Tag Archives: drinks

You’ve Got Mail

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You’ve Got Mail

Shhhh…No one tell Kate from Ankhor You about this post because it’s about Dunkin’ Donuts and she despises it!! BUT can we just talk about the sample pack that I got in the mail from them this week FO FREE?! Take a look:

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About a month ago, I got an email from Dunkin’ asking if I wanted to try the picks that are in the running to becoming their new flavor, Blueberry Pancake, Dulce De Leche, and Coconut Caramel. In my mind, they were just going to send me one of the choices to try, but I figured “why not” and put my info in, anyways. So, imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox to find a package from Dunkin’ with a sample of all three flavors in the contest!

I was so excited about this package. I love getting mail and I had completely forgotten that I even ordered the samples to begin with, so it was a total pick me up treat. Not only that, but my sample pack was packaged so nicely and they also included a coupon for the next time that I make a Dunkin’ run. Score!

I wouldn’t necessarily call these packs a “sample”, though. For my coffee drinking purposes, I could easily get two uses out of each flavor option. That’s a hell of a…sample. I can’t think of another word to call it! We’ll go with sample. Anyways, that’s a pretty sweet deal – I literally entered my shipping info and got SIX pots of coffee for myself out of it.

I’m looking forward to trying all of these flavors and I will keep you guys updated on which one that I like the best! I’ve gotta say, though, it’s probably going to be Blueberry Pancake that takes the (pan)cake for me – I love me some blueberry flavored coffee! But the Coconut Caramel and Dulce De Leche each sound enticing too, so we’ll see!

Which flavor out of the three samples that I got sounds the best? Which store/restaurant/coffee shop gives out the best freebies and coupons? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

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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

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Recipe

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Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Recipe

Hi everyone and happy Monday! Today’s post for my Falling For Fall guest bloggers series is a delicious Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Recipe by the darling Elle from Make It Blaine. Please be sure to check out her page and give it all the lovin! A huge steaming mug of hot chocolate is a fall favorite for many so let’s get to Elle’s recipe so that you can make some of your own the next time you get the autumn evening chills:

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Recipe

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (or however much you want)
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks or cinnamon bark
  • whipped cream (optional)

First, pour your milk into a pot to heat on the stove and stir on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in your cocoa powder until it’s completely dissolved. Next, pop in your cinnamon sticks and let the mixture simmer for 5-7 minutes. Take out the cinnamon sticks and pour into a mug (A cute one, if possible!).

Now it’s time for toppings! I personally like whipped cream with cocoa powder or cinnamon sprinkled on top but you can add whatever you want. I also like to make my own whipped cream by whisking whipping cream because then it doesn’t melt and tastes way better! Adorable mugs in autumnal colors doesn’t hurt and, last but not least, a straw to sip through.

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I hope you enjoyed reading!

-Elle xoxo

Thank you so much to Elle for teaching us her favorite fall hot chocolate recipe! Freaking yummm. What is your favorite fall beverage? What is your favorite fall flavor? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

3 Gift Ideas For That Sort Of Friend

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3 Gift Ideas For That Sort Of Friend

We’ve all been there. A friend-of-a-friend/kinda sorta friend has a get together and we’ve been invited. This might be a birthday party or something more intrinsically important, like acting as your friend’s plus one during their wedding proceedings.

This can leave you truly stuck with ideas for what to gift for them. How do you provide a gift that isn’t so generic that they feel like you’ve put no thought into it, but also a gift that doesn’t come across as too forward or could be taken the wrong way?

It’s likely that you’re overthinking this if you’re stuck. because most people aren’t of the opinion that they’ll read too much into what your gifts mean – they’re just happy to receive them in the first place. In order to find the perfect gift, consider trying out these following suggestions and reflecting on if they’ll fit well with the personality or event that you’re gifting them for. Take a look:

Alcohol:

Alcohol is one of the safest ways to provide a classy, thoughtful gift for someone without coming across as too forward or impersonal. Finding a convenient online liquor store for substantially good products and bringing them to the party won’t only seem thoughtful, but it could actually serve to the benefit of the party you’re attending by supplying the host with something to drink during it.

Make sure that you best appropriate the style of alcohol you’d think the guest would like. For example, wine or champagne might be received more fondly for a middle aged housewife rather than a full bottle of vodka, but this can be tailored depending on what you know about the individual. (And let’s be real, sometimes a full bottle of vodka might be just what someone needs!)

Gift Baskets:

Gift baskets are beautiful works of presentation and can stock a range of amazing products that are sure to go down well with whomever you purchase them for. Whether you’re looking for a food themed one containing charcuterie meats and cheeses or a basket filled with beauty and skincare products, this is a great way to fulfill a range of gifting items for the giftee.

A plethora of goodies in a beautiful container looks thoughtful and well-presented. This is my favorite method of gifting. What’s more, you can tailor and design the contents and presentation of your basket with the correct online service, so be sure to find one that delivers to your area and get creating!

Gift Cards:

Gift cards are rather impersonal but will allow you to provide funds for a store that you think the intended recipient would like based on their personality. It also gives the giftee the opportunity to choose what products they’d like to prioritize for themselves. For example, if you’re celebrating a baby shower, a gift card for a parental supplies store can help you seem considerate of the recipient’s situation, while not offering yet another set of onesies!

These tips are sure to impress and cover a nice range of items while keeping the balance of lack of intimacy/intent for growth of intimacy. Try them for yourself, and see how well they work!

Featured Image By: Flickr

Which Drink Should You Be Serving With Your Food?

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Which Drink Should You Be Serving With Your Food?

If you’re a bit of a foodie, you probably love cooking for your family and the people that you love. However, it’s important that you make sure that you serve the right drinks with your food, too. The right drink will complement the different flavors of the food that you’ve made, and will make the whole experience so much better. If you serve the wrong drink, the whole thing can taste off and become a bit of a dinner disaster. Some people think that it’s all down to the perception of the person eating and drinking, but the experts disagree! 😉

Here are some tips to help you discover the best drinks to serve with your meal:

Contrast: One thing that you can do to make sure you have the perfect pairing of flavors, is to choose flavors that will contrast your food. This might sound counter intuitive, but it can create a mind blowing flavor experience. It doesn’t have to be too dramatic. Just think about how things like lemon and lime can contrast flavors and make them so much better with just a drop!

Alcohol Level: The alcohol level of the beverage is also important. It isn’t just about the flavor! If you’re serving a light meal, then something with a light alcohol content should be served. If you’re serving a heavier dish, then you can afford to do so with your beverage, too. Bottoms up!

Have Fun With It: And, of course, you can experiment! Read the different flavors in beverages and see if you think that they will pair nicely or contrast with your food and test them out. Eventually, you’ll be able to pair things all by yourself. Just make sure that you pay attention to the temperature of certain beverages, as that can also make a big difference.

Check out this awesome infographic for more on the perfect serve of vino! Cheers!


Thanks To: winecoolers.reviews

Featured Image By: Pixabay

Iced Coffee Obsession

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Iced Coffee Obsession

Hiii everyone and happy Tuesday! I hope everyone is having a fabulous week so far. So, if there’s one thing that a Lil Red loves, it’s her coffee! I’m a caffeine fiend, so a smooth, strong, hot cup of coffee is a must for me when I am working, lounging, doing nothing, and doing everything. I am a hot, black coffee drinker through and through and I will be a monkey’s uncle before I succumb to putting cream or sugar in my cup. But, when the warm weather hits, which has happened this past week in Ohio, my tastes change to absolutely craving a good cup of iced coffee.

One of my favorite things to treat myself with is an iced coffee from Starbucks. A venti iced coffee with cream and vanilla, to be exact! “But wait! I thought you don’t believe in cream in your coffee!” You might say? I DON’T. But, iced coffee is a totally different story. I hate iced, black coffee more than anything and I just need that little splash of cream to turn the beverage into a drinkable delight. So, yeah.

Anyways, it’s a rare occasion that I get Starbucks now that I don’t work at the mall, so I always really enjoy it when I get it. But as you all know, I am constantly balling on a budget and it’s not like I love spending three dollars for a drink that I could totally make at home. So, make it at home I did. I have been making my own iced coffee every day for the past week and it has been an absolutely delicious experience. My coffee concoction has tasted great every time, and not shelling out the dough for basically the exact same thing at Starbucks has been a freaking blessing, lol.

An iced coffee recipe may seem self explanatory, but mine has turned out really freaking good so I’m going to share it on here, anyways:

Sarah’s Iced Coffee Masterpiece

  • Make yourself the amount of coffee that you plan on drinking.
  • Once complete, let the coffee sit for about an hour so that it can cool.
  • Add 4 to 5 ice cubes to a glass and pour the now room temperature coffee over it.
  • Add a splash of flavor. I have been totally obsessed with Coffee Mate’s Natural Bliss Vanilla creamer.
  • Drink and enjoy!

If you aren’t hip to the Coffee Mate Natural Bliss creamer collection, then you need to get on it ASAP. It is the purest, richest vanilla creamer that I have ever tasted and it literally will transform your iced coffee. I do not say this lightly, because it makes my coffee creation taste one million times better than what I used to get at Starbucks. AND it costed like two dollars for a bottle, which is awesome!

My iced coffee revelation may seem like a simple thing, because it really is pretty simple. BUT, I am so excited that I’ve made myself something that 1) saves money and 2) doesn’t sacrifice the taste, just in time for the warm summer weather ahead! GO ME!!

So there you have it, my Iced Coffee Obsession! Who else makes their own coffee creations at home? What is your caffeine beverage of choice? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Monday Update: Sister’s Birthday Celebration Edition

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Monday Update: Sister’s Birthday Celebration Edition

Heyyy everyone and happy Monday! This past weekend was SO much fun because it was my sister, Kristen’s, 25th birthday! We had such a wonderful time celebrating and I was really happy because I got to spend her entire birthday with her. Kristen is unbearably hard to shop for, so for her birthday I decided to keep it simple and snag her some gift cards so that we could make a day out of using them. Which is exactly what we did!

I got Kristen a gift card to Sephora and to the nail salon that we go to, so we spent the afternoon girling out with pedicures and makeup shopping. Although I didn’t get a pedi because balling on a budget, I got to soak my nasty feet and sit in a massage chair while Kristen got pampered and we had so much fun chit chatting and laughing with all of our favorite nail techies. Kristen got the Hello Kitty pink polish that I recently got on my nails on her toes and it looked so freaking cute! I can’t say that about my feet, but I’m glad that her toesies are on point just in time for flip flop season!

After pedicures, we went to the mall to ultimately spend what felt like forever in Sephora. I have actually never spent that much time in there before and it was surprisingly really fun. We tried on different lipsticks and browsed through the aisles pointing out ridiculous eyeshadow or lip colors and figuring out the best way for her to spend her gift card. Kristen ended up getting a gorgeous new lipstick and an eyebrow pencil as well as a birthday gift from the store (a blush and lip gloss) and some freebies that she got from cashing in the points on her reward card.

Although I tried on some okay-ish lipsticks, I just ended up going with a tube of the Better Than Sex mascara. Kristen got it for me for Christmas this year and since I’ve ran out, no other mascara can compare, so it was a must to get another one! I was really happy because the gift card that I got her covered everything that she wanted and she also got some super nice freebies, so she walked away with an awesome Sephora birthday haul.

Once we were done shopping, I treated Kristen to coffee and then dropped her off at her apartment so that she could get ready for the evening festivities. Our night was a boozy celebration of going to get margaritas with her friends and then hitting the bars afterwards for some more alcohol related fun. AND I also got to ride in my first Uber, so that was really exciting, lol. THE DRIVER WAS SO NICE!! #ubereverywhere

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(The lovely lady in the second photo, Kelsey, will be featured on lifewithlilred soon so keep your eyes peeled!)

The day after Kristen’s birthday was spent nursing a very worthwhile hangover and celebrating at home with the family. I know I had a blast and it felt really good knowing that Kristen did, too, and I like to think that I helped make that possible! Now, I’m just excited for my birthday to roll around in June so that she can return the favor!

So there you have it, this week’s Monday Update: Sister’s Birthday Celebration Edition! How did you celebrate your birthday this year? How did you spend your weekend? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah