Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

Justin and I got married a year ago yesterday! In honor of the most amazing day, full of family, friends…and food, a look back at the wedding menu created by our amazing caterer, J&L.

All photos by the wonderful Susan Ryan Photography. Please do not reproduce without permission.


These were passed around in the lobby of the Notebaert Nature Museum during cocktail hour.

Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce

Rice Paper Baskets with Seared Tuna, Avocado and Japanese Pickled Ginger

Not pictured: Miniature Scallion Corncakes with Prosciutto, Crème Fraiche and Chive; Herbed Crepe Bundles with Lemon Asparagus Mousse; Miniature Pizza Wedges with Spinach, Caramelized Onions and Shiitake Mushrooms.

First Course

Out on the patio: Trio of Chilled Soups served with Parmesan Bread Stick

Behind the scenes: Chef Kevin Kelly plating a LOT of soup

Left to Right: Mint Infused Spring Pea with Drizzle of Paprika Oil, Gingered Carrot garnished with Crème Fraiche, Chive Vichyssoise garnished with Crispy Leek

Second Course

Salad of Mesclun, Red Oak Leaf Lettuce and Watercress with Spring Asparagus, Roasted Red and Yellow Beet, Crumbled Goat Cheese, and Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette

Mmm, bread.

Entree Options

Served with mini truffle scented twice-baked potatoes and market veggies.

Roasted Salmon Roulade with Caramelized Leeks & Roasted Peppers, Stone Ground Mustard Veloute

Sliced Peppercorn Crusted Grilled Beef Tenderloin served with Red Wine and Balsamic Reduction

Crispy Pan Seared Risotto Cake with Sliced Wild Mushroom & Red Wine Reduction...and kiddie meal


Created by Maggie Roeder Cakes (but, we didn’t actually have a cake!).

Cupcakes! Square: Mocha Chocolate Dipped in Ganache. Round: Almond with White Chocolate Buttercream and Chocolate Flower

Late-night friandise: Chocolate Ganache Tarts with Gold Dusted Ganache Filled Raspberries, Prickly Pear Pate De Fruit, Lemon Mousse Tarts with Lemon Candy Garnish, Cream Puffs Filled with Peanut Butter Buttercream and Dipped in Chocolate, Espresso Truffles, Apricot Linzor Bars, 3 Ginger Cookies, Meringue Sandwich Cookies Filled with Preserves

Petite sweets for a little sugar kick on the dance floor!


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I’m off to L.A. for the weekend, and my schedule there will probably mean I’ll have to take a brief hiatus from my “blog post every day for a month” pledge. But before I sign off for a few days…

My trip to the land of movie stars has gotten me thinking about great food scenes in film. There are tons to choose from, but a nostalgic favorite of mine is the Chocolate Room scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Not the new Johnny Depp remake, but the old-school, Gene Wilder version.

These days there’s CGI, but the giant candies that look plastic-y now were enough to convince the budding foodie that I was back then. I always wished I could take a drink from the chocolate waterfall (although I’ll pass on the creepy boat ride…you know what I’m talking about).

Looking forward to thinking about other great food scenes, and entire movies, for a future post!

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This is an image from my late grandmother’s tiny autograph book. I was always fascinated by it, thinking about how friends communicated before email, texting, Facebook, blogs… One day when I was perusing the entries yet again, she said I should keep it. J scanned each page so we’ll have them for posterity in case they start to fade, but so far the colors have remained vibrant. I love the idea of one of my grandmother’s friends painstakingly painting this picture of Peter Rabbit munching on carrots, and then maybe the two girls went off to find their own snack…

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Since I featured clams in the sidebar today, I was thinking about how we had the best clam chowder ever on our honeymoon in Maine (and don’t even get me started on the lobster…but that’s another post). In fact, we loved it so much that we ordered it multiple times while we were there, and I thought I remembered taking a photo of one of those orders.

So I’m looking through our honeymoon pics, and there it is – me with a steaming mug of clam heaven. But I had forgotten what type of mug it was…

Look familiar?

Maybe this “chowdah” experience subconsciously inspired my love of the items described in my post from 4/22? 🙂

Love the mason jar water glasses too.

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Ode to Chocolate

It’s all in the family…


My husband. I think we were meant to be?

My sister (with Dad looking on)...

...and a few years later (with Mom looking on).

Chocolate cake on unicorn plates? Life is good.

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With so many topic ideas jotted down, I had a hard time choosing one for my first official post! Eventually I figured that there’s no better place to start than with some thoughts on a food that almost everyone likes: PIZZA.

One of the great things about pizza is the variety that it offers. You can find a great slice anywhere from the lowliest storefront to the most upper-crust (!) restaurant. I am personally pretty picky when it comes to pizza, so without further ado here are some winners I have come across in my search for the perfect pie:

Best At-Home Recipe

A great way to experiment with pizza flavors is to pick up a ready-made crust, throw on some toppings, and see what happens. But if time allows, there’s really no substitute for homemade dough. For an anniversary meal for my parents, we recently cooked up some mushroom pizzas so delicious that my husband has never quite forgiven my sister’s dog for taking an unauthorized taste! The rest of this delicious meal included roasted shrimp and orzo risotto…for the pizza recipe and full menu click here.

Shiitake and Chanterelle Pizzas with Goat Cheese from Bon Appetit

Best Frozen

Frozen pizza makes a great on-the-go meal, and the good news is grocery stores are loaded with options. The bad news: well, most are pretty bad. I found my favorite in a surprising location – Target! Their grocery brand, Archer Farms, makes wood-fired pizzas imported from Italy that will cost you less than 5 bucks! I think the best is the Four Cheese (mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, Asiago, and parm). The cheese blend has a nice tangy taste and the thin crust crisps nicely in the oven without getting too crackery (is that a word?).

When we’re in a rush, we serve these pizzas with a simple green salad or salted edamame, and my husband keeps a jar of pepperoncini in the fridge for garnish (tip: before serving these tasty little peppers, spear them with a fork over the jar to let the juices run out. Otherwise once you get them on your plate you end up with soggy pizza crust)!

Another tasty flavor!

Best Slice Shop

I have great memories of grabbing a piece of pizza either before or after a long night out in college – those were the days! Antonio’s in Providence serves up some really creative slices: my friend Kris swore by the tortellini pizza, which came scattered with little pasta pillows! My favorite was the white pizza, which features a simple blend of four cheeses, no sauce.

Some of the many options at Antonio's, courtesy of Lou P. on Yelp

Best Junk Food

I have a confession to make. Once in a blue moon, I get a hankering for Domino’s. It may be nostalgia for the days of chowing down while studying for math tests in my friend Abby’s kitchen, or it might be because of the greasy garlic bread sticks (which actually taste much better than the pizza). Whatever the reason, I guess I’ll have to file it under “so bad it’s good”…at least until you order it and realize you don’t want to eat it again for a long time.

Domino’s has recently made a big deal out of their revamped recipe, and funnily enough when I tried it, it tasted…pretty much the same. Same cardboard crust, same overly sweet tomato base. But for those late-night cravings, I recommend the hand-tossed crust with a side of artery-clogging garlic dipping sauce.

Photo by Serious Eats

Best Restaurant

From Domino’s to the specialty restaurant, I have to give this one to Spacca Napoli in Chicago. However, I haven’t actually been there in a few years, so I might have to brave the crowds soon to make sure it’s as delicious as I remember it. They specialize in Neapolitan-style pizza (cooked in a wood-burning oven with a very thin center and puffy outer crust).

Fun fact: what we now know as the classic Margarita Pizza originated in 1889 as a creation by a baker in Naples to honor the visit of Italian Queen Margherita. The queen loved the flavors of tomato, mozzarella, and basil (which reflect the red, white, and green of the Italian flag) so much that it became a national favorite, and some say that’s how pizza as we know it was born!

Margherita Pizza, Spacca Napoli

Also in Chicago, I have yet to try Great Lake, a 14-seat joint whose Mortadella pie was recently named Best Pizza in America by GQ. In the name of research, I think I’ll have to check it out…stay tuned!

Best Delivery

This one’s a no-brainer. I have never found more delicious delivery pizzas than those brought to your door by Pagliacci in Seattle. The original cheese is excellent, but I also love some of the ones that feature an olive oil base, like the Pesto Primo or my all-time favorite, the AGOG Primo (Fontina and mozzarella cheeses, roasted garlic, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, goat cheese, parsley and Kalamata olives). Pagliacci also makes the effort to be green by using compostable packaging, so environmentally-conscious Seattleites can feel good about their purchase for more than its deliciousness!

AGOG Primo, Pagliacci

In conclusion…

By now you may have noticed a distinct bias in the type of pizza crust I prefer. Yes, that’s right, despite being a Chicago girl…I am not a fan of deep dish. But that’s what comments are for: please share your favorite pizzas (deep dish or otherwise) in any of the categories above!

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