Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking forward to 2010 for Eat Drink Pretty

I have some very exciting things planned for Eat Drink Pretty coming up in January. First, the site will be redesigned in a week or two. I am in LOVE with the new look; think pinks, grays, tans with a vintage feel and a gorgeous chandelier header. Also, I will be posting the first give away on Eat Drink Pretty next week. Stay tuned for a chance to win a gorgeous set of champagne flutes.

Thanks to everyone who stops by to check out what's going on here at Eat Drink Pretty. This blog has given me a creative outlet to share my cooking, baking (disasters and all) and overall love for entertaining and hosting and it makes my day to receive all your kind emails and comments.

And of course, I couldn't end this post without wishing you all a very happy New Year. Have fun and be safe tonight!!

{Photo credit: Martha Stewart}

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

North Dakota for the holidays

I apologize for the lack of posts over the past week. I spent the holidays with my husband's family in North Dakota. The holiday was relaxing, pretty uneventful and filled with great food (just the way I like it). Erik's family is German so there was no shortage of dumplings, cream, gravy, knephla...you get the picture.

I'll describe my experience in photos (very poorly taken photos with a crappy camera, sorry)

Every small town has the townie bar, right? The Downtowner is a ton of fun and you can buy a round of drinks for a group of people for around $10. Can't beat that.

A view of Main Street and the grain bins.

We brought my kitty along, he liked this spot under the tree so we started calling him our little Christmas kitty.
I failed to take a lot of food pictures and focused more on eating a lot of it. Sigh. That New Year's resolution to lose a few pounds is definitely in effect. Upper left photo, Erik had a great 3 egg omelet at the restaurant in town called Reubens. Lower left photo, Christmas dinner consisted of prime rib, lobster tails, baked rice, garlic mashed potatoes, salad, cheesecake, I could go on but the memory of that is bringing on a lot of guilt. Right photo, you can't celebrate the holidays without a festive sparkling cocktail (sparkling wine and pomegranate juice).
The midwest was slammed by a huge snowstorm on Christmas Eve Day. It made driving to North Dakota quite a treat. But seriously, the aftermath was beautiful, so pristine and peaceful whiteness everywhere.

I hope you all have fun plans for New Years Eve. Erik and I will attending a wedding, so excited!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wassail tea

I have been spending the holidays in a small town in North Dakota. The weather has been frigid with tons of snow and blowing wind so I have been staying indoors as much as possible. My mother-in-law introduced me to Wassail Tea the first day I arrived and I have drank it every day since. This tea is warm, full of comforting spices and smells amazing and is the perfect drink for the holidays and the winter months.

Never hearing the word wassail before, I looked it up on Wikipedia and this is the definition I found: Wassail is a hot, spiced punch often associated with Christmas. Particularly popular in Germanic countries, the term itself is a contraction of the Middle English phrase wæs hæil, meaning "be healthy".

Though there are many Wassail tea recipes online, I think this one is particularly special because it comes from my mother-in-laws cookbook dating back to 1978, some of the pages were hand-written and some were typed using a typewriter. The recipes were contributed by the women from the church in town.

Wassail Tea

2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 Tablespoon whole cloves
5 cinnamon sticks
1 1/4 quart water
5 allspice berries

Combine the above ingredients and boil for 10 minutes. Let stand covered for 1 hour.

Add:
1 quart orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
2 1/2 quart sweet cider

Note: doubled recipe will make 2 1/2 gallons and will serve around 50. Taste improves each time it is warmed up.

{Photo credit: Breakfast and Brunch Recipes}

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I enjoyed a very relaxing Christmas Eve filled with great good and family. Today I am looking forward to breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon, hanging out with family and then a huge dinner or prime rib and lobster (lots and lots of eating on Christmas!).

I'm looking out on the North Dakota prairie (if that's what you call flat land) and see white for miles and miles in front of Erik's mom's house. It's beautiful. The pine trees in the backyard (and when I say yard I mean 15 acres of it) are heavy with snow and glistening. And the snow keeps falling.

I'm ending this post with a holiday dessert display designed by Lolipop Events and was featured on their blog (yet another wedding blog I visit often). I love the whiteness of this display with the hints of red in the peppermint sticks. Completely gorgeous, a bit rustic and whimsical.

If you love dessert displays (clearly, I do) check out the one Lovely Scribbles posted the other day via Amy Atlas. Completely incredible.

Merry Christmas everyone!




Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday inspiration board

I love the holidays so much. To me they represent so many wonderful things; family, friends, lots of baking and cooking, comfort food, time off of work, relaxing, festive cocktails, and warm fireplaces.

My family tradition includes hanging out at my parent's house with my siblings, their significant others and my aunt. We eat a pretty non-traditional meal of lasagna, garlic bread, and usually some type of champagne cocktail that I come up with. We then sit around the tree and open presents and hang out. Most years we go to church around 10pm and sing Silent Night with everyone holding a single candle. To me, that is Christmas.

Erik's familly tradition includes a huge meal made by his mom that includes prime rib and lobster tails. We eat way too much and lounge around on the couch all evening drinking tomato beer (a North Dakota classic).

I'd love to hear your holiday traditions. Leave me a comment or shoot an email to eatdrinkpretty at gmail dot com.

Enjoy the holiday inspiration board I created, of course, the majority of the images are either food or cocktails!

{Photo credits: Real Simple, EZ Chef, Martha Stewart, Pottery Barn, Reader’s Digest}

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weekend edition: pretty things

Good morning! I hope you have all been enjoying your weekend so far.

How lovely are these tea cups? I'd love to wake up with a platter of breakfast waiting for me on the nightstand with one of these cups filled with Earl Grey tea. A homemade scone to accompany it would be nice, too.

{Photo credit: Martha Stewart}

Friday, December 18, 2009

Champagne and sparkling wines

For those of you who read my blog (thank you so much, by the way) you know that I love champagne, sparkling wine and all types of sparkling/champagne cocktails. They taste amazing, bring out a spirit of celebration and are absolutely lovely-looking.

Check out this awesome post from The Kitchn (another great food blog I visit daily) about all things champagne and sparkling wine. It gives a nice history and offers a robust list of bubblies you should check out to ring in the New Year.

I think I will try out this Prosecco:

2008 Prosecco "Bellenda" Brut, $18 – A serious Prosecco. Pretty, floral with exotic fruit and persistent lively bubbles.

I love the description of "persistent lively bubles"!!!

{Photo credit: The Kitchn}

If you have a favorite champagne, sparkling wine or champagne cocktail, please share it with me! Send me an email to eatdrinkpretty at gmail dot com.

I will be posting over the holidays so please check back!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sparkling cranberries

Clearly, I still have cranberries on my mind. While going through my daily ritual of surfing the blogosphere, I came across these GORGEOUS sparkling cranberries on 101 Cookbooks. 101 Cookbooks is a very popular, awesome vegetarian-focused food blog (it is my best friend Amy's favorite).

Check out the recipe here.


{Photo credits: 101Cookbooks}

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Very merry cranberry cooking class

If you love to cook and can't exactly afford to quit your day job and go to culinary school then Whole Foods cooking classes are the way to go. They only allow a small number of attendees so the classes are intimate and are led by their awesome culinary director, Ani Loizzo.

Last Wednesday I took a Very Merry Cranberry cooking class with friends/coworkers Maija and Brooke. We figured it would be perfect to have a few new, seasonally-appropriate recipes going into the holidays. The class was a lot of fun and best of all, you get to sample all the food throughout the class. And these classes are reasonably priced, this one was only $28 and ran an hour and a half.

Recipes at the end of the post.


These mock cosmopolitans were made with 100% cranberry juice and were a little too tart for my taste. I will probably add some symple syrup (equal parts water and sugar and boil until the sugar melts) when I make these. They are a perfect cocktail (or mocktail) for any upcoming holiday party.

Making cranberry sauce is so much easier than I thought. I always think of my sister, Kat, when I think of cranberries. She is the only one at Thanksgiving that really cares about cranberry sauce and loves it, even right out of the can. I will definitely make this homemade sauce for her next year.

Homemade scones! I'm not sure it gets much better than a warm scone right out of the oven. They were surprisingly easy to make and cranberries can be substituted for almost any fruit or even ham, cheddar and chives if you want a savory scone.


This salad was amazing, and easy! It was the perfect sweet and savory combination with the dried cranberries, cranberry vinaigrette and gorgonzola.

Now for the recipes (recipe credits to Whole Foods and Ani Loizzo):

Mock cosmopolitans

Ingredients

4 cups cranberry juice
2 cups club soda
Squeeze of fresh lime juice (1 lime per four cosmos)
Ice
Reserved lime peal, for garnish

Directions

Add cranberry juice to a pitcher and squeeze in the juice of one lime (remove peal first with a vegetable peeler). Top with club soda and stir. Pour into glasses filled with ice and garnish with lime peel. Serves 4.

Note, I would add vodka to the mix here!!! Set a bottle of vodka next to the pitcher and let people fill their own, to taste.
_____________________________________________

Whole berry cranberry sauce

Ingredients
1 pound cranberries, about 4 cups
¼ cups EACH orange juice, water and sugar

Directions

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes. Either serve whole, mash and serve chunky or blend until smooth. Makes about 3 cups. Freeze leftover portions up to six months.

___________________________________________

Spinach salad with gorgonzola and cranberry vinaigrette

Ingredients

¼ cup each cranberries and balsamic vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon each sugar, Dijon mustard and chopped onion
12 cups baby spinach
4 slices pumpernickel bread, cubed and toasted
1 cup each gorgonzola, toasted walnuts, and dried cranberries (we used dried cranberries sweetened with apple juice)

Directions

In a food processor, combine cranberries, vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard and onion and pulse to puree. Slowly drizzle in oil until it forms a smooth emulsion. Add dressing to the bottom of a large mixing bowl and add dried cranberries and walnuts. Toss to coat. Serve topped with gorgonzola. Serves 6-8.
_________________________________

Cranberry scones

Ingredients

1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Zest of two lemons
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) chilled butter, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
½ - 1 cup half and half

Direction

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and lemon zest. Add in chilled butter and mash with your fingertips to form a mixture that looks like bread crumbs. Mix in cranberries. Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, then add half and half until a soft dough forms. Divide dough in half. Pat each half into a six inch disk and cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. Arrange on a cookie sheet and brush with remaining lemon juice. Sprinkle with sugar and bake 18 minutes or until nicely browned. Makes 12 scones.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sneak peak: cranberry craziness

Stay tuned for a full post tomorrow on a cranberry cooking class I took with a couple girlfriends.

Recipes will include:

Mock Cosmopolitans
Whole berry cranberry sauce
Spinach salad with gorgonzola and cranberry vinaigrette
and more!

This class was a lot of fun and was led by adorable Whole Foods Culuniary Director, Ani Loizzo.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Real wedding: Erik and Jenna, December 2008

Today is Erik and my one year wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe a year has gone by since that amazing day. Our ceremony and reception was held at the University Club of St. Paul. It is a beautiful venue with a traditional feel. I loved the chandeliers the most.

Due to some luck, I ended up getting the Presidential Suite at the Crowne Plaza about a block away from our venue. This suite was huge, multiple rooms and could fit about 40 people (we had a breakfast and gift opening in it the next day). My gals and I got ready in the suite the morning of the wedding. We had hair and makeup people come to us, which was awesome and allowed us to hang around and sip Mimosas.

The other day some of my married friends and I were talking about what kind of brides we were on our wedding day. Some said they were happy brides, others were zen brides. I was an emotional bride, meaning, happy bride, anxiety attack bride, nervous bride, excited bride, ecstatic bride...you get the idea.

We got a great day weather-wise. You never really know what to expect and we had a 40 degree day. Unfortunately, North Dakota (where a lot of our guests were coming) had an ice storm and about 25 people couldn't make it. Oh well. That's what you get for having a winter wedding.

Everything else was perfect. I loved my hair and make-up, my photographer was a total sweetheart (and took amazing photos), the food was great...most of all, Erik was a totally happy groom, and he had the best smile on his face all day. I loved marrying him that day and feel so lucky a year later. He planned an awesome weekend for us to celebrate our anniversay and I will do a full post on that later this week.

Vendors can really help make your wedding day great. I loved my flowers (A Day in Provence), the cake was gorgeous (Queen of Cakes), the string quartet (Urthema) created created an awesome vibe during the ceremony and the placecards were gorgeous thanks to Lovely Scribbles.

Sorry about the photo overload, I have way too many favorites. All photos are credited to Sewell Photography.

I loved my Pronovias dress, from Mestads in Rochester.

Adorable, but painful shoes. They came off shortly after the ceremony.

I wore a faux fur wrap and a broach from Brides of France.

One of my favorite photos of my sister and I from that day.

Displaying nervous bride here.

All the handsome guys heading to the ceremony.

Seeing Erik for the first time that day.

My absolutely favorite picture from the day.









The cocktail hour was a lot of fun, we had butler passed hors d'oeurves, raspberries and champagne and lots of mingling. There was a huge fireplace and a self-playing grand piano.



The candle-lit aisle, I loved this. It created a warm glow.

Gorgeous centerpieces.


Again, nervous bride. Right before we walked down the aisle. I think my dad weas pretty nervous, too.

I walked down the aisle to the string quartet playing Kissing You, the theme song from Romeo and Juliet.

Red velvet cake. Yum.

Our first dance to Kissing You, the theme song from Romeo and Juliet.



Our placecard centerpiece with crystals.





Becoming relaxed bride. Time to party.



The pretty reception.