Solange and Alan Ferguson did it their way…

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This past weekend Solange Knowles (now Ferguson) in her own “you won’t see me until you see me” way, broke the internet. Not by dropping her pants (Dear Anna (Wintour), What do you think of her now?) rather by elevating the fashion of weddings and wedding couture. Her #AllWhiteWedding theme kicked the idea that no one other than the bride should wear white, down Bourbon Street.

What made Solonge a beautiful bride? Let’s start with our first view of her in an unembellished cream gown with a matching, floor-sweeping cape by Humberto Leon for Kenzo. She accessorized her look with wide gold cuffs by Jill for Lady Grey and her hair needed no veil, as her crown was her gloriously beautiful natural hair.   Not to be out done, Alan Ferguson looked as handsome in a bone-colored Lanvin suit, and gold cap-toe shoe.

How many changes were there? Some estimate as many as six various white/cream-themed outfits were on display during the wedding weekend. So change as many times as she wants (and her pocketbook can afford). I

Who designed the show-stopping backless cape she wore riding the bike? The three outfits that set the internet on fire, designed by French designer Stéphane Rolland. Solange’s only conventional outfit was a calf-length dress with a slit high on the thigh from the Australian brand Ellery, worn to a pre-wedding event.

We don’t need no stinkin’ limo. The rose-festooned bike she used to arrive to their wedding venue (Marigny Opera House), was fun, festive and as her cape billowed behind her as they rode to the church. After all, that’s what a wedding is supposed to be – fun and doing it YOUR WAY.

Can we talk about the engagement ring? It is my favorite ring to date. It is a split band with asymmetrical diamonds on each end. It is as unique as the bride and I’m sure we’ll see engagement rings trending toward unique settings.

Photography is key to capturing these moments. Take the wedding portraits by Bronx-based photographer Rog Walker, showing the carefully posed wedding party in their all white attire. Again proving that this is not the ‘normal’ wedding portrait. How wonderful that the bridal party wore everything from dresses to pants. Let your bridal party be who they are, and wear what is comfortable for them. Make is classy, make it stylish and if fashion is your thing, make it fashionable.

Finally, in true New Orléans tradition, you march to music and have a real party down the streets to celebrate. This is the way you party. This is the way you get your guests ready for festivities that will seal the deal on the celebration.

Now, in full disclosure, Solange used to live in my Brooklyn neighborhood. I would on occasion see her and her well-mannered son Julez in the local coffee shop. If you haven’t seen their well-choreographed dance to Rae Sremmurd’s “No Flex Zone”, you must. Their Mother-Son dance was just too cute. It’s funny when you recognize a celebrity and the masses don’t. They didn’t recognize that this woman is a powerhouse in her own right, and nor as “Beyonce’s little sister”. To them, she was just a quirky black woman with a cute little boy. I think that’s why she moved to Brooklyn. To find peace and I think she did. I also think this weekend; she broke that mold for good and took her rightful place in the spotlight. She is her own woman…married and “One, with the one.”

So Congratulations to the Fergusons. Here’s wishing you a forever as magical as this past weekend.

Not quite 50 shades of Mac and Cheese but close

Ohhh, it’s really getting chilly – who am I kidding. Baby, it’s cold outside. Nothing warms your heart and soul faster than comfort food. This week it’s about everyone’s favorite Mac and Cheese (or cheese and Macaroni). This is truly one of the fastest and easiest things to make. The key…really good quality cheese. For some of these recipes, it’s something that is just a little unexpected and yet, that’s what will give it the yummy factor.

Ok, so I’m going back to the fridge and scoop out some from last night. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

What to pair this with:

Serve a Cabernet or Zinfandel with the dish AND (this is key), add a good amount of Parmesan Reggiano either into the cheese or shave it on top of the dish. Also add a few twists of fresh cracked pepper.

Cabernet & Zinfandel love cheddar but they hit their zenith with Parmesan Reggiano. And the pepper notes will tie it all together.

Mac and Cheese Muffins Mac-and-Cheese-Muffins_white-HipFoodieMom.com_

Kids and adults will love these hand-held Mac and Cheese Muffins made with Wisconsin cheddar and crispy bacon.

Ingredients

  • 50 Ritz crackers, pulsed finely in food processor
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) Wisconsin cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounces elbow pasta
  • 3 ounces Rondelé Garlic & Herbs spreadable cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 strips baconcooked to crispy and pulsed in food processor
  • 1/3 cup chives, finely diced

Directions

First, prepare cracker crust. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter muffin tin and set aside.

In large bowl, combine crushed Ritz crackers, 1 cup shredded cheddar and melted butter, mixing well until mixture sticks together and resembles wet sand. Fill muffin cups with mixture, and using your fingers, press crust firmly into bottoms and halfway up sides of each muffin cup.

Cook pasta in large pot of salted, boiling water. Cook pasta for about 6 minutes (or until al dente), rinse and pour into large bowl. Immediately add Rondelé cheese, remaining 1 cup shredded cheddar and butter. Mix well until thoroughly coated.

In separate medium-sized bowl, combine eggs, milk, sour cream and salt, and mix well. Pour egg mixture into macaroni, mixing until everything is thoroughly combined. Add in bacon bits and chives and mix well.

Using cookie scoop or small spoon, fill each muffin cup with 2-3 tablespoons of macaroni mixture. Top each muffin cup with additional cheddar and chives. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before removing from muffin pan. Use fork or butter knife to gently loosen outer edges of each mac and cheese muffin and gently remove from muffin pan.

Bacon Mac & Cheese Egg RollsBacon-Mac-Cheese1aIngredients

  • 2 cups macaroni and cheese chilled
  • 4 slices cooked bacon crumbled
  • 8 egg roll wrappers vegetable oil for frying
  • Barbecue sauce for dipping

Instructions

Heat oil in a deep fryer or Dutch Oven to 350 degrees F. 2. Mix macaroni and cheese and bacon together. Spoon about 1⁄4 cup onto each egg roll wrapper. Dampen edges

of egg roll wrapper with water. Roll up according to package directions. 3. Cover with a damp paper towel until ready to fry. 4. Repeat with remaining ingredients. 5. Fry egg rolls, a few at a time until well browned, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towel-lined plate. 6. Cut egg rolls in half and serve with barbecue sauce.

 Creamy Kale Mac and Cheese Recipe

kalemaccheese

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces pasta (penne, elbow macaroni or shells)
  • 1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • about 1/2 cup of extra cheese for topping (optional)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

In large pot, boil water and cook pasta to package instructions. Rinse pasta with cold water and allow to cool.

Heat the same large pot on medium heat, melt butter and add onion. Cook onions until soft, then add flour. Stir the flour quickly to combine the flour and onion roux mixture. Add milk and chicken broth.

Allow mixture to come to a gentle boil and sauce will thicken. Return heat to low and add cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese. Continue stirring gently until all the cheese is melted.

Add the kale and pasta to cheese mixture. Gently stir together until the pasta is heated through and kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add extra cheese and bread crumbs on top.

Serve warm.

Stove-top macaroni and cheese made with fresh broccoli and a creamy pesto cheese sauce

stovetop_pesto

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni
  • 1 large broccoli crown, broken into florets
  • 2 c. reduced fat milk, warmed
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 c. pesto
  • salt + pepper to taste

Toasted Panko Topping (Optional)

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. panko, toasted

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook macaroni according to package directions until al dente. Two minutes before cook time ends, add broccoli. When macaroni is done, drain immediately and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in flour and whisk into butter; continue to heat until mixture is golden brown, 3-5 minutes.

Slowly add milk to flour mixture, whisking constantly. Once sauce is smooth, cook until slightly thickened (about 3 minutes) continuing to whisk constantly.

Remove sauce from heat. Whisk in fontina and parmesan cheese, pesto, and salt and pepper. Fold in elbow macaroni and broccoli. Divide into bowls and top with toasted panko, if desired.

Toasted Panko Topping

Heat olive oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add panko and cook until golden brown, 3-5 minutes.

Notes

To make this Pesto Mac into a casserole, after pasta and broccoli have been incorporated into the cheese sauce, transfer Pesto Mac to small (about 9 x 9) casserole dish. Top with panko and additional shredded cheese; bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. If top is not browned, broil for about 5 more minutes.

 

Wine Wednesday: Pumpkin Cocktails for Thankgiving

Hi!! It’s been a long time since I’ve totally focused on cocktails. I mean, I hope you like the food recipes and pairing, but today, I’m sharing some fun and festive holiday cocktails.  Yes, they are pumpkin flavored and just in time for your thanksgiving holiday table.

Pumpkins pair with quite a variety of flavors, but being a typical fall ingredient, able partners can be found in hard spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, star anise, clove and cardamom. Fresh ginger also works wonders. For the base spirit, any whiskey is great (especially American expressions), aged tequilas and brandies and dark rums. Ideal modifiers include the likes of amaretto, Frangelico and Licor 43

inline-drink

Pumpkin Buck

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 oz American whiskey or Applejack
  • Pumpkin soda*

Glass: Highball
Garnish: Candied ginger on a skewer and grated nutmeg

PREPARATION:
Add whiskey to a Collins glass and fill with ice. Top with pumpkin soda.

*Pumpkin soda

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can Pumpkin puree
  • 3 quarts Water
  • Zest of 6 lemons
  • 3 oz Maple syrup
  • .5 cups Finely chopped ginger
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1 Vanilla bean, split
  • 3 Star anise
  • 4 Cardamom pods

PREPARATION:
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a low boil for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and strain out the solids. Add the liquid to a Soda Stream and charge with Co2. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Pumpkin Sazerac

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oz Cognac or rye whiskey
  • .5 oz Pumpkin syrup*
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • .25 oz Absinthe

Glass: Rocks
Garnish: Oil from a lemon twist

PREPARATION:
Place a rocks glass in the freezer for 15 minutes. Add the cognac (or rye whiskey), pumpkin syrup and bitters to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir for 30 seconds. Remove the rocks glass from freezer and add the absinthe. Swirl it around the inside and then discard excess. Strain the stirred mixture into glass. Break a lemon twist over the surface to express the oils onto the drink. Discard lemon twist and enjoy.

Jake’s Pumpkin Syrup*

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pint Hot water
  • 1.75 pint White sugar
  • .25 pint Brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon Allspice
  • 20 Sugar cube-sized lumps of fresh cooked pumpkin

PREPARATION:
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture through a sieve and refrigerate.

Thanksgiving Margarita

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon Ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Sea salt
  • 1.5 oz Reposado tequila
  • .25 oz Allspice Dram liqueur
  • .25 oz Amaretto
  • .75 oz Lime juice
  • .5 oz Agave nectar
  • 1 oz Pumpkin puree

Glass: Rocks
Garnish: Roasted pumpkin slice, half rim of ginger salt

PREPARATION:
Mix together the ground ginger and the sea salt. Coat half the rim of the rocks glass in lime juice and dip in the mixture (for a finer texture, pound the ginger and sea salt in a mortar and pestle). Add remaining ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a the rimmed rocks glass filled with fresh ice.

 

No matter what, remember that THANKSGIVING is just that. A time to be with those you love.  Please also remember that we want you around next year so….NO DRINKING AND DRIVING!!

Until next week, I remain THANKFUL for you!!

Best Buy new GoPro cameras capture your best adventures

The leaves are changing and already there are holiday commercials on TV. I don’t know about you, but I’m still in the mood to take in some fall adventures. How about taking in a zip line, mountain climbing or perhaps enjoying those last days at your favorite amusement park? But, before you head there, you know that you’ll need the newest, and best in technology to capture those memories and that means you need to GoPro.

Coming soon at Best Buy stores, the full line of new GoPro cameras that will help you capture these magic moments. The line of cameras and their broad assortment of accessories would make a perfect holiday gift for you or your favorite tech or gadget guru or budding photographer. These cameras are especially for the adventure seeker, family memory maker or just someone who wants to take, taking pictures to a new level. These should be on everyone’s holiday list. I know they are on mine.  This is also a great gift for your favorite destination wedding couple.

GoPro’s new line of cameras allows you to authentically capture and share the experiences that bring purpose, adventure, and joy to your life. Isn’t that what we all want anyway?

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So what makes the GoPro so special?

  • GoPro HERO4 Black: the most advanced GoPro ever, featuring improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates1, HERO4 Black takes award‐winning GoPro performance to a whole new level.
  • GoPro HERO4 Silver: the first-ever GoPro to feature a built-in touch display. Controlling The camera, playing back footage and adjusting settings is ultra-convenient—just view, tap and swipe the screen. With 1080p60 and 720p120 video, and 12MP photos at a staggering 30 frames per second, HERO4 Silver combines powerful, pro-quality capture with the convenience of a touch display.
  • GoPro HERO: Featuring high‐quality 1080p30 and 720p60 video, and 5MP photos up to 5 fps, HERO captures the same immersive footage that’s made GoPro one of the best-selling cameras in the world.
  • 12x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates

All this means is that your pictures will be blur-free, and as crisp as the fall air.

Learn more at www.bestbuy.com/GoPro or visit your local Best Buy to check out the latest cameras in person.

 

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Wine Wednesday offers Chili-Grilled Chicken Salad

One more week until our race. I’m doing pretty well – watching what I put in my body especially now. Eating salad for dinner can be a healthy option and one that I use a great deal. I happen to like salads, but get tired of the boring kind. There is a bar in my neighborhood that does this kind of salad all the time and is one of my favorites. Now, I simply do it at home. By adding black beans and corn, you can amp up the protein, fiber, and flavor. If you want and have some mandarin oranges or dried cranberries, they add a subtle sweetness that is oh-so- yummy!!

Chili-Grilled Chicken Salad

chilichi

PREP TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 18 minutes
SERVINGS: 4

Dressing
¼ c light ranch dressing
¼ c mild green salsa
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Salad
1 Tbsp chili powder
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lb thin chicken breast slices or chicken tenders
1 lime, quartered
6 c shredded romaine lettuce
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
½ c corn kernels
1 med tomato, chopped
¼ c thinly sliced red onion

TO MAKE THE DRESSING: In a small bowl, mix the ranch dressing, salsa, and cilantro until blended. Cover and refrigerate.

TO MAKE THE SALAD: Coat a barbecue grill or ridged grill pan with olive oil spray, and heat to medium-hot. In a cup, mix the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Rub evenly on both sides of the chicken.

GRILL the chicken, turning once, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Transfer to a plate. Squeeze the lime over the cooked chicken.

TOSS the romaine with half the dressing in a large bowl. Divide among 4 plates.

SPRINKLE the beans, corn, tomato, and red onion equally over each serving and top with the grilled chicken. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

 

Wine Wednesday offers Chicken Balsamico with Pears

I have a BIG race coming up in a few weeks, and frankly, I’m a bit nervous. Not that I won’t finish – because I know I will. There is no doubt there. I’m running/walking this with my boyfriend…it’s our first “race” together. Like relationships, we have to pace ourselves and there may be times when he takes the lead…and then I do. There are times that are tough and as well as smooth roads. I don’t really care, as long as we finish TOGETHER. So with that in mind and pears being in season…I thought I’d try this Chicken Balsamico with Pears on for size.

It isn’t heavy or uses a lot of fat (if any really and Olive Oil is a good fat) and is full of flavor. So my taste-buds will be happy and so will my figure. This is a great meal when you want to stay on any weight-loss program that you have.

Pairing…well, I will confess, there is an amazing Chardonnay we had during our trip to the South of France and that’s what I’ll be opening.  Happy Wine Wednesday-light.

chickenpear

Chicken Balsamico with Pears

PREP TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes
SERVINGS: 4

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt
Ground black pepper
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 med Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 c reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ c balsamic vinegar
1½ Tbsp honey
1½ tsp cornstarch

Directions:

RINSE the chicken in cold water. Then pat dry with paper towels. Place each chicken breast half between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound the chicken breasts to ½” thick. Remove the plastic and sprinkle both sides of each breast with salt and pepper to taste.

HEAT the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, turning once, until it’s no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear. Remove the chicken from the heat and transfer it to a platter. Cover to keep it warm.

ADD the garlic and turn the heat down to medium for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is soft. Add the pears and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pears are soft and golden brown.

COMBINE the chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, honey, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Pour over the pear mixture. Increase the heat to high until it comes to a boil, and then immediately lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

PLACE the chicken on individual serving plates or on a large platter. Use a slotted spoon to mound the fruit over the top. Spoon the sauce over the fruit and around the chicken. Serve immediately.

 

 

Wine Wednesday calls for Beef and Guinness Pie

Ahhh, crispness is in the air and football is on TV. I’m a really happy girl and this season, I’m hoping to do a few things. Among them, is make these adorable mini Beef and Guinness Pies! OMG, so cute and actually pretty easy. Just make sure you have a few individual ramekins (for a great party individual serving) or just make a big one. Which ever you prefer.  Not cold enough for you yet…ok, so hold on to this until the winter months really kick in. What to pair it with – Guinness of course. I’ve also been known to have a semi-sweet merlot because the flavors just pop….

Beef and Guinness Pie

Ingredientsbeef-and-guinness

  • 3 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 lb. Beef Stew meat, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 T. Coarse Salt
  • 1/2 t. Pepper
  • 1/4 C. Flour
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 8 oz. small Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 T. fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 T. Tomato Paste
  • 6 oz. Guinness
  • 2 C. Beef Broth
  • 2 small Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4″ cubes
  • 1 recipe Pie Crust
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. Milk

Instructions

Heat the olive oil on high in a stock pot or preferably a cast iron pot. In a bowl, toss the beef with the flour, salt, and pepper until thoroughly coated. Add the beef to the hot oil and brown on all sides. Do this in two additions, so as to not overcrowd the pan. When the beef is browned, remove from the pan.

Add the onion and mushrooms to the pan(adding a little more oil, if necessary) and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. When the mushrooms and onions begin to brown, add the rosemary and continue to saute for a few more minutes, or until a deep brown color is achieved.

Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds more.

Add the tomato paste and mix it into the vegetables, cooking for another 30 seconds.

Place the beef back in the pot and mix in to the vegetables. Add the Guinness to the pot and stirring and scraping the sides as it reduces to loosen browned bits and deglaze the pot. Add the beef broth, and bring the liquid to a simmer. Place a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to medium/low.

Continue to lightly simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. After 1 hour of simmering, add the potatoes to the filling. Re-cover the pan and continue cooking. When the meat is tender, remove the lid and allow to simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Roll out 2/3 of the pie crust dough to cover a 9″ pie dish. Pat the dough down into the dish and fill with the hot beef filling. Roll out the remaining dough into a circle large enough to cover the top of the pie. Place on top of the filling and seal the edges of dough around the dish. Beat together the egg and milk and brush over the top of the pie.

Bake in a oven preheated to 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Serve immediately.

 

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