“O” Olive Oils

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O Olive Oils and Vinegars are my latest and greatest kitchen discovery! They are one of the few remaining vinegar makers in this country using the old world method of natural aging in wood barrels rather than mechanically force-aging the vinegars. Their flavored oils, are crushed with olives and citrus (as opposed to adding flavors or infusing after the pressing process). Above, are their oils in lemon and orange. I like the blood orange as a vinaigrette paired with a spinach salad, feta, red onions and vegetables. The lemon, is almost used up! I drizzle this on salmon before roasting, toss with orecchiette, broccolim, garlic & parmesan or use it on steamed veggies and salads. The perfect blend of Meyer lemons crushed with olives.

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The champagne vinegar is crisp, light and dry and pairs perfect with fennel, lemon and herbs (great light side salad to go with pasta). The sherry vinegar is amazing in chicken marsala, one of my favorite things to make in the winter! The zinfandel is smoky with rich notes of lush cherry. It makes a fantastic Caesar Salad dressing or anything that calls for good quality red wine vinegar.

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The fig vinegar is ripe, juicy and filled with sweetness. Prosciutto. Mozzarella. Roasted Peppers. Fleur de Sal. Fig Vinegar. Need I say more?! I’ve also reduced it to syrup and poured over chicken. For the first time, I also tried it on pure vanilla bean ice cream…phenomenal!  The cider vinegar pairs crisp apples with golden honey. I use cider vinegar in my water and tea, this is much better than the standard boring old ACV. Sparkling water and this apple cider vinegar is something I drink daily! With the orange blossom vinegar, I’ve made couscous   and halibut, roasted chicken with squash and a Chinese chicken salad. There are endless options for the perfect gift at O Olive Oil!

Holiday Gift Guide for Baby’s First Christmas

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I can’t believe the picture above is from nearly one year ago. It sounds so redundant when every single parent says “time flies” but it’s the truth. Babies are really simple at one year. Every parent knows wrapping paper and a box excite them more than toys (or remote controls, what’s the deal with their remote control obsession?!) But I’ve put together a “Christmas Gift Guide for One Year Olds” that has been tested by the recipient and guaranteed to delight the baby in your life more than the packaging. Don’t forget, there will be a YT Video for all of the gifts featured on my site as well.

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B. Zany’s Zany Zoo: The work you had to catch up on, laundry you had to do, cup of coffee you wanted to drink without a tiny creature pulling on your hair? Parents take note. This lovely little “zoo” can be carried into any room and will keep your little mouse learning and exploring for a good hour.

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There are different things to explore on each side of the toy. Filled with fun activities, brilliantly colored animals and a roller coaster on top!! More than a handful of toddler toys are packed into this one cube and hours of fun are yet to be had. Encourage little minds to explore the world around them!!

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The rattles from Bla Bla Kids are 100% cotton and come in a bunch of cool shapes (baby dolls, dogs). Of course I had to get my girl a pretzel shaped rattle since she’s a foodie like Mom!!

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Baby Aspen’s Five Little Monkeys gift set is super cute!! It includes a banana rattle, plush cuddly monkey, blankie,  door hanger and keepsake blanket. It’s the perfect gift set for any baby!!

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar is my favorite book to read with my daughter. When I saw this Very Hungry Caterpillar Jack in the Box from Kids Preferred I knew she would love it! With over 90 million copies of his books sold world wide (a book sold every 30 seconds) Eric Carle’s memorable Caterpillar story and colorful character inspired this product line. Babies LOVE the surprise and sound of this gift.

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Under the Nile’s Organic Cotton Fruit Basket Tote for the baby foodie, includes grapes, watermelons and a banana (MIA). Made and stuffed with the finest 100% GOTS certified organic Egyptian cotton.

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My favorite website for babies is Land of Nod they have absolutely everything you can dream of!!! I did want to buy her a teepee, but I think that can wait until she’s a little bigger. In the meantime, my favorite picks for one year olds are their Tall and Handsome Giraffe and Soft as a Baby’s Block Set. This giraffe is made of soft wool felt with contrast red stitching. He has a rattle inside that stimulates the curious baby (AKA every baby that exists!!!) The blocks are soft, plush cubes with alphabet and spot detailing. Designed just for Land of Nod by artist Jillian Phillips, they feature a combination of letters, numbers with a rattle inside each one! When in doubt for what to buy a baby…Land of Nod is ALWAYS the answer!!

Christmas Beauty Gifts: Baby Quasar & Shea Terra

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Technology has done some pretty awesome stuff for skincare!! It’s possible to get clear, glowing skin today without spending thousands on laser treatments. The weather drives my skin insane and I have tried everything you can possibly imagine. I used to go tanning but with all the resources on how horrible it is, it’s the equivalent of smoking. Just…less than smart. For the past 3 months, I’ve been using this cool device called Clear Rayz.
It took one month before I really noticed a difference and I wish I could buy it for everyone this Christmas!!!! Clear Rayz is an LED Light Therapy device cleared by the FDA, for treating acne. Basically, it uses natural, safe, PAINLESS colored light waves. There are no harmful UV rays like ones from tanning salons or irritating chemicals, just safe blue and red LED. You can use the system at home without the annoying trip to a derm. It comes with full instructional materials that have a suggested weekly schedule for treatments. I’m not usually that impressed with the overpriced skincare stuff that’s on the market, but this is at a phenomenal price with actual results. It is kinda creepy looking at night so you might have to use it alone:

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I don’t remember the last time I had a breakout. I think it’s a great gift paired with the skincare products I’ve been using!!

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In combination with the Clear Rayz I use Shea Terra Rosemary Cleansing Oil they have a huge product line, but the cleansing oil is part of my morning and nightly routine. I love, love, love (did I mention love?!)the smell of rosemary in skincare products. Besides that, oil cleansing has made a big difference. I no longer use chemical filled cleansers and my skin is very thankful!!! Oil does indeed clean away oil and debris and soap scum, too. Overuse of soap can cause facial skin to become overly dry and dry or shiny looking. Moroccan argan oil effectively cleanses away dirt and debris while nourishing skin leaving it soft and beautifully glowing. Distilled rosemary oil, an ancient beautifying treasure, purifies and tones skin leaving it blemish free. After cleansing, I always finish with their pure argan oil to moisturize. Sometimes I use their Argan Oil and Acacia Honey Face Wash but it smells like shit natural. What? I’m just being honest. It delivers amazing results but don’t expect a fragrance, it is truly 100% natural and does wonders for glowing, clear healthy skin! It has a huge following on Amazon, the reviews speak for the product.

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Phenomenal product just doesn’t smell the best. I would buy this one for yourself and than gift the Clear Rayz with the rosemary cleanser, argan oil and their fabulous Shea Butter Oils that come in fresh, yummy scents like coconut lemongrass, mango and pineapple!

Christmas Gift Guide: Zingerman’s Weekender Gift Box

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Zingerman’s AKA “the coolest small company in America” is the best online retailer for food gifts. They produce coffee, candy, bakery items, oils, the endless list of options is a food lovers dream! Or as Mario Batali says, Zingermans is “center of my gastro-deli universe.” Our President loves their Reuben sandwich. Oprah gives their sandwiches a rating of “11 on a scale of 1-5″ Need I say more?! The only downside to their website is that there are so many options, you want to pick everything they offer!! My pick this year is “The Weekender” gift set. It comes packaged all fancy in a vibrant, cartoon colored box like above (with funny sayings on the box) and includes:

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Some of the most perfect bread I’ve tried in quite some time. Crispy, crunchy crust and soft bready texture. Baked in the oven,  smeared with butter…I need nothing else but Zingermans artisan breads. I happened to try this when I had a cold and the ultimate comfort food when I’m sick is good bread & great soup. This bread and some chicken noodle soup, I was feeling a million times better after indulging. I will be ordering more of this bread very soon!!

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Sour cream coffeecake. This is the most popular pastry they sell. Rich, moist and loaded with Indonesian cinnamon and toasted walnuts, baked in a traditional bundt pan. It’s very impressive and extremely delicious. The baby snatched a big piece and screamed when I tried to take the rest away, so it’s loved by all ages ;-)

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This set also includes peanut brittle, couple Brownies (Walnut-studded Magic Brownie and a Caramel Dulce de Leche Buenos Aires Brownie), La Quercia’s Borsellino Salami, and a half pound of our Nor’easter Cabot Cheddar (those last two options go great with the bread). Some other great gift finds on their site that I plan to stock up on:

Boomf Marshmallows

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What happens when an app creator and a food scientist get together to create a business!? Boomf ! The sound of delicious marshmallows arriving on your doormat with just a click. In my research for the coolest products, I discover a lot of lame, trendy gifts. These are THE dopest marshmallows ever invented. Boomf lets you connect your Instagram (or upload from Facebook or your computer, phone, etc) and turns it into an image on sugary, artsy puffy marshmallows:

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I made some with baby pics, a few for family and than one with my favorite Executive Chef/gin & tonic drinker Wine Sommelier, Nana:

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Besides just admiring and devouring these luxurious treats, they’re gorgeous as a personalized cake, cupcake or even cookie topper. The company FYI… is based out of London, but my order with standard shipping arrived in just 6 days. The owner tried a few different companies before starting Boomf. A hashtag search turns out over 3,466+ Boomf photos….ummmmm, I think they’ve started a marshmallow-volution! This is even great for corporate events or gifts, team-building exercises…I’m very impressed.

Ferguson Crest Wines, the holiday go-to gift for EVERYONE!!!!

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Ferguson Crest was founded by Pat Ferguson and his daughter Fergie in 2006, the 6 acre estate winery excels in capturing the essence of Santa Barbara County terroir and reveals the Ferguson family’s uncommonly tender care of its much-treasured grapes. From the crisp, lush viognier to the spicy and sumptuous syrah, the winery’s bounty also evinces the ingenuity of Ferguson Crest winemaker Joey Tensley (a Food and Wine magazine award-winner whose syrahs have ranked in the Wine Spectator top 100). With its dedication to tending its vineyards through organic, sustainability-minded practices that help preserve the richness of the land, Ferguson Crest offers up a premier selection of varietals sure to delight those with a passion for exquisitely handcrafted wines. Wine (and good quality wine) is hands down, the BEST gift for all!

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My favorite blend is the sexy and bold “Fergalicious” variety. The 2011 vintage marks the winery’s first release of a red wine blend. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache and Merlot all come together to produce a very complex wine with a traditional Cabernet Sauvignon texture. Syrah grapes contribute notes of spice and pepper. Grenache fruit add body and the Merlot enriches the wine with color and roundness. It received a 92 point rating by Wine Enthusiast. A lot of celebrities are doing wines as a “trend”…this is no trend, it is classic, authentic wine crafted to perfection.

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Baby in the vineyard, teaching him early ;-) This looks like a spot my 11-month old foodie would love too!

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The whole line of wines can be purchased at Ferguson Crest Store head over there right now before they sell out!! PS – pair the wine with the Mykonos Throw from ZGallerie and you’re all set ;-) xoxp have fun shopping!!

Christmas Gift Guide 2014: Spanish Suitcase Gift Box

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Spanish Suitcase is a delicious New York City-based online retailer of unique gift baskets featuring gourmet foods from Spain. They are a husband and wife team who started out of a mutual passion for European travel adventures, foreign grocery aisles, Spanish tuna and large carafes of vino tinto! They offer tons of Spanish gourmet gift options. My Christmas pick for 2014 is The Chef Suitcase an all encompassing assortment of Spanish kitchen staples. Need a gift for the person that has EVERYTHING?! Stop right here because this is “it!” First of all, it comes packaged in a chic keepsake travel-inspired “suitcase” anyone would be delighted to unwrap this gift. Let’s talk about what it includes and the delicious creation that I was able to cook up utilizing it:

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Top-quality saffron in 10 foil-sealed packets. Together with farmers in La Mancha, a Michelin-star chef developed a line of premium saffron. The foil packets are sealed to protect them from air and light. Each one holds enough saffron for a standard paella. It’s recommended to grind the saffron into a powder in a mortar, releasing the bright color and intense floral flavor.

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Flor de Sal is the purest form of salt you can possibly buy, it is obtained by 100% natural methods.  This Mediterranean blend includes rosemary, marjoram, thyme and oregano. All the herbs included were air and sun dried in Mallorca!

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Mariajesus is an artisan tomato sauce that contains ten tomatoes that have been cleaned, skinned, and deseeded before being cookied in olive oil. It’s a well-known brand from Navarra, Spain that specializes in fine foods. It’s not any regular sauce! This flavor only exists when tomatoes have been slow cooked for hours. I used this as a base for my spicy chicken poblano chili.

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This is a sweet, fruity olive oil from the Northeast part of Spain. The climate of the region helps to produce phenomenal olives. I like to drizzle this on crunchy bread (I wouldn’t use it for sauteeing because I’d like it to last for a bit!!)

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La Chinata paprika is made from hot red Jaranda peppers which are ground in the D.O.P. region of Extremadura and then smoked over oak fires creating the unmistakeable spicy smoky flavour.
This seasoning is used in pretty much every Spanish dish: Paella, stews, casseroles, garnish on houmus, for seares meat, fish and even gently toasted Marcona almonds! The options are endless!!

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Sherry vinegar is THE most respected vinegar in the world. I remember the first time I ever tried it was at The Capital Grille, they did an amazing cipolline onion side in sherry vinegar. This 25 Year Reserve Sherry Vinegar has a beautiful mahogany color and sharp, distinct smell of a classic sherry wine. In the same way fine wines get better with age, so does this vinegar. The round, full-flavor adds deep richness to whatever food you pair it with. Once the fermentation process begins, the vinegar undergoes the same aging process as sherry wine. In 1910, Francisco Páez Sánchez started a wine society with a few friends, and this vinegar was kept as a family heirloom. It was his son who decided to expand vinegar production because he saw the potential. This is a top-notch gift item with a lot of history behind it.
If that’s not enough, Spanish Suitcase also includes:
Santo Tomás Arroz Bomba Rice 1.1 lb.
El Cid Paella Pan 11 3/4′ (serves 4)
José Andrés Tapas Deck with 50 recipes
So what did I make with all of this?!
Easy Seafood Spanish Paella

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Check out more fabulous gifts at Spanish Suitcase!

Happy Shopping xoxo