Transitional Picnic Packing 101.

Transitional picnics. There is something so tranquil and serene about diving into a new season with a very distinctively packed picnic… filled with food, drinks, and cute little treats that highlight everything about transitioning into the absolute best season of the entire year!! It’s not difficult to decide on what to pack for a specified summer picnic, or a full on fall picnic, but it is kind of confusing on what to pack for a picnic in the dead of September considering the weather is still warm, but there is a cool breeze floating around in the air. Since summer isn’t too far gone, we’re not completely in the mood for pumpkin spice everything just quite yet, so I’m going to guide all of you Diamonds on making the most perfect transitional picnic to date! This IS the 101!

I love a picnic so much! I think it’s the cutest little date idea whether it’s with a significant other, a friend, or even just a mother daughter day in the middle in the living room floor while watching a chick flick! There’s seriously so many ways you could go about putting this basket together, and endless options of where to enjoy it, but you always have to have the essentials!


The transitional picnic packing essentials: (or any picnic for that matter!)

  • I always base everything that I put in the basket around what type of sandwich, finger sandwich, or hoagie I’m putting together. I definitely think that sandwiches are a picnic stable in my book!
  • Cheese is the next essential! I think cheese, cured meats, and crackers are always more than welcome in your picnic basket.. along with any other charcuterie board fill-ins.
  • Fruit to represent the seasons, or transitioning into one! You can also do add whatever vegetables that you’re into as well besides the fruit! Picking on fruits & vegetables when dining during a picnic is the most traditional thing to do! Since we are heading into autumn which is the peak of apple and pear season, I had to include both of those babies! Besides grapes they really are my two favorite fruits to eat on a picnic anyway.
  • Little goodies and treats to snack on makes a picnic basket super special. The snacks I chose for picking in this transitional picnic basket are plain sea salted kettle cooked chips because I feel like you can’t fully enjoy a sandwich without yummy chips to accompany it. Then I placed in some sesame sticks to pair along with the smoked gouda cheese that I have cubed up to enjoy since they both just goes amazingly together, and I laid those all next to crunchy banana chips for a delicious bite of pure, natural sweetness!
  • I feel like all picnics NEED to have that touch of sweetness.. whether it’s sophisticated sweetness, a touch of romance, or a just simple indulgence. Being that I did put this picnic together for my boyfriend and I added added a box of whiskey filled chocolate truffles. His liquor of choice will forever be whiskey, so he was pretty pleased with these when he saw that I threw them in there as his little surprise!
  • Wrapped Candy! (To sort of throw is a “confetti” or decor) 😉 It doesn’t necessarily have to be huge candy bars unless you would want it to be, but I tossed in some wrapped up pumpkin spice chewy caramels to introduce the new season that we are vastly approaching. If you aren’t really into caramel, you can throw in taffy, or even hard candy would be a tasteful touch! Lollipops are definitely a nice go to as well, and if you pack champagne with gorgeous glassware you could even drop your lollipop into the glass to have it’s delicious candy flavors infuse into your champagne as you take sips! YUM!
  • Wine! Even if you don’t enjoy wine.. pack yourself some coolers, a hard cider, or something to relax to while you enjoy a perfect transitional picnic with your loved one(s)! If by chance you do not drink alcohol there are plenty of cute drinks to pack other than that! Cans of flavored sodas, sparkling waters, or lip licking lemonade! Whatever you choose is just to wet the whistle while you lay back, and take in some relaxation for just a little bit at least!

For the sandwiches I didn’t just want to do lunchmeat, and cheese because I felt like that did not give me the smokiness that I wanted to showcase for this transitional period. I had a ham steak that I’ve been dying to do something awesome with, and the thought of ham salad for this picnic planning was ideal ! All you have to do is small dice one whole ham steak, and place all of it in a stainless steal mixing bowl. Then in the bowl you’re ready for the mayonnaise, and sweet pickle relish! If you don’t really like relish please please do not skip over it!! I am begging you. Lol. How it tastes on a hotdog is not how it is going to taste in this dish. Ham salad actually wouldn’t even taste like ham salad if you skipped out on the relish, so make sure you add three tablespoons of relish, along with a half cup of good hearty mayonnaise. The only other thing you have left to do is sprinkle in a punch of flavor by adding salt, pepper, dried parsley, paprika for some more smokiness, and a dash of garlic powder.

When putting the sandwiches together as one with the delectable ham salad you must pick the bread carefully! The bread of a sandwich can truly make or break it! I have mentioned that to you Diamonds before in pervious posts! I chose pillowy potato buns that were a bit small, so that we can each enjoy two of these sandwiches! When creating a sandwich for a picnic when I already have cheese cubes packed, I usually decide to not add cheese on the sandwich itself. Instead of the cheese, for presentation and texture.. I placed some green leaf lettuce piles on the bottom of each bun. Then of course I put two spoonfuls of the ham salad on each one of the sandwiches. If you used a whole ham steak there will be left overs, but if you do not want leftovers you can simply use a half of one, but I mean who wouldn’t want to nibble on some the next day with crackers, or bread cubes? DUH! That’s a no brainer! 😉

For some ornate decorative presentation when you open the basket to see whats inside.. you can wrap your sandwiches in parchment paper by folding each corner into the center to hold everything in, and then fastening It with some burlap string; tying it all into a bow!

Picnic planning is a very pretty piece of art, especially when planning for a transitional one because you want to add pops of seasonal aspects, without adding too much when it hasn’t even official started yet. The best way to go about it is just switching out your summer berries, to juicy fall fresh apples, switching out certain meats and cheeses for ones that add more smokiness into the spread since smokey foods remind me of a fair, or having a bonfire, and then switching out some s’more desserts to strong liquor filled chocolates, or maybe even pecan filled shortbread cookies! It is just all about connecting little fall features into a traditional picnic to make it a transitional one, so you can start to enjoy some of the best fall flavors that there is to be offered! I could have packed some thirst quenching cider to pair with the fruit even better than the berry filled wine that I added in, BUT I thought that that would be much more of a complete fall filled basket rather than celebrating the transition between the seasons! Of course you can make it less, or more autumn filled if you would like, but this is everything that I feel that makes it just perfectly perfect!


HAVE SO MUCH FUN TRANSITIONAL PICNIC PLANNING DIAMONDS!

A Fall Filled Cozy & Couture Centerpiece For All Your Autumn Celebrations!

Throwing a fall filled festival in the comfort of your own home is not just about the food. Okay, okay it’s a HUGE part of it, but the decorations, and tasteful touches are what marries everything all together! You can’t have a party without delicious treats, but you also can’t have a party without delightful pieces scattered around the room filling your eyes with harvest happiness! I think within the past year of me having this blog.. especially if you’ve been following me for that long, it’s obvious how much of a foodie I really am, but I am also that much of an interior enthusiast as well!! I am in love with all things decorative, design, and anything that has to do with kicking a party up a notch!

Centerpieces can really fill up a room, and showcase the theme of whatever event you are hosting, or celebrating. Whether it’s a seasonal gathering, or a special occasion to celebrate someone very special in your life, a centerpiece is a piece that is a definite MUST! You can place one of these on a kitchen island, in the middle of the kitchen counter in-between all of the delicious hors d’oeuvres to dress everything up a bit, on the dinning room table if you’re having more of a formal sit down dinner, or even to add a dash of fall decor to a bar cart, or bar! There really is endless possibilities of creativity when it comes to where to sit a centerpiece, but there’s also really no wrong way to make one either.

THIS however, happens to be my favorite way of creating the most perfect cozy centerpiece, and I think it’ll be yours too!

  • The first step is getting a beautiful tray, basket, platter, or a big beautiful board! It can surely be any color, or material that you choose, but I think a rich, luxurious wooden feel is the most impeccable for this time of year!! It ties in all the warm aspects of fall that we want it to!
  • After finding what you’re going to use as a base, you have to figure out what to fill it with! I think the best way to start that process is to find something a little larger than everything else is going to be to place is the middle as a focal point! It can be some sort of spooky glass skull, a decorative autumn sign, or a wooden pumpkin just like the one I chose! Whatever you choose to put in the center is the theme you want to stay with to fill in the rest of the tray, along with contrasting colors!
  • I chose to add pops of all different colored gourds and leaved garland, along with beaded garland to add a touch of texture!

I absolutely love how this centerpiece gives such fabulous fall vibes, and brings such warmth to whichever room, or space you choose to place it in the house. Centerpieces can really bring a room into full force for a party, gathering, or soiree! Sometimes when people are setting up for an event they’ll have seconds thoughts about why something doesn’t look a certain way, or why the room doesn’t look as pulled together as it should. Most of the time it’s because they’re missing a centerpiece, or it’s just not the right size.. possibly not even put in the right place. Everything detail, and every spec of decor matters when it comes to decorating your home, and elevating it for a harvest bash!

XOXO

A nutty White peach & bacon green leaf salad.

If any of you Diamonds have a pile of very ripe summer peaches about to go bad.. don’t throw them, or just eat them on their own..that’s too basic! I know as each season starts to come to an end, we end up getting sick of the seasonal fruit, so eating them like an apple just doesn’t do it for me because I’ve already indulged in it so much while everything was at it’s peak. This is the time where you need to get creative! You can even do a grilled peach pizza topped with ricotta as well. That would be absolutely sensational! In this case I decided to toss some wedges of white peaches on a pile of leafy greens, paired with some salty, smokey bacon. I love sweet & salty so much. It truly is one of the best, most sophisticated tasting combinations of all time! It goes way far and beyond just combining dark chocolate, and sea salt. Even though that’s simply scrumptious in it’s own way, this is kicked up a notch! Some people don’t love fruit in their salad, but the punch of sweetness that these white peaches give to this salad is unreal.

One of the only things you really have to prepare for this dish is the bacon. I used turkey bacon because that’s something I always always keep in the house, and let’s be honest.. I try to keep it as healthy as possible, BUT if you’d like to go all out definitely don’t let me stop you! Use your favorite regular thick cut bacon. It’ll give it that fatty zip that a salad is longer for at times, especially when paired with fruit.

Aside from the beautiful bacon, and the pretty white, juicy peaches that I love oh so much .. you always need a slight cheese flavor in your salad. Whether that would just be a sprinkling, or crumble of something, I always feel like it’s not a completed salad without some sort of cheese added to it. In the middle of the green leaf pile, I chose to add a small garnishing of finely grated parmesan cheese. This type of cheese goes perfectly with fruit, nuts, and greasy bacon crumbles! If you’d rather not include a salty cheese because of the bacon, you can choose some sort of creamy cheese to lay over the middle of the bed of greens. A few slices of brie, or crumbled goat cheese would be super superb! It all depends what you have on hand, what you love paired together, or sometimes.. what you’re in the mood for!

The only thing left that this pretty little salad needs is a few kalamata olives, and a few tiny piles of trail mix for that crunchy bite that we look for within a salad especially when theres no crunchy vegetables, or anything like that being incorporated. Lastly comes the very delicious vinaigrette! This vinaigrette doesn’t require any mixing.. although you are mixing things together that usually most don’t think of. Most of the time people usually do an actual dressing, or oil & vinegar.. where as for this creation, I did both! I chose a tangy Italian dressing to drizzle over the top, along with some really good olive oil, and a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. You Diamonds also know that I finish every salad off with some salt & pepper to taste! It also makes the fruit look really elegant with little specs of freshly ground black pepper on top. The seasonings believe it or not, bring out the sweetness even more than usual!

Who new sweet & salty would be based off of a salad recipe?

This was indeed the salad that you saw peaking through in the background of my last post. I paired this with the wonderfully bold pasta tossed in the beautiful blush sauce, and it was so so amazing together. Since the pasta was a tad creamy from the milk, and parmesan cheese, this was the perfect accompaniment to add that tangy element. It gave the meal a pop of freshness, and juiciness that I think all pasta dishes long for considering it’s usually a pretty filling, and hearty meal!

xoxo

XOXO


Linguine Tossed in a Beautiful, Bold Blush sauce!

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Who doesn’t love pasta? It’s got to be the ultimate comfort food! The magical thing about it is that you can mix it with anything in the world.. even something as little as a stick of butter, and a healthy handful of parmesan cheese! Thats probably one of my favorite, most simple pasta dishes in the world. BUTTERED NOODLES! Although that’s for a whole entire other blog post, I still wanted to let you in on how truly simple, but succulent noodles, and just one easy peasy pairing can be! Besides butter and olive oil.. my favorite ingredient to add into a sauce for some pasta is milk, or even cream if you choose to be more decadent.. to make a wonderful, whimsical blush sauce!

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A blush sauce is mixing the best of both worlds into one unique symphony! It’s putting everyones two favorite sauces together from the two most traditional pasta dishes on earth.

  1. The classic red sauce. 
  2. The creamy dreamy cheesy Alfredo. 

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I start everything out by grabbing the best bowl for the dish! I mean tell me Diamonds.. how much more perfect can the presentation get when your guests scoop the last couple noodles out of the bottom of the bowl to find that the platter spells “spaghetti”?! Super adorable if I do say so myself! I’m a very themed and seasonal person, so anything that goes with what I’m cooking is always going to be showcased. There’s no doubt about that! 

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Before even beginning your pasta sauce.. bring some water to a boil in large soup pot!

  • When the water comes to a rapid boil, seriously salt it (like the sea) and pour your linguine in!

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     Chop up one white onion, and a red bell pepper into a medium dice. Also, mince up two gloves of garlic. You can use more, or less garlic if you’re a lover of it, or you don’t have to add any if you don’t so much care for that punch of flavor. Totally up to you on that one Diamonds!

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  •      Saute the vegetables in a pan coated with olive oil, and two tablespoons of butter.
  •      Season with salt, pepper, and some shakes of oregano.

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After sautéing on medium heat for ten minutes.. add Italian seasoning, and chopped parsley flakes!

After the herbs, you are now ready to add in the creamy goodness into it all!

  • Pour in 1 1/2 cups of milk, or heavy cream in! If half and half is what you prefer to either of those you can use that as well.

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    On top of the simmering goodness.. pour in one cup or so of tomato sauce.

Right after you mix in the tomato sauce with the cream, you can toss in the linguine, and then also add in a bunch of parmesan cheese! That’s whats going to make this sauce extra special. I am that person that thinks cheese makes everything better! 😉 I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who agree as well!

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      Just a little close up so you can see how beautiful, and bold these flavors look! 

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When the pasta sauce looks a little light still around the pasta, let everything simmer on low heat giving it time to come together. The sauce will thicken up, and get darker in color. That’s exactly what you want! You’ll only need to let it sit on the stove for just about ten minutes to let all of that take place.

This big, bold and beautiful bowl of linguine tossed in a succulent seasoned blush sauce is pure pasta perfection! It is perfect for dinner parties, Sunday dinners, a luxurious date night, or just a nice little week night family gathering! Really.. it’s just perfect for anything, and everyone will love it so so much! You can garnish this beauty will oregano, and chopped parsley flakes.

  • If you diamonds are curious as to what delicious looking salad is peaking through from the background.. it’s a pretty peach and nutty bacon concoction that will be up here on the blog within the next few days! It was super yummy, and an amazing way to end peach season!!

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XOXO

Herby Ranch Cheesy Bread!

From everyones childhood on up there’s something we will always love! Something we can always go for. Something that we can serve as a side dish with absolutely any dinner menu and have it be incredible! Something we remember eating off of our lunch trays in the school cafeteria trying to imagine that they really weren’t as greasy as they actually were. Lol. That something.. is CHEESY BREAD! You don’t have to wait until a Friday night after the kids get settled down from getting home after school to indulge in this delectable cheesy, and exceptionally crusty goodness. I know ordering from your favorite pizza parlor is super convenient, and you may even crave that specific taste from each different place, but you can build this cheesy bread in the comfort of your own home any time of the day! Of course there’s going to be days where were going to order out because we’re having a party, or we’re just craving it to the absolute max, but I can guarantee you that no matter how amazing you think someone else’s breadsticks are.. these are going to be that much better. They are the cheesiest, most flavorful chewy breadsticks; kicked up a notch with blasts of buttermilk ranch dressing! 

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When you think of a party.. think of these little stunning stringy sticks! It is for sure the ultimate party food, and if you even think of arguing that concept, think again! This herby ranch cheesy bread is the perfect pick food for a party. It may actually be the king of all party foods!! There will be no-one turning there noses up to this no matter their food preferences, or how picky you are! If you are vegan and/or gluten free you can make this exact same recipe with vegan cheese, and gluten free pizza crust!

Building this bad boy is super super simple! You can even have the kids jump in and help with this one. There really isn’t any mess or clean up, so that’s a big plus especially when everyones hands are in the kitchen helping at once.


Steps for making this ridiculously tasty ranch cheesy bread: 

  • Rub good olive oil all over the crust.
  • Sprinkle one whole bag of shredded mozzarella cheese all over the crust.
  • Sprinkle a quarter of a bag of shredded white cheddar cheese all over the top of the mozzarella cheese.
  • Drizzle the entire top of the pizza crust with your favorite ranch dressing. It could even be homemade!! That would honestly make it even more incredible.
  • Garnish everything off with dried parsley, dill, and oregano. Also, add salt & pepper TT.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is to your liking! I like my crust very browned, and crisp! 

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     So cheesy, so crusty, so ranchy, and so so herby! 

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There is one important rule to this cheesy bread! DO NOT cut this like a pizza! It isn’t supposed to be a pizza. It’s meant to be cut into fun little sticks to pop into your mouth while sitting on the couch on a Saturday night binge watching Netflix with all your friends, or to dance around with while you mingle at a party.

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You can serve them any which way you fancy, but I love the wooden platter next to the crust! It looks very Tuscany, and has a fabulous Italian flare to it. No matter what the occasion, or how fun the theme may be, your guests will always be so pleasantly surprised when they hit those wonderful ranch pouches while munching on this cheesy bread! Ranch is normally something many many people adore dipping their pizza in, so since this is a relative to our delicious cheese pizza, I thought it would be the perfect topping to this delicious herby, cheesy goodness! This is a movie night masterpiece, so grab one of these yummy sticks, and get cozy on the couch Diamonds!


      XOXO

The last of the summer produce is getting washed away.

Unfortunately the fresh supply of summer produce is coming to a very upsetting end. If you Diamonds have been around for quite some time.. you already understand my love for farm fresh ingredients during the summer time. Even though theres nothing like the farm in the summer, there is also nothing like the farm in autumn, but in a completely different way. In the absolute best way possible though! 

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Speaking of “washing away”.. not only is the summer season on it’s way out, and everything that comes with it, but it’s extremely important that you wash everything off that you get from the market as well! I think there are many times people think because it’s fresh, and hasn’t been everywhere and beyond before it arrived at that grocery store that you don’t have to really wash off your produce. That is absolutely incorrect, and if you’re wondering why.. I am here to answer all of those flying questions.


Why it’s extremely important to wash you fruits & vegetables: 

Contamination that causes harmful bacteria- Unfortunately during the growing process of all produce.. there’s many things that can happen is the cross-contamintion world.

  • Animal contact– Animals eating parts of what’s growing, or even going to the bathroom where things are being harvested.
  • Poor personal hygiene– farmers who have poor hygiene, and are not taking care of themselves while harvesting these crops. They may not have washed their hands, or cleaned themselves after using the bathroom. At times even worse… they may have even went to the bathroom on the crops while they were growing because there sometimes isn’t a restroom near by where they are planting. It is a sad and disturbing thing to hear, but it is true, and that’s exactly where we get the chance to receive bad bacteria in the body that creates life threatening diseases.
  • The diseases we can all receive from not washing our produce carefully and cautiously are salmonella, E.coli, and listeria. 

Not only do we want to wash everything we consume off of dangerous germs in the summer, but that’s what we need to do all year long! As I said it’s very sad about the summer season drifting away, but we have fall to look forward to. The fall season is just as great as summer, and honestly maybe even a little better! It is my most favorite time of the year, and if I made any of you Diamonds obsess over getting your produce from the farm in the during this season, you’re going to be even more obsessed when you have fresh crisp apples, and orange pumpkins laying all around everywhere you turn while searching for the most wonderful harvest gatherings. It’s the best, most comforting time for me! The utter joy I have when I think about stepping foot into the pumpkin patch at the end of September is beaming through! I will be documenting the entire day when that happens, and I will have an amazing blog post up for you Diamonds right after!!


XOXO