Monday Mood: Picnic Perfect

Today I am in the mood for a picnic, especially because it is Memorial Day. Summer is the perfect time to whip up a simple salad, grab a bottle of lemonade, call a few friends and meet at the park for a picnic.

The first place to start for a picnic is a comfy blanket…this one even zips up for easy carrying! Next, keep your salad chilled and ready to serve with this 3-piece salad bowl. Classic red gingham napkins are essential for picnic-ing! And you can store fresh fruit, pasta salad or crackers in stylish translucent take-out cartons.

Picnic Time!

I’ve always wanted a traditional picnic basket. The one pictured above can be customized into any color! Ice mats will keep your food chilled and won’t melt like ice cubes. Don’t forget some festive plates with a rockin’ pattern! If you’re bringing a bottle of lemonade or wine along, use this Jet Bag to keep it from leaking.

1. Target $19.99, 2. Crate and Barrel $11.95, 3. Etsy $14.00, 4. The Container Store, 5. Crate and Barrel $3.50, 6. Etsy $25.00, 7. Target $15.99 for set of 8, 8. The Container Store $3.99.

Let’s be honest – it’s rough getting back into the swing of things on Mondays. I hope that my weekly Monday Mood posts will give you a little something to look forward to this summer. Stay tuned for the fun! Happy Memorial Day!

Love food. Love self. Love life.

Gabriela

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Graduation Party Ideas

Graduation season means two things: festive parties and tasty sweets. My cousin Emily just graduated from high school in North Dakota. She and my Aunt Buffy were Pinteresting (planning) for months coming up with lots of fun ideas. I had a blast helping them craft, bake and decorate for the celebrations!

Cupcake Icing

My Aunt Buffy baked 400 mini cupcakes in Chocolate, Vanilla and Red Velvet. The mini cupcakes are fun for parties so people can sample one of each.

Cupcake Icing

The homemade Peanut Butter, Buttercream and Cream Cheese Frostings were so divine!

Cupcake Sprinkles

Icing cupcakes is so therapeutic for me…I love making the uniform swirls! Adding a pinch of multicolored sprinkles is a magical touch.

Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

These little toothpick flags printed on scrapbook paper added personalization to the cupcakes, not to mention lots of pizazz.

Emily and Gabriela

Here’s my cousin Emily, the graduate, and I! We are all about bright colors this summer…and just happened to match the party’s theme.

This was the “party wall!” We made tissue paper flowers to hang from the ceiling. Buffy made flag banners out of scrapbook paper and printed letters. Tied together with some ribbon and ta-dah! The dessert plates are made out of drink glasses or vases, glued to plates, and spray painted. Inexpensive and adorable!

Graduation Party Wall

The table center pieces were my favorite part of the decor. Spray painted wine bottles accented with multicolored ribbon were filled with mini tissue paper flowers. I made these little flags with scrapbook paper and wooden dowels. Adding a quote of advice from Emily’s family members made for great conversation and even a bit of inspiration!

Graduation Quote Center Pieces

“Be nice…to everyone…all the time!” -Words of advice from Emily’s Mom

Don’t these pictures make you want to have a summer party? I’m ready to bake some lemon bars and have a few friends over to celebrate. P.S. For more details from the graduation party check out my Aunt Buffy’s (aka Sara) board on Pinterest!

Love food | Love self | Love life … Gabriela

The Ultimate Super Bowl Sunday

With a few great dishes and a rocking group of friends and family, you will be the hostess with the mostess this Super Bowl Sunday. I’ve searched the web to find 10 winning recipes that you should add to your menu. Plus, I’ve added some recommendations to make entertaining or party-going effortless.

Gourmet Gab's Super Bowl Tips 2012

These 10 RECIPES are inexpensive, easy and full of flavor. It’s guaranteed that they will impress the crowd.

  1. Nachos | This video shows a simple, gourmet recipe for nachos. Keep in mind that the trick for making ultimate nachos, though, is layering. First put down your chips, then some meat and some toppings, and repeat until all the ingredients are gone.
  2. Avocado Pico de Gallo | In this Gourmet Gab video you’ll see that it only takes a few fresh ingredients to make a great dip.
  3. Chipotle Chicken Chili |  This chicken chili will kick up the intensity of the game.
  4. Don’t-Miss-The-Meat Vegetarian Chili | If you’re watching the game with veggie lovers, try this hearty vegetarian chili.
  5. The Best Chili of Your Life | Your carnivore acquaintances will thank you for making this chili. It’s loaded with 5 pounds of meat!
  6. Tacos in a Bag  |  Let everyone serve themselves! Make a batch of taco meat and set out a buffet of toppings. Everyone grabs an individual bag of Doritos chips and stuffs in what they want.
  7. Sloppy Joes | Don’t be afraid to get a little messy. The deliciousness is worth it.
  8. Giada de Laurentiis’ Caprese Burgers | Burgers get an Italian spin with tomato, mozzarella and basil.
  9. Baked Brownie with Pretzels & Toffee | Sweet and savory make an awesome team.
  10. Caramel Chocolate Popcorn  |  Make a big batch of this no-bake dessert. Leave it out and watch it disappear.
When it comes to entertaining and party-going for the Super Bowl, it’s all about having a fun time and getting into the game.
  • Prepare either parts or a whole dish ahead of time. Mostly all of the recipes above can be prepared well in advance. Plus, flavors often taste richer after they mix and mingle together.
  • Ask friends and family to pitch in with some ingredients, a dish or cash to reimburse you. Team work!
  • Surround yourself with people who will make it a memorable day, not a stressful one. After all, you’re just watching the game, not competing for the trophy!
  • Sport the gear or colors of your favorite team. Who’s it gonna be? Giants or Patriots?
  • Leave a comment below with the dish you’re most excited to make this weekend.

Homemade Hot Chocolate

While you are gathered around the fire opening gifts, playing a board game or catching up with family and friends this Hot Chocolate recipe would be a nice accompaniment. Its warm, rich and full of holiday cheer. You may think that hot chocolate and hot cocoa are the same, but they are slightly different. Hot chocolate is made from real chocolate that is finely cut up and melted, while hot cocoa is flavored with cocoa powder. Depending on the recipe hot chocolate is typically heavier and more filling due to the melted chocolate.

You can see the chopped chocolate melting in the milk.

Two of my friends came over the other night and we made a batch of homemade hot chocolate ourselves. It was so wonderful to make memories with them in the kitchen. We had a blast. Bring some family in the kitchen and have them assist making hot chocolate on Christmas Eve! Maybe even leave some out for Santa ;)

Here's me, Courtney and Jenn making homemade hot chocolate!

Check out the beautifully photographed step-by-step process to making homemade hot chocolate on this blog. The recipe calls for whole milk and heavy cream, but we just used skim milk because we didn’t want it to be too rich. I thought the addition of maple syrup as a natural sweetener was very unique.

Our Homemade Hot Chocolate and biscotti!

It has been a wonderful past 23 days celebrating Christmas and the holiday season on the blog with you all. Thank you for reading along and for inspiring me. This will be my last post as I will be spending time with family the next two days, and I hope you will be too! But if you need any ideas for cooking or baking scan the posts from the past month, send me a Tweet or write on the Facebook wall. I’d love to help with any last-minute needs! :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Baking + Cooking!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My Aunt Patty shared her recipe for these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies a couple years ago and I always look forward to the holidays so I can enjoy them. The pumpkin spice flavors compliment the rich chocolate chips so well. Pair these cookies alongside a cup of coffee or some vanilla ice cream for dessert. Yum!

Patty’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can pumpkin (or 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Measure all dry ingredients (except sugar) into a separate smalls bowls cream butter and sugar together in larger bowl.
  2. Beat in egg, pumpkin and vanilla to butter and sugar. Blend/add in dry ingredients to wet. Add chips once well blended.
  3. Drop on lightly greased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees, 12-20 minutes depending on cookie size.
  5. Bottoms should be light brown and cookies soft.

9 days until Christmas!

Candy Cane Recipes

Candy canes are a classic during the Christmas season. They are so versatile because they are both adorably festive and tasty. This holiday, be creative with ways to incorporate candy canes in your baking, gift giving and decorating! I found some ideas for you below…

These candy canes comes from the article “9 Ways to use a candy cane!” on HowDoesShe.com. They have so much holiday cheer and are perfect to swirl into hot chocolate!

Visit the article to get the recipe for these adorable Chocolate Covered Candy Canes, along with Peppermint Brownies and a Candy Cane Heart Cupcake.

I also love the idea of making a candy cane vase. This would make a festive and inexpensive centerpiece for holiday dinners, or for anywhere in the house!

I saw the idea for the chocolate covered candy canes on Pinterest. Is anyone obsessed with it like I am? Follow my pinboards and I’ll follow you back!

16 days until Christmas!