NYC Wine and Food Festival Recap

We had a great day Saturday at the New York City Wine and Food Festival. We got up bright and early Saturday morning and dropped off the kiddos with Grandma and Grandpa for the weekend. Trevor and I grabbed an early train out of Albany and headed into New York City to check out the ShopRite’s Grand Tasting at the New York City Wine and Food Festival.

Outside the food festival on Pier 92
Outside the food festival on Pier 94

We dropped our stuff at the hotel, got some goodies in a ShopRite welcome bag then headed over to the food festival, which was on a pier overlooking the Hudson River. We were lined up for a while, waiting to be let in and I spotted Chef Ludo Lefebvre from The Taste, one of my favorite shows. You could get a photo with Ludo on your way into the festival.

Chef Ludo from ABC's "The Taste"
Chef Ludo from ABC’s “The Taste”

After making our way into the festival, we just started eating. I think we tried most of the food samples that were out, and then some wine and booze. I think every liquor company in America had samples out. Some of the highlights for me were the smoked meats from Fossil Farms. They had a chef carving a pig leg at the table and the smoked ham was delicious.

A chef cuts a smoked pig leg at the Fossil Farms
A chef cuts a smoked pig leg at the Fossil Farms
The Kickin' Mule from Tito's Vodka
The Kickin’ Mule from Tito’s Vodka
Trevor is modeling the neck strap wine glass holder we all got (and most people wore).
A churro soft pretzel – yum!

Also a highlight (not so much for Trevor) was the cocktail at the Tito’s vodka booth. It was The Kickin’ Mule and had a great spicy bite for me. I definitely could’ve had a whole one. Not a cocktail you can drink all night long, but a nice change from my usual. Also a high point for me was Gatherer’s Granola. They’re literally from Schenectady and I’d never tried their products before. The coconut granola blend was delicious and I’ll definitely be picking some up.  DSCN0128

While at the food festival, we saw several cooking demonstrations. We started at Martha Stewart’s. It was just okay for me. She was using a pressure cooker, and I don’t have one and don’t have plans to buy one. Rachael Ray was really energetic in her presentation and definitely an old pro at the live cooking demonstration. The best (by far) was John Besh and Aaron Sanchez. The New Orleans chef and Chopped judge are best friends, and have opened Johnny Sanchez together in Baltimore, and will be opening another location in New Orleans. They had great energy and really played off the crowd. While they were cooking, they handed out samples and women were literally running up the aisles to get a bite of fried lobster. Trevor wanted me to push and shove, but I told him no 🙂  Continue reading

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza

IMG_5347I’ve just been home, basking in the post-vacation glow, knowing that I’ve needed to fill you guys on the delicious things coming out of the kitchen.

The beach was re-energizing and really allowed me to slow down and get some much-needed rest. It was back to work for us on Monday, and I felt like I was really able to cross some things off my to-do list and really stay focused (and that’s what vacations are all about, right?).

We took some time on Sunday to just get our stuff done, and I tackled the huge mountain of laundry that awaits after every vacation. We also got groceries and made the necessary trip to Target. We even felt so ambitious that we reorganized some furniture in both the living room and Hadley’s room. I think it’s a good way to really get going on our autumn season here. We have just a super busy fall so staying on top of things is a must. We’re going to New York City this weekend for the NYC Food and Wine Festival, and we have a couple other exciting things coming up. I’m going to be doing a recap of everything at the food festival so check back for that!

During our super productive Sunday, I made a big pan of this pepperoni pizza. It’s definitely a weekend dinner since all the components take a while to put together. Also, it makes some fabulous leftovers.


There are a couple of things that Trevor takes very seriously – hockey, beer, all his man hobbies (woodworking, etc.) and pizza. He loves it. Take out is great, but this is his all-time favorite. His love of pizza has definitely rubbed off on the girls. Hadley’s two favorite meals are pepperoni pizza and tacos from Chipotle (even though she just wants to go to eat tortilla chips).

So this is a couple different recipes combined – it’s the marriage of Ina Garten’s pizza crust recipe and Trevor’s mom’s pizza sauce recipe. The sauce is really thick and slightly sweet from the tomato sauce. The crust is really fluffy and rises easily since it has quite a bit of yeast in it. Obviously, you can top the pizza with whatever you want. Trevor is super traditional – just a good, spicy pepperoni and sometimes I’ll throw some veggies on top like I did with this. I just used half an onion and sliced them super thin so the girls wouldn’t notice them mixed in with the cheese.

Read on for the recipe.

Continue reading

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta

Vacations are always fun times, but this one is a little bit more special. Trevor and I are celebrating seven years of marriage in the very same place we got married on North Topsail Beach, just outside Wilmington, N.C.

photo-5He’s such a great partner in life and an awesome father. I’m one lucky mama. So sappy, but so true. We’re not big on presents, but he got some beautiful lilies and blue hydrangeas (my favorite) and I got him some tasty craft brews from Fermental (a great beer store in Wilmington to hit up if you’re into that kind of thing).

Our anniversary was a fun day spent golfing for him and shopping for me. We met up later for an afternoon at the beach with the kids. Since we both had busy days, we wanted something easy, but delicious for dinner. This Chicken Mozzarella Pasta (originally from the Pioneer Woman) really hit the spot. It was a great play on Chicken Parmesan, but without all the breading and frying.


IMG_5204My mom and I were scanning through recipes we both had pinned (how we pick our dinners on vacation) and figured out that we’d both pinned this pasta dish.

Some notes on this recipe: I used more chicken than the original recipe called for. I didn’t want to leave a partial package in the fridge. I also added some extra oregano because Trevor loves it.

Read on for the recipe. 

Continue reading

A couple exciting announcements!

Hadley flying her princess kite

Hey everyone! It’s been a fun week at the beach so far. I’ve had a great time just hanging with my family and enjoying the amazing North Carolina sunshine. DSCN0065

TrevorandBrynWe’ve had great weather and have just been sitting on the beach, building sand castles, flying kites and eating (of course).

Last week, I teased that I had several fun and exciting announcements so here they are.

First, I’m the newest blogger on the ShopRite’s Potluck blog! I’ll be writing for them once a month and showing off some of the great things in their store. I’m super excited to get started writing for them and and I’ll be sharing these posts here as well.

Also, with my new ShopRite blogger position, Trevor and I are headed to the New York City Wine and Food Festival in a couple of weeks! ShopRite is sponsoring the event’s Grand Tasting and you can meet me there on Saturday. I’ll be there in the afternoon at the ShopRite booth. I’m so excited to try everything at the Grand Tasting and I’ll give you a recap here of everything.

Hope everyone is having a fabulous week and I’ve got some fabulous recipes on deck!

Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

IMG_5181Am I the only one who is just always searching for a great chocolate frosting recipe? Do I think too much about these things? Probably.

These are the really deep and important questions you have to ask yourself when you’re on a beach vacation. The biggest problems we have is what we’re going to eat next and why won’t the kids stop fighting over the same sand shovel. (total first world problems, I know) Sometimes you just have the check out and forget about the big problems and enjoy a few little ones, right? Like what makes a good chocolate frosting.

But when you find something amazing (like this frosting), you need to stick with it. It’s rich and chocolatey, but still really spreadable. So how good is it? I had plenty leftover after a batch of cupcakes, and myself, my mom and my 12 year-old nephew couldn’t stop taste testing. I’m a firm believer in licking the bowl (I know that must shock you).

I originally found this on Sally’s Baking Addiction, and I was going to blog about both the cupcake and the frosting. The cake didn’t quite live up to the hype. It wasn’t that moist for me, but then again, I’m using a different oven and they could’ve been a minute or two over baked. I’ve got another yellow cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen on deck that I can’t wait to try. It came highly recommended from a friend so I can’t wait to check that one out.

Continue reading

Slow Cooker Coffee-Braised Brisket with Carrots and Potatoes

Hey everyone! It’s been an awesome couple of days here. I had a recipe featured on Siriously Delicious, and have gotten the chance to catch some new readers because of it. So if you’re new, thanks for stopping by and I’d love for you to check out some of my other blog posts and recipes!

There’s some other fun stuff going on that I’ll be announcing soon and some improvements that are being made behind the scenes to Christen in the Kitchen. All stuff that’s going to make this site better for my readers. We’re also headed to the beach this weekend so I’ll be Christen in Someone Else’s Kitchen all next week. I’ll be cooking up lots of new recipes, and be sharing a few photos from our family vacation to North Carolina.

And I also want to say, if you have feedback about the site, share it in the comments. I’m always looking for suggestions on posts or any recipes you’d like me to tackle!

So, on to the recipe!

This dinner is just warm and delicious. It’s home cooking at its finest.

Brisket is a great cut of meat if you cook it low and slow (either in the slow cooker or in a Dutch oven). It gives the fat in the meat some real time to just melt away, and you’re left with a super tender piece of meat. For the future, the only alteration I think I’ll make will be leave the potatoes out, but keep the carrots. I think this piece of meat would be great served on top of some rich mashed potatoes like the ones from my Sunday Night Beef Stew.

The best part about this dinner (originally found in Real Simple) is how great it is for the very little effort you have to put in. It’s awesome to have a warm, comforting dinner on a week night thanks to the slow cooker.

Some notes on this recipe: My slow cooker is pretty hot so this was done in about six hours, and then just turned to warm until we were ready to eat.

Continue reading

Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting

Pumpkin Spice cookiesI’m ignoring the fact that its almost 80 degrees outside. I’m not willing the winter to get here any faster, but its officially fall so that means its time to get fall baking underway.

Bring on the pumpkin! Bring on the apples! Let’s get this thing going.

I’m not even sure where to begin with these cookies (originally featured on Cooking Classy). In addition to their great, chewy texture, the spicy pumpkin cookies are really good. But where things really get crazy is the frosting. Normally, I don’t frost my sugar cookies. Most frostings taste way too sugary for me and just kind of plasticky (is that a word, if not, just go with it). The mixture of cream cheese and butter gives this frosting a really balanced flavor, and I love the little specs of cinnamon and vanilla bean in the frosting. (Note: you’ll only see little vanilla bean specs if you use homemade vanilla extract. If you don’t know how to make it yourself, have no fear. It’s coming to Christen in the Kitchen very soon)

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

So overall, these cookies are like little wonderful pillows of fall flavors. So good in fact you could eat more than one, or two, or even three right before lunch (just a little personal experience there).

Note: I tweaked the original recipe ever so slightly. I swapped out the ginger for cardamom. Literally only because I couldn’t find the ginger and I’m obsessed with the spiciness of cardamom. I also let the dough sit in the fridge for about an hour before I put it on the cookie sheets. 

Continue reading

What’s in My Pantry?

IMG_5017I’m a big fan of keeping a lot on hand when it comes to cooking up new recipes and feeding my family of four.

I think my pantry (and also our fridge and the rest of our kitchen) is like one part foodie and one part kid-friendly.

The foodie in me keeps things like coconut oil, steel cut oats and really good yeast on hand. While the mommy in me keeps a bin of snacks (thank you, Annie’s) and lots of cereal and juice boxes on hand.

Keep in mind, we have a small house so this is just a reach-in style pantry. I don’t have a ton of room to shop in bulk too much. Unless I start moving things into the basement. (Hmm…that’s an idea!) I fantasize about my “If I Win the Lotto” house, and it’ll have a fabulous pantry. 

So here’s what I like to keep on hand: 

Continue reading

5 Recipes to Get You Excited for Fall

One of the great things about living in upstate New York is the fall weather. The leaves change into a million different colors and the air is crisp. Hadley said to me the other day that the air smelled like snow. (Is it weird that she said that or weird that I know what she meant?) The only massive downside to fall in our little corner of the world is raking leaves (total bummer when you have a huge yard!)

Once the air turns chilly, I immediately start craving comfort foods. Bring on the pumpkin-flavored everything and all the baked goods with apples I can handle!

Here are five recipes I’m cooking this fall (and you can expect to be reviewed right here on the blog!)

Lasagna Soup from Cooking Classy
Lasagna Soup from Cooking Classy
  • This Lasagna Soup from Cooking Classy – It looks super comforting and right up my alley. I’ve made a version similar to this, but I can’t wait to give this one a shot!
  • These Pumpkin Sugar Cookies from Cooking Classy (she’s on a roll for me) – I love pumpkin, and I love cookies! I don’t normally frost my sugar cookies (gasp!), but I’m all about this cream cheese frosting!
  • This Sparkling Pumpkin Cider Beertail – One of my students at work (who’s 21, I swear!) shared this cocktail recipe with me, and I’m definitely giving this one a try ASAP!
  • Chicken and Noodles from The Pioneer Woman – How annoying is it to spend hours on a dinner that your kids immediately hate? Right off the bat, I know this one will be a home run with Hadley and Bryn, and keep the dinner table fights to a minimum.
  • Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Baked by Rachel – I’m obsessed with baking bread. I wish I did it more in the summer (when its super easy to rise the dough), but cold weather means I’m baking bread like a mad woman. I’m a sucker for a great yeasty, breakfast bread too. I think I’m going to pair this with a vanilla butter I saw on The Pioneer Woman’s show the other day.

Cookie Dough Pretzel Bites

I’ve been on a huge sweets kick lately. Something new and different for me, right? Anyone else eat dinner, and like five minutes later need something sweet? This just fills that little itty bitty, nagging craving for me.

IMG_4751It’s (egg free) cookie dough, smooshed in between two pretzels, then dipped in chocolate. It’s simply wonderful. They’re really easy to make, and have this great salty-and-sweet combination that I love. Plus, I’m addicted to eating raw cookie dough. It may be the reason some days that I bake cookies at all.

This recipe comes from Sally’s Baking Addiction (via Pinterest). Check your Pinterest boards right now. I bet you have something from Sally on there already and you didn’t even know it. I feel like she and I would get along really well. She comes up with some delicious looking baking goods, and I may dedicate this whole fall season to trying all the different kinds of donuts on her site.

Read on for the recipe.

Continue reading