Friday, August 26, 2016

Italian Panzanella Salad

You know how Olive Garden says "When you're here, you're family"? Well, I have a confession to make -- I really dislike that, because Olive Garden is a disgusting excuse for Italian food, but the slogan could not be more true for Italian families.
When you come over, we're going to throw you around a table and feed you until you think you can't eat any more and then declare that it's time for the main course.
Who else is nodding in agreement? Food is the cornerstone of Italian families. Well today, I'm bringing you one of my favorite recipes!
My mom has perfected her panzanella recipe over the years. It's a summer specialty, but thankfully fresh produce is always "in season" in Hawaii so we eat this pretty often, but it's never as good as it is at my parent's. What is panzanella? Traditionally, it's a Tuscan salad made of bread and tomatoes, dressed with olive oil and balsamic, sometimes mozz and basil is added. Some of the absolute best panzanella I've ever tasted was in culinary school and oh mouth is watering just thinking of it. So, let's get to my family's recipe before I drool all over my keyboard.

You Will Need:
2 fresh tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
1 red onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, sauteed
1 red pepper, sauteed
1 cup pepperoni, diced or cubed
 day old load of bread turned into bread cubes
fresh mozzarella (how much you like cheese is dependent upon how much you'll need!)
*Chopped Bocconcini are the best to use, in my opinion, but pearls work, too!
2 cloves garlic, minced
quality olive oil & balsamic (I use

1. Heat 3-4 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet with one clove garlic and saute bread cubes. Remove when browned and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add tomatoes, onion, zucchini, yellow squash and pepper. Toss. 
3. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, balsamic, 1 clove garlic, salt and pepper. I'll be honest and say I never measure this, but use your judgement to make enough to light coat your vegetables.
4. Pour mixture over veggies and toss.
5. Add in bread and mix well.
6. Now is the part where you can add (or not add) what you like. My mom always serves the pepperoni and mozzarella on the side, but if you don't have any picky eaters in your family, mix them right in!
7. Toss, serve and enjoy!

*P.S. All these photos were taken with my iPhone, because there was no way in hell my family was waiting to eat so I could photograph their dinner. #realtalk

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Le Dîner en Blanc - Honolulu

It's coming!

The all-white posh picnic of the year is descending upon Oahu this Saturday, August 27th.

But what is Le Dîner en Blanc?
Launched in Paris in 1988 by François Pasquier and a handful of friends, Le Dîner en Blanc has become a worldwide epicurean phenomenon. Dîner en Blanc - Paris now attracts over 10,000 people each year. What was a “friends and word-of-mouth only” event has grown into an international sensation celebrated on five continents. While the technology behind the event may have changed over the years, the principles fuelling this fantastic event have not: guests continue to gather at a secret location for the sole purpose of sharing a gourmet meal with good friends in one of their city’s most beautiful public spaces.  Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Montreal, Canada, Dîner en Blanc International is responsible for developing this secret posh picnic in over 70 cities in more than 25 countries around the world. Each event is headed by passionate local organizers who fell in love with the concept and wanted to bring it to their city, giving this rendezvous a local flair.

In order to attend the event you have to enter the lottery each year and you are given a spot in line. In the weeks leading up to the event, you are given the opportunity to buy tickets (pending your number is drawn), given the date of the event and then on the day of the event -- the location is disclosed. 

Dane and I have been on the waitlist for what seems like forever and this year - we got invited! We will still be on the mainland and had to turn the invitation down (#heartbreak), but hope that our spot opens up to someone else who has been dying to go!

What makes this season of dining special?

Apothic White—the white wine with dark motives—has announced it will reprise its role as the Official U.S. Wine Partner for the 2016 season of Le Dîner en Blanc, the world’s largest global pop-up dinner party. By the time the unique series of outdoor picnics featuring white-clad diners, waving napkins, music, pageantry, camaraderie and gastronomy concludes later this fall, Apothic White and Le Dîner en Blanc will have visited more than 20 cities and delighted over 40,000 guests.
“We welcome Apothic as the blithe spirit of Dîner en Blanc—so truly complementary with our guests and their unique, individual bring-along cuisines and styles,” says Sandy Safi, co-founder of Dîner en Blanc International. “Apothic’s elegantly decadent soul provides a perfect companion for Le Dîner en Blanc: unpredictable yet poised, relaxed, yet flavor-forward. Apothic White is a wine that’s not afraid to paint outside the lines.”
I'm already looking forward to seeing where this event will be held this year. So far it's been in downtown Honolulu and KoOlina. Any guesses for my local readers?

Have you attended this all white bash in your city? Let me know!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

5 Destinations On My Bucket List

Every so often, I think about what my life and travels would look like if money were no object. It's a dangerous game, let me tell you, because one minute I'm daydreaming and the next thing I know I'm plugging numbers into my travel spreadsheet seeing how far from reality my latest dream is and if maybe we could make it work.

So, today I'm going to dish on all the places I'm dreaming about lately. Now, I'll be totally honest, as soon as I can -- I'll be going to these destinations. Life is way too short NOT to travel well and often, but the when is still up for debate! Now, let's get going...

1. South Africa. Any place with penguins on a beach -- sign me the hell up! Aside from that, the rich cultural history, food, shopping and promise of safaris has me itching to book a flight.
 2. Bali. We have talked to so many people who have gone to Bali and RAVE about it. Personally, the waterfalls alone draw me in, but I also want to check out the temples, hanging gardens and spas. Not to mention all the lush tropical scenery! There's also a pink beach in Indonesia that I would love to photograph!
3. Roadtrip Across America. I'm absolutely not kidding when I say I want to rent a huge RV and drive from one coast to the other. This is partially in part because I want to pack the dogs with us and Bill Hanson would absolutely lose his marbles for that length of time in a car. Spots I want to be sure and stop at? Mount Rushmore, The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Zion/Bryce Canyon and the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. 
4. Greece. Okay who here has seen the amazing photos of the white buildings in Santorini or the crystal blue waters off the coast? Okay yep, I WANT THAT IN MY LIFE! My best friend and roommate in college is Greek and listening to her talk about the amazing food just makes my mouth water. I think the real question is...who wouldn't want to go?
5. Tahiti. I'll be honest, this is where we were going to go on our honeymoon until we saw the pricetag and realized we could buy a house. We didn't want to shell out that much money right away for a trip, but now that we've had time to let the thought marinate, we're going to have to pull the trigger at some point. And honestly...over the water huts -- YES PLEASE!

I'm now realizing that I shouldn't have limited this list to five, because I'm already thinking that I also want to go to Amsterdam, New Zealand, Belgium, China and more. But enough about me, what's on your bucket list? Where are you going next?

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