Boo-tastic Halloween Ghosts with Driscoll’s!

October 22, 2014 By: Serena


halloween-strawberries-2Happy Wednesday, Noshers!  It’s a bit of a gloomy day here in NYC, but there are two reasons to turn that frown upside down – first, I’m giving away a $50 Whole Foods gift card in celebration of American Cheese Month (enter to win here!).  Second, I’m sharing these super cute (they could be scary, but I decided to cute these up) Boo-Tastic Halloween ghosts!   I first learned of this simple but fun activity when Driscoll’s reached out to me, and I’m happy I gave them a try :).  These friendly faces are a super-delicious (and healthier) Halloween treat for kids and kids-at-heart like myself. Plus, making these boo-tastic ghosts is a fun activity to do with any young cooks in your life – especially being creative with the faces!  I tried to make all of my strawberry ghosts smiley and just a little kooky.

Here’s how to create your own Boo-Tastic ghosts to brighten your Halloween!

You will need: Continue reading »

American Cheese Month with Whole Foods + GIVEAWAY!

October 21, 2014 By: Serena


Happy Tuesday, Noshers!  I know, Tuesday is often a much-maligned day (definitely not the weekend, not Friday, not even the accepted-with-resignation Hump Day.  But there are indeed two reasons to be happy – 1. October is American Cheese Month and 2.  Whole Foods Market and I are helping you celebrate with a GIVEAWAY!!

American Cheese is so much more than the orange slices of youth and yore.  In celebration of this month of cheesy celebration, my friends at Whole Foods asked if I’d be open to checking out several cheeses that they carry from some American cheese makers.  Um, I’m sure you can my answer to that question.  Within the minute (okay, the hour), I rushed over to my closest Whole Foods to check out my American Cheese options.

If you want a quick indication of the variety and diversity of American cheeses, just stop by your local cheesemonger at Whole Foods.  Texture! (soft, crumbly, hard, creamy). Milk! (cow, goat, sheep). Aroma! I could go on and on.   After much discussion with the Columbus Circle location’s cheesemonger, and some generous sampling, I decided on five luscious cheeses to sample.

I began my journey around the cheese plate with an old favorite – Humboldt Fog by Cypress Grove Chevre.   If you like goat’s milk cheese, you will LOVE this extravagant version.  Tart, tangy, and featuring a layer of vegetable ash running through the center, Humboldt Fog pairs the more “traditional” texture you’re accustomed to in a goat cheese with a creamy outer texture near the rind.


My next cheese selection was the Merlot Bellavitano by Sartori.  While I unfortunately have an alcohol allergy and must thus abstain from the good stuff, I absolutely love the flavors of wine and beer in foods.  The Merlot Bellavitano, as its name implies, is a rich and creamy cheese with a sweet and fruity hint of Merlot.  I especially enjoyed the texture (right in between hard and semi-soft) and slightly sweet flavor with walnuts – yum!


I then moved on to the beautiful and aromatic Finger Lakes Gold by Lively Run Goat Dairy. While the Humboldt Fog is perfect for diehard goat cheese fans, the Finger Lakes Gold is fantastic for those who want to enjoy a good goat cheese with a mellower flavor.  It’s a mild, friendly cheese that I feel most people would enjoy.  Also, I read a cheese description way back when where a cheese was described as “friendly,” and I just loved that!  Finger Lakes Gold is definitely friendly.


My penultimate cheese selection was the Rawstruck Aged Goat by Coach Farm.  What can I say, I’m a goat cheese fan!  The Rawstruck Aged Goat is a raw milk goat cheese, crated in small quantities once a month.  Much as I believe the Brillat Savarin is the epitome of a good Brie, the Rawstruck Aged Goat struck me as the epitome of a good goat cheese.  The rind was especially delicious. Yum!


I rounded out my cheese plate with the Oma by the von Trapp Farmstead.  I’m especially partial to this cheese because I’ve always loved The Sound of Music, which was based on the story of the real von Trapp family. Even without that connection though, Oma falls into one of my favorite cheese types – washed rind soft cheeses!  Made with unpasteurized cows milk, Oma is aged for two to three months and boasts a lovely semi-soft texture and a luscious edible rind.


So there you have it – my tour of American cheeses with Whole Foods market!  I always love learning about the wide selection of American cheeses – there are still so many I don’t know about.  I think I should keep learning and sampling more of them – do you agree??  But don’t take MY word for it – now you can sample your own cheese and create your own plate with a $50 Whole Foods Gift Card to build the cheese plate of your dreams!

For your chance to win, enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.  This 52 second video provides a tutorial on how to enter a giveaway for Rafflecopter newbies! There are 4 methods of entry, with the first method (commenting on this blog post) being mandatory and the rest just extra cheesiness!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! :)

Event Alert: NYC Wine & Food Festival – NOW!

October 17, 2014 By: Serena

I’ll be doing my thing this year again at the NYC Wine & Food Festival!

Happy FRIDAY, Noshers! It is looking absolutely gorgeous out today here in NYC! What plans do you have for the weekend? I have a pretty fun weekend planned – due in a big part to the New York City Wine & Food Festival, taking place RIGHT THIS MINUTE!!!

This is the seventh year of the NYCWFF, and once again the schedule looks amazing!!  The festival features restauranteurs from around the world, legendary chefs, and a smorgasbord of TV chef-lebrities.  All of the proceeds from the four-day event benefit the Food Bank for NYC and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.  There are a kerbillion (give or take a few) events packed into the four days of the festival, and you can buy tickets for individual events.  This year, you can find me at the Grand Tasting.  I’ve attended the Grand Tasting in 2013 and 2011, and it is a ton of fun!

While the ticket prices vary pretty widely, there is a pretty extensive list of events at $100 and under.  So check out the events, pick up a few tickets, and definitely stop me and say hello if you see me! :)

My previous visits to the NYC W&FF:

Gratuitous John Legend pic ;)

Ice Cream: Vanilla Bean

October 08, 2014 By: Serena


Happy  Wednesday, Noshers! Today I’m excited to share a recipe for an old reliable (and personal favorite) ice cream flavor – vanilla bean.  You may have read about my previous ice cream experiments with David Lebovitz’s recipes for roasted banana ice cream and basil ice cream – delish! While I absolutely loved these two flavors (especially the basil, YUM), vanilla bean is perfect standby ice cream to go with everything – whether it’s apple pie, hot fudge sundaes, or my personal favorite of just digging in with a spoon.

There were a few recipes for vanilla ice cream in my go-to book, The Perfect Scoop, but I chose the simplest one – “Philadelphia style” (no eggs). This makes for a less complicated recipe and also a lighter, “chewier” finished product.  But
don’t take my word for it; check out this super-simple, 5 ingredient recipe for yourself!

You will need: Continue reading »

Re-cap: Plate by Plate New York 2014!

October 06, 2014 By: Serena

plate-by-plate-ny-16Stir-fried rock shrimp with XO sauce and foie gras ‘Royale’ by The Sea Grill

Happy Monday, Noshers!  I’m doing everything I can to combat this no-longer-summer weather with some mouth-watering recaps!  Today, I’m super excited to share some pictures from  Project by Project NY‘s Plate by Plate Annual Tasting Event that I attended recently.  Tables and tables of food galore, a cool DJ, a good-looking crowd, and lil’ ol’ me!  As I mentioned previously, the proceeds of this event went to benefit the Asian Bi-Cultural Mental Health Services at Henry Street Settlement.

I stuffed myself silly, took awkward selfies in the photobooth, and snapped pics to share with you – so without further ado, let’s get to it!

I HAD to start with dessert first, especially when this cutest little snow cloud ever was beckoning me: Continue reading »

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