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The Food-Focused Bride: A Food-Filled Bachelorette

From cheap eats to refined dining, my bachelorette weekend was incredibly food-filled, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. After spending the day at Spa Castle, a low-key and well-priced day spa in Queens, my bridesmaids and I drove to Flushing, Queens, which is home to a wonderful array of Chinese and Korean dining options. We headed to the Golden Mall, a market of sorts, with a food court in the basement. Not minding how completely out of place we looked dressed in swimsuit cover-ups, we headed straight to Tianjin Dumpling for $3 for 12 dumplings. The dumpling casing was thin and soft and, for myself, there was a vegetarian option filled with egg, greens and onion. They have a ton of varieties, including lamb, chicken and sea bass.  All in all with a side dish and some waters, four of us had an amazing lunch for just $18.

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Summer Fest: Savory Watermelon Recipes

This market selection is going to require some heavy lifting. Watermelons are 92% water and that’s where most of their weight comes from. Before flexing your muscles, look for a firm, symmetrical fruit that has as few cuts, dents or bruises as possible. And while simply slicing up your melon and eating it straight from the rind is one of the staple desserts of summer, watermelon is a great option for savory recipes as well.

1. Watermelon Gazpacho (pictured above)

Tyler’s cold soup is all made in one blender. Puree a large ripe tomato with one serrano chile and cubed fresh watermelon. Add onion, red wine vinegar, cucumber and fresh dill. Pour into chilled bowls and sprinkle with dill, feta and chunks of fresh watermelon.

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The Food-Focused Bride: Honeymoon Eats Preview

While I’ve had fun planning my wedding and am so looking forward to the big day, I might actually be even more excited to go on my honeymoon. I check out photos of the resorts daily and am constantly day dreaming about the whole experience. In true food-focused fashion, I’ve been researching all of the eating options available to me while away. Since we decided to do a beach destination rather than a cultural one, I was at first concerned that I wouldn’t experience amazing cuisine, but after doing some research, I think I’ll definitely add back the 10 pounds I lost for the big day.

Courtesy of Emirates

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Summer Fest: Five Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipes

With summer in full swing, what better way to spend an evening than with a few cocktails  and chips and dip? Skip the store-bought brand of salsa and use in-season tomatoes to make these fresh versions and you’ll never go back to jarred.

1. Salsa

Alton’s salsa is as easy to put together as it is to eat. Combine chopped Roma tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, pepper, onion, ancho chiles, olive oil and lime juice along with chili powder, salt and pepper before letting the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight to get the full flavor infusion.

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The Food-Focused Bride: Locally Sourced Wedding Gift Bags

Since we’re having a destination wedding (we live in New York City but are getting married 2 hours away in East Hampton, N.Y.), I wanted to create welcome bags filled with local products. These items can really start to add up, especially when almost every guest is booking a hotel room.  I picked my four favorite salty or sweet items that I thought best represented the East End.

North Fork Potato Chips (pictured above) was started as a solution to a decline in potato sales in the 1970’s. This family-run business began with a classic kettle cooked chip with real sunflower oil and the company has since expanded to include flavors like Cheddar & Onion, Rosemary & Garlic and Barbecue. I’m sticking with the classic variety for a crowd-pleasing late-night snack.

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Summer Fest: Four Grilled Corn Favorites

Markets are overflowing right now with bins of fresh summer corn. Pick your corn wisely by checking inside the husks to make sure the cob fills it out properly and make sure the silks aren’t dried out. You can feature corn in all sorts of delicious summer recipes, but when it’s nice and fresh, why not just grill it solo with a few spices and, if you’re feeling indulgent, a pat of butter.

1. Mexican Grilled Corn (pictured above)

Tyler removes the husks from each cob (but not the core on the end) and tosses them directly on the grill. Once they’re charred, top them with a mayonnaise, sour cream and cilantro mixture, then sprinkle with Parmesan, lime juice and chili powder.

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The Food-Focused Bride: Wine and Cheese Bridal Shower

When my aunt offered to throw me a bridal shower in New York City, I didn’t hesitate with my venue selection. I’ve taken classes at the Artisinal Cheese Center before and always thought it would be a great place to have a party. Having been to my fair share of showers over the years, I thought it would be nice to have an activity weaved into the event (that would also help me avoid embarrassing shower games).

We started with a cocktail reception of sparkling wine, fondue and a few mild cheeses. Then, when everyone entered the room, we sat at round tables with a plate of cheese and a wine selection at each place setting. Two whites and two reds were featured: Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, Pinot Noir and Malbec. I have a few pregnant friends and I wanted to make sure they were able to enjoy the experience as well, so the venue selected a variety of juices that they thought best reflected the wines that the rest of us were tasting.

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Summer Fest: Quick Salads with Peas

Skip the frozen aisle and pick up shell peas or sugarsnap peas at the market right now. Shell peas need to be removed from their pod before eating. Sugarsnap peas have both edible pods and peas inside. Blanching or poaching peas lets their full flavor shine in these crunchy, summer-ready salads. You can also freeze blanched peas for up to six months so you can use them in to your favorite pea soups this coming winter.

Pea, Feta and Mint Salad (pictured above)

In just fifteen minutes you can turn blanched peas into the main event in this summer salad. Combine them with onions, pistachios and a sweet dressing then toss with mint, snow pea leaves and top the salad with the feta cheese.

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The Food-Focused Bride: Getting in Wedding Shape and Eating Right

While I’m usually a healthy and active person, the thought of walking down a long aisle in front of more than a hundred people has prompted me to kick up my workout routine and focus more on eating healthy. Since I got engaged eight months ago, I’ve been going to the gym a few times a week, cutting back on takeout and even making big batches of kale salad on Sunday nights to eat for lunch during the week. But I still have a ton of questions about looking good for the big day, so I reached out to Dana White, a nutrition consultant, registered dietitian and certified athletic trainer to ask her all of my calorie-burning questions.

Cameron Curtis: How can I slim down to look good in a dress without adding on too much muscle? I still want to look good in a strapless dress but not feel bulky. It seems like on the scale I weigh more, but I feel and look fitter.

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Summer Fest: Four Healthy Berry Recipes

June is prime season for cooking and eating berries. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all in their prime at markets right now. Blackberries are just starting to be seen, as well, though they’ll peak later in the summer. Some of the best ways to feature these berries are in simple summer desserts like cobblers, crisps or trifles. But if you still want the sweetness of these berries without the calories that these classic desserts pack on, we’ve got four light favorites to satisfy your sweet tooth.

1. Maple Berry Parfait (pictured above)

Bobby Deen adds more sweetness to blueberries, raspberries and strawberries with a touch of maple syrup. Layer them with a part-skim ricotta cheese mixture and top with toasted walnuts for a finishing crunch.

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