Hi, I'm Rachel.

A few years ago I could barely boil water.

True story.

Determined to be a kick ass wife, I developed a love for football and learned to cook in my tiny Jersey City kitchen. I spend my days working in Manhattan, my nights and weekends chasing after a rambunctious toddler, and the hours in between cooking with my husband and feeding my TV habit...oh, and I blog about it all! 

Welcome to my world!

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Chopped's Best Bloody in America Brunch



This past weekend, my co-worker/friend Allie and I scored tickets to the Food Network Wine & Food Festival here in New York. And not only tickets to an event, but a Bloody Mary Brunch where chefs from around the country competed for title of Best Bloody and judged by the Chopped judges. We both brought our husbands to the event, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't super duper excited to have a day out in New York City like an adult and at a super cool event to boot.



There were 12 stations of bloody marys sampling concoctions from all over the country. I'm not actually a particularly big fan of bloody marys, but I could certainly appreciate the art of making a great cocktail that not only delighted, but tasted wonderful. Oh and there was food. A lot of really good food.


It was really fun to walk from station to station and see all of the ways that people have reinvented the bloody mary. I had no idea that there could be so many interesting twists on a classic!

{clockwise from top: Iowa, Florida, Texas, Lousiana}

Absolut sponsored the brunch and also had some non-bloody drinks which I enjoyed. My favorite of the bloodys was from Pennsylvania {the one pictured all the way at the top of this post} and featured a blended bread and butter pickle in the bloody mary! It was so, so good. I never would have thought it was a pickle that made it so tasty, but there you have it! I took so many photos at the event, so I'm going to let those do the talking.


{mom + dad's big day out}


{bloody with mango + prawns}


{new york!}


{mixing up the havana mary; florida}


{raspberry vodka doughnuts from leske's in brooklyn}



{allie & me. i think we both enjoyed the accoutrement more than the bloodys...} 


{prepping some awesome pork buns}


{this guy with his havana mary}


{candied bacon aka one of the best things i ever ate...}


{another amazing leske's treat: chocolate frosted doughnut with peanut butter + goat ricotta filling}


{the chopped judges}


{our group at the brunch!}


We had so much fun and it was great to have a day in the city, sans Penelope. Of course, Grandma and Poppy had her ready and waiting for us when we arrived home. We brought her home a Magnolia Bakery cupcake for dessert, so I don't think she minded too much that we were gone all day...


Do you like bloody mary cocktails? How do you take 'em?


The Teal Pumpkin Project


I think that one of every parent's greatest fears is that their children will have food allergies. It was for me, at least. From the moment Penelope began eating solid foods, I worried over everything she ate and whether or not she would have an allergic reaction. I even debated giving her peanut butter for the first time while parked outside the doctor's office. Though we've been fortunate in that she hasn't had any food reactions to a lot of those key allergic trigger foods (nuts, strawberries, wheat, eggs, dairy), I still worry sometimes when she tries something new or when she inadvertently eats a wasabi cracker and I spend the ride home from my aunt's house convinced that she might not be breathing in the back seat...

I imagine that for those parents and children who do suffer from food allergies, it is very stressful. It is difficult enough to worry about kids in everyday life, but to add food allergies to the list? That's a whole new layer of concern and cannot be easy for parents or their children.

This Halloween, there is a movement to offer non-food Halloween treats so that those children with food allergies can still enjoy the holiday without worry. It's called the Teal Pumpkin Project. To participate, people are encouraged to paint a teal pumpkin and leave on their doorstep, or hang a teal pumpkin sign to signify that the home offers non-food treats. 

I really love this idea. While I love chocolate and candy as much as anyone, especially on Halloween, the thought of any children being left out or parents fretting over their kids potentially consuming dangerous food or candy is really upsetting to me. I will happily participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween and plan to offer both candy and glow stick bracelets for our trick-or-treaters. Something tells me that kids will have just as much fun with the glow sticks as with any mini Snickers bar, and it will last a whole lot longer too. How fun will it be to wear the glow stick bracelets while continuing to trick or treat? Or to walk outside in the evening with the bracelets glowing? I know that Penelope is going to love this, and I bet that lots of other kids will too. 

I ordered these glow sticks, a tube of 100 pieces for under $10. You can't beat that, in my opinion! And most importantly, no child gets left out. For more information about the movement, for printable signs to hang on your door, and for even more ideas for non-food treats, check out FoodAllergy.org .

And for even more ideas, I absolutely LOVE this list from 100 Days of Real Food and also this updated one! So creative and I think kids would have so much fun with these items!

Will you participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project?

Do your kids, or any kids you know, have food allergies? How do you manage it in these types of situations?




Apple Pie French Toast



How was your weekend? Mine was really nice, but very busy and just went by a little too quickly. On Saturday, we were fortunate to attend an event at the Food Network Wine & Food Festival and I'll have a bunch of pics and a wrap up later this week! Meanwhile, today is one of my favorite days of the month...Secret Recipe Club reveal day!

For this month, I was assigned Get Off the Couch and Cook. Sashi started her blog to track her journey of eating less processed food. She cooks recipes that are simple and can be made in the same amount of time it takes to order and wait for a pizza. She has so many great recipes that I had a hard time picking just one! Since I still have apple fever, I went with her apple pie French toast because, well, apple pie French toast! 


This was a great fall recipe. It's an eggless French toast batter, which I really liked since it didn't risk having an eggy flavor or consistency. The compote came together very simply {although, I will admit that every time I make an apple recipe, I remember why I hate making apple recipes --->so much peeling and chopping!} and made the apartment smell like apple pie and fall and deliciousness all rolled into one. 



I made the apple pie compote/filling in advance, which really helped me get breakfast together on Sunday morning. The night before, I peeled and sliced the apples and cooked them down. Then I refrigerated the cooked mixture until the next morning, when I simply threw it back in a pan with a little butter and heated it up. For Penelope's portion, I cut up the finished toast and apples and tossed it all together in a bowl for her. She ate it right up! Mostly the sweet apples, but still ;)


Apple Pie French Toast

*Adapted from Get Off the Couch and Cook

For the apple pie filling:

3 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored & sliced

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 C sugar

1/4 C all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 C water

For the French toast:

Apple pie filling

1 C milk

1/4 C all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 Tbsp butter

Thick bread, such as white or wheat


To make the filling:

Toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Pour into a large sauce pan on the stovetop over medium heat and whisk in the water. The mixture will thicken quickly, so continue whisking until it begins to bubble. Add the apples and stir to coat.

Simmer the apples, stirring frequently, until the apples are condensed and tender. Remove from heat and let cool. If making the night before, let cool and pack into a storage container and refrigerate. On the day you want to eat your French toast, heat in a pan on the stovetop with a small pat of butter.


To make the French toast:

In a mixing bowl, whish together the milk, flour, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Lightly dunk the bread in the milk mixture and coat both sides without soaking through. Cook on each side until browned. Top with the apple pie filling, dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.


Serve immediately. 


This was a really rich breakfast, but so nice for a special Sunday in the fall!

What is your favorite decadent breakfast?