Live & Laugh

live & laugh: memorial day weekend hot dogs

Hot Dogs 3 Ways

With Memorial Day Weekend upon us, and with some impending weather that actually resembles the appropriate time of year, I think we are all looking forward to grilling some delicious eats!

Now, while I love a traditional cheeseburger or hot dog, I wanted to have some fun with different ingredients and bring you some variety for something new! Focusing in on grilled hot dogs, I came up with these three varieties:

  • Bacon Hawaiian
  • Banh Mi Style
  • Cheddar BBQ Crunch

I was extremely satisfied with all three combinations; so, if you’re looking to impress family and friends (or just try some new flavors), I highly recommend any or all of these hot dog creations!

Bacon Hawaiian Hot Dog

Bacon Hawaiian IngredientsI absolutely love Hawaiian pizza, so when I was thinking of different flavor combinations, the salty and sweet Hawaiian inspired dog seemed like a no-brainer.

The crispy bacon offered great texture, while the swipe of mayo added some good richness. Without a doubt, the pineapple was the star of this dog and I was not disappointed! If you are a fan of Hawaiian pizza, or sweet and savory dishes — this is the hot dog for you!
Hawaiian Style Hot Dog

Banh Mi Hot DogBanh Mi IngredientsAsian inspired cuisine is something I am craving on a regular basis. Recently, I made a Korean-style shredded beef and pickled my own vegetables (cucumber, onion and carrot) and had a lot of the veggies leftover in my fridge. Since the work was already done, a banh mi style dog felt like another natural choice.

I love how fresh this hot dog tasted! The sriracha mayo and drizzle definitely provide a little bit of a kick, but that was balanced nicely with the acidic pickle and fresh cilantro. Choose this style if you love Asian flavors or are looking for a bright and fresh flavor combination.Banh Mi Hot Dog

Cheddar BBQ Crunch Hot DogCheddar BBQ IngredientsFor the final hot dog style, I wanted to go a more traditional ‘bbq’ inspired flavor combination, but with a twist. While the shredded cheddar and bbq sauce, maybe even the dill pickle, are not all too surprising; the crushed bbq chips topping the dog were my favorite addition.

This hot dog was probably my favorite of the three, but it was definitely a tough decision. It had the best balance of flavors and textures. With the crunch from the pickles and chips, the gooey, melty cheese, and the smokey bbq flavor, it was the hot dog I had to finish. This would be the style for you if you want to go the more traditional route.
Cheddar BBQ Crunch Hot Dog

Overall, I really enjoyed and recommend all three of these style hot dogs and think they would be a great additional to anyone’s Memorial Day Weekend menu!

I’m headed to DC to enjoy the weekend and look forward to all the expected sunshine and spending time by the pool with friends. Have a safe, fun and delicious weekend!

Hot Dogs 3 Ways MDW Hot Dogs

live & laugh: homemade french vanilla ice cream

Homemade French Vanilla Ice Cream

It’s time to get patriotic. July 4th is upon us!

This weekend I am going to have my brother and a couple of his friends over to watch the fireworks and I really wanted to make something red, white & blue for the occasion and I wanted to make it ahead of time.

Enter, white ice cream, red sorbet and blueberries.

I have owned the ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer for about seven years now and have probably made ice cream only two other times before this. I’m not sure why that’s the case though, because it is so easy to make different ice cream and sorbet bases.

I decided to go with a classic and make this homemade french vanilla ice cream to pair with a fruity raspberry sorbet that would be somewhat of a play on a creamsicle.

Homemade French Vanilla Ice Cream

I keep my ice cream attachment in my freezer at all times so when I do decide to make ice cream (about once every two years apparently) I can do so without hesitation.

This ice cream is considered french vanilla because of the egg-custard base, which I’m all about because it makes the ice cream so much more rich and delicious — in my opinion. I also went with using a vanilla bean as opposed to vanilla extract to have those brown flecks running through the ice cream, which is how I picture french vanilla ice cream.

To tie the patriotic vibe of this dessert together, I scooped my homemade ice cream with some raspberry sorbet and topped it all with some fresh blueberries. I liked having the light, fruity sorbet paired with the rich, creamy ice cream — perfect for a hot summer day. And aside from the blue color, the blueberries add nice little pops of texture to the dish.

So good!!

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I’m not going to lie, I have been dipping into the ice cream all week since I made it…hopefully I have enough left for everyone to enjoy this weekend. What foods do you plan to indulge in??

Have a safe and fun Independence Day!!

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live & laugh: apple coffee crumb cake

Live & Laugh: Apple Coffee Crumb Cake

Whenever I think about Fall, I think about a lot of the usual things: crunchy leaves, crisp/cool air, football, pumpkin flavored everything, sweatshirts, apple cider, etc etc. All of those things I love dearly and enjoy often, but there’s one thing I have always thought about when it comes to Fall that I had never actually experienced…apple picking!

For the past few years I have said every Fall that I was going to make a trip and enjoy the whimsy that is apple picking, but it just never seemed to work out or happen. Welp, 2014 was the year people!

A few weeks ago my brother, Eric, and I visited Linvilla Orchards and walked through the rows and rows and rows of apple trees. We tasted a lot of different varieties and I was quickly inspired to make something apple. Now, I don’t bake too often, but one of my all-time favorites things is coffee cake (I just love the sugar butter crumble baked on top), so I decided to bake this apple coffee crumb cake with a simple, but delicious brown sugar drizzle!

Apple Coffee Crumb Cake

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I can’t describe to you how amazing the aroma of baking butter and sugar truly is. If you bake this cake for nothing else, bake it for the warmth and delightful scent it produces…seriously.

The chopped apples baked perfectly and added a nice texture to the cake. Since I used granny smith apples, their tart taste lended itself nicely to the already sweet cake. The crumble topping was everything I had hoped it would be and the brown sugar drizzle just puts this cake over the top. When I first made this, I ate it warm with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt and a nice hot cup of coffee, but I quickly realized it was just as good served at room temperature.

All in all, the apple picking adventure was so much fun and we couldn’t have asked for a better Fall day to do it on! I would love to make it more of a tradition and start going again every year. Note: You can still go apple picking into late November, so if you haven’t yet this season I would definitely recommend going if you can!

At the very least, if you can’t make it to a nearby orchard, grab some apples at the grocery store and try this amazing recipe for my apple coffee crumb cake.

Apple Coffee Crumb Cake Apple Coffee Crumb Cake

live & laugh: the chef’s kitchen

Hosting The Chef's Kitchen

Earlier this year I had the amazing opportunity to be a guest host on a cooking show, The Chef’s Kitchen. I shot about a dozen episodes, a few of them some test shoots, and got to work with some amazing chef’s!

While I have worked on several commercials and done some print work in the past, working on a television show was a completely new experience. I can’t say I was exactly “a natural,” but I got to learn a lot and had the best time doing it. Some of the amazing chefs I got to work with included:

  • Chef Robert Wiedmaier who owns multiple restaurants in DC, including his first, Marcel’s
  • Chef Patrick Feury, executive chef/partner of Nectar in Berwyn, PA
  • Chef Tony Clark, 1997 Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in America and currently executive chef at Valley Forge Casino Resort
  • Chef Chip Roman who owns multiple restaurants in Philadelphia, including his newest The Treemont in Center City
  • Chef Luke Palladino of Luke Palladino Hospitality Group

Each chef was so fun to cook with and working with them helped me realize I have so much more to learn about food and cooking! Overall, it was an absolutely great experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

The show airs daily on public cable, so be on the look out! All the videos are up on YouTube as well, in fact, below you can watch me work with Chef Robert Wiedmaier who showed me how to make a popular dish from his restaurant, lamb tenderloins wrapped in phyllo — it was one of the best things I have ever eaten!



The Chef's Kitchen


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live & laugh: mojo’s chicken fried steak

Chicken Fried Steak

With only a couple of classes left, it was recently Morgan’s turn to take over cooking school and make a delicious meal for the rest of the class!

Morgan (or as some of us lovingly like to call her, Mojo) took a little while to decide on what exactly she wanted to make. Every time I would talk to her about it, the only thing she consistently knew was that she wanted it to involve a lot of butter and she wanted a comforting, not-so-healthy-for-you type of meal. She eventually landed on a southern-inspired dinner that included: this easy chicken fried steak recipe, some random corn casserole recipe that was copied from a newspaper like 20 years ago (I found this similar recipe), and some yummy roasted brussels sprouts with shallots.

Everything was fairly easy to make, the only issue we ran into was the smoke that was created from pan-frying the chicken fried steaks!! So much so, that we got the smoke detectors to go off — nonstop. Eventually Jose came to the rescue, being taller than the rest of us, and was able to hold a fan to clear out all the smoke — whew! So, yea, just be careful if you try to make the chicken fried steaks!

Mojo Cooking School

The meal was absolutely delicious!

Mojo certainly met her goals of making a meal that was pretty much, in no way, healthy and of using a fair amount of butter — that gravy for the chicken fried steak was so rich and tasty! Also, that corn casserole is no joke. It’s similar to a corn bread, but in a much creamier and richer way, everyone loved that component of the dish the most.

Great job Morgan, thanks so much for the southern-inspired dishes!!

Thanks Morgan!

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