Valentine’s Day at Home: Wine, Music and Menus Volume II

Valentine’s Day at Home: Wine, Music and Menus Volume II

We posted a blog called Valentine’s Day at Home: Wine, Music and Menus and the response was so overwhelming and fun, we thought we have to do a Volume TWO! It can be great getting dressed up, making reservations at a fancy restaurant and spending Valentine’s Day on the town. But these days, many couples opt to spend the holiday at home, especially when there are kids in the picture. When work has been crazy, the sitter is busy, the traffic is nuts and the restaurants are all booked, the idea of staying home, pouring a glass of wine, putting on some relaxing music and eating a delicious meal together sounds more and more appealing. We’ve put together a few menu plans (along with their matching wines and some fun music recommendations) to make your Valentine’s Day at home romantic, memorable and meaningful. After all, it’s not about going out – it’s about celebrating love! Menu Plan #1 – For the Seafood & Champagne Lovers Pour: Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne. A luxurious, world-famous Champagne that boasts soft white-fruit aromas of peaches and pears and a finish of fresh walnut. The smooth, juicy mid-palate segues to a clean, crisp finish ideal for sipping Play: The Party, Andy Schauf. Bubbly songs full of fun combine with a nice dose of moody to create a playlist that is perfect for a party of two, cooking dinner, sipping Champagne and just being together. Appetizer: French Butter Lettuce Salad, courtesy of Fine Cooking. The lightness of this simple salad makes the perfect starter for the creamy goodness to come. Main Dish: Two recipes from Café Delights, the first being their insanely...
Holiday Wines Part I – The Chardonnay Line Up

Holiday Wines Part I – The Chardonnay Line Up

Before you know it, Thanksgiving will be here! In addition to all I’m grateful for, this has me thinking about wine. And dinner. Our table usually numbers more than 30. We’ve been known to have three turkeys (roasted, grilled, and deep fried) and everyone contributes their favorite side dishes. Many wines pair nicely with turkey, but when it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner, there is so much more happening! A beautifully roasted bird may take center stage at the buffet table, but the meal itself is all about the sides. We tend to overload our plates with those beloved side dishes—crowding that sliced turkey into a hodge-podge patchwork of fabulous flavors, textures, and colors. That’s right where tradition slowly changes and grows for the better. I mean, before JoJo joined our Thanksgiving celebration, we didn’t have jalapeño-spiked cheesy corn at the table. Now her Texas influence is an integral part of our annual tradition. For me, pushing some spicy, creamy corn into the mashed potatoes and gravy was an obvious move, but when Uncle Fran’s bittersweet orange-cranberry chutney mingled in . . . a serendipitous flavor bomb! Chardonnay is definitely one of the go-to favorites for Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s versatile yet familiar. And Chardonnay is known to play well with others. Whether you’re serving dinner this year or you’d like a nice bottle to present to your hosts, here’s a guide to some of our favorite Chardonnay trios for 2020. Lighter Chardonnay Trios For milder fare, we suggest a lighter Chardonnay. Think classic turkey dinner with simply prepared vegetable dishes, ambrosia salad, and Parker House rolls. We think these Chardonnays...
Holiday Wines Part II – The Reds

Holiday Wines Part II – The Reds

Red is the color deeply entwined with some of our strongest feelings—passion, love, rage, danger. It even symbolizes good luck. What better wine to bring to you next family gathering? For many reasons, the holidays are a great time to stock up on wine—to enjoy, to gift, and to collect. Like the color itself, red wines offer a spectrum of bold and dazzling varieties to enjoy. The Cabs tend to work nicely with most red meats, lamb, and a flavorfully prepared ahi tuna. We love Pinot Noirs for their versatility—most are both smooth and bold enough to work well with lighter fare such as roasted salmon or game fowl and heavier, classic dinner fare like Beef Wellington. Speaking of Beef Wellington and family gatherings—this is one of my family’s traditions! Many years ago, I gave my husband The New Basics Cookbook by Silver Palate authors Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. We’ve had decades of fun exploring so many cuisines and cultures through the recipes and informative anecdotes. Once beyond the chicken-nugget rite of passage, our kids joined us on the journey. While we each have our distinct preferences, we all look forward to Beef Wellington as our Christmas Eve tradition. In fact, my oldest—now living on that other coast—has asked for the recipe so many times that she’s receiving her own copy of The New Basics as a gift this year. Based on how tattered that original paperback is, I’m even springing for the hardcover edition. You can find that hallowed Beef Wellington recipe below. And if you want to find some great red wines, here are a few...
Introducing Hand-Tied Rose Bouquets

Introducing Hand-Tied Rose Bouquets

Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, here’s something new! Introducing hand-tied rose bouquets for our “What’s New?” feature. Did you know that the best time to cut roses is after 3 PM in the afternoon when they are highest in food reserves? For instance, here at GiftTree, we have plenty of tips and tricks on how to trim and arrange your florals, especially roses. We also found some great resources on how to choose the perfect vase and more for your flowers. Whether you are a green thumb or prefer to pick your florals up at the local market, knowing how to treat roses can be tricky. Below are some useful tips we’ve found to help your blooms last even longer:   When choosing from your garden or market, pick rose buds that have visibly begun to open but that are no more than one-third to one-half fully open. For example, the best cut roses will have just begun to unfurl. Always use clean, sharp pruners to prevent damaging the rose canes and spreading disease. This won’t affect your cut flowers but you don’t want to harm the plant in the process of cutting. Leave at least 3 leaves on the stem to feed the plant. Get the roses into water as soon as possible. If pruning from your yard, bring a bucket of water with you when you cut. If you do cut the roses outside without water, make sure to re-cut the stems indoors either underwater or immersed. Use either the floral preservative they come with or you can add...
How to Celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day

How to Celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day

Mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, gouda, swiss, camembert, havarti, asiago, brie; the list goes on and on. Today is the day, a day to celebrate arguably one of the most beloved foods in the world: Cheese. Whether you enjoy it as is on a cheese board, atop a big bowl of pasta, or paired with wine; cheese should be celebrated in all it’s glory. Most importantly, one of our favorite categories here at GiftTree is our Cheese & Charcuterie gifts. For example, not only are they unique and creative gifts but they are paired with cured meats and other gourmet foods. What will you do to celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day? Here are some fun facts and creative ways to spread some cheese and cheer! Host a wine and cheese pairing Create your own cheeseboard Perfect your grilled cheese sandwich Host a cheese taste test contest at work   Allow us to help you celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day with some of our exclusive Cheese & Charcuterie Gifts:     Premium Cheese Tasting Experience Above all, a cheese tasting experience unlike any other: Cantalet Dore, Petit Basque, Sottocenere, and Comte Extra are paired with quince paste, orange blossom honey, and more, presented in a trim picnic basket.   Personalized Slate with Artisan Cheeses This monogrammed slate cheese board makes a sophisticated gift all by itself, but we take it to the next level with an offering of premium artisan cheeses and gourmet pairings.   Charcuterie and Personalized Tasting Board Gift   Firstly, three varieties of artisanal salami are joined by stone ground mustard, organic Greek olives and more in this savory, shareable...
The Best Office Potluck Recipes

The Best Office Potluck Recipes

Chances are, right now you’re in the time of year where there’s an office potluck on the horizon. I have a love-hate relationship with office potlucks. On one hand, I love to get together with coworkers and enjoy the food that they’ve made. Other the other hand, I never feel like I have enough time to make dishes that are really special, something my coworkers deserve. (Seriously, Erica, how do you have time to make that fancy 18-layer dip?!!!) And so I end up racing to the grocery store to buy something that’s pre-made and totally mediocre, unworthy of my amazing colleagues. Well, no more! Recently, I took the time to gather up the best office potluck recipes. Onward!   The Best Office Potluck Dishes   Pulled Chicken Sliders A slow cooker is your friend for this recipe, brought to you by Natasha’s Kitchen. Just a couple tweaks make this an even more lightning-fast recipe! Just bake the chicken breasts the night before (or get a rotisserie chicken and shred) and bring everything into the office kitchen the next morning. Right away when you get into the office, plug in that slow cooker, add the chicken and the rest of the ingredients, and turn it on to HIGH til lunchtime (4 hours). Add Hawaiian slider rolls, cole slaw and BAM – lunch to please a crowd. Don’t forget tongs!   Tarragon Chicken Salad  You’re going to absolutely love the combination of fresh, herby tarragon, savory chicken and creamy mayonnaise in this recipe, courtesy of Feasting at Home. Bring along a package of croissants from the grocery store bakery and watch...