Pumpkin Carving Party

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October is my favorite month of the year. The crisp, cool air…the colorful leaves on the trees…oh wait, that doesn’t happen in Florida! Every year, I make a desperate attempt to celebrate autumn despite the 80° temperatures. I invited a few friends over to carve pumpkins but ending up spending most of our time hovered over the food table. I mean who wouldn’t be impressed with a Jack-O-Lantern shaped veggie platter and bloody knife cupcakes? The rest of our night included sipping on cider, enjoying the beautiful weather and everyone cramming onto the couch to watch Halloweentown.

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Mini Donut Pumpkins

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I love donuts…that’s no secret. I’m guilty of stopping at Dunkin’ a bit too often. The ceramic donut bank on my desk doesn’t help my constant cravings. So painting mini pumpkins like my favorite sugary breakfast item seemed only natural. I stopped by a local pumpkin patch (or two or three…I love pumpkins, okay?) and picked up a whole bunch of mini pumpkins for an afternoon of Halloween DIY fun!

Step 1: Pop off the stem of the mini pumpkin or cut it short so it doesn’t get in the way of the donut hole.

Step 2: Use a matte spray paint (in a light tan color, mine came out a bit too dark) to coat the pumpkin and let it completely dry overnight. Using a coat or two of spray paint helps get rid of the pumpkin’s waxy texture so the frosting layer of paint goes on a little smoother.

Step 3: Pick out your frosting colors. I went for the classic chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Use a tiny brush to draw the frosting outline and a little circle on top for the donut hole then fill in the rest with a larger paintbrush. You might need 2-3 coats depending on the thickness of the paint.

Step 4: Once the frosting paint layer is completely dry, it’s time to add the sprinkles! I opted for puffy paint. It was extremely easy to add the sprinkles this way plus the three-dimensional texture made them looked even more realistic.

Step 5: I dare you not to take a bite out of your new little treats. They look almost good enough to eat!

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¡Olé, Olé!

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Just because Labor Day is the “official” end of summer, it doesn’t mean you have to put away the grill. These recipes were inspired by one of my favorite NYC taco spots Tacombi, which you last saw in this post. I was craving their tacos and decided to whip up my own version along with their famous Corn in a Cup.

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Corn in a Cup

  • 4 ears of corn
  • Queso Fresco
  • 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Throw the corn on the grill following this recipe. Cut the corn off the cobs, add the mayo and sour cream, and mix together in a bowl. Add some lime juice and scoop into the cups. Add a dollop of the sour cream/mayo mixture on top, squeeze some more lime juice, and sprinkle with chili powder. Crumble the Queso Fresco to top it off.

*If you want to make the Mexican Street Corn version, leave the corn on the cob when you’re done grilling. Mix the mayo with chili powder (eliminate the sour cream for this version) and spread onto the cob with a brush. Throw back on the grill for a few minutes. Add a bit more chili powder and roll in Queso Fresco before serving.

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Pineapple Pork Tacos

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 bag of cole slaw mix
  • 2 limes
  • Corn tortillas
  • Queso Fresco
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Teriyaki sauce

Marinate the pork in teriyaki sauce for a few hours before you cook. Saute the pork on the stove or throw on the grill. Slice up the pineapple and grill. I love cabbage on tacos but instead of buying a full head of cabbage, I use a bag of cole slaw mix that has a combination of white and red cabbage. To build the tacos, add the pork, grilled pineapple, cabbage, crumbled Queso Fresco, a few pieces of cilantro, and squeeze a lime over the top. Drizzle with the sour cream sauce (recipe below).

Cilantro Sour Cream Sauce

I don’t like to measure a whole lot when making a sauce. I think it’s more fun to taste as you go. For this sauce, I throw everything in the food processor. Small container of sour cream, fresh garlic, cilantro, green onions, a dash of milk (to thin the sauce), and salt & pepper.

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Bon Appétit

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It seems like every visit I make back to NYC revolves around food. It’s necessary to stop at all of my favorite spots for a bite even when making a quick trip. I started off my Fourth of July weekend with patriotic doughnuts and iced coffee at Doughnut Plant in Chelsea. The trip continued with fireworks on a friend’s rooftop in Brooklyn, a glamorous Italian dinner at the Mondrian in Soho, beautiful pastries at Dominique Ansel Bakery (sadly, they were sold out of cronuts for the day), and Upper East Side cocktails to escape the heat.

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset^^The most ornate French pastries at the newest Ladurèe in Soho.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset ^^Lime Me Up tart with brown sugar sea salt at Dominique Ansel Bakery.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset ^^I need these doughnut pillows that adorn the wall at Doughnut Plant.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset^^Patriotic doughnuts calling my name.

IMG_4331^^Our view of Manhattan before the fireworks on the Fourth. 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset ^^Spaghetti Al Limone & Garganelli Bolognese at Isola Trattoria. I wish I could teleport this pasta to my kitchen right now.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset^^Our view while we ate our pasta. The glass chandeliers were absolutely stunning.

DSC_3999^^Escaping the heat with cold cocktails at Upstairs at the Kimberly.

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Double Dose of Art

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As a kid, my mom would have to drag me to museums and bribe me with ice cream just so I would sit still. Fast forward a few years and now I am completely infatuated with museums. There’s something so calming about the beautiful portraits hanging from the walls and the stillness of the room. I spent so many Saturday afternoons at The Met when I lived in NYC. I found it to be the perfect escape from bustling city life.

I finally stopped by the Chihuly Collection in downtown St. Pete and was completely blown away by the exquisite blown glass pieces. If you’ve ever been to the Bellagio in Vegas, you’ve seen Chihuly’s colorful glass ceilings inside the lobby of the hotel. The St. Pete exhibit houses the same floral ceiling as well as many other truly stunning pieces.

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Image^^The floral ceilings at the St. Pete collection; identical to the Bellagio hotel exhibit.

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Image^^My favorite part of the exhibit…the ‘blue room.’

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I also stopped by the Warhol “Art. Fame. Mortality” exhibit at The Dali. The traditional Campbell’s Soup prints were on display and black & white Warhol movies were projected onto the white walls. We also got a chance to do a 3-minute screen test captured by a 1960’s camera.

Image^^View from the top of the Dali Museum, overlooking the marina.

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Image^^My favorite downtown spot.

Image^^Even the staircase inside The Dali is a piece of art.

Image^^My Warhol screen test. Sitting still for 3 minutes is next to impossible.

Image^^My favorite shots from the screen test.

Image^^Greetings from Sunny Florida!

Paris is Always a Good Idea

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Paris is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever had the chance to visit. The decadent pastries, the charming cafes, the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, the high fashion pieces adorning the windows of the Champs-Élysées…so many of my favorite things in one place. While I was in NYC last month, I stopped by the new Ladurée tea house in Soho modeled after the Paris location. Rose petal tea, French Toast, and macarons while dining under a crystal chandelier is my idea of the perfect breakfast.

Then it was out for a quick stroll around snowy Central Park, Fifth Avenue shopping, and a stop by the always stunning Bergdorf window displays. I suppose NYC is a pretty good substitute for Paris but there sure is nothing like the City of Lights.

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New York Girl

I’m not really sure how Christmas has already come and gone…the holidays always seem to disappear in the blink of an eye. Back in November I made a weekend trip up to my old stomping grounds to visit friends, eat at some of New York’s finest establishments, and of course…take in the autumn leaves! It’s nice to look back at the golden colors since the leaves are now long gone and snow is the only thing New Yorkers will be staring at for the next few months.

^^Pink gem-faced mannequins inside Topshop.

^^NYC always looks better in lights.

^^Having a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” moment on the stoop from the 1961 movie.

^^The best tacos in the city at Tacombi in Nolita. Carne Asada tacos, fresh watermelon juice, and grilled corn in a cup.

^^Central Park was covered in golden LEAVES!

^^So many popsicles to choose from at Popbar.

^^The colors inside the park were just breathtaking.

^^Massive fortune cookie dessert at TAO.

^^Lady Gaga’s bone dress at her ARTPOP pop-up installation in the Meatpacking District.

^^DVF has always been one of my favorite buildings, just love those hot pink lips!

^^The famous Jeff Koons ‘Balloon Dog‘ worth $58.4 million! Should have stuck it in my purse…hah!

Fruit Tart

Ever since visiting Paris when I was 18, I have always been fascinated by miniature French pastries. The little fruit tarts always appealed to me the most…something about the dainty fruit underneath the shiny glaze made them almost too pretty to eat. I was hosting my now sister-in-law’s bachelorette party and decided to make this full size Fruit Tart. I mean, what screams “bachelorette” more than this classy dessert? Hah, kidding of course….but it sure went well with our neverending glasses of wine and the girls seemed to gobble it up!

Chai Latte

I first tried chai tea in a little cafe in Mexico. Maybe that wasn’t the best place for my first taste because I was not overly thrilled with the flavor. While living in NYC, I had a friend reintroduce me to the drink, guaranteeing I would like it. Although I was sure I would hate it once again, I ended up loving it. It even become a weekly ritual to stop by my local coffee shop for a chai latte.

Since the end of the year is right around the corner and the “cooler” weather has joined, I want to spend most of my time with a warm drink, bundled up in flannels watching movie marathons all afternoon. But considering it’s still 80° and I’m currently in shorts, I figured I could at least pretend it’s chilly out if only for a bit. This Chai Latte has a bit of a kick to it. The creaminess of the condensed milk combined with the cinnamon makes it the perfect morning treat.

A Day in the Life

1. Beautiful glass stars overhead at Red Mesa Cantina. // 2. Celebrating the start of “autumn” with rooftop drinks at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach. // 3. First cool morning so I took full advantage of reading + morning coffee on the porch. // 4. Spontaneous afternoon at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino for a little blackjack. // 5. The best orange margaritas at Casa Tina’s in Dunedin. // 6. My favorite Ladurée macarons shipped straight from NYC. // 7. Fancy dessert night at the Bern’s Dessert Room. // 8. Giuliana Rancic celebrating her one year anniversary at HSN. // 9. The most perfect Florida sunset. The sky looked like it was on fire.