Food & Wine

Delicious Champagne Punch

I had a small soiree at my house last night and served appetizers and a selection of desserts. I always try to offer a special cocktail in addition to wine, water, and nonalcoholic beverages. Last night, I was inspired to do a champagne punch to complement the menu and found this delicious recipe on Epicurious. It does pack a wallop, but it is really festive and tasty. It would be beautiful served in this silver-banded punch bowl from Williams-Sonoma.

Silver-rimmed punch bowl from Williams-Sonoma

Valentine’s Day Ice Cubes

Whether you are hosting guests for a Valentine’s Day get together or just want to show that special someone you care, this project is for you! These pomegranate filled ice cubes are easy to make and will instantly make any drink you serve that much more special.

 

Pomegranate Heart Ice Cubes

You can find a step-by-step process on how to make these ice cubs here, but essentially you just put three pomegranate seeds in a heart shaped ice tray. Freeze and then serve in your drink of choice!

 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I think I found my new favorite Fall dessert! These pumpkin whoopie pies from Epicurious are amazing. I followed the recipe to a tee. The only modification I would suggest is not candying the pecans (the whoopies are sweet enough on their own) and press the pecans into the cream rather than rolling them on the sides.

Yum!

Easy Entertaining: Let the Appliances do the Work

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of entertaining. Most of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure that everything is perfect which often deters us from entertaining at all. Never let expectations keep you from extending gracious hospitality to those that you care about. Instead, find ways to make entertaining even easier and efficient.

One way to make entertaining easier is to rely on faithful appliances and let them do the work. Here are three appliances that can transform your entertaining from intimidating to quick and easy.

 

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker with Extra Freezer Bowl from Williams-Sonoma

An automatic ice cream maker is a nice way to put a special touch on your gathering with a homemade treat. You can find lots of great recipes for ice cream online, or you can choose to purchase an ice cream starter from a store like Williams-Sonoma. Either way, making your own ice cream is super easy and is always impressive to guests.

Breville Bread Maker from Williams-Sonoma

Similarly, a bread maker is a great way to offer that homemade touch. Homemade bread is not only delicious, but it is super easy to make. Simply dump the ingredients in the bowl and turn on the machine. You can time the bread so that it comes out at the exact time you plan on serving it. There is nothing better than warm bread and butter!

All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker from Williams-Sonoma

Lastly, a slow cooker is a tried and true easy entertaining trick. Again, pile in the ingredients and turn on the timer. Done! I am really fond of the recipes that Williams-Sonoma has online, especially their slow-cooker lasagna (great as leftovers, too!) and Thomas Keller’s slow-cooker cassoulet. The latter has a few more steps than a traditional slow cooker recipe, but it is worth it and is one of my favorite recipes of all time. Great for winter.

So next time you entertain, let the appliances do the work for you. Set the timer, and voila!

Sugarfina: New Source for Your Sweet Tooth

I am anxious to try some of the cool candies offered by a brand new online candy shop called Sugarfina. Their offerings are really original and would make for great favors at a wedding, shower, or other event. In honor of the latest addition to the National Zoo family, these chocolate licorice pandas would be particularly fun! Also fun is their cocktail party sampler which includes a tasting alcohol-inspired candies.

 

Chocolate Licorice Pandas from Sugarfina

Cocktail Hour Tasting from Sugarfina

Picture It: Branded Photo Chocolates

Came across Cocoagraph — a chocolatier who makes custom chocolates with photos or logos on them. They look so neat and would be great for wedding favors, corporate events, or what about a birth announcement? Just as important as how chocolates look is how they taste. I can’t yet vouch for these but they do look delicious!

Cocoagraph chocolates

Put it on Ice

I love when you can repurpose something common for another use. Like using a garden variety (no pun intended) pot to serve as an ice bucket. Pots and planters come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and colors and can easily serve as a wine or ice bucket. Fill up the vessel with ice cubes, set out your beverages, and voila! — you have a party!

Garden Pot as an Ice Bucket via Donna Hay

Mix it Up!

Mixers are key to making any good cocktail, which is why when I came across Fever Tree beverages I was pretty sure I hit the goldmine. This London-based company specializes in mixers like club soda and tonic water as well as sips such as ginger beer and ginger ale. I have not tried them yet, but as I understand it, their Fever Tree Lemon Tonic Water makes a mean gin and tonic.

The beverages are now available on Amazon.

 

Fever Tree Beverages

Summertime Dining: Watermelon Salads

One of my favorite culinary treats in summer is watermelon. Refreshing and bright, watermelon is often a great picnic or BBQ food or a sweet dessert at the end of a simple meal. But watermelon also shines as a star in summer salads. The three below look delicious!

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint from Food & Wine

Watermelon, Feta, and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Glaze from Bon Appetit

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Crispy Prosciutto via Real Simple