Sometimes Mariachi Bands Show Up At Weddings…

Boston Wedding Photography

 

As a second shooter at a wedding, I rarely know what to expect when I show up at a ceremony or reception. This shot is from a particularly memorable reception I helped photograph this fall. It was so much fun! A blog post with more photos from the day will come soon, but here’s another one of my favorite shots.

Ipswich Weddings

#POPtober Pantry Organization with OXO and a Giveaway!

Moving happens. Sometimes moving to a new home – especially in instances when it’s unexpected – gets really chaotic. And when that involves moving in with someone who has been in the space for five years, items get shoved into whatever nook and cranny available. Closet doors get shut and you become okay with the clutter because doing something other than organizing – ANYTHING ELSE – on a sunny weekend afternoon is always the more appealing option. It’s suddenly 10 months later, and the closet we turned into a pantry still looks like this:

OXO POPtober Giveaway

I know, Ritz… It’s a mess. Don’t judge.

Tennis rackets, lunch totes, cat food, packing tape, leftover plastic utensils from a cookout…yikes. The good people at OXO and The Container Store must have crazy good senses about poorly organized pantries because I was asked to participate in their #POPtober giveaway. Have you ever been to The Container Store? I went right after I moved in hope of finding storage solutions for my clothes closet. That place has everything you could ever need to organize a closet, pantry, laundry room, or kitchen. Everything sold there is designed to save space and cut down on the precious time you spend looking for things around your house.

They provided me with this awesome 10 piece OXO POP container set, and 3 OXO cereal containers to help with the sad situation organize our pantry.

OXO POPtober Giveaway

And Ritz was extremely interested in overseeing this project…or investigating the box.

OXO POPtober Giveaway

Anyway, the thought of being able to eliminate the amount of cereal boxes and bags of dried hot peppers on top of the refrigerator…

OXO POPtober Giveaway

This is embarrassing!!!

We already had a few OXO POP containers already lying around the apartment, filled with dried beans and gluten-free pasta. The old and new containers have flat lids and stack nicely together so we can see exactly what we have, and everything will be easily accessible rather than being hidden behind other boxes and jars. The lids are also designed with pop-up buttons for easy opening and closing of the containers.

2014-10-07_001

One of the challenges with organizing our pantry was making sure we kept track of cooking directions found on the side of packages. Each brand of gluten-free pasta has different cooking directions, which I know we’d forget. So cutting out the directions or writing them down on a sticky note and taping it to the side of the container is a convenient way of knowing what is what. I keep these labels turned to the side or the back so they’re not visible in my pantry.

OXO POPtober Giveaway

Directions for gluten-free lasagna noodles taped to the side of an OXO POP container.

Since I’m not sure if there’s any rhyme or reason with Jeff’s ziplock bags of hot peppers, I carefully laid them inside of one of the square containers. Poof! Done!

OXO POPtober giveaway

What a difference:

OXO POPtober! Giveaway

Before and After!

OXO POPtober! Giveaway

 

OXO POPtober Giveaway

Ritz approves!

I know you’re totally inspired to organize your kitchen or pantry now, right? The good news is that POP containers are available at The Container Store locations nationwide, as well as on their website. OXO has a bunch of storage and organization items at The Container Store, some of which you can see here on my OXO Home Storage and Organization Pinterest board:

Guess what? There’s more good news – OXO and The Container Store have teamed up for a fantastic giveaway! Between Monday, October 13th – Friday, October 31st, you can enter to win a prize worth $500 – your choice of OXO Storage and Organization tools (up to $250), as well as a $250 elfa gift card. You can enter the giveaway here. Good luck!
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Disclosure: OXO provided me with a 10-piece POP Container set and 3 cereal containers. No additional compensation was provided. Opinions expressed here are my own.

A Little Sugar for Cookies For Kids’ Cancer – #OXOGoodCookies

You know what can bring happiness? A freshly baked cookie. A sugary, delicious treat can put a smile on almost anyone’s face. It’s also one of the ultimate comfort foods someone can make for a friend or family member who is going through a difficult time. It’s also good to do something for a great cause, which is why I’m participating in OXO’s blog campaign for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

#OXOGoodCookies

If you haven’t heard of Cookies For Kids’ Cancer, it was created in 2007 by two OXO employees whose 2-year-old son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. At the time, there were few effective treatments available due to a lack of funding. Liam’s mom, Gretchen, organized a team of volunteers who baked and sold 96,000 cookies, and raised more than $400,000 for research. Amazing, right?

Since 2008, grant money awarded by Cookies For Kids’ Cancer has resulted in 9 promising new treatments. Boston is fortunate to be the home of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which is one of five partner centers for Cookies For Kids’ Cancer. They receive annual research grants to research and develop new treatments for pediatric cancer. Dana-Farber recently received a $100,000 grant from Cookies For Kids’ Cancer to support the research of Dr. Kimberly Stegmaier, who is working to discover details about genetic underpinnings and potential drug targets in neuroblastoma.

Dr. Stegmaier, the Co-Director of the Pediatric Hematologic Malignacy Program, says, “This generous gift from Cookies For Kids’ Cancer is advancing our ability to understand the drivers of neuroblastoma, which remains one of the most challenging pediatric cancers. This is a critical next step to help uncover novel therapeutic targets and expand treatment options for young patients battling this illness.”

 

#OXOGoodCookies

So for this Cookies For Kids’ Cancer blog post, I decided to give a classic sugar cookie recipe a try from the How Can It Be Gluten-Free cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. Have you tried any of the recipes yet? Jeff has been baking sandwich bread using their recipe, which is delicious. But the sugar cookie recipe? No, but seriously, how can it possibly be gluten-free?!?! The buttery, sugary deliciousness is spot on.

These baking tools from OXO came in super handy. Baking is chemistry, so exact measurements are pretty important. I love how these measuring cups and spoons come with a scrapper so exact measurements are easy to do. And if you ever baked a gluten-free goodie before, you know how dough can be sticky. The America’s Test Kitchen recipe takes care of this issue! Hooray! But just in case you roll the dough too thin, I found another use for OXO’s frosting spatula –  it is awesome to cut excess dough.

#OXOGoodCookies

#OXOGoodCookies

Cookies for Kids' Cancer

 

OXO is a huge supporter of Cookies For Kids’ Cancer, and every year they make a significant donation through sales of specially marked OXO products. For every stickered item sold, OXO will donate 25 cents in support of pediatric cancer research as part of its $100,000 pledge to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. (Look for specially marked OXO products at participating retailers.) That is a full grant for one of the five partner centers!

How else can you become involved? You can host a bake sale, a cookie swap, a team building activity for your workplace or school… There are a bunch of details and other ideas on the Cookies For Kids’ Cancer website.

 

#OXOGoodCookies

So besides being a gluten-free sugar cookie, I put a little twist into the frosting. I made the frosting with coconut milk (had a little leftover that needed to be used), and added pumpkin pie seasoning to taste. The pumpkin pie spice added a little something special to a traditional sugar cookie. And really, who doesn’t like pumpkin flavored sweets?

#OXOGoodCookies

Sadly, I can’t post a recipe for the cookies here because I didn’t obtain permission from America’s Test Kitchen. BOOOOOO, massive fail on my part! I’m so sorry! But I CAN tell you that the recipe is on pages 234 and 235 – you should get “The How Can It Be Gluten-Free Cookbook” out of your library or order it on Amazon.com.

 

You can find OXO, Cookies For Kids’ Cancer, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on social media:

Twitter: @OXO | @Cookies4Kids | @danafarber

Facebook:  facebook.com/OXO | facebook.com/CookiesForKidsCancer | facebook.com/danafarbercancerinstitute

Pinterest: pinterest.com/OXO | pinterest.com/Cookies4Kids | pinterest.com/DFCI

 

 

* In 2014, OXO will donate up to $100,000 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer through specially marked baking tools, bake sale matches and other fundraising efforts. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity duly incorporated under the laws of the state of New Jersey. Your donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law. 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research.

 

Disclosure: OXO provided me with the products for this blog post. I was not given any additional compensation, and opinions are my own.

Not Letting Go of Summer…

Sunset Photography

DRINKmaple Smoothie Recipe

I’m not ready to let go of summer… I know it’s nearing the end of September, and the weather today feels more like late October, but I’m still grasping on to the warmth of the sun and whatever summertime recipes I can easily whip up! Maybe you’re feeling the same way, which is why I’m sharing two delicious smoothie recipes from DRINKmaple. Forget coconut water – maple water is where it’s at! (Okay, I’m just partial to maple flavor anything. ;) ) It’s a refreshing bottled water with just a hint of maple – perfect for a hot day.

I spent an afternoon this summer photographing these recipes with DRINKmaple co-founder Kate Weiler. And here’s a link to locations where DRINKmaple is sold. Enjoy!

 

DRINKmaple smoothie

 

 

Watermelon Mint Maple Water Cooler

1 cup of seedless watermelon
1/2 container (1/2 cup) of DRINKmaple pure maple water
1/2 cup ice
6 leaves of fresh mint
optional: to make this an alcoholic drink add a shot of cucumber vodka

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
Strawberry Vanilla Maple Water Smoothie

1 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 medjool dates
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup ice
1 container (1 cup) of DRINKmaple pure maple water

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

 

 

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to have a backyard again… After spending years living in brick apartment buildings, I’ve been soaking up every second I can outside! It feels like a luxury being able to sit under a tree with a book without having to get in my car and drive to a park. Jeff and I have also been learning how to grill! He found a perfectly good Weber grill on Craigslist, cleaned it up, and we’ve been grilling up burgers and veggies over the past few weeks.

Our friends Kelly and Pat came to visit from Toronto this past weekend. Kelly is one of my nearest and dearest friends in the world, and her culinary knowledge and talent never ceases to amaze me! Before I met Kelly, the only green vegetable I ate was iceberg lettuce. So I blame my current, much, MUCH more sophisticated palate on her. ;)

Her visit coincided with an invitation from OXO to participate in their #WhatAGrillWants blogger campaign, which was perfect because Jeff and I invited a bunch of people over for a cookout. OXO sent a bunch of new grilling tools to try out – a bladed meat tenderizer, a little salad dressing shaker, a corn stripper, a silicone basting brush, and 16 inch tongs.

OXO #WhatAGrillWants

I’m not quite sure what Kelly and Jeff are thumb wrestling over, but it was a fun moment in the kitchen as we prepared everything for the grill! Using a bladed meat tenderizer was interesting… I grew up with my mom and grandmother using a fork to do it, so I wasn’t quite sure how beneficial this tool would be. With 50 blades in the OXO bladed meat tenderizer, we sure saved some time! This tool is used like a stamp, and you have to push down really hard to get the blades through the meat. (With 50 blades in a tool, I’m GLAD it takes some muscle to press it down!)

OXO #WhatAGrillWants

OXO also sent a super cute and handy little salad dressing shaker, which we used to make a marinade for the pork.

OXO #WhatAGrillWants

I love this salad dressing shaker! You can’t really see it in the photo, but one side of the cup has measuring lines for cups, and the other has lines for ounces. And the cap has an airtight, leakproof seal, so it’s perfect for shaking up salad dressings or marinades. I wouldn’t hesitate bringing this to other cookouts or picnics!

While the pork marinaded, I decided to throw together a Cajun-style grilled corn salad. I looooove Mexican-style corn on the cob, but don’t really enjoy the mess that comes along with eating it. And I’ve been dying to use this delicious Cajun spice blend I picked up at the New Orleans School of Cooking during a recent vacation.

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Onto the grill the corn went. We turned the corn every couple of minutes, and left them on the grill just long enough to get a nice, charred look. The OXO tongs came in really handy here – the tips don’t have sharp edges like a lot of other grill tools, so later on when we grilled other veggies wrapped in foil, Jeff didn’t accidentally poke holes through the foil with the tongs.

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Then we got to use my favorite tool out of the whole kit – the corn stripper. This tool is so easy to use! There’s a blade on the bottom, which cuts the kernels off the cob, and they collect inside a little cup attached to it instead of spilling all over the place.

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWantsOnce all the kernels were shed, I mixed in cheese, a tiny bit of mayonnaise, garlic, the Cajun spice mix, and some fresh green onions from our garden to create the corn salad. You can get the recipe at the bottom of this post! It’s a super easy cookout recipe everyone will love. It can be served warm right off the grill or chilled. I made a little more this week with an ear of leftover corn, and tossed it in with a regular salad. So good!

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Anyway, the tongs came in handy again when it was time to put the pork on the grill. The basting brush was pretty cool to use as well – there are gaps in the center bristles that trap liquids, so we were able to spread a lot more marinade on the roasts.

OXO #WhatAGrillWants

OXO #WhatAGrillWants

It was so fun cooking outside with wonderful friends we don’t get to see very often. It’s just what we do. :) Thanks to OXO for making our cookout a little more fun and easy!

Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad - OXO #WhatAGrillWants

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for OXO, and I received the grill tools from them for free. No other compensation was provided, and opinions here are my own.

3.0 from 1 reviews
Cajun-Style Grilled Corn Salad
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • Vegetable oil (for the grill)
  • ½ cup Pecorino Romano grated cheese
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon Cajun spice blend (or chili powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • green onions, sliced thin
  • 6 large ears of corn, husks removed
Instructions
  1. Turn all the burners on high and allow the grill to become very hot.
  2. Once you scrape the grate clean, oil it by dipping a paper towel in vegetable oil. Use tongs to oil the grate!
  3. Place the ears of corn on the grill, turning them every 2 minutes or so until the kernels start to char.
  4. Combine the cheese, mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic, Cajun spice mix (or chili powder), black pepper, and salt.
  5. When the corn is done, allow to cool for a few minutes. Using the OXO corn stripper, remove the kernels from the cob and empty the container into a medium mixing bowl.
  6. Toss in the cheese, mayo, and spice mixture and mix until the corn kernels are coated. Top with green onions, to taste.

 

Easy Vegetable Quiche – the Anytime Comfort Food

It’s been so long since my last post… How y’all doing? :) It’s been a looong winter, and I needed to step away from this space for a little bit. A few folks (including a dear photography client) suddenly and unexpectedly passed away this fall, then the holidays came around, then there was a carbon monoxide leak in my apartment building on a -6 degree evening, ended up suddenly moving to a new place, and was sick for almost a month.

Phew. It was a long winter. There was barely time to cook, never mind photograph, write, or indulge in the things that bring any sense of creative joy.

It’s now the end of March, and I’m just starting to get back into a normal routine. So, hi there! Happy almost spring! Let’s defrost and come out of hibernation, shall we?

Moving created an interesting culinary “problem”. I found a lot of dry and frozen ingredients stuffed in the back of my pantry and freezer that I totally forgot about. So there’s an effort right now to use up everything that’s still good, but has been totally neglected. And I want to make healthy meals that are quick to prepare. (There have been many whole chickens tossed in the crockpot with lemon and herbs over the past two months!)

Since my boyfriend is gluten-free, most of the recipes I make include gluten-free flours or bread products. One of the items stuck in the back of my freezer was a quiche and pie crust from Gillian’s, which happens to be based nearby in Lynn, Massachusetts. We had some leftover fresh red pepper, a few mushrooms, some leftover shredded cheese from a pizza, a carton of eggs, and a bunch of herbs.

Quiche! The perfect dish to use up leftover fresh produce. And I was in the mood for some comfort food that was not in the form of cookies.

Gluten Free Vegetable Quiche

No lie – the quiche came out so well, I could eat this whole thing in one sitting. But I will control myself. (Maybe.) I’m not sure if it’s the vegetables, the seasoning (this is what I used), or what, but it’s delicious. The Gillian’s gluten free pie crust tastes exactly like a regular pie crust! It’s so good!

Gluten Free Vegetable Quiche

I would have liked to style these photos a little more, but my props are still packed in boxes, buried in the basement. This is the first time I’ve picked up my camera since I moved. And now I have more space to work in, which is such a wonderful thing! It’s so good to be back in this creative space. :) xoxo

Easy Vegetable Quiche - the Anytime Comfort Food
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen pie crust (I used Gillian's Gluten-Free Quiche and Pie Crust)
  • 1 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • Handfull of fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • A few cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp quinoa flour
  • 1Tbsp no-salt dry seasoning mix (I used Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning sold at Costco and Amazon.com.)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pinch of dried parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the chopped red peppers, mushrooms, spinach evenly over the crust and sprinkle with the cheese.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, quinoa flour, salt, and seasoning blend.
  4. Pour the mixture over the vegetables. Top with the tomatoes.
  5. Place the quiche on the center rack and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the center is set. Remove from oven and sprinkle the dried parsley on top. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

2013 Boston Red Sox Rolling Rally – Inside Fenway Park

After a decade of being on the wait list for season tickets, Jeff wavered back and forth about spending the money when the opportunity finally presented itself this year. He took a gamble, and we found ourselves sitting in section 3 of the empty grandstands during some very cold April and May games. Fenway Park’s sold out game record streak ended – the stands were half full, and it wasn’t because of the weather.

We didn’t recognize most of the names on the roster, but they played a good game. Little by little personalities emerged, they helped lift our city up during some dark times, and they kept winning. But it seemed like no one really paid attention until August. Was it because of how the team ended the previous season? Or was is because of what Boston experienced in April? Or a mixture of both? Late in the summer, the stands became full again; fans cheering our team on.

Boston has celebrated eight sports championships since 2002. The 2002 Patriots Super Bowl Parade was the only one I ever attended – I started working in TV news that week and I assisted directed TV coverage for the rest of them. I worked the night when the Red Sox won in 2004, and I was out of town when they won in 2007. It felt incredibly special to be in town and off the clock this year for everything.

On Thursday, Jeff received an email invitation for season ticket holders to gather at Fenway Park for the rolling rally kick off celebration. Little did we know how much fun it would end up being! The rest of this post features photos both of us took.

 

Boston Red Sox World Series Banner

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

Wally the Green Monster welcomes the fans.

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

The Red Sox Rally was a rally for these folks too, right? RIGHT?

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedoria

David Ross

David Ross carrying the hardware.

Boston Red Sox World Series Celerbration

#BostonStrong

David Ortiz MVP

MVP David Ortiz…and his WWF belt.

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

Jacoby Elisbury

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

Boston Duck Tours

I love how the duck boats were decked out with beards!

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

Boston Red Sox World Series Celebration

David Ortiz MVP

David Ortiz MVP

Fenway Park

Fans take over Fenway Park

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I just wanted to sit down on the edge of the outfield, and take it all in…

Fenway Park

Apple Cinnamon Caramel Cookies (and a studio photography class!)

Photos of apples

I know they are very similar, but which photo do you guys like more? I cannot make up my mind! (Seriously, leave a comment below. I want to add one of them to my portfolio, and cannot decide which one I like more!)

I LOVE working with natural light, especially when it comes to food photography. L-O-V-E. Working with it comes naturally to me, and I love the challenge of adjusting to the weather outside. (Or maybe it has something to do with being cooped up  in a dark control room 40 hours a week… This gal needs her vitamin D!)

But the days are getting short (*SOB*) and I want more photographic flexibility. I’ve played around with studio lights before, used speedlights for portrait photography, but wanted to learn more about lighting glass, reflective objects, and anything involving more studio based commercial photography. So I signed up for a 10-week workshop at New England School of Photography.

The classes in which we photographed reflective objects and food couldn’t have come at a better time because I felt overwhelmed by the amount of apples in my kitchen. (I’m totally experimenting with light and backgrounds in these classes, so the styling between the images above and below are intentional – I’m not going for storytelling! :) )

Apples are easy to transport to class, as are cookies. And I wanted to try using some cinnamon goat milk caramel from Fat Toad Farm in a cake or cookie recipe, so this became a great opportunity to experiment in making another gluten-free cookie. They came out pretty well! The cookies kind of have the texture of a very light and airy cake.

AppleCookies-066

Apple Cinnamon Caramel Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Gluten-Free Cookies
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 16-18 cookies
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup millet flour
  • ¼ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup quinoa flakes
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ packed cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Fat Toad Farm cinnamon goat milk caramel
  • 1 large cortland apple
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flours, quinoa flakes, baking soda, and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and pale in color.
  4. Stir in the egg, then add the vanilla and flour mixture.
  5. Mix until incorporated.
  6. Fold in the caramel and apples.
  7. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto the baking sheets. They will spread while baking, so leave plenty of space between them. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges start to darken. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

EH Chocolatier’s CSC (Community Supported Chocolate!)

CSA’s are pretty fantastic and convenient, but Boston’s first community supported chocolate?! YES. It’s starting up next month, and runs through March 2014. This was a really fun photography project to work on! Find out more about EH Chocolatier’s CSC program here.

EH Chocolatier