Cheese and Charcuterie Boards for the Holidays

cheese and charcuterie board

Friends! It’s been some time since we talked. We drove down to Miami to spend Halloween with my family, and Lila dressed up as Maleficent. I met Penny De Los Santos, and we took her to The Bends. I spent a couple days in Chicago for a marketing conference and met up with Sara Cornelius of Cake Over Steak and her photographer husband for a drink at Lone Wolf. Danny went to Nasvhille for a marketing conference. I got really into Jane the Virgin, and we started watching Master of None.

I read about Paris and felt sick to my stomach.

I spent this past weekend in Miami Beach dancing and generally having a wonderful time for my friend Eve’s bachelorette weekend. (Eve shot that incredible photo you see above!)

And now, Thanksgiving is upon us. We’re heading to my in-laws’ house this year, and I’m hoping to contribute The Food Lab’s hasselback potato gratin, sweet potato pie according to Joy the Baker’s dad but with a gingersnap crust, pecan pie (my favorite, forever and ever) and maybe some kind of stuffing. Should I pack a loaf of Cuban bread for that?? Maybe!

But what to snack on before the biggest meal of the year? Try a cheese and charcuterie board. You can set it out and let family and friends pick at it as they get hungry, and it’ll hold them over until dinner. I recently wrote all about cheese and charcuterie boards for holiday entertaining for the Tampa Bay Times, a story that called for a lot of fun reporting. I talked to several people who love cheese, including the head cheesemonger at Mazzaro’s Italian Market, and spent an afternoon creating three #cheeseborts for a photo shoot. A cheese board will most definitely grace our table when our parents visit St. Pete for Christmas, and it’s an appetizer I’ll turn to for many parties to come.

Hope you all have a magical Thanksgiving! I’ll be back soon with a recipe for slow-roasted salmon.

Brown Butter


Brown butter! It’s the flavor that rules fall for me. I recently played around with brown butter quite a bit for the Tampa Bay Times. It’s my latest cover story for the Taste section with recipes for cookies, a salad, cake, and the best pork chops.

Besides stocking up on a lot of butter and infusing my kitchen with that nutty fragrance of browning butter, I called up J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats and The Food Lab for this story. He was great and easy to talk to, and he mentioned a brown butter hollandaise I can’t get out of my head.

Check out the full story, photos, and recipes.

Spiced Pepita Brittle

Spiced Pepita Brittle

It hits sooner and sooner every year: pumpkin.

Pumpkin pancake mix. Pumpkin beer. Pumpkin everything. I picked up a bag of pumpkin spice pumpkin seeds at Trader Joe’s during the early pumpkin wave this season, and I have to admit: they were really good.

If you just can’t get enough pumpkin in your life, you’re in luck. Sara of Cake Over Steak is throwing a #VirtualPumpkinParty today with a ton of food bloggers contributing recipes featuring the squash du jour. It’s a seriously great round up of all things pumpkin, both savory and sweet.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at brittle for some time (there’s a never-ending recipe to-do list around here!) and a pepita brittle with a few warm spices seemed like a fun way to go. I love green little pepitas aka pumpkin seeds, and this is a brilliant way to eat them. Also, breaking brittle is a super fun thing to do in the kitchen. Continue reading  continue reading



I woke up on a recent Saturday morning, and Danny was gone. It didn’t take long to find him. He was in the backyard: working, building, husband-ing. Since we moved in to our house this summer, he’s been mowing, sawing, fixing lights, adding lights, painting. We’d talked a bit about adding a garden now that we had the space, but hadn’t really set a date for starting this project. Well, I hadn’t. By the time I rolled out of bed around 8:30, he’d already been to Home Depot, his car riding low under the tremendous weight of dirt, compost and wood piled high in the trunk.

With a Sunset magazine how-to as his guide, he built me a raised garden bed. He even stained the wood a pretty red. So I changed out of my pjs and helped him fill it with dirt. Ahem, soil.

danny car

garden bed

To start: radishes, beets, and burgundy beans (purple green beans). We heard radishes were great for first-time gardeners, and I’m here to tell you that is truly excellent advice. I planted those little seeds on Saturday morning, an endeavor that began a little dramatically with a garden snake sighting and a downpour as soon as I finished planting. After I’d already watered the seeds. Maybe all that rain gave them a jump-start because by Monday morning, the radishes made themselves known. By Monday evening, I saw tiny green sprouts. And this morning? Oh man, the radishes were full little bunches, a pretty exciting result to see within a week. The beets sprouted this morning—a spectacular flash of fuschia in the dark soil. I think we officially have a garden! A beginner’s garden. Continue reading  continue reading

Mussels with Cherry Tomatoes and Chorizo

Mussels with Cherry Tomatoes and Chorizo

Steamed mussels are one of my favorite dinners to make at home because (1) people are always impressed (2) it’s fast and easy (3) it is so dang good.

Add this one to my collection of recipes that work for both quick weeknight dinners and for a dinner party. This rendition of Mussels with Cherry Tomatoes and Chorizo is efficient and elegant without being difficult or time-consuming.

The very important broth can be dressed up many ways, and this time it’s jazzed up with cherry tomatoes and fresh, sweet summer corn. This will offset the smoky, browned bits of chorizo. The chorizo is key here, adding flavor, body, and color. You’d think a little saffron (wink, wink) fell into the pot considering the resulting deep yellow-orange color of the broth, but it’s the chorizo. And to do justice to this broth, make sure to have plenty of bread and wine on hand.

This is just the thing I want to eat on a late summer night. Continue reading  continue reading