Weddings: It’s Personal

Personalized weddings? We'll drink to that. Then again, we'll drink to anything.

Personalized weddings? We’ll drink to that. Then again, we’ll drink to anything.

 

If weddings should be anything, they should be personal, right? After all, it’s the one day you are pronounced husband and wife. The only other times you are pronounced something it involves words like ‘guilty’ or ‘dead’  – and that’s not nearly as much fun.

With sites like Etsy and tools like Pinterest (what would life be without you, Pinterest?) and caterers like Epicurean, each and every wedding can – and should – be unique. If you are going to celebrate becoming part of a couple, you might as well splash your new coupled name over everything. This is your one shot to be the center of attention (besides the guilty and dead days mentioned earlier, of course).

I love monograms and nameplates and initial jewelry and business cards and Sharpies that leave a permanent mark on pretty much anything. It may be because my mother called me ‘Amy’ for the first three weeks of life, though my birth certificate and every subsequent document since clearly states ‘Stephanie.’ True story.

There are fancy ways to personalize a wedding, and there are simple ways. So if you can’t swing a skywriter, try these tricks instead:

 

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A personalized send off.

Table numbers with personalized photos.

Table numbers with personalized photos.

Stir sticks from the newly married.

Stir sticks from the newly married.

A new twist on the guest book.

A new twist on the guest book.

Fun place cards!

Fun place cards!

Custom wine labels are savvy (and a sneaky way to serve less expensive wines).

Custom wine labels are savvy (and a sneaky way to serve less expensive wines).

Table runners with the couple's monogram is simple and sweet.

Table runners with the couple’s monogram is simple and sweet.

The traditional matchbook with a non-traditional look makes this keepsake more modern.

The traditional matchbook with a non-traditional look makes this keepsake more modern.

 

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Brussels (no – not the european city)

roasted-brussels-sprouts-cranberry-pistachio-pesto-0876

 

Everybody gets their moment to shine. Same goes for veggies. It was micro greens. Then kale. And now its brussels sprouts. I hated these as a kid, often comparing them to carpet, which was not a big hit with my mother. But now – NOW – I am in brussels sprout love.

I recently spent some time at the Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek. I found myself at the Grouse Mountain Grill and made a meal out of a tasty pineapple mojito and a brussels sprouts appetizer. You wouldn’t think the two go together, but let’s pretend they do.

I was lucky enough to meet the chef, David Gutowski who is sort of a big shot, I now know. And after a little banter, I learned that he is a friend and a fan of our fabulous Jenna Johansen. So he graciously gave me his brussels sprouts recipe. It’s amazing what small talk can get you.

These were the best brussels sprouts I’ve ever tasted and the recipe seems simple and straightforward, always a plus.

 

Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brussels sprouts, cleaned, halved, and blanched
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TBL smokey, crispy bacon, minced

Directions:

  • Mix maple syrup and apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan
  • Cook over medium high heat until boiling
  • Lower heat and and allow sauce (gastrique) to reduce
  • “Fry” brussels sprouts at 350 degrees until golden brown
  • Drain on paper towel and toss with  3TBL gastrique and bacon
  • Season with salt
  •  Enjoy

No matter what the press says, we still love OJ

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No – not that OJ. Get your mind out of the gutter, people! That OJ is in jail right now, not for the reasons we may or may not think he should be in jail, but jail nonetheless.

We’re talking about orange juice. You know, the sweet, delicious nectar created by the gods of all things good in the world. Apparently the beloved orange juice, once a staple on breakfast tables across America, has had a nasty spill. A decade ago, over 835 gallons of the good stuff was sold each year ; only 563 gallons were purchased during this year’s  season. What’s got Americans turning sour on OJ?

Apparently the influx of sports drinks and specialty beverages are taking a bite out of the orange. With so many choices in the marketplace, it is easy to overlook something as passé as orange juice. Additionally, the cost of orange juice has soared, leaving consumers with a bitter taste in their collective mouths.

One expert said, “Orange juice could be seeing the twilight of its contract.” How sad! The word “twilight” sounds – um – final.

So, in an effort to show our love for OJ (no, not that OJ), we’re giving you a few of our favorite things to do with orange juice. Got better ideas? Share them with us!

  • Add orange juice to store-bought cake mix and let people think your concoction is homemade because it sort of is. Sort of.
  • Marinate pork or chicken in OJ; combine OJ with ginger for an Asian edge or add garlic and pepper for a more traditional flavor.
  • Blend vanilla yogurt and orange juice, pour into popsicle molds and surprise your little (or big) kids at breakfast. Smile when you hear them say, “Popsicles for breakfast?!! You’re the best mom EVER.”
  • Freeze orange juice in an ice-cube tray and add them to your cocktails – the cubes won’t water down the drink! You can also add orange juice cubes to punch and iced tea for added flavor.
  • Splash a generous amount of OJ on eggs before scrambling (a secret we learned from The Ritz-Carlton)
  • Add two tablespoons to any liquid cleanser (hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo) for more cleaning power and delicious smelling products.
  • Place a cup of orange juice in your empty dishwasher and run it; the orange juice will dissolve the gunk and grime found in the appliance.
  • Use a hot washcloth on your face to open pores and then rub an orange juice soaked cotton ball over your skin for a brighter complexion.

Whatever you do, don’t lock OJ away forever…what would the world be without mimosas on Sunday morning to counteract the screwdrivers from Saturday night? Our beloved OJ doesn’t deserve solitary confinement. Not this time, anyway.

And now, the end is near…How to say goodbye to summer with style (and salsa).

corn salsa

I had to pry this recipe out of Jenna Johansen, our resident star Innovation Chef.  I’m not exaggerating about the star part; she was featured on Around the World in 80 Plates. And, sadly, I am not exaggerating about having to pry the recipe from her. She is refusing to admit that summer is coming to an end; and you’ve got a love a girl that insists on eating up the last days of fun in the sun.

After talking to her in soothing tones and promising her a round of margaritas on me (and by me, I mean the company credit card), she shared this recipe for Summertime Farmer’s Market Corn Salsa. This quick, easy, full of flavor concoction is sure to please. It’s a perfect partner for chips and a great topping for fish or meat. And wow is it good with those margs. Happy Labor Day!

Summertime Farmer’s Market Corn Salsa

Prep time: 10 minutes | Serves: 10

Ingredients:

  • 3 ears corn, local and fresh if possible
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2TBL extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Wall all vegetables, cut as necessary
  • Peel corn, blanch (if desired) in boiling water for three minutes, immediately placing in ice water to stop cooking
  • Cut corn off the cob
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve

Sit! Good Dog! Sharing: part two in an ongoing series by PP

Thanks-For-Sharing

Editors Note: It is National Etiquette Week – Humans Unite and Be Polite

Joining friends, family or clients for a meal sounds simple enough, but finding the right spot for one’s bum can sometimes cause confusion in the brain.  Entertaining at home should be a comfortable and joyous occasion. Don’t let seating arrangements spoil the evening.  Below are some simple guidelines to avoid a misstep – or in this case – a misseat.

  •  The male/female/male/female pattern still works well in most settings. This does not mean spouses should necessarily sit together as breaking up a couple, at least over the dinner hour, allows for fresh conversation. Still, if you feel your coupled guests will be uncomfortable at separate ends of the table, pair them together. Hosting some singles? Kindly seat shy guests next to an extrovert; and consider grouping people with common interests and hobbies together.
  • Guests of honor deserve a special spot. If Sandra Bullock’s dog Ruby were in attendance, she should be seated to the right of the host. If a male VIP were to attend – such as Prince William and Princess Kate’s pooch Lupo (a personal friend of yours truly), then he would be seated to the right of the hostess.
  • If you are planning on having more than six guests around the bowl, by all means provide place cards. This puts your guests at ease and guarantees that certain pooches, such as Britney Spears’ Hannah and Ben Affleck’s Martha Stewart, don’t get seated side-by-side. After all, what in the world would they have in common? I doubt Martha Stewart could talk spray tans and Big Gulps with Hannah. And it is safe to say that Hannah has no idea the time and energy that a decent soufflé demands.
  • Finally, if guests are bold enough to paw at their cell phones during a meal, gently but firmly ask that they silence all devices and tuck them away until after the meal.

Remember, darlings, sharing is a learned skill and practice makes perfect. Happy dining.

Put a Fork in It? Sharing: part one in an ongoing series by PP

Thanks-For-Sharing

As a puppy I understood the concept of sharing, but dug my paws in when it came to my favorite things which includes, in no particular order: my Hermes collar, my simply stunning Burberry rain jacket with four matching booties, my cashmere bedding from Italy and anything resembling food.

I am often asked about proper etiquette when it comes to sharing. Therefore, dears, I thought an ongoing series on the art of sharing was due. Sharing a meal is our first endeavor. Let’s begin:

If you are considering sharing food at a restaurant, start by considering the company. If you are dining with friends and family, and everyone seems comfortable with sharing, address the issue. A simple “Would anyone be interested in sharing the steak tartare this evening?” works well. Should you be at a dinner with clients or individuals you do not know well, skip the idea entirely.

Below are some simple guidelines to avoid a misstep:

  • Before ordering what you think is a dish to share, ask your tablemates first
  • Never ask for a bite off of someone’s dish; wait to be invited to taste and then place the food item on your plate before tasting
  • Never use another’s fork or spoon to sample – ask your server for necessary accoutrements including utensils and small plates
  • Tip your server for the effort of splitting dishes

Remember, darlings, sharing is a learned skill and practice makes perfect. Happy dining.