Monday, March 17, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things: Kitchen Edition!

Earlier last week, I sent my husband this picture:

Not exactly the most beautiful shot of my kitchen, but Anthony has been in busy season for about 10 weeks now (he's an auditor) and getting home around 1am, so I occasionally send him photos to remind him of what our house looks like in the daylight. I think the caption on this particular picture was: 'look, I cleaned!'

Although it's a little on the smaller side (and I'm just noticing now that the light bulb is out, whoops), I do love our kitchen! It's my special place in our apartment to create, clear my head, and concoct some delicious treats!

There are lots of items in this particular room (many of which are in this picture) that I'm obsessed with. In fact, the other day my friend emailed me to ask if I had a few recommended kitchen items for her to add to her wedding registry... I responded with ehhhhhh about 20 things.

These are a few of my favorite things (Sound of Music, anyone?) in no particular order:

1. Cuisinart's 9 Cup Food Processor: This is like the Samurai sword of food processors. I use it for pesto, bean dips, salsa, pie crust, and about a million other things.

Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Food Processor, 9-Cup Prep Premier Series
Photo courtesy of

2. KitchenAid Ultra Power 4.5 Quart Stand Mixer: My favorite kitchen item. Hands. Down. Yes, it's a mixer, but it does SO many other non-mixer-like things. Plus, I've started collecting some attachments like the pasta maker, which opens up a whole other world of possibilities! My KitchenAid mixer is this beautiful red color, but it literally comes in about every color you could dream of.

KitchenAid Ultra Power 4.5 Qt Stand Mixer
Photo courtesy of Target

3. Everything Le Creuset: If I had endless dollars to spend on cookware, a good portion of it would be spent on Le Creuset. The quality of their products is unbeatable, and it's worth the money (my mom has had her Le Creuset cookware for years and years!). If you're looking for an item to start out with, I'd recommend the Signature Deep Skillet

Image for Signature 11 3/4" Deep Skillet from Le Creuset
Photo courtesy of Le Creuset

4. Counter block: My version is by John McLeod, but I think a good counter block can come in handy in any kitchen. It's large and heavy duty, so you can cut multiple things on it at once (makes life easier when you're cooking chili, for example). Just don't immerse it in water and be sure to buy the oil that goes along with it. Trust me. I learned the hard way that when it's too saturated with water it'll split.

Photo courtesy of Williams Sonoma

5. Wusthof's 7" Santoku Knife: Although it's not your typical 'chef's knife,' this is the knife I grab from the block 95% of the time. The grip is perfect, and it slices and dices quickly and efficiently!

Photo courtesy of

6. All-Clad Stainless Steel Essential Pan: It's called essential for a reason. This pan can be used to make sauces and stir-fry, to saute, and much much more. It's a great starter pan if you're looking to gradually build a collection of All-Clad (and, similarly to Le Creuset, these last for-ev-er).

All-Clad d5 Stainless-Steel Essential Pan
Photo courtesy of Williams Sonoma

7. Breville Juice Fountain Plus: When Anthony and I were considering a juicer, we didn't want to spend a ton of money because we weren't 100% convinced that we'd use it too often. That being said, we came across this basic model from Breville and figured it was a decent enough price to make the investment. Since purchasing, we use it all the time and it's absolutely worth every penny. 

Breville Juice Fountain Plus
Photo courtesy of Williams Sonoma

8. Brushed Stainless Steel Spice Rack: Because you need to organize your spices. It'll change your life.  

Brushed Stainless-Steel Spice Rack
Photo courtesy of Williams Sonoma

9. unwind candles: These candles are made of soy wax and are crafted in recycled wine bottles. My favorite is their 'teakwood' scent. It smells like an amazing mix of musty cologne and the beach... I love it so much that there's one in our kitchen and in our bedroom :) 

Teakwood Candle
Photo courtesy of unwined

10. Storage jars: I bought 5 of these jars in all different sizes from Ikea to keep on the counter. They're filled with ingredients that I use a lot in order to save me the effort of having to take stuff in and out of the pantry constantly (e.g. flour, sugar, salt, brown sugar, etc.). Best part about this purchase? Even the largest jar is under $5!

KORKEN Jar with lid IKEA The jar has an airtight seal, which makes it perfect for preserving your favorite homemade jams and jellies.
Photo courtesy of Ikea

11. Keurig Storage Drawer: I always thought that the K-Cup carousel was the most adorable thing to store your coffee... until I realized that it takes up way too much space on an apartment counter top. This storage drawer was the perfect solution! It fits 36 cups and goes right underneath the coffee maker... Leaving you with plenty of extra counter space for other things (like your spice rack, right?) 

Nifty 36 Capacity Under-the-Brewer Drawer for K-Cup®
Photo courtesy of Target

I could go on for days, but I'll stop at 11 for now. There's definitely going to be a 'favorite things kitchen edition' round two in the future. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day... Have a wonderful week! 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

It's Getting Darker Later... You Know What That Means!

On the rare occasion that I don't take the train home from work, I sometimes hop on the bus from Port Authority back to New Jersey... It's quite the walk, but I don't really mind because I get to stroll by some of the most iconic sights in NYC like the Empire State Building, New York Public Library, Times Square (although I don't like this area 99% of the time), Grand Central, and Bryant Park (just to name a few!)

The other night I was walking to the bus and snapped this gorgeous pic that I thought I'd share with you all:

So pretty, right?!

Not only was the sky an amazing pink which reflected off the Bank of America Tower, but, MORE IMPORTANTLY it was still light outside at 6pm! You know what that means, team? We're getting closer to warmer / longer days and breezy summer nights!

Take that as motivation to make it to the weekend (it's supposed to be a whole FORTY-FIVE degrees here in NYC)!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Truffle Mushroom and Aged Goat Gouda Arancini

Finally it's March! This winter seems like it's dragged on FOREVER and I think I speak for a majority of the Northeast when I say that I'm glad to see it go!

Luckily I got to take a break last month and travel to sunny Florida for Disney World's runDisney weekend. Two of my friends and I ran the Royal Family 5K… it was a hoot! We basically spent the entire weekend acting like five year olds. Here's a pic of us with Cindy and her handsome prince after we crossed the finish line: 

And I stopped for a shot with a character from my favorite Disney movie ever along the course. My mom happened to find a similar shot of me with the Beast over ten years ago… 

Anyway, enough chit chat… on to today's recipe! 

I've been loving arancini lately. They're small, appetizer-sized fried balls of risotto that can be found on the menus of lots of Italian restaurants around NYC.

My sister happened to give me this amazing truffle salt from Williams Sonoma for my birthday last month, so I figured I'd make a truffle mushroom arancini (side note: if you're looking for a good read on truffles, check out this article from the New York Times). 

Who knew that truffles form at the root of oak and hazelnut trees… 

Couple things about this recipe… If you don't feel like buying truffle salt, no worries! Regular salt will do. Also, if you can't find goat gouda, regular gouda will suffice. 

Happy frying! 

Truffle Mushroom and Aged Goat Gouda Arancini

makes 16 
  • 1 cup arborio rice (risotto rice) 
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth 
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped (about 4 mushrooms)
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, finely minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 cup aged goats milk gouda, shredded 
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten 
  • 1/2 tablespoon truffle salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying(see below) 
  • Marinara sauce for dipping
  1. In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth over medium heat. Once it's heated, keep it simmering over low heat. 
  2. In a separate, medium-sized saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add arborio rice to the pan, and sauté until rice becomes translucent, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Add chicken broth to rice, one cup at a time, stirring constantly. Once the first cup of chicken broth is absorbed, add the second, and so on. Once all three cups of broth have been absorbed by the rice, transfer the rice to a large bowl to let cool. 
  4. While rice is cooling, add the second tablespoon of butter to a skillet and melt. Once melted, add onions and garlic to the skillet and sauté for a minute or two, until translucent. Add mushrooms to the skillet and sauté until cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture to the arborio rice, and allow to COMPLETELY cool (otherwise you'll end up with scrambled eggs when you add them in!). 
  5. While rice is cooling, begin heating your vegetable oil. Pour vegetable oil into a medium saucepan, enough that the oil measures about 4 inches deep. Using a liquid thermometer, heat to 350 degrees. 
  6. In a separate dish, combine panko and breadcrumbs. 
  7. Once rice and mushroom mixture is cooled, add in gouda, parmesan, eggs, truffle salt and pepper. Using your hands, roll the mushroom mixture into one-and-a-half inch balls, then roll in the breadcrumb mixture. 
  8. Place balls (very carefully) into hot oil and allow to cook through, about 2 minutes. They should be a golden brown color when finished. 
  9. Remove with a strainer and place on paper towels to cool. 
  10. Serve with marinara sauce and enjoy!