italy 2014: sorrento and capri

IMG 9977 italy 2014: sorrento and capri


Italy’s Amalfi coast is probably the closest I’ve been to heaven on earth. The water is unbelievably teal, the houses are painted in pastels and everywhere you turn there’s a view of the ocean.


We spent the last four days of our vacation stationed in Sorrento, a charming seaside town on the southern Italian coast. From there, we took a ferry (the prettiest ferry ride I’ve ever been on, hands down) to Capri for the day for a little shopping, sightseeing and time by the sea.



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^^ This was the entrance to the famous Grotta Azzurra in Capri. Usually you can take a row boat through the entrance and into the glowing blue grotto, but when we were there the tide was too high and it almost completely blocked off the entrance. We’re glad we still stopped by though–my Nonni and Nonno had a photo taken of them in a row boat in front of the grotto from their honeymoon, so it was special to see it. ^^


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^^ These gorgeous purple flower vines were everywhere in Sorrento and Capri, and thanks to a bit of Instagram crowd-sourcing, I found out the name of them: bougainvilla. My new goal is to have a home covered in it! ^^


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^^ See that verrrryyyy curvy road up there? Yeah, we drove on that. Pretty much as scary as it seems. ^^


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^^ There are craftsmen (and women!) all over Sorrento and Capri, and most of them make handmade sandals. You pick your sole and heel hight, the color of your straps/detailing, and the exact style you want, and then the man gets to work. I had a pair made in under 15 minutes that I’m obsessed with! ^^



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^^ Sorrento is known for its baked pottery and dishes–most of which are colorfully splashed with lemons! ^^


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^^ This was the view from dinner in Sorrento our last night. Best fish I’ve ever had (from Ristorante Bagni Delfino) with a view of Mount Vesuvius? I’ll happily take it! ^^


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IMG 9993 italy 2014: sorrento and capri


^^ Impossibly pretty, no?! Italian coast, I miss you already! ^^





italy 2014: rome and monte san savino

IMG 9459 italy 2014: rome and monte san savino


After our five days in Florence, the second leg of our trip found us in two very different places: First, Monte San Savino, a small town in the province of Arezzo in Tuscany, to visit family. It was quaint, old school and picture perfect–I can totally see the allure of settling into small-town life and restoring a villa a la Frances Mayes (in fact, I considered it more than once).


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^^ There were the most incredible vibrant flowers all over the town, further fueling my need for a garden some day. ^^


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Up next was Rome, which turned out to be more interesting than we could have imagined. For as prepared as we were (and as aware as I was, having already been abroad for months), we got a purse filled with passports, money and a cell phone stolen. It was a downer (OK, more than a downer), but in the end we just felt grateful it wasn’t worse and that there was still plenty of time left in our trip to fix it. Rome, we won’t hold it against you!


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^^ For as built up as Rome is, I loved that there were still charming random streets like this. ^^


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^^ There was a religious festival going on the day we were in Rome, and the entirety of Vatican City was decorated with incredible sand art and flower art designs on the walkway. ^^


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peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka

spiked peach sweet tea recipe copy peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka


I’m interrupting our previously scheduled travel content this week to bring you…happy hour. I trust none of you are complaining–who doesn’t want a sweet summer cocktail?


You may remember that I’ve partnered up with Pinnacle Vodka this summer to showcase fun cocktail and party ideas–and for my latest post, I wanted to throw together the quintessential summer bash (cocktails included). To me, nothing says lazy summer nights more than BBQ and sweet tea.


spiked peach sweet tea with pinnacle vodka recipe peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka


You don’t need to be from the South to appreciate sweet tea, and if you’ve never had it before, this recipe is the perfect boozy introduction. It’s light, refreshing and packed with real-fruit flavor, thanks to the peach Pinnacle Vodka and fresh peaches mixed in. Picture yourself sitting on a porch, wearing cutoff jean shorts, listening to Paul Simon and sipping this cocktail. Nothing better, right?


muddling peaches for a pinnacle vodka cocktail peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka


The best news? These only seem fancy–really, you can whip up a few mason jars full of cocktails for friends in under ten minutes, making them perfect for parties or bigger get-togethers this summer.


First, peel and slice up half a fresh peach and place it in the bottom of a tin mixology glass. Add two teaspoons granulated sugar to the glass and muddle the peach slices until they’re pulpy and juicy (about five minutes of a little elbow grease). Add two shots of Pinnacle’s Peach Vodka to the glass, and fill the rest of the way with unsweetenedfreshly-brewed iced tea and ice. Please do yourself and your dentist a favor and make sure it’s unsweetened. The flavored vodka, coupled with the two teaspoons of sugar, will make this sweet enough for you, trust me! Shake vigorously for 30-45 seconds, then pour the cocktail into a mason jar, straining out the ice and the leftover peach in the process. Garnish with another slice of fresh peach and a striped paper straw (no science behind that…they’re just cute).


Pinnacle vodka peach sweet tea cocktail peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka


Serve alongside your favorite BBQ eats, like our delicious burnt pork ends, corn bread with honey butter and bacon baked beans (or you could try your hand at this killer BBQ chicken recipe). Most important: make sure you buy enough peaches for a second–and third–round. These are going to be in-demand all summer!

Pinnacle vodka peach sweet tea cocktail recipe peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka






AuthorLogo Pinnacle peach sweet tea cocktails with pinnacle vodka

Pinnacle Vodka shakes things up with unexpected experiences and delightful discoveries. Explore with other fun flavors at Also, check us out on Facebook and Twitter, or find more fun entertaining and drink ideas on our Pinterest page.


Pinnacle® is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. and is used with permission.  This is a sponsored partnership, with Pinnacle® Vodka, via Mode Media.  The information, comments, and ideas expressed on this website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Jim Beam Brands Co., its affiliated companies, or any of their directors or employees.

florence, italy travel guide

florence italy travel guide florence, italy travel guide


Welcome to Firenze! Nestled in the hills of Tuscany, it’s a charming, cobblestone-filled town full of life, color and delicious food. I studied abroad in Florence back in college, and I have to admit–I was nervous about heading back. I kept having stress dreams that my old apartment had been turned into a grocery store (it hasn’t) and that I would get lost trying to get to my old favorite spots (I did). Sharing a place that was so important to me with my family was really special–we had such a great time, and I’m spilling on some of my favorite parts of the city (along with a huge photo dump) below!


where to stay florence, italy travel guide airbnb apartment front door florence florence, italy travel guide


Because there were seven of us, we found that after crunching the numbers, it was actually cheaper for us to rent a house than it was to book what would have been five hotel rooms. I dug through Airbnb for weeks until I found a rental that I thought was perfect for us–a great central location, plenty of bedrooms and a kitchen in case we wanted to take advantage of the local fresh markets.


airbnb apartment florence florence, italy travel guide

^^ I was obsessed with this wall-sized world map in the rental’s living room ^^


airbnb apartment kitchen florence florence, italy travel guide

airbnb apartment bedroom florence florence, italy travel guide

airbnb apartment florence1 florence, italy travel guide


We loved our place, and I really enjoyed the experience of coming home to an “apartment” every evening–it made me feel more like a local!



what to see florence, italy travel guide ponte vecchio florence florence, italy travel guide


Florence is one of those special cities: You could do a speed trip though the town and see the “surface” stuff in about three days, or you could stay a few extra days past that and casually breeze your way through the city like we did. There are a few things that everyone needs to see (like the famous Ponte Vecchio, above), but there are others that completely make the trip: the artists creating incredible portraits on the street, the charming secluded alleyways, the local-packet piazzas.


church in florence florence, italy travel guide florence italy florence, italy travel guide borgo san lorenzo in florence florence, italy travel guide

^^ This was the street my old abroad apartment was on. I had to go see! ^^


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street art in florence italy florence, italy travel guide

florence at night florence, italy travel guide

piazza republica in florence florence, italy travel guide


^^ This is Piazza Repubblica, my favorite in the whole city. ^^


the david florence florence, italy travel guide uffizi gallery florence florence, italy travel guide uffizi gallery florence statue florence, italy travel guide


Don’t miss: The Accademia (where you can find Mr. David),  The Uffizi, The Pitti Palace, The Ponte Vecchio (and the whole walk down the Arno, really), the churches around town (Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is my favorite!), the street art near the Duomo, getting lost (it’s the best way to discover a city!).



what to do florence, italy travel guide


walk to piazzale michelangelo florence, italy travel guide

^^ The gorgeous walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo ^^


fresh market florence 3 florence, italy travel guide fresh market florence florence, italy travel guide

^^ The Mercato Centrale in Florence has the most incredible produce and artisanal products ^^

handmade sandals florence florence, italy travel guide


fresh market florence 2 florence, italy travel guide

^^ I was dying to bring all this fresh pasta home with me ^^

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^^ Christmas card 2014? Mayyyybeeeeee!  ^^

top of the duomo florence florence, italy travel guide

^^ The view from the top of the Duomo’s Watch Tower is truly unreal. This is only one small slice of the 360 panorama! ^^

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Don’t miss: The San Lorenzo Market (leather goods, like you see above. I snagged a new leather jacket and bag!), Mercato Centrale (fresh produce), the jewelry shops lining the Ponte Vecchio (a great place to buy gold products!), climbing to the top of the Duomo or its bell tower, hiking across the Arno to Piazzale Michelangelo for an aerial view of the city, watching a soccer game on the streets (we were there when Italy got kicked out of the World Cup).



what to eat florence, italy travel guide



gusta pizza in florence florence, italy travel guide


The food–oh good lord, the food, you guys. It. Was. Amazing. Even better than I remember being, if that’s even possible. I ate my body weight in pasta, cheese and gelato the whole week, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.


gelato in florence italy florence, italy travel guide pear tortellini in florence florence, italy travel guide buca mario in florence italy florence, italy travel guide fresh cured meats florence florence, italy travel guide


I have enough restaurant suggestions to make you blue in the face, so I’m only going to include where we ate (and I can’t possibly pick a favorite, they were all incredible)–if you’re heading to Florence and would like all my suggestions, just shoot me an e-mail…I’m happy to share!


We ate at: I Due Fratellini, Trattoria 4Leoni (get the pear pasta!), Gusta Pizza (let the pizza sit for two minutes before you eat it–the cheese is so fresh that it can be a little watery at first, but it firms back up), Trattoria 13 Gobbi (the most incredible pasta ever), Aqua al Due (the blueberry steak is a must), Buca Mario (one word: truffles), La Giostra (great atmosphere), Osteria di Giovanni, All’ Antico Vinaio, Grom (gelato) and Gelateria de Neri (gelato).



Hope you enjoyed this little jaunt through Florence–next up, Rome!



italy 2014

the duomo in florence italy italy 2014



Hey, guys (or should I say ciao?)! How was everyone’s Fourth of July weekend? We landed in the U.S. just shy of midnight on July 4th after over 21 hours of travel (that damn hurricane…), and while we were pretty wiped, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Our trip to Italy was awesome, and I can’t wait to share all the details with you guys (especially for those of you who may find yourselves in Italy some time soon–I have tons of suggestions!).


boats in capri italy 2014 charming homes in florence italy italy 2014


I’ve spent most of the long weekend getting reacquainted with NYC, fixing a shattered camera lens (sad!) and combing through the thousands (literally) of photos I took. I’ve found I have way too many suggestions of things to eat/see/do and way too many photos than could possible be kosher to share in one single post, so I’ll be breaking them up throughout the week this week. Tomorrow will be Florence, followed by Rome, the Tuscan countryside, Sorrento and Capri–as well as some tourist tips we learned the hard way this time around.


santa maria novella church in florence italy 2014

capri italy italy 2014


Even if you don’t have a trip to Italy on the agenda, I do hope you enjoy the next few days around here–everyone loves a virtual vacation, right? Next week we will return to our regularly scheduled non-Italy obsessed content, I promise!






italy arrivederci


Well, this is it, you guys! I’m off to Italy for two weeks with my family, taking in all the sun, gelato and pasta life throws at us. As you can probably tell by the amount of time I’ve spent talking/tweeting about it lately, I’m pretty darn excited.


Things are going to be quiet around these parts (even more quiet than they have been…eek sorry about that) for the next few weeks, as I really just want to dive head first into vacation-mode. However, there will be TONS of Instagram moments–I’m already one who Instagrams way too much food, so you can expect a lot more where that came from. On top of that? Touristy shots of beautiful Italy, and maybe even a few outfit attempts at dressing European. I haven’t come up with some witty hash tag for my trip, but rest assured you will find it all on my Instagram feed. I also rented a new camera lens for the trip (so cheap and easy–I’ll fill you in once I’m back!), so you can expect a lot of travel blog posts once I return!


I hope you all have a happy end to your June and a great start to your July–we’ll talk soon…arrivederci!



9 healthy living instagrams I’m stalking

healthy living instagrams 9 healthy living instagrams Im stalking


If I had to pick a favorite social app, it’d probably be Instagram. I’m a very visual person, and while it can get overrun by perfectly staged images that just drive me nuts sometimes (um, do you really keep your lipstick open on your laptop surrounded by half-bitten macarons?), it’s still a main source of inspiration for me.


Fashion and beauty inspiration is abundant on Insta, but the people I love to follow most (besides blogger friends and real-life friends) are the dozens of healthy-living super stars popping up lately. True story: I once was standing in line in my work cafeteria waiting for a grilled cheese and scrolling through my Instgram feed. Up popped a picture of Karena and Katrina of Tone It Up fame–you better believe I hopped out of that damn grilled cheese line faster than you can say “bikini season.” For that type of inspiration, and more, here’s who you should be following (their profiles are from left to right, above):


A yogi and spirituality guru, Kathryn Budig is talented, relatable and totally adorable. I actually first was introduced to her through the online yoga site YogaGlo, where several of her classes are available to stream.

Follow her for: Spiritual tid bits, cool poses and pictures of her adorable dog.




The social outlet of the favorite fitness brand boasts Pinterest-worthly fitspiration images and sneak peaks of cool new gear. I swear, my gym wish list gets longer and longer with each image they post.

Follow them for: Fitspiration, fashion-forward gear and custom training plans




The duo behind Tone It Up are my ultimate fit girl crushes. Not only are they super knowledgable about everything health, wellness and fitness related, but they also have the type of personalities that you just want to be friends with. Plus, I love that they’re real-life besties and interact with their fans so much.

Follow them for: Enviable abs, beach scenes and a good dose of modern day girl power.




I’ve already spilled my love for Gabby here, but her Instagram feed is another great outlet to keep up with the mediation and spirituality guru. I’d liken her feed–and the inspirational quotes and phrases that accompany it–to a mid-day refresh. It always leaves me smiling–especially when she posts her signature “Spirit Junkie” images. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve screen-grabbed at this point.

Follow her for: Positivity, spiritual guidance…and your “ah-ha” moment.




Lily’s 35,000+ followers are onto something. The blogger, who helms the health-conscious food site Clean Food Dirty City, posts food shots so gorgeous, you’d swear they could be fake. She’s all about clean eating, which is something I’m trying to be more aware of these days. I’m constantly getting dinner (and breakfast and lunch) inspiration from her feed.

Follow her for: Gorgeous bright food shots, healthy eats and the best smoothie bowl inspiration around.




I’m convinced Australians are the most healthy people on the planet, and this brand just solidifies that. The fit fashion line‘s Instagram throws a pretty filter on everything from beautiful hiking shots, to killer patterned leggings and fresh raw meals. Did I mention I want to come back as an Australian in another life?

Follow them for: Lifestyle inspiration, motivational quotes and to satisfy your wanderlust cravings.




Unintentionally, this is another Australian addition to the list. Allison is a food blogger who takes healthy eating and cooking next-level. We share a mutual love for Acai bowls and I’ve never seen anymore more skilled at creating masterpiece meals in mason jars and bowls. The girl is a wizard.

Follow her for: Raw recipes, your new favorite smoothie recipe and stunning food photography.




I grew up as a dancer (for thirteen years) and while I can’t dance anymore, it’s still something I love to expose myself to. I just love how strong, motivated and incredibly sculpted dancers are–and Misty is all of those things and more. A soloist with the American Ballet Theater, Misty has risen to fame for conducting herself with a strong grace I really admire. Plus, now she’s a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, which is one of my favorite shows. Bonus!

Follow her for: Incredible performance stills, a bit of glamour and raging leg envy.




Ella Woodward, of the blog Deliciously Ella, struggled with severe health issues until she discovered that she suffered from Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, necessitating that she cut out all meat, dairy, sugar, gluten and processed foods. I’ve been dealing with health-necessary dietary changes too, and while mine are nowhere near as serious as hers, I find her whole approach to cooking for a restricted diet very relatable and welcoming. I’ve tried several of the recipes I first spotted on her Instagram, and they all rock!


Follow her for: Cute entertaining ideas, guilt-free desserts and outfit inspirations (she has a great wardrobe!).





philly cheesesteak sandwiches

philadelphia philly cheesesteak sandwiches


Happy Monday! This past weekend, we made our way down to Philly for a bit of sightseeing and a Dave Matthews concert. After a week of rain here in New York City, having a sunny Saturday filled with friends, food and day drinking was just what was needed.


philadelphia 2 philly cheesesteak sandwiches


And the food, oh the food….I literally had the best cheesesteak sandwich of my life in Reading Terminal Market. It was massive, so I saved half for after the concert which was just about the best decision ever.


I tried my hand a recreating the magic at home with homemade cheesesteak sandwiches. This version is equally as delicious, but I’m not sure if anything will ever top the original–but I guess that’s why they’re famous for them!


philly cheesesteak ingredients philly cheesesteak sandwiches



For the cheesesteaks, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 pound shredded steak
  • three cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped lengthwise
  • 1/2 pound sliced Provolone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for the rolls
  • salt and pepper to taste


philly cheesesteak rolls philly cheesesteak sandwiches


Butter your grinder rolls on each side, then toast in the oven on 325 while you cook the steak. In a large skillet, melt the two tablespoons of butter. Saute the onions and garlic until they start to go limp, then add the steak and cook until browned, seasoning with salt and pepper. Set the skillet heat to the lowest setting to keep it warm.


Layer Provolone cheese onto the rolls and pop them back in the oven, this time setting it to broil. Keep an eye on the rolls–the cheese will melt fast and can burn easily!


philly cheesesteak sandwiches philly cheesesteak sandwiches


Stuff the grinders full of steak and serve immediately. They’re hot and gooey and so delicious–they’d probably be even better served alongside a cold beer. Enjoy!


philly cheesesteak sandwich recipe philly cheesesteak sandwiches


currently loving: the mini heeled sandal

mini heeled sandal currently loving: the mini heeled sandal

the mini heeled sandal currently loving: the mini heeled sandal



I’ve never really been a “heels” girl. Sure, I like wearing them out on special occasions, but as someone with five knee surgeries and zero coordination, they’re not really an every day kind of shoe for me. I want them to be–because, like every girl, I feel somehow prettier and more pulled together in a pair. I’m constantly on the hunt for shoes that give me a bit of height but don’t leave me popping Advil at the end of the day. Wedges are usually my go-to, but this summer I’m turning my attention to the mini stacked heel.


heeled sandals currently loving: the mini heeled sandal



I first found a pair of these in DSW and fell in love instantly–the heel was the perfect height for someone like me, and oddly enough, they felt even more comfortable than flat sandals. I’ve since picked up pairs from Sam Edelman, J. Crew and DSW. My favorite styles? I love the idea of just a basic leather pair, like the Borgia from Jeffrey Campbell, a pair with a touch of metallic like the Trina from Sam Edelman and this pair from Victoria’s Secret (so affordable, too!). Next I might splurge on something fun–I’m really on the hunt for a red pair, or maybe a touch of animal print like this Loeffler Randal duo. Have you found any good mini stacked heels out there this summer? Do share!



summer mexican-inspired picnic recipes

vegetables for mexican picnic summer mexican inspired picnic recipes


Ugh, you guys–I’m sorry. I think it’s pretty evident I need to work on my whole work/work/life balance thing (I mean obviously, considering I couldn’t make the time to post this whole last week). I’m going to make it up to you, starting with this delicious Mexican-inspired picnic I pulled together this past weekend–it’s a yummy one.


pineapple summer mexican inspired picnic recipes


Is it just me, or is Mexican food one of the things you crave most in the summer time? I don’t know what it is, but the instant the temps heat up I’m all about guacamole, salsa and tacos, 24/7. I went home this past weekend, where the kitchen is large and my Mom buys the groceries (win!), so I decided to put a summer spin on some of my go-to recipes Saturday night. I stuck to the basics: salsa (which I made homemade with peach for an added summer flavor), the best guacamole ever, fresh fish tacos and Coronas. I mean, tacos and cervezas? Sign me up.


fresh avocados summer mexican inspired picnic recipes homemade guacamole recipe summer mexican inspired picnic recipes


For the guacamole, you’ll need:

*This serves 5 people


  • 4 avocados, pits removed
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • a handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 small vine tomatoes, diced
  • the juice of two limes
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Start by scooping out all the avocados and putting them in a bowl. If you didn’t already know, avocados brown very quickly, so you’ll want to make this guacamole shortly before serving it so it doesn’t turn an unattractive brown (it will still taste good, just not look good!). Add the chopped onion to the bowl and mash the avocados well, either with a fork or a potato masher (my preferred method). Add the rest of the ingredients, then mix well with a spoon, tasting to see if you need to add more salt or pepper. Serve immediately alongside corn chips (and, of course, the tacos).


peach salsa ingredients summer mexican inspired picnic recipes homemade peach salsa recipe summer mexican inspired picnic recipes


For the fresh peach salsa, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes (still in their juice)
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 2 peaches, skinned and chopped up
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (add more if you like more of a kick!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Pour 1/2 a can of diced tomatoes (still in their juice) into a bowl. Add the pepper, peach, onion, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, salt and pepper to the bowl and stir to combine. For the best flavor, make this the morning before serving–it’s at it’s most delicious when the flavors have a chance to sit and combine a bit. Serve along side corn chips.


grilled tilapia summer mexican inspired picnic recipes


For the fish tacos, you’ll need:


  • Fresh fish (something sturdy, like tilapia or mahi mahi works well). You’ll want to get one filet per two people.
  • the juice of 3 limes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

The tacos taste best when the fish has been grilled, so a few hours before dinner place your fish in a baking dish with olive oil, the lime juice, salt and pepper and allow it to marinate for at least two hours. Once you’re ready, rub your grill pan with canola oil (don’t use olive oil–it has too low of a smoke point, meaning it can catch fire easily and become toxic). Grill your fish over high heat until light and flakey, about 10 minutes per side. Plate on a large serving platter so guests can help themselves, and finish with a squeeze of lemon and a bit of fresh cilantro.


mexican street corn summer mexican inspired picnic recipes

For the Mexican street corn, you’ll need:

  • One ear of corn per person
  • Cojita cheese (or queso blanco, if you can’t find cojita)
  • chili powder
  • cilantro
  • butter
  • salt and pepper

Boil the corn as you usually would, coating it in butter after cooking. Top with crumbled cojita cheese, chili powder, salt, pepper and cilantro. Go to town.


mexican inspired picnic food summer mexican inspired picnic recipes


Set everything out, along side tortillas for the fish tacos and beer for your belly. I also diced up some fresh pineapple for people to top the fish tacos with if they wanted–it was a great sweet addition! All together, this is such a quick, easy and delicious way to entertain–happy summer!