Tag Archives: dinner

Non-Turkey Holiday Meal Alternatives

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Non-Turkey Holiday Meal Alternatives

Sorry to say it, but Christmas is less than two weeks away. Of course, you probably knew that already. That ever-ticking time bomb is the main reason why we’re all going crazy for gift ideas and last-minute preparations at the moment. If you don’t know what you’re doing on the day yet, it’s past time you decided. The holiday season waits for no one!

Somewhere among all of this preparation madness, most of us turn our attention to food. If you’re hosting the big meal this year, it’s likely that this is the only thing you are thinking about. At few other times of the year are we expected to prepare so much food for so many people. Lucky for you, there are plenty of guides out there about how to make this task a little easier. But, there’s no getting around the fact that there’s still an immense amount of pressure when the time comes.

On top of which, some of us can’t stomach the traditional option. Turkey is an acquired taste. And, for those of us who most definitely haven’t acquired it, the holiday season can be stressful at best. If you’ve only just managed to push the Thanksgiving turkey from your mind, the last thing that you want to do is eat it again at Christmas. As such, your job becomes even harder.

You’ll be glad to know that, while turkey has become a holiday staple, this is down to nothing more than convenience. While it’s difficult to say exactly when this tradition started, it was fast in place by 1863, when Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday. This is thought to be primarily due to the size of the things. There were few other types of meat available in the past that were large enough. In fact, beef wasn’t readily available until the late 19th century. So, the only alternative was chicken. For obvious reasons, it wasn’t the best for large meals, and turkeys took center stage. They were a cheap way to feed a lot of people.

We’ve taken up the tradition, and now pay more and more for turkey each year. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re hosting dinner this year, why not try something a little different? To keep everyone happy, you may want to prepare a turkey crown on the side. Chances are, though, that you’re not the only one fed up with turkey. So, before the big event, ask your guests if they’d be interested in the following alternatives:

A few different types of meat:

Turkey may have been the only 19th century choice, but that’s not the case anymore. Now, you have anything to choose from. For some families, a mixture of Christmas meats is standard. You can place your meats in the middle of the table, and leave guests to take what they fancy.

To make this work, consider meats which are relatively different from each other. It wouldn’t be any good serving chicken alongside turkey. Instead, you could opt for a mixture of beef, pork, and turkey. These all offer different taste sensations, which are sure to go down well. And, this way, you can ensure that you get a decent dinner without having to turn to the turkey.

Salmon as an alternative:

You may not realize it, but turkey isn’t the only traditional option open to you. Salmon has also found its place in the holiday hall of fame. Admittedly, most people opt for this as a starter or breakfast treat on the day. But, there’s no reason you can’t make it work as an alternative primary meal. By buying a whole salmon, like those found at Citarella gourmet market, you can ensure that you have enough to go around. These fish are huge!

Bear in mind that, if offering this alternative, you may want to provide a sauce other than gravy. While most meats would work with a standard turkey gravy, your salmon certainly wouldn’t. Instead, offer a creamy sauce or a honey mustard alternative. Other than that, you can serve your salmon alongside the turkey and again, ensure everyone’s happy.

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^^^ Another turkey alternative.

A nut roast alternative:

If you have vegetarians coming, you may already be planning a nut roast. Why not stick with that yourself? By incorporating orange peel and cranberries, you can have plenty of Christmas flavors. And, you can still enjoy all the trimmings which make a Christmas dinner what it is. As a non-veggie, you could even get stuck into pigs in blankets without worry! Still, you’ll be able to steer clear of the turkey.

While it is a traditional vegetarian option, a decent nut roast is more challenging to come by than you might think. They’re nearly impossible to find in shops nowadays, and there are a lot of dodgy recipes out there. Make sure to try this out before the event to make sure that your choice is the right one. It wouldn’t be unusual to have to try a few before settling on your winner.

Often, there are warning signs about whether a recipe will work or not. Look out for the binding ingredient, the vegetables used, and the seasonings. All of these work together to make a huge difference. You may end up having to mix a few recipes to achieve the right effect, and that’s okay. This is very much a practice makes perfect situation. By the time you reach an end result, you can be sure that your vegetarian guests will be glad for your dislike of turkey!

 

Your own concoction:

Of course, you could do away with tradition altogether, and concoct your own dish for the day. While guests may be surprised at first, this is sure to be a standout dinner for them. And, again, as long as you offer a small amount of turkey, too, this is sure to work well. Alternatives worth considering include beef wellington, roast duck, or something like a sausage and stuffing plate. Have a look through your cookbooks and decide which recipes sound most appealing. Then, think about ways to make them festive. Staple flavorings, such as stuffing, cranberries, and orange peel, could all help to get your concoction cooking.

Focus on the veggies:

You could argue that the trimmings are the best thing about the meal. For proof, consider that many vegetarians don’t even opt for an alternative (I don’t!). Instead, they’re quite happy to make do with all the lovely veggies and some fluffy roast potatoes. So, why don’t you just get rid of your turkey, and enjoy everything else?

To ensure a turkeyless dinner works well, go all out with your additions. Make sure your stuffing is extra good and roast those parsnips in honey so they have an extra something special. You could also make cauliflower cheese, which would form an alternative centerpiece of its own. And, of course, don’t forget all of your traditional festive veggies. Brussel sprouts may divide the crowd, but they need to feature on there somewhere. Rich greens, such as curly kale, can also provide a fantastic Christmas taste sensation. You might even want to go all out with your gravy. Adding spices and herbs while cooking this can make a massive difference to the taste.

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Mmmmm

A final word:

You don’t have to eat turkey if you don’t want to. But, if you are going all out with something different, you may want to warn your guests. We are creatures of habit, after all, and a last minute change of plan might not go down well. Instead, let them know what you’re going to do. As mentioned above, turkey is rarely a favorite. The chances are that your guests will surprise you with how willing they are to try other things. And, of course; that small turkey crown will please those who simply can’t go without tradition.

Featured Image By: Pixabay

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The Pre Date Night Frenzy

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The Pre Date Night Frenzy

Going on a date is a serious business, right? We want to look good for our intended beau! However, in the run-up to the big night, logic seems to go out of the window. Partly due to stress, as well as ensuring we are the only girl on the guy’s radar during the evening, we take part in some weird rituals and habits that might seem a little crazy in retrospect. Take a look at what we mean below, and see how many you are familiar with:

Getting ready hours before the date: We want to look our best, so with all of our giddy excitement, we start getting ready hours before we are due to go out. There’s a lot of prep to be done, from choosing the outfit that we are going to wear to working out what makeup will match the look we are going for. We want to impress the guy, not look like something the cat just dragged through the back door, so we make every effort to get things right.

dateeAnd it’s only 9 AM!

We look to Hollywood for advice: You may not be going to the movies on your night out, but you can still pick up a few handy lessons from Hollywood in the day’s leading up to your date. If you want what she’s having, you may pick up some tips from Meg Ryan in ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ and if you want to know what not to do, there’s no better place to learn than from a ‘Bridget Jones’ movie. Of course, Hollywood isn’t reality, so don’t assume all of your Cinderella fantasies will come true. Real life is far more complicated, although watching Bridget make another embarrassing faux pas is going to lighten your mood before you go out.

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We sabotage our good looks: While trying to look good for our date, we stand a greater chance of ruining things for ourselves if we overdo it. Popping zits may seem like a good idea, but it only increases the chances of another outbreak. Hint: Use decent acne cream, instead. Then, when waxing to get rid of body hair, we are in danger of breaking out in unflattering red bumps. Hint: Use these helpful tips to soothe skin after waxing. Hello, silky smooth skin!

We change your mind about the outfit…again: Remember that outfit you picked out at the start of the day? Maybe it’s not the right one after all, so you should probably try something else. You FaceTime your besties and ask (order) them to give you their valued opinion. After listening to their advice for an hour, you hang up on them. They clearly don’t know what they’re talking about. That blue dress with those shoes? Are they mad? In a frenzy, you go back and forth in your mind and body trying on each outfit, trying to preempt your guy’s opinion. In the end, you decide the outfit you chose the first time was the right one after all. Classic.

We become proficient at telling the time: What time is it now? Oh, it’s okay, there’s still hours to go before the date. What time is it now? Oh, it’s only two minutes after the last time you looked. Look, you aren’t going to make time fly by checking your watch every few minutes so relax and give yourself a break. Do something to distract yourself, and you won’t fret as much. Play some music, chat with your friends, watch Bridget Jones for the third time today. What time is it now? AHH, you’re meeting him in five minutes and you still haven’t done your hair. Where did the time go?!

We play the date through in our head…a hundred times: There’s no way that you will know how well the date will go until you actually get there. That doesn’t stop you from going over every eventuality. In your first daydream, you step out of your car door and into your fella’s arms. He whisks you off of your feet and into a ballroom in a scene that is reminiscent of that one part in ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Only, he’s no beast, he’s absolutely gorgeous, and he proposes to you before the first dance is over. ‘Yes’ you shout out, and everybody applauds as they relish in your celebration. Second daydream: you fall out of your car into a muddy puddle, ruining your dress. The guy doesn’t so much whisk you off of your feet as drag you through the mud as the crowd begins to gather. You stand in the middle of the puddle, just a girl standing in front of a guy, only you are no longer the Julia Roberts in your head, and you have stepped into the cringy world of Bridget Jones. Yikes!

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And then: After going through everything we mentioned, you finally get to your date. He compliments you on how you look and you tell him it was just something you threw together. When he then asks you how your day was, you look at him straight in the eye and say it was fine, just another chilled out day. Of course, you know different. Let’s just hope the date is worth it!

The pre date night frenzy is real and sometimes it can be brutal. Take a deep breath, eat some chocolate, and CHILL OUT! You’re great and it’s going to be a wonderful night!

Tricks & Treats! Season & Serve Style Halloween Bash

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Tricks & Treats! Season & Serve Style Halloween Bash

Hi everyone and welcome to the final post in my Halloween Heaven guest bloggers series by the amazing Melissa of Season & Serve. You might remember this lovely lady from a previous guest post on my blog that showed you all of the fixings for a perfect fall themed dinner party. This time around, Melissa is here to wrap up my series with a how to guide to creating a spooky chic Halloween bash – costume ideas not included! Check it out and enjoy:

Tricks & Treats! Season & Serve Style Halloween Bash

Ghosts, ghouls, and goblins galore! Halloween is just around the corner and I cannot wait to celebrate! This year, I am hosting a spooky soirée at our apartment and I am bringing a few elegant touches and a fabulously retro menu to my Halloween party to set the perfect mood. Read on to see how you can throw a classy yet spooky Halloween party of your own… if you dare! Mwahaha!

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This year, I decided to aim for a more elegant vibe for my Halloween party in terms of decor. If you remember back to when you were a kid, Halloween was all about the blood, guts, and gore. While I can definitely appreciate gory decorations on Halloween, it is a bit more fitting to do this outside of your home since it can be complicated and messy (I mean fake blood is cool and all, but I don’t want to be scrubbing it off of my walls and mirrors the next day!). But what we are lacking in blood and guts, we are making up with some classy, yet scary Halloween decor. I used a combination of every day decor pieces that I had around my home, and tied them together with some cheap (But reusable!) dollar store items that I found. I then did a wonderfully simple DIY that you can keep in storage for next year’s bash. So, without further adieu, here is what I did:

For my table, I decided to decorate with mainly black pieces (Because obviously black is the color for Halloween and is timelessly elegant.) along with some gold and silver accents for a bit of shine. I used my everyday black dinner table as the base (You can always throw a black tablecloth over your table if it is not black.) and added a few tasteful pieces for decoration. I anchored the left corner of my table with my thrifted gold candlestick holders in which I placed some tall black candles… because obviously we need some spooky candlelight for Halloween!

On the opposite side, I wanted another tall piece to balance the table out, so I went for a nice, tall vase of sunflowers. These sunflowers had a dark orange color on the flowers and leaves that were almost purple – something that is not typical of this cheery flower. I found out that the florist that I went to actually made the sunflowers this darker orange color by keeping them in a tub of water mixed with red dye. If you have red food coloring, you can simply add it to your vase of regular yellow sunflowers and in two days, you will have these delightfully dark sunflowers for your table. I loved the deep moody vibe that it brought to the table scape! I also went ahead and placed my white “Casper” pumpkin next to my candles along with my dark green Kabocha squash for a bit of color.

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Next, I added my serving-ware. I placed my wooden cake pedestal to the center/back of the table to give my food some height (I’m all about varying heights on buffet-style tables.) and then placed a round, brushed gold tray and silver place mat in front of the pedestal. I loved the silver place mat for Halloween – it totally reminded me of a spider web! And, of course, where there is a spider web, there are spiders! So I picked up some sparkly plastic black spiders from the Dollar Store and placed them all over my table. I also added a few sparkly black pumpkins to the table, as well (Another great reuseable Dollar Store find!), to fill in the empty spaces.

I also discovered these fabulously cool, yet elegant black glass skull cups from Homesense (A home goods store in Canada.) that I knew needed to be a part of my Halloween table scape. I added these to the table and made sure to back-light them with some tea lights to make them look extra creepy for when my guests arrived. I originally placed the tea lights in short glass jars (For safety reasons.), but I found these plain jars to be fairly boring, so I did a quick and easy DIY! I simply wrapped each glass jar with black lacey ribbon and used a hot glue gun to secure the lace around the jar. I love the sexy, sultry look that it brought to the table – perfectly elegant and spooky, if you ask me!

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Now for the good stuff… THE FOOD! When I was planning this Halloween party, I was thinking of a combination of elegant, retro, and (Of course!) spooky. Kind of like something from around the 1920’s to the 1950’s – so I decided to borrow some throw back food ideas from those eras to fit this theme and give it a Halloween twist. I chose to stick to appetizers and small snacks that people can nibble on throughout the party while they mingle. I also opted to make the majority of the recipes myself, but also improvised with some store-bought foods just to make things a bit easier for the host (Because hey, you gotta get your Halloween costume on too!). And, of course, as every good host knows, one of the key tricks to entertaining is to not make everything yourself!

So those are the tricks… here are the treats! First up on the menu is Blue Cheese and Walnut Stuffed Cockroaches… I mean dates. The look of dates always freaked me out as a kid because I thought that they looked like cockroaches. But once you get past their questionable appearance and take a bite, you will fall in love with their sweet and soft taste. It’s almost like eating candy! The recipe for Blue Cheese and Walnut Stuffed Dates is a play on the retro recipe, Devils On Horseback, which is traditionally made with prunes stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon. I wanted to go for a healthier, vegetarian recipe so I swapped out the prunes for the dates and the bacon for a toasted walnut. And do they ever look spooky! Oh, and if the thought of blue cheese in this recipe is enough to scare you alone, simply change it out for a smoked cheddar or Gouda. These cheeses also taste delicious with dates and walnuts!

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Now, with it being Halloween, there are going to be many vampires around, so we are going to keep them at bay with my homemade French Onion Dip. This recipe is inspired by the old school French Onion dip made from those French Onion soup packets and sour cream. Super retro, right!? Rather than using a soup packet, you can make this dip yourself, and it won’t have any nasty preservatives or additives in it! You simply have to fry onions and garlic until they are nice and caramelized, then toss them with sour cream and Greek yogurt as well as a few other secret ingredients to lighten it up. Serve with classic ruffled potato chips or fancy vegetable chips and you have got yourself a great party dip!

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My next recipe is a play on the classic tea sandwich: Mrs. Frankenstein’s Tea Sandwiches. In other words, Cucumber-Dill Tea Sandwiches. This is definitely an old school dish, because it has been served at many fancy tea parties over the past century or so. You simply layer butter, an elevated homemade cream cheese spread, and slices of cucumber on top of pumpernickel bread and slice it into wedges. I really like the fresh, cool cucumber and dill in this recipe as many appetizers can be heavy, but this one is light and refreshing (And it will freshen up your breath from the French Onion Dip!). If you can make a sandwich, you can easily make these Cucumber-Dill Tea Sandwiches for your party!

My final savory appetizer that I made for this party was inspired by the retro pinwheel sandwiches made with tortilla wraps and deli meat/cheese. I never really liked these as a kid (I found them to get super soggy and gross). But I took this idea and made it much better with my recipe for Roasted Red Pepper and Cheddar Pinwheels. Rather than using tortilla wraps to hold everything in, I used a sheet of store-bought puff pastry. All you need to do is sprinkle it with the roasted red peppers and cheese, roll it up, slice it up, and bake! It’s so simple and easy – and it looks impressive, too! Your guests will think that you spent hours making these!

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Now, onto my favorite course: dessert. As we all know, with Halloween comes tons of sugary candy and chocolates, which is a great treat in small doses. But rather than making an overly sugary dessert or placing a bunch of candy on the table, I decided to keep things more on the healthier side with a Healthy Dessert Board. On this dessert board, I mixed store-bought and homemade treats. From the store, I picked up some maple flavored mixed nuts, coconut macaroons (I thought they looked like little ghosts.), and some crazy spooky Moon Drop grapes. I loved the deep purple color of the grapes and the elongated shape (Almost like fingers!).

The homemade treats that I made are simple and can likely be made with ingredients that you have in your pantry right now! Bonus! First up, I made my Autumn-Inspired White Chocolate Bark. What’s a dessert board without some chocolate? I made it a bit healthier by adding vitamin rich cranberries and apricots and oil-rich walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Just the colors alone look gorgeous. It’s truly perfect for fall/Halloween!

Last but not least, I had to made something with Pumpkin Spice. And what’s a better treat than Pumpkin Spice Energy Balls?!? The basic white girl inside of me literally can’t even right now. You have all of the delicious warm flavors of pumpkin spice combined with healthy dates, almonds, and oats – such a great and healthy treat!

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And there you have it ghosts and ghouls! A fully planned and designed Halloween party. All you need is some spooky music and a great costume and you will be ready to have an amazing time! For all of the recipes featured in this post, simply click on the links or head over to my blog!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

^^^ Yum, yum, freaking YUM! Many thanks to Melissa for concluding my Halloween Heaven guest bloggers series by sharing such amazing party recipes, tricks, and treats with my readers! Which recipes from this post are you going to try out? Where do you go for the best seasonal decor? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Falling For Food! Season & Serve Style Dinner Party

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Falling For Food! Season & Serve Style Dinner Party

Hello everyone and happy Tuesday! I have a really special treat for all of you today, compliments of the absolutely amazing Melissa of Season & Serve. Melissa reached out to me in mid August with the idea of creating an incredible fall themed dinner party menu just for my readers. Food is something that I am extremely passionate about. I am a vegetarian who loves cooking, baking, and of course – EATING!! Obviously, Melissa offered me a pitch that I couldn’t pass up and a menu, recipes, and pics that are going to make you drool buckets.

Melissa has kindly linked to all of her recipes in this post, so if you are interested in learning more about her dishes or making it for yourself, then do check it out! Now, take a look at an absolutely delicious guest post:

Falling For Food! Season & Serve Style Dinner Party

Out of all the four seasons, fall is definitely my favorite. Not only do I enjoy wearing my cozy sweaters in the cooler temperatures, drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and watching the leaves turn a rainbow of colors, I love it because of all the delicious, seasonal foods that come along with it. Fall harvests bring us countless varieties of apples, squash, brussel sprouts, carrots, and parsnips…the list goes on…all from which we can make hearty and comforting foods. And what better way to enjoy these delicious seasonal foods than with a celebratory fall dinner party?!

When you think about it, fall is the perfect season to entertain at home. It’s not too hot, meaning that you can have your stove and oven going all day and you won’t be dying of heat in the kitchen, and it’s not too cold, meaning that outdoor entertaining is still possible. Whenever weather permits, I like to serve fun fall-inspired cocktails outside early in the evening so that my guests can enjoy the crisp fall air before it gets too cold. Once the temperature drops or the sun sets, they really enjoy coming inside and warming up by the fireplace, and maybe with another cocktail before dinner.

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Speaking of cocktails, I chose to serve one of my favorite fall cocktails for this dinner party, Whiskey & Spice Apple Cider. This cocktail will warm you from the inside out and totally get you into that fall mood. I also like to have a little snack to go along with the cocktail, just so your guests don’t get too tipsy before dinner. One really great idea that I recycle over and over again for parties is a cheeseboard. Because, really, who doesn’t like cheese?! I serve a traditional soft goat cheese, an aged cheddar, hearty Gouda, and powerful blue cheese along with whole-grain or seed crackers, nuts, dates, and red grapes to give it a fall twist. Plus, cheese is extremely portable, allowing your guests to move outdoors to enjoy the fall colors and back indoors again as they mingle.

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When your guests decide to move back inside, I like to bring the outdoor feeling with them, and my main avenue for doing so is through my table setting. The table setting really sets the mood for the party, and for fall I like to keep it relatively rustic and casual. I used a tan linen table runner down the center of my table as my base (This one happened to have pumpkins embroidered on both ends – so fall!) and I continue to build from there. I used some tree branches that still had healthy, plump, green leaves down the middle and added in some bright red and lime green Honey Crisp apples to make it pop (these happened to look the best at the farmer’s market that day). I dotted a few tea lights throughout the leaves and apples to add some sparkle and then anchored the table with a short emerald green vase filled with coffee beans and a tea candle. Of course, you can fill the vase with flowers, grasses, or anything that looks pretty to you!

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As for serving ware, I always think that simple is best. Plain large white plates for the main course, with smaller appetizer white plates placed on top is all you need. I added in my every day cutlery, silver forks and knives, to keep it simple but I went for some statement wine glasses. These wine glasses have been one of my greatest purchases to date. I am in love with the gold rims and the fact that they are stemless makes it even better – it’s so in style right now! I also added a personal touch to each table setting by writing my guests names on some extra leaves using a gold marker. It’s the little touches that make your guests feel warm and fuzzy inside!

Now, let’s get to the star of the dinner party, the main dish(es)! While there is a meat component to this fall dinner party, I also designed the menu keeping vegetarians in mind. For the appetizer, I chose to serve a simple Arugula Salad topped with sliced grapes, Parmesan cheese shavings and Maple Spice Candied Pecans. The salad dressing is very simple and is made from olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. With those tasty candied pecans, you definitely want to keep the dressing minimal. This recipe can be enjoyed by both your omnivore and herbivore friends. For vegans, simply omit the Parmesan cheese and add more grapes and pecans!

I also chose to serve a white wine with this salad, particularly a Gewurztraminer as it has a slightly sweeter flavor. This one is from one of my favorite wineries in Summerland, British Columbia – Dirty Laundry.

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For the main dish, I have two variations – both of which will make your appetite skyrocket. The first is for the meat-eaters, with my recipe for Red-Wine Braised Beef. While this dish looks complicated, it is actually extremely easy, relatively affordable, and looks incredibly elegant when plated (an entertaining trifecta for hosts!). For the Red Wine Braised Beef, simply brown the meat and vegetables, add the red wine, beef stock, and seasonings to the pot and bake in the oven for 4 hours. The slow baking process will tenderize this cheap, tough cut of meat (blade roast) so much that you can cut the meat with a butter knife. You can even do this the night before and simply reheat the meat before serving. How easy is that?!

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For vegetarians, I have a great substitute: Braised Mushrooms with White Wine and Garlic. I clearly have a braising theme going on here, but braised mushrooms are delicious and very satisfying! In this recipe, I use fresh oyster, trumpet, and cremini mushrooms and saute them in a mixture of olive oil and garlic until browned. I then add the white wine and butter, and cook them on the stove top for 5 minutes, or until the wine has reduced down a bit and then serve immediately. I mean, I eat meat and I know that Red Wine Braised Beef is delicious, but I would totally go for this, and vegans would too (minus the butter)!

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I chose to serve a red wine along with both of these recipes since I was looking for a more robust and bold flavor – it is fall, after all! I chose a Cabernet-Merlot mix for its spice and currant notes and for a slightly dry finish. I really enjoy this Cabernet Merlot from Sandhill Estate Vineyard in Oliver, British Columbia. This is definitely going to be my go-to wine for the season. ❤

Finally, for the grand finale, I present my Apple Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze. This is actually my mom’s recipe, but it is so good and so perfect for fall that I had to make it myself. The batter is very simple to make and the cake always comes out incredibly moist due to the sliced apples inside and on top of the cake. Again, you can make this a day in advance BUT if you make it the morning or afternoon of the dinner party, your home will smell absolutely amazing. I like to serve this with coffee (hence why it’s a coffee cake) or tea. No dessert wine here!

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After this big, comforting, delicious meal, your guests will be completely satisfied and will be in a cheerful fall mood. And, of course, while these are just my tips for throwing a fall dinner party, just know that when you mix good people and good food together, you are guaranteed to have a successful dinner party – no matter what the season.

Have a happy fall, everyone! And thank you to Sarah for letting me guest blog for you!

Yum, yum, FREAKING YUM. Thank you infinitely to the author of Season & Serve, Melissa, for creating such a beautiful bounty for my readers. I want in on her next dinner party, and you guys can be, too! Melissa will be back on lifewithlilred in October with a how to guide for a spooky fun Halloween themed party. What would you like to see Melissa cook next? Would you consider yourself a picky eater? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Battle Of The Sexes: How Men And Women Get Ready

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Battle Of The Sexes: How Men And Women Get Ready

You’re going out. Maybe it’s date night, or perhaps an evening out with friends to celebrate a special occasion. Both you and your boyfriend have agreed what time you need to leave; you have to be out of the door by 8 PM/8:15 at the very, very latest.

So the clock starts ticking. *Que Jeopardy theme*

vss.pngClocks can’t rush perfection. 😉

6 PM; You: “I guess I better start thinking of what I’m going to wear…”

You head to your closet and start inspecting literally everything that you own. Of course, none of it is acceptable; a closet full of gorgeous clothing but nothing that you’re enthused about wearing. You try on a few outfits, but none of them seem to be the right look for the night.

6 PM; Boyfriend: “Oh that’s right, we’re going out.”

And then promptly forgets about it, continuing on with the task he was doing beforehand. SMH.

6:30 PM; You: “What are you wearing?”

Having finally decided on your own outfit, you decide it’s probably a decent idea to make sure your boyfriend isn’t going to clash. You track him down and ask what he’s wearing.

6:30 PM; BF: “I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest.” (Typical.)

He doesn’t panic, though. It’s pretty simple for men; pants and some kind of shirt will suffice for the vast majority of occasions. He’s sure something is clean. He looks puzzled when you mention the idea of color clashing (What does that even mean?!).

6:45 PM; You: “Getting my groom on.” AYYY

You head to the bathroom to begin the process of getting ready. It’s actually one that you quite like, so you’re happy to spend some time going through the familiar motions of preparing yourself for the world.

You shower. You moisturize. You brush leave-in conditioner through your hair. You wrap your hair in a towel (which you boyfriend proclaims to be “witchcraft, when it’s really just strategically placed tucks and folds). You’re ready for phase two.

7 PM; BF: “Oh, I guess I should shower, as well, shouldn’t I?”

Reminded only by the fact that you’ve showered, he hops into the bathroom himself and does his routine. It’s a bit shorter than yours; shower, shave, a little bit of manscaping, aftershave, and then he’s good to go. He heads to get dressed.

7 PM -7.30; You: “Primer, foundation, concealer, eyeshadow…”

You know the motions of getting ready by now and the routine is smooth and simple. It takes a while – don’t worry, even women with the steadiest of hands aren’t able to apply eyeliner flawlessly on the first attempt – but you know that you’ve got time. With your makeup done, all you need to do is put your pre-chosen outfit on and do your hair. Job done. Well, nearly.

7:30 PM; BF: “I really did think I had something clean…”

After a panicked look through his entire wardrobe, he finally alights on an outfit that looks presentable. He’s ready.

7:45 PM; You: “Are you sure this looks okay?”

Still preening in the mirror, you’ve suddenly taken wildly against the outfit that you selected less than two hours prior. (It happens to the best of us.)

7:50 PM; BF: “Yes it’s fine. You look fine. Great. Can we go?”

8 PM; Both Of You: Finally ready, you head out of the door for your night out. You might have taken different routes to get to this point, but you got there in the end and that’s all that matters!

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Looking good feeling great.

Everyone has a different getting ready routine and as long as you get from Point A to Point B on time, you can’t really complain about your SO’s totally annoying pre date night process! 😉

Organizing Your Teen’s Eighteenth

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Organizing Your Teen’s Eighteenth

Your child turning eighteen is a big deal not only for them, but for you, as well. No matter what country you live in or what culture you live by, the eighteenth birthday is important. It is a sign that your teen is well on their way to full blown adulthood (yikes!). It is a sign that their childhood is behind them. Basically, it’s kind of a big deal. And because it is such a big deal, you need to ensure that you do all that you can to celebrate it properly. And to celebrate it properly, you need to organize it properly. Below, you can find a few hints and tips on how to do so:

First of all, you need to get your teen’s presents sorted. And if this is something that you are apprehensive about, then remember that you will always be able to find a gift for someone, no matter who they are… even if they’re a moody teenager on the cusp of adulthood. Try getting them something that is personalized; you can never go too far wrong with this approach. It shows them that you know them well enough to know exactly what it is that they like. It also gives them something to save as a keepsake from this very important birthday and look back on it in years to come.

But, as with a birthday for anybody of any age, it’s not just about the gifts. It’s about the party you host for them, too. And when it comes to hosting a party, there are a number of things that you have to consider. One thing that must be given thought is the fine balance between childhood and adulthood that is taking place. This is a party that cannot be made up of goody bags, bouncy castles, and clowns. But it is also not a party that can be made up of the more adult things of life either — whether eighteen is the ‘coming of age’ threshold in your country of residence or not. So, you need to find a balance.

One way to induce this balance is by letting your teen invite their friends over to your home and allowing them to take free-reign of what it is they get up to. However, you should always remain in the house in order to ensure that this free reign that you have given them isn’t being taken advantage of. Click here for more ideas on how to host the best eighteenth birthday party for your growing teen.

The most important thing to remember when organizing the essentials of your teen’s eighteenth is that a balance of childhood and adulthood must be procured. They are not quite mature enough to fully revel in the world of adulthood, like, say, somebody celebrating their twenty-third birthday would be. But they are not celebrating their thirteenth birthday either, which means that they are not going to enjoy or appreciate childish things. Think dinner parties, an ice cream social, or a garden party in a spacious back yard and watch your teen have the most fabulous birthday yet!

Featured Image By: Flickr

Food-Tastic Gifts For The Health Nut In Your Life

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Food-Tastic Gifts For The Health Nut In Your Life

We all know one. In fact, we all wish we could be one! What am I talking about? I am, of course, talking about the health nuts that we all know and love. You know, the people that hit the gym on Christmas Day or don’t eat carbs, sugar, and everything else that tastes good. They are healthy, they are committed, and they are people that we all love and admire. The only problem most of us have with them is gift giving. Yep, there are only so many running shoes a person can buy, which makes getting them the perfect present tough.

But, fear not because we are here to help. So, put away the catalog and shutdown the laptop (after you read this!) because you can find out all you need to know underneath:

Air Fryer: Nope, it isn’t a new age device that belongs on the International Space Station. Although when you look it at, it does have a certain alien quality. An air fryer is a machine that makes the frying process healthier. In fact, according to some studies, it can reduce the amount of fat in a meal by three-quarters. That is a huge amount in anyone’s book, never mind a health-obsessed foodie! If you don’t know where to start, you can find a comprehensive list of the best value air fryers here. After all, you don’t want to give them a gift that isn’t up to standard.

Zoodler: What, you have never heard of a zoodler? Well, I can guarantee that your foodie friend has, and they will be delighted with your choice. In layman’s terms, a zoodler is a tool that strips vegetables into thin slices. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a zucchini or a potato because the effect is the same. Most people will wonder why this is even a thing. But, you have to get into your friend’s brain to understand the genius of this tool. Quite simply, it makes eating vegetables less daunting. Yep, that’s it! As it turns out, people are more likely to eat healthier if the portions are small and non-intimidating. And who doesn’t like the fun noodle shape?!

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I want one!

Oil Mister: Yes I would like some oil, please! Only joking. This, of course, isn’t someone asking if you would like oil (ba dum chhh). It is a small device that turns oil into a mist. What will they think of next? As it happens, oil isn’t very good for the human body when people like you and I fry it in a pan. In fact, it’s downright unhealthy. Even virgin oil in its regular form contains a lot of calories and fat. Any self-respecting health enthusiast can’t afford to consume more than necessary. And with a mister, they don’t have to any longer as the mist covers the food with just one spray. Because it cuts costs as well as calories, they’ll cherish this gift forever.

Finally, don’t forget about a slow cooker. A slow cooker is a great way to eat more vegetables, maintain nutrition, and avoid nasty additives. All in all, it’s a wonder appliance and your foodie friend will love you for it!

Featured Image By: MaxPixel