Friday Favorites: Summer Finds

Alternate title – Friday Favorites: Saturday Edition

Alternate title 2 – Friday Favorites: It Was the Longest Day of the Year and I Still Couldn’t Get a Blog Post Up

Now that summer is officially here, how about some Favorites to get us in the mood? Summer to me means lighter fare, fun atmosphere, and fresh flavors. Let’s get started, shall we?

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While getting our apartment set up, Numero Uno and I went to the local hardware store to purchase a simple outdoor furniture set and gardening supplies. In the process, we found other goodies (shocker). We came home with this beverage cooler and it has been providing chilled refreshments to our guests ever since. Before a party, we buy a large bag of ice and are able to keep beers cold out on the porch without taking up valuable fridge space. Continue reading

Friday Favorites: Host/Hostess Gifts

It is always nice to bring a little something as a “thank you” to the host of a party that you’re invited to. Here are a few ideas besides the usual flowers or wine/champagne (tried and true for a reason!) to keep in mind so that next time you’re invited somewhere, you’re not scrambling around last minute for a gift!

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This is a gift that Numero Uno and I got at our engagement party. The giver knew that I love to cook, so a nice cutting board and beautiful Wusthof knife were absolutely perfect. If you know what kind of hobbies your host enjoys, gearing a gift towards that theme will be a sure winner.

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Recipe: Best.Cake.Ever.

I’ve never been much of a cake fan. Growing up I always requested either a pie or an ice cream cake as my birthday treat. Cake always seemed too dry and airy. I like my desserts dense and rich. Like a good thick, chewy brownie… mmm. I’ve since discovered that cake doesn’t have to mean dry and light and have found a few that really make my heart sing. This is one of them. And oh dear god, does it fit the bill.

Butter Cake Mastros

Enter the butter cake from Mastro’s Steakhouse in Beverly Hills. Continue reading

Friday Favorites – Decorations

I’ve lived in a lot of apartments. Seven since college, if I’m counting correctly. And they all have had one thing in common. Bare, white-ass walls. Unless you do something to cover up some of that white, you always feel like you aren’t living in your own space. We have yet to check with our condo’s owner as to whether or not we can paint in our new place, but for now, we’re doing our damndest to make this place look like our own. So here are a few ways we’ve perked up the ol’ homestead.

Mask Collage

I love pieces with an international flare. They often add color and tend to be a good conversation starter. The mask in the bottom left corner, the red dragon on the bottom right, and the middle right-hand one are all from a trip my family took to Indonesia 13 years ago (WHERE DOES THE TIME GO???). The top right hand mask was a gift that we just received from my parents after their recent trip to Guatemala. The other two masks were ones that I picked up at World Market to fill in the collection a little bit. The only downside to purchasing items from the country they were actually made in verses at a local store is seeing the mark-up here in the US. Although I guess after flight and hotel costs….. details, details. We have these lined up vertically along a wall next to our fireplace.

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Perfectly In Season: Rhubarb Crisp

This past weekend we had a group of family and friends in town for our engagement party on Saturday night. On Friday, we had all the travelers plus a group of locals over to grill out at our apartment. We figured relaxing and having a few drinks at our place was easier and more laid-back than trying to get a large group into a restaurant. Much easier to socialize with everyone too.

Numero Uno and I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up the usual suspects – hamburgers, hot dogs, organic chicken sausage, corn on the cob, avocados (for homemade guac) and asparagus. As we were checking out, I began thinking that we needed a dessert to make it a little more “special”. Something nice to end the night with. As we were walking out the door, I noticed bunches of rhubarb in the produce section and a recipe for gluten-free berry rhubarb crisp I had just seen on Spontaneous Tomato sprang to mind.

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I ran back inside, picked up a few pounds of the bright pink celery-like stalks and a pint of vanilla ice cream. As soon as I got home, I pulled up the recipe. In the post, another recipe for rhubarb-only crisp by Mark Bittman is referenced. I ended up making a mashup of the two, since one of our guests is allergic to strawberries and is going gluten-free for 90 days. I already had almond flour on hand, so this was a no-brainer.

Recipe time! Continue reading

Friday Favorites – Wine Accessories

I have family and friends in town this weekend for mine and Numero Uno’s engagement party on Saturday evening. Tonight we’ll have everyone over for a relaxing barbeque and to spend time with those we don’t get to see nearly often enough! I’m sure several bottles of wine will be opened, so for those of you also enjoying the good stuff this weekend, here are a few of my favorite accessories!

We’re lovers of the red in this house. Especially so after a wine trip to Sonoma. The last vineyard on our trip was Truett Hurst, and there we discovered and sampled some lovely Zinfandels. We were hooked and joined their wine club, so now we receive 6 bottles of wine every 3 months. Their reds really are fantastic, but often need a little breathing room to open up and fully develop their flavors before drinking (like most reds). Pouring the bottle into a decanter prior to serving allows this process to occur. I’ve seen these come in all sorts of funky designs – even an antler-shaped one, but that may be a bit much, even for me 🙂

If you’re looking to get the same effect as decanting your wine, but don’t necessarily want to pour off the whole bottle (who am I kidding?), the aerator is your new best friend. This little tool serves the same function as the decanter, but at a much quicker rate. When wine is poured into the spout, air bubbles flow through it and helps open up the wine. It also seems to serve as a great party trick, as guests really seem to like to decant their own wine. Continue reading