RECIPE | Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies


We had a snowy weekend here in Richmond! We had beautiful, big fluffy snow falling almost all weekend, so I made sure to stop by the grocery store on Friday after work to stock up on some essentials. Including, of course– ingredients to make cookies!

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the best baker in the world– I prefer cooking since you have a little more leeway with creativity and “winging it.” But, I’ve been trying to improve and this weekend I think I finally perfected the perfect recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

With Christmas just around the corner, I hope you’ll enjoy this ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookies as much as we did!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt (sea salt will work, too!)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, 1 yolk at room temperature
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips




  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a KitchenAid stand mixer or large bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and sugar. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients at a time, until just blended. After dough is at desired consistency, fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Roll cookie dough into balls and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
  4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set cookie dough balls about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges lightly golden. The cookies will look a little underbaked, but that’s ok!
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire baking rack to completely cool.
  8. Enjoy!

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on dough ball size.


RECIPE | Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese

photoWe had this amazing from-scratch lasagna Bolognese recently and it was so delicious, I just had to share! I made a few tweaks, so here’s the original recipe from Bon Appetit if you want to stick to the classic.



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed in spice mill or in mortar with pestle
  • 1 package Aidells Organic Sweet Basil & Roasted Garlic sausage, thinly sliced
  • large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese (12 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 16 6 1/2 x 3 1/4-inch no-boil lasagna noodles


  • Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrot, and fennel seeds; sauté 5 minutes. Add sausage and garlic; sauté until sausage is cooked through, breaking into pieces, 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine; boil 1 minute. Add tomatoes, 1/2 cup basil, and oregano. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Combine ricotta, mozzarella, 1 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 cup basil in medium bowl; stir to blend. Season with pepper. DO AHEAD Sauce and cheese mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.
  • Place noodles in large bowl; cover with hot water. Soak until pliable, separating occasionally, about 30 minutes. Drain well.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cover with 4 noodles, arranging crosswise. Drop 1/4 of cheese mixture over by tablespoonfuls; spread out. Top with 1 cup sauce, then 4 noodles and 1/3 of remaining cheese mixture. Repeat 2 more times with 1 cup sauce, 4 noodles, and 1/2 of cheese mixture. Spread any remaining sauce over. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  • Bake lasagna uncovered until heated through and puffed, about 50 minutes. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes and serve.


Yes Way, Rosé: 5 Pinks I’m Loving This Summer

Rose All Day Bar Cart Art print created with museum quality fade resistant 19pt Savoy Cotton archival paper and inkRosé season is officially upon us, as evidenced by the rows and rows displayed at Wegmans, wine shops, and in my Instagram feed. People have gone rosé crazy– from rosé gummi bears to frosé to a Pinknic (a rosé-themed picnic in New York City. Really). And for the true rosé lovers out there, there’s even artwork you can hang above your bar cart (how cute is this print from AThingCreated on Etsy?)

But with so many choices out there, it can be hard to pick just one pretty pink bottle! Here are five of my favorites to sip poolside all summer long.

Early Mountain Rosé (Virginia)

This Virginia belle has been getting a lot of attention and praise recently. In fact, Garden & Gun called it the “rosé you’ll want to drink all summer long.” This wine is crisp, smooth, and delicious. You can visit the beautiful vineyard (which happens to be owned by AOL co-founder Steve Case) and enjoy this lovely wine, or find your bottle here!

Wölffer Estate Summer in a Bottle (New York)

Image result for wolffer estate summer in a bottle

They say not to judge a book by its cover….but I’m in love with this bottle! I was introduced to Wölffer Estate during a recent trip to beautiful Shelter Island, NY and immediately ordered two bottles of this delightful wine on our way home. Find your bottle here!

French Pool Toy (France)

Image result for french pool toy

This is another wine I was introduced to on Shelter Island. It’s light and refreshing– and it comes in a plastic bottle, so you can take it anywhere! Perfect for pool parties or sunny days on the beach, this is an accessible and fun option for a summer sipper. Find your bottle here!

J. Mourat Rosé (France)

Image result for j. mourat rose wine

I discovered this lovely and bright rosé at my favorite wine shop/cafe in Richmond, Barrel Thief. It’s quickly become one of my favorite wines and is perfect for dinner with friends. Find your bottle here! Or visit Barrel Thief at 5805 Patterson Avenue.

King Family Vineyards Crose (Virginia)

Image result for king family vineyards crose

This is a cult favorite of Virginia wine lovers! From King Family Vineyards in Crozet, just outside of Charlottesville. Light and crisp and perfect for a “porch or patio,” this is a must-have for any summer stock. You can buy a bottle from the vineyard, or you can stop by Once Upon a Vine, my neighborhood wine shop known for its vast selection of Virginia wines.

Looking for more recommendations? I love this list from VinePair, offering 25 of their favorite picks.


RECIPE | Dill-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Farro, Pea, and Blistered Tomato Salad



When hosting a dinner party, I try to build menus that are simple, flavorful, and unique– but not too exotic. The fewer ingredients, the better! There is so much coordination making multiple dishes and timing it just right, so the easier the recipe is, the less stressed you’ll be in the kitchen. You should spend your evening enjoying your guests, not hovering over the stove.

So, when I came across Epicurious‘ Spring Grocery Bag Menu, featuring five easy dinners made from one bag of grocery ingredients, I knew I had found my Dinner Party Holy Grail!

The first Spring Grocery Bag recipe I tried was the Dill-Crusted Pork Tenderloin, served with farro, pea, and blistered tomato salad. The recipe was exactly what I was looking for: simple, flavorful, seasonal, and unique. It also helped that Epicurious readers gave this recipe 4 out of 4 Forks, and 100% said they would make it again.

Since there were no leftovers, I’ll have to agree with the Epicurious readers. This was a wonderful dish and I will definitely be making it again! I made a few substitutions, so you can go with the original or use my alternate recipe. I think they’ll both turn out great!

Serves 5
35 minutes
35 minutes


  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons coarsely chopped dill, divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, divided
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cups (loosely packed) arugula (about 3 ounces) [I used a spring mix]
  • 2 cups cooked whole farro [I used cooked barley]
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) crumbled feta (about 2 ounces)
  • Flaky sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix garlic, 2 Tbsp. dill, 1 Tbsp. lemon zest, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. oil, 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and pepper in a small bowl with a fork to create a paste. Pat pork tenderloin dry and rub with paste.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Sear pork, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, 10–12 minutes. Add tomatoes, then transfer to oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of pork registers 145°F and tomatoes are lightly blistered and softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, whisk remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 tsp. kosher salt in a medium bowl. Add arugula, farro, peas, feta, and remaining 3 Tbsp. dill and 1 Tbsp. lemon zest; toss well to combine (arugula will wilt slightly when dressed). Gently fold in roasted tomatoes.

Slice pork and transfer to a platter; season with sea salt, if using. Serve with farro salad alongside.

Do Ahead

Pork can be marinated 4 hours ahead; keep chilled. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.

Bon appetit! 

RECIPE | Roasted Butternut Squash + Gorgonzola Lasagna

Image result for roasted butternut squash gorgonzola lasagnaWe hosted our first “formal” dinner in our new home this week (I even used my VIETRI chargers underneath the plates!). We invited our sweet new neighbors and their adorable baby daughter over and had the best time. We are over the moon to have young, cool neighbors next door!



Look Ma! I used my fancy plates!


Since they are vegetarian, I scoured the internet for the perfect recipe that would be tasty and satisfying for vegetarians and carnivores alike. I was thrilled to find this wonderful recipe from Gay Lea Foods Co-Operative. This lasagna turned out to be a wonderfully rustic, robust, creamy and delicious autumn entree — and great for serving a crowd! I’d highly recommend this whether you are vegetarian or not!

Be sure to swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth to make sure it is vegetarian-friendly! Also, next time, I might do toasted pine nuts in lieu of walnuts for a more nutty, earthy taste.

I served the lasagna with a beautiful autumn apple kale salad I found on Pinterest – here’s the recipe! We finished the meal with a spectacularly delicious (and hassle-free) apple crisp pie from the Fresh Market with caramel ice cream.



  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Cut the squash into small equal-sized pieces (about 1/2-inch/2 cm). Toss the squash and onion with half the butter, the honey, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper until well combined. Spread in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets. Roast, turning occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes or until very tender (rotate the baking sheets halfway through cooking). Cool slightly; combine with the cottage cheese, milk, broth and Gorgonzola.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 9 x 13-inch (3 L) casserole dish. Spread one quarter of the cottage cheese mixture evenly into the dish. Cover with an even layer of noodles, trimming to fit. Repeat layers of cheese and noodles twice. Spread the remaining cheese mixture evenly over the noodles.
  3. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, toss breadcrumbs with walnuts, parsley, and remaining butter; sprinkle the lasagna evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Broil for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Rest for 20 minutes before slicing.



About last night…


As I write this post sitting on our screened-in back porch, it’s cool and rainy. I’m sitting here listening to the gentle sound of raindrops and breeze through the oak tree leaves– it’s incredibly peaceful. With such gloomy weather this morning, it’s hard to believe that only a few hours ago, we were dining al fresco under the light of globe string lights and a huge, uplit Magnolia tree. We had course after course of rustic Italian cuisine paired with perfectly complimentary Italian wines. Laughter, storytelling with new friends, and Catarina Valente softly playing in the background. An unforgettable dining experience.

This is Dinner in the Field.

Curious what this is all about? Here’s an explanation from the Chefs themselves– Paige and Gregorio:

My husband Gregorio and I are a Chef team, who fell in love while cooking and eating together in Southern Italy.

I had recently completed my culinary studies in Italy and Gregorio, an Italian native, was continuing to learn his craft from family members, who had been teaching him ever since he was tall enough to reach the counter. When Gregorio and I met, neither one of us could speak very much of the other’s language, but lucky, food became our universal language. We formed a strong connection in the kitchen–learning from each other, one dish at a time.  After just a few weeks, we were inseparable as we shared our passion for creating large family meals from food grown right outside Gregorio’s doorstep–milk from his cousin’s cow, orange juice from his orange tree, eggs from his Aunt’s chickens, and vegetables from his sister’s garden.  

These relaxed, alfresco family dinners on the Southern Coast of Italy inspired us to return to my hometown of Richmond and share our experience with the people of VA. Each Dinner in the Field event is focused on cooking from the ground up.  First, we find the local seasonally specific ingredients, then we find the breathtaking location, and lastly we create a menu to compliment the entire experience. 

We hope to see you at one of their family tables this summer. 

Working at Virginia Tourism, we have highlighted Dinner in the Field in our marketing– from an advetorial in Food Network magazine to connecting our friends from SORTEDfood with Chef Paige for cooking lessons on a boat and the Dinner in the Field experience for themselves. I had heard how special this evening was– most of these dinners sell out within 10 minutes of posting tickets — but I hadn’t yet experienced it myself. And I am so very glad I had that opportunity last night!

We arrived at the stunning Seven Springs, less than 20 miles from the heart of Richmond in King William county. The farm boasts expansive acreage dotted with little cottages, beautiful old trees, a fenced-in area for their Hog Island sheep, and a manor house (frequently visited by George Washington). Note to soon-to-be-brides: this is the most perfect place to get married. Look into having your wedding here!

*All photos courtesy Don Mears Photography/Seven Springs Farm

We strolled around the grounds with glasses of prosecco in hand, then relaxed in the outdoor living room while Chef Paige introduced the first course — the apertivo.

  • Rustici con riccota e pomodori secchi (a light, flaky pastry with ricotta cream, basil, and sun dried tomatoes)
  • Aged parmigiano reggiano cheese and local honey

adored the rustici — it was light and refreshing but also decadent in a way, as well! So yummy.

IMG_1006Next, Chef Paige asked us to find our seats at the long dining room table a few yards away, next to a beautiful Magnolia tree. The table was decorated with seasonal vegetables and bouquets of basil as centerpieces. Paige and Gregorio would come out between each course to tell us about what we were about to eat. Many of the ingredients were just hours or days off the vine– which meant they retained maximum sweetness and nutrients. And we also learned: never ever refrigerate your tomatoes! Each course was absolutely incredible.

Chef Paige and Gregorio also share some of their guests’ favorite recipes on their blog, and I was so pleased to find the recipe for tiramisu and parmigiana this morning. Yay!

We were treated to the following courses, each were fresh, seasonal, and, well, pretty perfect.

  • Insalata: Italian green beans, potatoes, onions, cherry tomatoes, oregano and basil.
  • Primo: Rigatoni al Pesto com Gamberi (basil, parmigiano, garlic, pine nults, walnuts and pistachios, blended and sauteed with rigatoni pasta with zucchini and shrimp).
  • Secondo: Parmigiana (layers of sliced eggplant baked with fresh tomato sauce, parmiggiano reggiano, basil, and provola cheese)– this was my FAVORITE! And lucky for me (and you!) Chef Gregorio has shared his recipe here.
  • Dolce: Tiramisu’ (with mascarpone, coffee, and cacao). Recipe here!

We ended the night around 11pm and made our way back to downtown, still chatting the whole way about each course and what a dreamy evening it was.

I simply cannot say enough about what a magical experience Dinner in the Field was, and I can’t wait to return for another. Chefs Paige and Gregorio are hoping to soon open a restaurant to share Dinner in the Field with more people — so stay tuned for what is sure to be an in-demand destination restaurant!


Two very happy campers last night above – thank you Chefs Paige and Gregorio for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will cherish forever!

4 Perfect Cocktails for this Wedding Season

RECIPE | Skinny Piña Coladas

Warm, sunny days like we had this weekend have me daydreaming about summertime by the pool with a cocktail in hand!

After a bike ride along the new Virginia Capital Trail yesterday, hubs and I stopped by Conch Republic at Rocketts Landing for a little lunch al fresco by the river. They make the BEST piña coladas there, but they certainly aren’t guilt free! So I decided to try my hand at a lighter version of the classic summer cool-off.


  • 2 oz. Bacardi coconut rum
  • 5 oz. sugar-free coconut milk
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 3-4 chunks frozen pineapple
  • Ice

Blend until smooth and enjoy! So tasty!

For an extra punch, try adding an ounce of 99 Pineapples liqueur!

The Perfect RVA Holiday Cocktail


Happy Holidays, RVA!

There are only a few more days left until Christmas, and Richmonders are busy finishing shopping, decorating, and menu-planning for their guests and families.

While you are planning what to eat and drink this holiday season, make sure you don’t forget the most important menu item of all: the Christmas Morning Cocktail.

This year, I will be making the RVA Bloody Mary, made with all local products that I adore— and they’re all readily available to buy online or in local Richmond shops.

The Ingredients


Crunch Dynasty

Crunch Dynasty is an Asian-inspired hot topping that goes on just about everything– from sushi to mac & cheese. This delicious topping is made with garlic, shallots, gluten-free soy sauce, sesame seeds, hot peppers, and special seasons and oils.

I love to rim my Bloody Mary glass with Crunch Dynasty (and sprinkle a bit into the cocktail itself!) The topping gives your drink a delicious zing and lots of flavor. This stuff takes anything from a Bloody Mary to scrambled eggs from blah to blazing in an instant!

Click here to find the store closest to you, or click here to purchase online!

Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix

Texas Beach Bloody Mary mix isn’t your mama’s mix– this delicious mix is just as special as Richmond is. Named after Texas Beach, a park at the south end of Texas Avenue near Maymont, this Bloody Mary mix packs a punch– and is one of the tastiest mixes I’ve ever tried. Garlicky, peppery, and just the right thickness, this is by far my favorite Bloody Mary mix on the planet.

Click here to find the store closest to you, or click here to purchase online!

Belle Isle Moonshine

Belle Isle Moonshine came to market in late 2013 with a bang, and Richmonders have been loyal to this incredible brand ever since. The creators were tired of all of the “novelty” moonshine brands on the shelves, and created this premium brand with a nod to Belle Isle in downtown Richmond. The moonshine is smooth and easy to drink, and is the perfect addition for the RVA Bloody Mary.

Belle Isle Craft Spirits are carried in most ABC stores in Richmond. Click here to shop!

Recipe: RVA Bloody Mary

  • Crunch Dynasty topping
  • 1.5 oz Belle Isle Moonshine
  • 3.5 oz Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix

Rim glass in Crunch Dynasty hot topping. In another glass, stir together Belle Isle Moonshine & Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix. Fill glass with ice, then pour mixture into second glass. Pour back and forth 3-4 times to mix well. Pour into rimmed glass, garnish with celery stalk and serve.



RECIPE | Quick “Skinny” Vietnamese Beef Noodle Pho

phoMy husband and I love Vietnamese food, and often will order take-out pho from one of our local Vietnamese restaurants in the winter and fall. Pho is the perfect cure for a sore throat or cold, but comforting even when you’re not sick!

Last night I tried my hand at making pho tai (beef noodle soup) at home, and it was a pretty big success! To make it a bit healthier, I substituted Shirataki noodles for the rice noodles, which is what the recipe calls for. If you haven’t tried these noodles– they are uhhh-mazing because they are ZERO CALORIES! They also soak up the flavor of whatever you’re cooking them in, so they were perfect for the pho. You can buy them in the natural foods section of the grocery store, or click the image to the left to purchase online.

So, according to MyFitnessPal, one serving of regular pho has 518 calories– this skinny pho has only 281 calories!

Anyways, here is my  super-quick, super-healthy recipe for Skinny Beef Pho. Enjoy!

Skinny Pho Thai

Serves two



  • 2 pho cubes (found in Asian markets or click here)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 T low-sodium soy sauce

Pho Thai

  • 1/2 lb. round eye beef
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 Serrano peppers
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 bags of Shirataki noodles, divided
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves

Extras we love: Hoisin sauce, sriracha, chili garlic sauce, black bean garlic sauce


  • With a sharp knife, cut beef into very thin slices (no more than 1/4″)
  • Finely slice your green onions and peppers, and quarter the lime
  • Wash, drain, and dry Shirataki noodles, divide into two large bowls
  • Top noodles with desired amount of beef
  • In a large pot, bring broth ingredients to a boil.
  • Pour over beef and noodles, allowing the broth to cook the beef through
  • Garnish with green onions, peppers, lime, bean sprouts, basil and desired sauces.
  • Enjoy!
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