Blind Wine Tasting

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend! And those of you who got yesterday off (lucky!) enjoyed the extra day of rest. Can you guys believe that it is almost Thanksgiving? It feels like we were talking about Halloween being the upcoming holiday just days ago and here we are already anticipating Thanksgiving! I try to celebrate each holiday as they come, but I broke that a little last night. It started innocently enough as I was merely flipping through the channels. And then I noticed that the Countdown to Christmas had begun on the Hallmark and Lifetime channels. I was powerless to resist and found myself watching not one, but two movies. They are just that good and since I was already indulging in the Christmas season, I accompanied it with some Chocolate Peppermint tea. Perfection. Let’s not even pretend like this isn’t going to keep happening all the way up until Christmas… because it is.

This weekend was a great one too because my friend Biz hosted a blind wine tasting party. It was such a fun idea and I know some of you will want to have one too over the holidays with your friends! Here’s what we did: Biz instructed us all to bring a bottle of Chardonnay or Cabernet and asked that we vary the price points. When we arrived at the party, we slipped our bottle into a burlap bag and tied it with a special ribbon for the type of wine we brought. We also labeled the wine inside the bottle with the price bracket and tied a number on the bottle.


Next, Biz handed us all little cups that you labeled in accordance with the amount of wines you are tasting. The wines were passed and small pours were doled out and you then rated the wines in order of what price bracket you thought they were in. It was so much fun to figure it out and of course I wanted to talk about each taste even though we were supposed to be private about our guesses. Go figure. At the end we found out the results which was hilarious considering I thought the cheapest bottle of red wine was actually the $50+ bottle. Guess that wine tasting hasn’t paid off?!

And of course the wine was paired with some delicious snacks or as I like to call it “the cheese table.” Not being able to partake was one of the hardest times being gluten and dairy free- especially since my friend Ashley made her famous puff pastry apple brie. However, I’m going to bring some vegan cheese next time and maybe it won’t be as bad as everyone says it is! Fingers crossed.


In love with Biz’s parties as much as I am? See some of her other ones for more inspiration:

-Derby Day Party

-Birthday Dinner Party

-Olympics Party

 

Let’s Get Caught Up

Hi lovelies! Long time, no see! I’m so sorry about my extended absence and apologize for the lapse in blogging. At first, I was away because I was fighting a horrible cold/flu and after getting home from work, just wasn’t up to blogging as well and needed lots of chicken noodle soup and sleep. Then, sadly, I ended up in the hospital with abdominal issues. I don’t like to talk about my health struggles too much on the blog because there are some personal things I’d rather just not discuss. But maybe at some point, I’ll take the plunge and write about it. For now though, we’ll leave it that I was in a great deal of pain and despite still having intermittent pain, I’m back at work and doing better which is such a relief.

But that’s enough of that, instead I’d rather tell you about some fun things going on!

1. My Favorite New Recipe: Strawberry and Mozzarella Salad with Mint Pesto Drizzle

Often times I’ll take pictures on my phone of dishes I make or delicious restaurant meals… and then forget to post them. Earlier in the summer I decided to make the above recipe that I pinned as the perfect starter. As much as I love cheese, I don’t care for raw tomatoes so I’m not a big caprese fan. But when I found a way to have the cheese and combine it with two of my favorite things- strawberries and pesto? I was sold. This is absolutely delicious and fairly easy to make (if you are in a hurry you could always use pre-made pesto but you’ll miss out on the mint flavor!) The only substitutions I made were using truvia instead of sugar and using less oil!

2. Most Exciting Part of the Summer: My Brother’s Engagement!

We had special engagement ring cookies made!

My brother has been dating the beautiful, sweet Julia for almost two years now and they got engaged this summer! I couldn’t be happier that this wonderful couple is getting married and am so excited to be part of their big day (but more on that later.) My brother planned a wonderful proposal for Julia and then my mom and I planned a surprise post-proposal party with both our family and Julia’s family all gathered together. It was such a success and so much fun!

3. Can’t Wait For: My Upcoming LA Trip!

All the girls together Junior Year… hard to believe that was 4 years ago!

In a few weeks I’ll be headed back down to LA for my alumni weekend! I’ve been out of college for 2 years now and cannot wait to spend the weekend with all my best college girlfriends! It also happens to be the day after my birthday, so it will be so fun to celebrate and go to a fabulous dinner! Now I just have to start figuring out the perfect outfits ;)

Questions:

-Catch me up on what’s been going on with you!

-When’s the last time you saw your college friends?

-Have you ever been to an alumni event?

Daddy’s Day

Hi lovelies! Long time, no see! Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately- things have been so busy but I’m happy to be back around the blog. I have some recipes to share with you, some fun adventures in the city, my trip to Indy, fashion and much more! But today, I thought I’d start with the most recent– Father’s Day!

I spent the weekend celebrating my Daddy Jeff- the most caring, compassionate, loving man I know. I feel so lucky to be his daughter and it was a pleasure spending time with him and making sure that he felt extra special, because he truly deserves it. We went to the CA Academy of Sciences and Japanese Tea Garden on Saturday (more on that in a separate post) so we decided to do church and dinner on Sunday. To stray from the norm, my mom and I decided it would be fun to cook dinner for Daddy Jeff. He chose the general idea of what he wanted, and then I turned to some of my favorite bloggers for recipe inspiration. We came up with gazpacho (recipe to come), Mama Pea’s Yukon Gold White Bean Basil Burgers and dessert in the form of Averie’s Peanut Butter Cocoa Krispies Smores Bars.

I’ve eaten countless veggie burgers but never made them, so I was excited to tackle this challenge. Most veggie burgers contain rice or quinoa, so I was so surprised when this recipe combined potatoes with beans! It sounds unusual, but it tastes delicious! I followed Mama Pea’s recipe exactly, only substituting gluten-free flour and a small amount of finely diced onions. It was really easy to prepare, but I did make the mistake of not steaming the potatoes enough. That combined with the fact that I don’t have a potato masher resulted in a sore arm, but ultimately, a happy stomach. We chose to serve the burgers atop mixed greens with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. As I was slicing the mozzarella, and obviously employing the one for me, one for the plate philosophy, I was struck again with how much better fresh mozzarella is rather than the shredded stuff in the bag. I may never go back! We also lightly drizzled a bottled, gluten-free Herbs de Provence dressing atop the greens which perfectly complimented the other flavors.

And then it was time for dessert! Daddy Jeff LOVES peanut butter and chocolate, and if you are looking for one of the best recipes, check this one out. Since I made the one I linked to last Father’s day, I knew this year that I wanted something different. Averie never steers me wrong when it comes to her desserts, so I knew she would be an awesome resource. These bars are all over Pinterest, and when you try them, you can see why. I mean, how could white chocolate + marshmallows + graham crackers + peanut butter + cocoa krispies + chocolate ever be bad? Answer: It couldn’t. What’s especially great about this recipe is that it’s super easy to make, virtually no-bake and is easily gluten-free and vegan! Oh, and it tastes like an extra amazing s’more.

As you can see, it was a wonderful day full of great company and good food. It was really fun cooking with my mom, and so great to sit together as a family with a healthy, home cooked meal. I hope Daddy Jeff enjoyed his weekend as much as I enjoyed celebrating it with him.

Questions:

-Did you do anything special this weekend?

-What’s your favorite kind of Veggie burger?

 

Like a Big Pizza Pie, That’s Amore

Hi lovelies! Happy Wednesday! As I mentioned last week, things have been really busy for me at work, so my blogging schedule might be a little haphazard, but I’ll do my best to stay on track!

Last week, after seeing flatbread pizzas pop up on blogs, I decided to have pizza night with my family. If you’re a frequent reader, you know that I’m not a big cook. I’d like to be, but I’m more about putting something together that’s healthy and relatively quick. Although pizza is definitely quick (hello, delivery) it’s not really on the healthy side, so I generally only have it when I’m feeling like a splurge. But after seeing flatbread pizzas pop up on some blogs, I knew it was time I got on board.

My family decided that we all wanted lots of veggies on our pizza, so I started by grilling zucchini, yellow squash and asparagus. I thinly sliced the squash and sprayed it with a little olive oil and put it on the grill!

Awesome indoor grill that my parents have means that grilled veggies are always readily available!

After my veggies were grilled, I coated a piece of whole wheat lavash bread with TJ’s ready-made pizza sauce and a light sprinkling of grated part-skim mozzarella cheese. I then topped it with my veggies, sliced artichoke hearts and chicken. (I love Trader Joes frozen chicken breast strips because they are fully cooked grilled chicken and all you have to do is defrost!) And then it was time for more cheese. Since I couldn’t remember if you should put cheese on before or after the toppings, I decided to do both.  I added more mozzarella along with some crumbled goat cheese… in my book, you can never have too much cheese which is why I’m especially happy I can have dairy again!

Ready to go in the oven!

I then put my soon-to-be masterpiece in the oven for about 12 minutes at 375 degrees. You want to make sure to watch your pizza carefully so that your lavash bread doesn’t burn… which is why I sat on the floor so I could see inside the lower oven. Ok, that and the fact that I was anxiously awaiting my pizza!

So, so excited!

All 3 creations…

Mine

My Mom's creation

Daddy Jeff's pizza

Word to the wise: when you use as many wet ingredients like Daddy Jeff did, this is what happens when you try and take it off the cookie sheet…

Daddy Jeff's pizza calzone

All in all, it was a really fun night making pizzas and the results were fabulous! I couldn’t finish mine that night, but it made for a lovely lunch at work the next day served with a spinach salad. Next time, I think I’ll use pesto for my sauce and add some sundried tomatos… yum!

P.S. I couldn’t resist making this song my post title. At one of my favorite restaurants in LA, they used to pass out the lyrics and have everyone sing it during dinner!

Questions:

-Have you ever created your own pizza?

-What are your favorite pizza toppings?

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