Christmas morning is typically a flurry of excitement and magic now that I have little ones. It’s always been a magical holiday, but there’s just something about watching your children enjoy the season that makes it so much better. We love every ounce of December from the snow to the family gatherings, and everything in between!
Not surprisingly, food plays a key part in our celebrations as well. Christmas morning carries so much excitement, so our breakfast has to match those vibes. I also believe it shouldn’t be a morning where you spend hours in the kitchen, so I’ve developed this baked apple french toast that you can prep the night before and pop it in the oven Christmas morning! Your family will thank you for it, and you can sit back and sip that morning coffee while the smells of apple cinnamon goodness spread through your house.
The star of this apple french toast bake is and should be the apples! Crunch Pak® has the most delicious apples because they’re grown in Cashmere, Washington (a.k.a the epicenter of apple perfection!) I used their certified organic pre-sliced apples, which boast the perfect fresh and crunchy sweetness on their own – but also hold up nicely to the saute and baking process for this recipe.
So go ahead and sleep in as long as the littles will allow you Christmas morning! Prep this recipe the night before, refrigerate it, then take it out of the fridge while the oven warms up and bake while everyone opens their gifts. From my home to yours, I’m wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a joy-filled Holiday season!
1 loaf brioche or hawaiian bread, cubed
2 12 oz bags of Crunch Pak® Organic Apple Slices, cut into 2” pieces
2 cups whole milk
3 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp cinnamon
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, plus more for topping
1 stick butter, cubed and divided
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup water
Add 1/2 stick of butter, diced apples, cinnamon and 1/3 cup of water to a skillet and saute over medium heat, stirring often on your stovetop for 7-8 minutes. Add the brown sugar to skillet and stir until dissolved, about 1 minute.
Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Place a layer of bread cubes evenly into the baking dish. Top with the other half of the stick of butter and half the apple mixture in an even layer. Top with remaining bread cubes and remaining apple mixture.
In a large mixing cup, whisk together milk, eggs, maple syrup and the zest of 1 orange. Pour over the bread cube and apple mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350. Remove the dish from the refrigerator for 30 minutes (or at least while your oven heats up!)
Bake slightly covered with tinfoil for 20 minutes, then remove the tinfoil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown and the center is firm.
Serve immediately and top with powdered sugar and maple syrup!
Traditions are what make the holidays magical in my opinion. Whether your traditions are cutting down a tree every year or baking with friends and family, it’s those very memories that you likely hold onto and look forward to all year round. It’s probably no surprise to you that one of our traditions is a day spend baking Christmas treats. Everyone contributes some ingredients and we get to work rolling, cutting, mixing, baking and decorating. It’s a full day with all hands on deck from littles to adults.
From sipping coffee to sampling cookies, it always brings me back to baking in my grandma’s small apple studded kitchen in North Minneapolis. The laughter was loud, the coffee was hot and the conversation never lulled. I can still remember her buckets of homemade frosting and the way she would tip her head back when in full laughter mode. Those very memories are ones I cherish and am trying to recreate for my girls.
These cookies were always a part of the Christmas baking repertoire – and while you can certainly enjoy them year round, to me they’ll always represent Christmas. I encourage you to invite some loved ones over, put on a pot of coffee and bake together!
Recipe yields 2 dozen cookies.
12 tablespoons room temperature butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
2 1/4 cup flour (gluten-free? Sub a 1:1 GF flour!)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
Preheat oven to 375 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper
Mix the first 4 ingredients until smooth
Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined
Roll the dough into even sized balls (I use a cookie scoop for consistency) and roll them in sugar
Place the sugared dough balls onto the lined baking sheets and using your finger, drop one drop of water onto the tops of every cookie
Bake 10-12 minutes
Wait 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack, then cool for 15 minutes
Store in a cool, dry place or freeze
Be sure and tag me if you make this recipe on Instagram @girlmeetskitchen and use #girlmeetskitchen
Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day, and because of the fast paced nature of motherhood mixed with work, it’s also usually my heartiest meal. From the moment we wake until late at night life brings a frenzy of activities and demands, so I need meals that both energize and provide the right nutrients to keep our family going. Smoothie bowls are a great way to meet these needs!
I love mixing different fruits together to introduce my girls to a variety of flavors, but my favorite combo is this acai smoothie bowl. It’s loaded with acai berries (great little powerhouses of antioxidants), bananas, and mangoes. The really fun part is the toppings + I let my girls get creative when it comes to what they choose! Think all the fun of an ice cream toppings bar but with heartier, wholesome ingredients like these new Nature’s Bakery Oatmeal Crumble Bars. They come in a variety of flavors like cherry, strawberry or apple cinnamon and the oat-topped whole grains make any morning as happy as happy can be – especially when topped on these smoothie bowls!
Aside from eating them on our morning smoothie bowls, my girls love their wide variety of snack bars. I love that they’re wholesome, non-GMO dairy-free, nut-free, gmo-free, soy-free, and made with hearty whole grains and sun ripened fruits. They also have Double Chocolate Brownies for the occasional sweet treat made with dates, cocoa and whole wheat.
The Fig Bars are a huge hit for snacks in our home (they also offer a gluten-free variety!).They’re plant-based and perfect for on the go and the entire family!
Grab the recipe for the acai smoothie oatmeal crumble bowls below, and happy snacking from my kitchen to yours! Recipe yields 2 smoothie bowls.
½ cup frozen acai berries
½ cup juice of choice (I used pomegranate)
½ cup frozen mango chunks, plus another ½ cup partially thawed
What does Autumn mean to you? When fall arrives, my head immediately begins to imagine gathering around the table with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. From fall birthdays to Friends and Thanksgiving and even the everyday ordinary…these are the moments where the world seems to slow down, people connect, the outside stressors melt away and we mindfully practice tuning in.
Traditions vary from house to house, but we have a Thanksgiving tradition in my family that has stayed the course of time. Our Thanksgiving meal is lunch, but the understanding is guests stay all day and nosh on the leftovers again at dinner. There’s football on in the background, a competitive game of scrabble or two, slow sips of wine or champagne and a variety of food.
This year, we’re mixing it up when it comes to some of the sides. Sure to be featured will be a few bright and hearty salads like this Taylor Farms Maple Bourbon Bacon Chopped Kit served inside a hollowed out butternut squash. Taylor Farms wants to bring friends and families back to the dinner table by offering up an easy, healthy alternative found through its salads and produce. Their Chopped Kits are the perfect fresh dish for the holidays, and the variety of flavors in each kit will compliment any menu – traditional or non traditional!
The squash and maple notes are a natural pairing and the bacon and bourbon round it out with just the right amount of smoky + salty flavors. Not to mention, the dish is vibrant and adds the most amazing punch of color to the table!
The salad is perfectly bright and autumnal as is, but pomegranate arils compliment the flavors of apple and it all pairs so well with the carved turkey! The colors sing in the bowl and all those flavors together don’t fail to delight the taste buds. Simply mix the ingredients in the kit together and add fresh pomegranate arils!
When it comes to menu planning, I follow a few simple rules. First, include your guests. Have each bring one item like an appetizer or side dish to help you lighten the cooking responsibilities. Second, focus on a few dishes that will be tasking and plan out the timing for them. In our case, it means brining and cooking the turkey, the homemade stuffing, etc. Lastly, grab some sustainable and fresh items like these Taylor Farms Chopped Salad Kits to brighten up and elevate the flavors of your side dishes.
Whether your menu is traditional or nontraditional, extravagant or simple – I’m wishing you the most beautiful holiday gatherings! Find the recipe for the squash salad below. Cheers from my kitchen to yours!
1 delicata squash, halved and seeded then cut into half moons
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt + Pepper
Preheat oven to 425
After you’ve halved and seeded the butternut squash, run a sharp knife halfway through the squash in cross sections and drizzle each half with 1 tbsp. EVOO
Place them meat side up on two baking sheets, add 1/2 cup of water onto the pan and cover loosely with tinfoil.
Bake 45-50 minutes.
On another parchment paper lined baking sheet, spread out the halved delicata squash pieces and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the same oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender and browned on the bottom.
Let the butternut squash sit for 15 minutes, then use a large spoon to remove the squash from the exterior layer. Cube the cooked squash and set aside.
Mix together the Maple Bourbon Bacon Chopped salad in a separate bowl and dress it. Add to the hollowed out squash halves and sprinkle with the bacon + golden honey almonds. Finish by topping with the cubed squash + delicata halves.
Scoring the squash aids in cooking and makes it easier to remove!
Just in time for all your Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving gatherings – here is the promised recipe for apple crisp! If you follow me over on Instagram, you may recall we did a poll about how you prefer your apple crisp. I’m a girl who likes it tart and not overly sweet. I know it’s dessert…but apples are already sweet. When you compliment that natural sweetness with spices and a hit of bright acidity, they really shine and make a recipe sing.
When I did the poll, however, a lot of you prefer it sweet – so I’ll give you direction on which apples to use that will change the notes of the dessert more to your liking without over doing it on the sugar.
Best Apples to use for Tart Apple Crisp: Gala, Honey Crisp, Granny Smith
Best Apples to use for Sweeter Apple Crisp: Mutsu, Jonagold, Golden Delicious
For this recipe, I used Honey Crisp…because I wanted it to be celebratory in honor of Friendsgiving. The more cost effective alternative with bright tart notes would definitely be the Granny Smith. A mixture of 1/2 of each also works great here.
Let’s get to the recipe for the best apple crisp, and we will discuss the table setting after that.
For the apple filling
2 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and sliced into half-moon uniform pieces (see above for apple choices for sweet vs. tart!)
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/3 cup sugar
4 tbsp. butter, cubed
juice of 1 lemon
For the Topping:
1 stick of cold butter, cubed
1 tsp. cinnamom
1 cup AP flour (gluten-free sub a 1:1 GF flour)
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325. Butter or spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Add the sliced apples to a large bowl, then add the lemon juice and stir.
Combine all spices and sugar together, then stir into the apples until evenly coated. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, add the topping ingredients and combine with a fork or pie crust mixer. You can also use clean hands. The idea is to get the ingredients combined to a crumble consistency.
Add the apples to the sprayed/buttered pan and add the 4 tbsp. of cubed butter throughout the apples. Then top with the crumble topping.
Bake 55-60 minutes on the center rack of your oven. Serve warm topped with your favorite ice cream.
When planning your Friendsgiving…follow a few simple rules: keep it simple, include your guests and borrow what you don’t have!
When I say keep it simple, I mean everything from the menu to the table setting. Simple can be fancy – I’m referring to simplicity on your budget and using what you have. The main dish was Ham instead of turkey because it’s more cost effective during Thanksgiving season, and simpler to cook. The rest of the menu consisted of a variety of roasted veggies, collard greens, scalloped potatoes, a wild rice salad, a cheese platter all paired with some crisp Rosés. We ended the evening with the warm apple crisp.
I included my friends by assigning them a dish or beverage to bring, making it interactive for them as a guest. It could be as simple as a bottle of wine to a cheese platter or side dish – but odds are your guests will love being included and it helps you as well.
For the table setting: I have China from a zillion years ago, so I used that for both the adults and the kids. Finally, I texted a few neighbors for plate chargers and one of them had the most amazing variety that added dimension to the tablescape.
I decided to use a tablecloth I had purchased on amazon for my girls’ birthday party a couple years ago that is 100% sparkle and over the top, which is linked here. Layering texture for visual affect, I added a burlap runner on top followed by a yellow leaf garland and a few white pumpkins from Target’s dollar section. Finally, I brought it all together with some white unscented candles that bounced the best light off the glitter of the tablecloth and chargers.
There you have it: a recipe for the best apple crisp plus a few tips on how to host your own Friendsgiving. More importantly than what’s on the table, however, is those who gather around it. Wishing you a beautiful fall season celebrating with friends and family alike!
Let’s be honest: most pumpkin recipes came flooding into your feeds starting September 1st. It’s a lot like how retail introduces Christmas the minute Halloween ends. Too early, in my opinion! BUT – I do love a good pumpkin recipe, and this pumpkin bread is a family favorite that doesn’t last long when baked.
It’s really moist, full of spices and pairs nicely with a cup of morning coffee. Or with ice cream. Or alone. You get the idea.
Share it with those you love even though you’ll be tempted to eat the whole loaf by yourself. Sneaking piece after piece in your pantry to avoid your littles seeing you. I’m just going to jump straight to the recipe: because we all know that’s why you’re here!
Enjoy from my kitchen to yours! Recipe yields one loaf or 12-14 muffins.
1.5 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup oil (I used avocado, but feel free to use a coconut or canola)
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 3/4 cup AP flour (for the GF crowd, I use a 1:1 gluten free flour and it turns out perfect every time!)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix sugar + oil together, then add in eggs and pumpkin.
Sift spices with flour, then add.
Add water. Mix until combined.
Bake 1 hour or until a cake tester comes clean from the center of the loaf.
Let cool 15 minutes before removing from the pan, then allow to cool completely before cutting.
The back to school shuffle is real! Any parent can attest to the very real change in routines and schedules when the kids start school again…which can sometimes lead to less time for meal planning. If this is you: rest easy! This is a recipe round-up of some simple + delicious meals from breakfast to dinner in partnership with Roth Cheese.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to stick my emotional head in the sand when back to school comes around each year. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the never ending, on-the-go schedules when fall arrives.
This year, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create an environment in the kitchen and house that was decisively celebratory…especially when it came to packing lunches and planning meals. This meant creating a fun environment when we packed lunches. We crank the tunes and include the kids, which inevitably turns into a kitchen dance party. Making the potentially mundane memorable was exactly what we all needed to kick the back to school blues away!
Here are a few recipes to add to your meal planning this month, featuring Roth Havarti cheese. They have a variety of Havarti cheeses from mild to bold and spicy that are sure to add the perfect depth of flavor to any meal!
Now: let’s get to the recipes…
Breakfast: Cheesy Dill Grits with Blistered Onions + a Jammy Egg
I’m a big fan of savory breakfast, and a warm bowl of cheesy grits made with Roth Dill Havarti topped with blistered onions and a jammy egg hits the spot. This cheese pairs well with just about everything, but brings such a unique flavor to creamy grits that satisfies you long into the late morning hours. Recipe serves 2.
Add 2 eggs to a small saucepan and cover with room temp water. Bring to a boil and turn the stovetop off. Let sit for 5 minutes and 50 seconds. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.
In a small skillet atop your stovetop, add 2 tbsp EVOO and add the sliced onions. Cook 8-10 minutes or until the onions are slightly crunchy but not blackened.
Meanwhile, in a separate medium saucepan, add chicken stock, grits and salt and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat off and stir in the shredded dill havarti.
Divide the grits between 2 bowls and top with the crispy onions and one peeled jammy egg cut in half. Enjoy!
Lunch: Jalapeño Havarti BLT
We pack our girls a lunch every day, and sometimes it’s easy to get in a rut. Changing up a traditional sandwich option like a BLT by adding Roth Jalapeño Havarti turns an everyday lunch into a delicious surprise. The Havarti is so creamy that there’s no need for any mayonnaise, which makes it easier to pack for littles.
We make our bacon in the oven and refrigerate the leftovers, which makes prepping meals like this one so simple. Substitute spinach for regular lettuce for added vitamins and fiber. Recipe yields one sandwich.
Pretty simple here: layer the ingredients between two pieces of bread. Cut in half. Enjoy!
Dinner: Hearty Chili with Chipotle Havarti
Don’t get me wrong, these are all mouth watering recipes. But this one…she’s the prom queen. My family requests this recipe the most of anything I make. And I love that it’s loaded with so much goodness like sprouted beans and lentils, fresh vegetables and 3 different kinds of beans. My husband requests it with grass-fed beef, but I typically make it vegetarian. Either way…it’s a quick and delicious flexitarian meal everyone will love!
It’s especially tasty topped with Roth Chipotle Havarti. The smoky notes of the cheese compliment this hearty bowl of chili so well, and the pairing was a total “When Harry Met Sally” moment. Or for you younger generations, consider it that moment when Hermoine Granger and Ron Weasley finally paired up in “Harry Potter.”
This recipe makes a very large stockpot of chili – which is my preferred way to make it. However, I know many of you are asking for make ahead or little prep meals, and this can most definitely be made in a crockpot! It will also yield you at least 3-4 meals for a family of four, plus it freezes and reheats well…. I mean, what more can you ask from a recipe?
1/2 bag sprouted bean and lentil medley (I use Tru Roots)
15 oz each can of kidney, pinto and black beans, including the liquid
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 stalks celery hearts, diced
4 large carrots, diced
1 bag frozen corn
1 lb. grass-fed ground beef (I use 85/15 blend) optional
Optional toppings: fresh or canned jalapeños, cilantro, green onions.
Brown the beef with the diced onions, celery and carrots until the beef is cooked throughout.
Cook the sprouted lentil/bean mix per the directions on the package on the stovetop in a medium saucepan.
If making this in a crockpot: add the browned beef and cooked vegetables plus cooked lentil/bean mix into the crockpot with all remaining ingredients. Stir well and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
If cooking in a stockpot on the stovetop, brown the beef and vegetables, then stir in remaining ingredients – including the cooked lentil/bean mix. Simmer on medium low to low heat for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
Dish out into bowls and top with all the shredded chipotle havarti cheese.
MOOOOOOOM: What’s for SNACK?
Cheese and crackers, cheese and apple slices, cheese and veggies, a miniature kid’s-sized cheese board…treat them like they’re miniature versions of you. I want to raise humans who eat more than chicken fingers and fries (time and a place for these too, though!) so I continue to introduce all foods to my girls as often and regularly as possible. Spices, bold flavors, unique combinations…they will try them all (even if they don’t like them yet!)
Not every meal will be gourmet…but the most important thing is that every meal will be made with love. I firmly believe there is a reason for food being a big part of life: it brings people together. And that, my friends is where the magic happens. When you’re gathered together around the table with people you love. Some of the fondest memories I have are in those very moments.
From my kitchen to yours, wishing you a very memorable and smooth transition back into the school year.
To grab your very own Roth cheeses, visit their site to locate the retailer nearest you!
*This post is sponsored by Roth Cheese, but the recipes, opinions and immense enjoyment of the food is 100% my own.
Fermentation is one of my very favorite ways to experiment in the kitchen. From a wild yeast sourdough, to fermented vegetables from the garden to kombucha. The entire process is a lesson of time, patience, the right ingredients – and much like in life, varies greatly based on the conditions of the environment.
We’ve been discussing all things kombucha this summer over on my Instagram. Giving you a re-cap of how to make it yourself would be great…but I thought it would be even better to give you a cocktail utilizing your homemade kombucha!
Making kombucha at home really is quite simple. It’s also cost effective versus paying $4-5 per bottle on store bought kombucha. You’ll need a few supplies, some readily available ingredients and a SCOBY.
SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Put bluntly: it may look disgusting, but its the living home for the bacteria and yeast that transform sweet tea into tangy, fizzy kombucha. The SCOBY bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar in the tea, transforming the tea into a fizzy, slightly sour fermented (but mostly non-alcoholic) beverage that is relatively low in calories and sugar.
The recipe I followed with a few tweaks can be found on the kitchn’s site. From there, I was given a few tips and tricks from the help of my friend, Laurie.
Tips for making kombucha:
I use a 1/2 organic green tea + 1/2 organic black tea combo for a fizzier kombucha.
Once your kombucha has fermented the appropriate amount of time and flavored, bottle them in long neck bottles to prevent it from going flat.
Your fermentation process will vary based on the climate in which you live, and also the humidity levels and temperature of your home. A cooler, less humid room will slow the fermentation process. Because of this, begin checking the flavor at the 7 day mark. The first batch I did took 13 days to reach my desired flavor. For a sweeter kombucha, ferment for a shorter duration. For a more tangy kombucha, ferment for a longer time.
Don’t use any steel or metal objects when fermenting, stirring or straining the kombucha. Using metal increases the chance of killing off the good bacteria necessary for the process.
Refrigerate the finished kombucha once bottled to slow the fermentation process down. Note that it will continue to ferment even after it’s bottled.
After the initial ferment, I use roughly chopped fresh fruits, vegetables or herbs in large mason jars and allow it to ferment an additional 2-3 days covered with a paper towel and rubber band.
Ingredients + Tools needed for Kombucha:
Black and Green tea
SCOBY. I bought mine from my local co-op but amazon also sells them.
Fermentation jar. I purchased this one from amazon for $15, which also includes a cheesecloth and rubber band for the top.
Long neck bottles. I purchased this set of 4 from amazon for $18.99. Ikea also has some for $2.99 each.
Funnel. I purchased this duo from amazon for $6.99.
2 cups reserved already made or store bought kombucha.
I love spicy margaritas! The spicier, the better. This packs a good punch, both from an infused tequila, as well as from the strawberry jalapeño kombucha. You can certainly tone it down by using a plain tequila if you’d like.
The kombucha is infused with 2 diced jalapeños and 6-8 diced strawberries to one large mason jar for 2-3 days. It’s by far my favorite kombucha flavor I’ve made to date. For a less spicy version, infuse it for 1 day. Be sure to include the seeds as the capsaicin is what brings the heat.
To infuse your tequila, grab 8-10 peppers you’d like, be it jalapeños, serranos or habañeros. Slice them into halves and put them in the tequila bottle and let them work their magic. A good infusion takes place anywhere from 7-10 days, but you can get some good kick in as little as a day.
From there, you’ll just need a couple limes and some sparkling water. I’m not one for overly sweet margaritas with sugary mixes. This one is the perfect balance of spice, acidity and the slightest touch of sweet from the strawberry in the kombucha. Recipe yields 2 margaritas. Enjoy!
4 oz. infused or plain silver tequila, divided
4 oz. strawberry jalapeño kombucha, divided
Juice of 2 limes, divided
4 oz. lime sparkling water, divided.
Grab 2 tall glasses, rims lined with salt + filled with ice.
Pour 2 oz. each of the infused tequila and kombucha over ice in each glass.
Add the juice from one lime to each cocktail.
Top with 2 oz sparkling water. Give each a light stir. Cheers!
You’ve asked and I listened! Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite wines. A mixture of rosés, reds, and whites (including bubbles!) that range from affordable to splurge-worthy.
It’s no secret that I love a good rosé…it’s always the first section my eyes go to on the wine list. More often than not, I prefer a European vineyard – but not necessarily from France as one would imagine. A few years ago I discovered Austrian rosés are my jam! Dry, crisp, and sometimes reminiscent of a rosé and a sauvignon blanc mixed because they are citrus forward. My very favorite is Rosé Zweigelt Vintage 2018, Blauer Zweigelt.
Cost: $12 at Total Wine.
Separately, I love this canned rosé. In my previous post about hosting a girls night in on a budget, I told you about the most amazing organic wine from Scout and Cellar on hand sent to me via my beautiful friend, Becca (it can be ordered here.) This is one of their offerings and I’m digging it for summer days, poolside!
Cost: $35 for a 4 pack (but wait for their sales like I did!)
When celebrating anything, I love a good bubbly option. And when I drink bubbles, it’s usually just that: celebrating a special occasion…so I splurge a little. On our recent 10 year anniversary trip to Sonoma, we visited Gloria Ferrer winery and we both fell in love with their Extra Brut Reserve Cuvée. It’s very dry and not sweet, which I love.
Cost: $50 (members of their wine club receive discounts!)
On the same said trip, we found the most lovely family run winery called Troika. I’m normally not a red person, but all of their reds are beautiful. We ended up subscribing to a mixed case, including this Grenache. Even my husband loved their reds, and he’s definitely not a red drinker. All of them are lovely, so try them all!
Cost: $40 (members of their wine club receive discounts!)
Sauvignon blanc is my OG wine. This Étnico Sauvignon Blanc from Chile is bright, acidic, super crisp and so lovely. It’s now a favorite of mine. Also fromBecca (it can be ordered here.)
There you have it! Some of my favorite wines.
What are you drinking that you love right now? Cheers from my kitchen to yours!
Motherhood, wine and cheese have to be synonymous…don’t you think? Add summer to the mix and VIOLA! You’ve got yourself the perfect ingredients for hosting a girls night in. What’s more: no babysitter required if they bring over their kids to run around and play together with your kids. Moms get to connect and the kids tucker themselves out in the fresh air catching frogs + fireflies. I call that a mom win!
There is something to be said for a warm summer evening alfresco spent sipping wine amongst friends. The magical golden hour that seems to linger on forever is the perfect ambiance for hosting an outdoor soirée. Using this ambiance brings an element all of it’s own to hosting, and throwing something together that compliments the scene doesn’t have to break the bank.
This past weekend I hosted such a gathering to share the details with you on how simple it can be, in partnership with my friends at Roth Cheese.
First, let’s talk ambiance. I grabbed items I already had in our home to bring some charm outdoors: a few throw pillows, a neutral blanket, an antique travel case to double as a table…then set it all up in my backyard. I added a few trays I had as makeshift tables and an ice bucket to keep the wine chilled. Throw in some cloth napkins, plates and wine glasses and you’re all set.
Now let’s discuss the menu. I created this cheeseboard with a budget in mind! The entire thing was made for just $20. Want to go a step further? It’s all 100% organic!
The idea is simple: build a stunning cheeseboard for $20 using a combination of store bought items and pantry staples. For this cheeseboard, I used Roth’s Organic Cheddar and Grand Cru cheeses, then built the board around these flavors.
I prefer to carry color themes throughout my cheeseboards, so I stuck to browns, greens and bright oranges. The finishing touch was some rosemary from my garden for aroma and visual effect.
I also had the most amazing organic wine from Scout and Cellar on hand sent to me via my beautiful friend, Becca (it can be ordered here.) Organic, clean, sans chemicals and NO HANGOVER – that benefit pairs well with everything!
This Sauvignon Blanc from Chile is bright, acidic, super crisp and so lovely. It’s now a favorite of mine that will be stocked for evenings just like these.
Just because you’re the host, doesn’t mean you have to front the entire wine consumption cost! If you have friends as lovely as I do – ask them to bring a bottle of wine to the party. My typical rule of hosting a small gathering is to have at least 2-3 bottles chilled or at the ready, and ask friends to bring 1 to contribute as well. They won’t find it rude.
Aside from that, I always have fresh veggies and hummus on hand, so I put a plate of that on the side and let the main star of the show (the cheeseboard) speak for itself. Here’s a breakdown of cost on how I put this together:
Dried fruit. You can use anything here, but I always have raisins, dried apples and dried mangoes on hand. My kids eat them by the fist full. I chose no sugar added organic dried mangoes.
Nuts. Same idea here, any nuts will do. Those I have on hand on the regular are pistachios, cashews, almonds and peanuts. Occasionally I have Marcona almonds, which are an absolute favorite on cheeseboards, but I didn’t assume those to be as staple in everyone’s pantry. I selected organic lightly salted almonds.
Fried potatoes. I always have an assortment of potatoes in my pantry. It’s not unusual for me take 1-2 potatoes out in the morning and fry them in avocado or olive oil in a skillet. I used 6 baby potatoes, quartered and fried, then added salt and pepper after they were crisp.
Crackers. I feel like this is a staple on every cheeseboard. The crunch is essential in my opinion, and I used an assortment of gluten free crackers that I always have on hand like Crunchmaster and Mary’s Gone Crackers.
There you have it! An entire girls night in (well…in but outside) on a budget. The takeaway? You can put together a beautiful cheeseboard for $20 or less, provide a couple bottles of wine, but then ask your friends to bring an app or bottle to share.
It’s more about sharing in good company and conversation than it is about spending an arm and a leg. Cheers to curating more experiences that linger and practicing hospitality!