ITALIAN DINNER FOR TWO WITH BERTOLLI

IMG_5890 As you guys might have guessed by now, we are all about sharing a meal together. Whether it is breakfast or dinner, we want to encourage everyone to sit down, unplug, and share a meal with a loved one or a new friend once a day. While that is an achievable goal, the whole making the meal bit can be tricky.

We get it! Time is so precious and we never seem to have enough of it. Most days it’s dinner-time and I look in the fridge for something to make only to realize we have two tomatoes, some ice cream, and a bunch of half eaten condiments. The struggle is real, y’all. Thankfully, our friends at Bertolli have come to our rescue and have made the most ingenious little dinners for two. IMG_5755One of the things I love about Bertolli is their mission – they want you to have a “mangia moment” every time you eat. Just like us, they want you to turn a boring meal into something delicious and inspiring, like dining like an Italian.

Swap out the frozen pizza for a delicious skillet meal for two and watch what happens. Not only does your body feel better, but you’ve just transformed a typically hurried time into something delicious and enjoyable!
bertolli2So, it’s time to eat like an Italian! Stop by your local grocery story and check out the Bertolli Meals for Two and have at it! We created our #mangiamoment by carving out an extra five minutes to have a date night at home. I threw a tablecloth on our dining room table, set it using our favorite glasses, and withing 10 minutes we had a delicious meal from skillet to plate. We got to catch up, drink wine, unplug, and have a moment with each other – it was fantastic!

To help get your Italian juice flowing, we are doing something really fun and helping giveaway a trip to Napa Valley! Scroll down to see how to enter & start planning more dinners at home!

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Share your mangia moment and how you dine like an Italian!

Contest/Sweepstakes: Enter by sharing how you “Dine like an Italian” by sharing your #MangiaMoment on your social accounts (via photo) on Instagram or Twitter using hashtag #MangiaMoment and #Sweepstakes.

1. Set the table (and the mood, of course!) with your favorite Bertolli meal

2. Snap a photo of your #mangiamoment during dinner

3. Share your photo to Instagram or Twitter for the chance to win A TRIP TO NAPA VALLEY!

4. Side note: You MUST include a photo and the hashtags #mangiamoment and #sweepstakes to win. See all the contest details.

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Photography by This Girl Sylvia

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This post is brought to you by Bertolli, but all thoughts, comments, and food obsessions are our own

DINNER WITH FRIENDS | CORA & LOUISE

cheerstospring_-3Hello friends! Today we are in for a special treat – a new Dinner with Friends! If you are new to our little site, Dinner with Friends is where we showcase the amazing dinner parties you all are having! It’s one of my favorite columns as it let’s us brag on all of your amazing recipes, entertaining skills, and thoughtful lifestyle you are creating in your community – what could be better?!

Today’s feature is from Katie & Morgan and their awesome blog – Cora & Louise (you will have to read about the thought behind their name). So saddle up, scroll down, and read all about what thoughtful entertaining means to them and feast your eyes on this magical evening they created!

dinner_-28What does entertaining mean to you?

Entertaining is one of the most fun ways to make people feel loved. Inviting people to sit at your table, come to your party or celebrate with you is so meaningful. It’s a special excuse to play with friends (both new and old). Entertaining revolves around wanting to create a space for the people we love to know they are special to us and worth celebrating.

cheerstospring_-20How do you like to make people feel welcome when they come over?

We love making feel welcomed in a real/ tangible way — by hugging them and making sure we vocalize how much we love them and how happy we are they came. Our words and actions can make or break wether or not someone feels welcomed in a place. (Also, offering coffee or wine is never a bad idea after the hug of course!)

CORA1What is your favorite “go-to”? A party game, a recipe, favorite cocktail, etc.

Our favorite go-to is inviting people over for brunch. It’s debatably the best meal of the day and you always have eggs, bread and fruit on hand and can throw together a great brunch without a long grocery list! Favorite cocktail: Gin & tonics with lots of lime (Hendrick’s gin is our favorite!)

cheerstospring_-34What makes you nervous about having people over?

Only a couple things make us nervous about having people over — the kitchen being a mess when people arrive or the hot dishes not being ready. Multitasking and talking to your guests/ making them feel comfortable and at home when they arrive isn’t easy if you’re kitchen is a hot mess and you’re still trying to check what’s in the oven every five minutes. As long as the food is ready and the big messes and the kitchen can be cleaned up before people come over, the focus can be on them and piecing together drinks and other small dishes once they arrive! That is why a kitchen co-pilot is so important! Because it was our very first dinner party, our close friend Justin was there the full day of to help clean and get things ready as guests arrived. We were so thankful for his help!

cora2Tell us about tonight? How did you plan? How did you come up with the recipes, etc?

We planned A LOT, but didn’t actually put everything together until 24 hours before the dinner party. We messaged back and forth on Instagram and texted photos for MONTHS before nailing down a menu. We sourced the recipes from different cookbooks and drew inspiration from posts we saw online. After we found the perfect combination of our favorite recipes & each picked three close friends to invite, we wrote the menu and invitations.

The day before the dinner party we went to our favorite coffee shop to nail down final details and plan our grocery list. We picked up candles, lights, our table, chairs, extension cords, table cloths, and everything that was on our growing list. We drove around picking up last minute items, foraging for greenery (literally from the fields on our collage campus haha), and picking out outfits for the next day.

The actual night was sweeter than we could have ever dreamed. We sat in a small field, under twinkling lights, eating delicious food and sharing our dreams (we each went around the table and shared our big dreams with one another – it helped the guests who didn’t know each other well get to know one another and we each got to learn about each other, which was such a sweet and special moment for us as hosts) with new and old friends. Toasts were given, music was playing, we watched the sun go down all while taking big bites between laughs and telling stories. After a long day of preparing, cooking, and hosting, once the people we loved were sitting around the table experiencing the meal and ambiance we had been dreaming of, everything was worth it & the smiles on their faces was affirmation enough of a job well done.

cheerstospring_-29Give us your favorite entertaining tip!

Our tip is — cut corners where you can, but don’t skimp on the details! No one will notice or judge you if your bread is store bought or not everything is a gourmet recipe. But they will notice their place setting and name plate. Put extra time and effort into the small details and presentation to make people feel special and worry less about making homemade cheese.

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THROW A WINE TASTING BIRTHDAY PARTY

KJWineTasting0013Hello, hello, hello! Today we are mixing things up a bit and talking about how to throw a party that is very near and dear to everyone’s hearts – a birthday party! If you are like me, you might not be the biggest fan of your birthday. The older you get, the more pressure there seems to be to do something really fun, or not do anything at all. We say, ditch the pressure and throw a fun event that just so happens to coincide with your birthday.

For us, it was a wine tasting party this year! We loved it because it took the pressure off of being the center of attention, gave everyone something to do, and was interactive in the best way. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to drink wine and eat yummy bites?

KJWineTasting0017So, today, we are showing you, step by step, how to throw the most fun wine tasting birthday party. Who knows, you might have to keep the theme going annually, it will be such a hit!

STEP ONE:

 It’s all about the wine! As you know, we can’t say ‘no’ to a good bottle of Kendall-Jackson wine, so we decided to stick with our favorites and try a bunch of different varietals in their portfolio. We got a good mix of white, a hearty variety of red (those are my favorite) and some fun dessert wines to spice things up.

It is important to get a variety of wines, even some that are outside your comfort zone. For example, I don’t really drink Chardonnay’s, but after this party, the Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay is my new favorite. The goal is that you find some new pairing, whether it is food or wine, that you like. So have some fun!

wine tasting 2STEP TWO:

Build the perfect spread! What is a wine tasting party without the magnificent cheese board that goes with it? Again, if you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve never met a cheese board we didn’t like. The more sliced fruit, roasted nuts, and varieties of cheese – the better in our book!

So go a little wild and have some fun!

I recommend pulling out a series of boards and placing them around your space. Have a board in reach no matter where your guests is sitting, sipping, or mingling. On the sofa, on the coffee and side tables, and definitely a few on your breakfast or dining room tables. This allows the guests to pair their wines with a new snack wherever they are.

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STEP THREE:

It wouldn’t be a party without the cake! For (seriously) the most delicious birthday cake, hop on over to Kendall-Jackson’s blog and read all about our Dark Chocolate Olive Oil cake. It’s the best thing since sliced bread and, in the spirit of wine pairing, it is made even better with a crisp glass of Kendall-Jackson’s Merlot.

Don’t believe me? Hop on over and see!

wine tasting 1STEP FOUR:

Have fun! Yep, that’s it. Three easy steps and you are well on your way to having the most fun birthday party yet. If you want to make your wine pairing party a bit more difficult, feel free to have your guests sip out of black glasses (so they can’t see what they are sipping) or tie a brown paper bag around the bottle to prevent user bias (me with white wine!).

Or, do what we did and just let your guests guide the experience. No matter how it’s thrown, this bash is always a good time had by all and it is absolutely a party for the books!

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lauren kelp author buttonconstance buttonThis post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

BACKYARD BIRTHDAY BASH

12Everyone needs a little mid-week entertaining inspiration, right?! Luckily, Brittany, one of our fabulous Entertaining Contributors, is winding down her busy season (she owns a vintage furniture rental company in Austin), so we get to take a peek at some of the fun events she has been hosting at her space! If this easy, breezy backyard bash doesn’t inspire you to host a few friends over, we’ve got to talk! Enjoy – xoxo, LKbrittany6Hello, babes! Brittany here! In most parts of the country right now, folks are watching the leaves turn colors and enjoying cooler temperatures. In Austin though, it’s still warm outside and probably will remain this way until the end of the month. Although I’m slightly jealous of everyone’s layered looks and their ability to cozy up by the fire, I can’t say I was too upset about hosting a backyard birthday bash at my house recently in perfect weather.brittany2It was my assistant’s birthday, and I figured what better way to honor her than to gather around a group of her closest pals and indulge in some delicious catered food? I’m a terrible cook, so it’s definitely better that I pay someone to handle the food. But, I did deck my yard out with some of her favorite pieces from my company’s inventory.10brittany4She wanted a casual, cool environment where everyone could sprawl out on poufs and rugs, and I happily obliged. We also setup a small lounge area for guests who didn’t feel like hanging out  on the floor with my chubby pups while eating… but really, if you don’t like bulldogs, something is wrong with you?!08brittany1To those of you already shoveling snow, I’m sorry! Maybe you should move down here to Texas and I’ll invite you over to my next get-together.brittany7


BRITTANY BUTTON

All photos are courtesy of J.Noel Photography

 All rental inventory is from Birch & Brass Vintage Rentals

 

MACY’S HOME EVENT

IMG_7561Ooh, hello! As you might have seen on Instagram, I had the immense pleasure of hanging out at the Macy’s on State Street and teaching new friends how to make doughnut pops this past week! As part of their #MacysHomeGNO event, I got to play with the most amazing KitchenAid attachment (seriously, you guys need this spiralizer, it’s amazing),  made the most adorable doughnut pops (complete with sprinkles), and passed out Apple Cider mimosas!

To everyone who came out, I want to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much! It is wildly encouraging to meet new friends and talk about thoughtful entertaining with each and every one of you. It was a total dream. IMG_7643macys1

So here is the breakdown – two other amazing gals (Nicole from Cedar & Rush and Kim from Bride & Joy) and I each had a fun DIY station. Kim was teaching guests how to set the perfect table, Nicole was schooling us on how to accessorize a bar cart, and I was all about the food!

We used the most amazing KitchenAid appliances and styled our pops in Martha Stewart’s latest Fall collection and it was basically magic. Plus, can you see my face? I won’t let that freaking spiralizer out of my sight! The best part where these Apple Cider Mimosas we whipped up. They are super easy & wildly delicious…
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APPLE CIDER MIMOSA

INGREDIENTS:

-Apple Cider

-Your favorite Champagne

-Sprialized Apple for Garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Pour each champagne glass 1⁄2-3⁄4 full with apple cider

2. Top with champagne

3. Spiralize an apple with your Kitchenaid Spiralizer attachment and place a small piece on the edge of the flute

4. Enjoy with brunch!

BAP_8977It was a total blast and I was so honored to share our gusto for entertaining with such an amazing crowd! Have y’all checked out the Home Department at Macy’s? It’s massive! Literally everything you ever could possible want or need is there & the demo stations…let’s just say, I had a little too much fun 😉
BAP_9035A giant THANK YOU to Erin, Argurn, Belen, the catering team, and all of the Macy’s girls for making this fabulous night possible. It was so fun & I cannot wait to do it again next season! BAP_9051


lauren kelp author buttonBELEN BUTTON

SEASONAL DECORATING FOR THE MINIMALIST WITH COVETED HOME

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetYou guys are in for a real treat today! Baller style guru Jaclyn Joslin of The Coveted Home is hanging out at LK HQ chatting about how to decorating your home for the upcoming seasons. But don’t fret, we aren’t going to tell you you need a million pillows and garlands, Jaclyn is all about minimal transitions with a high impact. It’s perfect if you are scaling back, on a budget, or just don’t want to bring a bunch of crap into your home because it’s seasonal (HELLO, THAT’S ME!). So sip that first cup of coffee & jump right in! – xoxo, LK


Hello! Jaclyn here of The Coveted Home & we are talking home decor transition today. Truthfully, I’m not in the habit of “decorating for the seasons”, I’m actually quite the minimalist when it comes to seasonal decorating. A few adjustments to my decor is all I need to transition from spring & summer into fall & winter. A few weeks ago I started planning to make one of those seasonal changes to my living room– to welcome in fall with its darker days and colder temps.

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I love me some hi/low, so a mix of items from my shop, Coveted Home, along with a few pieces from Target did the trick for an easy seasonal update.

I kept it simple by switching out my summer pillows, which were more colorful and bright, for some more neutral colors and opted to keep the color palate on the sofa just black, white and blue. The new pillows I introduced can be found here and here.

I found the black matte candelabra at Target and immediately snatched it up. I love the drama it adds to my coffee table while keeping the palate neutral.

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Every few months I change things up on my bookshelf to keep it fresh. By simply rearranging a few of the shelves I was able to add just two new accessories which gave it a completely different look, easy peasy! You can find my newest additions here and here.

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I love picking out flowers to match the new scene. Here I added some seasonal flowers with fall colors and little baby pumpkins that instantly amped up the fall vibe!

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Once I made all these updates and my house was clean (for a change) I thought “what better way to celebrate the beginning of fall than to host a little ‘end of summer’ gathering?!”

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I love to host potluck style dinners. Fortunately I have a nice back yard, so this usually entails grilling, and yard games are a must. I’m a low-key kind of entertainer — cooking for large groups of people stresses me out so I usually ask my guests to bring items for the grill or side dishes. I normally take care of the apps and always set out a few unique pieces of cheese for people to nibble on as well as hummus, olives and maybe some veggies or chips. This time I grilled some jalapeños stuffed with a mixture of blueberry compote and cream cheese–so yummy!

Easy seasonal updates, easy entertaining. With my busy life, that’s just how I roll! Thank you for letting me share it with you!

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Photography & Text by Jaclyn Joslin of The Coveted Home

AUTUMNAL BACKYARD BASH

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Feast your eyes on the most glorious backyard bash there ever was. It’s full of love, celebration, great food, and amazing friends – it’s the absolute perfect evening in my book. You’ve met the gorgeous host, Caroline Brewer, but here she takes us through throwing her husband a surprise 30th birthday bash & it’s just about the best thing ever. Scroll down, get inspired, and thanks Caroline & Clark for sharing your evening with us! xoxo -LK


In my family, we place strong a emphasis on celebrations. We are always looking for an excuse to get together and throw a party, anticipate an upcoming milestone or speak love into each other’s lives, so when Clark’s big 3-0 approached, I knew I wanted to create something unforgettable.
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Instead of throwing a “big” party and inviting everyone we knew, I decided to invite 10 of our closest couple friends to a long sit down dinner in my parent’s beautiful backyard. I wanted it to be intimate and intentional. It was actually a surprise party, but in order to document the day, I surprised Clark before everyone arrived so he could take pictures. As he was photographing the table, he walked around to find each of the table placement cards and one by one he was able to see who was coming!
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It was a chilly night in late November so we set up several fire pits, had a whisky bar and s’mores on hand for later. One of our close friends is a talented chef here in Nashville and we hired him to come and prepare all of the food. With each course he came out and told us about the dish and how he had prepared it. The food was indescribably delicious!
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About halfway through the night, I asked for anyone who felt inclined to stand and speak a few words of encouragement into Clark’s life as he passed from his 20’s into his 30’s. In my family, this is a tradition for each birthday we celebrate so it was fun to incorporate our friends into it this year.
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I feel that everyone should have moment in their lives where close friends and family can speak about them openly, encouraging them and lifting them up. For me, these moments in life seem to be the ones I remember the most. After the speeches, friends and family stayed and celebrated late into the night. It turned into a perfect Fall night under the stars that we will never forget!

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Styling: Caroline Brewer | Invitations: Joya Rose | Food: Somoni Kigweba
Chair Rentals: 12th Table | Photography: Clark Brewer

LATE SUMMER CHEESE BOARD

LK_OHFox_August2015-29I don’t know about you, but it still feels a bit like summer around Chicago. The sun is still warm and it’s still totally acceptable to wear those cute peep toe heels you just don’t have the heart to put away yet. Thanks to Candice & Ashley, we are getting one last squeeze out of summer & celebrating the end of that beautiful season with this gorgeous cheese board! I feel like a cheese board is just about the best way to celebrate anything, so here’s to it! xo- LK


Labor Day weekend was the sweetest, last sip of summer with road trips, grill outs, and long nights (for us anyway!) But the weather hasn’t changed… I’m not quite ready to roast pumpkins or make a big pots of soup.  So recently, when we headed over to a movie night with friends and they served the perfectly seasonal cheese and snack boards, I was dying to share it with you all!  My sweet friend Ashley agreed to have me over and share all of her secrets…

First up, Ashley says it’s the perfect time to serve homemade Italian sodas!  They’re refreshing at a time when you’re over lemonade, but not ready for hot apple cider.

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BLUEBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP

1. Boil 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.

2. Add 1.5 cup blueberries (or berries of your choice) and continue boiling for 10 minutes.

3. Strain. Keep the syrup, discard the berries and voila!

4. Pour over ice and top with sparkling water.

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Next, Ashley showed me the secret to preparing the most delicious artichokes.  These babies absolutely stole the show!

Artichokes totally intimidated me until Ashley demystified the whole process!

LK_OHFox_August2015-13LK_OHFox_August2015-14ASHLEY’S ARTICHOKES

1. Start with a super sharp knife – if you’ve been looking for an upgrade that won’t downgrade your wallet, I’ve got to recommend these.

2. Quarter the ‘chokes and steam them for about 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Melt 1/4 stick butter and a couple tablespoons of olive oil to coat the bottom of a pan.

4. Then, pan fry the artichokes flesh side down for 5 minutes until brown and crispy.

5. Finish with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice!

LK_OHFox_August2015-33You’ve got your beverage, the ‘chokes are on the stove, now it’s time to prep the most main event – the cheese board!

Pick up late summer fruit – stone fruit like peaches and plums plus fresh figs are perfect.  Halve and quarter into bite sizes with a safe, good knife.  The Edge of Belgravia makes the most absolutely beautiful knives that are incredibly sharp and definitely affordable if you’re looking for a big – girl knife option! I use the precision series.OHFOX2

Add three various cheeses based on softness – buy what you love!  I adore sheep’s milk cheese so my picks were along the same flavor profile, but differed in softness, which allows guests to maximize their favorite combinations.

Include the classics like marcona almonds and a salty olive.

LK_OHFox_August2015-22 (1)Finish with sardines.  I’ve never seen anyone serve sardines like Ashley, soaked in oil and topped with parsley.  But with a dollop of dijon on a cracker, they couldn’t have been better.LK_OHFox_August2015-21 (1)

What do you think – are you inspired, feeling creative?  It’s amazing what simple snacks laid out can do to make company feel relaxed and at home.  Secrets and real life stories flow freely when folks are full and there’s something tasty to drink.  I hope this post gives you that little nudge to invite a few friends over to share real life!OHFOX3


Beautiful photos by Becca EwingCandice Button

LAST MINUTE ADVENTURE | A DAY AT THE LAKE

CANYON0001The lazy mornings and sleepy afternoons of summer are slowly winding down, but we aren’t ready to give it up just yet! Fall is an awesome season (by far the best in Chicago, in my opinion), but there is something so fun about skipping out early on work, rounding up some friends, and heading out of town to the lake for a quick get-away!

Because we are all about celebrating the little moments, the random itches to get out of town, and the well-fed adventures, we are grabbing a few bottles of K-J AVANT, packing a delicious, no-fuss spread, and getting out of dodge — come join us!
CANYON0004So, I know most “lake day” food is comprised of hot dogs, potato chips, and other (fabulous) junk food that just tastes better when you’re out on a lake, but here is our case for a “fancy” spread – it’s easy, it’s delicious, and it’s way less work.

I know it looks high maintenance, but this spread couldn’t be easier. We call it the “anything goes” spread. For the full how-to details, and a DELICIOUS melon skewer recipe, see the details HERE!
Lake Day 3 CANYON0006No one likes to be bogged down by logistics when you are trying to get on the road, so trust me when I say, this combo of vino and munchies is a slam dunk. There is no clean-up, no plates required, and everyone feels good because they’ve been snacking on peach slices instead of a million chocolate chip cookies.

What is not to love?! Grab some easy plastic wine glasses, along with a big board to serve your goodies on, and your basically the Kardashians of the lake.
Lake Day 4Also, let’s talk about something really quick – this wine, I love it. Especially for things like this! The whole “no corkscrew needed” element makes it the perfect grab and go bottle of wine & it pleases every palette!

Typically, I am not a white wine gal (much to my mother’s displeasure), but a glass of cool K-J AVANT in the summer hits the spot every time. CANYON0013Here is what I love most about a lake day getaway – the fresh air. It’s perfect and it does something to make everyone relax and have a good time. The pup is happy in the water, friends are having a great time, everyone is well-fed, it’s basically the perfect retreat.

Summer schedules are hectic, and they are about to be even more manic, but if you can swing it – be the instigator. Badger those friends so they can’t say no, call in sick from work, grab some bottles of celebratory K-J AVANT, round up your spread, and soak up the last days of summer! Lake Day 2So friends, it’s time. You’ve got the roadmap for a blissful day and the lake, what’s stopping you! Show us your spread!! Tag @LaurenKelp and @KJWines and show us your fabulous, no-fuss day at the lake!CANYON0021


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This post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.