Archive for May, 2016

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Chilling Cookie Dough

May 31, 2016

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When we make rolled cookies, chilling the dough is a crucial step in the process. The room temperature dough is very soft and difficult to work with, while the chilled dough is firmer and holds it’s shape better.

The same principle holds true for drop cookies. While most of us (guilty as charged) just mix, drop and bake our cookies, chilling the batter is a step that greatly enhances the shape, texture and even flavor of our favorite chocolate chippers.

Just 30 minutes in the fridge has a positive effect on the batter. Chilled cookies spread less when baked. The result is a slightly denser cookie, with a more chewy- crisp texture. Because the dough dries out slightly when chilled, the flavors become more pronounced as the excess water evaporates, leaving the sugars to almost caramelize when baked.

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Next time you are baking chocolate chip cookies, try to resist the temptation to have them NOW, and cover the bowl and allow it chill for at least 30 minutes or up to a few days for optimum results. You’ll be glad you did!

This may also save you time, as you can mix the batter, go about your day, and bake them later. You can also bake a few to get your fix, and bake the rest another day.

Trust us, it is worth the wait!

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Fashion Friday: All Laced Up

May 27, 2016

Lace up tops and dresses are seemingly everywhere this summer, with styles ranging from risqué, ( we’re talking to you Kardashian-Jenners!) to retro.

While the laced “down-to-there” bodysuit is definately happening, we’ve included a few other ways to get the look without showing too much of the goods along the way.

Chiara Ferragni of the popular blog “The Blond Salad” wears the quintessential black bodysuit version, pairing it with midrise slim jeans and casual accessories for a look of easy sensuality.

chiara ferragni

Onia Swimwear adds a vintage vibe to thier collection of lace-up swimwear, shown on Danielle Bernstein of “We Wore What“.

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onia www

Chambray gives the look a slightly nautical air, while keeping it relaxed, yet still a little sexy as shown on Julie Saranana of “Sincerely Jules” and model /actress Emily Ratajkowki.

sincerely jules

jules

whowhatwear

The lace-up trend updates the classic white shirt worn with a blazer and cut offs, from Equipment at Shopstyle.

shopstyle

Stripes keep it cool and crisp, from Madewell.

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Spring Flowers + May Showers

May 25, 2016

Spring seems to have passed us by. Everytime I think it is safe to put the sweaters and boots away, the temperature dips, and the skies open up. With Memorial Day just coming up this weekend, it’s time to think about summer!

In our quest to find springtime, we have become obsessed with edible flowers. We used them to garnish a blueberry tart this weekend, and now we want to put them on absolutely everything! Avocado toast with tiny little pansies? Crostini with mini violets? Salads tossed with colorful blooms? What a way to make day to day foods look festive, and dare we say fancy?!

We even added them to our ice cubes, creating beautiful crystaline blocks that will make even sparkling water seem special.

Flower ice cubes

Simply rinse the petals and freeze them in an ice cube tray until ready to use. We added a couple of blueberries here and there for variety. To avoid cloudy ice, use purified water to eliminate the chlorine and impurities found in tap water. Many people suggest boiling and cooling the water, and repeating, before pouring the water into the trays. We used filtered water, and got fairly clear cubes void of any unwanted flavor.

Flower ice cubes

The flowers you use need to be selected for more than just their beauty. It is important to use organic flowers that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides, to avoid unnecessary chemicals seeping into your food. Even more importantly, you must select non-toxic blooms that are completely edible. Some examples of those are violets, dianthus, nasturtiums and hollyhocks. Other flowers, such as roses,chrysanthemums, tulips and lavender have edible petals only.

 

Flower ice cubes

We purchased ours from Windfall Farms at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City, who had an incredible selection of fresh, beautiful and pesticide free edibles. They are at the market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Photos: Spencer Jones | glasshouse assignment

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Layer Cakes

May 24, 2016

It is the time of year when we make lots of cakes. Graduations, birthdays, bridal showers; there is so much to celebrate! There is nothing more special than a homemade cake to mark the occasion. Making a simple layer cake doesn’t have to be daunting, if you follow a few basic tips.

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Tips for Making Layer Cakes: 

Let the cakes cool fully in the pans before removing them. This holds true with almost everything you bake. Once the cake is cool, it will release from the pan more easily. It is also important to wait to frost a cake until it is cool. Warm cake will melt the frosting, leaving you a with a less than perfect coating.

I like to cut a circle of parchment and place it on the bottom of the pan to prevent the cake from sticking. Spray or grease the parchment as directed in the recipe.

When cake bakes, it often rises and forms a little dome on top, which can give you a wobbly surface when stacked. If your cake has a dome, use a serrated knife to carefully trim the top to make it even. It will help the layers be more stable when stacked, and give you a more symmetrical finished product. Cake with a very fine crumb can be trimmed using dental floss. Just gently pull the floss across the cake to shave off the excess.

Apply a thin crumb coat to lightly cover the entire cake, and serve as a “primer” for the frosting. This will help prevent crumbs from showing on the surface. If possible, refrigerate the cake for 15-30 minutes before continuing to apply the final coat and your buttercream will glide on much easier.

Place your cake on an inverted bowl to elevate it a bit, making it easier to work on, and giving you easy access to the whole cake. To get the smoothest most evenly distributed frosting, hold the knife or bench scraper steady, and turn the cake.

Lastly, remember that your cake is homemade, and a labor of love. Unless you are a pro, it won’t, and shouldn’t look like it was made in a commercial bakery. That perfect imperfection is part of what makes a homemade cake so special. As long as it tastes delicious, people will forgive you for a few little blemishes and shortcomings.

Enjoy!!

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Tips For Boys Of All Ages

May 23, 2016

 

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This week, I witnessed an exchange among some teens, which ended poorly. What began as innocent teasing, became hurtful and resulted in a teary departure from the female in the group. After a two day texting marathon, and a lot of hurled accusations, I realized that young men need some lessons that they can’t learn in school. Feeling the need to cut to the chase for them (which of course I didn’t do!) I decided to offer a public service post for young men and anyone else dealing with women, young and old.

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Tips for Boys Of All Ages: 

  1. If you make a girl cry, you are wrong. This is not about rational negotiations. Face the facts. If they are crying, you hurt their feelings whether you meant to or not.
  2. Apologize with sincerity, and then STFU! There is no value in adding a “but”. Say you are sorry and move on.
  3. If someone’s feelings are hurt, you can’t take those emotions away from them. Don’t tell them they are wrong to feel hurt. Tell them you are sorry you made them feel this way, and that you did not intend for your comments or your behavior to be upsetting or unkind. This is good advice for all of us, regardless of age or gender.
  4. Flowers are a nice touch. Females are suckers for flowers and grand gestures. They show that the person you offended is important to you, and that you are a nice guy with a sensitive side. This is certainly not a neccessity, but it is a meaningful gesture that will be appreciated.
  5. Don’t discuss it with your friends. The last thing a girl wants is to know that everyone is aware that you brought her to tears. Keep it to yourself, and help her save face.
  6. Don’t bring up your issues. This simply isn’t the time. If you want to salvage this relationship, end the drama, and discuss other issues later when emotions are not as high.
  7. You can’t win. No matter what you do, or what you say, you can’t win. Don’t even try. You will only regret it. You made them cry dude! You need to repent for that sin.
  8. Sometimes you have to eat crow. It’s ok…we hear it tastes like chicken.

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Health Kick: Adaptogens

May 19, 2016

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Green smoothies, acai bowls and bee pollen shots have all had their moments in the sun. Move over and make room at the juice bar guys, because the latest trend to take over the health and wellness is community is the adaptogen.

Adaptogens are super-herbs that help the body fight the back against the stressors in our lives. They help us come back from intense workouts that over tax our bodies, and shake off the negative effects of the L -train shutdown at rush hour. They also are proven to help us sleep better, improve our sex lives and increase our attention span.

Living up to their name, adaptogens have the ability to adapt their functions to the body’s specific needs, while providing support to the adrenal glands that manage our hormonal stress reponses.While they have recently gained popularity, these power herbs are not new. In fact, they have been part of Ayervedic and Chinese medicines for centuries.

Some herbs with known adaptogenic properties are various types of ginsing, astragalus, licorice, (no, Twizzlers don’t count!) maca, and holy basil.

Many of these adaptogens are featured in Gwyneth Paltrow’s infamous “Morning Smoothie” recipe, purported to cost about $200 to make. Her smoothie contains maca, ashwagandha, ho shou wu and cordyceps, in addition to a teaspoon of moon dust, a compound available in various blends including Brain Dust, Beauty Dust and Spirit Dust, each selling for $55-$65 for a 2 oz. jar, from Moon Juice in L.A.

Don’t stress out if your adaptogens don’t seem to be working right away. It can take several weeks to feel the positive effects.

Want to learn more? Well + Good has a guide to Everything You Need To Know About Adaptogens to help you out.

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Celery Caesar

May 16, 2016

Sometimes, the slightest twist on a classic makes the old seem new again. Such was the case with the Celery Caesar Salad that I stumbled upon this weekend. Truth be told, it was a little bland, but the combination of diced celery, matchsticks of endive and Parmesan cheese were a hit. Mine had diced chicken breast in it, and to add insult to injury, they forgot the croutons. But even with its faults, the salty Parmesan and the crisp and crunchy celery held their own. A squirt of fresh lemon juice and a few shakes of pepper re-invigorated it and helped make the flavors sing. I think a julienned apple would be a nice touch; a welcome addition of tangy and slightly sweet.

Hooked on the concept and knowing it could be easily be improved, we bring you our take on the Celery Caesar.

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Celery Caesar Salad

For the salad:
Clean, scrape and dice a few stalks of celery. Julienne an endive, an equal amount of Parmesan cheese and a tart apple, so that all the matchsticks are similar in size. Add diced chicken breast if desired.

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For the dressing: 

Whisk together about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, and the juice of about 1/2 a small lemon. Add a couple of shakes of Worchestershire sauce and a little salt. Taste, and adjust the lemon /olive oil ratio as needed. It should be tangy and the lemon flavor should stand out.

Toss the salad with the dressing and sprinkle with a liberal amount of fresh black pepper. Add croutons and enjoy!

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Off The Shoulder

May 12, 2016

Every season, it seems there are a handful of “must haves” that update our wardrobes instantly. This spring, one of those items is the off the shoulder top.  Often rouched and pulled down to expose the shoulders, this style is reminiscent of a peasant top. And while those embroidered boho versions are popular, it’s the somewhat sleeker iterations that look freshest.

Olivia Palermo makes everything look effortless, including this off the shoulder blue shirt paired with rolled up jeans and printed flats.

dolce via outfit identifier

Dolce + Gabbana top | photo via Outift Identifier

Crisp ticking stripes get the feminine treatment with this smocked off the shoulder top.

via Shop Bop

via Shop Bop

Spaghetti straps keep the top in place without sacrificing the look.

via Livvy-land

via Livvy-land

We loved this look at first blush!

via Vandi Fair

via Vandi Fair

Cropped and flounced soften and feminize a fluid trouser with a high waist.

via Career Girl Daily

via Career Girl Daily

Stripes add graphic appeal and sophistication to this voluminous top.

via Career Girl Daily

via Career Girl Daily

Architectural lines make this top office apropos

via In Fashion

via In Fashion

Will you be giving us the cold shoulder this spring?

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cutting a Mango

May 10, 2016

 

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Lately, we have been putting a tropical spin on our fresh fruit salads. We have used papaya, mango and kiwi,nestled among other fruits and berries. Mango is also a great base for a fresh fruit salsa that is the perfect accompanyment to fish. The only problem is, cutting those mangos is a chore.
Like most things in life, knowledge is power, and knowing how to properly cut a mango makes it a lot easier to deal with. So, without further ado, below are are tips on cutting mangos.

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How To Cut A Mango:

First, rinse and dry the fruit to avoid dragging any of the dirt on the outside through the flesh when you cut it.

Placing your knife about 1/4″- 3/8″  away from the center of the fruit, slice through the long way. Flip the mango and repeat on the other side. The two large oval pieces are referred to as the “cheeks.” Next, cut the remaining strips next to the seed and remove them.

Take each of the cheeks, and slice the fruit in one direction and then the opposite direction, creating a diagonal grid effect. Be careful to slice through the flesh, but not through the skin. Using a spoon, gently scrape out the chunks and discard the skin. You can also create slices, if you prefer, using the same method.

Remove the skin from the additional pieces and cut them into chunks as well.

Place in a bowl with the desired ingredients, and enjoy!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Asparagus Frites

May 9, 2016

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With spring comes showers, flowers and of course, asparagus. We usually roast ours, often with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. This unrecipe takes our asparagus game up a notch, by coating it with a blend of breadcrumbs and parmesan and baking it until it is crispy and crunchy. The best news is that because they are baked and not fried, they still maintain their healthy status!

oven fried asparagus

Asparagus Frites:

Wash the asparagus and trim off the tough ends of the stalk.

Cover a baking pan with parchment, and spray or brush it with olive oil.

Prepare 3 dishes for breading: 1 with flour, 1 with an egg whisked with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and another with breadcrumbs ( you can use regular, whole wheat or panko, a Japanese bread crumb, or a mixture of both) blended with an equal amount of grated parmesan cheese, and a little salt and black pepper to taste.

Roll each asparagus spear first in the flour, then the egg mixture and finally in the breadcrumb / parmesan mixture. Place the breaded asparagus on the prepared pan and spray with olive oil.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, turning after 8-10 minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from the oven when they are golden brown and cripsy. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste, and enjoy!

For a more decadent experience, dip them in lemony hollandaise sauce!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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