Bella Vida by Letty

Entertaining

10 INSPIRING TRAVEL COFFEE TABLE BOOKS

10-inspiring-travel-coffee-table-books

I have a great love of books and cozy spaces. I take great comfort in lounging on the couch near my bookshelves and indulging in some hard earned me time. When I’m not traveling of love perusing images and books for inspiration. Once my imagination gets going my creativity really begins to flow.

These books are truly beautiful to look at.

travel coffee table books

Follow Me To

The Follow Me project was created in 2012 based on the concept of showing the beauty and uniqueness of different locations around the world. It is a story told through the eyes of two ordinary travelers who attempt to portray local lifestyles and narratives by means of photography. 

travel coffee table books

The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World 

From Lonely Planet The world’s leading travel guide publisher.  Take a journey through every country in the world.

travel coffee table books

Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Spectacular Trips

Pack your suitcase, load up the car, and head for the open road! In the tradition of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s award-winning annual feature showcasing the world’s best auto trips, National Geographic presents Drives of a Lifetime: Where to Go, Why to Go, When to Go. This lavishly illustrated, hardcover travel planner and gift book gives you every bit of information you’ll need to navigate 400 amazing driving routes in some of the world’s most fascinating locales.

travel coffee table books

Beaches 

Gray Malin is the artist of the moment for the Hollywood and fashion elite. His awe-inspiring aerial photographs of beaches around the world are shot from doorless helicopters, creating playful and stunning celebrations of light, shape, and perspective, as well as summer bliss. Combining the spirit of travel, adventure, luxury, and artistry, Malin built his eponymous lifestyle brand from a deep passion for photography and interior design.

travel coffee table books

Wine Trails: 52 Perfect Weekends in Wine Country 

From Lonely Planet, the world’s leading travel guide publisher, Wine Trails, the first book in Lonely Planet’s “Perfect Weekends” series, introduces the secret gems in well-known regions such as Napa and Sonoma, Tuscany, Burgundy and Rioja, and also explores off-the-beaten-path regions in Georgia, Greece and beyond.

travel coffee table bookstravel coffee table books

Paris in Color 

Take a journey through the world’s most romantic city, traveling from color to magnificent color with this beguiling book. An orange café chair, bright blue bicycles against a fence, a weathered white door—Nichole Robertson’s sumptuous photographs of the distinctive details of Paris, all arranged by color, evoke a sense of serendipitous discovery and celebrate the city as never before. At once a work of art and a window into the heart of the city, Paris in Color will surprise and delight those who love art, design, color, and, of course, Paris!

travel coffee table books

The Seasons of New York

New York is one of the most ever-changing and photogenic places in the world. Featuring full-color photographs of well-known landmarks from all five boroughs—from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to South Street Seaport, as well as secret treasures throughout the city—this visual celebration of New York in all of its seasonal splendor is a perfect take-home souvenir for a tourist or a treasured gift for a resident New Yorker. 

travel coffee table books

See San Francisco: Through the Lens of SFGirlbyBay

From internationally popular design blogger SF Girl By Bay comes the ultimate love letter to San Francisco. This gorgeously photographed lifestyle guide gives readers an insider’s tour of the City by the Bay through Victoria Smith’s unique lens. Organized by neighborhood, each chapter features enchanting photos of hidden corners, local color, landmarks, and hot spots, revealing why so many people, Victoria included, fall head over heels for this amazing city. Brimming with original, dreamy photography and packaged as a gorgeous jacketed hardcover, this lovely book makes a perfect gift for photography fans, San Francisco dwellers, visitors to the city, or those who have left their hearts in San Francisco.

travel coffee table books

The New York Times: 36 Hours

To travel in North America is to face a delicious quandary: over these vast spaces with so many riches, from glittering cities to eccentric small towns and heart-stoppingly beautiful mountains and plains, how to experience as much as possible in limited time? The New York Times has the answer, and has been offering up dream weekends with practical itineraries in its popular weekly “36 Hours” column for over a decade. 

travel coffee table books

Great Escapes Italy 

To travel through Italy is as close as one gets to being in paradise. For centuries, writers, artists, architects and merchants have been drawn here, inspired by the beauty of Venice, Florence, Naples and Rome. Countless books, paintings, poems and sculptures are evidence of its undying appeal, and over the past 60 years, the country has become one of the world’s top travel and holiday destinations. The loveliness of Italy—its architecture, landscapes, culture and food (some of the world’s finest!) — if not eternal, is certainly enduring, and the easy-going and relaxed Italian lifestyle, il dolce far niente, is still unrivaled.

You can purchase any of these wonderful books via the link or by clicking on the image.

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Books that Will Make You Want to Travel

My daily reading habits include news and social media but in addition I try to always have some fiction and non-fiction to read. I particularly love books that inspire me to imagine and create.   Just like reading travel expands our minds, our horizons and limits. Reading fills us with knowledge, mental stimulation and of course entertainment. The wonderful thing about books is you can take them anywhere. You can stash a whole library on your phone.

Here a few books that will inspire you to travel:

the alchemist

 

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” 

— Paulo Coelho 

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” 

— Paulo Coelho 

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” 
— Paulo Coelho 

 

on the road jack kerouac

On the Road

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “Beat” and has inspired every generation since its initial publication.

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” 

— Jack Kerouac 

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.” 

― Jack Kerouac

 

My Brilliant Friend Neapolitan Novels

My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

“Everything in the world was in precarious balance, pure risk, and those who didn’t agree to take the risk wasted away in a corner, without getting to know life.” Elena Ferrante

“Nowhere is it written that you can’t do it.”  Elena Ferrante

Life of Pi

Life of Pi

The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.
The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them “the truth.” After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional–but is it more true?

“It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.”  Yann Martel 

1000 Places to see before you die

1,000 Places to See Before You Die

It’s the journey of a lifetime, every month—and the perfect gift for the traveler and anyone who dreams of traveling. Written by Patricia Schultz, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and illustrated with full-color photographs, each month is a to-die-for itinerary. Discover exotic and culturally rich Uzbekistan. Cruise America’s “favorite drive” in autumn, the winding Blue Ridge Parkway. And experience the light that captivated so many Impressionist painters in Normandy. Each month features a large photograph, smaller images throughout the grid, a map, must-see attractions, and local history.

“If you’re waiting for a special occasion to make your next trip happen, then consider this: The day you get off the couch and head for the airport, that’s the special occasion.” 

— Patricia Schultz 

“As Herman Melville wrote in Moby Dick, I had “an everlasting itch for things remote.” 

— Patricia Schultz

 

What are some of your favorite books that inspire you to travel?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crockpot Slow Cooker Mexican Quinoa Recipe

mexican quinoa recipe

I’m making a big effort to eat healthier and one of the things I’m doing is eliminating foods with little nutritional value like white rice and white bread. It’s been fun expanding my horizon and discovering new foods to eat. One popular super food to try is quinoa. Quinoa is a grain that comes in a variety of colors originating in the Andes and is super healthy. It’s gluten free, high in fiber and iron. Quinoa is also complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. That should give you enough reasons to try it.

I also love using my slow cooker because it’s such an easy way to make healthy meals.

This recipe is very flavorful and not spicy. If you love Mexican food this might become one of your favorites. It’s so easy to make.  I enjoy cooking with my slow cooker. It even has a mix setting, which I used for this recipe.

 

Ingredients

 

1 ½ cups tri colored quinoa

½ red pepper

½ green pepper

½ yellow pepper

1 sweet onion

1 can green enchilada sauce

2 ½ cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons adobo

1 bag frozen roasted corn black bean fiesta vegetable mix

cilantro

 

Steps

Spray the crock-pot with cooking oil for easy clean up.

Add quinoa.

Add green enchilada sauce

Add peppers and onion.

Add corn and black bean vegetable mix.

Season with adobo.

Add the chicken broth.

Cook for 2 ½ hours on high. Some slow cookers are different and might need to cook for 3 hours.

 

Garnish with shredded cheese and enjoy!

Have you tried this recipe?

 

 

 

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Leftover Turkey Recipe

Leftover turkey recipes

 

I hope you had a wonderful holiday with your loved ones.  We had our annual family gathering and enjoyed so much good food.  As always there was plenty of leftovers to last us for days.  Leftovers are great so I don’t have to cook every single day however it gets tiring eating the same food everyday.  Here is a recipe to add some wonderful flavor to your leftover turkey.  It’s easy to make and there’s no cooking involved.  If you can chop you can make this delicious recipe.

 

Leftover turkey recipes

 

On toast

leftover turkey (2)

On cuban rolls

Ingredients

-leftover turkey

-1/4 onion

-1 celery stalk

-1 apple

-1 handful of pecans

-2 tablespoons mayo

-1 handful spinach kale mix

Shred the turkey meat, chop up ingredients and combine in bowl with mayo.

Top on your favorite bread.

Toast bread for extra flavor.

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“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”  Julia Child

“At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.” Salvador Dalí

“Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” Julia Child 

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How to Pair Food and Wine Tips From David Mirassou

Event Collage

I enjoy drinking wine and sampling of its many varieties but have never taken a formal class to understand the intricacies of wine.  From what I had previously seen it seemed quite serious and even intimidating.  Lucky for me I received an invite to a great event.  I recently had the pleasure of attending a Bloggy Boot Camp hosted by the SITS Girls in Miami where not only did we learn advanced marketing tips but we were treated to a Mirassou Wine tasting party.

I met David Mirassou before his presentation and he was very down to earth and welcoming.  I didn’t know what to expect but I was already having fun connecting with local bloggers.  David spoke with so much enthusiasm about his wines the evening became more about having fun.  He shared how much it meant to him to continue the business his grandfather started.  We learned where the grapes came from and the attention to ingredients to bring about certain flavors.

Our tables at Chop House 305 were beautifully prepared featuring several different wines both white and reds along with three very different food dishes.  Food and wine are naturally complementary.  The best suggestion I learned from David Mirassou is to pair lighter foods with lighter wines and heartier foods with bolder wines but most importantly to have fun and enjoy yourself.

How to pair food and wine.

food and wine pairings

On the menu that evening were sliders, macaroni and cheese and sweet shrimp tacos.  It was enjoyable to experiment the tastes of the food with different wines then decide which we liked best.  This a really fun dinner party idea.  Have your guests share what flavors they taste and like.

I love burgers especially served as bite sized sliders.  Sliders are perfectly paired with the Mirassou Reds like Sunset Red, Pinot Noir or Merlot.  The meat brought out the dark cherry and pomegranate flavors in the Sunset Red.

Macaroni and cheese can be paired with either the Chardonnay or the Sunset Red.  The acid in the white wine will cut through the richness of the dish.  The sweetness of the Sunset Red pairs perfectly with the saltiness of the dish.

Sweet shrimp tacos can be paired with any type of white wine; Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, etc.  The sweet flavors of the fruit in the taco sauce brought out the peach, pear and vanilla flavors in the Chardonnay.

Another pairing suggestion is to try pairing the sauce in the dish with the wine.  For example pork chops prepared with white wine sauce is a very different flavor than pork chops in a zesty red wine sauce.

Mirassou has a really great website with all types of suggested pairings and many recipes to inspire and generate new ideas for your next dinner.  There is also a very helpful free downloadable Home Entertaining Kit which includes a wine tasting mat, scoring sheet, food and wine pairing chart along with recipe ideas.  Go here to download.

Have you tried pairing foods and wines before?  Do you have any particular favorites?

Pinot Grigio Fizz

I personally prefer white wines.  I liked the Mirassou Chardonnay and am a big fan of their Pinot Grigio which inspired me to come up with this recipe called Pinot Grigio Fizz.  Combine 4oz Pinot Grigio with 1oz Ginger ale to make one serving of Pinot Grigio Fizz.

Have you tried a Pinot Grigio Fizz?  What did you think?

 

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French Toast Muffins Recipe

French Toast Muffins

My French toast muffin recipe. Putting a spin on ordinary French toast I decided to make small portable portions for Mother’s Day brunch.  Regular French toast is made by covering bread with milk and eggs then frying.  This variation will work great for your next breakfast gathering or to enjoy with friends and family.  If your family is like ours we enjoy breakfast at any time during the day.

French Toast Muffins

Ingredients

8 large eggs

2 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Dash ground nutmeg

Dash ground ginger

French bread torn into cubes

1loaf Pepperidge Farm cinnamon swirl raisin bread

1 jar Smuckers pecans in syrup topping

6 slices turkey bacon

3 Hillshire Farm smoked sausages

1/2 onion

2 stalks green onion

1 apple

turkey bacon

Cook turkey bacon in skillet.  Set aside until cool then slice into small pieces.

sausage

Sauté half a chopped onion and chopped green onion in a pan.  Once it starts to brown add crumbled sausages stirring until browned.  Set aside and let cool.

cooked apples

In small pot add peeled and sliced apple.  Add 2 tablespoons of water.  Sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Cook until it gets soft.  Set aside and let cool.

French Toast Muffins

Line muffin tin with baking cups and spray with non stick cooking spray.

Cut bread into cubes and fill each muffin tip well up with bread.

Add sausage, bacon, apples and pecans to each tin.

French Toast Muffin Collage

In large bowl whisk together milk, eggs, sugar and cinnamon.  Carefully pour this mixture over each muffin tin.  Press down gently on the bread to allow more liquid to be absorbed.

Wrap thoroughly with clear wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake muffins for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  Let muffins cool.  Serve with maple syrup.

French Toast Muffin Recipe Card

This recipe can be easily modified to suit your tastes.  For example you can use strawberries instead of apples or use regular bacon instead of turkey bacon.  Since I made these for a large gathering I made many batches some with more or less ingredients.

Do you love French toast?  Have you tried the muffin version?

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“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Lewis Carroll

“Early bird
Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early bird—
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.”  Shel Silverstein

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. ” John Gunther  

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Oven Baked Spinach Kale Ricotta Frittata Recipe

Spinach Kale Ricotta Frittata Recipe

Frittata is a flat Italian-style omelet with vegetables, cheeses and herbs.  The Italian translation is ‘egg cake’.  A frittata can be made in a large baking dish to serve a large number of people. Here’s the recipe for my tasty twist on the frittata.  It’s very easy to prepare.

Ingredients

4 eggs

1 bag of spinach & kale mix

1 onion

cilantro

2 spoons sofrito mix

parmesan

8 oz ricotta

shredded cheese

Spinach Kale Ricotta Frittata Recipe

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Using a food processor chop up the spinach, kale and cilantro.  I use a food   processor because I have picky eaters and when everything is blended  together they won’t complain about having to eat veggies.

3. Chop your onion and sauté it in a pan on the stove.  Sauteing vegetables brings out their exquisite flavors.

3. In a bowl salt and pepper the eggs then combine ricotta, greens, sofrito, onions and stir until smooth and homogeneous.

4. Coat the bottom of your pan with the olive oil.  I used a 9  x 13 pan.  Pour mixture into pan.  Top with shredded cheese for a nice crusty top.

5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until firm.

Let cool, slice and serve.  Buen provecho!

Spinach Kale Ricotta Frittata Recipe

Do you have a favorite frittata mixture?

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Apple Cinnamon Infused Water

Infused Water Apple

Instead of drinking juice or sugary drinks it’s super simple to make your own infused water.  It is certainly a healthier alternative.  Water is the best thing in the world you could drink.  By adding fresh fruit and herbs you will benefit not only in the great taste but also the wonderful nutrients your body will receive.

Health Benefits of Infused Water

Zero Calories

Lose Weight

Stay Hydrated

Cleanse Your System

Flushes Out Toxins

Maintains Regularity

Boosts Immune System

Keeps You Cool

Energize Your Body

Transports Nutrients & Oxygen

health benefits of drinking infused water

I like using my cute watermelon drink dispenser that I’ve had stored away forever.  That way when friends and family drop by they can just help themselves.  You can also use a glass for smaller portions or a bottle if you want to take it with you.

I fill the drink dispenser half way with filtered water, add the fresh fruit and herbs then fill the remainder with ice.  After three hours you will have some delicious infused water.

Ingredients:

One washed apple.  Do not peel.  Slice.  Do not eat apple seeds.

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

1/2 tablespoon of ground ginger

Apples are high in antioxidants which are disease fighting compounds.  They are an excellent source of dietary fibers which help to prevent heart disease.

Cinnamon is a powerful antibacterial and great for your tummy.  It’s also one of the top seven antioxidants in the world.  Antioxidants reduce the formation of free radicals which cause cancer.

Star anise is traditionally used as a spice and healing herb.  It helps ramp up immune function to better resist viral infections and also contains antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin A.

Ginger has a long history of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress.  It contains very potent anti inflammatory compounds, detoxifies the body and boosts the immune system.

 

Have you tried infused water yet?  Have you tried this recipe?

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“It’s my motto for life. ‘Walk slowly; drink lots of water.” Haruki Murakam

“Love is the water of life, drink deeply.”  Michael Scott

“I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man.” Henry David Thoreau

 

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One of My Secrets for Great Tasting Food: Basic Sofrito Recipe

Sofrito Recipe

Here’s my secret to great tasting food.  There’s nothing that will infuse your dish with flavors that will pop in your mouth more than freshly cut herbs and vegetables.  This is a traditional Puerto Rican recipe handed down in my family called sofrito.  I use this to season foods.  It is the base ingredient for many Puerto Rican dishes.  When I cook my meals are infused with loads of flavor, lots of nutrition and loving intentions.  This is my basic sofrito recipe.

What is Sofrito?

Sofrito is a mix of vegetables and herbs which is a seasoning used to give a certain flavor, aroma and taste.

What can I add sofrito to?

Just about anything:

– Chicken, meats and fish

– Seafood                                  -Pork

– Rice                                         – Beans

– Tortilla Espanola               – Frittata

– Stew                                         – Soups

– Eggs                                         – Tacos

This is my basic sofrito recipe.

1 large bunch of cilantro

3 leaves of culantro

1 clove garlic

1/2 a sweet onion

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Place the cilantro, culantro, onions and garlic in food processor and process until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, add the olive oil until smooth.

Super Easy Cooking Tip

If you roast the vegetables before chopping them, your sofrito will taste even better.

Super Easy Time Saving Tip

The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  A super easy time saving tip is to freeze it for later use.  You can use an ice tray just remember to cover it so it doesn’t get yucky freezer burn.  Then you can pop them out and place them into a plastic zip lock bag.  So the next time you go to cook you have saved yourself the time of preparing these steps.

Like I said this is my own version of a basic sofrito mix and depending on what I’m using it for I will add more vegetables.  For more ideas here’s a list of fresh ingredients you can add to your sofrito:

  • Sweet peppers
  • Green Peppers
  • Red Peppers
  • Ajices Dulces these are a variety of sweet small perennial peppers found in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Tomatoes
  • Oregano
  • Coriander Seeds

Keep calm and just add sofrito

There are many varieties of sofrito.  Do you have a particular favorite?

Did you try the recipe? Tell me what you think.

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“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” W.C. Fields

“Beauty fades, but cooking is eternal.” Cassandra Clare

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”  Julia Child

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