It’s Crawfish Season!

Springtime in Texas means a lot of things – bluebonnets, sunshine, green grass, baseball, porch sitting, and our favorite – CRAWFISH! While crawfish is for sure a Louisiana staple, we Texans have taken it up for ourselves as well. One thing we love about crawfish is that it literally forces you to have time around a table with people. It is a very labor intensive process to actually get full, so you are guaranteed time to get to know people and sit around a table and talk.You all know that we live for time around a table, so this is right up our alley. Better than actually eating the crawfish is the idea of having a party to go along with it!

This year we went all out and hosted a housewarming/birthday Crawfish Boil, so we want to give you an idea on what all you will need  to create your own Crawfish Boil as there are only a few weeks left of crawfish season. First – you will need a backyard and some gear. Luckily we have a great friend who already had all the gear, the pot, boiler, propane, etc. It is quite the undertaking but the boys loved standing outside with some cold beers watching all the action. The key to a successful boil and yummy crawfish is getting them live the day of. Since crawfish is so popular around here we recommend going to your favorite grocery store right when they open because they are known to sell out fast. We were expecting about 30 people so we bought 90 lbs of crawfish. This sounds like a lot, but if you’ve ever had crawfish you know that the meat that comes from one of those bad boys is a small bite, so you need a lot to fill everyone up.

Most grocery stores will have a pre-made seasoning for you to use, but you will also need some other goodies to go inside the pot. We had corn, sausage, and potatoes – which are classic additions to any crawfish boil. Other items you will want to grab at the store include – LOTS of napkins or paper towels, Wet Ones, beer, paper plates, table cloths, and other munchies to have out while the crawfish is cooking.

While crawfish is the main event of the crawfish boil, we love backyard parties this time of year because it means we have all our friends in one place doing what we love most – just hanging out. We had cornhole boards set up, which is a big staple in our group, while others just sat and chatted in the beautiful weather. We did have a little hiccup right when we were ready to eat – typical Texas, it started to rain- but a quick move into the garage worked just great. And of course a few minutes later the sun came out and cooled down the temperatures, making for the perfect transition to an evening well spent in the backyard.

How are you getting outside with friends this spring? Any tips for our next crawfish boil?

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals


Central Market

Spring is here and there is no better way to celebrate than with fresh veggies, flowers, and of course cheese boards on the patio. This week we are taking you to another one of our favorite stores, Central Market, to shop for the perfect cheese board to have your friends over for some weekend patio sitting. There is only one Central Market in Houston but the location is great for all neighborhoods and close to some of our favorite shops – so double the fun when we venture to this store.

Before we get into the details of the cheese board, we want to tell you some of our favorite things about Central Market in general. First, this store is one of those grocery stores that is more than just a grocery store, it is somewhere you go for the experience of walking through their well defined maze and seeing what yummy surprises end up in your basket. We love stocking up on fruits and veggies because they always look so beautiful and so fresh! This time we were on a mission, so we only grabbed some strawberries for the cheese board. More than the produce department, all of the departments at Central Market are filled with all kinds of delicious goodies. The pre-made meals are perfect for those grab and go nights. But our favorite part of the Houston Central Market is the “California Connection” sandwich. It is truly the best sandwich we have ever eaten. If you haven’t tried this sandwich, you must go order it. Our favorite lunch consists of turkey, cheese, pesto, caramelized onions, and avocado – sooo good! Another great thing about Central Market is their cooking classes. We went on a double date with some friends to one of the classes and had the best time. We were able to make foods that we weren’t totally comfortable with making on our own, like mussels – who makes that on the reg?! Not us! Grab some friends and take one of their classes – such a fun night and even better because you get to make AMAZING food and eat it that night!

The cheese department is UNBELIEVABLE. We love cheese a whole lot, but we definitely aren’t experts. What we are for sure of is that you can find any cheese you want here. To help us in our shopping, we consulted our friends at “That Cheese Plate” to give us a list of the specific cheese to look for to make the perfect board. On our list was Brie, Mahon (a new one for us to try), Pecorino and Boursin. We were so excited to pair some of our favorite staples with new cheeses. We love trying new things because you never know what you will stumble upon.

After the cheese, we of course needed the other goodies for the board. We got some Prosciutto, Peach jam, crackers, dried apricots and mixed nuts. Another bonus about Central Market is the bulk section. They have just about every combination of snack mix or nuts you could imagine. Right now they also have sooo much Easter themed candy! It took everything in us to resist the candy. The last thing to finish of our trip was a stroll through the wine department. They have so many wines at all different price points, so it is really great for any budget. We picked a new Malbec that was so delicious! There were so many options that it was kind of overwhelming, but we found that if we go with our normal budget and a grape we know we like, we aren’t usually disappointed.

So now for the fun part, putting the board together. If you don’t follow “That Cheese Plate” or “Cheese By Numbers” on Instagram, they are a must follow. They help you create the most beautiful boards by giving you all the ingredients you need and then showing step by step pictures of the board as you build it. We took our inspiration for the board this week from them, and then made a few tweaks to include our favorite things. We will definitely be using this account for more inspiration in the future because this one turned out AMAZING!

Let us know what your favorite things are about Central Market or what other stores we should try!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Brunchin’ at home

Everybody is all about brunch these days and we are here for it. There’s something about brunch that just brings thoughts of sunshine and smiles. There is nothing better than a big group of friends just eating and drinking and catching up together for hours. Brunch always has such comforting options, which is why we just love to linger and chat with pals until we’re able to move again. That is why we think that sometimes eating brunch out at a restaurant in a large group can be difficult. We completely understand this is the unpopular opinion. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE a good morning out at a swanky brunch place. You can for sure catch us at The Dunlavy or Tiny’s No. 5 every once in a while and we are always on the lookout for new places to try.

Last weekend was the perfect example of when to all meet up at a friend’s house for a good ole fashioned potluck brunch. (If you want to make everything and just host a brunch at your house— totally go for it, you’re a rockstar) There was a significant amount of us with some friends in town. We were all headed to the rodeo following our meal and wanted some good quality time with our friends we don’t get to see often before making our way to NRG. It’s always so hard catching up over a meal with a big group. You can really only talk to the 4 or so people around you and a lot of who you get to talk to just ends up being who you sit next to at the table. Also, depending on the noise level of the restaurant, it could be just the person next to you. It really is fun to go to lively (questionably rowdy) places full of atmosphere, but we just think if you really want to have some good conversation, save it for another time. Alright. So what’s our go-to brunch menu?

Always a breakfast casserole of some sort. We’ve been doing this one a lot lately because it is legit so easy. It also has a few of our favorite things: bread, cheese, and breakfast sausage. Yummm. Breakfast casseroles are a great way to go for things like this because you can make them the night before, pop them in the oven the morning of, and they feed a crowd. We also make them when we go on weekend trips around Texas together. We usually have bacon on the side as well. Sometimes we candy it– brown sugar is amazing, but this time we had a really sweet addition to our lineup, so just plain-jain amazing bacon for us hit the spot. For our sweet tooth, we made cinnamon roll monkey bread or as they are called in my husband’s family, “Pull-aparts.” They were the perfect offset to our savory options. We love them because it’s just like a bunch of centers of cinnamon rolls! No crispy edges. Also featured were some scrumptious Pigs in a Blanket and an assortment of fruit.

What we can’t forget to mention is the last item on the menu Cream Cheese Sausage Croissants. These are not just a staple for our brunch get-togethers, they are a staple for most sports watch parties, sometimes games nights, and anytime one of us is hosting a shower. One of the pals grew up going to the most amazing camp and this is a recipe from the cookbook you get before you go to college. After the very first time it was made for everyone it was a hit. Now we all have the recipe and make it for our families. After all that hype here are the ingredients: Crescent rolls, cream cheese, breakfast sausage, egg wash, and poppy seeds. So easy. So amazing. As a hope that you’ll make these and host your friends we’ve given you the recipe!

It’s brunch… AKA there are probably drinks involved. 🙂 For our drink spread we had: Mimosas (duh) Bloody Mary’s (yumm) and coffee (because we all knew it was going to be a longgg day at the rodeo. The two staples for any brunch are for sure Bloody’s and mimosas. You can get creative and add other things to your spread, but for us it’s always easier to keep it simple and keep people happy. The prosecco we used this time was Savino Prosecco and it was about $10 a bottle. It was delicious. The pals usually only add about an eyedropper of orange juice in our mimosas, so good bubbly is a must. There is no need to go fancier though because in our opinion, you should NOT be adding anything to prime bubbles. For the Bloody Mary’s we use Tito’s, like any good Texan should. As for the mix- we use Zing Zang. Best mix we’ve found! Also, I’m seriously considering starting to be the girl who carries hot sauce in her purse because nothing is better than Cholula on everything and especially in a Bloody Mary– thanks for the tip Auqa from Cheetah Girls!

We can’t wait to hear about your brunch feasts and about all the special memories from spending time around your table with friends. There is truly nothing better than good food, good drinks, and great friends.

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Throwing a Christmas Party

Location: Hosting your friends at your home

Recommended time: An evening a week or two before Christmas

The Perfect Pair: A pitcher of bourbon apple cider and a table full of snacks

For the past three years, I’ve thrown a Christmas party and invited quite a few of our friends. For us, hosting is a way where we can bring all the people we love together and spend quality time together. The holidays are a great time to do this, especially before everyone goes and spends time with family. Our friends are family and we love to celebrate our friendships with them this time of year. We also consider hosting to be the sweetest of Christmas gifts. As someone who loves to host, I definitely feel like I get better at the planning, cooking, and setting up every time I do something like this. That’s why we’re doing this today. We would like to give our tips and tricks and menu advice, so that it is easier for you to host a party of your own!

The first thing I do is send out the invites and start thinking of the menu. We like to use Paperless Post for the invite because online invitations are so easy and people are more likely to RSVP. You can totally use Evite or Facebook, or really anything you want. Paperless Post has just been my preference. As people RSVP, I’ll adjust the menu or even consider allergies and preferences for the food and drinks. I’m not saying go crazy, use discretion and maybe let what you know about people help guide what you were already going to provide anyways.

After I make the menu and do all the wonderful shopping, (does anyone love grocery shopping as much as us?!) I make a schedule for when the heck I am going to get it all done. As a Type A person in disguise, this is necessary. I figure out what prepwork I can do earlier in the week or even the day before. Anything to help lessen the the busyness of the day of. The day before, I lay out my table and serving dishes. That way the serving dishes that need it can be cleaned and I can make sure there is a place for everything. Once I have it like I like it, I add in little pieces of paper that say what will go in it. It helps keep me organized day of and not forget something in the fridge. It also makes it so easy if you have someone helping you put it all out.

I tend to go super overboard with food but, oh well! We can eat on the leftovers the next couple of days and I usually send the last people to leave home with a few things as well.

This year I made:

  • A cheese and charcuterie board- a must have for sure!
  • Bacon blue cheese puffs
  • Buffalo chicken sliders
  • A green chile cheese ball
  • A veggie tray and humus
  • Carmelized onion brie phyllo cups
  • Bruschetta
  • Spicy Chipotle Honey Meatballs
  • Dark chocolate cupcakes with peppermint cream cheese frosting
    Peanut butter blossom cookies
  • Dark chocolate cupcakes with peppermint cream cheese frosting
  • Peanut butter blossom cookies

As for drinks we usually have beer, wine, sangria, and a fun cocktail (this year we had two cocktails because we couldn’t decide). As for the beer selection, this year we went Shiner and Miller Light. Shiner because ‘Texas forever’ and it is always good to have a dark and a light beer. If we would have bought more, we would have gone with something Christmasy like St. Arnold’s Christmas Ale. We always make a holiday sangria because it is fun and festive and the fruit always looks so beautiful. As for the wine selection, I buy more red wine than white wine. We typically go with these varieties: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. There are obviously a million options on what to serve, but those are all of our friends’ favorites, so those are what work for us. If you’re buying multiple bottles of one type, it is totally not necessary to buy different bottles. Find what you like and stick with it. Cocktails. Yummy. We like to pre mix cocktails before the party in pretty pitchers, that way we know exactly how much liquor is going into it. Also we don’t make too much to start, because unlike beer and wine, you’re stuck with what you make and you can always make more. This year we made two bourbon drinks, a bourbon apple cider sour and a whiskey sour with cranberry. We also jazzed up our ice cubes because it makes it look a little nicer.

As far as activities, we always have a white elephant at the end of the night. Completely optional, but always a blast. We do a max of $10 for gifts and people are so creative. It gets a little intense when the stealing is in full force. Also, my perfectly paired pal surprised us with a snapchat filter for the party! It was so exciting to see!

Can’t wait to see all of the wonderful parties y’all host for your friends this holiday season or what tips or ideas you use to help you host a shower or housewarming. The opportunities for hosting are limitless. We’ll be hosting any chance we get and building community one cheese board at a time.

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

The “Fullest” Holiday of the Year

Location: Home Sweet Home!

Perfect Pair: Friends, Wine, and Sweet Potato Casserole

The best holiday of the year is finally here, and we refuse to skip over it like some people are starting to do. Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday for gathering around the table, having great conversation, and just spending time with friends and family! We love Thanksgiving because there isn’t the pressure of what gifts to buy or the perfect wrapping, but rather a time for good food and good wine. We also love the new trend of Friendsgiving. Another reason to celebrate this fun holiday, and this time with friends.

We have been doing Friendsgiving with our friends for the past three years and think we have it down to a science. Here’s how to throw the PERFECT Friendsgiving:

First, find a place to host. It can be just about anywhere – apartments, homes, backyards, or even the park. You don’t even have to have a table to sit around – sometimes sitting on the floor in a circle eating off paper plates can be even better than nice plates at a table. Last year we even pulled up 20 chairs around a ping pong table!

Don’t Forget the Wine!

Next, invite your friends and come up with a list of the things you want people to bring. We have found that the best way to organize this and avoid having 10 green bean casseroles is to have a Google Doc. We like to put a list of items including, turkey, sides, salad, rolls, desserts, etc. then let everyone sign up for what they would like to bring. We have also found that it is helpful to be specific with which sides we are bringing, but we are always sure to include the classics. Our friends are known to go all out for this kind of thing and we will get quite the variety of sides and family recipes. It is so fun to be able to try everyone’s favorite dish from growing up. It also is a great way to get to know about each person’s family traditions and the way they celebrated this special holiday. Of course, any gathering would not be complete without wine. This year everyone brought their favorite wine, a great way to try new things!

Last, ENJOY! This is such a fun day and should be a relaxed way to celebrate the holiday. Don’t worry about the perfect outfit, the fancy decorations, or any other little details. The important thing about this celebration is that you are with friends. The food will be great, the wine should be flowing, and the laughs will follow close behind.

A very happy plate!

We wish you the Happiest Thanksgiving filled with full stomachs, full plates, laughs, and great memories!

Let us know what your favorite things are about the holiday and any tips and tricks for hosting a Friendsgiving!

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals