Every year at our annual New Year’s Eve celebration, I stock the bar with the usual suspects (champagne, wine, beer) and then add one signature drink to the mix that is festive and easily prepared in advance. This year my color scheme is revolving around mints and golds, so I thought a peachy colored drink would look great on the bar. After some brainstorming, I landed on a grapefruit juice based cocktail that I’m calling the ‘Grapefruit Sparkler.’ To make a batch for yourself start with a pitcher or carafe and mix together 3 cups of chilled grapefruit juice, 1 cup of white rum, and 1/4 cup of elderflower liquor — use this ratio to double or triple the recipe depending on how large your party is. To serve, pour the mixture 3/4 of the way full in a flute and top the remaining 1/4 of the glass with a bubbly prosecco and a sparkly drink stirrer — cheers!
Boston Bloggers had the pleasure of hosting a preview of the Fall bridal collection at BHLDN in the Chestnut Hill Anthropologie this month. Even with our wedding already behind us, I can still appreciate the gorgeous dress selection at the BHLDN boutique — the good news is that the bridesmaid dresses, shoes, and accessories are all still in my sights to wear as a wedding guest! And the decor items are just so cute, they’re perfect for parties and the home too. The Anthropologie team pulled out all of the stops for our group — sweet treats, Mumm Napa champagne, gorgeous florals by Ladies of Foret, and darling little paper flowers in gold leaf vases for guests to take home at the end of the night! (A special thanks to Katie Noble Photography, who captured images of the event shown here).
When it comes to planning a bridal shower, it’s the little extra details that make all the difference in creating a special experience. When my fellow bridesmaids landed on a mimosa bar for the shower, I decided it would be fun to jazz up the rented champagne flutes with a little extra flair. Using embroidery floss and an easy-to-find tutorial from Pinterest, I made tassels in coordinating corals, peaches, and lilacs. Using wine charm findings I attached the tassels with an extra piece of embroidery floss. The result was a bright pop of festive color on the champagne flutes, and an easy way for guests to locate their drinks!
I love digging through my Grandma’s cookbooks to see the little notes and edits she’s made to the recipes over the years (inside the front cover of the book we borrowed is a note to my Grandmother from sister-in-law, and it’s dated 1967, when she received it as a gift!). When I was home at my parent’s house this weekend, my sister and I decided to borrow an old cookbook from my Grandma and make a family favorite recipe — Chicken Champagne. Her version has those little notes written in the margins of the pages (for example, her version omits the chicken livers, PHEW!), and I’ve adapted it a little bit more to omit some of the hard to find ingredients (like shaved truffles). Excuse the grainy cellphone pictures I took of our version — we were in quite the rush to dig in — it’s far more delicious than it could ever look in a photo! Find the full recipe below:
4-5 boneless chicken breasts, cut up into bite-sized pieces
Jarred mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup of butter
5 thin slices of prosciutto, diced
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of good Champagne (drink a little while you’re cooking too!)
Salt and Pepper
Serve with angel hair or thin spaghetti (fresh is best if you can find it, it absorbs the sauce so well)
Toss chicken breast pieces with flour until lightly coated, season with salt and pepper.
In a large pan, melt 1/2 cup of butter, and add chicken. Cook chicken in butter until browned.
Once chicken is fully browned, add in mushrooms, prosciutto, and heavy cream. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add champagne, stir, and cover for another 10 minutes.
Season with additional salt and pepper as needed, and toss with fresh grated parmesan.
Serve over fresh pasta with additional parmesan cheese on the side, and don’t forget to pour a glass of champagne to compliment the meal!
Note: The sauce doesn’t reduce as well if you double the recipe, instead, use 2/3 of champagne and cream.
I shared my brie and jam pinwheel bites last week from my friend Elizabeth‘s blogger holiday party, and realized I hadn’t yet shared the cocktail recipe we used for the event (brie and pastry dough are delicious, but they’re nothing without a tasty cocktail to wash them down with!). Elizabeth decorated stemless wine glasses with metallic gold dots that looked like sparkly little bubbles, so of course we had to fill them with something bubbly! We added to each glass about an ounce each of pomegranate juice and Grand Marnier signature collection liquor (it’s raspberry and peach flavored, holy yum.), and then filled the rest of the glasses with champagne — and of course, gave them a swirl with a tinsel-topped drink stirrer. I didn’t have a name picked out for this concoction just yet, and one of my fellow bloggers said, I think you should call it the Blogger Bellini! I’ll cheers to that.
This year, instead of sharing a week of gift guides I decided to mix things up and think a little more local! All this week I’ll be sharing interviews with local Boston business owners to get their tips for holiday gift giving and entertaining. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to hit Main Street for small business Saturday this weekend and support local business! First up, the fabulous duo, TJ & Hadley, owners of the Urban Grape:
K: I love to bring a bottle of wine to a holiday party, but sometimes I’m nervous I might bring something that people don’t like … what do you look for in a wine to bring to a party?
UG: We tell people who are looking for a wine to bring to a party to look for something that’s fruit-forward — fruity, juicy wines — and something that has a bit of acidity helps too, the acidity makes you want to drink more. It also helps to pick a bottle that’s not a well-known brand, you can learn a little bit about the specific wine and the region or vineyard that comes from, and tell the story of the wine to give the hostess a little background — it’ll make the wine a little more memorable. One other tip: if the wine is supposed to be served chilled, bring it at the appropriate temperature so if your host wants to open it that evening it’s already ready to go.
K: What do you look for in a bottle that’s going to make a holiday gift?
UG: If you’re looking to give a bottle of wine as a gift, and you’re not completely sure what the person drinks, we usually ask people: do they travel to certain places? Do they like certain types of cuisines? That can usually help narrow down a region of wines to start with. It’s also fun to pick a theme, you can put together a sampler back of a few different wines from the same region, or of the same grape varietal to give them a tasting of different types. Or put together a cocktail box that has all the ingredients for a special mixed-drink (and don’t forget fun accessories like a shaker!).
K: As owners of a wine shop , I assume you’re quite popular and get invited to lots of holiday parties — any good entertaining tips you can share for the holiday season?
UG: Our motto is: keep it simple. Focus on quality elements, but keep everything pared down — your guests will feel more comfortable if they’re not presented with tons of options. We usually stick to serving one signature cocktail, and 2-3 types of wines. People also spend all this time working on a perfect menu or hiring a great caterer, and then they let wine be the afterthought and just buy whatever is on sale — think about the wine just as you would planning the food menu. We tell people to bring in their menu to the shop and we’ll help pick things are going to not just go well with the food, but even elevate it.
K: My favorite holiday is New Years Eve — what do you tell people who are intimated by picking out champagnes for a New Years Eve soiree?
UG: Look for sparkling wines made in the champagne method — it’ll give you the taste of a champagne but at a lower price point. Smaller producers will also give you more bang for your buck, their attention to detail will give you a better quality, and they tend to spend much less on marketing than bigger brands and those cost savings get passed on to you. If you find a brand you like, at the beginning of the holiday season, buy a case of it and split it up to bring to various parties, give as gifts, and save some for yourself to enjoy too!
Thanks to TJ & Hadley for all of their great advice! Don’t forget to #shoplocal this holiday season!
This weekend was a whirlwind of bridesmaid duties and wedding festivities as we celebrated the marriage of two of our dearest friends. It was a perfectly preppy wedding in a big giant tent at a gorgeous estate — complete with a pink and navy theme (I loved my hot pink bridesmaid dress) and romantic blush florals (I mean, look at those dahlias!). We danced our feet off late into the night and may have indulged in one too many glasses of champagne which resulted in quite the lazy Sunday to round out the weekend.
Blueberry mint simple syrup is super easy to make, I whipped up a batch this weekend to top off prosecco for a sweet, seasonal cocktail. To make the syrup, combine one cup of sugar, half a cup of water, a handful of fresh mint leaves, a few pieces of lemon rind, and two cups of blueberries in a saucepan. Bring all of the ingredients to a boil, and let them cook down for about 10 minutes. Next, strain the berries, leaves and rind and leave the liquid in a bowl to cool down. I was impatiently awaiting a cocktail, so I cooled mine in the freezer for a short time. After cooling, strain the syrup one more time. To make the cocktails, pour a glass of champagne or prosecco three-quarters of the way full, and then add the simple syrup to taste– I like mine a bit sweeter, so I added about one full tablespoon to my drink. Then garnish with lemon, mint, and fresh blueberries — and cheers! I’m thinking ways to use the leftover blueberry mint simple syrup — perhaps on a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream?
We had a little “Sunday Funday” at our apartment this weekend — the arrival of our monthly cheese delivery from Murray’s (best wedding gift, ever) called for a celebration. So my buddy Taz came over to enjoy some cocktails and bites to close out the weekend. We made one of my favorite snacks — goat cheese crostini — and whipped up a fresh batch of blueberry mint simple syrup to top off some prosecco cocktails. And the talented Taz took lots of pictures, so come back tomorrow to check out the recipes!
Excuse the grainy iPhone pictures here, but in my fury of preparations for last weekend’s bachelorette party, this was the best shot I got of a fun little item I added into favor bags. I refuse to subject my gal-pals to the hot pink/zebra/glitter products of the bachelorette aisle at party stores and went with a DIY approach to favors. Among the contents were these mini envelopes filled with Advil for the after-after party. I got the bags and stickers at Gus & Ruby Letterpress, and drew a few silly sayings on the closure labels to let guests know that recovery was on the way – and from my personal experience, they came in handy come Sunday morning.