Oscar Party Appetizers & Wine Pairings

Oscar Party Appetizer & Wine Pairings / loveandlemons.com

The Academy Awards are this weekend – have you seen all of the movies? We’ve binge-watched only a few of them, but so far my favorite is the Grand Budapest Hotel. Does anyone know where I can get Jack a hat that says “Lobby Boy?”

Whether or not you’re into the glitz and glam of it all, we love any excuse to gather over food and wine. We’ve partnered with Dark Horse Wine to create 3 fun Oscar-themed appetizers along with some unexpected wine pairings. To make things easy, most of this menu can be prepared in advance, and all of these Dark Horse wines are under $10 (Honestly – I was surprised when I heard the price because, to me, each one tastes much more expensive!).

Roasted Red Pepper Soup / loveandlemons.comOscar Party Appetizers & Wine Pairings Red-Carpet-Ready Red Pepper Soup with Dark Horse Big Red Blend

My favorite part of the Oscars is really the Red Carpet (aren’t the dresses everyone’s favorite?) I normally wouldn’t start a wine menu with a bold red, but I couldn’t resist the word play. In my opinion, “wine rules,” are meant to be broken.

Why we love this pairing: The Big Red Blend is just how it sounds – big and bold – yet we found it to be really smooth as well. We love it with this red pepper soup that’s creamy, tangy, and just a tiny bit smoky. Special bonus: this simple soup can be made the day before your party.

Endive Spears w/ Quinoa Salad / loveandlemons.comOscar Party Appetizers & Wine Pairings Best Dressed Quinoa Endive Spears with Dark Horse Chardonnay

I can’t think of a more glamorous looking vegetable than endive. It’s such a swanky way to serve salad as an appetizer. And, conveniently, the quinoa filling can be made in advance. Break out your best fruity olive oil and dress this to the nines.

Why we love this pairing: The creamy Chardonnay nicely contrasts with the bitter bite of the endive. The tangy dressing and sweet currants bring out the peachy vanilla nuances in the wine.

Pear & Arugula Mini Pizzas / loveandlemons.comOscar Party Appetizers & Wine Pairings Appetizer in a Leading Role: Pear & Arugula Mini Pizzas with Dark Horse Merlot

These little pizzas are easy but elegant – especially with bright, peppery arugula on top. They’re filling enough to be our “leading role” so that your guests will last through the too-long Oscar speeches.

Why we love this pairing: An unexpected layer of pear “pairs” (pun intended, so sorry) well with this fruit forward wine. Salty feta and peppery arugula bring out the spicier notes in the wine. 

winter wines (& food pairings)

winter wines & food pairings / @loveandlemons

Happy almost new year! I hope you all have some really fun plans tonight. Jack and I are going to have a pretty quiet night at home (because, omg, it’s freezing out!), but the wine will be flowing, nonetheless. Here are some bottles we’ve been enjoying recently. All are under $16(!), and are available at wine-carrying Whole Foods Stores.

Healthier Holiday Party Recipes

Healthier Holiday Party Recipes / @loveandlemons

Minty Pomegranate Spritzers Butternut Squash & Sage Crostini Avocado Pomegranate Crostini Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Is it just me or has every day this week felt like Friday? Since holiday party season is in full swing I thought I’d round up a few fun & festive recipes that are healthy-ish, and (mostly), finger food friendly.

Click on the images to go to each recipe (or see links below)…

Healthier Holiday Party Recipes / @loveandlemons

Parmesan & Fig Grilled Cheese Homemade Soft Pretzels Butternut Squash Croquettes Vegan Stuffed Shells Cookies! Almond Butter Cups  

Minty Pomegranate Spritzers / Butternut Squash & Sage Crostini / Avocado Pomegranate Crostini / Quinoa Stuffed Peppers / Parmesan & Fig Grilled Cheese / Vegan Soft Pretzels / Butternut Squash Croquettes  /  Vegan Stuffed ShellsCookies!  /  White Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

Behind the Scenes: Making & Mattering

Behind the scenes: Making & Mattering @loveandlemons

I get a lot of questions about my background – mostly about how I got started blogging and if I have tips or suggestions for someone just starting out. I’ve always had a hard time coming up with “the answers” because I truly feel like everyone’s path is different. What I can tell you is that one key to my creative little journey has been surrounding myself with insanely talented people to be inspired by. So when La Crema Wines asked me to be a part of their Interview Magazine Statement Makers campaign, I immediately knew I wanted to interview one of the most inspiring and creative people I know – Trina Bentley of Make & Matter.

Everything I know about design, developing an aesthetic, and having a nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, I learned from her. While Jack is the person that finishes my sandwiches, Trina is (creatively speaking) the person who finishes my sentences. She’s been my go-to person for everything from logo brainstorms to my wedding dress choice. She’s the person who I trust to tell me that the sky is blue and that Pantone 485 is, in fact, the best red.

Behind the scenes: Making & Mattering @loveandlemons

A bit about our background: Trina and I first met while working at a local graphic design firm. Eventually, we took a leap and started our own studio where we learned the ropes of creative entrepreneurship. Fast forward a bunch of years and our paths have diverged a bit – I started this here blog, and Trina went on to make a statement by starting Make & Matter, an award winning design studio where she creates gorgeous branding and packaging for natural food brands (like those beautiful Epic bars).

Last weekend, we got together for a glass of wine and a little brainstorm for an upcoming collaboration (more on that soon!). Jack put together a couple of cheese plates (and also snapped these photos)… Trina enjoyed La Crema’s Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir while I popped open the Chardonnay (which is in fact one of my favorite whites because it’s light, buttery, and also pairs well with most foods).

I realize this isn’t a dinner recipe, or a how-to-blog post, but I’m hoping this little Q & A will at least inspire all of you creative-types out there with some tips to make a statement in your own career. (Keep reading for the interview after the jump).

Holiday Cocktail & Cookie Swap

Holiday Cookie Swap / Love & Lemons + Crate & BarrelCookies & Cocktails w/ Holiday Drinkware

For as long as I can remember, my family’s Christmas season officially started with cookies. Before we were even tall enough to reach the countertop, my mom would pull over kitchen chairs so my sister and I could “help” out and get our hands in the flour. She would get out the baking sheets, the ingredients, and the flour-dusted recipes that were reserved only for the holiday season. We’d bake batch after batch after batch, eating more cookie dough than actual cookies.

This year, to kick off our holiday season, I created a little cookie & cocktail party taking inspiration from my family cookie memories. And we’ve partnered with Crate and Barrel to share a few cocktail and cookie recipe ideas and tips to create a sweet gathering of your own.

pictured above: Hatch Rocks & Shot Glasses, Snowflake Coasters

Holiday Cookie Swap / www.loveandlemons.com

Create your Cookie Swap: 

After a quick google search, I’ve learned that some people have some pretty serious Cookie Swap rules. I personally don’t think rules and parties go together so here are just some of my tips to help get you started:

- Invite some friends who have a big sweet tooth. There’s no calorie counting at this party! The more people you invite, the more cookie varieties you’ll have.

- Ask each person to bring one batch (about 2 dozen) homemade cookies and a tin or storage container to take cookies home in.

 – Make a fun & festive cocktail but I like to keep it simple. I made a Blood Orange and Bourbon Cocktail with a sprig of rosemary.

- Set up platters for guests to place their cookies so everyone can share cookies and swap recipes.

pictured above: Nesting Mixing Bowl, Stainless Steel Measuring Cup, Mini Silicone Spatula-Spoon Set

Holiday Cookie Swap / www.loveandlemons.com

The Cookies:

My mom and I spent an afternoon baking some of our family favorites: this Spritz cookie is my family’s signature cookie. It’s a light buttery cookie flavored with sweet almond extract. Create fun shapes using a Cookie Press – the poinsettia flower shape was always our favorite. We also made vegan sugar cookies, pistachio truffles (which are also vegan), and pecan turtle bars.

pictured above & below: Round Storage Bowl SetBoxed 6” Appetizer Plates, Lumi Batik Cocktail NapkinsJingle Cookies for Santa Platter

Cookie Swap Holiday Decor / Love & Lemons + Crate & Barrel

And don’t forget some cookies for the dogs – ours are always looking for handouts!

Peppermint Bark Dog Treats / loveandlemons.com
pictured:
 Peppermint Bark Dog Treats