Tag Archives: wine

Summer Berry Smash

Summer Berry Smash

Has this ever happened to you?  You buy a watermelon, a huge watermelon (because it’s finally in season and you’ve been craving it since October), and then you realize you are going out of town in a few days?   I’m not naming any names,  but you (I) know who you (me, again) are…

Not one to let food go to waste, this was no exception.   Watermelon, meet blender.

It’s summer, people!  What do we need?!  Drinks!!!  When do we need them?!  RIGHT NOW!!!  
A libation that screams summer.  A drink that makes us think of lazy days, floating in the pool or feeling the sand between our toes.  One that  we have at backyard bbqs with friends and neighbors, watching the sun drop as the firepit glows with bright orange flames dancing around skewered, melty marshmallows.  This is that drink.

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Food, Wine & Fun #FWCon

In a few short weeks, I will head to Orlando once again to attend the Food Wine Conference.  This is one of my favorite blogging conferences for many reasons.  I get to see my friendshave lots of laughs (which is always needed) and I have the opportunity to learn so many things.

I cook for a living.  Six days a week, I’m in front of a stove and this is a nice change of pace to be able to put my “blogger hat” on for a few days and learn about blog-related things.  This conference isn’t just for bloggers or Chefs, it’s for anyone who really has a passion for food and likes eating, drinking wine, hanging out with super fun people and learning along the way. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?  

Speaking of learning…  I am MOST excited about 3 of the speakers this year:  Lenny & Denise of Chez Us,  Denise Vivaldo, Food Stylist Extraordinaire  and Kita Roberts of Girl Carnivore.   I will be the nerdiest nerd with my notebook in hand, ready to soak up every tidbit of knowledge they are droppin’.

Another bonus for me this year is getting to meet some of the #SundaySupper people in person.  Isabel started The Sunday Supper Movement about 6 years ago and it has grown exponentially since it’s launch.  So much so, that this conference is a direct result of it.  As a blogger, the world in which we exist is inside our computers or phones.  We don’t have offices to go to every morning or company lunches where we all hang out.  We have the internet.  It can be a little isolating at times, but the beauty of these groups that we belong to is the camaraderie that comes with it.   Thanks to the social media sharing, it’s not all that odd to see people taking photos of food anymore, but we don’t just snap a pic and move on.  We have to check the lighting, adjust a single piece of lettuce, wipe a smudge on a plate, etc.  This isn’t weird to ANYONE else in the blogging world,  that’s just a normal day.  It’s nice to be around people who “get me” and don’t look at me sideways for taking 73 photos of the same thing before I’ll eat it.



As if that’s not enough, I was chosen as a Brand Ambassador this year.  I’m beyond excited and I can’t wait to find out who my brand partner is and start working with them!  There are so many great sponsors this year from Florida Strawberries to Cabot Cheese, you know there will be lots of good things to eat!  And, as a brand ambassador, I get to pass a little savings along to you!  How great is that?!WEB2015FWCon-242-689x460




I will be posting tons of photos on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram  with the hashtag #FWCon so you can follow all the adventures!

Oh yeah, and did I mention where we stay?!  I have to tell you, Rosen Shingle Creek Resort is stunning.  I mean it,  it is absolutely beautiful. Don’t believe me?  Here’s some hard evidence:


photo courtesy of Rosen Shingle Creek

We get to stay here!!!! There are pools, bars, restaurants, huge meeting rooms, etc. and the best thing of all?!  A culinary school On. The. Property!  I nearly lost my mind when I found that out on my first visit.

As you can tell, I’m a little excited about this conference.  You can head over to the website now to REGISTER and use my special code:  PooksPantry to save $50.

There are fun contests like this one or this one from Florida Dairy Farmers.  Enter for a chance to win a FREE ticket to the conference!   

To follow all the fun and happenings at the Food Wine Conference, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and G+. Don’t forget the hashtag #FWCon !

Hope to see you there!



As a brand ambassador, I receive a credit when my code is used.



White Wine Blood Orange Spritzer

2.1One of my favorite memories from childhood is having my grandfather’s siblings and their spouses at our house.  There were 10 of them  (including my grandparents) and they would get together regularly.   We would rearrange the living room to accommodate everyone,  kitchen chairs lined up beside the sofa and I would find myself seated on the floor at their feet.

This “mini-reunions” are where I learned about my grandparents and great aunts and uncles,  I heard stories about their childhoods and often I heard the same story re-told by someone else with a slightly different perspective than the original storyteller.  It was incredibly entertaining to see this group of elders challenging each other and trying to convince the other that their recollection of the same event was rather skewed.

My all time favorite story was one my grandfather told about the farmer and the watermelons.  He worked for a farmer when he was a kid and made 10 cents a day.  He gave half of that to his mother and the other half he kept for himself.  This was during the depression, so although it wasn’t much money,  he was lucky to have anything at all.  Somehow, my grandfather and one of his brothers got the bright idea that they would go to the farmer’s field at night and take a watermelon.  This was stealing, and they knew it, but they were hungry and didn’t really figure the farmer would miss one melon…  They were wrong.

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If You’re Afraid of Butter, Use Cream…

The above is one of my favorite quotes from Julia Child, one of the gutsiest broads to ever hoist a meat cleaver. (and I use that term lovingly)


On August 15th of this year, Julia would have turned 100 years old and I’d like to think would still be cooking.
In the 100 days leading up to Julia’s birthday, the JC100 is celebrating this culinary powerhouse and her recipes.  Each week, a new recipe is featured and this weeks offering was Coq au Vin…  one of my all time favorites.

I remember watching Julia & Jacques and loved her candor and fearless approach to cooking.  She made it seem fun and most importantly, possible.  She had a way of walking her audience through a recipe that made complex dishes seem effortless and isn’t that all we really want? To feel like anything is possible?

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Praise the Braise…

It’s no secret that winter is my least favorite season, however it does get serious bonus points for the kind of cooking that it ushers in… the braise!  Culinary comfort, the only real benefit of freezing temperatures.

Braises are perfect for winter.  It’s a long, slow process (which is how winter feels to me) and it is usually comfort food cooking.   What is a “braise” exactly?   In its most basic definition, it’s cooking something (usually meat) in a liquid (usually stock, wine or a combination thereof) for a long period of time on a low heat.  Most often, braises are tough cuts of meat that benefit from long, slow cooking turning them into the most succulent and flavorful of meals.

Another benefit of braising is,  it’s easy.  Many braises are one-pot meals, some with a side of starch (and we all know how I love that…) which means you aren’t left with an entire sink of dirty dishes, something else I can really appreciate.

I have a particular pot that I use for braises, it is a Le Creuset enameled cast-iron pot.  I have had this pot for almost 15 years.  It has made hundreds of meals and looks almost the same as the day I bought it.   This is one very good example of “you get what you pay for”.   These are expensive, but it is something you only buy once.

I wanted to do a post about braising and was searching for short ribs that would make the cut.  It took some time, but I found locally raised organic meat with beautiful marbling and so in went the ribs… deciding what to put with them was easy.  I had been craving rutabaga, which I know is not something you hear everyday, so once I had my veggies I was ready to get this braise going.

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Butternut Squash Risotto

Risotto is one of those foods that require demand a long, leisurely approach.  On a cold winter afternoon when the wind is blowing outside and the last thing I want to do is brave the cold, THIS is the kind of food that happily keeps me indoors and in front of the stove.

This is comfort food on every conceivable level. On days when you need a bit of a mental break, I whole-heartedly recommend making risotto… 20 minutes of stirring while you lovingly watch the pot of rice in front transform into something ethereal you can be just what you need.

The whole key to risotto is the slow process allowing the creaminess of the rice to come out and that can only be achieved by not rushing it.  Knowing this going into it makes the constant stirring a welcome change of pace from the frenzied dinner preparation most of us normally experience.

Don’t let the thought of the stirring deter you from making this,  it really isn’t more than a bit of pouring in stock and stirring for the better part of the cooking.  Some people find it a bit off-putting to be tethered to a stove for a period of time,  but if you have children that are a little older have them do the stirring for you.  Getting your kids involved in the kitchen is the best way for them to learn.

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Get this Girl a Drink.

Summertime is for enjoying time outside with friends and family, both of which are on their way to stay with me at this very moment.  To get the festivities underway, I’ve made a Summer Sangria.  It’s light & fruity without being overly sweet.

It is quick & easy to make and because it’s made by the pitcher you aren’t stuck making drinks all night for your guests.

This sangria goes well with any BBQ food, try it the next time you find yourself outside with the people you love.

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Is Dinner Ready Yet?

One of the things most of us feel we never have enough of (besides money) is time.  Being at work at an obscenely early hour and not returning home until 10 hours later, I rarely feel I can take a leisurely approach to dinner.

Most people say to me “I’m sure the last thing you feel like doing when you get home is cooking” and sometimes they’re right,  but a girl’s gotta eat…

A common misconception with people who may not have Chefs in their lives is that we come home and make seared foie gras.  Hardly…
Like teachers, fireman, etc. most chefs do it for the love of the job.  Being a chef isn’t always a lucrative gig.

One thing a chef learns quickly when creating a menu is food costs.  This translates well into our own kitchens, because like i just said, we aren’t all Tom Colicchio or Mario Batali with restaurant empires.

Dinner most nights needs to be quick, not terribly expensive, good for me and most of all NOT leave a mess of dishes to clean up.  If there is one chore I LOATHE it’s washing dishes.

Here’s one of my old favorites that fits the bill quite nicely:

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