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GINGER & WALNUT DARK CHOCOLATE BARK

DARK CHOCOLATE BARK - LAUREN KELP

Happy Monday! Constance here. Please tell me I’m not the only one who is seriously struggling with coming off of the chocolate high after the holidays?! It seems to be so much more difficult than it was last year. I’m a firm believer in the gradual change, and I think that this little recipe falls a bit more into the power bar/trail mix category than the dessert category. Right? And dark chocolate is basically a superfood. Thus, I bring you Ginger & Walnut Dark Chocolate Bark. It’s easy. It’s delicious. And it’s obviously super healthy…

DARK CHOCOLATE BARK - LAUREN KELPDARK CHOCOLATE BARK - LAUREN KELP

INGREDIENTS:

-18 oz. dark chocolate chips or chunks

-2 tablespoons almond extract

-1 cup candied ginger, chopped

-1 cup walnuts, chopped

-1 cup shaved almonds

DARK CHOCOLATE BARK - LAUREN KELP

INSTRUCTIONS:

-Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
-In a medium sized saucepan, heat chocolate on low until melted. Stir often.
-Once melted, add almond extract and whisk until smooth.
-Remove from heat and add all but 1/3 cup of ginger, 1/3 cup of walnuts and 1/3 cup of almonds.

-Stir until evenly combined.
-Pour chocolate mixture into prepared pans.
-Sprinkle the remaining ginger, walnuts and almonds evenly on both prepared pans.
-Refrigerate bark for at least one hour (preferably overnight) until firm.
-Remover from refrigerator, cut into squares, and serve.

DARK CHOCOLATE BARK - LAUREN KELP


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MAPLE SEA SALT ROASTED ALMONDS

Lauren Kelp | Maple Sea Salt Roasted AlmondsHello lovelies! Are you ready for the best snack hack of your life? We recently threw a Tablemakers dinner in Phoenix were these were served as a little appetizer and our guests flipped! They are the perfect combination of salty & sweet and your life will never be the same after you try them. Seriously. xoxo,LK


Laurel here! There’s something magical about the sweet, rich aroma of roasted almonds that always makes me think of steam swirling around street-cart vendors in winter, or fancy kiosks in the mall selling fragrant cellophane bags of these little goodies. They remind me of something you’d treat yourself to or receive as a gift (in those same fancy cellophane bags or glass jars), you know? I’d always thought of roasted or candied nuts as something too special to make at home–which is ridiculous, now that I know how completely easy they are to pull off, and in almost no time at all. Can you stir things in a bowl? Can you wait twenty minutes? Perfect, then you can make these! If your pantry is stocked anything like mine, you may even have all the ingredients to make these treats already, but even if a shopping trip is required, this four-ingredient beauty won’t break the bank.

The only real secret to getting these crunchy, candied nuts just right is one I’ll share with you now (saving you from a fate like my first few overly sticky batches)…always toss them in syrup first, then vegetable oil separately. That’s it! The oil resists mixing with the liquid in the syrup and forms a kind of coating on the outside. Your result, my friend? Perfectly crunchy, not sticky, addictively delicious roasted nuts every time.

Lauren Kelp | Maple Sea Salt Roasted Almonds
The best thing about this recipe for Maple Sea Salt Roasted Almonds really is, in fact, that it’s just a gateway to other recipes. Once you know how easy they are to make ahead of time, you can discover how amazing they are on top of hearty salads, warm Brie drizzled with maple syrup, breakfast bowls of grains or Greek yogurt, chopped and sprinkled on ice cream…you name it! My favorite way to eat them is straight out of my hand, though–they’re the perfect take-along snack for the office or running errands, and they keep me from reaching for far worse alternatives (vending machine candy bars, I’m lookin’ at you).

Never know what to serve at a party? This recipe will make you look like an entertaining genius. Set out a few pre-dinner bowls of these to satisfy hungry guests the next time you’re hosting–they’re totally at home next to a good cheese plate or on a bar cart with tasty cocktails. Like all good salty-sweet things (which is basically saying ALL GOOD THINGS, because that’s my favorite category), these roasted almonds are equally at home before or after dinner. You could just as easily end the meal with passed bowls of them and call it dessert. Happy snacking!

Lauren Kelp | Maple Sea Salt Roasted AlmondsINGREDIENTS:

3 cups whole almonds
1⁄4 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Lauren Kelp | Maple Sea Salt Roasted Almonds

INSTRUCTIONS:

– Preheat oven to 350 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

– In a mixing bowl, toss almonds with maple syrup and half the salt.

– Add vegetable oil, toss until thoroughly coated.

– Spread almonds in a single layer on lined baking sheet.

– Bake for 20 minutes until deep golden brown, stopping about halfway through to stir with a silicone spatula and sprinkle with remaining sea salt.

– Let cool slightly, then break apart any clumped-together almonds while still a bit warm.

– When completely cool, store in airtight container for up to one month.

Lauren Kelp | Maple Sea Salt Roasted Almonds


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HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE

HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE - LAUREN KELPOoh, dear, dear friends, you are in for a treat today. For all of my cheese lovers out there, today’s recipe is for you! We’ve got the most glorious baked brie and it’s basically a cheap & easy lifesaver. It takes no time, is cheap to make, and makes you look like a total pro! Go ahead invite the mother in law over, you just popped a brie in the oven 😉 – xoxo, LK


Oh friends. Constance here. Is anyone out there as excited as I am that the holidays are over? Never before in my life have I uttered that sentence. I almost feel ashamed saying it, but it couldn’t be more true this year! I think it must be a combination of a way too busy holiday season around our house (I literally felt like I couldn’t breathe for a couple of days there!) and an overwhelming sense of excitement about 2016. I can’t quite pinpoint it, but there’s something about this year that has me giddy. I have a feeling 2016 is going to be quite the game changer.

HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE - LAUREN KELP

All of this excitement, however, doesn’t come without some sort of reflection. I’ve been thinking a whole lot about the art of entertaining, especially when it comes to the holidays. Confession: I’m 100% certain that that busyness I mentioned earlier had much to do with me spending way too much time in the kitchen trying to impress our guests rather than cooking smarter and spending more time actually enjoying my loved ones. There’s a way to be intentional and make much of your guests, without entirely missing the celebration yourself, and I truly believe that if that’s not happening there’s a big problem.

So to remedy this for future celebrations, I’ve decided to learn from my mistakes this year, and share with you the recipes that truly did work. The ones that are simple and quick, but still communicate to your guests that the dinner you’ve invited them to is a celebration! And you guys, this is the pièce de résistance. Because who doesn’t love brie…

HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE - LAUREN KELPINGREDIENTS:

-12 ounce wheel of good brie (a younger brie works best, but ask your cheese monger for a good option)

-honey (the more the better)

-3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE - LAUREN KELPINSTRUCTIONS:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Remove brie from packaging and place in camembert baker or on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle liberally with honey (we prefer to completely cover the top of the brie, but it’s up to you). Top with fresh rosemary sprigs.

-Bake for 12-14 minutes.

-Remove from oven, and serve with crusty french bread.

HONEY & ROSEMARY BAKED BRIE - LAUREN KELP


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PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELP

Well, hello! We are helping you step up your entertaining game this holiday season with the most delicious (and easy!) prosciutto wrapped dates with goat cheese! You can make it in under five minutes, it tastes delicious, and it packs a major WOW factor – what could be better? See the recipe below! – xoxo, LK


Friends! Constance here. It’s official! I’ve found it. The ultimate Christmas party appetizer that is, in fact, equal parts super easy and super fancy-ish. Parties, dinners and last minute get-togethers are in full swing for the holidays, and if you’re anything like this gal, procrastination can get the best of you. Rather than opting for that weird and slightly disturbing store bought dip, I beg of you, try this prosciutto wrapped dates with goat cheese combo out.

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELPPROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELP

INGREDIENTS:

-15-20 dates

-goat cheese

-proscuitto

-fresh thyme

 

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELP

INSTRUCTIONS:

-Spread 1/2 tbsp of goat cheese on each date.

-Wrap each date with one slice of prosciutto.

-Top with a small sprig of fresh thyme.

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELPSo next time you are in a bit of a bind and need a fancy appetizer in a snap, don’t forget about this little gem! Nothing says, I am a serious hostess-with-the-mostess like prosciutto wrapped dates with goat cheese! PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED DATES WITH GOAT CHEESE - LAUREN KELP


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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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SALTED CARAMEL APPLES

SALTED CARAMEL APPLES - LAUREN KELPHello party people! I know everyone is gearing up for the holiday season, but we are still enjoying this gorgeous Fall weather here in Chicago. It’s beyond rare that we don’t have snow on the ground at this point in time, so I am basking in all the “light jacket” glory.

Our fabulous Food Contributor Constance must have taken my Fall musings to heart as she whipped up the most gorgeous salted caramel apples the universe has ever seen. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, and all those potlucks you are about to attend.

Dip, serve, and repeat – that’s what I say! For the perfect shareable dessert, put in the refrigerator for a few minutes so the caramel hardens and cut into easy to serve slices.

SALTED CARAMEL APPLES - LAUREN KELP

INGREDIENTS:

– 2 cups granulated sugar
-12 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into 1-inch cubes
-1 cup heavy cream
-3 teaspoons of SEE SALT

SALTED CARAMEL APPLES - LAUREN KELPINSTRUCTIONS:

– In a semi-deep non-stick pot, heat sugar over medium high heat, stirring often.
-The sugar will soon start to clump together. This is ok and what it is supposed to do!
-The sugar will soon start to break down into a liquid and you’ll want to switch to a whisk to get rid of the clumps.
-Once the sugar is in liquid form, you’ll want to continue stirring for about 2 minutes.
-Carefully add the butter. The mixture will hiss and splatter a bit. Continue stirring until all the butter has melted.
-Once the butter has melted, CAREFULLY add the heavy cream. Since the heavy cream will be cold, your mixture will bubble and splatter a bit as well. Stir the mixture then let boil for 3 minutes.
-Remove from heat, stir in the SEE SALT, and let completely cool before you pour it into any jars.
-Store in the refrigerator and warm up slightly to drizzle or use for desserts.

SALTED CARAMEL APPLES - LAUREN KELP

Recipe by Table for Two.


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SPINACH & FIG SALAD

SPINACH & FIG SALAD - LAUREN KELPHello, hello! There is no denying it – from Arizona to Texas, it finally feels like Fall! That means it’s all about figs all the time here in the LK kitchen & we aren’t even slightly upset about it. Read how our wonderful Food Editor whipped up another Autumnal inspired recipe – this time a delicious fig salad – for you all! xoxo – LK


Hello & Happy Monday, friends! Constance here. So, I know we talk a lot about chocolate, and wine, and if you hang out with Lauren and myself long enough, you’ll know that French Fries are our favorite food, but there is a healthier side to this shop talk.

We’re on a bit of a health kick/detox in our house, and I’m trying with all of my might to get creative with it. You may or may not have noticed I have a strong affinity for figs. They seem to pop up in every other post. I just cannot get enough. Would I rather they be dipped in chocolate? Probably. But this little spinach & fig salad comes in as a close second!

Simple is an understatement here. This salad is so easy and it’s great for a Monday lunch or a Friday night dinner party-your choice!SPINACH & FIG SALAD - LAUREN KELP

INGREDIENTS:

-6 oz. Trader Joe’s Heirloom Red Spinach

-10-12 figs, quartered

-3 plums, sliced into thin wedges

-1/4 cup sliced almonds

-Oil & balsamic vinegar to taste

 

SPINACH & FIG SALAD - LAUREN KELP

INSTRUCTIONS:

-In a large mixing bowl, combine spinach, figs, plums and almonds.

-Sprinkle with oil & vinegar.

-Mix to combine evenly.

-Serve with fresh cracked black pepper.

SPINACH & FIG SALAD - LAUREN KELP


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CARNE ASADA TACOS

CARNE ASADO TACOS - LAUREN KELP

Happy national taco day! Just kidding….that’s not true. But we truly do believe in celebrating tacos everyday, or at least every other day. The lovely Mrs. Kelp and I originally met in the great state of Texas–Austin to be exact–and one of the stipulations for citizenry of this particular city is that you partake in tacos at least once a day. And the options abound! Breakfast tacos, chicken & waffle tacos, even dessert tacos. It’s true.

And I do believe that this common love is one of many things that truly solidified our friendship…well, tacos and french fries. Right, Lauren? And maybe wine…

Which brings us to carne asada. Many of you may disagree, but I do believe the shining star of this recipe is the marinade. It’s amazing. Basically a cilantro style pesto. So easy and so versatile. I actually even used the leftovers as a salad dressing for the rest of the week! So I beg of you, don’t make the mistake of tossing any extra…you’ll regret it.

 

CARNE ASADA TACOS - LAUREN KELPCARNE ASADA TACOS - LAUREN KELPCARNE ASADO TACOS - LAUREN KELP

So go celebrate Monday with tacos and margaritas–I give you permission!

And be sure to share your favorite taco recipes with us by tagging #LKmakes!

CARNE ASADO TACOS - LAUREN KELP


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SUMMER ROOFTOP DINNER PARTY

ROOFTOPTABLEMAKERS0041Howdy, folks! Lauren here and I don’t know about you, but I feel like our Summer days are numbered. Not that I am sad to see the sticky summer days go, but I will miss the lazy afternoons spent on rooftops, taking in the sights, nowhere else to be but with your friends drinking rosé.

Chicago is full of rooftop decks that are in prime form in the summer. A nice city breeze, great people watching, not to mention a killer view whilst grilling. It’s basically the best way to dine outside with friends while drinking and eating all you want with you friends. So, that’s exactly what we did!
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Schedules are nuts in the summer, so the promise of good food and a rooftop hang usually helps people clear their schedules pretty quick. We rounded up some good friends, asked them to bring their favorite adult beverage, and gave them the address for where to meet us.
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We whipped up a few of our favorite low-key, slam-dunk meals and picked up some protein to throw on the grill from Whole Foods. Plus, we found these ADORABLE eco-friendly bamboo plates and silverware from Whole Foods and they are perfect for a picnic or a no-cleanup dinner party (which is totally something I can get behind). ROOFTOPTABLEMAKERS0013ROOFTOPTABLEMAKERS0015

Casual get-togethers are my absolute favorite. You round up whatever bowl, pan, or serving container can hold your dish and somehow it all comes together looking fabulous. Grab some dollar store candles, your favorite blooms, and set a table with love and full of friends and you can’t beat it!
3ROOFTOPTABLEMAKERS0025ROOFTOPTABLEMAKERS00304I look like I am about to devour him, but let’s just take a moment to check out my hubs. I mean, such a hunk!ROOFTOPTABLEMAKERS00455ROOFTOPTABLEMAKERS0039So, there you have it! Nothing beats a good rooftop dinner party hang with great friends. Grab a night (probably soon), text your friends, and make it happen. Summer is coming to a close and you should probably have a least a few of these rooftop dinners under your belt.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be fancy, it just has to be honest. When you throw a get together, tag us! We would love to see your dinner and celebrate the good times with you.

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HONEY ALMOND BUNDT CAKE

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

Monday’s are made for cake & we prefer this delicious almond bundt cake. Because, hello?! WHY NOT! Check out Constance’s easy, beautiful, and terrifically yummy recipe below. Try it out? Let us know! – xoxo, LK


 

Hello lovely people! Constance here! Happiest Monday to you and yours. I’m reclaiming Mondays and choosing to celebrate instead of lament. How you ask? Well, I’ve officially decided that Mondays were made for cake and with fig season in full swing, I can think of nothing better to top today’s honey almond bundt cake…or anything for that matter.

One of my absolute favorite gifts from my sweet husband was the cutest little fig tree that he planted in front of our house when I was traveling for work. He’s always been such a good gift giver, but this truly blew me away. I’m obsessed, and I cannot believe how much fruit it’s given us already!

Combine this abundance with a classic almond cake, and I’m in heaven. This delicious honey almond bundt cake is great for a shower, a birthday, any holiday, or any old Monday afternoon–your choice! Bon appétit!ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

 

 

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

 

 

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

 

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE - LAUREN KELP


constanceRecipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma