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Quick & easy 2-bite Irish soda bread muffins

Posted by Melissa Massello March 13, 2014 12:00 PM

Photo: Tara Bellucci

They say everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, and that's definitely the case here in Boston. Here's an Emerald Isle classic that's perfect for a St. Patty's Day brunch, but portable enough to take with you to the parade (because there should be something in your stomach besides Guinness). From batter to baked, these 2-bite Irish soda bread muffins will be ready to be slathered in butter in under an hour!


Swappable soup recipe and tips from National Soup Swap Day

Posted by Melissa Massello February 13, 2014 05:00 PM

The 8th Annual National Soup Swap Day was January 26, but even if you missed out on that tasty tradition, you can reap the benefits. The groundhog says it'll still be soup weather for some time, so we tapped the experts at America's Test Kitchen for their top soup-making tips. Plus, a totally swappable recipe for vegan chili from the Boston Food Swap will warm you up, inside and out.


Scratch make some Mexican hot chocolate this snow day with Taza

Posted by Melissa Massello February 5, 2014 05:18 PM

taza_mexican_hot_chocolate_homemade.jpgPhoto: Shoestring

Frozen to the core? Sick to death of winter? Warm up from snow shoveling with this super easy, from-scratch recipe for authentic Mexican hot cocoa using Somerville's handmade source: Taza stone ground chocolate.


How to make Frito pie or walking tacos at home

Posted by Melissa Massello January 17, 2014 04:03 PM

frito_pie_DIY_boston.jpgPhoto: Shoestring

East coast chefs seem to be having a love affair with all things Southern at the moment, and one dish has popped up repeatedly on the Instagram feeds of some notable Boston culinary tastemakers: Frito Pie.

Kind of like the "white trash sundae" of appetizers, Frito Pie is a beloved Southwestern tradition dating back to the founding of the Frito-Lay company in 1932 — some say the dish may even have been dreamed up by Fritos first lady, Mrs. Elmer Doolin, herself — that combines corn chips, chili, cheese (or queso), sour cream, and onions with all the down-home decadence appropriate for a playoff party.

With the Patriots set to face off against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, it's high time we reach across the 50-yard line to see how the other half celebrates game day and embrace this crowd-pleasing Southwestern snack. Whether you pile high a platter or set up a buffet, here's everything you need to make Frito Pie or "walking tacos" at home.


How to host a Dowager Countess-approved Downton Abbey party, complete with authentic upstairs & downstairs dishes

Posted by Melissa Massello January 3, 2014 01:51 PM

downton-abbey-cooking-patmore-daisy.jpgPhoto: Masterpiece/PBS

From Downton Abbey costume contests to Downton Abbey quilt-alongs, Downton Abbey wine to Downton Abbey nail polishes, no BBC family has inspired more channeling — and more theme parties at which to showcase it — than the Granthams and the Crawleys.

One of the easiest ways to personify the world's favorite fictional aristocrats and their household service is to host a viewing party for Sunday's fourth season premiere complete with authentic Downton cuisine, now made easier thanks to Emily Ansara Baines and her Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook (Adams Media).

Coupled with your own ideas for thrift store or handmade period costumes and Downton-inspired serveware, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook provides historically accurate dish pairings, etiquette lessons & show trivia from everyone's favorite costume drama, like these two cocktail-appropriate recipes. Download free printable Downton Abbey Bingo (Paste) and Downton Abbey paper dolls (Vulture) and you have the makings for a truly Dowager Countess-approved affair.


Easy entertaining: Marinated feta from Central Bottle Wine + Provisions

Posted by Melissa Massello December 17, 2013 12:00 PM
Stacey's Marinated Feta.jpg

Central Bottle Wine + Provisions

If you're like us, you had grand plans of holiday entertaining and homemade gifts looking like a spread from Martha Stewart Living. Now, it's down to the wire and you've been alternately shoveling snow and attending parties every night for the past three weeks. There's still time to salvage your seasonal plans — make a few jars of Central Bottle Wine + Provisions Chef Stacey Daley's marinated feta tonight and next week, you'll have an easy appetizer or chic hostess gifts to bring 'round for Christmas!


Homemade cranberry holiday cocktails, three ways

Posted by Melissa Massello December 10, 2013 12:03 PM

cranberry_infused_vodka_shoestring.jpgPhoto: Melissa Massello/Shoestring

'Tis the season for holiday entertaining, and for lubricating to get through all those holiday parties and family interactions. It's also the natural season for New England cranberries, a fabulous time to celebrate our local bounty by showcasing them on your bar with these three seasonal cocktail recipes.


How to make pumpkin spice lattes at home, without a steamer

Posted by Melissa Massello October 31, 2013 08:24 AM

DIY_Boston_pumpkin_spice_latte.jpgPhoto: Melissa Massello/Shoestring

As eating seasonally becomes more mainstream, restaurants and fast food joints have definitely caught on and pumpkin flavored everything is, well, everywhere right now — with the pumpkin spice latte reaching full-on cult status.

Use this copycat version of the fall coffeeshop fix (which has a tendency to sell out just when you need one most) to make a sweet, savory, and super money-saving version at home, all without needing a steamer! Just in time for the neighborhood costume parade tonight, may we suggest making a batch for friends or roommates using this trick for the ultimate fall treat.


5 minute DIY: Homemade Halloween makeup

Posted by Melissa Massello October 24, 2013 11:22 AM

DIY_halloween_makeup_recipe_shoestring.jpgPhoto: Shoestring

Inspired by a trip to Tulum, Mexico in late October a few years ago for a friend's wedding, I've been longing to do a Day of the Dead doll costume for Halloween but was totally intimidated by getting the sugar skull design just right. Thanks to the magic of Pinterest searches and this simple 5-minute homemade Halloween makeup recipe, using just water and two common household ingredients, I found everything I needed to give it a try.


Spa Week: 6 DIY beauty treatments using coconut oil

Posted by Melissa Massello October 19, 2013 08:50 AM

DIY-spa-week-coconut-oil-beauty-recipes.jpgPhoto: Melissa Massello/Shoestring

Spa Week, the bi-annual event where thousands of beauty salons and spas across the country offer a range of treatments discounted to $50, is in full effect through Sunday (October 20th) — but, with just a fraction of that budget, you can create an at-home spa, pampering yourself from head to toe, using just one main ingredient and these six DIY recipes. Meet coconut oil, the new Duct Tape of craft kitchens: a single miracle product with seemingly endless uses. FULL ENTRY

About the Authors

Melissa Massello is a newspaper journalist turned startup junkie and lifelong Bostonian who prides herself on her do-it-yourself attitude. From making her prom dress out More »
Tara Bellucci is a Boston-based writer that lives for fonts, food, and flea market finds. Whether decorating jars of her homemade jam for The Boston More »

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