August 22, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
Bob’s birthday was yesterday so over the weekend we decided to host an impromptu gathering. I love hosting a birthday party, but we’ve been so busy lately that I hadn’t had a ton of time to organize anything too far in advance so a last minute party it was! On the menu? A make your own sub bar! Honestly, when it comes to last minute entertaining I find a menu featuring a main dish that is interactive in some way is the perfect way to go. It provides food and entertainment in one swoop, plus you don’t have to spend hours prepping food in advance. Presentation is everything when it comes to this! (Which is why I always preach about having a stash of mismatched white serving pieces and lots of good cutting boards to use at a moment’s notice.) Today I’ve got a few tips for you for creating a make your own sub bar that your friends and family will love. Football season is on the way, friends, and this one would be a hit on game day, too!
Variety is what makes a spread like this impressive. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want three to five kinds of meats and three to five kinds of cheese. In this spread I have turkey, ham, capicola, salami and pepperoni on the meat side of things. For cheeses I went with provolone, mozzarella, pepper jack and cheddar. I also had white sub rolls and wheat sub rolls so everyone could pick their favorite. People get excited by choices so give them plenty! Depending on the size of your crowd, a half pound of each meat should be plenty, scaled up or down accordingly.
For condiments, I actually think you can keep it simple. Mayonnaise, of course, and a couple of kinds of mustard should do the trick. If you’re feeling frisky, you could add Russian and/or hummus to the mix. For presentation purposes I like to transfer condiments from their original bottles to little glass jam jars. Doing so makes things look a bit more special and elevated, which to me is what entertaining is about! Make it easy on yourself, but make your guests feel special. Plastic mustard bottles don’t make anyone feel special.
For toppings, make sure to do the usuals like lettuce, tomato and onion, but throw in a couple of extra things to take things up a notch. We’re huge lovers of sprouts around here so sprouts were a must for our spread, plus I roasted a few red, orange and yellow peppers and had fresh roasted peppers in the mix. They were a huge hit! (I make mine on the grill, which I shared on Snapchat a week or so ago. Let me know if I should do a blog post, too!)
And that’s it, friends! It’s super simple, as promised. Just plate things so they look pretty and you can have everything ready with plenty of time to sneak in a glass of wine before everyone shows up. Nothing to keep the right temperature. No watching the stove or the oven. AKA my very favorite type of entertaining.
[Photos by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
August 18, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
[Photo by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day]
When we left off a couple of months ago, our newly renovated living room looked like this. Spoiler alert! Save for moving in our very old, very stained sofas, that is pretty much precisely how the room looks today. I’m even going to go so far as to share that we have yet to sit in this room and enjoy it for any length of time. Frankly, between both of our work obligations, juggling a very active baby and loads of social commitments (my sister’s wedding, another friend’s wedding, another friend’s wedding, bridal showers and various other things ad nauseam), there has been zero time to do, well, anything around the house. As fall swiftly approaches, we are looking to change all of that though. It’s time to get settled in and feel cozy in our house! We know we’ll be spending a lot more time at home and inside in the coming months so we want to feel more comfortable as the cold weather months approach.
[Photo by Tessa Neustadt for Style By Emily Henderson]
[Photo by Melissa Oholendt for Style By Emily Henderson]
[Photo by Tessa Neustadt for Style By Emily Henderson]
Pretty much, we are looking to start from scratch in this room save for a few pieces. The room is very long, but not very wide (I wouldn’t go so far as to call it narrow though), plus it has loads of openings to work around. That being said, it has a few design challenges, which I actually think are opportunities. Our current mix of furniture doesn’t quite work functionally or aesthetically, so despite not having some magical huge budget to fill up the room with new and amazing things, we’re really going to have to wipe the slate clean and get creative in here. I love a good Craigslist hunt though so I think we’ll be ok! Today I wanted to start by sharing a handful of the spaces that are inspiring me as I get started. Later on I’ll share a floor plan and a little bit of my thinking about how we’ll arrange the room to accommodate our family. I want a space that feels appropriate for adults, but is also family friendly to allow for lounging, board game playing and a baby zone for toys and a little kitchen when she’s ready for it. In the meantime, let’s ogle over these pretty living rooms together, ok?
[Photo by Paul Ferney via A Cup of Jo]
[Photo by Michael Wurm, Jr. for Inspired By Charm]
[Photo by Jessica Burke Photography for Rue ]
[Photo by Sarah Sherman Samuel]
August 17, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
This post was created in collaboration with V8. Thank you for
supporting the sponsors that help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!
Ever a fan of fruity summer cocktails, today I present you with a trifecta of tasty tropical beverages! Inspired by long, hot summer days and the insanely delicious flavors of V8 +Energy, these drinks make for the absolute perfect pick me-up on a warm summer evening. I loaded them up with an abundance of fresh fruit garnish, topped everything off with cute paper straws and you’re left with a cocktail as good a party in a glass, friends. So sit back, bookmark this one for this weekend’s happy hour, and let’s get to mixing!
Made with deliciously blended veggies and fruit, and featuring the natural energy boost of green tea, V8 +Energy drinks offer up a seriously delicious alternative to traditional energy drinks. They aren’t loaded with artificial caffeine, sugars or colors. They taste really really good. (Like fresh fruit!) They’re a great way to add a little zip to your day without feeling guilty or gross about putting a bunch of junk in your body. Plus, they make insanely delicious cocktails. (Did I mention that part already?) For someone like me who can’t drink anything labeled with the word “energy” without getting the shakes, these are a new favorite for me. I don’t feel like my body is bouncing off the wall and they also just taste really refreshing. We’re talking all the wins here, friends!
Orange Pineapple Fizz
Makes 1 serving
- 2 oz coconut rum
- 1 tablespoon cream of coconut
- 6 oz orange pineapple V8 +Energy
- Orange ice cubes (optional)
- Pineapple to garnish (optional)
To make orange ice cubes, fill an ice tray with orange pineapple V8 +Energy then allow them to freeze for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight. To make the cocktail, add 2 oz of coconut rum and cream of coconut to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a cocktail glass filled with orange ice cubes. Top with V8+ Energy and stir to combine. Garnish with fresh pineapple before serving.
When taste testing cocktail recipes to share with you, I wanted to focus on fun, fruity flavors reminiscent of a tropical beach vacation. Because when it’s summer and it’s hot and you’ve worked a long hard day, everyone deserves to feel like they’re sitting on the beach with their toes in the sand. Am I right or am I right? That’s why I highly suggest making yourself some fruity ice cubes and getting a bunch of fresh fruit to use as garnishes. They’ll make your cocktails feel especially festive and vacation-like, which I’m pretty sure we can all use more of in our lives.
White Grape Raspberry Sparkler
Makes 1 serving
- 4 oz sparkling rosé
- 4 oz white grape raspberry V8 + Energy
- Raspberry ice cubes (optional)
- White grapes to garnish (optional)
To make raspberry ice cubes, fill an ice tray with white grape raspberry V8 +Energy, then add a raspberry to each compartment. Allow them to freeze for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight. To make the cocktail, a fill a glass with raspberry ice cubes. Fill halfway with sparkling rosé, then top with V8 +Energy. Stir gently, then garnish with white grapes. Cheers!
Blackberry Cranberry Crush
Makes 1 serving
- 2 oz vodka
- 6 oz blackberry cranberry V8 +Energy
- 2 – 3 splashes orange bitters
- Fresh blackberries to garnish (optional)
Fill a cocktail glass with crushed ice to the top. Add vodka and 2 to 3 splashes of orange bitters, more or less to your personal taste. Top with V8 +Energy and garnish with fresh blackberries. Sip and enjoy!
For a lady with a pretty never ending to-do list and an eight month old sidekick keeping me on my toes, I’m a huge fan of the natural energy boost from my favorite V8 +Energy flavors. Plus, a combined serving of fruits and veggies hangs out in every can. Yum, yum and yum. For more tasty ways to get your veggies, join V8 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by V8. All opinions and words are my own. Read more about our editorial policies. For more great recipes and veggie inspiration, follow V8 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
August 16, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I’ve been an iced coffee fanatic since before iced coffee was cool. (Pun intended.) In all seriousness, I remember being obsessed with the stuff long before most of my friends who even try it, and now it is a full on cultural phenomenon. I still feel like a lot of people don’t make their own iced coffee at home though, as if coffee shop iced coffee is the end all be all holy grail of coffee. Which, maybe it is. Or, maybe we just need to try a tiny bit harder. So today I’ve rounded up 12 must-try iced coffee recipes that will seriously up your at-home coffee game! If you give any of them a try, let me know! Or if you have a favorite recipe already, share it below.
1. Cinnamon dolce iced coffee [above]
2. Almond milk iced coffee shakes
3. Lavender iced coffee
4. Chocolate chip cookie iced coffee float
5. Spiced iced coffee
6. Iced whiskey coffee with whiskey syrup
7. Homemade iced coffee syrups
8. Perfect homemade cold brew
9. Fresh mint iced coffee
10. Hong Kong iced coffee
11. Iced mocha recipe with coconut milk
12. Vietnamese iced cold brew coffee
August 15, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
This post was created in collaboration with Munchkin. It’s the little things. Thank you for
supporting the sponsors that help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!
When we started introducing Emerson to solids at around four months, it was always my intention to make all or as much of her food as possible. For the most part that is what we’ve been doing ever since, snippets of which I’ve shared on Snapchat several times now. What’s interesting to me is that when you tell people you make your baby’s food so often they seem sincerely shocked, as if you’ve accomplished some great feat on par with winning an Olympic gold medal. Spoiler alert! Making baby food is really really easy. Plus, you know exactly what you’re feeding your little one and have total control over all the ingredients, so you can making sure they’re eating nutritious, whole foods worthy of a little champion. Today I am excited to be teaming up with Munchkin, one of our absolute favorite baby brands (and one I’ve mentioned several times before), to share three yummy baby food recipes perfect for the over 6 month crowd! They’re not only healthful, nutritious and packed full of good-for-her foods, but they’re also tasty enough that any grown up’s palate would approve.
Butternut Squash + Quinoa with Basil
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Fresh basil
Preheat oven to 350°. Peel, slice and chunk up a small butternut squash. Toss in a bowl with olive oil and cumin, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes until fork tender, turning occasionally for even roasting. Once roasted, allow to cool to room temperature. Place 2 – 3 tablespoons of squash and an equal amount of quinoa in a small bowl. Smash together with the back of a fork. Finely chop 1 – 2 basil leaves and work into the squash quinoa mixture. Bon appetitie, bébé! Tip: You can keep the ingredients separate in the fridge for up to a week and mix up small batches at mealtime. This one makes a great side for big people, too!
Beet Pear Purée
- 3 large beets
- 3 medium to large pears
Peel and cube up the beets and pears. Separately, steam over high heat until tender. The pears will take much less time than the beets, which is why we keep them separate. Transfer both to a food processor and process on high until smooth, adding a bit of the leftover cooking liquid from the steaming process as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
Roasted Red Pepper + Brown Rice
- 3 whole roasted red peppers
- 1 cup brown rice, cooked
Roast three red bell peppers, then remove the skin. (A great resource if aren’t quite sure how to roast peppers.) Add peppers to a food processor and blend until smooth, adding a bit of liquid (such as water or veggie stock) as necessary. Transfer puréed peppers to a mixing bowl and add in one cup of cooked brown rice. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes, then serve to baby right away or save for up to a week in the fridge!
These days Emerson is starting to transition toward feeding herself a bit more, which is really fun, but also super messy. Let’s cut to the chase and put it right out there – I won’t judge you if you strip your baby down and feed her in just a diaper at this age! I’ve done it more than once myself. For a few months now we’ve been using the fresh food feeder from Munchkin to let her feed herself little snacks. Usually we stick a slice of apple or pear in there, but she also loves it with banana or blueberries. At the moment I swear by the stay-put suction bowls because I can toss in a few of her favorite little finger foods (generally quinoa, peas, black beans, roasted squash, cooked carrots and lentils), stick it to the tray of her high chair and she can have fun smashing it all over her face. (Which is the 8 month old version of feeding themselves if you didn’t know.) While she’s not exactly skilled at the spoon department, she knows what it is for and where it is supposed to go so it’s pretty fun watching her try to make it happen. Oh the determination! I love that Munchkin’s soft tip infant spoons are perfect for her to learn with and gnaw on while she’s in this fun stage of not-quite tiny baby and not-quite big baby.
I read somewhere and full heartedly agree that variety and flavor are the spice of life when it comes to feeding babies at this stage! Let them try all kinds of things and don’t be afraid to add in the same kinds of flavors, herbs and spices you’d use on your own food. (You know, just avoid things like pepper, salt and cayenne. Ha!) It’s no joke that baby meal times comprise a huge percentage of the day, so make it fun! Eat and play with your baby, have fun making them new recipes and try not to get frustrated when she ends up with quinoa up her nose when you have to be somewhere in a half hour. It’s all part of the journey! For more great tips, ideas and baby products to help you savor every victory, follow Munchkin on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram!
[Recipes + photos by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by Munchkin. All opinions and words are my own. Read more about our editorial policies. For more great ideas and tips, follow Munchkin on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram!