This time of year, I remember why I love New York. All of the streets are lit up, there’s a crispness in the air that isn’t bitter cold yet, and you can’t help but smile at all of the holiday decorations and Christmas trees. But with December comes a rush of holiday parties and with them an abundance of sweets, drinks and delicious little cheesy cocktail appetizers (you know what I mean). Some nights, you might just want a salad. Personally, I need salads with a lot of crunch, and some interesting elements besides just lettuce (and I can’t always justify adding cheese and bacon). This salad has quickly become one of my favorite weeknight meals — quick, inexpensive and delicious.
I know, I know. No posts during the week of Thanksgiving, which is probably the single most important holiday for food bloggers – or, as I overheard a woman telling her mother in the grocery store last Wednesday night, “This is the Black Friday of grocery store shopping”. But the fact is, I didn’t make anything for Thanksgiving this year, and so I didn’t have anything to share. We went to a friend’s house, and brought pie (and it was store-bought! But only because it had a croissant (!) crust and was from the best bakery in Brooklyn.)
If you’re not on a post-Thanksgiving cleanse (and let’s be honest, I’m not) then you should definitely make this cake. It was my birthday last weekend and, not being content with store-bought cake (blasphemy) I decided to try out a couple of new recipes. I combined this banana cake recipe (the two-layer recipe makes about 20 cupcakes + one mini cake) from Smitten Kitchen with the best cream cheese frosting recipe I have ever found (the secret: use cream cheese and mascarpone for icing that’s not too sweet or tart). These would also make great cupcakes to bring to a party should you find yourself tired of Christmas cookies.
Happy belated Thanksgiving to you all, and hope you’re all enjoying this happiest of seasons.
Soup isn’t the most glamorous of meals – not nearly as exciting as, say, foie gras, or steak, or even pizza. And yet, there is something so inherently comforting about a bowl of warm soup, filled with hearty vegetables and diced chicken, with a little honey-drizzled cornbread on the side for good measure. Soup like this makes me long for a fireplace, for a cabin somewhere in the woods with snow falling outside the window and no honking horns of the city. I can’t promise that this soup will take you there, but it will make you warm on a cold night no matter where you are, and give you your daily serving of vegetables to boot. And sometimes, that’s good enough.
I’m always proud to say that I’m from Minnesota – to which the most common response is usually “You don’t have an accent at all!” (Believe me, it comes back as soon as I land at MSP) But something has changed since I moved away from there. Once considered a flyover state, Minnesota has become an actually cool destination – with restaurants, shops, and hand-made products to back it up. Of course, those of us who are from the Midwest have long known that Minnesota is pretty great, but it’s nice to see the rest of the country give it a little recognition as well. Here are a few of my current favorite companies, all the better because they are based in my home state:
A classic American brand, Red Wing Shoes have been around for years, but they seem to be having a well-deserved resurgence as well-made, good quality products have again become valued. If you’re in the area, the town of Red Wing is definitely worth a visit as well – charming Minnesota living at its best.
Minnesota’s oldest mill was started in 1865, and their legacy as a family-owned company has been revitalized with new designs and the same commitment to quality. I’m coveting one of the wool throws, which start at $135 and come in many different beautiful patterns.
A launch story that I love particularly because it involves both Minnesota and Brooklyn, Pierrepont Hicks was started by Mac & Katherine McMillan (she’s from my neighborhood in Brooklyn, he’s from Minnesota) as a quest to find the perfect tie. They have since expanded the brand to include shoes, outerwear, and blankets (how great is this Track Parka with the wool hood?)
Started in 1999, this St. Paul-based company makes minimalist (and very affordable) leather accessories, including wallets, key chains and best of all, slingshots. I love the simple designs and the fact that every design is made-to-order in their workshop.
My family has visited the flagship Duluth Pack Store in Duluth on pretty much every single trip we have made up to the North Shore (which, when I was growing up, was 2-3 times per year). There’s a reason they have been around since 1882 – their products have a lifetime guarantee, and they really mean it. I have always loved their bags (like the navy tote pictured above), but they also make excellent clothing and other accessories as well.
How is it November already? Except for the fact that Halloween already happened and it’s now about 45 degrees outside, I’m pretty certain that it should still be August. So while I try to distract myself from thoughts of Thanksgiving (plans TBD for the moment), I thought I would share a few of my favorite items from Zara Home‘s fall collection. I’m a huge fan of Zara Home – like H&M, they have a ton of very affordable options in many different styles, and inventory changes frequently so there’s always something new.
I am definitely wishing for some gold flatware to add a little holiday sparkle.
On a completely different note, I wanted to share with you all that Ari (who you may have read about here) just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his brand-new radio show and podcast, called Off Campus. The show consists of interviews with people from all different career paths and walks of life, talking about their first year out of college and how they got to where they are. They’re trying to raise $12,500 by December 4th, so please take a minute to check it out if you’re interested (Also you might see a cameo in the Kickstarter video of yours truly). To learn more about the radio show, click here, and to donate to the campaign, click here.
For someone who wanted to be an actress for most of their life, I was never very good at Halloween (how things change, eh? Though I work down the street from Times Square, so that still counts, right?) Somehow, September would always fly by and then it would be October 30th and I never have a good costume and would just end up being a cowgirl or Carmen Sandiego or something. But this year, we decided to have a little pre-Halloween party, so I decided it was time to come up with a decent costume for once. (Spoiler: it was Medusa. Inexpensive and a little scary = my kind of costume)
I also surprised myself and ended up getting kind of into the Halloween theme, which ended up being pretty fun — and I think between the dark n’ stormy punch, ghost cake pops, and Sriracha deviled eggs, it was pretty successful. I also made cupcakes with my favorite cake recipe, but used this frosting technique to make spiderwebs. Just in case you were looking for a last-minute Halloween snack (and don’t have enough candy) all of these are relatively quick to make.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
For many people, autumn is the best season of all. (Apple cider! Plaid! Falling leaves!) Summer will always have my heart, but I must say that I do love the beginnings of fall – the first night when you really need a blanket, those first crisp apples and pears, and being in the Northeast, the beautiful autumn colors. Since it seems like now it is officially the end of summer, I have decided to embrace it –and what better way than with apples?
Pancakes aren’t my favorite (I’ve always been more of a french toast kind of girl), but since Ari loves them I try to make them every now and again. I had picked up a few apples last weekend at the farmer’s market, and while I love eating them sliced with a little peanut butter, how can you say no to adding a little butter and sugar? This baked “pancake” tastes indulgent and yet is surprisingly healthy, thanks to very little sugar and the addition of whole-wheat flour. A perfect fall breakfast (or dessert).
On a side note, does anyone else only like sliced apples? I can never eat them whole. Or is it just me?
About a year ago, I was obsessed with getting a bar cart. It probably came from reading too many home design blogs and watching Mad Men, but I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind. I scoured Craigslist for months, but since I didn’t really want to spend more than $50 on a cart, that limited my options. After what seemed like ages of looking, almost ready to throw in the towel and give up the search, Ari found one at the 6th Avenue Flea Market for a mere $20. Naturally, I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait to get it home and move all of the bottles of liquor out of the closet. I don’t drink cocktails all that often, but when I do, I at least want them to look pretty.
Keep reading for a few styling tips and a roundup of bar carts!
Do you ever have one of those nights where you feel like you have nothing to eat even though the fridge has plenty of food? Sometimes I get home from work at 7:30 and don’t feel like making a complicated meal, and lately, fried rice has been the one thing that has saved me from ordering takeout (also great, but it adds up quickly). Fried rice may not be quite as healthy as having a salad, but it is a great way to use up any miscellaneous vegetables and the variations are almost endless. I love adding chicken or tofu for more protein, and while my favorite vegetables are broccoli and peas, it would be great with carrots, zucchini, or pretty much anything else you might have lying around in your refrigerator.
I’m a little late to the game, as H&M’s home collection has now been available for several weeks, but I couldn’t resist posting about it anyways. My expectations weren’t super high, but they surpassed all of them by far. Inexpensive linen sheets? Chic candles? Beautifully styled photos? Check, check and check. I can’t speak to the quality of all of the items, but with many pieces coming in at under $20, it might be worth picking up a few things to change up your décor. Here are a few things I have been eying:
All images from hm.com. Layout created exclusively for 124 Park.