Hold your horses, Halloween candy is already in stores. As much as I love the transition of summer to fall, it’s just too early! Here are some of my favorite things this summer:
- This embroidered v-neck dress. I love the ruffle detail around the waist and the flattering cut. Eat as much as you want, your belly won’t show. 😉
- How cute is this eyelet top? The bows on the shoulder lets you adjust the length and is so on-trend.
- The perfect summer blue skirt will give even your simplest white shirt a romantic twist.
- This primer is admittedly a luxe buy, but worth every penny. I usually don’t bother with primer but this is holy grail status. It doesn’t make me break out, or dry out my already dry skin, and makes foundation go on super smooth. No pilling or patchiness here! Plus, the refreshing cucumber scent makes it a treat to put on in the morning.
- Love the different stripes on this shirt. Plus, the round zipper gives it a retro twist.
- I’ve been eyeing these loafers for so long. The sling back detail keeps it from being basic and the design is so classic.
- Warm weather stirs up my wanderlust and I’m in love with these suitcases. They come in many colors but the navy is my favorite.
How are you spending your summer? Any favorites you want to share with me?
*I am not sponsored or paid to share my picks with you. Just sharing what I’ve been loving lately.
It’s that time of the year where it’s not exactly summer or fall. I’m dying to wear boots and sweaters but I’m not looking forward to winter. The other day I was watching Quantico (Awesome show btw. Priyanka Chopra is absolutely stunning.), and there was a scene with slushy streets in NYC. My mind immediately curled itself up into a ball thinking, “No…… I’m not ready for another winter.”
Luckily, we still have some summer produce to cling on to the last whisper of summer. I found some heirloom tomatoes at Trader Joe’s this past week and they were available in so many different hues that a rainbow was the first thing that came to my mind. I’m almost embarrassed to say that nearly every ingredient that I used in this recipe is from Trader Joe’s (even the paprika!), but imo a one-stop shop is always good news.I love Caprese salad because it’s a solid balance of flavors. But more than half of the time, I’m disappointed when I order it in a restaurant. The ratio to tomato, cheese, basil and balsamic glaze is usually off. I suppose everyone has their own idea of what makes the perfect ratio and that’s why making it at home is the best option all around. (It’s usually cheaper too.) Heirloom tomatoes are super sweet and juicy so you want to use a very sharp knife to slice them neatly. Tip: when cutting the little tomatoes, cut them vertically (from the stem end) to get the prettiest shot of the seedy insides. I wanted to balance the sweetness with a hint of heat and it turned out well. I may be biased because I love hot sauce on almost anything and everything. Even if you forgo the spicy glaze and opt for plain balsamic vinegar, it’s still delicious since vegetables + cheese = always tasty.
Rainbow Caprese Salad with Spicy Balsamic Glaze
2-3 lbs. heirloom tomatoes in various colors, shapes and sizes
16 oz. fresh mozzarella
1 bunch fresh basil
extra virgin olive oil
spicy balsamic glaze (recipe below)
- Wash and slice your tomatoes.
- Slice your mozzarella.
- Pick out the freshest leaves from your basil bunch. Save the tiny ones for garnish.
- Line the plate with basil leaves and top it with the mozzarella slices.
- Arrange the tomato slices from red to green, starting from the darkest red.
- Put some basil slices in between the tomatoes.
- Sprinkle the tomatoes lightly with salt and drizzle the olive oil.
- Drizzle the balsamic glaze and top with the remaining basil leaves.
Spicy Balsamic Glaze
½ c. plus ½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar (6% acidity)
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (if you just want a hint of spice, dial it back to ¼ even ⅛ tsp. if you’re sensitive)
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper
¾ tbsp. sugar
- In a small pot, add ½ c. balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, paprika, sugar and as much black pepper as you want.
- Boil down the vinegar until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it so that it doesn’t burn.
- Add ½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar to up the acidity that you lost.
- Cool and use as desired.
Summer is quickly nearing its end and I felt like I had to make something “summer” before it became too late. When I look back on the summer of 2016, I would have to say that it was the summer of rosé. The internet has been buzzing with things from made from rosé such as frozé (frozen, slushy like rosé) and rosé gummy bears with thousands of people on their wait list. It is the prettiest out of all the wines and (for this wine newb) the tastiest.
So I set out to make the prettiest macarons I could dream of. The pinks in the macaron shells are inspired by the many pink hues of rosé and the filling is a raspberry rosé frosting. To get it to taste like rosé, I used sparkling wine flavoring and also boiled down one cup of rosé to a mere 1/4 cup. (The process goes quick because of the alcohol content.)
Rosés tend to have a fruity note so I wanted to add a raspberry flavoring. The raspberry flavor comes from powdered freeze dried raspberries (I got mine from Trader Joe’s.). As much as I love fresh fruit in my frosting, I knew I was adding more liquid with the rosé so this was a great way to decrease the liquid content without compromising the flavor. The raspberries have seeds in them so if you do not want seeds in your frosting, use a fine mesh strainer to sort them out.
The end result is a definite raspberry flavor with a hint of rosé that grows stronger at the end. I think the way you perceive rosé is different for each person. My sister said she barely tasted it while other people said they could definitely taste it. Either way it is not straight up raspberry, there is something different about it.
Raspberry Rosé Macarons
For the macaron shells:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
edible silver stars
edible pink shimmer powder
light pink gel food coloring
pink gel food coloring
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
- Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear. Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
- Separate the almond flour mixture into two bowls (253 g. each). Mix one bowl with light pink gel food coloring and the other with pink food coloring.
- In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
- Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
- Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
- Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks
- Mix a ⅙ of the egg white mix to the light pink almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty. From then on, fold in ⅙ of the egg white mixture twice until the mixture “flows like magma”. The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula. Repeat with the pink almond mixture.
- With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, paint stripes in the inside of the pastry bag with the pink gel food coloring.
- Fill half of the pastry bag with the light pink and the other half with the pink batter. Pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
- The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two. Sprinkle the top of the macaron batter with tiny silver stars. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Once you place the macarons in the oven, reduce the heat to 275˚F. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth. The macarons are done when you slightly wiggle them and they start to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
- Once you remove the macarons, reheat the oven to 350˚F for ten minutes before baking another pan of macarons at 275˚F.
- Let cool and dust the tops with pink shimmer dust. Fill with frosting.
Raspberry Rosé Frosting
1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
a pinch of salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. sparkling wine flavor
1 c. rosé wine
3 tbsp. powdered freeze dried raspberries
- In a small pot, boil 1 c. of wine until ¼ c. remains. Let cool and set aside.
- In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
- Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
- Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
- In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
- Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the rosé, freeze dried raspberries, sparkling wine flavoring and mix until combined.
The English language is a funny thing. I never understood why some dishes that are sweet are called “salads”. It’s off-putting. It’s in the name. If you hear “strawberry pretzel salad”, what do you picture? I imagine a bowl of salad greens with strawberries and pretzels. No, thank you. Other examples of such salads are Jello salad, snickers salad, cookie salad and the list goes on and on.
But after reading numerous blogs all featuring the same recipe and all with glowing reviews of how they grew up with this particular dish and how it’s everyone’s favorite at their family gathering, I broke down and had to try it. And after trying it myself, I can see why people would like it, especially with fresh strawberries. The pretzel crust is salty and crunchy, the cheesecake layer is smooth and creamy and the strawberry jello layer is fruity and refreshing. You pretty much hit every flavor profile. The best part? It’s super easy and the ingredient list is very short. Oh! Also, you only have to bake the pretzel crust for 10 minutes so your kitchen doesn’t get too hot. It’s a serious win-win-win situation.
Strawberry Pretzel Squares (AKA Strawberry Pretzel Salad)
2 c. finely crushed pretzels
1 cup and 3 tbsp. sugar, divided
¾ c. salted butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz. cool whip, defrosted
2 c. boiling water
1 – six ounce package strawberry jello
1 ½ c. cold water
4 c. hulled and sliced strawberries
- Preheat oven to 400˚F and prep a 9×13 inch baking dish by spraying the inside with nonstick spray.
- In a bowl, stir the pretzel crumbs and 3 tablespoons of sugar until well mixed.
- Pour the melted butter over the pretzel mixture and stir until evenly coated.
- Press the pretzel crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking dish, pressing it down with a spatula to form an even layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and cool completely.
- In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Fold in the cool whip and spread evenly over the cooled pretzel crust. (Wipe off any cream cheese mix you get along the sides of the glass pan for a clean presentation later on.)
- Refrigerate crust while you prep the strawberry layer.
- In a large bowl, mix the strawberry jello mix with the boiling water. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in cold water and refrigerate for about 1½ hours. (At this point, the mixture should have the consistency of egg whites.)
- Stir in fresh strawberries into the jello mixture and carefully pour over the prepared cream cheese layer and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until the strawberry layer is set. If you wiped the sides clean as suggested in step 6, the strawberry layer should set to a glass-like finish.
Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.
It’s rare that I find a technique that is life-changing. I love trying out new ways to do things. Mostly because they are novel and I’m always looking for ways to grow and learn in general. I’ll usually try something once or twice, but that’s about it. It’s on to the next obsession, the next trend, the next new way to do something.
But this, oh man… It is such a simple technique but it makes the average hot dog 10000% tastier than what it was before. You simply stick a skewer into the sausage, take a knife and create a swirl pattern along the meat, which will result in a Slinky looking piece of meat. It does not look like much but once you cook it, the increased surface to volume ratio creates extra crisp, juicy, meaty goodness.
The first time I made this on a grill, the neighboring party came over and asked what kind of meat I was cooking. Once they saw that it was just a hot dog cut up into a fancy shape, they amused at its novelty and went about their merry way. Little did I know that I was a monkey about to touch the monolith.
I’ve eaten my fair share of hot dogs and this one is right at the top. Neck and neck with the deep fried hot dogs they sell at a local hot dog joint in my town. Yes, true to the busy spatula fashion, I had to jazz it up by adding bacon, avocado, Sriracha and Kewpie mayo. (Which by the way, if you can do it, you must. It is a serious flavor bomb.) But honestly, this post is really about the technique. Simply cutting it up in a spiral shape will be life changing. I promise.
Avocado Bacon Spiralized Hotdogs
Hot dog sausage
Avocado, peeled and cut into thin slices
Kewpie Mayo (yes, there is a difference between this and regular mayonnaise)
Potato hot dog buns
Skewers (I understand that this is not an ingredient but SO NECESSARY)
- Stick a skewer through the middle of a hot dog sausage. If it does not go straight and pokes out the side, pull it back and continue until you get it to the other end of the sausage.
- With a sharp knife, make a continuous spiral cut along the sausage, using the skewer as a guide to know how deep to cut the sausage.
- Spread a thin layer of mayo over potato hot dog buns and toast it in a heated frying pan.
- Remove toasted buns and cook sausage over medium heat until well browned and crispy.
- Remove sausages, turn heat to low and cook bacon until desired level of crispness.
- Top toasted hot dog bun with sausage, avocado slices, bacon, Kewpie mayo and Sriracha.
- Enjoy immensely.