Monday, September 28, 2015

Newport Mansion Wine & Food Festival

By Lisa VanWilliams

It was an incredible day Sunday to sip wine overlooking Easton Bay and share a view once owned by the Vanderbilt's. Great music, delicious food, wines from around the World, and we got to meet some of the industries finest experts.  There were over 128 vendors there. We tried our best to hit up as many as we could, and here are a few of our favorites we came across over the course of our 4-hour visit in Shangri-La. (P.S.) I would personally like to Thank Wendy Limauge from Connecticut Lifestyles for allowing us the opportunity to attend this spectacular event.

We walked into the even to be greeted by Martha Stewart who was at the entrance autographing one of her latest books: Martha Stewart's Appetizers: 200 Recipes for Dips, Spreads, Snacks, Small Plates, and Other Delicious Hors d'oeuvres, Plus 30 Cocktails.

Midtown Oyster Bar Newport, RI & Nobilio Wines
By far, the most entertaining location at the event was the Nobilio & Midtown Oyster tent. The DJ was fantastic, they kept the wine flowing, and the view was remarkable. Nobilio is a wine producer of New Zealand and they were serving up their wine with some Oysters. We had to force ourselves away from their tent a few times but they made it very hard to go.

They shucked around 1,500 oysters on Saturday alone

Other favorites we really enjoyed:

THE SMOKEHOUSE OF NY - Mamaroneck, NY had smoked salmon appetizers put together by Chef Brett Portier. He was a Chef with lots of personalty and flavor to back it up. Caviar, smoked salmon, smoked trout, are just a few of their specialties.

Blackstone Caterers Middletown, RI had some premium appetizers they were serving out of the Chinese Tea House. They are farm to table ingredients and we really enjoyed their samples.

Whitefish Mousse with Salmon Roe, mustard vinaigrette, and Frisee

King Crab "sushi" Rolls

Chocolate Cremeux  *my favorite*

Delicatessen located on Prince Street in NY, NY - it was two bites of heaven. I must have tasted 6 different flavors in just those two bites. Flavor explosion in my mouth.

More pictures from the day...

Lisa & Steve :) buzzzzed

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gluten Free Chips n Dip

Review by Lisa VanWilliams
If your looking for a lovely match made in heaven you need to try Cava Mezze dips with Baked Lentil chips by Mediterranean Snacks. You can find these products at Whole Foods. Cava Mezza makes their dips out of Washington D.C. in small batches and they ship to specialty stores on the East Coast and Mid West.

The dips and chips are vegan, low in calories, low in fat, low in sodium, and they are both gluten free. The lentil chips are also a great source of fiber. I think I tried 5 different dips before I met my match, the Crazy Feta dip which is a mixture of Imported Greek Feta, extra virgin olive oil, jalapeno, and onion. If that's not your thing, they have Harissa, Organic Roasted Serrano Hummus, Roasted Garlic Hummus, Eggplant + Roasted Red Pepper Dip, Kalamata Hummus, Organic Traditional Hummus, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Tzaziki, Organic Roasted Onion Hummus, Quinao Tabouleh, or Spicy Hummus. Happy dipping.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fair Artisans

By Lisa VanWilliams
Fall is slowly creeping in to chill the air and the leaves on the sleepy trees are just starting the feel long days of Summer come to an end. It's Fair time in New England and there is something going on in a 60+ mile radius over the next few weeks: The San Gennaro Fest in NYC, The Big E in Mass, The Durham Fair, The Orange County Fair, The Irish Festival, Four Town Fair, The Berlin Fair, & The Riverton Fair, just to name a few.

It's a great time to get out and explore either alone or with family. There are tons to do at these fairs for a cheap price and there's something there for everyone. One of my favorite things to do is explore the local artisans, farmers, and crafty finds. Today I picked out two local Connecticut businesses to show you what unique items they make and where you can get them.

Did you know if you hang a horseshoe over your door it's suppose to bring good luck and ward off the evil eye?

Jack's Fancy Shoes (Orange, Connecticut) - does custom beaded horse shoes from recycled shoes and they are beautiful.You can pick your favorite glass or stone bead colors, send them a charm you would like added, or add your horses names for over a stall. They start around $25 and over depending on how fancy you want to get. You can order and view their website from here:

Guardians Farm (Southbury, Connecticut) - it's a Nigerian Dwarf Goat farm and they sell goat milk soaps, lotions, sugar & salt scrubs, and lip balms "handmade in small batches". I took a liking to the soaps which are cured for 7-8 weeks after they make them. They have a nice variety of scents and the price was $6. You can order and view their website from here:

Did you ever consider using Goat's milk soap as a healthier alternative than store brand soaps? There are a few reasons why.

  1. It's loaded with essential oils and nutrients and it has incredible moisturizing abilities because there is a high content of alpha hydroxy. It naturally makes your skin appear smoother and more youthful without harsh chemical additives.
  2. It has a high fat content so it's a great anti-inflammatory for damaged skin.
  3. It is great for treating acne because goat's milk has anti-bacterial properties that delay the growth of microbial organisms.  
  4. It can help relieve eczema and psoriasis 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Special Dinner

By Lisa VanWilliams
Tonight I met a young couple celebrating their anniversary and the husband wanted to recreate a Parisian Honeymoon lamb dinner they had eaten. We made a five course dinner with a variety of flavors, and I believe they were very pleased. I am not a lamb eater, but this was really good. I always make sure to try the dishes I make if I can without interfering with their presentation. It might need more salt & pepper, or you might need to kick the quantity of the spices up a notch. Some people like lots of flavor, and some people like subtle hints. I try to ask specific questions as a Personal Chef about what they like, and do the best I can based on my own personal taste, food experiences and their preferences.

1st Course
Napoleon of Heirloom Tomatoes With Mozzarella & Goat Cheese
Recipe from:

It's just a fancy smancy Caprese with goat cheese. I added some olive oil to the recipe and avocados. Extra balsamic too cause they didn't add enough. 

2nd Course
Mixed Greens with Greek Vinaigrette
Recipe from:

She asked me for the recipe, so I left it there along the with the leftover dressing. SCORE! I added some Heirloom tomatoes, and spicy green olives.

3rd Course
Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb
Recipe from:

Ok. I don't eat lamb but I would probably eat this. I'm confused too. VERY good.

Spicing it up

Pan seared
Pistachio Crusted Lamb Rack

4th Course
Asparagus, Red Pepper, & Spinach with Goat Cheese
Recipe from:

Tasty side that could be served with a variety of dishes.

Add to bed of spinach and top with Goat cheese

5th Course
Creme Brulee
Recipe from: Dr. Orteker and Me :)

I like Creme Brulee and I have ordered many over the years. If you make it like this, it's slamming and you will achieve Rock Star status. I have seen a few bad reviews on this brand, but they were just amateurs doing it wrong. When you serve this, they will be guessing and thinking you were whipping cream and scraping vanilla beans all day. NOT. Follow the directions on the box....when it's simmering add a few drops of vanilla. Once the Brulee has cooled off, I always add extra sugar on top before I broil it because they never give you enough (I use organic sugar sprinkled on top). Broil it 2x longer than they recommend until it bubbles a dark brown. I made some raspberries into the shape of a heart ♥ Put it in the fridge to chill AT LEAST a few hours before you eat it.
P.S. I found these cute heart bowls at the Christmas Tree Shop for under $1.50 each...I did not want to serve them in aluminum foil for their special day!. Little things that make a difference, when they get to the bottom of the dessert bowl - forethought.

Click here to find out what stores sell this Dr. Oetker mix:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cooking Day - Episode 6

By Lisa VanWilliams

We tried a few new recipes that included black beans and lentils, a flavorful chicken breast in a herb pan sauce, and we made a juicy Pot Roast rubbed in spices, and a couple others I would definitely make again.

Beef Pot Roast
Recipe from:

Comfort food at it's best. No one leaves hungry with this filling, delicious, juicy cut of meat that can feed the whole family with no problem. I added some extra seasonings on the roast like garlic powder, onion powder, and Montreal Steak seasoning.

Made a gravy with leftover juices in pan

Carrots, potatoes, onions with fresh herbs for side

Simple Sauteed Spinach

Clean eating at it's best. This would be great to serve with some grilled or baked fish. 

Canal House Lentils

All the reviews repeat the same things: easy, simple, can you not be curious? Try it. Lentils are high in nutritional value, they are packed with cholesterol-lowering fiber, and have virtually no fat.

Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce

Let me tell you right now....the butter, garlic, oregano, paprika mix smells like heaven in a pan. Major surprising flavor in the grape tomato sauce with very few ingredients.

Black Bean Soup
Recipe from:

I heard this was off the hook. I am not much of a black bean soup eater, but I heard this was a keeper through the grapevine. I added some smoked kielbasa in there but you could add bacon, ham hock, etc. It's always better the next day or two.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Bacon
Recipe from:

Ummm ya.  Cheat day right here. I used Gouda instead of Asiago but I don't think it mattered. It was soooooo good. I had to try a bite for quality control purposes.