Hello! Lauren here from LaurenKelp.com and we can’t wait to kick off one of our favorite holidays – 4th of July! There is something quintessentially summer about celebrating America’s birthday & we just can’t get enough.
This year we are throwing a relaxed get-together with some close friends to celebrate the 4th. Not in the mood for super patriotic decorations or over the top red, white, and blue decor? Then saddle up to our summer-centric, backyard bash!
It doesn’t get much better than fireworks, grilling out, and backyard games. This year, we are opting out of the hectic parade and crowd mayhem to focus on the things we hold dear – food, friends, and, of course, wine!
Hosting a get together (let alone a 4th of July party) can be hectic, so let’s take a little pressure off and relax. Stressed about making the perfect dish that sanctifies even the pickiest of eaters? Don’t worry! Tell your guests to bring their favorite dish or appetizer, you’ve got the wine & main course! Not sure what dish to make, try this pulled pork sliders with jalepeno & pineapple slaw recipe and this easy charred corn salad recipe.
What wine you ask? K-J AVANT, of course! No, but seriously, it’s light, refreshing, and perfect for a hot summer night. Grab an ice bucket, throw a handful of salt in with your ice, and you’ve got the perfect chiller to keep table side.
Let’s talk priorities – food. Now, I may not be a meat eater, but I can absolutely appreciate the importance of a well made slider. They are easy to make, quick to prepare, and even more fun to eat!
Pro tip: have a picky eater in your bunch? Encourage friends to bring their favorite fixings! Stoke your table with the basics – condiments, cheese, caramelized onions, etc, and have your guests bring the rest!
At the end of the day, you know our mantra, entertaining doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be honest. Kick back, relax, and celebrate this awesome holiday that is America’s birthday!
My husband believes he was born to eat pesto, and so we eat a lot of the stuff, varying the herbs and the vegetables depending on the season and what we have available. One of the tricks that comes in handy no matter which version we’re making is adding both lemon juice and lemon zest, a move the elevates the paste beyond anything you could purchase ready made.
A fruity wine with some structure complements the greenness and the welcome oily nature of a good pesto. I found just wanted I wanted in a pesto pairing wine in K-J AVANT Red Blend, which tastes of berries and transports me, when sipped between bites of this pasta, to Italy.
Though it’s delicious warm, this pasta holds up great for several hours, making it a sweet picnic or barbecue side dish option.
Place the garlic and a pinch of salt in a mini food processor. Pulse to pulverize, then add the almonds and parsley. Zest the lemon and add that too. Drizzle in about ¼ cup of oil, enough to make a very smooth paste. Add the Parmesan, mix again, then taste for salt, adding more as needed. Set the pesto aside.
When the water boils, add a bunch of salt to the water, then throw in the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions, until 1 minute shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water and drain.
Set a skillet large enough to hold all the pasta over medium heat and add enough oil to film the bottom completely. Add the sliced green garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until soft, then add the asparagus and cook another 4 to 6 minutes, until just tender. Add the pasta and the pesto to the skillet and stir to mix, pouring in the reserved cooking water a tablespoon or two at a time, until the pesto really coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over everything, then stir again, and add more salt if needed. Serve, garnished with extra parm.
Hello, hello! Lauren here from LaurenKelp.com & today is going to be a real treat! We are packing up the weekday woes and heading outside for a perfect summer picnic. A picnic is always a good idea in my book so we are breaking down how to pack, what to eat, and, of course, what to drink!
Don’t worry, this isn’t your typical ‘DIY picnic’ post, we are spicing things up and going for the big time here. Want to see what we mean? Keep scrolling!
So, you’ve checked the weather forecast and there is nothing but sunshine and blue skies all afternoon. Whip out that basket because we are going for a picnic! Now, I am not a believer that picnics are a weekend-only activity. A well packed picnic can do wonders for the mid-week blues, especially in the summer. But if weekend picnics work for you, then let’s prep ahead of time! Don’t wait until the weather is perfect to gather your goodies. Be a total pro and plan ahead.
Where to start? The food of course!
Finger food is the king of picnic foods, so don’t stress about bringing something complex. I always start by taking a quick inventory of the content of the fridge to see what we can set aside for easy to pack picnic food.
Cheese and crackers, trail mix, mixed fruit, and sandwiches are absolutely perfect! Run to your local grocery store the night before or swing by on your way to your picnic to pick up any missing items or gourmet additions to the mix.
Next up – the tools! No one likes being stuck in the middle of a picnic with great food, wonderful friends, a perfect bottle of wine and no wine opener. Pack some silverware, plastic cups, and, above all else, a wine opener! Or, you could be a total pro and grab a bottle (or two) of K-J AVANT and bi-pass the tricky tools all together.
Okay, picnic pro, you’ve got your food, your tools, now what? Next up – the perfect spot!
Have a perfect spot? Than you’ve got a slam dunk! But if you are new to an area or want to spice things up, keep in mind the trek up there (walking a mile with a hefty basket isn’t the best way to start things out), the ground surface (grass, sand, rock, etc.), and the view!
There you have it, the perfect summer picnic pack list. Just grab a blanket, some friends, and get going!
As you may have realized by now, dessert is kind of my jam. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, my sweet tooth knows no season, which can prove to be a little tricky when it’s the middle of summer and all I can think about is, well, cake. (Guilty.) I don’t know about you, but turning on the oven is just about the last thing I want to do when it’s 90+ degrees outside, even when cake is involved.
Which is why today, I’m sharing one of my favorite semi-homemade, no-bake summer dessert recipes. And yes, there’s cake.
The star of the show though, is a clever little recipe developed by campers called hobo packs. Hobo packs can be made in a variety of both sweet and savory combinations — the original version was a ground beef and onion combination popular with Boy Scouts — but the version I’m sharing with you today is, you guessed it, dessert-focused. The idea is, you take whatever ingredients you have on hand, wrap them tightly in foil to form a pack, and then cook the pack by either placing it over a campfire or simply on the grill. No matter what’s inside, you end up with a perfect, single-serving portion of food, no oven, stove, or cleanup required! Pretty great, right?
To make dessert hobo packs, you can use any variety of fruit you have on hand, but I chose to take advantage of the beautiful deep purple and red plums and berries that have been flooding my local market for the last few weeks. Truth be told, nothing beats warm, juicy berries that have been cooked until bubbling with a little butter and sugar. Heaven, I tell you.
And since hot, bubbly summer fruit just begs to be spooned over cake, I love to serve these hobo packs with slices of toasty, grilled pound cake. No need to make your own, I use pound cake from the freezer section and find that it stands up to grilling much better than a more delicate homemade version. Plus, we’re avoiding the oven at all costs, remember?
Whether you’re camping (ahem, glamping) or hosting an outdoor get-together with friends, I’m insisting that you pair this fruit + pound cake combination with K-J AVANT Red Blend. Yes, I know it’s summer but this blend of French reds is seductively smooth and easy to drink. Plus, its notes of plum and strawberry make it a perfect match for the berries in the hobo pack. And oh, did I mention there are notes of chocolate in there, too? Trust me on this one, the combination is to die for. In fact, this might just be my favorite pairing yet!
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