My Pantry Staples

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It. has. been. a crazy week. Well for me, it’s been a crazy few weeks. As most of you know by now from following me on Instagram, Frank and I went to Italy only to return a few days later. We immediately went into self-quarantine and have been at home ever since.

While it’s not entirely what we had in mind, it has given me time to work on recipe testing for the new La Fortezza cookbook. It’s also inspired me to think creatively about meal planning.

A few years ago, I posted my pantry staples, and I cannot think of a better time to repost that post than right now. Use this guide to order your groceries to be delivered. I even include a few recipe ideas at the bottom!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you more Easter ideas along with a few faithful recipes to get us all through this difficult time. We’re all in this together.

Annette’s Pantry Must-haves

– Tomatoes, crushed and sundried
– Organic Marinara Sauce
– Pimientos
– Olives
– Beans, white, black and pinto
– Artichokes
– Capers
– Dijon mustard
– Salsa
– Pasta
– Soba noodles
– Rice
– Couscous
– Polenta
– Broth, veggie and chicken
– Flavored oils, garlic, sesame and lemon
– Balsamic vinegar
– Soy Sauce
– Salts, truffle and garlic
– Dried spices, parsley, basil, curry powder
– Honey, flavored with truffles
– Jam, raspberry, fig, apricot, lemon curds
– Nuts, walnuts and almonds
– Crackers
– Popcorn, microwavable
– Tortilla chipa
– Flour
– Sugar
– Baking powder
– Corn starch
– Vanilla
– Spices such as cinnamon
– Chocolate chips
– Graham crackers

Fridge and Freezer:
– Eggs
– Parm cheese
– Soft cheese
– Fresh garlic
– Onion
– Lettuce
– White wine
– Veggies
– Chicken
– Ground beef, turkey or buffalo
– Salmon
– Tuna

Quick Appetizers
– Olives
– Popcorn with truffle flavored salt
– Baked artichoke spread, artichoke, parm cheese, garlic salt, Dijon mustard, olive oil serve w/crackers
– White and black bean salad, with pimento, stir in salsa
– Salsa and chips
– Parm cheese with honey and crackers or jam and crackers
– Salmon with capers with dried parsley, and lemon oil and crackers
– Artichoke and egg, frittata
– Soft cheese with salsa ( pineapple or mango) and crackers

Quick Dinners
*I serve all of these with a salad with balsamic, olive oil and salt and pepper*

– Pasta with lemon-flavored olive oil, and crushed nuts, with dried basil
– Pasta, sun-dried tomato and chopped olives, and parm
– 3 Bean soup with balsamic vinegar reduction.
– Couscous with tomato and artichoke and pimento, almonds, with dried basil, with a pinch of cinnamon, served with baked basil, garlic salt and mustard rubbed chicken.
– Chicken with rice, sliced almonds, dried basil and chicken stock.
– Chicken and tortilla chips with salsa and rice, chicken broth
– Curry Chicken and rice soup
– Soba noodles and sesame sauce, frozen edamame
– Baked Polenta, with marinara sauce, parm cheese
– Chili, with turkey, beans, tomatoes, garlic, and chicken stock. serve with tortilla chips and salsa

xx Annette

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Easy Flower Arranging

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While it might seem like a daunting task, arranging your own flowers can be simple yet stunning, and honestly, nothing gives me more pleasure than to arrange flowers for my own home or parties. If you follow a few easy steps, you’ll be arranging your own flowers in no time!

When beginning the design process, I start with what’s available at my local market (and even Trader Joe’s!), and I try to select a strong color theme like pink or even white. Selecting just one color flower, but choosing several varieties in that same color, is an easy way to pack a punch without a lot of thought. It honestly cuts way down on the stress, especially if you’re not quite ready for combining colors.

However, if you want to give it a go, follow these steps. For this arrangement, I selected a few colors that go well together like pink and lavender.

Step one: clean the bottom of the stems, and make a fresh cut.

Step two: place all the fillers in your container. For this arrangement, I’ve chosen a pitcher for my container, and Queen Anne’s Lace and Baby’s Breath as fillers. Pro tip: this pitcher from Ikea (one of my favs, as you know) is an ideal flower container!

Step three: add in your larger blooms. Here, that’s ranunculus and hyacinth. Be sure to work your way around the vase or pitcher. Either move around the table as you work, or spin your container to make sure your stems are even.

Step four: step back and fluff your arrangement as needed. Try to change the water every 2-3 days, and cut the stems on a diagonal every few days, too. This will keep your arrangement fresh and pretty!

xx Annette

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GIVEAWAY with etúHOME:: Cocktails and Entertaining with Style!

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Hello, February! Now that we’ve gotten our new year kicked-off the right way, I thought we’d welcome a new month with a giveaway. I have not done one in such a long time. Honestly, I am in love with etúHOME’s beautifully crafted boards, so I asked if I could gift one to one of you, and they said YES, so here we GO!!

As you all know, one of my favorite party tricks is creating a huge, sharable charcuterie platter for friends to gather around and nibble on. It really is a fun and filling way to feed guests and requires absolutely no stress. You are instantly entertaining with STYLE!  This post about the anatomy of a charcuterie details exactly what you need to make a successful charcuterie as well as how to arrange meats, cheeses and accouterments in a complementary way. Pair your board with some cocktails from my book Cocktail Italiano, and you have a hit on your hands!

While the items you serve are certainly the stars of the show, the foundation is what makes a charcuterie board special. That’s why I have partnered with one of my favorite home decor brands, etúHOME, to give you a beautiful round oak charcuterie board. Here’s what the brand says about this board:

An even more functional and beautiful version of a signature pizza board, this charcuterie board is handcrafted from reclaimed oak. The oak wooden pizza tray is darker than the signature etúHOME pizza board you know and love, and has a side featuring a rigid wood planked top while the other side is smooth. The smooth oak side makes this wood board ideal for cutting and chopping, as well as serving. The round board is made up of rich oak hardwood that is distinguished by two strips of walnut timber to prevent warping of the reclaimed wood. These large, top of the line, reclaimed boards are amazing quality and will last for generations to come.

The board is  20″ in diameter, making it an absolute showstopper. Even better? I’m including BOTH of my books Cocktail Italiano and Picture Perfect Parties in the giveaway, and as an extra treat, I am marking the pages with my favorite recipes. Be sure to enter on Instagram! You don’t want to miss this opportunity to win a fabulous prize package worth $200.

Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Leslie! 

Note: giveaway is open to U.S. residents ages 18+ only and is not associated with Instagram. 

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Get ready for Christmas 2020! (Seriously…)

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I know it sounds absolutely crazy to think about, but trust me: NOW is the time to prepare for the 2020 holiday season. As you clean-up wrapping paper, but away ribbons and decide which bags and boxes you plan to keep, it’s important to keep an eye on the prize: being organized next year. Here are a few things you can do to be prepared:

  1. To organize for 2020, make sure you shop for your holiday essentials over the next few days while they’re on sale. That way you will have them tucked away waiting for you next season! It’s such a wonderful surprise when the occasion arrives to be prepared.
  2. Go through your wrap and decor stash to see what is missing. Restock wrapping paper, ribbon and tags, scissors, tape, washi tape and other festive accouterments.
  3. Dispose of any ragged bits of wrapping paper, rolls that are empty or bags that are torn. Think about investing in a shredder to do the job and limit the trash. After all, shredded paper essentially doubles as confetti!
  4. Organize everything in a tidy box that can be slid into a closet, tucked under a bed, or put away in a basement or attic. In fact, invest in two wrapping boxes: one for the holiday season and one for any other wrapping needs that might arise. This way, you’re not digging through Santa tags and snowman paper when your BFF’s birthday comes along.

Any other holiday organizational tips we should share? I’d love to hear your tricks in the comments!

xx Annette

 

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Festive Halloween Charcuterie

SpookyCharcuterie4 I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches' fingers.

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am taking over the blog today to bring you a spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween. Annette and I both love Halloween, and we’re always looking for ways to celebrate. I pulled together this easy, cheesy, festive Halloween charcuterie a few years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite posts.

Over the years, Annette has done some pretty phenomenal charcuterie spreads, and she even has a step-by-step guide to creating one yourself. I used her post as a starting point for my grocery shopping. It was so nice to be able to make a shopping list directly from her post.

SpookyCharcuterie1 The "cauldrons" are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the "witches broom" breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

One pro tip is to make sure that you get food-safe containers for your own spooky charcuterie spread. The “cauldrons” are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the “witches broom” breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

SpookyCharcuterie3 The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party!

As I shopped for remaining accouterments, I kept the Halloween theme in mind. I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches’ fingers. I added dried apricots (a tip from Annette’s post) because they are a lovely shade of orange. I decided on prosciutto because it’s so fatty and veiny.

The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party! If you really want to carry the theme throughout, add some festive bottles of red wine. The Prisoner is one of my favorites and quite on-theme, too!

Thanks for having me, Annette, and Happy (almost) Halloween, everyone!

xo, Nicole

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