Monday, September 30, 2013

New Orleans: Not Your Ordinary City

This post was going to be all about cookbooks I'm currently dying for, but once I started to go on about New Orleans I decided that this fantastic city deserves its own post. It's one of the most amazing places I've been to and if it weren't for the hurricane situation I would live there (to provide evidence for the previous statement - I've been there twice within one year, making it 2/3 of the trips I took). The food there is incomparable to anywhere else; New Orleans has it's own food culture that has remained unchanged since the city was created, with the addition of new influences as other people settled in the area from different countries. There's German, Caribbean, French, Spanish, and African influences that make up the unique flavors of the region.
One of my favorite pictures I took - Jackson Square
A Lesson on New Orleans
Many people don't know the difference between Cajun and Creole and they just associate them both with New Orleans as the same type of food. This is wrong. Creole is native to New Orleans, derived from the Spanish word "criollo," which means "native to a place. This style has evolved for almost 300 years, since the French start of the city in 1718; not long after the French ruled the area the Spanish took over and then people from all over Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean came to the city and introduced new culinary methods and flavors. So this type of food is technically French because that's who began the whole thing, but so many cultures influence it that if you go to a French restaurant versus a true Creole restaurant the menus will not be identical by any means.

Cajun food originated in Louisiana as well, but in the whole entire southwest region. The French colonists that settled there came from Canada in the mid 1700s. In Canada it was common practice to hunt, fish, trap, and farm, so this continued when the French Canadians moved down to Louisiana. This style of cooking is often done all in one pot, which is actually an influence from the African and Caribbean women who were slaves and just cooked all day for the family that employed her. Cajun cooking was not really introduced to New Orleans, though, as a prominent flavor of the region until fairly recently in comparison to the origin of the area's deep roots in its cuisine's history.

John Besh was born and raised in Louisiana and in everything that he does, from his restaurants to his foundation, Besh makes it a priority to incorporate his roots. As far as his culinary endeavors go he preserves the history through ingredients and techniques in his restaurants while also promoting this through his cookbooks because of his true passion for it. Currently Besh's cookbooks are Cooking from the Heart, My Family Table, and My New Orleans: The Cookbook. The latter is the book I'm currently craving (no pun intended). On top of just including recipes, this unique cookbook also incorporates cultural information, history, essays, and insight into New Orleans from Besh's perspective. The reader (yes I am acting like this is a page-turning novel because that's how I would definitely treat it) can flip through and see dishes by season, such as "Crab Season" or "Mardis Gras," as well as the type of dish, illustrated by the chapter titled "Crawfish and Rice."

If you've never been to New Orleans you must go. Multiple times. The French Quarter is like nothing you've ever seen before and all of the boutiques, antique shops, history, museums, and restaurants will make you wish you lived there. I know it had that effect on me!


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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Guide to the Perfect National Coffee Day

Happy National Coffee Day! I am a huge coffee fan, so I must dedicate a post to coffee today. I've seen some fun links over the past year or so about coffee so I'll share them with you as part of my personal celebration.

Coffee and Espresso Drinks Explained No matter who you talk to, coffee enthusiast or barista, you will get a different explanation of the difference between a cappuccino and a latte and contrasting definitions of "what exactly is a macchiato?" This link has pictures of 10 coffee drinks and has the directions and proportions for making the perfect version of each.

I found this picture on The Glitter Guide and I just love it. I love illustrations about coffee drinks because they're informative, but it's also something that you could hang up in your kitchen if you wanted to. I have a billion saved all over my computer.

This picture is right off of the Top With Cinnamon site
Top With Cinnamon posted a recipe to make your own pumpkin spiced drip coffee. I love love love pumpkin (hence the bold), but I don't add any sugar to my food or drinks so I don't do pumpkin coffee that's flavored with syrups. This recipe uses pumpkin pie spice mix and coffee beans so how could you go wrong? She even tells you how to create your own pumpkin pie spice mix in case you don't have any McCormick's on hand yet (it is a bit early in the season, so I can't blame you if you haven't made your purchase yet.)

If you don't care about sugar (like most normal people, I'm just the crazy healthy psycho) A Beautiful Mess (one of my favorite blogs) posted a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup. How perfect would it be if you didn't have to spend 5 dollars on your Starbucks PSL and could just make your own every day. It's super easy, too. I hate when I find recipes that look amazing and you need all of these crazy ingredients that you have to travel to insane specialty stores in the nearest huge city to get or you need these cooking tools that no one has ever heard of and you have to scour Amazon to find.

This picture is right off of the Design Sponge post.
Design Sponge did an amazing post about hosting a Coffee Cupping Brunch. Coffee cupping, as explained on Design Sponge, is like the coffee version of a wine tasting, and apparently it's becoming super popular in indie coffee shops. This site will give you a beginners guide to coffee cupping.

Enjoy the rest of National Coffee Day! They should make a National Coffee Week.
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Friday, September 27, 2013

Fashion Week Favs: Rachel Zoe

NYFW 2013 has come and gone but I'm still enjoying looking through all of the pictures from the shows. One of my favorites was Rachel Zoe's ready-to-wear show because I could definitely see myself in so many of the pieces. Here are my favorite looks from her show that I wish could be in my closet this second (even though it's 60-something degrees out).
The lovely lady herself.








 I love fashion week because it marks the start of fall, but I hate that it's spring fashion. I so wish that the September shows could be showcasing fall and winter items because looking at spring stuff right now is so unexciting when I'm dying to wear scarves, boots, and sweaters. Rachel Zoe's collection was very enjoyable to look through though. I know I'm about 2 weeks late on this one, but better late than never!

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Restaurant Review: Green Table

I've been really trying to eat at farm-to-table restaurants in NYC because I think it's important to support local farmers as well as restaurants that take the time to grow their own food on rooftops. It always tastes so much better and the fact that it's fresh and you don't have to worry about pesticides makes it completely worth it. Genetically modified anything is just not good for you no matter what and I make it a point to completely avoid it at all costs. Who cares if I have to spend a little more for food that tastes better and won't have unknown effects on my body?
photo c/o TimeOut NY
I saw the Green Table while wandering through Chelsea Market and then when I was searching for farm-to-table restaurants it kept popping up so I figured I should try it out. Totally worth it. The atmosphere is so cozy and inviting. Our server was extremely friendly, bubbly, and informative. I went on a Friday and there was happy hour from 4 pm-7 pm, and I'm sure this is a daily or weekend thing. The wine and beer menu is comprised of "sustainable, organic, and biodynamic offerings," according to their site. The menu changes from season to season as well as day to day sometimes, so it's upsetting that you can't get too attached to a dish, but everything always looks heavenly so I guess it's not that upsetting.

The soup special of the evening was sunchoke almond. I saw that and immediately though "sundried tomato and artichokes?" Incorrect. A sunchoke is the root of a sunflower, so it's a root veggie. My boyfriend got it and loved it. I tried it, too, and it was delish. It had a nutty flavor in a creamy, (not creamy in a heavy cream soup sense, just not a chunky & full of veggie pieces soup) delicious, warm soup.

For main course I got the Bibimbap, which is a Korean brown rice bowl with summer vegetables (I can recall bell peppers, carrots and red onion), egg, nori, and a spicy sauce that comes on the side. When I first tried the sauce I thought it was crazy spicy, but I must have just gotten a bunch of red pepper flakes on my fork because after that it was definitely spicy, but not to the point where I was tearing and sweating. The dish was amazing. I'm embarrassed to say that it was so good I finished the entire thing, something that my waitress told me isn't super common. Needless to say I headed to SLT the next morning for a Megaformer class. It comes in a hot bowl so that when you mix it everything wilts and the egg cooks and it's just delicious goodness. I'm drooling right now while I upload the pictures.
This is before I mixed everything. 
After everything had been mixed.
My boyfriend enjoyed a glass of their summer sangria and had the tomato casserole as an entree. The portion size wasn't as large is mine, but he enjoyed every last bit. Plus he had the soup, so a large main dish would have been unnecessary and too much. The tomato casserole had Spanish chorizo, egg, red pepper, onions, and spinach and then a yummy piece of toasted bread.
This restaurant is a new favorite of mine and I will be frequenting it for sure. Every restaurant review I do is always so positive, but what can I say? I have fantastic taste when it comes to choosing restaurants!
Pretty flowers that were on every table.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Favorites: Pumpkin Lasagna

I love pumpkin everything. Like everything. Candles, soap, decorations, flavors. I came across a pumpkin lasagna recipe a couple of years ago and my family was definitely skeptical about it, but of course they were extremely satisfied. This can be made with or without sausage (I made half with, half without).


You can find the link to the recipe here. I followed the directions exactly, but made some measurement changes, so here's my version of it that I have printed out in my recipe book. There's a subtle pumpkin flavor and it's just right. I urge you try this because I know you won't be disappointed. I'm never wrong, my boyfriend will vouch for that (he better). 

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup red wine
1 28-oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 16-oz box lasagna noodles
1 large egg
2 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded romano cheese
1 large zucchini, very thinly sliced

Directions (copied exactly from the Food Network website)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pumpkin puree in a fine sieve over a bowl; set aside to drain while you make the sauce.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent (6 to 7 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 2 more minutes). Add the sausage and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the tomato sauce and herbs and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook as the label directs. Drain and toss with the remaining 1/2 Tbsp olive oil.

Mix the strained pumpkin puree with the egg in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl mix the ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, and the romano.

Build your lasagna in a 9-by-13 inch baking dish: Start with a layer of sauce, then top with a layer of noodles. Evenly spread half of the pumpkin filling, then half of the zucchini over the noodles. Top with half of the ricotta cheese mixture and cover with some of the sauce. Repeat the layers finishing with noodles and sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining one cup of mozzarella. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thoughts on the 2013 Emmys

The Emmys this year far exceeded my expectations in terms of entertainment and fashion. Usually the Oscars are the big fashion event of the year, but I think the Emmys are definitely up to par now. Due to the younger generation's interest in dramas such as Breaking Bad, American Horror Story, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, and so on you could definitely see the attempt to appeal to this age group (which I am part of and I really think they did a fantastic job). 

Neil Patrick Harris is one of my favorite people ever and I wish I could hang out with him. He's an incredible entertainer, actor, and host and I really think that every awards show should just be hosted by him because no one else can compare.
* Side note: I'm so upset that the last season of How I Met Your Mother just started because once the show ends, just like every other show that I watch and form an emotional attachment to the characters, I feel like a part of me has died and I lost a friend. This happens to me with book series, too. Struggles.

My favorite number by far was the choreographer's performance. I was hoping that Sonya or Travis would win, but whatevs. The execution of this was amaze.

Now on to my best dressed nominees. There were so many people that looked so fabulous, but some more so than others. The following are my current Emmys 2013 obsessions (photos c/o Glamour and NY Daily News)
Kerry Washington in Marchesa
I think Kerry Washington always looks flawless. This dress really fits her so well and it's not the cliche awards show dress that's tight, red, and mermaid-style, but it's still so elegant.
Sofia Vergara in Vera Wang
This dress was revealing, yet classy. The color works so well on Sofia and her shape looks amazing.
Rose Byrne in Calvin Klein Collection
The blonde threw me for a loop and I love it! This dress color choice works so well with her skin color and new hair choice. Rose's hairstyle is on its way to "old Hollywood glam," but not as dramatic. I love the cut in the front, too. She might be my favorite of the evening.
Heidi Klum in Versace
I'm never a fan of sparkles, but Heidi Klum does it right. This color is beautiful and compliments her so well. The bubble ponytail was the perfect choice to show off the amazing top portion of this dress.
Jessica Pare in Oscar de la Renta
One of the most talked about celebs of the evening was definitely Jessica Pare and who could blame everyone? This color looks amazing on her, she has an incredible figure that's accentuated in this dress without it being skin tight, and the slight high-low look shows off her gorgeous shoes.
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Food for the First Day of Fall

Happy official first day of fall finally! I've been waiting for this day to come since it started getting a little cooler about three weeks ago. Now I'm ready for pumpkin and apple picking and I can talk about it freely without people commenting that "it's still technically summer even though it's 48 degrees at night." Once the temperature starts dropping I have no interest in what season it technically is; I like to drag fall out as long as possible since it's my favorite season of all time (winter comes next).

One of my favorite things to make when I'm going to someone's house in the fall for a dinner is homemade applesauce. Everyone always loves it and its super easy to make! Say goodbye to jarred applesauce once you make your own because you'll never go back. Here's my favorite recipe that I've been making for years. You can find the original recipe here.

photo c/o cookin'mama
Ingredients
8 apples - peeled, cored, and chunked in 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon*
*I dump so much cinnamon in because I'm a cinnamon fanatic but you can use as much or as little as you see fit

Directions 
Slow Cooker (how I make it)
Add all ingredients to your crockpot and cook on high for 3-4 hours. You won't need to mash the apples or anything afterwards.

Stovetop
Cook apples, water, cinnamon, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat for about a half hour, until the apples are tender when poked with a fork.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for a little while.
Mash up the apples to your preferred consistency.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving: A True Role Model

From time to time I'll post about some of my most admired style icons. Each in their own way they are some of the classiest, chicest individuals I have ever laid eyes on from all different eras. Yesterday I was on Twitter (follow me @tricia329 for more insight into my head) and a tweet from Elle caught my eye: "You covet this closet and you don't even know it yet."

Photographed by Steven Meisel, Vogue, September 2010
Miranda Kerr let us take a look at her gorgeous New York home and after seeing these pictures I have to ask - can she be any more perfect? This true role model and style icon is not only one of the world's most renowned models but also a mom, entrepreneur, author and so much more.
photo c/o elle.com

With a simple and laid-back style she always manages to look flawless and so put together. In the Elle interview, Kerr stated that tailoring is key and makes everything photograph better. Often Ms. Kerr is photographed in her men's blazer, or more masculine-esque items that are tailored to fit her perfectly and show off her amazing figure. In the interview Kerr states, "I love delicate, fine jewelry, but I also love chunky rings. I like the mix of masculine and feminine."

photo c/o elle.com
In 2009 Miranda was able to act on one of her passions (protecting the planet and acting in a sustainable fashion - a girl of my own heart) and launched Kora Organics. From Miranda's website you can learn that this brand offers "a range of skincare [products], 100% Australian made with each product offering a unique blend of essential oils, natural and certified organic ingredients." Miranda was born and raised in Australia, so I love that she stuck to her roots and made her brand based in her home country.

There was a shot of Miranda's fireplace in her bedroom on the Elle feature and I'm currently obsessing over it. She said "I like to put my candles in there... Holly Star makes gorgeous little ones for a company called Matter & Home."
photo c/o elle.com
The following are some of my favorite street-style looks from Miranda Kerr that can be imitated on any budget.  




Photos c/o glamour.com

At such a young age Miranda has accomplished so much and is such a good hearted person (because I actually know her.. I wish). I have a feeling she'll be launching more products and campaigns in the future that deal with sustainable living and helping others. I'm excited to see what's to come!
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Room Decor Inspiration

One of my favorite spots to go to for lunch (or just a break in general) is Chelsea Market. I love the atmosphere, all of the food places, and the pop-up shops! Yesterday I stopped in the space D pop-up location and went right to Verrier Boutique's table. Their prints are so stunning and eye-catching that it was impossible not to. Verrier creates handcrafted cards and prints with sparkling accents and amazing colors. After looking through all of the options and of course not being able to choose just one print, I decided that I was going to get three cards and frame them. I still couldn't bring myself to make a final decision so I'm heading back tomorrow to make my purchase! This boutique is going to be in Chelsea Market until Sunday, so head there ASAP! The following are some of my favorites.








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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fantastic Makeup Tutorial

Kandee Johnson has some of my favorite makeup tutorials, and her most recent is super helpful in creating a natural look for the day and then easily transforming it to something that is evening appropriate. Doing makeup does not come naturally to me so I live for tutorials and diagrams to help me out a bit.


If you want to check out the post on her blog that goes along with it just click here.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Craving for Capes

I was enthralled with a particular section of the September issue of InStyle: "Fall Fashion Trends 2013: Capes." Completely inspired by this gorgeous Lauren Ralph Lauren wool tweed cape, I made it my mission to find out more about styling with capes this season.
I've been obsessed with it for a month now and I think I've told everyone I know about it. This trend is popping up in every magazine, on every fashion site, and is featured on fashion blogs all over. I'm definitely hopping on the cape bandwagon this season; the timeless factor of this style makes investing in one worth it.

Capes come in so many different materials and cuts so it's almost a given that if you look long enough you will find one you adore (I didn't have to look very hard). Some people are afraid to try this look because they are afraid it will look unflattering, but simply belting certain styles of capes (not all will look good with this addition) or wearing fitted pants that will show off your figure on your bottom half can solve this problem. Gloves are also the perfect addition to this style; wearing a medium-length or opera-length glove looks fabulous and it also solves the dilemma of being chilly if you're not wearing a long sleeve shirt underneath your cape. This time of year it may be too warm during the day for a sweater, but after work the temperature drops dramatically, so the glove fix comes in handy.

Today would have been the perfect day to wear this seeing as it was in the 40s in the morning and then reached the low 60s in the afternoon in NYC, but unfortunately this jacket is nowhere to be found so I couldn't flaunt it throughout the West Village. Hopefully I will be able to add this stunning piece to my wardrobe sooner than later.
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Going Bold for Fall

Happy Monday! This month is flying by and I can't get over the fact that we're already more than halfway through September. I'm still waiting for 2011 to roll around. This Sunday marks the start of my favorite season! I've decided that my thing for the fall (and winter as well) is going to be bold lip color. My best friend is, and always has been, all about lipstick and lip gloss, so she totally inspired me. Luckily I don't have to wear makeup to cover up anything, so I choose not to because once I start putting on the powder and bronzer my pores get clogged and it takes so long for my skin to get back to its completely healthy, blemish-free state. On a regular day I just do eyeshadow, top liner, mascara, and line the bottom of my eyes on the inside. To make up for not wearing any bronzer or face makeup in the colder months as I grow paler (hard to believe that's even possible) I'm going to start donning intense lip colors. Yesterday I purchased Clinique's Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Color Balm in Roomiest Rose and I love it. It's not quite as bold as I want to go, but for an average day of classes it's perfect and the color is so gorgeous. Also, the chubby sticks don't dry your lips out like most lipsticks, but they're not a sticky gloss. Some other colors that I like (and plan on purchasing) are Grandest Grape and Broadest Berry.
Broadest Berry

Grandest Grape

Roomiest Rose

For a bigger pop of color and more depth the Clinique Long Last Glosswear is perfect to layer over these colors, and I plan to invest in Fireberry and Stellar Plum when I get around to it. This sounds like a Clinique ad, but my friend who works for them in Bloomingdales has totally turned me on to these products so I just had to share! I'm also super excited about the launch of Rihanna's new line of matte lipsticks at MAC.
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

All Good Things Are Wild and Free

Have you ever been so happy that nothing can really bring you down? That's how I've been for a couple of months now and it's fantastic. I feel like I have so much going for me and that there's just nothing negative going on around me.

My relationships with my family and friends are definitely a huge factor in my positive attitude. I guess now that I'm in my twenties (that still sounds weird.. I'm not 17?) I've just become so much wiser about what actually matters! There may have been a little sarcasm in that last sentence, but I really do feel that as you mature, things just kind of come to you and it all just makes sense. You don't understand it until it just happens.

Leslie Knope is one of those women who just obviously gets it. This link is too perfect and I definitely thought of my two best friends, Meghan and Michaela, (both fabulous and gorgeous ladies) when I saw it. These "14 Girl Code Rules" are necessities to maintaining friendships.
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Play it Loud, Giving Love to the World


Maybe I'm a little late on this one, but you can't blame me because I don't listen to the radio while I'm at school so I'm not totally up on all of the new music. Any who, I was in the car this morning listening to Sirius XM (I'll take that over FM radio any day) and I heard "Burn" by Ellie Goulding and I'm totally loving it. I wasn't crazy about "Lights" even before it became way too overplayed, but I just love the sound of this song.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Black & Blue on Friday the 13th

It feels like Autumn in NYC today (well almost)! The humidity is gone and it's actually chilly out with the breeze.




top: Express it has a blue and black cheetah pattern (a color combo I'm not usually comfortable with, but love on this shirt)
leggings: Zara I highly recommend these- they're thick and so comfortable
shoes: Coconuts by Matisse that I mention in a previous post

A word on the leggings: you can't see it clearly, but the stitching on them makes them look more like tight pants than just plain old black leggings. You can definitely get away with wearing them to work if you work in retail or a business casual environment. They have gold zippers that look like pockets, too. These are the most similar pair on their website. I got mine about 6 months ago, so I don't know if they would still have them in stores.

Happy Friday the 13th!
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