I was so honored to get the chance to bake with Sarah Carey of Martha Stewart Everyday Food on her awesome You Tube show. Her bright smile is infections and I could just cook with her all day! We collaborated to create a really fun cookie bar that is perfect for your next holiday party, she baked 5 different cookies and I put them together in this "bar". I also contributed an article on MarthaStewart.com showing how to create this cookie bar at home.
Ahh the pulling out of the slow cooker, an official sign that winter is coming. Growing up my mom had three kids and a full time job so the slow cooker was a staple at our house. There is just something that I absolutely love about "set it and forget it" appliances like a rice cooker, dishwasher, and of course the slow cooker. Now the old stand by has been brought to this century with some pretty fancy features, I joke that they have power licks and windows these days. Here are four very different models that I think sum up what you will see when you think about buying one.
1. Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker
This fancy pants no stove top required model is like an electric skillet, steamer and slow cooker in one. If you are a fan of cooking on electric this is great for you because you can literally do everything in one pot. I love doing less dishes and there is something about keeping everything together that I think enhances flavors. The one thing that this does not do is let you cook on the stove if you wish to.
2. The Classic CrockPot
The old standby has gotten hip to the stainless steel trend and even features a warm setting. If you want the "no muss no fuss" slow cooker look no further. And at 22 bucks it wont break the bank. A few things to note, you cannot braise or saute in this, with no built in timer wont automatically switch to warm when your food is done. Also the 3qt size could be limiting to some people.
3. All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker with Cast-Aluminum Insert
This is a wish list worthy kitchen staple! I wanted this for two years before I got it and it was defiantly worth the wait. It has low & high settings that automatically switch to warm when your desired time is up. The non stick insert is stove top safe and light enough to carry, I also love the iconic All Clad handles on the warming unit. I call this an investment piece at $249 but sometimes you do get what you pay for. Overall this is my favorite and it is the one you will find in my kitchen making everything from overnight steel cut oatmeal to pulled pork.
4. Breville Stainless-Steel 7-Quart Slow Cooker
At $129.00 this unit has many similar features to the All Clad minus the timer. You can take the insert to the stove for searing and then back to the unit for slow cooking. However reviewers say that the non stick coating is extra delicate. If you want to up your slow cooker game this is a good option.
What is your favorite slow cooker recipe? Share it in the comments section.
In my family we are constantly sharing new things that we love, everything from a spice to a new beauty product. I created the favorites video to be able to share those things with my dolls in a fun way. Here are the links:
Oh I just love good arm candy, fabulous watches, leather wraps, thin beaded bracelets and so on. This style is unisex and really simple to master with a few easy guidelines. Here is my latest combo, reversible Hermes leather wrap with a Tiffany & Co silver bracelet stacked with a emerald cut Swarovski.
Try mixing chains and sparkles with your favorite daytime watch (bonus points if it coordinates with your ox-blood boots like Southern Curls & Pearls)
Love the fabric wrapped bracelets in this post on Refinery 29 the gold Rolex isn't to shabby either. #stylebucketlist
I have been in the beauty industry for over ten years and have tried countless treatments in the name of research. Everything from chocolate massage, fat freezing, dermal planing, to snake venom facials. After growing up with horrible acne I became a skincare devotee, daily and nightly regimens, monthly facials and now lasers! Laser therapy is nothing new, it is however not something I could do at home until I found this little contraption called Tria.
This company is known for their hair removal laser but they are now expanding into anti aging and even acne. Basically you run this machine over your face at night for 8 weeks and get the same results you would from the dermatologist. It is so easy and the only difference is that something that might take 3-4 sessions at the doctor will take you 8 weeks at home. Not a bad trade off for the $495 price and convenience of not having to leave home. I am about to start a new treatment cycle and I will document it on my YouTube channel so you can all see what it does and how it works.
What do you think about at laser treatments? Is this something you would try at home?
Fall is the most delicious apple time and they are so affordable! We all need to figure out amazing ways to use them up. Try making your own applesauce or Spiced Butternut Squash & Apple soup. One of my go to's is this amazing Pear & Apple crisp from Ina Garten I just made it the other night and Matt was in heaven!
She has an amazing tip for making a perfect crumble using a stand mixer, you will never go back!
What are your go to ways to use these gorgeous apples we have this season?
It is officially Fall in NYC! I was just mentioning to my husband how strange it is to define seasons by actual changes beyond candles and throw pillows. Time to pull out the boots, scarves, and sweaters. My go-to casual boot for several years has been from Palladium, they started making rubber for airplane tires in the 1920's and then went into military boots. Luck us because they are so incredibly comfortable and tough. I am loving this new style in the photo above, it is taller than the classic Palladium boot. What boots are you pulling out of the closet or buying this fall?
Since moving from LA to NY I am really embracing the seasons, I actually have to change out my closet for Fall now! Another thing I like to change is my home cocktail list from the Summer staples like Moscow Mules and Greyhounds to warmer seasonal favorites. I have searched around and found five standouts that we all need to try this Fall I just don't know which one to start with.
This is my personal go to and I have been using this recipe from Esquire for the past few years with different Bourbons & Rye's however I always use Carpano Antica vermouth. I also garnish mine with three Luxardo Maraschino cherries, they are not cheap but totally worth the splurge. This picture is from my Disneyland dinner at Carthay Circle, who knew they had craft cocktails?
When was the last time you took a bite out of a truly exceptional chocolate chip cookie? For me it was about 2 minutes ago because I just finished baking about 30 of them from the Babycakes NYC cookbook I picked up. I was introduced to the bakery while shooting a segment for Secret Guide to Fabulous After the first bite of the doughnuts I made with the owner Erin and Shaun T I was hooked, bought the cookbooks and mixes, and of course more goodies. Then the hard part came, finding all of these crazy sounding flours, potato start, arrowroot anyone? After a trip to Wholefoods I had tracked down everything I needed to make more doughnuts at home.
A word of caution to anyone trying this at home if you buy "potato flour" instead of "potato starch" you will make doughnut clay, I clearly learned that the hard way! After I fixed my shopping snafu I was in business, the doughnuts came out perfectly. One of the things I loved was that the recipe is made with coconut oil instead of butter, the coconut oil is "refined" so it actually doesn't have a coconut flavor it actually tastes more like butter.
Now for my next mission, re creating the delicious chocolate chip cookie that I tried while I was at the bakery. I followed the recipe exactly and they were amazing, everyone I shared them with LOVED them and couldn't tell that there was no flour, eggs or butter.
Here is the official Babycakes NYC Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe courtesy of my new friend Erin:
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 6 Tbsp. homemade applesauce or store-bought unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups evaporated cane juice
- 2 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
- 1/4 cup flax meal
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
- 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, applesauce, salt, vanilla and evaporated cane juice. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, flax meal, baking soda and xanthan gum. Using a rubber spatula, carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until a grainy dough is formed. Gently fold in the chocolate chips just until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Using a melon baller, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the portions 1 inch apart. Gently press each with the heel of your hand to help them spread. Bake the cookies on the center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees after 9 minutes. The finished cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft in the center.
Let the cookies stand on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely before covering. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
© 2009 Babycakes by Erin McKenna.
I also show you how to make these in this fun video:
When Matt and I moved to New York everyone here imagined that we were coming from some expansive LA mansion. However Gingham Cottage our home in Laurel Canyon was only just above 800 square feet, not quite a mansion. We had spent three years squeezing every single inch of storage out of that place, bookcases, closets, custom furniture, you name it we did it. However after I unpacked all of the boxes here in the apartment I realized that we had none of those smart storage solutions to speak of. Furthermore this is a rental so it wasn't like I was calling an artisan cabinet maker and scheduling a crane. Plan B, the mecca of an organized apartment The Container Store, its not the cheapest solution but in organizing you get what you pay for. I resolved to measure and research my way around the store and get a handle on living big in a small apartment, starting with the kitchen.
The first thing I realized was that the kitchen had exactly zero drawers, guess the people here before didn't use silverware. I found a simple affordable kitchen island on Amazon that had two drawers:
Next was organizing those drawers, what I couldn't do is put a thick organizer into that small drawer. I found these great organizers from Rubbermaid that have a very small footprint and they interlock, done!
The apartment has an interesting layout because it is actually two units combined with a spiral staircase, that means two doors. Not one to waste an inch of space I decided to claim the upper door for the kitchen. I ended up using this ingenious Elfa wall rack that attaches simply with a few screws and adds tons of storage. Because this is an open solution I kept everything that went onto it in the same silver and white color palate so it doesn't look junky.
I still needed more drawers to keep things like kitchen towels tucked away so I turned again to Elfa (no they didn't pay me to do this I paid them) this time for the x-narrow mesh drawer. This handy little set fits right under the sink and provides me with tons of space, I even store lids for my Pyrex bake ware on top.
By this point I am feeling good but I still needed a spot for foil, parchment, waxed paper etc... I found this simple $8.00 solution on Amazon its called a Door Wrap Wrack and it is basically the space saver of the century. How many of you have an entire drawer dedicated to foil and plastic wrap? Claim that drawer!!
Did any of these solutions inspire you to get your kitchen organized? Do you want to see more ideas like this?
Check out the video below to watch me build the whole thing:
Hosting guests in your home can be such a fun way to connect with your friends and share good times. It can also wreak havoc on your schedule and add an new layer of stress to your already hectic day. Try these tips to make sure that you are the best Inn keeper around (just make sure your guests have a checkout date!)
1. Clean ahead: there is nothing worse than rushing around throwing things in closets before your friends arrive ( we have all been there)
2. Go to the market: check in with your guest ahead of time to see how they take their morning brew (I almost never have milk around) and any food allergies if you plan on cooking.
3. Bedding: Set aside all of the necessary bedding ans make sure you have the right amount of pillows blankets, comforters. We store ours under the bed in this handy space bag contraption.
4. Bath: If you are lucky enough to have a guest bathroom make sure you have fresh towels and maybe even some flowers. I also love to set out a basket of things that they could have forgotten at home.
5. FAQ Binder: What is the wifi password? Where is the subway? Whats a good place that delivers? I try to answer questions in a guest binder just like what you see in a house you rent for vacation. Remember this is all about reducing YOUR stress and answering texts during your workday about keys and wifi is a drag. So save yourself the trouble and do it once!
Matt and I are very luck to have amazing friends, many of them whom have beautiful homes all over the place . We also get invited to stay for weekends at many of them which is something I absolutely love. There are many keys to being a good house guest one pf them is bringing a proper gift and thank you. After you get back home from an amazing weekend this thing called LIFE happens and many of us can forget to send a little something. That is why I have recently started planning ahead and bringing a gift and a blank thank you note with me. It is so easy to write a quick thank you and set it with a small gift to leave in the guest room. This is one of those "surprise and delight" moments that you can create for your host. Here is a picture of one I just did after staying with our friend Robin at her Westhampton home:
Gourmet olive oils & balsamic vinegar
A set of handmade goat milk soaps from my friends at Beekman 1802
What would you add to this list? See anything you would give?
After my first trip to a Brooklyn flea market was a complete bust due to freezing cold weather, I decided to drag Matt all over to different "junk shops" since we were already out there. After tons of walking and a few over priced Uber rides we found ourselves empty handed and in desperate need of a glass of wine (that sounds great right now actually). Over the next few MONTHS I have searched everything from local thrift shops to (wait for it) catalogs in hopes to find the perfect bookcase for our bedroom/ my office.
I have finally caved and decided that the best option is a good old Ikea “hack”. Now when I got my first apartment almost 10 years ago we didn't call it hacking we just called it saving money and making things look cool. I used two Expidit bookshelves as bedside tables, the stainless steel shelves in my tiny kitchen, and countless organizers racks and rails everywhere else. When we bought Gingham Cottage I had all but abandoned our swedish friends at Ikea, except for the occasional paper napkins & tea lights (I love their tea lights)
Fast forward three years and a cross country move, I am returning back to the wonder world in a water taxi to hunt down supplies for my master plan. I started by looking up “billy Ikea hack” on Google images, I went through tons of photos and blog posts showing the different changes one could make. (Kate's hack on her blog Centsational Girl was my fave) I measured my space and consulted the good old website and finally settled on two full-size Billy bookcases and one narrow, all with the height extension added.
Now for the fun part the “hacking”! After my extensive research online I got down to the basic elements that you want cover to create the “built-in” look: crown molding, base molding & hide the seams with wood.
Next is Carol the lovely lady at the Home Depot tool rental desk, she explained to me that I can rent a cordless “finish nail” gun for $24 a day, DONE. Thank God, I had pictured a Yankee Workshop meets Gucci moment with me and an air compressor walking down the street in riding boots (better in theory)
My final shopping trip was to Prince Lumber which is coincidentally 5 blocks from our apartment #amazing! I created a chart with all of the measurements of the bookcase to show the sales people so they could help me determine how much of each piece I needed (who am I?)
Once I got back home step one of this job was to fully assemble the Billy's just like the were at the store. (Yes there are books piled up everywhere this is a real NY apartment with limited space)
Next I took a piece of wood that runs the entire length and width of the three bookcases and attached it to the bottom of each of them. This added 1 inch of height and also kept the three pieces together.
I also thought it would be a good Idea to attach some furniture sliders so I could move this huge thing when it was done. I had no idea that they would be essential in moving it around to finish it!
Next I attached the three bookcases together on the back by nailing scrap pieces of wood to the sides.
With the bottom and back secure the last step in making these one piece was the front. I used a small screw and inserted it into one of the holes meant for the shelves. This worked perfectly and kept everything from shifting.
With the pieces all put together as one it was time to attach the crowning glory the crown molding! I realized that if I put the crown molding on the front of the cases there would be a gap so I used some 3/4 inch lattices to fill that space and also give me more spots to nail into.
Now it was go time, I centered the crown molding and put the first finish nail in. This is really where that tool showed off, honestly it was so easy once I got started. Don't ask me how I did this by myself but it was on a wing and a prayer, what can I say I was determined.
With the crown molding up it was time to hide the seams between the bookcases with thin wood.
I then filled the holes using Plastic Wood, next time I will fill ONLY the hole because this stuff is hard to sand.
Finally it was time to paint all of the trim and moldings, I used a paint and primer in one and only needed one coat.
Beautiful moments are essential to life, even in the most casual settings. I have just returned from an amazing vacation on our dear freinds houseboat in Lake Powell. It is this incredible setting that is quite hard to describe, the best I have come up with is "the Grand Canyon filled with 80 degree water"
The fun thing about vacationing on a houseboat is that you have to bring all of your food and cook there. Our group was full of foodies and we all took on different meals and appetizers thoughout the week. This cheese plate was particularly great because our freind Chris made these delicious Parmesan crisps to spread the Brie onto. Cheese on cheese count me in! He laid out all of the crisps on one side of a small cutting board and then sliced some of the Brie to make it more fab! Simple details like this really elivate the experience of sharing some wine and cheese under the stars. As we said on the boat "it's not exactly roughing it"
If you are inspired to create your own I am loving this cheese board from Ralph Lauren Home. I love investing in entertaining essentials like this that I use all of the time. Cheese boards aren't a trend so find one you love and use it forever. Are you feeling this little cheese moment? Do you have any tips of your own for elevating the basics?
When Matt and I moved into our new home tucked away in the Hollywood Hills we knew we needed to name it. While on a short vacation to Big Bear, CA for my birthday a few years ago we imagined owning a lakeside cottage. We dreamed the whole thing up complete with whitewashed walls, deep fireplace and a long dock. Our favorite part was the idea of having two jet ski's with custom Gingham plaid wraps and saddle brown seats. We decided we would call this magical place Gingham Cottage. Well a couple of years later we bought our first home and decided we would use the name for it. Don't worry, our friend Brian has a zillion other names for other properties, he came up with "Gingham Place" the name for our New York town house. After you name it then what? Its time for custom monograms on everything!! I decided to start with the doormat and looked no further than one of Oprah's favorite things from the Personalized Doormats Company the 2x3 double border personalized.
It was easy to order and showed up exactly how it looked online. We have had this mat for 4 years and it looks basically the same as when it arrived (it doesn't rain much in LA...) So if you are looking to dress up your own front door or you need the perfect housewarming gift for a friend check them out. Do you even have a doormat? Is this something you would do? Let me know below!