May 21, 2015

Spring Favorites 2015

Naptime Chef Spring Favorites

I am going to be taking a little break for the rest of the month and will be back in June. It has been a whirlwind few weeks and I need to stop and catch my breath. I can’t thank you enough for all of the wonderful support regarding the new book and the book tour. I plan to set up a fall tour over the summer so stay tuned for more dates. In the mean time, don’t forget the June 4th signing in Concord, Massachusetts at JMcLaughlin!

Naptime Chef Massachussets

Here are a few of my recent favorites from around the web for some fun reading while I am out!

The Reed is now open. Perfect for adventurers like me.

– I just bought a case of my favorite DMZ rosé to get ready for summer.

Natalie’s new book is fantastic. Wise, funny, insightful, downright cozy. Highly recommend.

– Plan on wearing this top in light blue with white jeans and pretty sandals all summer long.

– We’ve traveled to Harbour Island a few times and this book brings back so many memories.

– A beautiful set of paper notecards based on a cookbook I love.

Ashley’s post makes me want to go straight back to California.

– One of Gray’s photographs is on my art wishlist.

Zesty Herbed Popcorn makes a great snack!

– Love these pajamas for kids.

– As someone with a history of back problems I am especially appreciating Phoebe’s series this month.

– Hands down the best tee shirts for summer.

SO happy for Erin!

– This is a gorgeous pot. I would fill it with lots of fresh basil or lemon verbena.

May 19, 2015

Napa Valley: Part 2

It has been two weeks since we returned from Napa Valley and we are still gushing over what an amazing trip it was. Partially because we were without the kids, but also because it was the perfect place for us foodies to visit. Here are a few more details from our awesome trip:

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

The beauty of the time difference was that we were up and at ’em bright and early every morning. This made it easy to grab one more breakfast at Oxbow Market (we were hooked on the breakfast tacos, chilaquiles, and donuts with lavender sugar) before heading to Mumm Napa to start the day with a little bubbly. It was the first sparkling wine we’d tasted in the region and we were pleasantly surprised. The winemaker is trained in France and they use the same method champenoise in Napa, so the product is very close to its French counterpart. We also tried their sparkling Pinot Noir which we found quite unique.

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

Mumm

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

Once we were fortified with bubbly we decided to break out of Napa and check out Sonoma. It just over the mountain ridge from Napa and was a gorgeous drive. I couldn’t get over all of the amazing vistas and made my husband pull over every mile so I could take a picture until he finally refused out of concern we’d never reach our destination.

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

Friends of ours recommended visiting Göpfrich Winery. It is a small, boutique winery in the Dry Creek Valley run by Ray Göpfrich. I didn’t get many pictures because it was just my husband and I at the tasting. We chatted with Ray for over an hour about his wine making process and all the nitty gritty details about farming grapes and running a vineyard. It was utterly fascinating and we both agree he was one of the most interesting people we met on our whole trip. I also loved seeing the difference between the boutique vineyards and larger operations like Stag’s Leap. Both are relevant, but we really appreciated the charm of chatting with Ray and tasting his delicious reds.

That afternoon we decided to take it easy and stroll through Healsburg. It is a charming town with a lot of shops and restaurants to try. Next time we go we’ll have to dedicate a whole afternoon to hanging out and staying for dinner.

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Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

Since it was our last vacation afternoon we decided to head back to Yountville and take a walk through town. I was particularly fascinated with the French Laundry kitchen garden. I found that lots of restaurants have them since the growing season is so long and the land is ideal for growing edibles. We didn’t eat French Laundry, that will be saved for another trip.

After another wonderful afternoon by the pool (we couldn’t get over the fact that we didn’t have kids on our backs while we swam), we headed for a simple dinner at Bistro Jeanty and off to bed.

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

On Sunday morning we managed to squeeze in two last excursions that were well worth it. The first was Swanson Vineyards. I’ll admit, I wanted to go because I’d heard about the beautiful interiors and fun Sip Shop. I am a sucker for great design and lush gardens and wanted to see it for myself. I am so glad we did this because the tasting salon was easily the prettiest one I’d seen during our entire trip. Our hostess was charming and informative and the wines were quite delicious. I especially loved the taste of Swanson cavier we were given (served on a potato chip with creme frâiche!). Such a fun treat!

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Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef Swanson

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

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Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

After our visual and edible feast at Swanson it was time to head out. We were, of course, hungry before our flight and stopped at the Fremont Diner for one last decadent meal. As with all great Napa and Sonoma institutions this one featured a fabulous bar (in an airstream trailer out back) stocked with local wines. We chose a bottle of Gloria Ferrer because we didn’t get to visit the winery (they were closed for moving while we were there). It paired beautifully with our fritters and burgers, and the kitchy ambience was a hoot. There was no better way to bid Napa adieu until our next visit.

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

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May 15, 2015

Lemony Strawberry Shortcake for Memorial Day

Strawberry Shortcake | The Naptime Chef

I’ll be out of town for Memorial Day this year so I am sharing my very favorite for the season with you right now. Berry season is just beginning here in Connecticut and when it comes around I am all about the strawberry shortcake. It is so. darn. good. Of course, you all know how to make shortcake, of course, but here is my special twist: lemon pastry cream. You guys, it is so much better than basic whipped cream and tastes incredible.

May 13, 2015

Paris with Kids Recommendations

Paris with Children

This spring I am making for my winter cooped up indoors with some terrific travel opportunities. I feel so lucky and grateful! Last month was Napa Valley, this month I am heading to Paris. The last time I was in Paris I was a 15 year old backpacker with a taste for pain au chocolat. This time I am going with my mother and daughter on a girls trip. I can’t wait! I’ve already chatted with my friend Ellise and plan to meet up with her. And, I have this awesome book that covers nearly everything I need to know, but I’d still love to hear from you. Any recommendations for things I need to see and/or do with Paris with my daughter? She is wrapping up the first grade and loves things like playgrounds, bright, bold paintings, design, chocolate, toys, nature, animals, and adventure walks. I already set aside one of my old point and shoot cameras for her to use as her own. Please, let me know!

Paris en Famille

I picked up this gorgeous map and have studied it thoroughly.

May 12, 2015

Napa Valley: Part 1

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

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Vineyard

Last month my husband and I escaped to Napa Valley for a much needed vacation without the children. We love our little maniacs, but everyone needs a break once in a while! My parents bravely stepped in to care for them while we flew west for some wine and sun.

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

We decided to use Yountville as our base of operations and stayed at the Bardessono. It is LEED certified and has a fantastic zen, earthy vibe. The moment we drove onto the property we felt calmer. They greeted us with a glass of wine, walked us to our room, showed us how to use all the extremely efficient amenities, and left us to relax. I’ll post more about the hotel itself later this month but, suffice it to say, we loved it. We especially enjoyed that the location enabled us to walk everywhere in town. Plus, there was a garage of bikes at the ready in case we went to explore beyond the sidewalks.

Napa Valley | The Naptime Chef

Bouchon

Our stomachs were still on East Coast time so, after we checked in at noon, we descended on Bouchon for what felt like a late lunch. Since it was mid-week we were ushered in immediately and chose to sit at the bar. We love sitting at bars and chatting with bartenders when we don’t have the kids with us. It somehow feels more adult and less formal. The classic French interior was charming and our meal was excellent, especially my asparagus buratta salad paired with a glass of crisp rosé.

May 7, 2015

San Francisco Book Launch and Napa Valley 2015

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I just returned for a wonderful, almost transformative, visit to the west coast and can’t wait to share all of the details with you over the next couple of weeks. To start off with, here is little taste of what I did:

The Family Calendar Cookbook

Naptime Chef San Francisco

On Tuesday April 28th, the day my book launched, my friend held a book party for me at her house. She was so generous to do this! I made a few dishes from my book to pass: Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Zucchini Applesauce Bread, and Bacon & Green Chili Quiche. The Family Calendar Cookbook

The Family Calendar Cookbook

There were lots of lots of gorgeous fresh flowers everywhere. Flowers are the key to livening up any party space!

The Family Calendar Cookbook

While we were in San Francisco we hit a few of our favorite spots like Sausalito for fish tacos…

Sausalito

Sausalito

a walk around town, including the pond at the Palace of Fine Arts…

Naptime Chef San Francisco

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San Francisco

Naptime Chef San Francisco

and a quick trip to the lookout over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Naptime Chef San Francisco

Mid-week my husband met me in San Francisco and we drove out to Napa Valley for a blissful five day vacation without children. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. Stay tuned for all of the details next week. In the mean time, here are a few pictures to enjoy!

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Naptime Chef Napa Valley

San Francisco | The Naptime Chef

Naptime Chef Napa Valley

May 6, 2015

Finding “Me Time” with Ristorante by Dr. Oetker

Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza

When my husband travels, sometimes I like to feed the kids their own dinner and wait to make my own until after they have gone to sleep. This may seem unusual at first, but it is actually a good way for me to get a little “me time” in at the end of the day. Now that spring is finally here it stays light late enough that I can enjoy a few slices of pizza and a glass of wine on the back porch.

On nights like this, I want a convenient dinner without sacrificing gourmet taste, so I will pop my favorite Ristorante by Dr. Oetker Pizza in the oven. It truly tastes fresh -the flavors in Ristorante’s Pepperoni Pesto Pizza burst on my tongue with each bite. I set the pizza right on the oven rack and it bakes up crisp in just minutes. Then, I let it cool, slice it up, and relish a few moments with my feet up in the fading sun.

These moments don’t last all night. Once dinner is over there is laundry to fold and photos to edit! But, I totally love a tasty bite before getting on with the evening. It is a relaxing way to treat myself and take a few moments to process the day.

Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza

Ristorante by Dr. Oetker agrees that everyone needs a little delicious down time at the end of the day, which is why they are running the awesome Love Yourself Amore contest. Come check out the details and share a reason or two why you deserve some “me time” via a Me Time Meme. Then, you’ll be entered to win one of their fabulous prizes that are specially designed to make your life easier. How great is that?!

Planning your own “me time”? Ristorante is available in eight uniquely flavored varieties, perfect for any palate. See where you can buy Ristorante Pizza near you by checking their store locator. If your local supermarket does not currently sell Ristorante, you can put in a request with the store manager! And follow Dr. Oetker on Facebook for more “me time” tips.

Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post; however, all opinions stated are my own. Thank you supporting the brands that make The Naptime Chef possible.)