Friday, July 25, 2014

DRINK: fresh blackberry and elderflower cocktail

Ever have one of those weeks where you just cannot catch a break?  That's been my week at work - it's been a -spinning my wheels, frustrating, stressful, talking myself off the ledge every day sort of situation.  Okay, maybe a tad bit dramatic but stress levels have been at an all time high and I've had no energy after work to cook or create.  Which for me, really just feeds the cycle of negativity.  

But, today is Friday.  Sweet, glorious glorious Friday.  The day everyone in (most of) the working world looks forward to.  The promise of a new weekend where you can relax, refresh and renew.  Best, yet?  Time for a cocktail.  And a really good one at that.

There's a cozy little speakeasy in NYC called Employees Only.  The food is good, but the cocktails are GREAT.  I had the "Amelia" there and was blown away.  An attempt at a re-creation was a must, and I have to say this version is not too shabby!  Fresh blackberry puree, lemon juice, vodka and elderberry liquor.  Delicious.

It's time for a celebration.  By George, we made it to Friday!

Ingredients (one serving):

- About 10-15 fresh blackberries
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz vodka (I used Hangar1 vodka)
- 1 oz elderberry liquor (I used St-Germain)
- 1 cup crushed ice
- Mint leaves (as a garnish)

You'll also need a shaker, blender and fine strainer (I used a tea strainer)


- Puree the blackberries.  Strain the puree in order to remove any thick pulp or seeds.

- Add 4-5 tablespoons of the puree, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, the vodka, elderberry liquor and crushed ice in the shaker.  Shake well.

- Pour into your glass, garnish with mint leaves and bottoms up!

Happy Weekending!
xoxo, NB

Friday, July 18, 2014

FUN: summer essentials

Where ever you are heading this summer, these 8 simple summer essentials can ensure you a summer-worthy good time! 
  1. cold blooded leather tassel fanny pack - Nasty gal
  2. black and red framed mirrored glasses - Komono
  3. delicate stacking rings - Asos
  4. classic digital gold watch - Casio
  5. double pearl designer inspired bracelet - Zara
  6. nail polish color in Alive - Formula X
  7. surf spray - Bumble and Bumble
  8. kindle - Amazon - The Happiness Project

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

EAT: coffee jelly affogato

Coffee addicts unite!  Time to feed my unhealthy addiction to coffee.  I LOVE coffee.   And espresso.  There are few things I look forward to more than sipping on an excellent cup of black coffee or cappuccino every morning. 

I’m the type that feels crazy if I intake too much caffeine so I can only drink about a cup a day.  Which leaves me very picky about what I “spend” my coffee of the day on.  Now that you know how much of a coffee weirdo I am, you can see why this coffee jelly affogato is the new love of my life.  It’s a scoop (or two) of creamy cold vanilla gelato (or ice cream) topped with coffee jelly, then topped with fresh hot espresso.   Did I just BLOW YOUR MIND!?  I hope so!  If you even slightly enjoy coffee you need to try it out – you won’t regret it.



-       2 cups of freshly brewed coffee
-       1 tablespoon of agar agar powder (or unflavored gelatin)
-       2 tablespoons sugar
-       4 tablespoons hot/boiling water
-       freshly brewed espresso
-       Vanilla ice cream or gelato


To make the coffee jelly:
Brew 2 cups of strong coffee.  Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix well. 

In a small bowl, mix the agar agar powder and 2 tablespoons of hot water.  Add the water slowly to the powder while mixing to prevent clumps.

Then, pour the coffee and agar mixture together in a small saucepan.  Heat on low-medium (just to a simmer) while stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar and agar dissolves all the way.  Simmer and mix for about five minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer to a small to medium size dish (depending on what size you want the coffee jelly cubes – I used a 6”x8” dish).  Use a spatula to carefully smooth the surface and pop any air bubbles.  Put the dish in the fridge and let set and chill for a few hours.

To make the affogato:
Cut the coffee jelly into cubes.

Make the espresso and put aside.  I used a Primula 3-cup espresso maker to brew my espresso on the stove top.

Put 1-2 scoops of gelato into a small bowl.  Top with coffee jelly.  Finally, slowly pour espresso over everything and dig in! 

xoxo, NB

Sunday, July 13, 2014

DIY: coconut oil sugar scrub

As much as I love being outdoors and soaking up the rays (with plenty of sunblock of course), I can't help but feel like my skin is already in need of some serious TLC this summer.  The super hot, sunny and humid days are making my skin dry, irritated and oily all at the same time.  If you're not already exfoliating your skin on a regular basis, it's really a must in helping to get rid of dead skin cells and maintaining healthy smooth skin.  I wanted to make a scrub to help exfoliate my dry skin while giving it a boost of moisture.  

Coconut oil works as a fantastic natural moisturizer (as well as cooking ingredient!).  Look for extra virgin which hasn't been refined, hydrogenated, bleached or deodorized.  I added in vitamin E oil (also fantastic when used topically on skin) for an extra punch of moisture - totally optional if you don't have it.  You can also use sea salt but I opted for sugar as it's supposed to be a little less abrasive on your skin.  Scrub away, then rinse off and your skin will feel like a million bucks.

One last added bonus - the mixture smells like an amazingly delicious coconut macaroon!  MmmmMMMm.  


- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil (I used Trader Joe's Extra Virgin Coconut Oil)
- 2 tablespoons vitamin E oil 


Mix all three ingredients together in a medium size bowl.  A regular spoon will work, but mixing with your hands may be a bit easier since the coconut oil has a thick buttery consistency.

*For a stronger coconut scent, try finding coconut oil that is less refined.  The more refined, the less coconut scent the oil will have.

xoxo, NB