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

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

Super Small Party Bites!

 No matter how big or small the party, there’s always room for well.. a little more small bites!! It doesn’t have to be extravagant, fancy, or filled with new things people have never tasted before, even though of course they are all solid choices. Sometimes we just need little add ons for dinner parties, or even much bigger parties. Variety is key for everything at every event, no matter what the occasion, or theme may be. I think there are times where we get the idea in our heads that if we’re hosting a gathering for a larger crowd, everything we present has to be huge, and over the top. Fortunately that isn’t always the case. Even if you are expecting a wide range of people, you can fill the kitchen island, and counters with a whole bunch of little charcuterie boards & pretty platters, instead of making yourself nuts trying to impress people with every single thing you’re planning on making!

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Diamonds, always remember.. on every board you create you don’t need endless amounts of meats, and aged cheeses to make it the most delicious it can be. You need a few impeccable items that pair exquisitely together, so no matter how small your pick tray may be it will always be perfect. 


Six sensational Italian ingredients to make the best bite board: 

  • Everything but the bagel seasoning crackers. You can use plain butter crackers, but it’s great to have that punch of garlic flavor when pairing it with mild mozzarella cheese, and some vinegary pops along side of it!
  • Fresh sliced mozzarella cheese. This cheese pairs wonderfully with the other goodies on the board.
  • Marinated whole button mushrooms. The texture up against the flakey, and crunchy wheat crackers is really really awesome!
  • Pimento stuffed green olives. To me, these are a staple on any board. They’re classic, insanely flavorful, and are so great even for just a simple garnish.
  • Smoked gouda woven wheat crackers. These type of crackers are some of my absolute favorite ones. The cheese flavor goes super well with everything else sitting next to it!
  • Sweet & smokey red roasted peppers. I have always had love for these ruby colored sweet, sweet silky peppers. They go with basically any dish, and every appetizer on the face of the planet, and dare I say.. it’s probably my favorite way to enjoy a pepper. Next to the hot & spicy versions of course. 😉

Perfect bites sometimes come in super sweet, small packages Diamonds. 😉

  • Think & plan before you prep for your next gathering!

XOXO

A Side Salad Board.

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 It’s a salad bar turned into a board! Side salad style! It is just absolutely perfect for entertaining, to put on your kitchen island as a nice little starter for everyone to dip into while everything else cooks on the grill, or really awesome to serve at a girls night in with your your besties that you haven’t seen in a while to munch on with pizza, and sip on wine. It truly works with so many things, and the reason I call it a “side salad” board is because it isn’t packed with as many things as it would be if I was creating a traditional salad “bar” all along the whole kitchen counter, and there’s no heavy protein either. These boards are very versatile! So versatile it is actually pretty insane. You can take this idea, and change every single thing I have on here, while giving the same idea, and vibe to your guests. Presenting a board in this manner at some sort of party is going to be much more appreciated than just throwing a regular garden salad together. When you do that.. most people end up not taking it because it bores them, and serving it this way is  fabulous, fun, and exciting! I mean a party should be full of fun after all, am I right? 🙂

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As I said you can pick seriously anything that you want to put this gorgeous, colorful board together, so whatever lettuce is your favorite is what you should go for! I chose to chop up beautiful butter lettuce because that is just my favorite lettuce ever. I can’t help it, its too amazing! The flavor, it’s crispiness, and tenderness. This lettuce is so perfect for lettuce wraps, or sandwiches as well.

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Aside from cheeses, pops of olives, and salty bites.. you need a good, fresh nutritional vegetable added in there; whether that would be shredded carrots like I chose, multi colored radishes, broccoli, or cauliflower. Any of these veggies would be the perfect touch that you need for a board such as this. I also thought it was adorable if I presented the shredded carrots in a look-a-like farmers market carton! So, so cute!

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I know everyone loves fresh mozzarella, and once again I used the firmer mozzarella from the block because I think it’s easier for guests to pick up with tongs. If by some crazy chance you don’t like mozzarella.. cheddar, or even just some salty parmesan would be an awesome accompaniment.

I wanted something a little bit even fattier than the cheese to include, and what’s the most iconic salad topping to complete that task other than bacon?! We always say “everything is better with bacon” and for this light salad board, that’s extremely true! Along side of the bacon, I sliced some roasted red peppers for a different texture, and sweetness. As for the little baby toppings.. olives are always all the rage on a salad bar, or board for this matter. 😉 You can use one, or as many different varieties of them as you’d like but I feel like plain black olives are a staple to a salad, salty green mezzetta ones are my favorite so of course they made the cut, and then some oily kalamatas! If you’re creating this board and you do not enjoy olives.. don’t have that mind set that you’re not going to include them onto the board because YOU don’t like them. Sometimes when you are entertaining you have to do what is best for taste, presentation, variety, and most importantly, your guests!

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I for sure do not believe that gravy boats are just for entertaining. Salad dressing looks incredible in them, and it makes for such an easy, steady, clean pour for guests to serve themselves! Plus it just looks stunning being served in something so elegant looking rather than serving it in a bowl with a spoon!

  • Balsamic was the perfect choice for this group of veggies & toppings! Usually I’m a creamy dressing girl, but for this specific board I decided against it considering the flavors of everything are going to pair better with it than a dressing such as ranch.

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I think serving everything in their individual little bowls, and sections on a whole unanomous serving platter makes it look dinner party ready! I love so much that the board itself has handles on it which makes it easy to carry from room to room if you wanted to, or even to take it with you to somewhere that you’ve been invited to!

This side salad board honestly looks so fresh, delicious, and down right ready to dig into!

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      All boards love their close ups! 😉

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It’s nice if you have some kind of table runner, decoration piece, or placemat to put underneath the board, especially when you’re preparing for a party, or a get together because it makes it look that much more put together. It gives it that center piece look as if it’s the star of the show, and everyone who walks into the kitchen will have their eyes immediately drawn to it. Adding special touches like that impresses people, and it definitely shows them how much attention you put into each & every detail.

 

XOXO

The classic Antipasto Salad, done right!

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 I can make a bet that we are all familiar with the traditional antipasto salad that we order at bistros, our favorite Italian restaurants, or fill up our bowls with at big Sunday family dinners. This salad is the first salad that comes to my mind when I’m preparing food for a party, or menu planning for a gorgeous get together. It just screams family eats to me! I feel like every event I’ve ever attended have always had an antipasto sitting pretty on the buffet waiting to be devoured. For some reason this is always the go to salad for guests as their number one choice to pile on their plates out of all the rests since it’s full of delicious meats, cheeses, and garlicky acidic flavorings!

You certainly don’t need to create this salad in any strict order, but there are two choices you have. You can mix all of the ingredients together along with the lettuce, or choose the Diamond way 😉 which I think is better for party purposes, especially! When you pile all the meats, cheeses, and little vinegary bites into different sections that gives people the opportunity to easily pick, and choose what they want in their salad instead of  all of the ingredients already being mixed throughout on top of one another. People adore options! They love to be able to see something beautifully put together when searching for their food selections, while also being able to personalize something from that. Personalizing food is a fun activity for literally everyone to get involved with at a get together! Thats really the point of a party is to have fun, and having fun doesn’t get any better than doing it with food! Food is life, and it brings all of us together to create happiness, along with good memories!!

     All antipastos need great flavored ham, salty salami, spicy pepperoni, and a creamy, and sharp cheese! I fully believe that the more cheese thats involved in something the better it will be, so I always like to include two different types of cheeses in my antipasto. My first choice will always be American cheese. It is a classic, delicious creamy taste that’s absolutely needed to counteract all of the tanginess from the peppers, and olives. Sharp cheese enthusiasts will usually always choose aged provolone. I do agree with that considering so many people are a fan of the sharpness despite the way it smells, but this is the one food in the world I just totally am not crazy about. I hate saying that due to my Italian background, but it’s true, so I just decide to embrace it, and add in some grated parmesan cheese instead. It does that salty, sharp bite trick just as well, if not a little better in my opinion! Parmesan is another thing that I love garnishing with! You Diamonds will begin to get very familiar with that! 🙂 

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You are welcome to get creative with this type of salad, and add different colored tomatoes in, along with hot, or sweet peppers, but I chose to do roasted red peppers being that it adds such a smokey, yet sweet flavor to the salad. Besides the tomatoes, and peppers, I added two more little green goodies that I feel are very necessary. Green olives are a staple to me in an antipasto, along with marinated artichoke hearts. I absolutely love to add marinated goods to a salad. It definitely gives it a unique, garlic flavor that sometimes is missing otherwise!

I’m usually a huge seasonal person, but with this salad, it’s perfect because it adorns any season in the most perfect way possible. You can even deck your brunch buffet out with this plate, or enjoy it as a extremely late night meal when you want something incredible, but don’t want to feel insanely guilty for indulging! This is THE salad to remember when you Diamonds are in a pinch for a last minute party time side! It will for sure exceed expectations, and the best part is..it’s great for left overs which usually are never the case for cold foods such as this! All you have to do is serve the oil & vinegar on the side, and you are good to go! 🙂


 

XOXO