My Morning Ritual + A KRUPS Giveaway


I don’t feel as if I’ve quite started my morning until I’ve had two water related beverages: warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The lemon juice gently rouses and refreshes me from a night of deep sleep, while the coffee motivates me to get my day started in a bold way.  It’s not really the type of thing I like to skip and I refuse to purchase a less than quality cup of coffee on-the-go for the sake of convenience. I’d rather not have coffee at all if it is going to be of poorer quality.

What’s your morning ritual? What can’t you leave the house without doing?

KRUPS Savoy EC314 is a beeaaaautiful stainless steel coffee maker. I select my coffee makers, drippers or presses based upon on how my final cup of coffee tastes, and my cup of coffee was DELICIOUS. And of course, I need to have great beans to make great coffee. Counter Culture coffee is one of my favorite roasters (I have many, and love talking- and trying –  coffee forever, so be wary). The water you use is very important when brewing coffee, and the Savoy EC314 has an integrated water filtration system to make me the cleanest, most robust coffee. Goodbye buying filtered bottles of water.

Want to win this amazing Savoy coffee maker from KRUPS USA? Here is how to enter!

  1. Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter (extra entries for each platform you follow me on!) AND:
  2. Comment on this post telling us what your morning ritual is or what you can’t leave the house without doing!
  3. The winner will be contacted directly via one of the platforms entered.
  4. Good luck!

This post was created in connection with KRUPS USA. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. You can find KRUPS USA on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

Blackberry Crumble Bars with Ginny Bakes Sweet Cinnamon Love Cookies


I wish I had the patience to bake pies. They are so beautiful, with their flaky, latticed or intricately designed crusts and ooey gooey fruit-preserved fillings. How they sit so majestically atop any table or countertop. I wish I had the patience to bake pies.

But I don’t. So I bake crumble bars instead. They are delectable fruity squares of sweet, tart, crunchy yet soft goodness. No kneading dough for hours. No double bakes. Instead of indulging the urge to eat a huge slice of pie, I have a neat little square of blackberry crumble and I am set.

These blackberry crumble bars are also gluten-free thanks to swapping regular flour for gluten-free all purpose flour and crushed Ginny Bakes Sweet Cinnamon Cookie Love cookies. The baked cookies add structure to the bars with  an extra crunch and hint of cinnamon sweetness.

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Blackberry Crumble Bars with Ginny Bakes Sweet Cinnamon Cookie Love


  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 4 finely crushed Sweet Cinnamon Cookie Love cookies by Ginny Bakes
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) butter, unsalted, cold
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, light
  • 4 cups blackberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Grease 13×9 baking pan.
  3. Combine flour, crushed cookies, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, pinch of salt, egg and butter in large bowl.
  4. Combine roughly until butter is incorporated slightly (use fork, fingers or pastry cutter), or until the texture is “pebbly.”
  5. Separate the mixture into two bowls. Add brown sugar to one bowl with the mixture and combine. Set aside.
  6. Press the mixture without brown sugar into the pan form the bottom crust.
  7. In a separate bowl, combine blackberries with sugar and cornstarch and toss well. Let sit for a few minutes to incorporate the starches well.
  8. Add berries into pan on top of bottom crust.
  9. Roughly cover berries with the brown sugar flour mix.
  10. Bake until top is golden, about 45-60 minutes.
  11. Cool and cut into squares.

To keep delicious going, you can use the code ‘bake2’ on the site to get $5 off a purchase of $25 or more! 

Lobster Summer


Consider the lobster. I never new much about them, except that they are arthropods along with spiders and scorpions (thank you Biology 101). I thought eating lobsters meant splurging on a celebratory night out and praying that I got a decent chunk of meat from a cracked shell.Lobster feet

Fortunately, I had the pleasure of trekking around York and Portland Maine with FreshDirect on a lobstering trip. First things first: Maine is beautiful. Movie beautiful. Unreal beautiful. I felt like I was Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music traipsing through a field of flowers because that’s what I did. Note the image of an actual flower field in Maine that I actual ran through below:


Here are a few interesting facts that I learned about lobsters with FreshDirect:

  • Lobsters used to be so plentiful in the colonial era that people were sick of eating it. In fact, indentured servants in Massachusetts had it written in their contracts that their owners  could only feed them lobster three times a week at most.
  • They were known as the “poor man’s protein.”
  • Excess lobsters are ground up and used as fertilizer. Fancy.
  • Lobsters were once so dirt cheap they were fed to prisoners daily.
  • When in closer quarters with others, lobsters can be quite cannibalistic.
  • They can regenerate limbs.

Maine takes great care to protect their lobsters. It’s not all about making a dollar – the lengths Maine’s lobstermen take to make sure the practice is sustainable and fair is amazing.

  • Lobsters are measured for legal size. Basically, it allows more females to carry more eggs and reproduce before reaching legal size (lobsters have to be at least 3¼” from the eye socket to the back of the carapace -the hard upper shell- where the tail joins the bod).
  • … and any lobster with a greater than 5” hard upper shell must be returned to the sea. This protects breeding lobsters.
  • Females carrying eggs must be returned to the sea. Lobstermen make a  “v-notch” in the right flipper next to the middle flipper of a carrying female lobster and toss her back in the sea.

Digging into a seafood feast knowing that the Maine lobster industry was actually taking care to protect them from overfishing was certainly a cause for celebration – and made everything taste that much better.

Monster Blue Cheese Burger

Castello Blue Cheese Burger 2

*Partnering with Castello for a Summer of Blue*

Blue cheese can be quite intimidating. It is tinged with mold, after all. And the smell is a taste to be acquired. But this beautiful blue-green veined cheese, spotted with appealing color, has a wonderful tangy character, balanced by delicious sweet and salty flavors that are perfect sandwich between a grilled burger brimming with crunchy vegetables. If you are taken aback by blue cheese, definitely try is first in a meaty, juicy burger, like I did with a thick slice of mild, pleasantly sharp and sweet Castello Noble Blue.

I particularly love the marbling that blue cheese gives this sky high burger with chipotle mayo. It adds a bit of elegance to an otherwise cotidein food. If you’re looking to get extra fancy, pair this blue cheese decked burger with a semi-sweet or sweet wine like Cavernet, Zinfandel, Chardonnay or Sauvigon Blanc to complement the cheese’s salty taste.

Monster Blue Cheese Burger with Chipotle Mayo

For the blue cheese burger:

  • 2 pounds grass fed beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp adobo powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Toppings (sliced tomato, mesclun greens, red onion, etc.)
  • Sesame seed or brioche bun

For the mayonnaise:

  • 3/4 cup organic mayonnaise
  • 1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1/2 lime, juice (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blue Cheese Burger:

  1. Preheat grill for high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, egg, Worcestershire sauce, adobo powder cayenne pepper, and garlic using your hands. Form the mixture into 8 hamburger patties.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill patties 5 minutes per side, or until well done.
  4. Serve with bleu cheese,  mesclun greens, tomatoes, red onions, pickles and chipotle mayo on a sesame seed bun.

Chipotle Mayonnaise:

Add all the ingredients to a food processor and puree. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.



*Sponsored Post – Italian Summer Grilling*


Manhattan skyline -webEDIT

If you live in an urban city, outdoor grilling can be hard to come by. Most of us don’t have the luxury of space – backyards, patios or even a balcony to perch a grill on. But, that doesn’t mean grilling is out of the question!

You CAN cook without an open wire grid iron grill. Grilling is a cooking method that uses directly applied dry heat  to food from above or below (when the heat comes from above, that’s broiling!). A branding cast iron skillet, grill pan or panini press can mimic directly applied ‘dry’ heat of a traditional, large grill.

skillet chicken -webEDIT

Nothing is more simple – or delicious – than grilling Italian style. Using flavorful Italian ingredients – like brine-y capers, luscious crushed tomatoes, herbaceous pesto, and delightfully acidic vinegars – summer grilling a la Italiana is my summer go to. I love grilled chicken and pesto, so it was only so natural to put them together for an easy grilled chicken. I used roasted garlic olive oil for extra savory flavor and crushed capers for a flavorful bite.


My secret (not-so-secret anymore), easy to pull together dish is pasta salad. In about 20 minutes flat, I can have a large bowl of cooling pasta salad to feed a crowd, heaping with fresh veggies and tons of flavor. Instead of using bottled salad dressings, I like to make my own by using extra virgin olives oils, balsamic vinegars and (get this) crushed tomatoes. It’s like a secret serving of vegetables.


So once you’ve whipped up your grilled meal inside, take it outside and enjoy it like I did. Hello summer!

Caper Pesto Grilled Garlic Chicken


  • 1 tablespoon Colavita Roasted Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Rachael Ray Salt form the sea grinder and Malabar black peppercorn grinder
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons Colavita capers
  • 4 tablespoons Colavita pesto sauce


  1. Heat oil in a large branding cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken in pan and cook until golden brown and “grill marks” appear, about 3-4 minutes each side.
  2. Meanwhile, mash capers with a fork. Mix mashed capers with pesto sauce until thoroughly combined.
  3. Serve chicken with pesto spooned over the top.

Crushed Tomato Pasta Salad with Grilled Artichoke Hearts

  • 1 16 oz. box your favorite short-cut pasta, like penne or rotini
  • 1 6 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 plum tomato, cubed
  • 1/2 of an avocado, cubed
  • 1 box Cirio Italian Crushed Tomatoes with Basil
  • 2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Colavita Balsamic Glace Original or White Balsamic Vinegar
  • Rachael Ray Salt form the sea grinder and Malabar black peppercorn grinder


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook pasta until tender or al dente (firm to the bite), about 8 minutes; drain and rinse under cool water. Set aside.
  2. While the pasta boils, drain artichokes. Heat a branding cast iron skilled or grill pan over medium high heat; sear artichoke hearts until slightly blackened or char marks appear. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine grilled artichokes, tomato, avocado, crushed tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Note: For a lighter colored pasta salad with a lighter flavor, use white balsamic vinegar. For a tinted pasta salad with stronger flavor, use original balsamic vinegar.




These sweet doughnuts are baked, not fried, and made with luscious tahini that gives these treats a creamier, nuttier taste and exotic flair. Eat these tahini-glazed doughnuts with a tall, cold glass of your favorite milk. Whether you choose to make classic sesame or chocolate tahini doughnuts (or both!), these cake-y sweets will go just as fast as you bake them.


  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Soom Foods Chocolate Spread or plain Sesame Tahini
  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup your favorite milk (almond, soy, cow, etc.)


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 ½ Tbsp Soom Foods Chocolate Spread or plain Sesame Tahini
  • 1 ½ Tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • Toppings

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** This post is a paid article in collaboration with Castello Cheese. All opinions and recipes are my own. **

Gone are the days of chips left in cellophane bags and watered down beers or boxed wine. An elegant, yet easy wine and cheese party is within your reach. Here are some helpful hints to throwing a successful wine and cheese party in your twenties (and thirties, or forties…) on the fly.

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