Summer Trends: Pineapples

“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” You know who. The same sponge that first got people talking about pineapples is who. (He’s not the classiest, and I was never the biggest fan, but you know who I’m talking about). Yet despite this increased pineapple visibility, the fruit has never been as popular as it is this summer.

The trend has taken over the fashion industry. Lucky Brand has come out with these adorable pineapple patterned flats, Pier 1 Imports has adorable must-have pineapple shot glasses, Nine West has a great pineapple tote that they’re selling at major retailers including Zappos and Macy’s, and I recently purchased this light and fun summer dress featuring, you guessed it, pineapples.

11011208_636014693101656_8480682189128865980_n            It makes sense that the fruit is trending as it is aesthetically pleasing and features a great color palette for the summer months. This has spurred an increase not only in wearing patterns of the fruit, but also eating it in new, delicious ways. My boyfriend’s favorite smoothie recipe prominently features both fresh pineapples and canned pineapple juice, pineapple gelato and ice are increasingly popular and no one can resist a slice of an upside-down pineapple cake.

Yet, as if this were not enough to celebrate the popular fruit, there is still some Hawaiian tradition coming into play. Pineapples, known as the fruit of hospitality, are beginning to trend most prominently as centerpieces. And not only that, they’re getting painted. When I grabbed the pineapple from the kitchen and brought it into my room with a bottle of paint I received skeptical and strange looks from those around me, yet when they saw the pineapple with blue leaves in the middle of the table during our Fourth of July BBQ, I think they realized everything had come together. It’s a cheap, super easy D.I.Y. and fun way to create your own centerpiece this summer, be it for a birthday, holiday, BBQ or luau. All you need is one of these dramatically playful fruits, a paintbrush and acrylic paint in a bright fun color!

            Stay classy! xx

Ritzy Rice Pudding

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Even the simplest recipes can be spiced up with a little bit of glam. Using the leftover cooked white rice I created the perfect recipe for homemade rice pudding, topped exclusively with ground cinnamon and lemon zest. Is your mouth watering yet?

Let’s Get Started:

3 cups white rice, cooked11665406_635085849861207_2528975553543420453_n
3 cups milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

Let’s Get Cookin’:

 Combine cooked rice, milk, sugar and butter in a medium saucepan.
Add vanilla.
Cook for 25 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Mix in lemon zest and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.
Spoon pudding into a serving dish and dust with remaining cinnamon.
Serve room temperature or chilled.

Let’s Get Creative:

There are plenty of ways to make this recipe even more ritzy. Raison lovers can add about ½ cup raisons to the mixture. You can’t go wrong with a similar portion of chopped nuts added to the mix either. For the Fourth of July, I’ve garnished the pudding with raspberries and blueberries. But let your creativity take over or just leave it be in its beautiful shining white texture.

Enjoy! Stay classy! xx

Catching Up With Cocktails

There’s something magical about a night out in the city. Even if you don’t end up with your heels in your hand, making hundreds of new best friends in a night club or a rooftop bar, there’s no way that a night out in NYC can be a waste of time.

Pad thai and Sex on the Beach.

Pad thai and Sex on the Beach.

I hadn’t seen my (soon-to-be) roomie in two months, a crazy amount of time to be apart from someone that you’re going to be living with and seeing every single day, especially when so much has happened since the last time you have seen them. There’s never enough time to catch up with a good friend that you haven’t seen in person for a while, but exchanging the silly, important and sometimes upsetting stories with one another is the fun part about the catch-up night. And what could be a better way to catch up than with the best and classiest assortment of cocktails in Greenwich Village?

Traditional mint mojito.

Traditional mint mojito.

I had stumbled across the Thailand Café last summer in an over-worked intern kind of frenzy to find sustenance after a long week. This small and adorable restaurant is not only the hands down best Thai food that I have ever had, but its drink and cocktail menu is incomparable. From the creatively named Bitchy (yes, it includes chocolate wine and whipped cream) to the traditional Sex on the Beach, the cocktail menu presents a fabulous assortment that will make you want to taste them all. And as if that weren’t enough, we’re showered with other drink options as well, including beers, wines and also the best mojito I’ve tasted to this day. It’s an incredibly affordable place and a blessing and a curse that I don’t live closer to it… one day…

Stay classy! xx

Egg-Crowned Quinoa

There’s something royal about a colorful dish of quinoa jewels crowned with the whites and bright yellow yolk of a “sunny-side up” egg. It’s a great option for a quick and healthy afternoon snack, or even a full lunch depending on your portion size.

Prep: 10 minutes     Cook: 10 minutes   Serves: 1-3 (depending on portion size)

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 Let’s Get Started:

2 cups quinoa
1 mushroom, finely chopped
½ plum tomato, finely chopped
½ onion, finely chopped
1 sprig of parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Let’s Get Cookin’:

Chop up mushroom, tomato, onion and parsley. Set aside.
Put quinoa in a microwaveable bowl. Add two cups of water (or less depending on bowl size,) onion and mushroom.
Microwave the quinoa and veggie mixture for 5 minutes, covering the bowl lightly (I generally use a paper towel or a small plate.)
Remove from microwave and stir, add salt.
Microwave for five more minutes.
Remove from microwave and add salt, EVOO, parsley and tomato.
Fluff up the quinoa in the bowl.
In a greased pan, drop one egg and let cook until “sunny-side up.”
Remove egg from stove and place over quinoa.

Let’s Get Creative:

There’s a lot of leeway in this recipe to cater to your specific taste! I chose to use these veggies because they are what I had on hand and I find them to be extremely yummy together. Any veggies will work with this recipe as long as you chop them up.

Enjoy! Stay classy! xx

Late Summer/Fall Trends: UD REVOLUTION

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Latest beauty haul thanks to Urban Decay!

According to the fashion world, even though summer has just arrived, it is not too early to start thinking about fall. Believe me, these are not thoughts that I am fans of. I mean sure, I love a good sweater and my black leather boots. But when the leaves start to change and fall off the trees, our color palettes usually turn just about as bare and dull as the empty branches. In the past I’ve experimented with chunky necklaces and statement earrings, both of which I do love and are still trendy. However, downgrading my closet and accessories to take from home to my dorm at school can become stressful, and usually a few important pieces get forgotten in the mix. There’s a new solution to this problem though, an accessory that you can easily wear and carry around with you wherever you go. And fortunately, Urban Decay has created it in the best late summer and fall color palette.

Love the APOCALYPSE shade for fall!

Love the APOCALYPSE shade for fall!

Urban Decay’s new lipgloss collection, REVOLUTION includes fourteen amazing vivacious colors that will brighten any dreary day and complete your look. I have tried five of the fourteen colors, APOCALYPSE, BIG BANG, BITTERSWEET, PUNCH DRUNK and QUIVER and am in love with the collection. The color stays perfectly for hours, so you do not have to worry about re-applying throughout the day. I like to add a clear hydrating gloss over it however, because I could feel my lips becoming chapped as the day went on. All in all, this new collection is fabulous and definitely a must-have for the end of summer and start of fall! Each gloss comes in a really cool looking bottle and retails for $22. I can’t wait to see what UD comes out with next. Check back for reviews of more UD products (blushes, eyeshadows and primers, oh my!) coming soon!

            Stay classy! xx

Classy Chocolate Chip Cookies

A classy spin on a classic childhood favorite. Best if enjoyed warm out of the oven, with a glass of milk.

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Let’s Get Started:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature*
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped Ghiradelli chocolate bar
1 cup chocolate Rice Krispies*

Let’s Get Cookin’:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking 11236857_632799026756556_3105783767356310885_nsoda; set aside. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed for about 1 minute or so. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir
in the chocolate chips and Rice Krispies by hand.

Use a tablespoon to scoop and drop small balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with wax or parchment paper.

Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

Let’s Get Creative:11694983_632798963423229_7255761280508163927_n

– Make sure the butter is room temperature… the cookies will turn out much better if you wait an extra few minutes for it to warm up!
– The Rice Krispies add an extra crunch to the cookies. If you prefer a more classic recipe, add another cup of chocolate chips instead!
– This is a big weekend for the United States! NYC is hosting a Pride parade today and it is sure to be crazy with excitement. If you can’t be there but want to show your support, add some rainbow M&M’s into the mix instead of regular chocolate chips!

Enjoy! Stay classy! xx

Little Luxuries

The best midday snack!

The best midday snack!

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”

– Barbara Jordan

Maybe it’s a silly concept, but this quote resonates with a lot of us. These are traditions that were so imperative to our childhoods that we took for granted, and now would give anything to get to do each day. Whatever happened to having a mid-day break?

As we get older, it seems to only get worse. Not only do we restrict ourselves to diets and juice cleanses and vegetable cleanses and water cleanses and deny ourselves the delicious things in life — moderation still works guys! — but we also stopped taking breaks. The next time you go to work take a look around your office between the hours of twelve and two. How many people get up from their desks and go to lunch for the standard hour-long break? How many get up to buy their lunch, and then rush back to eat it at their desk? How many actually bring it and eat at their desk in increments throughout the day while doing work? If you haven’t noticed this trend before, I think you might be shocked.

The American mentality is a productive one, in the sense that we strive to look like we are making the maximum use of our time during the workday. Yet it is not a smart one. I don’t believe it to be necessary for all employers to provide nap rooms (complimentary milk and cookies would definitely be a good start though…) but there are other ways to maximize workday productivity that take only a small amount of time!

Did you know that a twenty-minute walk outdoors gives you the same amount of energy as a one to two hour midday nap? Or that five to ten minutes of meditation can increase your mind’s focus and clarity for the rest of the day? Neither of these options require even the amount of time you should be allotting to your lunch break but they end up making a huge difference in your day overall.

Maybe midday walks and meditation are the new “adult” nap time and milk and cookies, the new way to indulge during the workday. But on the weekends, and when these delicious goodies are on hand, this little indulgence cannot be beat, no matter what age you are.

Speaking of this buttery deliciousness with warm gooey chocolate chips nestled into it, nothing beats a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Check out my fool-proof recipe for Classy Chocolate Chip Cookies on The Classy Cook!

  Stay classy! xx

CAB Pudding

One of the biggest reasons people do not think they can maintain a healthy diet is because they believe that they do not have the time to prepare healthy meals and snacks. This may be the case for more complex kitchen creations, but this recipe has a prep time that’s as speedy as a NYC cab! Not to mention, it’s delicious, uses cheap, easy to handle and yummy all-natural ingredients, and it is totally vegan!

Prep: 5 Minutes       Cook: 1 hour       Ready: 1 hour 5 minutes       Serves: 6

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The cute & yummy final product!

Let’s Get Ready:

1 avocado, peeled and pitted
4 ripe bananas
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for garnish

Only 3 Ingredients!

Only 3 Ingredients!

Let’s Get Cookin’:

Cut up avocado and bananas and place all ingredients in a blender.
Puree until smooth.
Pour pudding into serving bowls and sprinkle cocoa powder on top for garnish.
Refrigerate for at least one hour for texture and flavor to develop. (The longer it sits the more flavor there’ll be! I left mine overnight and ate the pudding for breakfast and found the flavor to be much more poignant than the night before!)

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Let’s Get Creative:

This recipe can be modified into a smoothie as well!
You’ll just need the same ingredients, and 1 cup of soy, almond or regular milk.

Enjoy! Stay classy! xx

It’s Official!

It may be early to celebrate the actual holiday, but it’s not too early to celebrate that the Lunar New Year will be recognized as an official public school holiday in New York! Today, mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, (yes, I met him! There’s proof in the Photo Album), has declared that all New York public schools will have off for the Lunar New Year starting this upcoming year. What better way to celebrate than with traditional tips and tricks from one of the world’s beloved restaurant owners, Philip Chiang of P.F. Chang’s?

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Celebrating this incredible NYC decision!

Very few things have the power to bring a family together like a holiday celebration. Whether it is preparing the meal together, going out to eat together or gathering at the dining room table, holiday dining is a cherished tradition that helps us to catch up with family and friends by gathering together for a festive cause.

I had the opportunity to meet with Philip Chiang, a dad and the co-founder of P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro, who dished out some fun traditions and recipes for delicious food to help everyone celebrate new beginnings and good fortune. (Lunar New Year might come in February, but this recipe is just as good during any season!)

Behind-the-scenes of a P.F. Chang's kitchen with Philip Chiang himself!

Behind-the-scenes of a P.F. Chang’s kitchen with Philip Chiang himself!

One can argue that food is at the center of many holidays, and the Lunar New Year is nothing different. “Food is a very important way for families to celebrate the Lunar New Year. P.F. Chang’s is inviting people everywhere to share this special tradition with a meaningful meal,” said Philip Chiang, the co-founder of the restaurant chain. Chiang grew up celebrating the Lunar New Year with his family and has fond memories of all the children making dumplings during the wintertime, as well as celebrating with a three-day hometown feast where everyone ate and played mahjong together.

The Lunar New Year is known to bring prosperity, longevity and health, especially

And, of course, Philip Chiang, my plus one and I after the 8-course meal!

And, of course, Philip Chiang, my plus one and I after the 8-course meal!

if one chooses to celebrate with the proper symbols. Chiang gave us the scoop on a couple of traditions that he has followed throughout the years including both dressing and decorating with the color red, which “represents prosperity and also drives away evil,” Chiang explains.

Chiang was generous enough to share the recipe for his best-selling and most famous dish, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, so that everyone can have the option of celebrating the Lunar New Year with their family at home as well. The Cantonese word for “lettuce” sounds like “rising fortune,” which means that “the more you eat, the more fortune you will have.”

So what are you waiting for? Check out this super easy and delicious recipe HERE and let’s get cookin’!

Stay classy! xx

Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry Romaine Wraps with Citrus Soy

ginger chicken

Recipe and photo courtesy of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.

Let’s Get Ready:

1 pound chicken
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dry chili flakes
3 tablespoons soy bean oil or vegetable oil
2 heads romaine lettuce, cleaned
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 ounce scallions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Let’s Get Cookin’:

Dice the chicken into tiny pieces. Place the chicken in a mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons soy bean oil, garlic, chili flakes and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Mix together in a circular motion until well mixed. Let marinate in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

Mix together the citrus juices, soy, and hoisin sauce with a whisk. Reserve until needed. Clean the romaine lettuce, chopping off the stem, peeling each “spear” and running under clean cold water. Reserve in refrigerator until ready to use. Chop scallions into rings and reserve chilled.

Coat a very hot sauté pan lightly with soybean oil. Lay the chicken around the sauté pan being careful not to lay too many on top of each other. Sear the chicken until crispy and golden brown, about 2 ½ minutes. Once chicken is brown, toss gently in pan and sear another 2 ½ minutes. The pan will appear to “burn,” but that is the carmelization and where all the flavor comes from.

Add ½ of the citrus soy mixture to the sauté pan and coat well. Let the sauce coat the chicken until it is glazed, and thickens on the chicken. Add more or less depending on how “wet” you want your mixture. Spoon chicken onto a plate.

Wrap the chicken mixture in romaine lettuce and top with scallion rings. Serve and enjoy!

Let’s Get Creative:

This recipe will be just as delicious with baby shrimp, fish or beef!