Pink Party for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Call me #basic, but by the time September rolls around, I’m ready to embrace all things fall.  From autumn inspired recipes, to warm mulled wines, to pumpkins and candles that remind me of fall scents back home in Michigan – I just can’t get enough of my favorite season.  October, however, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it marks the beginning of the most important time of the year for us at work.  Since half the profits from our Chardonnay give back to Gateway for Cancer Research (providing clinical trials to women with breast cancer), just when we’re ready to dive head first into fall, everything turns PINK.

We have a division of our company called Hope at Home which offers at-home wine parties that benefit the cause of your choice with 15% going back to the non-profit of your choice.  As our Art Director, I’m always on the hunt for creative and fun ways for our team to stay inspired and get motivated to throw their own parties – especially during our cause months.  A big challenge for me this year at work was figuring out how to throw a pink party, when everyone wants to curl up with a blanket, drink warm mulled wine and pull out their orange pumpkins and decor.  I poked around the internet for some inspiration and ultimately ended up coming back again and again to a flower arrangement that embraced pink and orange equally.  It was inherently pink but also perfectly fall so I decided to run with it.

Since everything we put together had to be easily replicated by our team members who might not be full fledged floral designers or regular party hosts, I broke it down into three simple DIYS and four food/appetizer ideas that both embrace the fall season and pair wonderfully with our Chardonnay.  The best part of this project (beside seeing it all come together) was definitely trying the recipes.  They were SO good and everyone in the office chowed down while we popped open a few bottles of Chardonnay.  Check out everything below from the DIY and recipes to shots from our own little Pink Party ;-)

PS: If you’re interested in hosting your own PINK party for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or if you’d like to raise money for another cause that you’re passionate about OR if you’d like to make an income while giving back to various causes, please consider Hope at Home :-)

DIY YARN FRINGE BACKDROP

DIY PINK FALL FLORALS

DIY FLORAL ICE CUBES

PINK MARSHMALLOW DIP

PEAR + GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI

BRIE + FIG PASTRY BITES

CHARDONNAY CHEESE PLATE

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CHEERS!

 

 

Salad Wars – Quinoa Salad

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Happy Tuesday!  I meant to post the second salad of Salad Wars last week, but things got crazy at work and there was just no darn time for blogging.  You know how that goes!

Now back to salads…

This salad probably takes the cake as one of the best everyday salad I’ve ever had.  Jake and I visited some friends last summer when they got engaged and moved into their first place together.  Lauren whipped this up for everyone and I was sold.  I had to have the recipe.  Thankfully she sent it over a few days later and I’ve been making it ever since and it’s such a hit every time.  What’s really great is that it’s so simple to make ahead of time too and these days I’m all about easy lunches.  Usually on Sunday or Monday night I’ll make a great big batch of quinoa (2 cups of quinoa in 4 cups of chicken stock) and then I have a ton of it for the week to throw into anything that needs a little extra something.  Pre-chop the veggies (peppers, onion and cucumber) and you’re good to go.  Simple lunches FOR. THE. WIN.  Huge thanks to Lauren for changing my salad life and turning me on to quinoa!

Prep: 30 minutes
Serves: 2 people (entree sized portion)

Ingredients

4 cups of fresh spinach
1 cucumber (peeled and chopped)
1 red bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
1 green bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
1/4 red onion (chopped)
1 avocado
1/2 cup feta
1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken stock
2 cloves garlic (minced)
salt & pepper to taste

Directions

1.  In a small pot, combine chicken stock with quinoa, garlic, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

2.  While cooking the quinoa, chop all of your veggies.

3.  Once quinoa has absorbed all of the chicken stock (about 20 minutes) remove from heat for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

4.  Combine spinach, veggies and feta and pour quinoa over top.  Juice lemon and add olive oil and balsamic.  Toss and serve.

5.  Two great wines to pair… this one and this one :-)

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Salad Wars – Easy Spinach Salad

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As much as I wish I could say that I’m a health nut, it just isn’t the truth.  I blame part of it on growing up with a should-have-been-a-chef father who was always whipping up something absolutely incredible that generally included rich flavors: garlic, spices, great meats, savory cheeses, etc.  Now that I work in the wine industry, my foodie levels have only been heightened by pushing myself to think about pairings and learning more about what foods bring out certain characteristics in wines and vice versa.  However, when I started running a LOT earlier this year (more than ever before in my life), I started to learn a few things about my body.  Mainly that I absolutely could not continue eating anything and everything I ever wanted.

The issue for me is that it’s really hard to find healthy food that is flavored well and that I really, truly crave.  I need salads that are way more interesting than the pre-made quinoa and kale station at Whole Foods during lunch to keep me going or else I wind up at the ridiculous taco joint down the street for the best fish tacos on the planet, or god forbid, CHIPOTLE, which is also conveniently within walking distance to the office.  Additionally, I took a hard look at my bank account a few weeks ago and it’s just sad how much money goes to eating lunch out almost every day of the week.  It’s no secret that packing a lunch saves you money, but it was a truth I chose to ignore for quite a while.

Enter Salad Wars which is mainly a great big experiment and challenge to find the best, most convenient and healthy salads out there.  In my quest, I have found a few and to my disbelief, I’m actually excited for them by lunch or dinner – a feat I never thought possible ;-)  Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a few of those recipes and hope to inspire you to join me on the quest for good health.

#1 is my go-to Spinach Salad… check out the recipe below!

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Prep: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

2-3 handfuls of fresh spinach
1 handful of cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 avocado
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt (to taste)
a dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

If you’re taking this for lunch and would like to prep it the night before, I usually mix the spinach, pine nuts, parmesan and a little salt in a travel container.  I slice the avocado and tomatoes just before eating to keep things fresh :-)

This salad could not be simpler, which I love.  No dressing at all (including EVO) is always better than dressing, but cutting out pre-mixed, store bought dressing also cuts out major calories so I feel ok with a little drizzle of olive oil.  With a tiny bit of salt and just a slight dusting of cheese, I’ve found that I don’t miss the pre-mixed dressing at all and I feel fulfilled and re-energized when I’m done eating instead of slipping into total food-coma… We’ve all been there after lunch.  You know what I’m talking about.

*If you’re having this for dinner or if you’re allowed to have a taste of wine at work, this wine or this one are great options and pair deliciously with all of the flavors above :-)  Cheers!

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Pumpkin Pie Sparkling Sgroppino

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Now THIS is something to try this weekend.  It’s going to be really, really hot in LA (insert frantic/wailing/angry emoji face here) and I’m at my breaking point with the heat.  I want chicken chili and pumpkin pie, y’all!  This, however is one way to curb the heat with everything you love about fall blended into a cocktail of sheer bliss.  It’s pretty simple to make and your guests will be blown away.

Pumpkin Pie Sparkling Sgroppino
 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total: 10
Serves: 2
Ingredients
 
1 cups chilled vodka
1 pint pumpkin gelato (I found this at Whole Foods, but if you can’t track it down yet, vanilla gelato with a dash of pumpkin pie spice is a great substitute)
1 cup ice
Ground Cinnamon (for garnish)
Caramel Sauce
4 ground honey graham cracker crumbs (for rimmer)
Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy.
  2. Rim chilled martini glasses with graham cracker crumbs (a tip is to dip it in caramel sauce first and then in the graham cracker crumbs).
  3. Pour mixture into glasses and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon
Cheers!

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Fall Entertaining

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Hip hip hooray!  It’s October 1st and I’m so excited to finally get to share the shoot I styled for ONEHOPE’s 2014 Fall Entertaining Guide perfectly captured by Brian Tropiano Photography. At work, I feel like we’re always flying by the seat of our pants and putting together content like this ahead of time has been a struggle.  This year, however, we managed to stay ahead of the game and shot everything in July to use for the remainder of the year.  Trying to determine what is going to be “in” before anything holiday related is even advertised or released in store is tough so instead I just decided to stick with my gut and curate items and elements that I really, truly love.  I wanted the room to feel like a forest so I incorporated a lot of wood textures, ferns, (faux) antlers, geodes and quartz tea lights down the center of the table.  On the wood backdrop behind the wine, was a wreath with an antler to tie the look together with an additional leather fern garland with bistro lights strung above the table.  We brainstormed for days on what to do instead of traditional place cards before we finally decided on stones – gold calligraphy on stones – to keep with the forest theme while adding a touch of elegance to each setting.  The overall messaging behind the day was “Hope, Thanks and Dreams” so Beth hand crafted an amazing dream catcher where guests’ thanks, hopes for the future and dreams were shared and attached with tiny clothes pins.  Menus were printed on archival matte paper with hope, dream or thanks hand inscribed on the top and florals were kept to a minimum with wooden vessels and a casual/handpicked mixture of dahlias, garden roses, viburnum berries, artichokes and greens.

Since the entire purpose of the shoot was to show how to integrate wine into your fall, Thanksgiving or holiday gathering, the day wouldn’t have been complete without some absolutely delicious and gorgeous fare crafted by 24 Carrots Catering.  24 Carrots is one of the biggest catering companies in the business and their food has never, ever disappointed at any event I’ve ever attended.  I was so impressed that they took our direction (a classic Thanksgiving meal) and creatively modernized it a bit while still staying in theme.  For example, I loved the juxtaposition of a modern beet dish served on a raw wood platter that you’ll see below.  Lastly, each of their dishes paired perfectly with one or more of our wines so find pairing suggestions and a few wonderful recipes below!  CHEERS!

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DECOR TIP:  Chairs can make or break a look.  This shoot took place in our conference room and it’s usually filled with white task chairs that are functional for work, but we opted to replace them for this shoot and I’m so happy we did.  Using these metal industrial chairs from Found Rentals kept the look casual, but also uniform, which I loved.

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DECOR TIP:  When designing a table on a budget, not only are garlands beautiful and always on trend, but they’re also the best bang for your buck. Seeded eucalyptus, lemon leaf, leather fern and bay leaf are all great options to consider.  Contact a flower mart or district in your area for bids, but depending on the greens you go with, garlands can run as little as $2.50-$7.00 per foot!

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DECOR TIP:  Menus aren’t always necessary, but they really add to a place setting and are so simple to create.  We whipped this one up Illustrator (but can easily be replicated in MS Word), printed it on nice paper and applied it to a piece of recycled kraft/corrugate paper that we picked up at Michael’s to tie in with the rest of the theme.  Menus are not only great for making pairing suggestions, but they are also the perfect place to tie in your theme or messaging of the evening.  Beth hand wrote thanks, hope or dream at the top of each menu to reiterate why we were all gathered that day.

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DELICIOUS Sauvignon Blanc can be found here.

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Fall-Entertaining-Turkey-2PAIRING NOTES:  Pinot Noir and Turkey are a natural pairing.  The savory herbs and spices on the roasted turkey are complimented by the spice-infused influences of the French oak in our Pinot Noir.

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DECOR TIP:  Since turkey is usually the main food element during Thanksgiving meals, I love that 24 Carrots used this legged platter to give it some height.  Pieces like this are readily available at Cost Plus, Pottery Barn or can be rented for the day from Found Rentals.Fall-Entertaining-Dream-Catcher

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PAIRING NOTES:  The creamy texture and toasted oak notes of our Santa Barbara Reserve Chardonnay pair perfectly with the rich butter and cheddar cheese of this twice baked potato.

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PAIRING NOTES:  Eggs and Pinot Noir are a guilty pleasure not to be missed and Pinot is the perfect partner in crime for ham.

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PAIRING NOTES (recipe below): The rich fruit and lively spice of our Pinot Noir adds some brightness to the earthy quality of these savory vegetables.

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Thyme Infused Roasted Root Vegetables by 24 Carrots Catering

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

2 lbs mixed root vegetables (we use baby carrots, the smallest parsnips you can find and a mix of yellow and red beets)
Olive oil, to taste
Salt + pepper, to taste

Balsamic Thyme Vinaigrette Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons thyme minced
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoon cumin, toasted and ground
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons miso paste

Directions

Gently peel the carrots and parsnips. Leave them whole if they are all the same size – if not, chop the larger veggies to equal the size of the smaller ones. Peel and chop the beets into rough cubes, about 1-inch all around.

Place all the vegetables onto a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Place in a 400°F degree oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, shaking them periodically for even cooking. Remove from oven when soft, slightly brown and caramelized.

Meanwhile, prepare the balsamic thyme vinaigrette. Place all the ingredients aside from the oil in a mixing bowl. Drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine. Season to taste.

Drizzle dressing all over the vegetables to coat, return to the oven and caramelize for five more minutes.

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PAIRING NOTES: The savory, meaty essence of the sausage pairs perfectly with spicy and herbal characteristics of our Zinfandel.

Apple Sage Cornbread Stuffing by 24 Carrots Catering

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

Cornbread, recipe follows
10 slices oven-dried country white bread
8 tablespoons butter
2 cups celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 granny smith apples ¼ inch, diced
1 lb apple sausage
7 cups chicken stock
1 cup Heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sage
1 tablespoon thyme
5 eggs, beaten

Cornbread Ingredients

1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1/2 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a large bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, dried white bread slices and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown, then add the celery, onions and apples and cook until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture over cornbread mixture. Add the stock and cream, mix well, taste, and add salt, pepper to taste, sage, and thyme.

Add beaten eggs and mix well. Pour mixture into a greased pan and bake until dressing is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Serve with turkey as a side dish.

Cornbread Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into a greased shallow baking dish. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

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Cranberry Lemon Herb Butter by 24 Carrots Catering

Ingredients

1/4 cup mixed herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil, tarragon, and chives, chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cranberries, dried
1 teaspoon cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Directions

Chop cranberries then add herbs on a work surface. Add butter cranberry sauce and lemon zest. Finely chop together until well combined. Season with salt.

Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper, placing on edge closest to you. Fold paper over and roll into a cylinder, twisting the ends; wrap airtight in foil. Chill until solid.

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DECOR TIP:  Use as many potted plants as possible to achieve your look.  Mixing in small potted ferns, rosemary plants or succulents to your tablescape will keep the look interesting and will also make great favors to your guests.  While fresh cut flowers are always beautiful, they’ll also perish a few days later while a potted plant will flourish and will serve as a happy reminder of your gathering with loved ones.  While not for everyone, trees also make a huge statement.  The cedar tree pictured behind me in the photo below was purchased from a local nursery for $20!  Fall-Entertaining-Beets-3

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PAIRING NOTES: The earthy tones of the beets and the tartness of the goat cheese are complemented by the lush, dark berry fruit of our Cabernet Sauvignon.

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PAIRING NOTES: The candied red fruit characteristics and the bright acidity of our Merlot help cut through some of the richness of this luxurious pie.  The bright acidity and zesty citrus notes of our Sparkling Brut would be a fantastic match for the rich, sweet character of the pie.

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DECOR TIP:  To keep your look interesting and “collected” opt for pieces that still fit your aesthetic, but aren’t too “matchy matchy”.  I love this vintage galvanized pie/cake stand 24 Carrots used for their Pecan Pie.  That tiny hint of metal tied in perfectly with the iron chairs we selected from Found Rentals.

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Photography: Brian Tropiano Photography
Calligraphy & Dream Catcher: Beth Phillips
Rentals: Found Rentals
Linen: La Tavola
Styling, Florals & Decor: Yours truly :-)

First Weekend of Fall

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Happy Monday!  I hope you had a wonderful first weekend of fall!  This was actually our first cooler weekend in LA and I was thrilled to not be scorching for once!  I worked on a few projects around our place, installed a new screen door (!!!) and had a pretty mellow two days to play catchup after coming back from Michigan last week.  This week, I can’t wait to share a few projects that I’ve been working on!  Get ready for some exciting stuff and hopefully a few entertaining tricks/decor to inspire your next fall party.

PS: How cozy does that living space look?  I love that it’s still minimalist with lots of warm textures – perfect for fall :-)

 

Apple Cider Mimosa

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Happy, happy Friday!  I hope you had a wonderful first week of fall – yay!  After a long weekend in Michigan and then a short week of playing catchup from being gone for a few days, I’m more than ready for a weekend at home to do a few projects and test out some new recipes :-)

One of the major things I was hoping to do while visiting the family was to take a trip to the cider mill because those just don’t exist in California.  Unfortunately, while enroute to the mill, it started POURING and we had to turn around and call it a day.  We picked up some fresh apple cider from the market the following morning and whipped these up to sort of ease the blow of not being able to partake in one of my favorite midwestern traditions.  Just in time for the weekend, I wanted to pass along a super fun fall spin on the classic mimosa :-)  They are SO good!  I promise you will love them!

Apple Cider Mimosa

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total: 10
Serves: 1

Ingredients

1 tsp brown sugar
1 ounce scotch (optional)
2 ounces fresh apple cider
4 ounces ONEHOPE Sparkling Wine
Apple slices for garnish
Caramel sauce & brown sugar for rimming (optional)

Directions

1.  If rimming your flutes, dip the rim of the glass into caramel.  Using a small plate or bowl works best for this.  After coating the rim, dip your glass into brown sugar.
2.  Combine brown sugar, scotch and apple cider in a flute.
3.  Top with ONEHOPE Sparkling wine and garnish with fresh apple slices.

Recipe adapted from here.

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