Holiday Spiced Sangria with Black Box Wine + Friendsgiving

sangria1Do you know how I get through the holidays? Wine. Lots and lots of wine. Just kidding…kinda. Seriously though, I think almost everyone can agree with me that drinking and the holidays go hand in hand. And I love some red wine (and so does my family!). I usually try to stock up on wine right before the holidays, because I know that I will be having guests over or hosting dinner parties. Let’s be real, you need wine on hand when it’s just you and you want to have a glass or two after a long day. That is where Black Box Wine comes in clutch. This wine isn’t what you used to drink in college (it’s ok, admit it). This is award winning varietals that even your wine snob friends will enjoy.

In addition to being delicious, Black Box wines are super portable and have eco-friendly packaging. Having this lightweight packaging is a lifesaver…no more taking a bottle of wine over to your friend’s house and worrying about that glass bottle rolling off your car seat and breaking. These Go Packs also use 65% less energy to make and have 53% less waste than glass. You can feel good about having that third glass of wine-cause hey, your helping the environment!

Black Box Wine is tasty on it’s own, but it’s also perfect for making a big batch of cocktails to serve at holiday gatherings. I love a good Cab, but I also LOVE to make Sangria. Maybe it was my study abroad to Spain in college, maybe it’s the basic girl in me. Today I’m sharing a great recipe for holiday spiced winter sangria, made with Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon. It has all those warm holiday spices in it, combined with the toasty oak and cherry flavors of the wine…it’s the perfect holiday drink!

Holiday Spiced Winter Sangria

-2 Go Packs Black Box Wine 500 ML Cabernet Sauvignon

-1 cup brandy or spiced rum (I like to use this rum)

-2 cups apple cider

-3 tea bags of Orange and Cinnamon Spice Tea (try this one or this one)

-1 apple + orange, cut into small chunks/slices

Start by heating up your apple cider until almost simmering. Steep your 3 tea bags in the hot apple cider for 10-15 min. Pour your wine into a large pitcher, then add the rum/brandy. After your teabags have steeped, remove those and pour the cooled apple cider and tea mixture into the wine. Stir to combine. Core and chop your apple, sliced your orange, and add this to your wine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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We also wanted to share a few pictures from our Friendsgiving we had a few weeks ago. We met so many amazing bloggers and made a bunch of new friends. The best kind of women are the ones who support and encourage each other, and all of these amazing women are girl bosses who do just that. Our Friendsgiving was hosted by Erica of Eating with Erica. If you haven’t checked her out yet, she is talented food blogger who has an eye for food and fashion. She hosted us all at American Cut in Buckhead, and the food was to die for! If you live in the Atlanta area, you must have dinner here. Huge thanks to Double Cross Vodka, who sponsored our delicious dinner and as well as some yummy cocktails!

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All of our wonderful photos from Friendsgiving were taken by the fabulously talented and sweet Jamie of Jamie King Creative. It was pretty dark in there and all these pictures turned out perfectly! Go check her out!

Hope everyone is gearing up for the holidays!

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Taste of Atlanta Recap

I consider myself a foodie…I will try just about anything, one of my favorite things to do is to try a new restaurant in Atlanta with the hubs. Atlanta is quickly becoming the food capital of the South, and the food scene here is ever-changing and fresh. Combine trying new restaurants along with a outdoor festival setting, and you have me hooked! I had the opportunity to go to Taste of Atlanta a couple weeks ago on October 22nd. Taste of Atlanta is a 3 day food festival in it’s 15th year, serving up bites and craft cocktails from over 90 of Atlanta’s best and up-and-coming restaurants. A food lover’s dream-you get to try so many different things! Not only is there a ton of food, they are serving up live chef demos throughout the day and even offer cook-along classes.

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One of the great things about this festival is that almost every transaction is done with your wristband. Not only does it gain you entrance, but you put ‘taste points’ onto the wrist band and that’s how you purchase food. I love this idea…it is SO much easier and quicker than have to do cash, or trying to find an ATM (if you are like me and never carry cash). It made the lines move very quickly so you weren’t just standing in line waiting for food. They could just scan your wristband and you are good to go!

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To put taste points onto your wristband, you could just do it online beforehand, or put taste points on there at the festival using ‘Top-up’ stations. I thought this would be a pain, but we were able to get more points onto our wristbands within 10 minutes of walking over. Super quick. The hubs is not a fan of waiting in line, so he was happy.

Now to the best part…the food. I ate so many good things, but I’m sharing a few of my favorites below.

‘Gangsta Fries’ from Bellwood’s Social House

These fries are AMAZING. Tasty homemade fries topped with blue cheese, chili oil, chives, and bacon. Does it get any better than that? Uhm hello ultimate cheat food. Bellwood’s is over in West Midtown, and is perfect for chill Sundays. (PS-they do a great brunch too!)

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American Kobe Beef Meatballs from Davio’s

These perfectly rich and tender mini meatballs from Davio’s, topped with a sprinkle of freshly shredded Parmesan and a light red sauce, literally melted in your mouth. The texture of the meatball was perfect, which is amazing considering they made a TON. Just a couple bites of this meatball made me want to try more from this steakhouse, located in Phipps Plaza.

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Braised Short Rib over Celery Root and Potato Puree from Blue Ridge Grill 

This restaurant in Buckhead holds a special place in my heart, since that’s where my husband and I had our first official date. They are known for a great steak, but their seafood selections are always stellar. This braised short rib was something I had never had there, but would definitely order again. It was so tender and flavorful, and the puree complemented nicely without overwhelming.

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Fried Chicken Salad Slider from The Shed at Glenwood

The Shed is known for their Fried Chicken, so when I saw this interesting take on it, I knew I had to try it. It was even better that I thought it would be! Still crispy from frying, but also that creamy classic chicken salad feel. Served on an H&F bun too, so you can’t beat that. If you haven’t been to this quaint little restaurant over near East Atlanta, get on it!

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If you have never been to a food festival like this, you have to try it! It’s such a great way to explore all the food and experiences that your city has to offer. I can’t wait to go back next year and try even more new restaurants. When else will you be able to try what so many different places have to offer? Hope to see you all next year if you live in Atlanta!

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Grilled Peach & Goat Cheese Flatbread with Balsamic Drizzle

Peach season is upon us! How could we pass that up?! We love using local, in-season fruits and veggies when we can, and we are suckers for a good farmers market. Basic I know. Buuut, I snagged these beautiful peaches on a trip to the Westside Farmers market this past weekend. (Atlanta readers, you should definitely check it out!) I immediately started thinking of all the ways I could use these babies, but couldn’t decide on one until I came home and the hubby said pizza sounded good for dinner. Lightbulb moment! All these flavors pair so well together, and practically scream summer. I went with flatbread, or so I’m calling it, since it doesn’t have a sauce on it like pizza does.

This balsamic glaze really is a star on its own too. You can literally put it on anything, and it makes it so much better. The tangy but sweet balsamic reduction really complements the sweet peaches in this recipe, but try it on other stuff too! You won’t regret it. Plus it’s super easy to make:

Balsamic Glaze:

-8 Oz (1 Cup) good Balsamic Vinegar

-1/4 cup sugar

-pinch of salt

Over medium heat, bring all three ingredients to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Just keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn. Once the liquid is syrupy looking and reduced by about half, it’s ready to go. This should take about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. You can store it in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the fridge.

Now, for the flatbread. It’s such a simple recipe, but it really packs a punch of flavors and presents so nicely. It’s a great dish to take as an appetizer to a party. Everyone will be impressed, promise.

Grilled Peach & Goat Cheese Flatbread:

-1 pkg. pre-made pizza dough (or if you are feeling crazy, make your own!)

-1-2 peaches

-3 Oz. crumbled Goat Cheese

-fresh basil

-olive oil

-balsamic glaze (recipe above)

Preheat the oven to 400 °. First you want to grill your peaches. If you don’t have a grill, you can use a grill pan on the cooktop as well. Cut peaches in half, and remove seeds and any hard center parts. Lightly brush with olive oil so that they don’t stick to your grill.

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Grill cut side down for about 5 minutes, then turn and grill for another 2 minutes. It’s ok if they don’t feel completely cooked, they will cook on the flatbread in the oven. Grilling them just gives you a more intense peach flavor and plus the grill marks look nice too. Let cool while you roll out your pizza dough onto a greased or sprayed cookie sheet. Lightly drizzle your dough with some olive oil. I did a little sprinkle of dried basil too.

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Sprinkle on your goat cheese crumbles, then slice your peaches and add them to the flatbread.

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Bake for about 15-17 minutes, until the edges are turning light brown and the center looks cooked. Once you pull your flatbread out of the oven, lightly drizzle your balsamic glaze over the top. Chop 2-3 large basil leaves into thin slices, and sprinkle over the top of the flatbread.

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The tangy goat cheese along with the sweetness of the peaches is good. The balsamic glaze and the fresh basil really takes it over the top. So tasty. And even with all the flavors, the peaches are still the star with such a vibrant flavor.

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Let us know if you try this recipe and how it turned out in the comments below or over on Instagram. Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!

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Prickly Pear & Thyme Gin Fizz

Who doesn’t love a fun cocktail? Even better, one that is super simple to make. Less time mixing, more time drinking. Yes! The flavors of citrus and prickly pear go so well with the herby-ness (not sure if that’s a word) of the thyme. It’s refreshing and perfect for summertime; it reminds us of something you would drink for happy hour in Italy.

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Prickly Pear & Thyme Gin Fizz 

(makes 2 drinks)

-3 ounces of your favorite gin (we really like St. George’s)

-1.5 ounces fresh lemon juice

-3 sprigs of thyme

-San Pellegrino Prickly Pear Italian Soda

-Cocktail shaker

I found this Italian soda in my local grocery store, but you can also find it at Target (like I need another reason to go into Target!).

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Typically a gin fizz calls for sugar or a simple syrup, but since we have replaced the club soda with a flavored soda, it’s not really necessary. First fill a cocktail shaker two thirds of the way with ice, then add the gin, lemon juice, and 1 sprig of thyme. Close and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour into two rocks glasses filled with ice, and top off with the prickly pear Italian soda. Give it a quick stir to mix, then garnish with a sprig of thyme and a slice of lemon. {Tip: if gin isn’t your drink of choice, this would be equally excellent with vodka too!}

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Now take a sip, close your eyes, and pretend that you are on the coast of Italy sipping your fancy cocktail while looking out at the water. Saluti!

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Valentine’s Day Cake Pops

How adorable are these cake pops!? These are a perfect sweet treat for your Valentine, best friend, or even co-workers! They are surprisingly easy to make too, and the decorating options are endless. Plus who doesn’t love a little bite sized dessert?

What you will need:

-Boxed cake mix {you can use any kind here, I used red velvet}

-Frosting

-Cookie scoop, or melon baller

-lollipop sticks {you can find these at Michael’s or any craft store}

-chocolate or candy melts {for dipping}

-Sprinkles, candies, or anything else you want to decorate the finish pops.

First, prepare cake mix per instructions on box…pretty simple so far right? Cool slightly, then crumble into chunks to cool completely.

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Once cooled, use your hands to crumble the cake into fine pieces. Word to the wise: if you choose red velvet cake like me, you might want to wear some latex gloves. I may or may not be typing this with reddish-pink fingers right now. Oops. You want the texture to be fine so that you don’t have any big lumps in your cake pops.

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When you have a fine crumble, mix in about 3/4 cup frosting into your crumbled cake. I used cream cheese frosting with my red velvet, but obviously you can use any kind of frosting to go with the cake you choose. Mix well until your cake mixture starts to hold together in clumps and is no longer crumbly. You want the cake to stick together well.

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Then use a small scoop or spoon to make little balls of cake. The scoop is great because it helps make the balls all a uniform size. Once you scoop them, roll them lightly in your hand to help shape into a round ball. Be very careful, they are easy to break apart. If you find that your cake isn’t sticking together, add a little more frosting and mix well to add a little more hold. Place your cake balls onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and pop into the freezer for about 30 minutes to harden.

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While the cake balls are in the freezer, melt your chocolate or candy melts. I used pink candy melts that can be found at Michael’s. These are great because they are already colored and when the cool, they harden to a nice outer shell on the cake pops. Take the cake pops out of the freezer and stick the lollipop sticks about halfway through the cake. {Tip: dip the tip of the lollipop stick into the melted coating before sticking them in the cake, it will help secure them better!}

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Carefully dip your pops into the melted chocolate, and tap gently to removed excess coating. Once it starts to harden slightly, you can set them upright. It helps to have a piece of styrofoam or something with holes that you can set them in so that they don’t touch anything while hardening. Top your cake pops with any extra decor you want. Colored sugar, sprinkles, red velvet crumbs, drizzled chocolate in another color…really anything you want to get creative with! You can even do different colors as I did below to create a fun ombre look!

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Have fun with it! And try to share {trust me it’s harder than you think!} Enjoy!

-Amanda

Grilled Peach Salad

Happy Friday! It seems like summer is coming to an end already…schools are back in session as of this week in Atlanta, and people are already looking to fall. I love summer, but even I am a little excited about cooler weather, football, and of course boots and sweaters! One of the best parts of summer is all the great fruits and veggies that are in peak season that start to disappear with the start of fall. Peaches are especially perfect this time of year, and I try to find as many ways to use them during the summer as possible. One great way to use them is this grilled peach salad with goat cheese and red onions with a honey balsamic dressing.

I know what you are thinking…grilling peaches? Trust me on this one. A quick turn on the grill really intensifies the flavor and caramelizes the outside. The sweetness of the peaches pairs so perfectly with the creamy, tangy goat cheese and the bite of red onions. Served on a bed of peppery arugula and drizzled with a honey balsamic dressing…it’s so good. It’s such a pretty and easy salad that’s perfect for entertaining.

Grilled Peach Salad

  • 3-4 ripe peaches
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 pkg. baby arugula
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • candied walnuts (optional)

Pre-heat your grill to medium. If you don’t have a grill, don’t worry! This can be done on a grill pan on a burner in the kitchen. Start by slicing your peaches in half and remove the pits.  Brush each cut side of your peaches with a little olive oil. While the grill is heating up, slice the red onion into very thin slices, and crumble the goat cheese {or you can buy already crumbled goat cheese}. Place the arugula in a wide serving bowl. If you have never had arugula before, this is a great recipe to try it! Crumble the goat cheese over the arugula and scatter the sliced red onions. You can throw in some candied walnuts for a little extra crunch too.

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for the Honey Balsamic dressing:

  • 1 oz.  olive oil
  • 2 oz. balsamic dressing
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a salad shaker or small bowl. Shake or whisk until well until the balsamic and oil are combined. {Tip:} this dressing comes together super easy and without a mess if you get yourself one of these salad dressing shakers. I got mine at Home Goods, but you can find them anywhere. They make creating your own dressings a breeze!

Place the peaches cut side down on the grill for 3-4 min, or until they are slightly caramelized and have grill marks on them. Place atop the salad and drizzle with the honey balsamic dressing.

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Voila! A fancy looking salad that you can serve friends and family; they won’t even know how simple it was to put together. Or you can tell them. Or you can give them the recipe too, since I guarantee you will be asked for it. Make it this weekend and let us know what you think!

-Amanda

Grapefruit Mint Pops

It’s June. In Atlanta. It’s hot. Like, really hot. It’s not even technically summer yet {well at least for a few more days!}. Good thing for you- I have a tasty and easy way to keep cool! And who doesn’t love popsicles? These take 5 minutes to make; totally worth it. Waiting for them to freeze so that you can eat them is the hardest part! This is the perfect summer treat to cool off during these ridiculously hot summer days. It’s so refreshing, and the grapefruit and mint pair so well together. I happen to love grapefruit flavored anything, but if grapefruit isn’t your favorite, this can work equally well with oranges.

Grapefruit Mint Popsicles

-2 medium grapefruit

-1 tsp. grapefruit zest

-6-7 fresh mint leaves

-1/3 cup sugar

-1/2 cup water

-Ice Pop/Popsicle molds {some fun options Here and Here}

Before you juice the grapefruit, zest the peel enough to yield about 1 tsp. Citrus peels have amazing oils in them that will really intensify the grapefruit flavor. {Tip: Just grate down until you barely see the white part of the peel. The white part can be bitter, so you just want the outside part of the peel!} Heat the sugar and water over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Finely chop the mint leaves.

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In a medium bowl, combine the juice of the two grapefruit, the grapefruit zest, the fresh chopped mint, and the water/sugar mixture. Whisk well to combine and pour straight into your pop molds, then throw those little babies into the freezer. That’s it! Well…you still have to wait for them to freeze. But it’s worth the wait, trust me. Freeze for at least 6 hours, then enjoy! Makes 6 small pops.

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Stay cool and have a great weekend!

-Amanda