Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Beautiful Birthday Brunch + Tips To Host Your Own

A beautiful birthday brunch, courtesy of my main squeeze
Photo: NK 
This afternoon, my husband threw me the most lovely and thoughtful Birthday Brunch.

Not only did he do a great job pulling this small family gathering off without me having to lift a finger, but it especially touched my heart that he put such thought into the event, down to even the smallest detail; my favorite kind of flowers adorned the table and the menu was what I consider to be brunch perfection. Finally, my birthday cake was frosted with the most delicious Vanilla Buttercream (the icing on a devil's food cake has just got to be vanilla). What can I say? The man knows me well.

This low-key yet still festive Sunday with my loved ones was everything I could have hoped for, so I knew I'd just have to share it with you. 

But first, here are my Top 2 House Rules when in comes to Brunch:

1. It's not brunch if you aren't sipping a Bloody Mary.

2. Smoked Salmon on a Bagel is the king of all brunch food - and if you don't have all the accoutrements (Red Onion, Cream Cheese, Capers, Fresh Dill, lots of Lemon), you're doing it wrong :). 

NowFor ALL our favorite Brunch Tips plus a classically New York recipe for Date Nut Bread, I invite you to click HERE

Lox with Lemon, Dill, Red Onion, Capers to be served on Bagels &
Cream Cheese, Photo: NK

The Menu:

Bagels, Lox, and all the toppings. (See above!)

Bacon. What's brunch without it? We like Coleman Natural. No added nitrates, thick cut, 
it's worth the splurge every time. 

Scrambled Eggs - I prefer poached eggs but when you're feeding a crowd, scrambled is the way to go. My husband's secrets to impossibly fluffy scrambled eggs are as follows:
1. Start with the Eggs at room temperature.

2.Use Whole Milk, and whisk the vigorously right before putting the eggs into the pan.         
3.Finally, be sure to remove them from the pan just before they look fully done. 
They will finish cooking over the next minute or two it takes for your guests to serve themselves! 

Fruit Salad - Use in-season fruits. Citrus is great in winter! 

Last but not least, 


Cake by Natale's, a must visit if you're ever in the neighborhood. Photo: NK
Thank you to my lovely family for a fantastic day. Who needs birthday wishes when I have all of you? 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Instant Replay - Super Bowl Round Up

Super Bowl 50 is now on the books and while the game itself was a snore, our little party was a success. Here's the menu and a recap of some of the highlights: 

Bucheron Cheese Plate With Guava Paste,
Homemade Guacamole, Photo: NK 

Cheese Plate with Bucheron 

Homemade Guacamole & Chips 

Carnitas Tacos With Homemade Pickled Onion 
Pulled Pork Sandwiches on Potato Rolls with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies 

Homemade Flan (brought by our charming guests!)


For the tasty Homemade Guacamole, we followed Alton Brown's recipe HERE

Pork Shoulder Tacos & Pulled Pork Sandwiches With BBQ Sauce, Photo: NK

For the Pork Shoulder for Tacos and Pulled Pork, click HERE

For the Pickled Onions to top your Pork Tacos, follow the recipe HERE but substitute Pearl Onions for thinly sliced Red Onions (as shown). 

Pickled Red Onion For Pork Tacos, Photo: NK
For the Pulled Pork Sandwiches we used The Pioneer Woman's super spicy Barbecue Sauce Recipe. It was really good but you've gotta like heat! Click HERE for the recipe and HERE to see how we used it on Homemade Turkey Burgers later in the week. This sauce was addictive! 

For the Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe click HERE

Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Photo: NK
And that about does it! We hope you enjoyed and got some meal inspiration for game days to come. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Burger Night - Salmon Burgers With Orange & Fennel Slaw

Lately I've been trying even harder than I normally do to limit our family's overall meat intake, much to the chagrin of my carnivorous husband. It's not an easy task, particularly because the only fully vegetarian meal that makes him smile is some iteration of pasta and greens (hence the veritable treasure trove of meat-free pasta dishes in our archives). 

This wouldn't in itself be an issue except that even if I am being extra charitable to myself, my girlish figure cannot stand up to multiple carb-heavy meals per week. I'll also admit to having absolutely no self control of around pasta (the ultimate comfort food), and the charming idea of just eating a smaller portion goes right out the window when I am faced with a pot full of the good stuff.

Salmon Burgers With Orange & Fennel Slaw, Photo: NK
This is why I am always eager to come up with more and more Meat-Free dinners that my family will enjoy. Piggie-backing off the success of our super easy and light Tuna Burgers, I was very excited to add another fish-based burger to the monthly rotation. Luckily my new Giada Cookbook, Happy Cooking, had a really appealing Salmon Burger recipe that looked great.  After all, we only make Tuna Burgers once,  maybe twice a month because Tuna is high in mercury content.   EWG's Seafood Calculator is a great, customizable way to plan your monthly fish meals because it tells you how many portions of each soft you can consume while still staying below the guidelines.

The Salmon Burgers are topped with Orange and Fennel Slaw -which is delicious on so many things - especially fish. That's probably what sold me on this recipe. I hope you enjoy our slightly adapted version below. It will yield four burgers. The remaining two that we didn't eat froze really nicely. Kids will eat these too! 

Salmon Burgers With Orange & Fennel Slaw
Lightly Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, Happy Cooking
Serves 4 


1 Fennel Bulb, cored, and sliced thinly into rings (by hand or with a mandoline), some of the Fennel Frond set aside and minced (about 1 heaping Tablespoon of fronds)
1 Orange, peeled and segmented
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 6-8 portions Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, boned, skinned and cut into small cubes
1/3 Cup Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, leaves only
4 teaspoons Capers, rinsed 
1 Shallot, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon Orange Zest
2 Tablespoons Panko Breadcrumbs
1 Egg White
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 
4 Toasted Potato Roll Burger Buns, for serving 

Combine all the Slaw ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir and set aside.

In a food processor, combine all the Burger ingredients except the Olive Oil. Pulse a few times so that Salmon is coarsely chopped and all is combined. Remove the mixture and divide it into quarters, shaping each into a 1/2 inch thick patty. 

In a medium saute pan, heat the Olive Oil over medium-high heat. Once the Oil is hot, cook the patties for about 3 minutes per side until cooked through and golden.

To serve, toast the Potato Rolls and place patties on them. Top with Orange and Fennel Slaw. Serve right away!