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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.