• DIY Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Know what I love?  A delicious, ice cream sandwich.  Let’s be honest – if you like cookies, and/or ice cream you love an ice cream sandwich also.  I was first introduced as a college student at UCLA (there’s a famous shop in Westwood) and ever since then I’ve been hooked.

    IceCreamSandwichGrazeNonBranded

    They’re easy to make, even easier to customize, and a total crowd pleaser.  I throw a lot of dinner parties and am constantly trying to up my dessert ante and I realized that I had never served my guests an over-the-top ice cream sammie before!  What a treat!  Everybody can choose their own cookie, ice cream, and…toppings.  Yes, you read that correctly!  Once the ice cream is smushed in between your cookies, who not roll it in any variety of delicious snacks to create a completely one-of-a-kind party treat?!

    I’m a Graze subscriber and get their snacks delivered to our office and home every week and because they vary from sweet and savory to salty, I figured the snacks would serve the “toppings” purpose beautifully at my ice cream sandwich dessert party.  If you’ve never given Graze a try before…um, do it.  Your first box is free, and all you have to do is tell them the snacks you love to eat and then BAM – your box of treats will show up ready to be devoured.

    GrazeSnacks

     

    But back to the ice cream sandwiches….here’s all you need and have to do:

    [ingredients title=”Ingredients”]
      1. Variety of ice cream flavors
      2. Variety of cookies
      3. Variety of Graze snacks (I used the following combos: pineapple/coconut/mango, redskin peanuts/vanilla fudge/mini chocolate cookies, and strawberry/oat & barley granola/yogurt pieces) – Click here to try 4-snack smaller box!
    [/ingredients]

    grazepineapple

    [directions title=”Directions”]
    1. First, let your ice cream soften a bit at room temperature.  Take a warm ice cream spoon (run it under warm water, and clean it off in between flavors) and create the largest ball of ice cream you can in the container by scooping over and over again.  Imagine your rolling snow for the base of a snow man.
    2. Take your first cookie in one hand and your ice cream in the other and gently smush the ice cream onto the flat side of the cookie.  Finish the cookie by smashing the ice cream down with your second (or top) cookie.  Voila – ice cream sandwich almost complete.
    3. Next, you’re going to want to sprinkle your snacks on a plate covered in parchment paper and gently roll your ice cream sandwich through them.  Use your hand to pack a bit more onto the ice cream if you wish and then place the sandwich in the freezer until you’re ready to serve.
    4. Repeat, freeze, enjoy!
    [/directions]
  • DIY Flutes + Cocktail Recipe

    Ready to get DIY fancy today?  I don’t DIY often, but when I do it’s almost always cocktail related.  I hosted a fab party lately and wanted to switch up my decor without spending a ton of cash so I came up with a cute design for some old flutes I had lying around. Repurposing what you already have really is the best way to achieve stylist updates around the house without having to break out your wallet.

    Check out my newest video to see how to achieve the Gradient Polka Dot design I created for my flutes, and of course the recipe for my Chambord Royale is below!

     

    The Chambord RoyaleMVI_2429

    [ingredients title=”Ingredients”]
    • .25 oz Chambord Raspberry Liquer
    • 3/4 glass of champage
    • 1 raspberry and lemon twist for garnish
    [/ingredients] [directions title=”Directions”]
    1. Pour champagne into your DIY flute 3/4 of the way up.
    2. Top with .25 oz of Chambord Raspberry Liquer.
    3. Garnish with a raspberry and lemon twist.
    4. Drink up!
    [/directions]

     

    Sponsored by Refinery29 & Chambord (Brown-Forman Corporation, Louisville, KY, Black Raspberry Liqueur; 16.5%, 21+

     

     

  • Behind the Scenes: My Garden Party

    It’s winter, sure, but boy do I love a Garden Party.  Who doesn’t?  Bringing the outdoors in, gorgeous flowers everywhere, and a plant-based menu?  Sign me up!

    katespadebookI love a good coffee table book and recently picked up “All in Good Taste” from kate spade new york.  It’s a hardcover book that shows how to transform dinner parties into splendid affairs.  The “Garden Party” featured spoke to me so much that I decided to host my own Garden Party at my new apartment in Tribeca yesterday afternoon.  I have a new dining table to break in – It seats 8 people and is the biggest table I’ve ever owned.  As a chronic dinner-party host, I’m so excited to put my dining room table to frequent use!

     

    Check out the video and all of the details below!

    The Details

    Let’s start with the table settings because frankly, they’re just gorgeous.  Because I can’t help myself I treated my boyfriend and I to some new china for our home.  We’ve been in need of some nicer place settings and The Signature Spade Collection from kate spade new york fit the bill perfectly.  I wanted a traditional china pattern for my first set: the combination of the platinum accents with soft pastel geometric shapes lining the rims of each piece are so lovely (and perfect for my Garden Party).

    KateSpadeTableSettings

    I also added some lovely champagne flutes with platinum and rose gold accents, cute clear water glasses, the Library Lane silverware collection, and I finished each person’s place setting with a single yellow tulip tucked into their napkins.  I folded the napkins with flowers in mind and came up with a floral-inspired shape for each person’s plate.  I like folding napkins and placing them on the plate…it creates an additional decor element than simply laying silverware on a nicely folded linen to the side of a plate.

    The Look

    I myself wanted to look a bit ethereal for my Garden Party so I opted out of my normal black on black on black and chose my absolute favorite color to wear instead: light pink!  The reality is that pink hasn’t been just for little girls for some time and it makes me oh so happy to be able to find light pink sweaters, skirts, and dresses for my closet’s pleasure.  This Tari Dress is absolutely so special, so girly, made with layers of soft silk and perfect for anyone who wants to feel feminine.  The black bow (I gotta get a little black in, come on) is the cherry on top, cinching in the waist and adding just the right amount of detail to the beautiful shirtdress.  I chose the Corina Flats because not only are the quite stylish, they’re also easy for me to cook in and entertain my friends!  You can also catch my floral print oven mitts towards the end of the video as I lay a fresh quiche on to the table.  If you’re oven mitts are adorable, they count towards all around outfits points!

    The Garden

    By now you’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to the flowers and my spectacular vases, ya know the “garden” part of my Garden Party.  The answer is: right now!  If you’re hosting your own Garden Party during the colder months, or if you don’t have a garden to host one in just do as I did and bring your favorite flowers indoors.  There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy gorgeous blooms all year long, especially when you put the floral arrangements together yourself.  I’m a bit of a flower purist (I made that up) and I prefer to put a single type of flower in a vase.  Many florists do a combo of 3-4 varieties but I think a single type is really so lovely.  I chose tulips for yesterday’s gathering in orange, yellow for the place settings, and a touch of pink to display around my house.

    katespadepinkflowers

    Tulips are easy to buy at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, relatively affordable, and last for days.  They’re the perfect flower!  Even though I typically select neutral tones in my wardrobe, decor and furniture selections I go nuts when it comes to colorful flowers!  I chose classic, milky white vases (also available in pink) for my table, that beautiful kate spade new york pink and white striped number you see above for the window, and this outrageously fun green and gold vase for my dessert station.

     

    The Menu

    I think that a plant-based menu is wonderfully appropriate for a Garden Party.  We all need more Meatless Mondays in our life (or Meatless Garden Parties on a Saturday) so I went with vegetable based dishes for my friends.  The great thing about a plant-based menu is that you really do take into consideration many different types of restrictive diets all at once: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.  You can create different dishes with all of these elements, or most of them so that your guests feel welcome upon arrival and full when they leave!

    The New York City Farmer’s Markets have so many wonderful selections year-round that I picked up the majority of my vegetables from the market closest to my house.  I also made homemade macarons (pistachio, a salted caramel, and passionfruit) and got some gorgeous floral cupcakes from a bakery down the road.  The final, sweet treat?  Stroopwafels, the Dutch caramel and waffle cookie’s my mom made growing up (she is from Amsterdam).  I love introducing stroopwafels to my friends and sharing a bit of my family history with them.  Here is the full menu below:


    Braised Tofu with Spinach and Peppers

    Fingerling Potatoes with Mustard Seed and Cashews

    Roasted Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, and Turnips

    Asian Kale Salad

    ***

    Stroopwafels

    Pistachio, Salted Caramel, and Passionfruit Macarons

    Floral Vanilla Cupcakes

    Coffee Chocolates


    I hope you guys enjoyed this behind the scenes peak at my Garden Party!  I had a wonderful time buying new pieces for my home to celebrate, creating a plant-based menu for all of my friends to enjoy, and having everyone over for a great Saturday afternoon of fun!  If it was your party, how would you decorate and what would you serve?  Let me know in the comments below!

     

     

  • Wilted Dandelion Greens

    Following up from yesterday’s Baked Cornflake Chicken in the new Dinner Series on TheLoDown, we have the recipe for Wilted Dandelion Greens.  I love to mix a nice green with any kind of chicken, and when the chicken is baked or fried, a wilted green goes really nicely.  I had never cooked dandelion greens before this dinner to be honest with you, but they were fresh at the farmer’s market and I’m all about experimentin’, so I picked up two bright and full packages.  A tip: always get more greens than you think you’ll need.  They shrink down so much when they’re cooked and everyone ends up disappointed!

    These greens turned out to be a hit!  The dandelion green is bitter by nature, so it needs the vinegar to balance the flavor out so don’t be shy when deglazing the pan with it.  You’ll end up with a bright, healthy, and delicious green you’ll make over and over again.  Another tip: cut off most of the stem and use leaves primarily in this dish.

    We also have the recipe for the other side I made for dinner: the most delicious Mashed Sweet Potatoes you’ve ever had.  Make these all together for a delicious, southern-inspired dinner.  Enjoy!

    MashedSweetPotatoes

    Mashed Sweet Potatoes


    Here’s the recipe for your new favorite greens dish!  Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.

    [ingredients title=”Ingredients”]

    • 2 large bunches of dandelion greens
    • Half a yellow onion, diced
    • Ghee or butter (to cook the onion in)
    • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste

    [/ingredients]

    [directions title=”Directions”]

    1. In a large pan over medium heat, melt your ghee.  Add your onions and begin to cook.  After about 5 minutes, add your dijon mustard and stir into the onions.  Once the onions and mustard come together nicely, add the red wine vinegar to quickly reduce.
    2. Add the bunches of dandelion greens (wash them of course, and cut off most of the stems).  Fold over themselves into the onions and vinegar until the begin to wilt.  Season with salt and pepper.
    3. Let cook together for at least 5 minutes.  Taste. If the greens are still too bitter, add a bit more mustard and vinegar and gently boil for a bit longer.
    4. Once they’re delicious, immediately serve.

    [/directions]

     

  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes

    Love sweet potatoes?  Great.  Don’t love them so much?  You’ll change your mind with these, trust.  All that goes in to these?  Baked sweet potatoes, thyme, browned butter, salt, and pepper.  Easy, simple, extra delicious.  They go great with my Baked Cornflake Chicken and Wilted Dandelion Greens.  Make them all together for a fabulous, southern-inspired dinner this week and tune in weekly for our new Dinner Series posts.

    By slow roasting the potatoes in the oven for an hour, their natural sweetness really comes into full bloom.  You don’t need to add honey, or maple syrup, or any other sweetener to round out their flavor.  They are good enough as is!  The browned butter lends a nutty, and rich flavor that turns these mashed sweeties into something really, very special.

    Let’s get into this very tasty recipe!

    [ingredients title=”Ingredients”]
    • 4 sweet potatoes
    • 10 sprigs of thyme
    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
    [/ingredients] [directions title=”Directions”]
    1. Heat oven to 300 F.  Wrap each sweet potato individually in aluminum foil (make sure they’re wrapped tight).  Place them on a baking sheet and bake for at least an hour.
    2. While the potatoes are baking, remove the thyme leaves from their stems and set aside.
    3. When it’s almost time to pull the potatoes out, melt your butter.  Let your butter continue to cook by stirring it often until it begins to become golden brown.  When the smell begins to change turn off the heat.  Stir in the pan for another 15-20 seconds, then pour the butter into a bowl or measuring cup.  You’ll want to remove the butter from the pan quickly or else you risk burning it from the carry-over heat in the pan.
    4. Once the potatoes are done, you’ll want to use 2 thick kitchen towels to remove the aluminum foil and skin.  I suggest you do this over a trash can, with your mixing bowl nearby so you can quickly drop in the freed potato – they will be very, very hot!!  The skin comes off so easily.  It just peels away.  It’s important that you do this quickly however.  A cooled potato will not result in a very good mash.
    5. Once all the sweet potatoes have made their way into your mixing bowl, grab a hand mixer (or do this in your Kitchen-Aid mixer) and pour in the butter, the thyme leaves, and the salt, and pepper.  Mix on high for at least a minute until all the flavors have combined and the sweet potato is nice a smooth.  I wouldn’t recommend the Vitamix for this job if you have one – they’ll simply get too thin.
    6. Enjoy with your Chicken and Dandelion Greens!
    [/directions]
  • Baked Cornflake Chicken

    Hi guys!  Happy Monday!  With our focus switching more to food in 2016 at TheLoDown we’re starting a new weekly series called: “Dinner Series” (super fancy, I know).  I make dinner all the time for my boyfriend and my friends, so why not share what I’m making with y’all?  We’ll be posting the recipes over the course of a few days at the top of the week, or sometimes all on the same day – just depending on how you like it.  If you have any thoughts on the post schedule (like you prefer all the recipes to go live on the same day) let us know in the comments!

    This week we have an ‘effing classic: Baked Cornflake Chicken like Momma used to make, paired with Wilted Dandelion Greens, and the most delicious Mashed Sweet Potatoes you’ve ever had.  I wanted to create a southern-inspired dinner and boy, did I hit the nail on the head.  It was fantastic.  I’ll be posting the Wilted Dandelion Greens and Mashed Sweet Potato recipes tomorrow so stay tuned!


     

     Wilted Dandelion Greens


    MashedSweetPotatoes

    Mashed Sweet Potatoes


    So without wasting anymore time, let’s get into this easy Baked Cornflake Chicken Recipe.  I used legs and bone-in thighs only (I find the darker meat is better when baked) and this should serve at least 4 people.

    [ingredients title=”Ingredients”]

    • 10 chicken legs (drumsticks)
    • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in
    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 tablespoons salt
    • 1 tablespoon black pepper
    • 1 1/4 cup mayo
    • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 2 teaspoons ground sage
    • Lots of cornflakes (buy a whole box at the grocery store)

    [/ingredients]

    [directions title=”Directions”]

    1. Preheat your oven to 425 F and cover two baking sheets with pieces of parchment paper (this makes the clean-up much easier).
    2. Rinse your legs and thighs under water and pat dry.
    3. Set up your cornflake chicken station like an assembly line: flour, mayo, cornflakes, baking sheets. Here’s how: In a large dish of some kind, combine flour with salt and pepper.  In another large bowl next to it, combine your mayo with dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, paprika, and ground sage.  Then you’ll want to have your cornflakes crunched up and ready to go in a large gallon size zip-locked bag.  Next to that should be your baking sheets ready to accept your delicious pieces of cornflake coated chicken.  If you’re by yourself this will be a messy process.  You could use a spoon of some kind to help add the mayo mixture to the chicken but I find that using your hand is easier.  Get a friend or your kid to help with the cornflake part if that makes it easier.
    4. Once your station is set up, prepare 3-4 legs or thighs in the flour mixture by rolling it through and making sure each pieces is totally covered.  The layer of flour doesn’t need to be too thick. I like to have a couple of pieces ready to go at once so when I’m putting the layer of mayo on the others just wait for their turn in the flour.
    5. Next, pick up your floured thigh and gently massage some of the mayo mix all over your chicken. Toss it into your cornflake bag until it’s completely covered and then lay to rest on your baking sheet.  Repeat until all your chicken is ready for the oven.
    6. Put the sheets in the oven and bake the chicken at 425 for about 15 minutes.  Then lower the temp to 375 and cook for another 25-30 minutes, until the juices run clear.
    7. Enjoy with your Wilted Dandelion Greens, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  Yum!

    [/directions]

     

  • The Cold Buster: Ginger Tea From Scratch

    I just got over a horrible cold.  Actually, it hasn’t even completely left my system and we’re 2 solid weeks in.  Still a little cough, cough going – ya know how it is.  When I was in the deepest, darkest part of my cold my brain was rummaging through itself trying to come up with something, anything that could help.  Finally, a moment of enlightenment: GINGER.

    I always have ginger root in my kitchen. I love anything ginger: tea, the spicy ginger shots at Butcher’s Daughter that seem to clear anything up in an instant, ginger candies.  I remembered an old mate of mine from the French Culinary Institute who once made me the most delicious ginger tea from scratch and how it warmed my insides just right….

    Now, with my nose sniffling and my head pounding, it was my turn to make the most healing and delicious ginger tea from scratch.  Trust me – it seriously helped me feel a lot better, even if it was just for a few moments.  Here’s what you’ll need:

    [ingredients title=”Ingredients”]
    • Fresh ginger root, peeled, and cut into 1 cm slices (about 1/4 cup total)
    • A few slices of lemon
    • Honey or agave syrup (about 1 tablespoon)
    [/ingredients] [directions title=”Directions”]
    1. Boil 4 cups of water to a rolling boil (the water will reduce when you boil so more is better than less).
    2. Add ginger root, 2-3 slices of lemon, and honey, and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for at least 20 minutes until the flavors come together in a strong way when you do a taste test.
    3. Strain out the ginger root and lemon into a small, round colander directly over your favorite mug.  Add a squeeze more lemon and honey to taste.
    4. Enjoy, and feel better!
    [/directions]

     

     

  • TheLoDown