I may be cutting down on sweets, but who says I can’t make them? I decided to try something I’ve never done before, cake pops, mixed with one of my favorite desserts, creme brûlée. It was a struggle at first with the caramel, but once I perfected it, these babies turned out with a nice crunch on the outside and a delicious custard infused cake on the inside. I hope you all have fun making these as much as I did! (Pro tip: if you do the sugar right, you can create all sorts of fun sugar art and sculptures like below.)
Ingredients | Creme Cake
- 3 cups of Heavy Cream
- 4 Egg Yolks
- 1 Large Egg
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1.5 teaspoon Vanilla
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite liquor (I like to use rum)
- Vanilla Cake Mix of Choice
Ingredients | Brulee
- 2/3 cups Water
- 2/3 cup Light Corn Syrup
- 3 cups Sugar
preheat oven to 300 degrees
mix egg yolks, egg, vanilla
heat heavy cream in small pot in medium heat. do not let it boil, as soon as you start seeing bubbles, take it out
combine egg mixture with heated heavy cream slowly
pour into ramekins about 4/5 full
pour some hot water into a baking pan and place the ramekins evenly in the pan
bake for about 40 minutes until custards are not runny when shaken. but don’t over bake it, we don’t want egg pie!
take out the ramekins from the pan and let cool.
refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours (the longer the better)
create cake of choice and follow instructions on box, or make your own using scratch. a simple vanilla pound cake will do. allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before next step
crumb your cake by cutting the cake in half and rubbing them together or using your hands to mash them together
fold the custard creme (after cooling for several hours) into the cake mix
form spheres using your hands or a tool
refrigerate the spheres for about 1-2 hours (longer the better)
mix sugar, syrup and water in a small sauce pan in medium heat
stir until sugar fully dissolves. careful with the sugar as this is very hot and can cause severe burns if touched
boil until syrup turns light brown and immediately turn off heat. once you start to see light brown, immediately turn off heat, as the sugar will quickly brown and turn bitter/hard if left on heat much longer
cool syrup for a few minutes until boiling stops. some recommend putting pan in ice water, but I prefer to cool it naturally
insert balls in sticks and proceed to dip lightly in syrup. do not dip too much as you will accumulate too much syrup and it will be hard to eat, trust me! spin the balls to make sure you evenly coat them and you will notice that the sugar will quickly harden. so do this fast! i’ve had to heat the syrup a few times as the syrup has hardened a few times on me
cool cake pops on stand and then you can serve as is or remove from sticks and serve that way. enjoy!
One of my all time favorite Spanish dishes would have to be Paella. It is absolutely amazing with so much dimension and flavor. It has chicken, pork, seafood and rice – what more could you ask for? This is by no means an original or authentic paella recipe, but rather my take on a Spanish classic. I also love how this is very easy to make, easy enough to be one of my go-to dinner date recipes. I hope you all enjoy as much as I did!
- Chicken breasts, cut in small pieces
- Chorizo, cut in small circular pieces
- Shrimp, peeled
- Mussels or clams
- Olive oil
- Yellow rice
- Diced tomatoes
- Chicken broth
- Garlic to taste
- Saffron to taste
- Parsley to taste
- Paprika to taste
- Salt to taste
- Lemon to taste
sauté chicken with garlic and olive oil in a pan. then add in chorizo
cook rice in a pot with chicken broth, covered for about twenty to thirty minutes
mix chicken and chorizo in the rice pot once rice has been cooked. stir in tomatoes, saffron, paprika and salt (use spices and salt to taste). cook in medium heat. add a dash of chicken broth if it’s too dry.
add shrimp once everything has been mixed in. cook for about five minutes more.
add mussels or clams in pot. cover pot and let cook until majority of clams/mussels opens up
serve and garnish paella on a plate, adding lemon and parsley for taste. enjoy!
One of my favorite hotel brands and the happiest place on earth? You most definitely can’t go wrong with brunch there! And that’s exactly where we are headed to today: Sunday Brunch at Plancha, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.
This brunch is unique in that it offers a three course experience. You get a buffet selection of appetizers and mini-entrees, then you choose your main entree, and then there’s a dessert buffet. Not to mention bottomless mimosas and bloody marys!
Plancha is located at the resort’s Tranquilo Golf Club, so you do have to do a bit of walking from the hotel, but I mean how can you complain about that when you are in one of Orlando’s most gorgeous hotels! Walking around Four Seasons Orlando in itself is an experience.
The buffet was abundant and included a salad bar, fruits/parfait station, ceviche (this alone made everything worth it), a bagel bar, meats and cheeses, and more. For my entree, I chose to do the chicken and waffles and IT WAS AMAZING. Lord. Can I order that again? As I’m writing this now, I think another trip to Orlando is in order.
The dessert bar is something to not be missed either. Save room, or make room! Among their many options, you have to try their flan and tres leches at the very least.
Brunch is around 68 per person, but with everything that you get, this is a pretty good value. For locals not staying at the resort, the resort offers complimentary valet and self-parking if you dine at Plancha. Brunch is Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm.
I moved to Atlanta about a year ago and this city still amazes me. I wasn’t originally intending on staying here longer than a year, but I have decided to stay here for a year or more because there’s so much to do. This city has it all, between all the different neighborhoods with their own distinct culture, to all the unique restaurants that makes this a certified foodie haven to today’s topic: Atlanta’s many forests, rivers and mountains.
Living in Florida, I’ve never been much of an outdoorsy kind of guy, but Atlanta has changed that completely. In my profession, I deal with a lot of people and it’s always hectic, so I find taking the time to explore nature and go hiking to be therapeutic and calming.
Here are some of my favorite places and counting:
Depending on where you’re at in the city, Stone Mountain is just east of the Perimeter (Interstate 285, which circles around Atlanta). It is Georgia’s most visited attraction, offering not just the mountain, but a few attractions, lakes and trails. Attractions include the summit sky ride (a must), a dinosaur exhibit, a museum, golfing, a train ride, a boat tour, a geyser park and a petting farm. On select months of the year, there’s also a night time fireworks show. You can purchase a pass or opt in for select attractions.
AMICALOLA STATE FALLS PARK
Located just two hours north of Atlanta in Dahlonega/Dawsonville, Amicalola is a perfect place to go for a day trip. Drive up to the top of the falls to see a breathtaking view of Georgia. I went during the fall and it was absolutely beautiful. Go down the steps to the base of the falls (it’s a lot of steps so pace yourself and bring lots of water). I even brought Coco along, but she hated going down the steps so I had to carry her for a good portion of the walk.
VICKERY CREEK FALLS, ROSWELL MILL
Located just outside of the perimeter in Roswell is Vickery Creek Falls and Roswell Mill. There’s multiple entrances to the park with various landmarks. This park features old mills, a covered bridge and a waterfall in Atlanta’s Chattahoochee River. This park offers over 5 miles of ground to cover.
Here’s a video featured from Atlanta Trails:
Inside the perimeter is the Palisades Trail along the Chattahoochee River. Whether you want to hike, waddle around in the river or go kayaking, this place is nestled inside Atlanta and there’s no excuse not to visit it! With over 7+ miles to explore, there’s miles of rivers, bamboo forests, high-elevator overlook and mills.
During my trip to Chicago, I made sure to have a free day where I could explore the city’s culture and art scene. The first stop is a hidden gem that is not typically on everyone’s top of to-do when in Chicago: the Chicago Cultural Center.
Drawn by its beauty and the fabulous free public events, hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the Chicago Cultural Center. The stunning landmark building is home to two magnificent stained-glass domes, as well as free music, dance and theater events, films, lectures, art exhibitions and family events. This place was simply breathtaking.
Afterwards, no visit to Chicago is complete without a stroll through Michigan Avenue and a stop at the Bean. It was around 18 degrees that day, so there was no tourist in sight – which means perfect for pictures!
Next up is The Field Museum. Be sure to say hi to Sue, the largest T.Rex ever discovered. There’s so many exhibits, that this place could easily take up your entire day. Among my favorites in this place, the Filipino art exhibit, and the Ancient Egypt exhibit.
And since it’s winter, a visit to the Christkindlemarkt is a must! Yes, it’s freezing, but you can quickly grab a warm cup of hot cocoa or apple cider to warm you up. Be sure to try the German sausages or potato pancakes before heading over to the many outdoor shops and if you do get cold, there’s a bunch of indoor shops with beautiful hand crafted ornaments and items. I caved in and bought an old fashion clock from Austria that comes with a key and you have to turn it every so often to make it work. Make sure to purchase the highly coveted mugs!
I’m a firm believer of keeping politics and religion out of the dinner table. And so all politics aside, I decided to give Sixteen at The Trump Hotel & Tower Chicago a try.
Sixteen is a Michelin two-starred, Forbes’ Five Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant focused on sourcing the highest-quality ingredients in the world. Every Sixteen menu tells a unique story, guided by the evolving landscapes, people and experiences that compel this award-winning culinary team to create the ultimate Chicago fine dining experience.
At the start of each year, they decide on a theme that will inform their direction. The ensuing menus throughout the year may be represented in the form of a poem, a painting or even an astrological wheel, but they are all united — new narratives told in the same voice. The food, service, wine, music and tabletop aesthetics are envisioned anew as seasonal inspirations shift.
Located on the 16th floor of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, this fine-dining restaurant presents a truly unforgettable epicurean experience paired with unparalleled city views offered through 30-foot floor-to-ceiling windows that frame panoramic vistas of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River and the Wrigley Clock Tower — an equally inspiring backdrop.
If there’s anything Trump got right, it’s refined luxury service, as reflected with the service provided to us when we dined. The restaurant size is towards the smaller end, but it makes for a perfect intimate setting. You can go anytime of the day to get amazing views of the city.
We opted for their famous tasting menu and it did not disappoint! The courses came like clockwork and was presented beautifully. I can see why this restaurant earned not one but two Michelin stars. I wish I kept the menu so I can describe my dining experience, but seeing as this was a few weeks ago, all I could say is, I WILL BE BACK FOR MORE! This restaurant left me craving more – not in a I’m hungry way, but in a I want to experience more that this restaurant has to offer way. The portion sizes were small, but after you were done with all the courses, you will be stuffed.
They first started us off with an amuse-bouche. Then the first course was a salad. The second course was a soup featuring apples and truffles. The third was a seafood course featuring scallops. The fourth course was a meat course featuring beef. The fifth course consisted of a cheese board. This was followed by a sorbet palate cleanser to make way for the following course which was a delicious chocolate cake and mouse. I’m glad I do not live in Chicago currently, as I would be spending every lunch and dinner here – in other words, this was simply amazing! Thank you Sixteen, for a wonderful dining experience in Chi-town!
No vacation is complete without taking a spa day. And when in Chicago, where else to do it than The Four Seasons Hotel! Located just a block from Chi-town’s Magnificent Mile, this historic hotel offers the highest luxury guest rooms in the city with unrivaled Lake Michigan and skyline views. The award-winning Hotel has received a Forbes Five Star rating for 22 years in a row, the coveted AAA Five Diamond Award for 27 years, and is honored to be ranked as one of TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Luxury Hotels in the United States.
It was my birthday weekend, so I knew I had to splurge a little and I booked myself a spa morning consisting of the bourbon massage and the pedicure.
I got to the hotel an hour early so I can take advantage of this view: the gorgeous pool and hot tub. I got there at around 10 am and there was only two people, but when they left, I had the place to myself and it was heaven. I wish I had gotten there a few more hours earlier so I could just soak in the hot tub for hours. I had my Disney playlist going and I nearly fell asleep.
Because it was my birthday weekend, (I swear I only mentioned it once) they surprised me with champagne and a cupcake. I had this wonderful Russian lady that massaged me and she was different in that she talked for a good portion of the treatment. Normally I hate that. But the way she did it was this non-intrusive, two way communication that allowed me to say how I felt and whether I wanted more pressure in certain areas. This resulted in a really great massage. Midway through the massage, she applied the bourbon scrub on my back, then after wiping it off with a warm towel, she proceeded to continue with the rest of my massage. I wish I remembered her name, but I would most definitely ask for her again!
Afterwards, they gave me a glass of bourbon which I thought was the perfect touch. Some spas have a similar bourbon scrub massage, but they rip you off by doing the scrub for a good chunk of your treatment instead of focusing on the actual massage. I then continued on with my pedicure which was just as wonderful.
I wish I had booked an entire day at The Four Seasons because I had the perfect morning there. The next time I’m in town, I will definitely be back here for a day of pampering as the staff took such amazing care of me. Not only is this hotel gorgeous, but the staff and service was absolutely wonderful. Thank you for a great time, Four Seasons!
Afternoon tea is a tradition for many and I’ve actually never had it in my entire life. During my recent trip to The Windy City, I’ve figured, where else to have my first tea than the luxury hotel company that is renowned for its tea: The Ritz-Carlton. This luxury hotel is located at the Water Tower Place on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, Gold Coast.
Tea at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago is located at its lobby outlet, Deca. And they did not disappoint! They have a special holiday menu and be sure to ask what time they have a violinist so you can time your reservation accordingly. We went at 3 pm on a Sunday and it was perfect. What made it even perfect: we sat right in front of the violinist. This made my experience memorable.
They start out with the tea presentation and you get to smell the different blends ranging from your usual to their special holiday blends.
When they brought up the tray, it was a lot and I had no idea where to start, so just dig in! A word of advice is to pace yourself. It is tea after all, so take your time to just relax, catch up with friends and enjoy the scenery. The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago’s is absolutely gorgeous and is the perfect place to just people watch or get lost in their lobby fountain.
Overall, I had an amazing and memorable time here. The service was impeccable, the food was amazing and the ambiance was perfect. I would definitely come back here and I cannot wait to try tea at other Ritz-Carltons!
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
No visit to the Big Apple is complete without going all out and trying one of the many fine dining restaurants the city has to offer. If anyone knows a thing or two about me, it’s that I love tasting menus and when chefs play with their food. So I had to try out Bouley. And for $55 for a five course lunch tasting menu, I was already out the door headed to TriBeCa to find this gem. And I have to say, there’s a reason why Bouley is one of the top rated restaurants in the country – it was simply amazing.
The service was impeccable, true to their French style. They left no napkin untouched, left no glass half empty and should you need to get up, there was always a person to pull your chair out for you.
The interior reminds me of a French chateau, even more so if you venture out downstairs to where the wine cellar and the restrooms are. Alright, I’m starving – let’s get to the menu.
The chef started out with this fabulous amuse-bouche. And while you’re at it, you have to get something from the bread cart. They will go over everything, but the cart has just about every bread combination imaginable, quite impressive really.
First Course | Carpacho of Kampachi
Second Course | Porcini Flan with Alaska Live Dungeness Crab and Black Truffle Dashi. A quick note. While the tasting menu changes often, should this appear on the menu again, you have to get this. Normally, dungeness crab appears on menus during the winter season. This is one of my all time favorites. The truffles and the crab complemented the porcini perfectly and it literally melted in my mouth.
Third Course | Grass Fed Canadian Buffalo
Fourth Course | Maine Wild Sorbet with flax and bulgar wheat gelato. As weird as this all sounded, I was pleasantly surprised and I really loved this.
Fifth Course | Hot Caramelized Anjou Pear, Valrhona Chocolate, Biscuit Breton, Toffee Sauce, Lemon Verbena and Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream. Nuff Said.
Sweets Tray Make sure to leave room for the sweets tray with an assortment of treats.
Overall, I will be back to this magnificent place next time I’m in the city. Thank you for an amazing dining experience, Bouley!
This weekend I watched “Eat with Me” on Netflix (which wasn’t too bad) and the movie featured a chocolate raspberry tart and I can’t say no to a good dessert that involves chocolate. After looking up several recipes I realized how easy it is to make, so here it is with my own twist!
- Nutella to taste
- 12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
- 16 oz heavy whipping cream
- Tart crust
- Choice of garnish (see below)
puree raspberries until you get a nice consistency
strain the puree with a sieve to remove the seeds and you will get a pure puree
simmer heavy cream in a medium saucepan until it is almost boiling. once it is about to start boiling, remove from heat
add chocolate chips and a teaspoon or two of nutella and let it sit for a minute
whisk for about a minute until the chocolate has been dissolved and then add in the raspberry puree
pour chocolate in the tart crust, let cool for a minute then put in the refrigerator for at least 30-45 minutes until firm (the longer in the fridge, the better!)
garnish with whatever you want! For this recipe, I did a spoon impression from cocoa powder and added raspberries to the top of the tart as a simple garnish. This goes perfectly well with coffee or my own acai raspberry cocktail (recipe below!)
Açai Raspberry Cocktail
- Three parts Açai juice of choice
- Two parts Raspberry Svedka Vodka
- Frozen Raspberries
chill and freeze raspberries and glass. this gives the glass a nice frosted look when serving the drink. the frozen raspberries helps keep the drink cool without having to use ice, which waters down the drink
combine and mix açai juice, ice and svedka in cocktail mixer
serve and enjoy