Thursday, July 23, 2015

{Quick Grilled Appetizer with Target}

This post is sponsored by Target.

Between weddings, birthday parties and general summer get-togethers (and even a few Palm Springs trips) my summer weekends are almost booked solid.  And that means I don’t have a ton of time to be prancing around my kitchen making 3 hour long dishes for visiting guests or to bring to a BBQ so I am always on the lookout for easy yet impressive recipes.   While out for drinks with a friend a few weeks back, we had this amazing appetizer of char-grilled watermelon and burrata topped with a simple yet spicy jalapeño vinaigrette on a bed of arugula.  The flavors were light and fresh while still being interesting beyond the normal (aka boring) summer salad, plus there was a hefty amount of cheese included so that’s not hurting anybody!

On a Target run last week, I decided to grab all the necessary ingredients to try to copycat the dish for some visiting friends.  I switched out the burrata for fresh mozzarella balls.  I had fully intended to put the dish on a bed of arugula, but completely forgot to add it in the rush of getting the house, myself and the dish ready before guests arrived.  For the jalapeño vinaigrette, I finely chopped half a jalapeño and let it “steep” in extra virgin olive oil for about 20 minutes then drained the oil to drizzle on top of the finished dish along with some smoked Maldon sea salt.

The best part about this dish is by far the grilled watermelon so make sure to save this part for right before your guests arrive.  The crisp fresh flavor of the watermelon is intact, but heightened by the slight warmth and smoke flavor from the grill.  If you don’t want to fire up the grill just for a simple dish you, can you use a cast iron griddle pan like this to achieve the same effect.

Do you have an easy go-to summer dish that can be picked up and assembled at a moment’s notice? 

What’s on your #TargetRun?

Friday, June 26, 2015

{Poolside Essentials with Target}

This post is sponsored by Target.

Well guys- this past weekend marks the official start of summer, so hopefully your closet is filled with an arsenal of bikinis and the beach bag is sitting by your front door ready to roll!   Whether it’s a random 90 degree day in February or the normal scorching LA summer days, I would consider myself an expert at packing a poolside bag to stay cool in the heat year round.  Before our impromptu stay at The Parker Palm Springs last weekend, I made sure to re-stock all my favorite summer essentials on a quick Target run.  If you are like me, you go to Target for some toothpaste, black out and wake up 20 minutes later with a cart filled with goodies.   This trip was no exception; I went in with a small list of items to pick up like sunscreen and some green juice, but I completely blacked out upon entering and bought a new set of sheets and a side table I plan to spray paint white (this one to be exact!) in addition to all my favorite poolside essentials. 

Here’s what I stock in my pool bag:

1.     Sunscreen: I burn in about 2 minutes flat.  Coola is one of my favorite brands of sunscreen- mostly because it smells delicious, but it can get a bit pricey so I was SUPER happy to see Target’s got a budget friendly version by them calledBare for the summer.
2.     Pacifica Coconut Face Wipes- I keep these in my purse regularly –they’re super refreshing for those moments when you have basically sweat half your make up off and need to reset.
3.     Suja juice- Target carries two of my fave Suja juices- this one is like a spicy lavender lemonade and it only has 10 calories.
4.     EOS mini lotion – this is hands down the best shape for a space-saving purse sized lotion and equally important to its size is that it smells delicious.
5.     Frozen Green Grapes- there is no better snack than crisp frozen green grapes to graze on while you work on your tan.
6.     Travel Pack of Roasted Almonds- good to fend off getting hangry.
7.     Starbucks Doubleshots- because #COFFEE.
8.     Misc Make up bag stuff: travel advil, mini altoids, Caudalie facial spray, tinted lip balm, mini perfume rollerball, alligator clip
9.     Portable charger- Instagram can really suck your battery. It’s a problem.

Do you have any fave poolside essentials (besides obviously a delicious margarita)?!

What’s your #TargetRun?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

{Modern Moroccan Dinner Party with Pier 1}

This post is sponsored by Pier 1 Imports.

As promised last week, I’m back today to share the Moroccan-inspired dinner party menu I created inspired by our little roof deck makeover courtesy of Pier 1 Imports (see the makeover post right here).    The menu we created for our Moroccan dinner party in Chicago last year was based on more traditional Moroccan dishes, so this time around, we wanted to take a more modern approach. 

We started off with an update to one of my favorite cocktails, The Hemingway Daiquiri.   Taking the original recipe and adding in exotic cardamom bitters and dry vermouth for some sweetness, I created what I’m appropriately dubbing, The Moroccan Daiquiri (official recipe to come!).  When we entertain at home, I love to whip up a batch of a specific cocktail before guests arrive.  I’ve found that most people would love to be greeted by a delicious cocktail, but are generally hesitant to ask you to make one from scratch, but I have never had someone say no to a cocktail that’s already prepared.  We usually do about 1.5 servings per guest so that there is enough for a few refills before we sit down to eat.  

For the table décor at an outdoor dinner party, I’m all about candlelight so I mixed two different sizes of the colorful lanterns along with a sprinkle of citronella candles (because getting bug bites is not a good look) down the center of our outdoor dining table.   Then I layered in our favorite gold chargers and gold flatware with the new bright yellow placemats and blue fabric napkins from Pier 1 Imports.  To top it all off, I switched out our normal glassware for the cutcrystal acrylic set from Pier 1- this might be my favorite purchase because our building doesn’t allow glass in the common areas like the roof terrace or pool so whenever we take guests to those areas of the building we end up needing to switch out their drinks from glass to plastic.  The acrylic pieces from Pier 1 are super substantial so they don’t feel like crappy plastic in your hand.

For the dinner menu, we took inspiration from a recent trip to one of my new favorite LA restaurants, Tagine, and created a copycat of their Cucumber and Tomato Tartare paired with a pizza inspired by their delicious Qefta appetizer.   Both of these dishes are great because you can do 90% of the prep work before your guests arrive which leaves you time to actually socialize with them rather than running around your kitchen making everyone feel uncomfortable.  

I absolutely cannot wait until this June gloom that has hit LA leaves so we can finally enjoy some warm summer nights dining on the roof!

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