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FOURTH OF JULY BBQ the perfect backyard bash

FOURTH0001Hooray for the ultimate summer holiday – the 4th of July! It doesn’t get much better than lake days, grilling out, and fireworks. There is something so fun & Americana about the parades, the festivities, and, of course, the food!

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This year we are focusing on the guests rather than the décor. Now, hear me out. I know that sounds nuts because 4th of July parties are known for their kitsch red, white, and blue decorations – it’s almost ‘the more kitsch, the better!’ – but this year we are going in a different direction.

Hosting a get-together, let alone a 4th of July bash, can be hectic, so we want to take a little pressure off & say “who cares?!” Don’t have the mile high patriotic centerpieces this year? Don’t sweat it. To us, these holidays are all about celebrating the people you love & being thankful for the men & woman that got you here.

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So, if the pressure is off for crazy decorations, we’ve got to bring you’re A-game with the food! Luckily, we’ve whipped up these grilled pizzas that are not only suuuuper affordable, they are easy, and can be customized depending on the person, food preference, or allergy. Don’t want to make several dishes to please your meat eater friend, token vegetarian, and paleo dieter of the bunch? These pizzas are your answer! Big enough to share, but small enough to make them individualized. Plus, if it’s a kid friendly party, you’ve got a utensil free food that is safe for little ones to eat.

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INGREDIENTS FOR WHEAT DOUGH:

-2 cups whole wheat flour

-1 tbsp of active dry yeast

-3/4 tsp salt

-1 cup warm water

-1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1 tsp honey

FOURTH0007FOURTH012INSTRUCTIONS:

-Pour flour into a large mixing bowl.

-Add yeast and salt. Mix well.

-Add water, oil and honey. Mix well.

-Cover dough with a moist cloth and let sit for 10 minutes.

-Place dough on lightly floured surface, and slowly spread and press dough into desired thickness and shape.

-Drizzle dough with olive oil and grill on both sides for 3-5 minutes.

-Remove flatbread from grill and add desired toppings.

-Return flatbread to grill for 3-5 minutes or until cheese has melted.

-Remove flatbread and serve.

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Curious about this gorgeous salad below? Let me introduce you to the best summer salad combo – grapefruit & fennel!

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Pair this perfect summer meal with some local(or patriotically canned) brew & it’s a match made in heaven! Nay-sayers be damned, there is something quintessentially ‘summer’ about pizza and beer.

Have a favorite pizza pairing or pro grill tip? We would love to see! Instagram us, tag us on Facebook, or tweet us with your grilled pizza pairings, summer-time favorites, or anything really. We always love to hear how you improve upon our recipes!

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TABLEMAKERS IN THE VINEYARD

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I know, I know, you’ve heard me say it before, but I just love a good dinner party. I mean it! There is something really magical when you put people together and let them connect over great food & amazing wine. This dinner party might top the list of favorites because, truthfully, how often do you get to dine in a culinary garden in the middle of a vineyard?

KJW0229We invited some of our favorite tastemakers in the bay area to our Tablemakers dinner at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens and it was nothing short of breathtaking.

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The evening began with a tour of the culinary gardens with Tucker. We wove in and out of the sensory garden, smelling various herbs and then sipping wine to see how the flavors translated. As we walked through the vineyard up the path, Randy explained the maturation process of a grape vine and painted an elegant picture for how wine is made. Just as he finished explaining the lineage & family heritage of the K-J vineyards, we rounded the corner on this…

KJW0227KJW0251The evening was pure magic.

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I have said it before & I will say it again, I love inviting people to dinner who don’t know each other. While, yes, of course, there is a chance they won’t get along and the whole evening goes south, the majority of the time that doesn’t happen. More often than not, things go off without a hitch. This night was absolutely one of those.

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In true Tablemakers form, the conversation was non-stop, the wine was perfectly paired, the food was divine, and the company was even better. It was one of those evenings where you kind of look down on the moment and say, “this is perfect.”

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The concept of Tablemakers – that entertaining doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be honest – is something very near and dear to my heart. Every time I host a party or have friends over for a drink, I think about the balance between perfect and honest. You want everything to be just so & adorably Instagram-able, but you want your guests to relax and have a good time. This dinner in the vineyard struck the perfect cord. The setting was breathtaking (HELLO, we are sitting in the middle of a freaking vineyard) and the preparations were sublime, but the atmosphere was relaxed, laid back, and incredibly conducive to friendship. It was perfect and honest and it left me totally inspired.
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I don’t know about you, but sadly, I don’t have a vineyard at home, but sitting amongst the grounds of the property really got me inspired to entertain outdoors this summer. You couldn’t ask for better ambiance than flickering lightning bugs or twinkling stars and there really isn’t anything better than a long, relaxing dinner outdoors.

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In partnership with Kendall-Jackson. All opinions are our own.

A VINEYARD TOUR WITH WINEMASTER RANDY ULLOM

KJW0148If you are like me, when you go to the store to buy a bottle of wine, your decision-making process consists of “Ooh, that’s a nice label!” or “That looks impressive.” You might know you have a particular penchant for red blends or maybe you prefer a Merlot over a Cabernet, but that’s the extent of your wine knowledge. This was me until I met Kendall-Jackson‘s Winemaster Randy Ullom.

KJW0140Randy’s profession is right up there with doctors, surgeons, and other professions critical to human survival. His job is to make sure each bottle of wine that carried the Kendall-Jackson name is nothing short of impeccable. Whether it’s a Jackson Estate Pinot from Outland Ridge or a K-J Avant Chardonnay – it’s Randy’s job to make sure you have the perfect wine tasting experience, no matter the bottle, price point, or food pairing.

KJW0162-2For Randy & his team of winemakers, it’s all in the details. From the fragrant blossoming grape vines to the soils composition, a wine is not ready to barrel if the vineyard isn’t ready. It’s incredible, really. Why one wine has a bold, rich flavor, where another, from a similar region, is full and spicey, is all dependent on the terroir – a language Randy is fluent in.

KJW0159Terroir is how a particular region’s climate, soil, and terrain affect the taste of the wine. Loosely translated it means “sense of place” in French, but the translation doesn’t do the phrase justice. While technically, it is the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology, and climate of a certain place, interacting with plant genetics, express in agricultural products, for Winemaster’s like Randy, it helps define the wine’s personality.

KJW0154 While terroir is the wine’s personality, the vine is where it all starts. Constance and I were lucky enough to see the vineyard in full bloom & the fragrance is nothing short of remarkable. It’s light and magical and perfectly pure. Each one of those little flowers has the potential to turn into a berry. Once the blooms pollinate and the berries start to form, the real magic happens. There is a bunch of cell division that takes place & the berry and terroir get together and develop this really effervescent grape.

Think about it. Randy & his crew track the soil composition, the shifts in climate, the geology of a region, and all the other atmospheric changes that take place and adjust accordingly to cultivate the perfect bottle of wine. Maybe a new flavor combination is developed because of a bizarre weather pattern or tweaks have to be made because something affects the soil late in the pollination cycle.
KJW0147-2It’s remarkable how the relationship between man and earth creates something so phenomenal. The relationship between the soil, the grapes, the atmosphere, and the caretakers involved in the process, all come together to create something so complex and delightful.

Next time you take a sip of wine, close your eyes and imagine where it came from. Think of the fog rolling in over a vineyard, the sun ripening the grape, all the magical stuff that happens in the soil, and think of Randy – the Winemaster whose passion is bringing you the best wine you could ever imagine.
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constanceThis post was created in partnership with Kendall-Jackson. All opinions are my own.

A CULINARY GARDEN TOUR WITH FARMER TUCKER

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Last month, Constance and I took a trip to Sonoma County to learn more about the Kendall-Jackson family, their mission, and what makes their wine so special. Between the fragrant vineyards, the terroir, and their familial roots, the trip was nothing short of a inspirational. Touring a vineyard is one thing, but learning about the belief system behind it, it’s sustainability-driven mission, and dedication to giving back is something entirely different. This week, we are taking you with us as we visit the Kendall-Jackson family vineyards. First stop, the culinary gardens with Farmer Tucker.KJW0001

Meet Tucker, Kendall-Jackson’s resident Culinary Gardener. With the belief that everyone should have access to good food, Tucker & his culinary garden at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Garden grow produce & herbs for over two dozen restaurants in California.

If a restaurant wants fresh, locally grown produce, but doesn’t have the space or time to dedicate, they can reach out to Tucker and his team to request certain vegetables at a fraction of the cost & keep business local.

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The culinary garden located on the K-J estate is magnificent. The love, care, and dedication poured into the grounds are inspiring. Not only is the scale impressive, but the belief in being hosts to the environment and being a good steward of the earth is felt by everyone who enters the property.KJW0046

Tucker wants the Chefs that work with the garden to feel like it’s a gift every time they open a produce box. By teaching his crew to think like Chefs, they are able to connect to the full cycle and it makes gardening so much more rich when you know the flavors an herb produces or how a beautifully prepares vegetable tastes.

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Think culinary gardening is too advanced for you? Think again! If Tucker started his culinary garden off in terracotta pots, we can try our hand at a windowsill herb box or a plot of carrots.

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First tip – start with a good base. No matter what you are planting, it’s all about the soil. Compost is best, but something local to your area works well. Pro tip – grab some organic fertilizer to jump-start your new green thumb.

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Next, don’t be afraid to try something new. Rosemary & basil are a new gardeners best friend, but let’s spice things up a bit and try lemon verbena or pineapple sage. Lemon verbena is terribly easy to grow & phenomenal when muddling a good cocktail. Love well-seasoned meat? Try planting some pineapple sage. It’s a wonderful robust herb that makes a killer seasoning for a roast or a protein on the grill.

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Want to step things up a bit? Try your hand at lettuce or kale. They are easier to grow than most produce and are easy to harvest. Stuck with low light, try “short day” tomatoes!

Ultimately, it all comes down to being good stewards to the earth. Whether it’s in the wine you drink or the food you eat, the care, love, and intention is what matters most.KJW0014


Like what you see? Follow @FarmerT on Instagram to see all the garden happenings!
constanceThis post is sponsored, but all opinions & thoughts are our own.

WATERMELON CHAMPAGNE

WATERMELON CHAMPAGNE - Lauren KelpHAPPY FRIDAY! Constance here! For some reason I can’t seem to shake Jennifer Grey’s line from Dirty Dancing–it’s been in my head all week, and I haven’t watched that movie in years. The more I think about it though, what better way to crash a good summer party? ‘I carried a watermelon…’ Who wouldn’t be friends with the gal who brought the watermelon?

Cocktails + watermelon + friends + sunshine. What more do you need for a good summer? And summer is officially here, friends…..or at least it is for us desert dwellers. It hit 115 here this week, and literally the ONLY thing that sounds even somewhat appealing to me for dinner is, you guessed it, watermelon. In true LaurenKelp.com tradition, we’re throwing a little dinner shindig tonight, and I was in desperate need to find an easy, not super sweet, minimal effort cocktail for the masses. Mission accomplished with this watermelon champagne. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and scroll down to the ‘Instructions’ portion of the post…

Told you.

I hope you love it as much as we do! Happy weekend, friends!

WATERMELON CHAMPAGNE - Lauren KelpINGREDIENTS:

-2 oz. fresh watermelon juice

-3 oz. champagne

-fresh mint leaves to garnish

WATERMELON CHAMPAGNE - Lauren KelpINSTRUCTIONS:

-Pour 2 ounces of watermelon juice into chilled champagne flute or glass.

-Top with 3 ounces of fine champagne or brut.

-Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

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WATERMELON MARGARITA

WATERMELON MARGARITA - Lauren Kelp

In our home, we’re firm believers in celebrating regularly. What do we celebrate on a regular basis? Tacos. With about 95% of the population. But hey, there’s a reason everyone’s doing it. If you haven’t jumped on this train yet, we highly suggest you do it…..and soon!

So, as you can tell, this post isn’t about the next best taco recipe, but about it the cocktail that was made for tacos. All hail the margarita! After a long term relationship with the jalapeno & cucumber version, my husband so kindly suggested that we mix things up a bit. And what better way to ring in summer than by adding a little watermelon to everything! This Watermelon Margarita is new favorite of ours & is so light and refreshing. PLUS! it pairs perfectly with grilled Mahi-Mahi tacos with pineapple salsa (recipe coming soon!).

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INGREDIENTS:

-3/4 oz. fresh watermelon juice

-1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

-2 oz. tequila

-3/4 oz. Cointreau

-1/4 oz. agave nectar

-cocktail salt for rim if desired

-lime wheel to garnish

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INSTRUCTIONS:

-Rim a cocktail glass or margarita glass with salt and place in the freezer to chill.

-Add the watermelon juice, lime juice, tequila, Cointreau, agave and ice to a shaker.

-Shake for about 30 seconds to chill.

-Strain into your margarita glass, float lime wheel to garnish and enjoy!

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OLIVE OIL CAKE WITH CRÉME FRAÎCHE & BERRIES

OLIVE OIL CAKE - Lauren Kellp

I must admit that although I’ve come to truly love baking, it’s a rare day indeed that I will choose anything sweet over my typical post dinner indulgence of…..popcorn. But it’s official–I found the best cake of all time, and in my opinion, it’s the absolute perfect dessert for those back porch dinner parties this summer. In case you haven’t noticed, we here at LK live for those dinner parties. In my book, this find is quite the accomplishment–especially for a Monday!

This olive oil cake is so light and fresh and only slightly sweet–thus its appeal! So for you fellow readers who lean more towards the savory side, this cake is for you. It pairs perfectly with a dry white wine or a fabulous rose, and it truly is a crowd pleaser!

OLIVE OIL CAKE - Lauren Kellp

OLIVE OIL CAKE - Lauren Kellp

INGREDIENTS:

-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

-2 teaspoons baking powder

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1 cup sugar

-3 large eggs

-1/4 cup whole milk

-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

-4 tablespoons almond extract

-4 oz. crème fraîche

-1 peach (sliced into thin wedges)

-1/2 cup blueberries

-1/2 cup blackberries

-1/2 cup cherries

OLIVE OIL CAKE - Lauren Kellp

OLIVE OIL CAKE - Lauren Kellp

INSTRUCTIONS:

-Preheat oven to 350.

-Lightly coat one 8-inch cake pan with coconut oil cooking spray.

-In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

-In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy.

-Beat in the milk, and then gradually add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of almond extract.

-Add the flour mixture, and stir until blended.

-Transfer the batter to the cake pan.

-Bake for 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

-In a small bowl, mix the crème fraîche and remaining almond extract until combined.

-After the cake has cooled, top with crème fraîche mixture and fruit.

-Serve and enjoy!

OLIVE OIL CAKE - Lauren Kellp

OLIVE OIL CAKE - Lauren Kellp


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THE BEST RED SANGRIA RECIPE

RED SANGRIA - Lauren Kelp

Sangria is an absolute summer staple. There is nothing quite like a cold glass full of ripe fruit to get you through those balmy July days and cooler August nights. Sangria meets everyone’s needs – the wine drinker loves it, the beer drinker enjoys it too, and for the gal that only drinks cocktails, she can’t say ‘no’ either. But with so many recipes and various iterations of this summer classic, how do you find the best one? Luckily, we’ve been hard at work here in the LK test kitchen, making batches to test-taste and perfect. Thanks to all this “hard work” we’ve found the best red sangria recipe there ever was. It’s the right amount of sweet, the perfect mélange of fruit, and it has been stamped with approval by many a summer party goer. Don’t trust us? Try for yourself. We promise – you’ll love it!

RED SANGRIA - Lauren Kelp

INGREDIENTS:

– 2 bottles of red Spanish table wine

– 1 cup of Brandy

– 1/2 cup of Triple Sec

– 1 cup of orange juice

– 1 cup of pomegranate juice

– 1/2 cup of Simple Syrup (see below)

– Orange slices

– Apple slices

– Blackberries

– Pomegranate seeds


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DIRECTIONS:

1. SIMPLE SYRUP – Mix equal parts sugar and water in a sauce pan. Heat on medium high until sugar dissolves. Remove from burner and let the syrup cool

2. Grab a few oranges & apples (amount depends on how fruity you like your sangria and/or how many people you want to serve) and cut long-ways. Don’t think soccer practice wedges, think thinner slices.

3. Mix all ingredients together and let stand in a tightly sealed container or pitcher for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

4. Grab your favorite glasses, drop in a few ice cubes, and voila! The best sangria there ever was!

RED SANGRIA - Lauren Kelp


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STONE FRUIT SANGRIA

SUMMER SANGRIATis finally the season for all things tacos, swimsuits, fiestas, and most importantly…..sangria. We here at LaurenKelp.com couldn’t possibly be more ecstatic! I must admit, I got started a little early, and I’ve been trying out recipes in hopes of finding a simple but smashingly good go-to for the season. Good news is, I’ve actually found THREE! I’ll be sharing them all with you over the coming weeks, but for now, I’d like to introduce you to the oh so refreshing and fabulous Stone Fruit Sangria!

This beauty is so light and crisp and super easy to prepare. And to top it off, I’m going to be sharing my new favorite meal (tacos, obviously!) that pairs perfectly with with a glass of this on Monday….. stay tuned folks — it’s a good one, you have my word! Cheers to the weekend!!

SUMMER SANGRIAINGREDIENTS:

-1 bottle of dry Spanish white wine

-1 cup of peach nectar

-1/4 cup Cointreau

-2 peaches

-2 plums

-2 nectarines

-3 cups club soda

-Ice

whitesangria0003INSTRUCTIONS:

-Halve and pit the peaches, plums, and nectarines. Using a mandolin, slice half of your fruit as thinly as possible. Using a pairing knife, cut the remaining fruit into wedges.

-In a large pitcher, combine the fruit, peach nectar, Cointreau, and wine. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

-Once you’re ready to serve, add the club soda and pour into ice-filled glasses. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from George Dolese.constance

LEMON MUFFINS WITH GRAPEFRUIT GLAZE

LEMON MUFFINS WITH GRAPEFRUIT GLAZE

So if you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed our fascination/obsession with all things citrus as of late. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. BUT I can always turn them into carbs, and I know that’s a surefire win–well it is to me. And, as a reader, I know anytime I hear the word ‘glaze’ I’m absolutely on board. So without further ado, I present to you the most addictive lemon muffins with grapefruit and thyme glaze.

YOU. GUYS. These are a slam dunk with guests of any kind. You have my word.

LEMON MUFFINS WITH GRAPEFRUIT GLAZE

MUFFIN INGREDIENTS:

-1/2 cup softened butter

-1 cup sugar

-2 eggs

-1/2 cup sour cream

-1 tbsp vanilla extract

-2 tsp lemon extract

-1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/4 tsp baking soda

GLAZE INGREDIENTS:

-3 cups powdered sugar

-2 tsp grapefruit zest

-5 to 6 tbsp fresh grapefruit juice

LEMON MUFFINS WITH GRAPEFRUIT GLAZE

MUFFIN INSTRUCTIONS:

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease muffin pan with coconut oil baking spray.

-In a large mixing bowl, blend butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

-Add eggs and beat well.

-Beat in sour cream and extracts.

-In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to cream mixture and blend until combined.

-Fill muffin pan (about 3/4 of each cup).

-Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

-Remove from oven and let cool.

 

GLAZE INSTRUCTIONS:

-Combine all ingredients until blended.

-Once muffins have cooled, top each one with the grapefruit glaze and sprinkle with fresh thyme.

LEMON MUFFINS WITH GRAPEFRUIT GLAZE

We’d love to hear about your favorite hostess recipes! Be sure to tag us with #LKmakes – we’ll be featuring some of your fabulous creations soon!


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