Sunday, October 4, 2015

Simple Blind Whiskey Tasting

As an individual, who hasn't ventured many times into the wonderful lands of this drink called Whiskey, I have to say in full disclosure this is a topic in which I am not an expert. So, for those of you who are experts, I must say this will more than likely not be a great 'how to' on throwing a great whiskey tasting. This is however is more of a combination of a blind Whiskey 101 or a good reason to try a couple bottles of Whiskey with good friends and good food. 

As this event unraveled, I found myself somewhat entranced by the depth of understanding it would take to become an expert in this world. The countries and history behind it all. 

More importantly, the real reason for a wine-o girl to throw such a party...
 my whiskey loving, cousin's 30th birthday!! 

A simple blind whiskey tasting, how to:

Keep it Diverse
Have guests bring a bottle of whiskey. Since whiskey can be pricey, have guests team up to bring a bottle. We had a total of six bottles. 

Now I know that the right way to do whiskey tasting involves a classics tulip glass but for our 101 , larger group of people, blind whiskey tasting, we used shot glass sized servings filled about half way for each tasting. Which were placed on a whiskey tasting card to keep the numbers in order for the scoring card. 

Share a little bit of Whiskey Info 
I complied a small cheat sheet of Whiskey found on the internet. Now I know this only skims the surface of all that goes into whiskey as well as all the regions throughout the world where whiskey is produced but it's a helpful start on knowing the difference between some of the most common whiskey's most American's are familiar with. 

Keep it Mysterious
Of course either way you chose to do your tasting, a blind tasting just adds a little more fun to the experience. Being the host, I designated myself to be the pourer. Making sure to write down the names and number. I started with serving the first whiskey, and then after 10 or so minutes serving the next whiskey and so on and so on. At the end, I announced each Whiskey, their type and age. 

Do your food Research 
There's an immense amount of information on good food pairings for whiskey. We went the ribs, chocolate, and cheese route. I also found information on serving a palate cleanser, like oyster crackers or saltine crackers with no salt. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Create Your Own Stuffed Pepper Bar

These days it seems that more and more people have particular eating restrictions, so in deciding what to make for a small get together of two friends, one being gluten free and dairy free, the other having more of a free dietary life much like my own, but keeping healthy on my mind, I thought why not stuffed peppers.

After a quick pinterest/google of different recipes, it seemed that recipes for stuffed peppers have a limitless variety of ingredients these days, and they all sound amazing. Especially the ones with Cheeeeeese. So, in true, can't make up my mind form, and in attempts to not make that decision for my guests. As well as to taking into account those dietary restrictions. I thought why not let each party decide what level of gluten, fat, calories, dairy or non dairy to add.

Stuffed Pepper Bar, Create your own!


Proteins included:
- Ground Turkey
- Turkey Sausage
- Black Beans
- Quinoa

Veges included:
- Red peppers
- Can of diced tomatoes
- Mild and hot Jalapenos (cut with seeds removed, cut with seeds included)
- Mushrooms
- Onion

- Sriracha
- Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Soy Sauce

Directions for Peppers:
- Cut off the tops of each pepper leaving about 3/4 of the pepper
- Remove all the seeds and pulp
- Add to boiling water in pan
- Cover the pan and let them boil for 5 minutes
- Remove them and place them upside down on a paper towel, drain for 20-30 minutes


Prep for Cooking:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
- Give each guest a bowl to spoon their mixture into
- Once they have picked out their ingredients, mix together with a spoon
- With a measuring cup add your guests specific mixture into one of the peppers
- Add Cheese on top if desired
- Place into baking dish as pictured below
- Cover with Tin foil
- Bake for 28-30 minutes
- Remove tin foil and bake for a few more minutes to let cheese melt, you can try changing the oven  to broil as well, for the cheesy top



Mental notes for the future and/or thoughts for you to take into account when creating your own Stuffed Peppers Bar:
-  Most stuffed pepper recipes have a cooked mixture from the oven top, that includes some sort of oil, good idea to introduce some kind of oil component to keep the mixture from getting to dry when baking. I sauteed the mushrooms and onion separately, with oil and salt and pepper.
- The rice component/ grain component, may be a necessary to keep the mixture from drying out as well, or more so of the bonding component for the ingredients.
- Don't over cook the meat!!

 *My camera is out of commission right now, so excuse the iPhone photos. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem 
Easy Burlap Pillow Case- DIY

Use the pillow as your measuring tool. 

For this pillow, 12x16, I cut the burlap to be about an inch and a half wider than the pillow on both sides. See long fabric example below. 

Then I took the long piece of fabric and wrapped it around the pillow to see how much fabric I would need. Keeping in mind that I would need about an inch to sew clean seams (Fold arrow in the image below) where the pillow opens in the back.  You want both sides to the opening in the back to meet right in the middle.
Cut your fabric, placing your pins like you see below. This will create the nice edge for the back pocket opening. You can choose to either sew these two ends first or wait till you pin the sides. I chose to sew these edges first

Again, use the pillow as your measuring tool and take the long piece of fabric and wrap it around the pillow. As you see from the image below, place your pins along the sides of the pillow. Once it feels like a good fit, remove the pillow, while removing and replacing the pins one at a time, in the same position (I use my thumb and index finger to hold each pins location while I remove and replace). Remember to keep everything inside out/sewing lines and excess fabric visible.

With a sewing machine, sew the sides, where you have placed your pins. You can do all of this by hand, if you do not have a sewing machine.
Once you have finished, turn your fabric inside out and Viola!!
You have yourself a burlap pillow case. 

You can leave it simple or get creative!

I made a DIY stencil, and used Satin white paint (purchased at Michaels) that works on fabric.

Friday, January 2, 2015

House Warming Wine Tasting Party

Now for many wine connoisseurs or sommeliers, a blind wine tasting may be about determining the different regions and varieties of grapes. A hobby/career (in some cases) I do find extremely fascinating, but still an area of study which I have yet to find myself in, and mostly due to the fact that I just really like to drink wine. Not to say that someday, I won't add it to the New Year's Resolution list.

At any time of year a blind wine tasting party can be fun for the experts out there and also just for a good fun activity for a small get together. As simply, just an enjoyer of wine (for now), and a great excuse to try and enjoy different wines with friends, we hosted a small house warming/wine tasting party.

For this wine tasting, we asked each guest to bring a bottle of their favorite wine along with an appetizer pairing. Of course as the host, that also includes you, you have to pay to play. :) Now in the past, I have hosted wine parties where I asked certain people to bring certain wines. This can work well if you don't want there to be too many reds or too many whites.  This time we left it a little more open to leave everyone in the unknown.

As the guests arrive:

  • Uncork their wine as well as removing the foil all the way off of the wine bottle. 
  • Wrap their wines in a paper bag, tie them at the top with ribbon or string. (you could use tape as well)
  • WAIT to number the bags!! This leaves you just as clueless on who brought what. 
  • Once most everyone has arrived, start numbering the bags randomly. 
  • Yes you may have 14 bottles but I promise, little will be left. 
  • Each guest will have a wine scoring card and a pen, and can try the wine in whatever order they please. Now for a larger party this may not be the best way to handle this, seeing how some guests may pour or larger than average pour. So, in this case as the host, start with the 1st bottle and walk around pouring a little in each guests glass. 

Now for the wine scoring card, I found lots of 'almost there' cards online but really nothing. As inspiration, I accumulated different ideas. I also chose to print these on the following paper, to go a long with the rest of the tags and banners I created. As you can see from the images below, guests can circle the score number or fill in the wine glass. They can also take a guess on naming the wine.

So, what's the point of scoring the wines? 
To see who wins! and of course the winner has to receive a prize! You decide!

For this occasion we prepared a gift basket for the winner. It included a bottle of Francis Coppola, Claret wine, a bag of Ghirardelli's chocolates, two wine glasses, and of course the wire basket it all came in. I wish I had a photo. But like most of this night, for the first time in all my party planning history, I took no photos. 

Now, in the scenario that you, the host, ends up winning, it's really up to you whether or not you keep the prize. My roommate ended up getting the highest score, oddly enough, I ended up getting the second highest score. Where's the fun in winning your own prize though? We ended up giving the gift to the third highest score.