Friday, December 19, 2014

The Vanilla Bean Blog’s Raspberry Cacao Nib Sugar Buns

How crazy good would these be on Christmas morning, fresh out of the oven?? Get the Recipe here. Have a great weekend.

Photos Via Foodie Crush

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Getting Your Winter Workout On Track

Getting Your Winter Workout On Track

My workouts always suffer through the holiday season. I slack off majorly this time of year and my diet, which is usually pretty healthy, takes a massive nosedive with all the sweets and cocktailing going on. I’m already thinking about ways to get back in the groove mentally, but the cold weather has also been a deterrent for me when it comes to the thought of talking a long run or walk. Some good cold weather gear will help, like a solid set of gloves, arm warmers, something to keep ears warm, and a light clip-on strobe light for night time exercise. All of these are highly rated and reasonably priced…and they’d make a great gift for any outdoor fitness fan.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tips for Using a Garland as a Table Runner

I love these simple tips from Domaine Home about dressing up the holiday table using a garland as the centerpiece:
Go Green: Run the garland across the table using the greenery (I recommend olive leaves and/or ferns). Tuck flowers in and affix with a light wire. I recommend building the garland about an hour or so before the dinner to ensure they are fresh.
Add Flair with Fruit: Add fruit to the garland for an unexpected twist. I love including citruses, such as oranges and lemons, and pomegranates. Be sure to have a lint roller on site to clean up the linens as leaves tend to shed.
Light it Up: Tuck in twinkle lights or tea lights throughout the garland to create some light around the table, especially if you are hosting at night.
Make Space: Since the garland will take up a lot of space on the table, it's important to create little pockets in between seats for serving trays and bowls to rest on the table.
Give Flowers to Go: As a parting gift, give away the florals and fruit to your guests! Let them create their own little bouquets, which can adorn their homes for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Crafting a Cheese Board with The Farm at Doe Run

Photo via Terrain

Terrain and the artisanal cheese-making authorities at The Farm at Doe Run recently came together to reveal how they create a board that would impress the most critical of cheesemongers.  A beautiful cheese spread is, in my opinion, the quintessential party appetizer and a staple for all the festive gatherings taking place this time of the year.  See their do’s and don’ts below, plus links to some of the products they mention:

1. Always pull your semi-soft, semi-hard, and hard cheeses from the refrigerator and remove them from their wrapping 20-30 minutes prior to your guests’ arrival. This allows the cheese to reach room temperature for optimal flavor. 
2. You should always leave the rind on your cheeses, allowing guests the opportunity to taste the rind as the cheesemaker intended.  
3. Never cube artisanal cheese. Instead, cut long triangles or small wedges of a bloomy rind so that your guests receive the proper rind-to-paste ratio. 
4. Design your cheese board like a road map for your guests. Make sure to start with your milder cheeses up front or to the left of your board, then lead into a nice, firm variety, followed by a bolder, washed rind. Finish up with something salty, like a blue cheese. 
5. Cheese knives are important! There are knives designed for every type of cheese, but that doesn’t mean you need to have them all. It’s good to have a soft cheese knife for more spreadable varieties, and a hard cheese knife for chopping firmer cheeses. A cheeseboard and tools can make a great conversation piece – by placing your knives near each designated block of cheese, you create an interactive experience for your guests. This also helps eliminate waste, since guests are able to cut what size piece they would like to try. 
6. Cheese signs are a must! Be sure to list information such as the name of the cheese, type of milk, whether it is raw or pasteurized, and the name of the local farm that produced it. Spread that local love! 
7. Ask your local beekeeper for some fresh honeycomb to put on the side of your cheese board as a seasonal pairing that also adds visual flourish.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pantone's 2015 Color of the Year

The color connoisseurs at Pantone have unveiled their 2015 Color of the Year, labeling warm, rich color "Marsala." It’s defined by Pantone as "a naturally robust and earthy wine red," and I can immediately see what’s so appealing about it. 

Photos via Domaine Home

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sparkling Pomegranate Punch

Hellooooooo Friday.  I’m checking out early today to see my son’s holiday school performance and shortly thereafter I’ll be fighting the traffic into San Francisco for my husband’s company holiday party. I plan to be bar-side in a few short hours knocking back a few cocktails before dinner, and then Sunday we'll spend the day taking an out of town guest wine tasting so it seemed appropriate to post a Christmas cocktail recipe today. This one come from Food & Wine and looks like it strikes a nice balance between sweet and tart, which I love. Have a great weekend.
2 oranges, thinly sliced crosswise 
 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds 
 3/4 cup late-harvest white wine, such as late-harvest Riesling, chilled 
 Ice cubes, for serving 
 Two 750-milliliter bottles sparkling wine, chilled 
 3 tablespoons sugar 
 1 cup diced fresh pineapple (1/2 inch) 
 1 cup pomegranate juice
In a punch bowl, dissolve the sugar in the pomegranate juice, stirring vigorously. Add the sparkling wine and late-harvest white wine, then add the orange slices, diced pineapple and pomegranate seeds. Serve the sparkling pomegranate punch over ice cubes.

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