A Refreshing Lemon-Ginger Soda To Cool You Off

Summer in Chicago means a few things: patios, beaches and hot, muggy weather. I feel like I’m constantly searching for the next refreshing drink to cool me down, and let me relax outside for a bit longer. I came up with this recipe on a whim with ingredients I had laying around the house, and it was so good I had to share it. I’ve literally been drinking it every single day. While it’s non-alcoholic, if you add a bit of vodka or even gin, it would work fantastic as a cocktail!

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Lemon-Ginger Soda

2oz. Lemon-Ginger Syrup (see recipe below)
3oz. Ginger Kombucha
splash of sparkling water
juice from 1/4 of a lemon

Mix the syrup, kombucha and lemon juice together over ice. Top with sparkling water! Yes, it’s that easy.


Lemon-Ginger Syrup

1/4c. dried lavender
3/4c. honey
1in. piece of ginger, peeled and diced
3c. water
Juice of 1 lemon

Add everything but the lemon juice to a pot and bring up to a boil. As soon as the edges start to boil, turn heat down and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes. Take the syrup off of the heat and let sit, covered, for another 10-15 minutes. Strain the syrup and add the lemon juice.


Strawberry + Rose Quickbread | A Recipe From Local Milk

As my pursuit of navigating the world of photography continues, I’ve found a tremendous increase in my enthusiasm for food and cooking. This correlation should come to no surprise seeing as all of my social media feeds are full of incredible food photography. The more and more I’ve talked to people pursuing the same thing, I’ve realized they’ve had the same response, though sometimes in reverse (they’ve taken up cooking and photography happened to come second).

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As long as I can remember, cooking has given me anxiety. For those of you who know me, I react very little to stress and anxiety, most of the time it just doesn’t phase me. Cooking has always been the one thing that really shook me up. I have a perfectionist mentality and I like to be the best at whatever I do. When I cook or bake, rarely does my first (or second, or third) try come out perfect, or even close to perfect. In the past, I would just get frustrated, throw everything away and swear to never cook again.

Little did I know that this precious time, alone with yourself and nature’s best gifts, is not about perfection. It’s being thoughtful about those moments in time, focusing on the task at hand, letting the rest of your life take a backseat, and getting better, little by little. The more I cook, the more at ease I feel, and the more I understand slow living. It’s something I’m mindfully practicing throughout the rest of my life. Take a breath, slow down, and enjoy each moment for what it is.


This recipe is one I’ve been eyeing for a few weeks. There’s something romantic to me about baking. It’s not easy and it’s incredibly exact. Your focus is required and your connection to each ingredient and how they work together is a must. It tests me more than anything, but it also teaches me patience (I get distracted very easily).

I’ve been following Beth Kirby’s blog, Local Milk, for a few years now. I was first attracted to her photography, but fell in love with both her recipes and their accompanying stories.  Her dishes are fairly simple, but at the same time can be very technique driven. This is a recipe she did for Mother Magazine in April. While she used raspberries in her recipe, I exchanged them for strawberries because I just love the combination of strawberries and rose, and I had so many of them lying around.

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Strawberry + Rose Quickbread | From Local Milk 

*Makes one small loaf

1 c. all purpose flour

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. rosewater

1/2 c. buttermilk

1 large egg

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. sliced strawberries


Heat oven to 350°F. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to evenly combine. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, rosewater, egg, olive oil, and vanilla. Lightly whisk to combine. Add this to the dry ingredients. Gently combine just until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Be careful to not overmix. Fold in the strawberries. Lightly grease your loaf pan, pour the batter in, and bake it on the center rack for about 35-45 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean and the top is golden brown.

The Ultimate Beauty Berry Smoothie For Mother’s Day

 It’s no coincidence that Mother’s Day falls right in the middle of Spring. It’s a beautiful time during which we celebrate the most beautiful women. To us children, mothers seem to defy age. They live within the eternity of their undying love for us. At least that’s how I view mine. She is the eternal candle guiding me through the tough realities of life. Mom, to me you are timeless.

♥ I know it may be cliche to say that you’ve always supported me, and would do anything for me, but it’s true and I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have someone like that.
♥ I know, being your first child, you worry about the choices I make, but please know that I’ve been watching and learning from you my whole life and you’ve been nothing short of inspiring.
♥ Don’t be afraid of where my life takes me because the examples you’ve set have nourished me at every crossroad I’ve come to, and have made me unafraid to take risks.
♥ But know, that I’m only unafraid because I have you to turn to when times get hard.

Mom, you are the one I look up to when I’m searching for the woman I hope to be, and I cherish both your love and your friendship! So, in honor of the most beautiful woman I know, here is my version of the Ultimate Beauty Berry Smoothie to celebrate that glowing Mama in your life!
MDS Smoothie copy
I have to admit, this is not your everyday, quick & easy smoothie recipe, but, if you’re looking for that, check this one out! No, this is something that takes a little extra time and care, because after all, hasn’t Mom always done that for you? There’s a good blend of fruits, veggies, and protein in here to keep you feeling good all day. Seriously, I’ve been making this, or a version of this for myself almost everyday for the past few weeks. So. Damn. Good. It’s really great after a workout and will keep you full until dinner. My NutriBullet (that my awesome Mama got me for Christmas last year) literally is the greatest thing I own. And no, I was not paid to say that. I just absolutely love the thing, especially since I’m not quite ready to splurge on a Vitamix. Anyway, here’s the smoothie that will super power your beauty routine!
MDS Avocado
MDS Vital Proteins
MDS Yumbutter Open
MDS Smoothie Ingredients
MDS Sun potion
Ultimate Beauty Berry Smoothie
  • 1 packet frozen Açai purée, Amafruits Organic & Unsweetened
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1-1/2 cups of Spinach
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 tbsp. nut butter (similar here)
  • 1 scoop
  • 1 tbsp. tocos, Sun Potion
  • 1/4 cup carrot juice
  • 1/4 cup almond milk, Califia Farms
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • honey to taste, Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Fair Trade Raw Honey

Add everything to your blender of choice and pulse. Once everything is mixed nicely, turn up the blender and purée everything until its thick and creamy! You may need to add a little more almond milk depending on the consistency.

Blood Orange Gin & Tonic | The Perfect Spring Cocktail


This is a post dedicated to all those who drank copious amounts of Gin & Tonics with me in my early twenties. While my tastes have changed, my love for this drink has not.


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As the weather cuts our jeans into shorts and sweaters into tank tops, cocktail bars are starting to swap hot toddies for crisp and refreshing boozy concoctions. Herbs and citrus are king right now pairing perfectly with our favorite clear spirits. I’ve never been a fan of vodka, but gin has always found its way into one of my favorite spirits (after whiskey of course). Gin can span from incredibly herbaceous to having notes of orange and cinnamon. Both sides of the spectrum brings it’s own personality to each cocktail. While, I rarely discriminate spirits, I find myself more in the herb-driven camp. Actually, I lean much more heavily that way being that my favorite gin is The Botanist from the Scottish distillery, Bruichladdich.

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Located on the island of Islay, Bruichladdich is well known for their über-peaty whiskies, most notably, Octomore, the world’s most heavily peated single malt. Their foray into gin is not the path most take in distilleries on these tiny islands. However, The Botanist, true to it’s name, has proven to be something truly unique in the world of gin. The distillery forages 22 botanicals sourced solely from the island to supplement the classic herb bouquet. In addition to the traditional juniper, cassia bark, angelica, and coriander, herbs such as hawthorn, heather, wood sage, and sweet cicely add a more grounding herbaceousness than most other spirits of it’s kind.

I prefer to enjoy The Botanist in cocktails where its complex nuances can be highlighted. I’ve found that a classic Gin & Tonic, with only two primary ingredients, is the best place to enjoy this spirit. I follow two commandments with Gin & Tonics – first, you must use high quality gin, and second, you must use high quality tonic. Since this drink consists of few ingredients, the quality of those ingredients becomes much more apparent.

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I typically purchase small bottles of  Fever Tree’s Indian Tonic or Q Drinks Tonic, both of which are less sweet than most, and not overtly bitter. They’re really great for showcasing the quality of the gin.

As far as citrus goes, people tend to shuffle towards lemon or lime based on preference. For me, lime tastes the best, but again, that’s based on my preference. Since it’s just now becoming warm, and all of the trees and flowers are starting to blossom, I’ve added a little blood orange juice. It enhances the bitter quality of the tonic and gives the cocktail a beautiful pink color for Spring! The addition of rhubarb bitters is a perfect bridge between the citrus and gin, and just gives it a little something extra.


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Blood Orange Gin & Tonic

1.5 oz. Gin

.5 oz. Blood Orange Juice

.5 oz. Lime Juice

4 oz. (or so) Tonic Water

A few dashes of Rhubarb Bitters


Add gin, blood orange juice, lime juice, rhubarb bitters and ice to your glass. Pour over tonic water, and stir gently. Drink copiously.


A Quick And Easy Smoothie Bowl Recipe

Good Morning!
I’m so lucky to have time in the mornings to make myself a healthy and filling breakfast. It’ so important to eat something nourishing before the day begins to jumpstart your metabolism. Smoothies are my absolute favorite with a close second being avocado toast with an egg. I’m just one of those people that really hates to do anything complicated first thing in the morning, so the simpler the better. I’ve been posting a lot of my smoothies on Instagram (@localhospitality), and thought it would be fun to do an easy recipe for mine this morning!
Again, this is super easy and unfussy. I typically don’t measure anything for my smoothies, and they are usually made up of anything and everything I find in my fridge, freezer and pantry. The recipe below is kind of a base and I’ll build on top of it because I love the flavor combination – not too sweet, not too savory. I like the addition of frozen peas because it adds really nice texture without too much flavor. Also, feel free to exchange any of the toppings for other dried/fresh fruits, seeds, nuts, granola etc. There are NO RULES!
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Spinach and Berry Smoothie Bowl

2 handfuls spinach
2 tbsp. frozen peas
1/2 c. frozen blueberries
3-4 frozen strawberries
1/2 a banana
1 tbsp nut butter
1 scoop protein powder (optional)
1 c. milk or water, or enough to thin out as much as you’d like
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. hemp seeds
2 tbsp. shredded coconut
2 tbsp. granola (I’m using banana nut granola from Whole Foods)
1 tbsp. cacao nibs
  1. Put the spinach, berries, banana, nut butter, protein powder and milk all in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and add toppings as you’d like!

A Recipe For Winter Greens and Ginger Soup



Processed with VSCO with a4 presetWinter this year took a slow start. It was over 40 degrees into January, which is very rare in a place like Chicago. While nobody was holding their breath for a mild winter, secretly everyone was hoping for it. And here comes February, true to nature, bringing temperatures below 20. Absolutely freezing.

Looking for something to do that did not involve going outside, my mom suggested I make a soup, a vegetable soup to be exact. After hanging up the phone, I decided that was a great idea. I truly enjoy making homemade soup – mainly because there are minimal dishes to clean!

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I’ve been eyeing this particular soup on Beth Kirby’s blog Local MilkHer food and aesthetic have inspired me for a while now. Having worked in restaurants for 7 years, I find her recipes to be incredibly succinct  and perform very well for home cooks. I’m very happy with how well this soup turned out. I added my own twist to it with asian spices, but the soul of the recipe still comes through. Its warm and soothing with a little kick to it. PERFECT for these current freezing temps!


Here is the recipe from Local Milk with my additions

  • Winter Greens (1 bundle collard, 1 bunch kale, 1 5 oz box spinach)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced, fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into 1″ or so chunks
  • 32 oz vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce or to taste, preferably made with thai chilies
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (to thin soup out if necessary)
  • dill, or cilantro (for garnish, optional)
  • Maldon Sea Salt, for finishing
  • Thai Chili spiced Cashews (for garnish, optional)
  • Pumpkin Seeds (for garnish, optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot until melted, add the onions first, followed by the garlic and ginger, and sweat until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the greens in bunches, stirring between additions and allowing them to cook down before adding more so you can fit it all in the pot. I prefer to start with the collards (they are the sturdiest and take the longest to wilt), then the kale and spinach last. Once the greens are wilted, add the cauliflower.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and the rest of the seasonings. Simmer until the cauliflower is tender. Puree in a blender. Return to the pot. Thin out if necessary with more stock, water, or I prefer coconut milk. Serve warm, garnished with spiced cashews, dill (or cilantro), and pumpkin seeds. Beth recommends crust bread on the side, and I couldn’t agree more!

A Refreshing Recipe For Quinoa Salad with Citrus, Walnuts and Herbs


Traveling is one of my greatest pleasures. Being somewhere unfamiliar really allows me to open myself up to new adventures and experiences I may not be willing to pursue at home. It’s mentally cleansing for me, and usually comes at necessary points in my life. However, it tends to wreak havoc on my body. The dehydration of flying, over-indulgence, and lack of regular exercise leave me feeling fatigued and unhealthy.

It’s always nice to come home and enjoy something light and refreshing to reset myself. To me, there’s nothing more refreshing than fresh citrus. Conveniently, it’s also citrus season, so I made a quinoa, blood orange and herb salad. Eating based on seasonality is so important. Not only are you enjoying produce when it’s the absolute best, you’re also doing a service to the environment. The seasonality of produce means that it is growing naturally at that time, which means less intervention by humans.

Citrus is my all time favorite winter ingredient. It brightens everything up, including your skin, especially during such a chilly, gray winter. While Cara Cara is my favorite for snacking, I prefer something a little less sweet for vinaigrettes or finishing. For the salad I chose blood oranges and lemons combined with a little rice wine vinegar. Herbs are also perfect for brightening dishes and adding flavor and nutrition at the same time.

Quinoa is one of my favorite grains to build meals on. It’s high in fiber, and contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein. I tend to prefer red or black quinoa over white since it tends to hold their shape after cooking. White quinoa can get a little mushy.

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Quinoa Salad with Winter Citrus, Walnuts and Herbs

1 cup Quinoa

2 cups Water

1/2 cup Castellvetrano Olives, chopped

3 Blood Oranges

1 Lemon

2tbsp Olive Oil

1tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar

3/4 cup Walnuts

Dill and Mint for garnish

Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Combine quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil (make sure water is properly salted). Then turn down heat and let simmer for 15 minutes with a lid.
  2. While quinoa cooks, combine olives, segments from 1 blood orange, and walnuts in a large bowl.
  3. Once quinoa is cooked, fluff and let cool
  4. Add quinoa to the bowl with the olives, blood orange segments, 1/2 cup of walnuts and citrus vinaigrette. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  5. Finish with torn mint and dill, juice from the other half of the lemon, 1/4 cup of walnuts and zest from 1 blood orange.


Citrus Vinaigrette

  1. Whisk together juice from 2 blood oranges, 1/2 a lemon, rice wine vinegar and olive oil.