Friday, May 12, 2017

Homemade Marinara and Meatballs with Creamy Polenta

Sundays and homemade comfort food go way back in my family.  From my youngest memories, I can recall coming together for Sunday dinner (whether with the extended village at my grandparents' home or the more intimate connection of my immediate family) and relishing the delight of a homemade feast of some sort.  And while the tradition isn't observed every Sunday (or even every other Sunday, if I'm being completely honest), I have carried the awe and ode to Sunday dinner, made up of good ole' comfort food, with me into my own adult world.

Last Sunday was one such instance.  Making my favorite homemade meatballs and marinara sauce was the highlight of my cooking foray.  And it was all things comforting--the relative ease of bringing the dish together, the anticipation of enjoying the finished product, memories of sharing this beloved dish in days gone by, and the welcomed twist I decided to add.

I broke with my tradition of serving my meatballs and marinara with pasta (linguine, to be exact) and recalled my desire to serve them over polenta one day, as inspired by Chef, Michael Chiarello.  And one day had come.  It was exactly the beautiful, finished dish that I was aiming for--and no less scrumptious.  (The Italians know their stuff!)  A big family style platter of the best comfort food you could imagine was the takeaway for happy mouths and satisfied tummies. 

I must add that this recipe doesn't require a Sunday, or a crowd, to make and enjoy.  It comes together easily enough to match a fast-paced weeknight equally as well as a lazy, indulgent weekend. 

So you choose when and where to indulge and savor....Happy Eating!

Recipe: Homemade Marinara and Meatballs with Creamy Polenta (simply substitute pasta for quick cooking polenta and enjoy!)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

{Style Files}: How the Met Gala 2017 Red Carpet Was Slayed

Zendaya, Dolce & Gabbana
Raindrops on roses...whiskers on kittens...bright copper kettles...and Met Gala red carpets.  These are a few of my favorite things.  And last night's red carpet fashion came through in the oft-predictable, glam-slam style that fashion enthusiasts have come to know and love.

LaLa Anthony, Thai Nguyen Atelier
Kylie Jenner, Donatella Versace
I could barely contain myself as Instagram posts and streaming footage, coupled with television coverage, began offering up the starlet looks of the evening.  This year's gala, in honor of Commes des Garcon, brought anticipation of the over-the-top whimsy and flair of many a Met Gala gone by.  But most consistently, it was sighting after sighting of  You know the kind of fashion that makes you (okay, that makes me) want to holler?  Yes, those feelings were definitely in operation as I pinned, tweeted, insta-storied and snap-chatted some of my favorites. 

Halle Berry, Donatella Versace
Jennifer Lopez, Valentino
Priyanka Chopra, Ralph Lauren
These looks are the ones that I found to be most stunning and worthy of a little Monday night distraction, even as I told myself that I didn't have time for it.  (But as life has proven, we somehow make the time for what we truly want.)  I wanted all the fashion slaying--and it was served.  Artistically and beautifully so. From fairy-tale, to seductive, to old-world glamour and elegance, to edgy chicness, the style gamut was in full display. 

Cassie, on aura tu vu
Lori Harvey, Dolce & Gabbana

Which is your favorite?  For more Met Gala fashion inspiration, go here.

Happy Styling!

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


Monday, May 1, 2017

{Be Inspired!}: Spring Fling

Although today began on a rainy note, I'm counting on the old adage, "April showers bring May flowers", to prove truer than ever.  I'm anticipating the growth, life, renewal, beauty and full on 'bloom' that Spring represents, as new beginnings and a healthy dose of inspiration beckon me to embrace the gift of life like never before. 

I'm having a fling with Spring--and sharing some of my favorite seasonal inspirations ala my favorite go-to to help you do the same.  As you might have guessed, my girly girl sentiments shine through. :)

I'd like to know how you're embracing the season and staying inspired.  Share with me and let's inspire one another!

Here's to...Happy Inspired Living!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Prosciutto-Wrapped Roasted Asparagus

This past weekend was abuzz with the anticipation of Easter.  Besides my focus on worship on the holy holiday, my agenda also entailed the making of goodie baskets for some special little people, and, as you might have guessed, deciding on my contribution to a family Easter dinner menu.  I also managed to score the perfect "Easter Dress" recently, which is undoubtedly a delight to the fashionista in me. :)

Back to the menu... My thoughts ranged from baking a cake (eclipsed by a cousin's announcement that she would be bringing cupcakes), to savory scones, to deviled eggs, to finally--a roasted vegetable dish (with some added umami) and the fixings for Arnold Palmer sips.

Asparagus are a delicacy--and especially when you're buying them in-season.  With my mind--and menu addition--finally settled, I roasted up some gorgeously green and fresh asparagus and finished them with a blanket of the umami goodness I mentioned above, i.e. salty, yummy prosciutto.  Simple. easy. elegant. and most importantly, delicious.

Beyond the ease of preparation and taste factors, this dish is also a star because it can be served as almost any course you like, making for appetizer, salad, lunch, or side dish heaven.  And it's spring eating as its best.

Happy Eating!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Roasted Asparagus
1.5-2lbs. fresh asparagus
1/2 lb. prosciutto, thinly sliced
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Rinse, dry and trim asparagus stalks (break off the woody ends; they will snap at the natural breaking point).  Place asparagus on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and roast in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until tender, but not overly cooked. 

Wrap cooked asparagus with strips of prosciutto.  Serve and enjoy!    


Friday, March 31, 2017

Cherry Upside-Down Cake

There will always be certain foods and tastes that whisk me right back to my childhood.  And upside-down cake--of the pineapple variety--is one.  While it was never a staple in my family's baking repertoire, I was always delighted when I happened upon a well executed (or otherwise) taste of this unconventional cake.  Unconventional in my childhood meant sans frosting.  And with cooked fruit.  The only cake in my confectionery world that hit those marks back then was my mom's Christmas Fruit Cake (and, shhh... I was never really a fan.)  Still, the sweet and caramelized pineapple atop decadent, sponge-like cake worked for me.

Fast forward a "few" years, and I happened upon a recent cherry rendition via Bon Appetit.  A one bowl wonder, and the memories of upside-down cake indulgence of days gone by, fueled my resolve to bake. this. cake.  And I'm so glad I did.

A leisure Sunday afternoon provided the perfect backdrop for abandoning myself to the tasks of prepping, baking, "unmolding" (fingers were crossed!), and finally tasting this gem of a dessert.  The sweet, dark cherries, accented with hints of citrus, and the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cake made for a great pairing--and not too few cake, coffee, cake, tea, cake rotations in the days since.

Frozen cherries worked fine, so there's virtually no hassle in assembling your ingredients and getting down to baking business.  Add it to your baking agenda--and your memories will soon thank you, also.

Happy Eating!

Cherry Upside-Down Cake


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Hotel Concierge: A Savvy Travelista's Best Ally

Hotel Life at Sanderson London
The hotel concierge.  Outdated?  Non-essential?  Think again.  A good hotel concierge is worth his or her weight in gold…and can become a Travelista’s best ally for making the most out of what your destination has to offer.

After check-in and settling into my digs, the concierge desk is typically one of my first stops for embarking on my travel adventures.  Not recommended to displace your own research, local foraging and adventure, a concierge, instead, can serve as an added resource in your travel arsenal.

The best concierges have an exceptional network and well-rounded grasp on the local area—from the best restaurants, to entertainment venues, to sporting events, shopping, local tours—or whatever it is that you have a desire to experience during your journey.
For instance, when I traveled to London for the first time, I knew that my first meal upon arrival would be fish and chips.  However, to ensure I was going to enjoy the best fish and chips London has to offer, I consulted my concierge and within minutes was on my way to experience an authentic and delicious meal—that didn’t disappoint.   Along with recommending places to nosh, concierges will usually make reservations for you and your party.  It works because there’s an obvious vested interested for all parties involved (you, the hotel brand and the restaurant) to ensure your experience is second-to-none.

Beyond dining options and assistance, concierges are great for helping to secure tickets to sporting and entertainment events.  This was a big bonus when I wanted to attend the French Open during one of my trips to Paris.  My wish became my concierge’s command—and the rest was history.  Hassle-free travel at its best, I like to say.

I also typically prefer to book local tours and excursion packages through the concierge desk, rather than in advance.  I find the additional “insider knowledge” that a concierge brings to guests to be a welcomed plus in choosing from the myriad choices presented by local operators.  There’s just something reassuring about having the input of someone who does it day in and day out.

If you’ve already mapped out the majority of your travel agenda and related details prior to arrival, a concierge can still be invaluable for assisting with the best driving and/or public transportation routes, private cars, maps and other lesser travel matters.  They’ve even been known to provide an umbrella when needed! 

In essence, a hotel concierge represents an extension of your travel savvy resources, which makes experiencing a destination in its fullness a true delight, without any extra heavy lifting.   So the next time your accommodations include a hotel stay, remember to keep your concierge top of mind and make the most of your newfound ally!

Happy Travels!

This article originally appeared on TravelistaTV.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

{Style Files}: All Things Trench Coat

For those who know me, they will attest that having a sharp outerwear wardrobe ranks high on my style aesthetic.  From capes, to vests, to coats, to blazers, and more, the right pieces can totally make your look--or even be your look.  (Yes, I ascribe to the 'wear your coat' philosophy.)  Even the most casual and mundane looks can be instantly elevated into style perfection with the right outerwear.  And nothing could be truer when it comes to the world of trench coats.  I like to think of them as quintessential style pieces that belong in everyone's (especially every style maven's) closet.

From my earliest days romping around in my London Fog trench (anyone remember those?), until now, I've seen the trench maintain its long-held--and rightful--place in the fashion and style arena as a classic wardrobe staple.

And with the Spring season just around the corner, there's never been a better time to bring this style favorite to the forefront of your wardrobe.  To further rouse your inspiration in that direction, I've rounded up a few helpful tips and tutorials to take your trench wearing savvy to next level fabulosity.

 How To Tie a Trench Coat (Instyle)

Trench Coat 101: Details (Popsugar)

16 Ways to Style Your Travel Trench (Travelista) 

Parisian Chic Trench Style Tips 

Happy Styling!

Photos (excepting 1st image) courtesy of Pinterest
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