Friday, January 30, 2015

Kona Coffee

By Lisa VanWilliams

One of our friends just got back from Hawaii and they brought us some 100% Kona coffee. No wonder it's one of the most expensive beans in the world, because it tastes fabulously smooth. It's a medium strength coffee with a sweet aftertaste. It probably tastes so magical because the trees are growing in ancient mineral-rich volcanic soil. The sunny and mild climate is also ideal for harvesting this popular Hawaiian coffee known around the world. If you ever go to a Coffee Bar and you have the option to try this blend, you should go for it if you like a medium flavored great-tasting coffee.

There are only 800 Kona coffee farms in Hawaii covering over 2,000 acres. The coffee trees bloom in February & March and they produce a sweet-smelling fragrant blossom. The small white flowers are known as "Kona snow".  I can only imagine how marvelous it must smell on the side of this mountain in Spring. This is what they look like in bloom:

One coffee tree can produce about two pounds of roasted coffee. So, it's a rare bean given the conditions and limited production number, thus making it more expensive. You want to make sure it states "100% Kona Coffee" on the package.

So if you don't have any friends coming back from Hawaii, you can always hit up your local Trader Joe's and get 13oz for $19.99:

Or you can call Anthony's Coffee Co. in Maui and they will ship it to you:


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pillows With A Purpose

By Lisa VanWilliams

Not only are these recycled coffee burlap bag pillows cool looking, they support a great cause. While decorating your home with style & taste, you'd be doing a humanitarian act at the same time. They are handmade in America by legal refugees who were forced to leave their homelands due to conflict. Sales of these items help to provide English classes and other essential needs for the people of these communities.

They cost $42 for a 20" by 20" pillow and you can find them on Scoutmob:

The project is sponsored by a company called Plywood People out of Atlanta, GA and the group is comprised of "Cultural Creatives, Non-Profit Activists, and Business Leaders who are pursuing their ideas to improve their communities around them."

It's an incredible organization that believes in EDUCATING and IMPLEMENTING and you can learn more about them here:


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Simple Spanish Flan

By Lisa VanWilliams

It has 5 standard ingredients and the hardest part is browning the sugar. If you like Crème Brûlée, this is the same thing except it has a soft sugary top instead of a hard crunchy top. In Europe it's known as Crème caramel, and in Spanish regions its referred to as Flan. No matter what you call it, it's hard being snowed in with a plate of this in the fridge. The flan is sweet, savory, rich & delicious and it will haunt you, and you will want more.  

Caution: restraint will be required. You could also do these in individual ramekins (to make eating several less tempting). 


1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) can of evaporated milk
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the sugar in a small sauce pan and put the heat on med high. Keep stirring. The sugar will first turn into little balls and then it will start to melt on the bottom. Eventually all the sugar will melt to form a brown syrup. Listen to 3 or 4 songs while you stir and it goes by quickly, 12-16 minutes sounds appropriate. Turn the heat off when all the sugar balls melt and it's a nice dark color (check the color on your spoon cause it will look darker in the pan than it really is). Pour the sugar in your baking pan. A nice round and deep dish works best for this as the sugar will bubble up while it's baking. While the sugar is hot, pick up the pan and start twirling the sugar around to cover the sides and it quickly before it thickens and cools. Put it to the side.  

Beat the 3 eggs, then add in the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract and mix it until its smooth. Pour into the sugar pan and you will hear it crackle which is fine. Cover it with foil and bake it for an hour. Remove from oven and let it cool to room temp. Put in fridge to cool for an hour or two. Enjoy! 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Philly Cheesesteak Sliders On Garlic Toasted Bread

By Lisa VanWilliams

Pat's or Geno's? If you can't make it down to Philly to do the taste off yourself, just make your own version at home. These are great anytime snackers whether it's for lunch or Sunday football samplers these are a sure crowd pleaser. You want to get your onions nice and caramelized, and sometimes I will add in a hot pepper to give it a little kick. These are quick and easy to whip up in less than a half hour. They are great on mini rolls or sliders (I like the softer types of rolls with this). Feel free to add in mushrooms or Cheez Whiz!


1 large onion sliced
1 pack of sliced/shredded beef
1 green pepper/yellow/orange mix
1 hot pepper
1 crushed clove garlic
salt/pepper/garlic powder
oil & 1 tablespoon butter
tablespoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
dash Worcestershire sauce
mini sub rolls w butter

For bread:
garlic powder


Slice onions nice and thin and toss them into the pan with some olive oil, butter, and salt and cook them down til they start to brown.

Then add in your peppers & garlic and cook them down a little.

Add in the beef and break it apart, and then season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, Montreal Steak seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and let it all cook and simmer. Turn off heat.

I then like to butter the rolls and make little garlic bread rolls. You can either toast them on the stove or in the broiler. Spread butter, garlic powder, parsley, basil, oregano, and brown the roll. Add your beef mix onto the roll and top and with shredded cheese. Enjoy!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Stylish Chic Alert

By Lisa VanWilliams

If you've watched Vanderpump Rules, you know who Stassi Schroeder is. You either love her or you hate her, but one thing is that gurl can throw together some classically stylish outfits. She recently just launched her own fashion and lifestyle journal where she models these incredible outfits, jewelry, purses, and shoes and tells you where you can find them all. You can view her style journal here:

Girlfriend is fierce and she also sells a jewelry line on Prima donna that you can check out on here:


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bob's Red Mill Products

By Lisa VanWilliams

This guy is awesome and so are his products. I found my pantry was getting filled with these packages and I wanted to know more about them. Bob Moore is an eighty-something year old guy that started this company with his wife back in 1978. He has a passion for health and he came up with this whole idea because he had read a book about old stone grinding flour mills that piqued his interest. He went out and collected 100-year old milling stones from North Carolina and other places. The "old -fashioned" mills were getting replaced with high-speed machinery that could produce faster. The company originally started out of Redding, California but after a move, and a fire, they ended up settling the business in Milwaukie, Oregon. The company is now estimated to have an annual revenue somewhere around 100 million.

So get this, when Bob turned 81 years old he surprised his employees by giving them total ownership of the company through an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP). He is quoted,
 "It was just the right thing to do. I have people that have worked with me for over 30 years and each and every one of them deserve this."
Besides being an outstanding guy, the quality of these products is superb as it is the nations leader in milling whole-grain foods. They make certified organic, and gluten-free milled grain items and they produce over 400 types of different products like beans, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, & herbs. The company is also said to be one of Oregon's leading corporate philanthropists, making hundreds of thousands dollars in donations.

So, the next time you need some steel cut oats, gluten free dessert mix, any granola mix you can think of, or low carb almond flour look for Bob's Red Mill !!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Everyday Cutlery

By Lisa VanWilliams

I finally broke down a bought a new all-purpose kitchen knife and it is an incredible feeling to be able to cut through things once again with precision, ease, and quickness. I have to remember to be careful with this tool, as it's not my old dull blade. I must have been using my old knife for 15 years and resharpening it every so often, til it was running out of blade to sharpen.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels is a company that has been offering classic quality German steel designs since 1895. They are headquartered out of Germany but have a U.S. location in Hawthorne, New York. They have one of the oldest trademarks in the world. The knife line is top of the line and great to work with. They also received high ratings in this Good Housekeeping knife product review article:

I picked out the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature 6-Inch Utility/Sandwich Knife and it's ideal for "peeling, slicing, chopping, and carving". I found this knife at Chef's Equipment Emporium in Orange, CT. They have a great selection of different style and brands of knives there. You can also look up a local retailer on their website, or you can order on Amazon:


Friday, January 16, 2015

Apple Dutch Baby

By Lisa VanWilliams

This is a great breakfast, brunch or dessert treat called a Dutch baby or also known as a German pancake. It is warming for a cold day but the light mixture fills you up and it's not overly sweet. The basic ingredients are eggs, milk, flour, and butter and it can be flavored with any mixture of fruits and spices. It's usually started on the stove in a cast iron pan and then finished by baking it in the oven. It is believed a family owned restaurant out of Seattle, Washington began making these in the 1900's and it's said that one of his daughters came up with the name "Dutch Baby" and they actually owned the trademark for the name (the place ended up closing in the 1950's).

1 stick butter
6 eggs (room temp)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 apples peeled & sliced
confection sugar

Preheat oven to 425. Melt the stick of butter on medium low heat on stove in cast iron pan. Rub the butter all around the sides of pan. Add all the sliced apples to bottom of pan.

Top the slices with sugar, brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Mix them up and coat all the pieces.

In a bowl mix together eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, salt, & vanilla until the lumps disappear. Do not over mix. Pour over the apples and put it in the oven for 20-30 minutes, and after 10 minutes turn down the heat to 375 until it turns a golden brown.

Sprinkle with confection sugar. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Classic Chicken Marsala

By Lisa VanWilliams

This is a delicious Italian American dish that dates back to the 19th century and it's believed to have originated from English families living in western Sicily. It is also where Marsala wine is produced. This makes a tender juicy chicken filled with flavor and it tastes just as good reheated the next day. It's fairly quick dish to make depending on your sides. It was really quick for me since I forgot to make the green beans I picked up to go with this meal.

pack of chicken breasts fillet and pounded thin
salt, pepper, garlic powder
2 eggs whipped with 1 tablespoon water
1-2 cups whole wheat flour (Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups Marsala wine
splash of Sherry
pack of Baby Bella mushrooms sliced
tablespoon parlsey


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Thin out chicken and pound. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, & garlic powder.

Dredge in egg mix and flour it. Drop the chicken into oil/butter and brown on each side.

Do a few batches and cook all the chicken. Remove your chicken from saute pan and put it into a baking tray. Leave all the oil and butter in the pan.  Add your sliced shrooms and coat them with leftover juices. Then add the Marsala wine, splash of sherry, some more cracked pepper, and let it simmer and reduce a little.

Pour it over the chicken in the baking pan.

In the meantime, you can make your sides while the chicken is warming/cooking some more in oven. We served this with some roasted garlic & olive oil Couscous and some imaginary green beans. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Restoration Hardware

By Lisa VanWilliams

We are just loving this website and the items they have are just soooo coooool. They have everything covered here whether you are looking for a tee pee for the kids room, a classic pedal car or scooter for the toddlers, gorgeous chandeliers, light up wall decor, a circa 1900 map of New York, or a luxe faux fur pet vest, this the the place to go to. If you ever get the chance to check them out, or have some time & money to burn it's a great company that offers everything under the sun in one spot.

Restoration Hardware offers luxury items for the home including hardware, outdoors, & garden products. They have impeccable reproductions and home furnishings. They are considered to be a step up from Pottery Barn as far as price point, and they work with artists from all over the World.

They are located throughout the U.S. at store and outlet locations.  Check out the store locator to find your nearest location. If you live in Connecticut, they have stores in Greenwich and Westport.

Check them out here:

Some of our fav's:



antique floral play canopy

vintage fire truck scoot

starry light wall décor "dream"






Monday, January 12, 2015

Fried Pork Chop Over Honey Sweet Potatoes & Creamed Corn

By Lisa VanWilliams

This is a tasty Southern style dinner that the whole family will enjoy.Thin sliced pork chops work better than the thicker cut for this type of cooking.The breaded seasoned pork chop tastes great paired with the honey & brown sugar sweet potatoes and creamed corn. They will come back for seconds.


16 thin cut pork chops
2 eggs with tablespoon water added
salt& pepper
garlic powder
1-2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
canola oil

2 large sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
salt & pepper
drizzle of honey
tablespoon light brown sugar

1 can sweetened corn (drained)
1 can cream corn


Break open two eggs, add water, salt, pepper, & garlic powder and beat/whip with fork. Sprinkle each pork chop with salt, pepper, & garlic powder as well. Coat each pork chop in egg mixture and coat both sides evenly with bread crumbs.Drop into hot oil and cook thoroughly on each side until golden brown. Remove from oil and put them onto paper towels to cool.

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes and pressure cook them or boil them til they are soft. Drain them well. Add butter, milk, salt, pepper, honey, & brown sugar and mix. Use a hand mixer or hand masher. Add a piece of butter to melt on top.

Open your corn and warm it up. Enjoy!