Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Product Placement Wednesday - Trader Joe's Pita Crisps with Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds

Yes, I know that it isn't Wednesday but I couldn't wait until Wednesday to share this product with you! Earlier this season our friends at Trader Joe's teased us with a great product called Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps. They were very similar to the Raisin Rosemary Crisps but in far less supply. As with so many of their seasonal products, these guys flew off the shelves. Don't miss out next year! In the meantime, I have a slightly different product that you will love equally as much!

Trader Joe's Pita Crisps with Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds

In case you are wondering how good these pita crisps are I will tell you I wish I never opened the bag - they are that addicting! Of course addicting in the best possible way! They are the perfect combo if you don't know if you want something sweet or savory. They lean towards the sweet side as they have a sugar coating though have that crunchiness of savory snacks. I have been enjoying mine with the Mini Brie Bites (for portion control) but I think they would be equally good with other soft cheeses like goat cheese. They are also delicious on their own! Trader Joe's recommends enjoying then with egg salad but I really think the cracker is too sweet for that flavor profile. I would stick with plain hummus, cheese (be careful if the flavor is too bold), and sliced turkey. Also, they are whole wheat so they are TOTALLY good for you! No matter how you serve them, they are the perfect addition to your holiday spread. Don't miss out!

Still looking for a cocktail to serve on Thanksgiving? Be sure to check out my last post here!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Turkey Day Cocktails

Last week I shared with you a couple fun ideas for Thanksgiving tablescapes using the same products on each table. As promised, I am pleased to share some delicious cocktails to make your Thanksgiving more festive! The two recipes I am sharing today are for Apple Cider Margaritas and Lingonberry Royales. Both are drinks I have successfully served at previous Thanksgivings. The Lingonberry Royale has been a recurring Thanksgiving drink whereas the Apple Cider Margarita was inspired by my initial discovery of Pinterest!

Apple Cider Margaritas
This recipe is modified from the recipe on How Sweet it Is. Photo credit also goes to this site as I was too busy drinking margaritas to take a photo! I changed this recipe due to cost of ingredients as well as simplicity in serving for a large crowd. The margaritas in the original recipe would need to be individually made and at an event with over 20 people that was not realistic. The portions below are for one drink so multiple for the quantity of drinks/size of pitcher.

1 ounce Citronge
1 ounce gold tequila
5-6 ounces apple cider (I used both Trader Joe's Spiced Cider and their Pear Cinnamon Cider and thought both were great.)
orange wedges
sugar (coarse preferred)

1. Mix Citronage, tequila and cider together in a pitcher. I recommend having the cider chilled in advance.

2. Mix sugar and cinnamon together and place on a saucer. This will be used to rim the glasses. I did a 50/50 mixture.

3. Take a glass and rub the lip with an orange wedge. Dip the glass lip into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Squeeze the remaining juice from the orange into the glass and toss the wedge into the bottom of the glass.

4. Fill the glass with ice and the tequila mixture. Enjoy!

Lingonberry Royale
This is a take on the classic Kir Royale. If you have never tasted a lingonberry before, I like to say that they taste like a cranberry and a raspberry had a baby but in reality it is probably more like a tiny cranberry. Sounds perfect for Thanksgiving doesn't it!?!? I get the lingonberry concentrate from IKEA however if you don't have an IKEA handy you can order from Amazon. I think an unsweetened cranberry juice (or at least a naturally sweetened - NOT cranberry juice cocktail) could probably work in a pinch as well.

lingonberry drink concentrate
sparkling wine

1. Mix 1x lingonberry drink concentrate to 2x water. Keep in mind that you will end up with 3x the amount of lingonberry so choose your proportions carefully. The water is key in order for the concentrate to mix with the sparkling wine. Otherwise it is too heavy and does not mix well.

2. Place lingonberry mixture in a champagne flute (to taste) and top with sparkling wine. Serve!

NOTE: Not an actual photo of a Lingonberry Royale however a close approximation.
What will you be serving with your Thanksgiving dinner? Do you have a favorite seasonal cocktail?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thanksgiving Tablescapes - 1 Set of Decor, 2 Ways

While we are still a few weeks away from Thanksgiving, it is never too early to start thinking about your holiday tablescape! The past two years I have been a host/co-host for the big Thanksgiving dinner and figuring out the plan for the table has been one of my primary tasks. Here are two examples of how I took the same basic items and created two very different tablescapes.

Tablescape #1 - Classic Meets Childhood Nostalgia

Items purchased from Michael's:
  • Silk Autumn leaves (since in California ACTUAL leaves are difficult to come by)
  • Clear votive holders
  • Pine cones
  • White banner paper
  • Crayons
Items purchased from Trader Joe's:
  • Assorted mini pumpkins and gourds
Thanksgiving this particular year was a large group that did not know each other well (multiple friend groups) so we wanted to make sure the table was festive but also fun. We also had a lot of table top to cover so we wanted to get the most bang for our buck. We used folding tables which are not as wide as a standard dining table so the best use of space was to do a "runner" of decor down the center of the table. As you can see in the photo below, we alternated the various elements to create variety along the center of the table.

So what about these crayons and the childhood nostalgia? Do you remember back to your early educational years when you made Thanksgiving turkeys by tracing around your hand? Yep, we brought them back! Since we wanted to mix up the group and encourage people to get to know each other we thought this was a fun way to do our placecards! Then once you were done eating (or taking a break) you could use the crayons on the table to decorate your bird. I wish I would have taken some photos of the finished products - this was a very creative group!

While our group was a mixed bag of ages, this idea could work for the "kids table" even if you plan a more formal tablescape for your Thanksgiving.
Tablescape #2 - Eclectic Chic
When year number two rolled around and I looked to repurposing our Thanksgiving decor, I was dealing with a very different venue and group size. Dinner was for just six around the dining table at my home. I wanted to go with something a bit more formal but still fun. Items I used from the previous year include:
  • Silk Autumn leaves
  • Clear votive holders (I used some with texture that I picked up at a garage sale for just $.25 each!)
  • Pine cones
  • Mini pumpkins (Purchased new)
To this I added a printed tablecloth (borrowed from a friend) and a modern white vase (also from a garage sale though originally from CB2) with flowers from Trader Joe's. My original vision was with a white tablecloth and while that would have showcased the decor a bit more, I do think the table came together nicely with the addition of the lime green napkins.

Last year post holiday I picked up these great mini ceramic pumpkins from Crate and Barrel on sale for just a couple dollars each! They are meant to be used as a vase but could just as easily be used as a candle holder or even just on their own! Unfortunately they are no longer sold online but I did see them last month at the Crate & Barrel Outlet in Carlsbad and they ship! I believe they were just $3 a piece.

Crate and Barrel does have a great product that is available this season - dried Gourds. These are perfect if you want stick with reusable products. They come in the two colors in the photo below.


I hope these ideas have helped inspire your own Thanksgiving tabletop! Please let me know what creative ideas you are incorporating this year.

Coming later this month - Thanksgiving Cocktails!