“And we shed what was left of our Summer skin…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! I’m so excited we’ve arrived at the beginning of another weekend!

The next few days are gonna’ be busy ones- not that I mind. Today at the office, we’re having a bit of a “Food Day” and tailgating party to celebrate the Patriots regular season kicking off this weekend. I work with some pretty incredible cooks, so I’m really looking forward to snacking sporadically throughout my day.

In order to better prepare for today’s festivities and make sure my Pats gear was updated- I stopped by Patriot Place at Gillette Stadium over this past weekend to pick up a new team shirt (and some earrings I couldn’t resist.) There was a New England Revolution match scheduled a little later on that day- so the place was pretty packed and very wild- but it was a lot of fun. There’s so much to do there.

You can check out the photos of the new gear on my INSTAGRAM later on this afternoon!

Then, tonight- the MVP cook (my mom, of course) is whipping up a big dinner for our family to commemorate my older brother and my niece’s birthday- which fall within days of each other. Fridays are for food comas, right?

Tomorrow morning I’m getting up bright and early to pick up both my mom and my cousin and make the early a.m. drive to New Hampshire so we can spend a fun-filled day at Hampton Beach’s annual Seafood Festival. While I’m definitely going to get some crab cakes- as is tradition- the real fun comes from browsing the sales racks and seaside shops since many of them are going to be closing for the Fall/Winter season and need to move their merchandise quickly. You can find so many great deals if you know where to look.

Oliver is joining us, too- and if the weather permits- he and I will be taking one final dip in the Atlantic before the water gets too cold!

Sunday will, hopefully- be a day of rest and relaxation- spent in the comfort of pajamas after I grab my daily coffee. My West Coast vacation is quickly approaching and I’ve got a lot to do before I fly out to the desert! Apart from working my usual schedule next week- I’m seeing Interpol when they (finally) return to Boston, packing, picking up the necessities I’ll need on the road- and putting the finishing touches on my Autumn playlist for this year.

I’d like to decompress a bit on Sunday before I jump right back into my usual busy itinerary!

But the food is here and I’ve got work to do. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

I’ll be back to it on Monday morning!

xx

– Ashley –

Summer Sweets: Lemon Pie with Blueberry Meringue

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

I hope you all had a sensational Labor Day Weekend- and although it marked the unofficial end of Summer and now we’re not supposed to wear white for a while (a rule I break constantly)– it’s nice to be looking ahead at the Fall and all the beauty that comes with it. It’s my favorite season for a reason!

Before I launch into some of my favorite Autumn recipes, however- I wanted to share one final Summer-inspired dessert I whipped up this past weekend for an impromptu “So Long, Summer” party I attended with friends. Made with lemon and a lot of love- this bright yellow and lavender-colored pie combined some of my favorite flavors of the season. It was a lovely (and delicious!) way to bid adieu to these long, late nights on the beach or by the pool.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE PIE:

  • 1 prepared pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1¼ cup sugar, divided
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

FOR THE BLUEBERRY MERINGUE:

  • ½ cup freeze-dried blueberries
  • 1¾ cup sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE LEMON PIE: Roll out the pie crust to ¼ inch thick. Roll up the dough onto the rolling pin, then gently transfer it to the pie plate. Chill for 10 minutes.
  2. Fold the excess pie dough under itself all around the edge of the pie plate, then crimp as desired. Prick the base all over with a fork, and refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. Cut a piece of parchment paper to slightly larger than the base of the pie plate. Place it in the base of the chilled pie crust and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until the crust is beginning to lightly brown at the edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove the pie weights and continue to bake for 5 more minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Whisk in ½ cup of sugar.
  5. In a medium pot, whisk together the cornstarch, salt and remaining sugar. Add 1½ cups water and begin to heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil; boil for 1 minute.
  6. Gradually pour about ⅓ of the cornstarch mixture in the pot into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to combine. Return the yolk mixture to the pot (pour in a slow, steady stream), whisking constantly.
  7. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Continue to cook once large bubbles appear on the surface for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  8. Stir in the lemon juice and butter, mixing well to combine. Strain the mixture into the cooled pie crust and smooth into an even layer. Bake until the filling is just barely set (it will still look a bit jiggly), 15 to 17 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
  9. MAKE THE BLUEBERRY MERINGUE: In a blender or food processor, pulse the blueberries until they form a fine powder (you should end up with about 2 tablespoons blueberry “powder”). Transfer to a medium pot and whisk in the sugar. Add ⅔ cup water to the pot and heat over medium heat.
  10. Stir the mixture until it comes to a boil; once it boils, stop stirring. If any sugar crystals have washed up on the sides, brush them away using a pastry brush dipped in cool water. Boil the sugar syrup until it reads 230°F on a candy thermometer.
  11. Meanwhile, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the syrup reaches 230°F, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed. The goal is to have the egg whites at soft peaks when the sugar reaches the 240°F.
  12. Slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, then continue to whip until it reaches medium peaks, 4 to 6 more minutes. Spoon the meringue on top of the cooled pie and swoosh with the back of a spoon into an even, centered mound. If desired, you can toast the meringue with a kitchen torch or under the broiler, but it’s safe to eat untoasted and it will keep the meringue a prettier color.

Served with some ice cold lemonade following one last backyard BBQ- I really enjoyed making this pie. Not as much as I enjoyed eating it, of course- but it was surprisingly easy to bake and was a big hit when it came time to pass the slices around!

For the next couple of months, my recipes will consist of more vegetables (harvest time!), more spices- and yes- more pumpkin. But this meringue pie is definitely one you can try at anytime, really. I know I’ll be making another one as soon as Summer comes back around again!

I’m off to get some work done at my office and prepare for a tailgate party this coming Friday (bring on the buffalo chicken wings!)– but I hope you all have a great Wednesday. It’s a short work week for many, so here’s to it being even closer to Friday again!

xx

– Ashley –

August 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

We’ve made it to another weekend (and it’s a long one thanks to Labor Day!), to the end of August, and really- to the the end of Summer 2018. I know the first day of Autumn isn’t technically until September 22nd- when I’ll be right smack in the middle of a vacation on the West Coast- but something about the beginning of September feels new and exciting every year.

Maybe it’s because the regular football season is starting soon, or the Pumpkin Spice Latte is already back in coffee shops- or kids are returning to school and sweaters are beginning to pop up in the storefronts. Either way- it’s time to say goodbye to Summer and welcome in the Fall season- which is especially fun and beautiful here in New England!

But respects must be paid this past August, which was jam packed with as many Summertime activities that my friends and I could fit into our schedules!

Even though the month started with a F1 tornado dropping in on my mom’s neighborhood while I was visiting- the following weeks were filled with day trips to the beach, to seaside communities in Connecticut, to dairy farms out in Western Massachusetts where we filled up on ice cream and French fries- and most recently to Colby Farms in Newbury- where the sunflowers were in full bloom and where I brought Oliver for National Dog Day this past weekend to spend some quality time together!

While at the farm, I made sure to grab some sunflowers to bring home- as well as a couple of peaches to bite into once I’d returned to the comforts of my kitchen and my air conditioning!

I caught a George Clinton show earlier this month, went to my friend’s Summer Slam party to watch Finn Balor and eat a ton of good food a couple of weeks ago, saw a couple of great movies (the most recent being “Operation Finale” the other night- and it was incredible!)– did plenty of grilling and began packing away my Summer wardrobe while simultaneously prepping my Fall one for the coming weeks!

Overall, August- much like the majority of my Summer- was pretty busy but oh so fun and filled with sun! I’ve got the tan lines to prove it!

So, what’s in store for September?

Well, as I said earlier- I’ll be taking a week off near the end of next month to head out West and split time between Las Vegas and San Diego to catch up with friends and browse the real estate in Henderson, Nevada. I’m also getting ready to launch into the Patriots’ regular season with a trip to Gillette Stadium and some tailgating parties- and I’ve got plenty of Fall recipes, outfits, and a pretty great Autumn-inspired playlist to share in the coming weeks!

So before I head into my half day at work, a planned dinner with my family later on tonight and my long weekend- here’s to August and the Summer of 2018- which was wild, a little unpredictable, sweltering hot at times- and a whole lot of fun. I’m gonna’ miss it!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’m taking Monday off from blogging for Labor Day festivities- but I’ll be back on Wednesday with a really great dessert recipe to share!

Enjoy your Friday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: Chicken and Snap Pea Stir-Fry

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

In the midst of wrapping up my end-of-the-month “To Do” checklist at my office, booking a vacation to the West Coast near the end of September, and soaking up as much sun as possible during my lunch breaks and after work since it’s been pretty hot out these past few days- I’ve also been whipping up the last of my favorite Summertime recipes before it’s time to skim through the Autumn cookbooks again.

This 10 minute recipe- infused with soy sauce, garlic and plenty of vegetables- is a quick, easy and delicious side dish to serve up at your Labor Day Weekend cookout this coming weekend.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2½ cups snap peas
  • 1¼ cups boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, plus more for finishing
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for finishing

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bell pepper and snap peas, and sauté until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken and cook until it is golden and fully cooked and the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, Sriracha (if using) and sesame seeds; toss well to combine. Allow the mixture to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cilantro, then garnish with a sprinkle of extra cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

I kept a couple of separate dishes with the sesame seeds and cilantro on the side so that my friends could garnish their plates with as much/little as they wanted- and kept some extra soy sauce within reach for those who wanted more of a kick to their chicken and vegetables.

Overall, this was a hit- and it’s not overly filling which meant I could still scoop some macaroni salad and grab an ear of corn during the BBQ and not feel stuffed.

I’m off to get some work done, but I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday! I’ll be back here bright and early on Friday morning to bid a proper farewell to August, and to Summer 2018!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: August 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I’m recovering from a pretty busy weekend- spent at the beach on Saturday and a farm stand out in Newton yesterday (I took some incredible photos which will be up a little later on this week)– so being back at work with a mountain of cases in front of me isn’t exactly ideal right now.

Before I swallow my coffee and the urge to run screaming out of my office and focus on getting things done in full-blown “boss bitch” mode- I thought I’d share the usual end-of-the-month favorites compilation to spotlight some of the products, odds and ends that have made this past August easier and a lot of fun- despite the stifling heat and humidity.

As always, I’ll get this started with the things I was able to capture in photographs before moving onto the miscellaneous bits and pieces that were a little bit harder to snap pictures of.

Let’s get started!

With plastic straws becoming a thing of a past and “sippy cup” style lids feeling a little *too* ridiculous for me, an adult woman, to use when drinking my daily iced coffee- I turned to Amazon and ordered a set of these FDA-approved stainless steel drinking straws (for only $8.99 a set!)

With four straight straws, four curved straws, and two cleansing brushes that make washing these a breeze- I pop these in the fridge overnight and then stick them in my coffee in the morning. The result is consistently cool sips of mocha-hazelnut and the bonus of cutting back on plastic pollution in the oceans and in landfills!

Side note, but I’m really going to miss my disposable (and recyclable!) Summer-themed dinnerware I’ve been using for my cookouts, BBQs and parties over the past couple of months- even though it means it’s nearly time so stock up on some Fall-inspired ones. These lemonade printed plates and napkins went over really well in August- and I thankfully have an extra set to put away for next year!

With August being one of the more humid months during the Summer this year, I needed a lot of help to keep my curls hydrated and frizz-free. I found some relief in these little mask/leave-in conditioner “shots” from GARNIER– particularly the banana-scented strengthening treatment.

A couple of times a week, I run this mask over my hair in the shower and then rinse after about five minutes. Later on, when my hair is still damp- I comb some of the product through my to my ends and let it air dry. I’m left with soft (not stiff) and defined curls with zero frizz. It’s a miracle in a little tub!

Of course, there were days when I just didn’t have the patience, the time, or the energy to try and get my fly-aways under control. When that happened- I turned to these brightly-colored and tropic-inspired headbands I had picked up at Primark a couple of months ago. They match pretty much everything in my Summer wardrobe and made my hair look so cute- even on days where I didn’t really put that much effort into it!

Makeup be damned. There were days when I came in from being outside and just wanted to run a faucet over my head or dunk my face in a bucket of ice cold water. Of course, those options weren’t available (most of the time) and I had to get resourceful. I turned to Happy Spritz’s “Breathe Deeply” peppermint essential oil facial spray to offer me relief.

Not only is this spray insta-cooling, but the scent also clears out my sinuses if I have any of those early morning pollen allergies driving me nuts. It leaves my face and neck feeling soft and hydrated- and doesn’t leave behind any kind of sheen/slickness to my skin!

And finally, before I start hoarding my favorite Fall candles from Bath & Body Works, I had to burn out the last of my Summer ones this past month. My favorite, without a doubt- was “Cherry Snow Cone”- which smelled exactly like it should have. Cherry syrup with a hint of lemon.

A close contender and follow-up to that one was a candle simply called “Boardwalk”- which was a really great combination of coconut and fried dough and made my bedroom smell like a road trip to the coast in Maine- if that makes sense to anyone else apart from me.

That’s it for the photogenic favorites. Now, as promised-here are a few other things that made the list this month!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

Interpol – “Marauder” – Interpol’s latest album dropped this past Friday, and with all the driving I did on Saturday and Sunday to get to my destinations, I had a chance to give it a few good listens from start to finish. While it’s definitely a different direction for the band sound/lyrically wise- I’m seriously loving the new style and it’s made me even more excited to see them live in a couple of weeks!

Bob’s Burgers – I know, I know. With the amount of TV I watch, I’m amazed I’ve been sleeping on this cartoon for as long as I did, too. I had always wanted to sit down and watch it- but never found the time and never got around to it until recently- and laughed my ass off with every single episode as I started getting caught up.

I’m 99.9% sure that H. Jon Benjamin’s voice just makes everything better.

And I think that does it for the month of August, everyone! As always, if you’d like to share some of your own favorite things from this past month- drop me a line or leave a comment!

Maybe they’ll make my list in September. You never know, right?

Here’s wishing you all a stress-free and easy-as-possible Monday to get through. Let’s get things done!

xx

– Ashley –