be bad. These tasty little treats combine cake and a variety of truffle fillings, and can be ordered by the dozen and delivered to you. Cake Truffles are made at Delicious Desserts in Falmouth, MA.

Omaha Steaks

Moving into some entrees, Omaha Steaks definitely gets my vote. I had never had anything from Omaha Steaks until Dane’s grandmother bought us a gift package for Christmas. Everything has been absolutely delicious. I was actually surprised (don’t laugh) to see they offer things other than steak. We’ve had potatoes au gratin, hot dogs, and pork chops, along with the steaks that came with the gift package. I’m a big meat and potatoes kind of girl, so Omaha Steaks, you’ve won me over.

Beer of the Month Club (Specifically Sam Adams, but any craft beer is acceptable)

When I worked with the Snowball last year, Samuel Adams (well, the parent company, Boston Brewing Co.) donated a Beer of the Month Club for the Silent Auction. We tried to win, but apparently everyone else loves Sam Adams the same way we do. I decided to try to look for it myself and join, and it’s no where to be found. Maybe the club membership donated just featured Sam Adams and wasn’t exclusively Sam Adams beers? I’m not sure, but either way, if anyone finds something like this, let me know. There are plenty Sam varieties for them to do a Beer of the Month Club!

This just all feeds into my love of food and drink, and makes it all the better when you don’t even have to leave home!

Top 5: Pasta shapes

I consider myself a pasta connoisseur. I always have a ridiculous amount on hand, ready to be made at a moment’s notice. Dane is always a great consumer of whatever I make, and for the different sauces I cook I tend to have favorite pastas. The shapes are made to be served with certain sauces so that it can compliment or hold the sauce.  But there are some that, no matter what, I will come back to and use for everything any anything.

Top 5: Pasta Shapes

#5 Elbows

I probably love these because they’re the integral part of my mom’s world famous macaroni salad. Elbow macaroni are also the most commonly used shape for macaroni and cheese, and I think my love of cheese smothered pasta has been well documented.

#4  Shells

These hold any sauce really well. I remember growing up that having shells was always a treat. We loved the shape. Now I love the different sizes, from small shells to large shells you can use for stuffed shells.

#3  Rigatoni

Much like shells, the ridges hold sauce really well. And who hasn’t painted rigatoni and made necklaces out of it when you were a kid? (Really hoping that wasn’t just me, but it probably was). This is also Dane’s favorite pasta, so we have it all the time.

#2  Fettuccine

With fettuccine alfredo being one of my favorite all time pasta dishes, this has to make the list. I recently found fettuccine rigate, which I didn’t know existed. It’s fettuccine, except with ridges, like rigatoni. I love pasta you can twirl around your fork.

#1 Pappardelle

This is my favorite, but I don’t have it very often because it’s not easily found in most grocery stores. Pappardelle is long like spaghetti or fettuccine, but much thicker, usually about an inch thick. I first got pappardelle from a pasta shop in Little Italy in the Bronx, NY about 5 years ago. They make the pasta fresh and cut it to the thickness you want. Since then I’ve been on the look out for it and found it in specialty shops and a few times in Trader Joe’s. It’s always a treat to find it!

What’s your favorite pasta shape?

Top 5: Kitchen Gadgets

I may have become the victim of infomercials, I don’t know. Not sure when it happened but I seem to be unable to live without certain kitchen gadgets, some of which are the stars of their very own infomercials. My mom is absolutely an influence with this. She always finds the best kitchen stuff!

So currently, here’s my top 5 things I cannot live without in my kitchen.

1. One Touch Can Opener

Yup, this is totally infomercial stuff. Actually, I don’t think it even got it’s own half hour. Pretty sure it just got a commercial, and a buy-one-now-and-get-a-second-one-for-no-additional-cost! deal. My mom got one of these about a year ago. I made fun of her. Then I tried it. And I was a happy girl. And because she’s the best mom ever, she immediately went out and got me one and gave it to me for my bridal shower. I just hate opening cans with manual openers, and other automatic ones I’ve tried always seem to break. Call me lazy, it’s cool. Love you mom!

2. My beloved Keurig

Another wedding gift from my hubby’s best friend, Jay (oyster eating Jay). Apparently I’m a coffee drinker. I love how easy it is to use and the variety of coffee and teas that you can get for it. It also came with a pretty good variety pack, which I’m still working on to decide which flavors/brands I can’t live without. Also? There are Gloria Jean’s coffees! My first job was at a Gloria Jeans coffee shop in a mall in NY and I have some serious nostalgia when I have a cup of GJ coffee. It is still, in my opinion, some of the best coffee around. And you can totally be jealous of my meerkat mug, I won’t blame you. We have two actually. Take that.

3. Extra towel holder

This is another little nugget of gold supplied by my mom. So this may seem dumb, but we don’t have a dishwasher in our apartment. Which is really fine. However, that means we’re constantly doing dishes. And when you’re done doing dishes, what’s the first thing you reach for? (Keep it clean folks) A towel to dry your hands. Now our stove is at the other end of the counter, so I LOVE this little guy that holds a towel nice and convenient right under the sink.

Have I mentioned that I love you mom?

4. Animal shaped kitchen tools

If you have a soul, there’s no way you can’t love these. These were an engagement gift (seeing a trend here? if you want new kitchen stuff, just get married.) from my favorite, Sam. She can pick out something I would love with her eyes closed because she can practically read my mind. I guess that goes along with being a best friend. There are other gadgets in this line, called Animal House and sold at Target. I totally want the whale tail ice cream scoop and the shark paring knife to complete my set.

5.  The Magic Bullet

Back to infomercial land. You better believe that this one has it’s own hour long infomercial. My former roommate came home from Cleveland with this about a year ago and I could not understand why anyone would want/need this thing. And then we made smoothies and I was sold. It comes with a ton of little cups that are perfect for individual servings. Dane and I love making smoothies in it, and we never want the same things in our smoothies so it works out perfectly. I’ve made pesto using the Magic Bullet too, and it was great. When we started our registry, this was first on it, and first off of it because my old roomie immediately purchased it for us.

Take them or leave them, but I know I can’t live without these love-of-my-life gadgets. What are YOUR favorite kitchen gadgets?


Top 5: Comfort Foods

Because we’re always talking about food, the other day on the car ride back to Boston from Philly we were talking about our top 5 foods. Specifically comfort foods because it was about 12 degrees outside with wind gusts around 50 mph and that really makes you want something yummy to eat while curled up on the couch with a movie. It didn’t take long for us to name our top 5 comfort foods. So, in no particular order…

Kristen’s Top 5

1. Macaroni and Cheese

I don’t think you can possibly go wrong with macaroni and cheese any day of the year, but something about it always has been comforting to me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m in love with cheese and pasta, and the combination of the two can only mean good things to me. Good old Kraft mac and cheese can be a good standby, but I much prefer homemade baked mac and cheese with a combination of cheeses. Depending on the cheese you use, you can get all different flavors, but it’s always hearty and delicious.

2. Chicken Chilli (made by Dane!)

I ask Dane to make this all the time, but it’s especially great when it’s cold outside. He uses chicken instead of beef, which makes us feel slightly more healthy, peppers, onion, and tomato. I’m sure there’s more but I honestly never asked him because it’s just so good that I don’t care what goes in. Give me some Tostitos (bite sized rounds, my favorite) and I’m a happy girl.

3. Lasagna

Again, this probably goes back to the whole pasta and cheese thing, but add some tomato sauce in there and it’s heaven. Having a piece of lasagna with mozzarella, ricotta, homemade sauce can make my day. I learned how to make it from my mom, and have tried adding different things like spinach, sausage, and meat. Every variation is as good as the next.

4. Cream of Wheat

This one goes back to when I was only a few years old. My grandparents used to live around the corner from us, and my grandfather was retired. After school and when we were sick, we always went to grandma and grandpa’s house. Grandpa was always the cook in the house and any time I wasn’t feeling well he’d make Cream of Wheat for me. It’s the simplest thing, only takes about 3 minutes, but it always made me feel better. Plus, it’s high in iron, so it’s good for you too.

5. Apple Pie

Have to throw a dessert in here, and there is no clearer choice than apple pie. Think about the smell of an apple pie baking and it just feels like home. I have yet to try making a pie from scratch. I usually just stick to Mrs. Smith, but maybe this will be the year. I usually make apple crisp instead, which is also up there for me.

Dane’s Top 5

1. Mashed Potatoes and Corn

Anyone that knows me, knows I really like mashed potatoes. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and I have to have mashed potatoes with corn at dinner.

2. Pasta

Pasta and meatballs, specifically. I’m Italian and it’s a meal that’s always good.

3. Steak

A good sirloin cooked medium well is perfect for me. Don’t forget the steak sauce, A1.

4. Beef Stew

Beef stew is always great in the winter. When Kristen and I went to Ireland for our honeymoon we had some real Irish beef stew and it was delicious. It’s always served with brown bread in Ireland, which makes it even better. My favorite pub in Boston, O’Leary’s also has some great beef stew.

5. Cheesesteak

I’m from Philly, so I’ve tried cheesesteaks from all over the place. My favorite comes from Dellasandro’s in Roxborough. I also love a good cheesesteak hoagie, which is cheesesteak, provolone, lettuce, tomato, and provolone cheese.

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