From Tailgates to Touchdowns!

Location: At home or at your favorite football stadium!

Recommended Time: Game Time!

The Perfect Pair: Wings and Beer

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We have almost reached the halfway point of this college football season, which means there is still PLENTY of time to Tailgate! You may be thinking, “I live nowhere near my favorite college campus, so I can’t host a tailgate.” But really you don’t need to be on campus to have a good time watching the game with friends. We do live pretty close to our beloved Texas A&M, but for away games or after a long week we like to do the tailgating at home. This past weekend was filled with some good football games in Texas, and they were spread out through the whole day. This meant we were “tailgating” all day long, which was an absolute blast and gave the Pals the perfect opportunity to have lots of different snacks!

 

Since the first game we wanted to watch started at 11:00 am, we kicked things off with a classic breakfast casserole and mimosas. The breakfast casserole was a family favorite recipe that is super easy to make. All it takes is bread, eggs, sausage, and lots and lots of cheese. It is best if you put all the ingredients together the night before and then just pop it in the oven for 45 minutes right before you are ready to enjoy! Breakfast casserole is best paired with a classic mimosa, so of course the champagne and OJ was flowing!

 

IMG-0030At around halftime of the first game the boys were ready for round 2, so we put them to work! Off to the grill they went with a mountain of chicken wings. We stayed busy inside prepping guacamole, black bean and corn dip, and sour cream and onion dip. All three dips are super easy and always a crowd pleaser.

Guacamole: we cheated on this one and just bought our favorite guac from HEB 🙂

Black Bean and Corn Dip: This dip is a passed down recipe that I have never written down, so it is all a taste test as far as amounts go. The ingredients include: black beans, corn, feta cheese, green onions, bell peppers, red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, and garlic salt.

Sour Cream and Onion Dip: this may be the easiest one of the three. It is just sour cream and french onion soup mix. Stir together and enjoy. It’s so easy, you can find it on the back of the soup mix box.

 

From the grill the wings were marinated in either buffalo wing sauce or garlic parmesan sauce. Both were delicious and paired with carrots, celery, blue cheese dressing, and ranch dressing.

We snacked on the dips for the whole day, but the wings were gone in a flash. Around dinner time we of course needed something else to eat. The boys were responsible for the meat again, and this time they went with ribs. Another delicious and easy to eat option that is perfect for a tailgate. We cooked them in the oven, but if you were doing at tailgate at the stadium, you could easily cook them on a grill!

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We love any excuse to host and be with friends, so football season is one of our favorite times of year. This weekend, invite your friends over or pile in the car to see your favorite team play while enjoying some yummy snacks!

 

Let us know what your favorite tailgate treats are so we can add them to the rotation the rest of the season!

 

Peace and Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Seasonal Sips- Fall edition

Location: Home, preferably a patio

Recommended time of choice: evening

The Perfect Pair: Fall Sangria and Baked Brie

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Fall is such a wonderful time to host. Well, anytime is a great time to host. What we specifically love about fall are the colors, the smells, the spices, and the cozy that comes with it. (Here in Houston, we have to pretend it feels like fall outside, so we tend to go overboard with reminding ourselves that it is) For today’s post, we are going to share a couple recipes that are go-tos for any occasion. Of course we went with a sangria that is not so typical and it is a great combination of spice and sweetness. Secondly, we have a fantastic recipe for baked brie that is warm, delicious, and covered in caramelized onions. Swoon.

 

First up is the sangria.

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Fall Sangria

Ingredients:

One bottle red wine (We prefer Tempranillo or Cabs for this)

1 cups apple cider (not pictured- Oops!)

½ cup Brandy

¼ cup triple sec

2 Cinnamon sticks

1 apple (color of your choice)

1 pear (color of your choice)

1 orange or blood orange

Top with sparkling water or ginger ale

This is best if you let it chill for at least an hour before serving and preferably a lot longer. It is best if you make it right before you go to bed before serving the next day or even first thing in the morning the day you host. That way all the flavors have time to mix together and create the best experience.

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One of our most favorite things about fall are the spices, which is why the cinnamon sticks are my favorite part of this recipe. If I know a day or so in advance that I’ll be making this, I measure out the brandy and let the cinnamon sticks soak in it until I add both into the wine along with the triple sec, fruit, apple cider, and ginger ale.

First thing I add to the brandy and cinnamon sticks is the chopped fruit. Following that, just add the rest in and stir. That’s our kind of recipe!! Just make sure to stir well and pour over a little bit of Ice. Top with your prefered sparkling water or ginger ale and serve!

 

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Now for the Brie.

 

We’re going to top this bad boy with caramelized onions, which take lots of time and love. You can’t just snap your fingers for caramelized onions. Wow.. wouldn’t that be great. If you know you are having people over in a couple of days or less, go ahead and do the prep work early, that way you don’t have to rush the process. Make sure when caramelizing your onions, you don’t let them dry out and keep the temp low and slow. You don’t want them to burn, so stir them often. Butttttt don’t stir them so much that they don’t brown. Depending on how much you make, these could take about 30 minutes to an hour. We won’t put a specific time on it because it really depends on your preference. Really, it depends on your patience level as well… I would have kept mine going longer last time I made this, but I couldn’t wait any longer! As a final touch and a personal preference, throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar. You’ll be amazed at the depth of flavor this adds– yummm!

 

Preheat the oven to 350℉

 

Place your Brie in an oven-safe serving platter. You won’t want to try and move it after you bake it, it will get a little messy. A mini cast iron skillet makes for a cutie little aesthetic and it helps the Brie stay warm as you are serving it, so that’s our pick.

 

Cover the top with a couple of tablespoons of jam. Our pick for today is Fig jam, because we love it oh so much and all the flavors go very well together. There are so many other tasty options that we considered, one being blackberry jam. On top of the jam add the carmelized onions. I add the amount that I make with one large yellow onion, but I love this stuff. Add as much or as little as you like.

The next and last step is baking it! Throw it in the oven for about 15 minutes and serve warm.   

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These are such simple recipes that will please any guest. That’s the key. Find things that are simple and that you love to make. They will inspire you to have friends over to host and serve. You know our philosophy, the best conversations are had when good friends are gathered around a table of good food. It’s even better when it’s wine and cheese.

 

Peace and Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Not Just Another Trip to the Store

Location: Whole FoodsIMG-0189

Recommended Meal: Hosting with Friends

Perfect Pair: Seaside English Cheddar and Malbec

There is finally a light at the end of this long hot summer and the best season is upon us…FALL! The pumpkins are out, the weather is cooling down, and fall clothes are hitting all the stores. Whether it is for a football watch party, the Grey’s Anatomy or This Is Us premiere, or just a Saturday night, fall is the perfect time of year for hosting. We love spending nights at home with friends gathered around the table. There is just something so comfortable about being at home on the couch without the chaos of a crowded restaurant. This week we are taking you on a trip to another grocery store: Whole Foods. Some of you may be thinking… Don’t you mean whole paycheck? While we have heard that before, the purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon has made a huge difference in their prices and their deals!

IMG-0194This week our shopping list included: crackers, cheese, meats, fruit, nuts, and of course, wine! First stop: The Cracker Aisle. Wow they had a lot to choose from, but we chose a classic Garlic Water Cracker and a new staple, Tuscan Peasant Crackers. To be honest we didn’t really know what we were getting into, but let the labels do the talking. We had just finished dreaming about our next adventure abroad to Tuscany, so we were drawn towards any mention of Italy. We were definitely satisfied with our choices and would highly recommend them both.

 

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Next Up: The Cheese Department. Whole Foods has a huge selection of cheeses from all over. You may think it is overwhelming with all the options and unfamiliar names, but we find it helpful to stick with cheeses that sound like something you’ve had before. We know that we like cheddar, goat, gouda, manchego, and gruyere, so while we may try new things we know a variation of those are safe bets. This time we picked Seaside English Cheddar, Drunken Goat, Spring Fever Gouda, and a Mimolette Isigny. The last one was for sure venturing into new territory but it did not disappoint. A great thing about Whole Foods is they have a bin in the cheese section that is smaller portions of cheese all for under $5. This is great for trying new things and not breaking the bank for the off chance you don’t enjoy it. We had a blast going through this bucket and picking out new things with no clue what we were getting into.

 

IMG-0184Last Stop: The Wine Section. We could spend hours wandering through wine aisles looking at all the different labels and wines from around the world. That’s the cool thing about wine…it comes from all kinds of different places and ends up in your neighborhood grocery store. It’s like you get to experience a piece of the world from your own living room. We are certainly not experts or sommeliers, but we are starting to recognize parts of the world that do our favorite wines well. This is making our dream travel list quite long. To pair with our cheeses, we picked a Malbec and a Cab. You can’t typically go wrong with either of these and they are easy to find in all price ranges. We picked the Crios Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina and really enjoyed it! The Cab was Chasing Lions and was equally as tasty. Wine shopping can be overwhelming, but at Whole Foods they have members of their staff pick their favorites and those are labeled which makes the decisions a little easier. We were able to stay under $15 for both bottles of wine which is typically our rule of thumb when hosting friends, but if you’re looking to splurge there are lots of good options to meet every budget!

 

Our cheese board was complete with mixed berries and some marcona almonds, the perfect supplements to cheese and crackers! Marcona almonds are pretty costly, but the perfect accompaniment and you really don’t need that many on your board. All of our recommendations (including the 2 bottles of wine) came in at $73 which is a little on the pricier side for us, but we had 5 people enjoying the goodies and there was enough leftover to make another complete board.

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We hope you enjoyed this grocery store trip and it makes your next shopping outing a little easier! Have some friends over this weekend and give your own pairs a shot, who knows you may find a new favorite!

 

Peace & Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Cocktail Competition

Location: A house with a big table

Recommended timing: At least once a quarter to keep the hype real

The perfect pair: Friends and winning cocktails all around

 

When it comes to our group of friends, we are extremely competitive and we love game night. We also love getting together and drinking cocktails, hence our weekly happy hours. One day we had this crazy idea that we would turn making cocktails into a competition and it stuck. This silly idea has been so much fun for us and such a learning experience. Through this post, we will walk you through our concept and rules so that you can host one of your own with your friends.

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The concept goes a little something like this:

  1. Everyone makes a cocktail and provides each person present with a half of a cocktail for them to try. Each person gets 3 votes at the end and the winner is the cocktail/person with the most votes.
  2. Winner of the competition has 3 months to host the next competition and they much provide the location, cups, and usually snacks too 🙂
  3. Winner notifies everyone of the new theme that they must follow. Themes for the competition can be almost anything. They can be the type of Liquor we use, a required mixer, a time of day it is consumed, or even a theme for a type of cocktail category. The ideas are really endless on that.
  4. We all use Uber or Lyft to and from these competitions and we completely recommend you do the same.

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Our process goes a little something like this:

IMG-1962 (1)1. We split everyone into rounds. We usually have 3 people per round and we go as many rounds as it takes. We prefer a max of about 11 people, or else it just gets to be too much. The rounds are to make sure we’re not all in the kitchen at once and it draws out the game so that it lasts a full evening and we’re slowing down the drinking. This makes it much more feasible. (We also usually just finish our favorites 🙂 )

2. After the round of drinks is made, the creator explains to the group what the name of their drink is and a little description. We go through all three people and try their drinks. We don’t down the drink on the spot; we will sip on them throughout the night to help decide where our votes lie.

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3. After the descriptions we take a break and talk together at the table and have some snacks. We have really gotten into doing conversation cards. We will ask the question and all go around answering. What a great way for us to get to know each other better and learn things we would have never thought to ask

4. Following all of the rounds, we vote. We get a little too intense on this part, but that’s what keeps it so fun. We give 3 votes, a first, second, and third. Your first place vote gets 5 points, second place vote gets 3 points, and the third place vote gets 1 point. Votes are tallied up and the winner is crowned!

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5. The winner is awarded the trophy that they get to sign and keep until the next competition. LOL our trophy is a spray painted massive plastic martini glass and it is great. The winner then has 3 months to plan the next competition. They also don’t have to make a drink at the next one, but still get to participate.

 

 

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This has been a blast for us so far! The first theme we had to kick everything off was a free for all, whatever cocktail you wanted to make. The themes since then have gone like this: Breakfast cocktails, rum, champagne, and then gin. Who knows what our next one will be??? We love trying new cocktails and drinks, but if you’re out, it can get expensive and there is a lot of pressure to order something you already know your going to like. This has been the neatest experience getting to try new drinks and figuring out what you like.

 

We can’t wait to hear your thoughts on our cocktail competition. Let us know if you’re planning on hosting one of your own! We can’t wait to hear your thoughts and comments on this and would love to answer any questions if you have them!

 

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

HEB Selections

Location: Home Sweet Home

The Perfect Pair: Rosemary Crackers with Gruyere and Prosciutto

From: HEB

 
f45a5ccc-e333-4ba3-bc47-04a540a0fe8b.jpgWhat kind of grocery shopper are you?

Do you go in with a list outlining exactly what you need or do you keep an open mind while you shop? Do you try to get in and out as quickly as possible or do you like to wander and feel inspired? No matter what kind of shopper you are, the pals can relate! We’ve felt all of those feelings, but one thing is for sure: shopping for wine and cheese never gets old! While we find spending a ton of time in the cheese section at the store SUPER exciting, some people may find this overwhelming and not even know where to start. We totally understand, which is why we’re here today to help a sista (or brotha) out! We’ve already covered grocery shopping for wine and cheese at Trader Joe’s, but now here we are to cover a native Texas favorite – HEB. Here we go!

 
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To the right, we have: Gruyere, Creamy Cheddar with a Nut Coating, a Spicy Buffalo Cheddar Wedge, Brie with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, and Goat Cheese soaked in Red Wine. YUM!

Do you have a hard time knowing what cheese to buy? We’re not cheesemongers, but we do LOVE cheese. Some cheeses have holes and other cheeses are blue. Some cheeses are creamy and other cheeses are hard. There’s medium and sharp and spicy and ahh! So many options, so where do you start? You have to start with the basics: speak the cheese language. Swiss, Cheddar, Gruyere, Brie, Goat Cheese. You can never go wrong with these everyday favorites. Those cheeses cover all the bases: white, orange, holey, creamy, rich. You name it! Your cheese board will look pretty, and more importantly- taste yummy with these classics.

 

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Pick your Pairings

To pair charcuterie, we included Prosciutto and Salami as the Perfect Pair. Picking out your meats in HEB is less overwhelming than cheese, but it can still be difficult to know what cheese goes with which charcuterie. We always just pick our favorites, and everything seems to blend together nicely! Prosciutto is very salty, so it’s a nice balance with wine and cheese. It’s always one of the first things to go on our cheese board!

A very important detail when it comes to pairing is the crackers! The cracker is a staple item when building your cheese board. It is literally what you put your cheese on, dip in your cheese, or munch on just to wash everything down! To the left, we have: Water Crackers, Rosemary Crackers, and Jalepeno Mini Bruschetta Bites. The clear favorite: Rosemary Crackers! They pair well with every cheese. You certainly cannot go wrong with these. The Jalepeno Bites add a nice crunch and spice as well. These three crackers were the perfect dynamic to the board that paired with it!

 

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Wash It All Down!

You don’t want to forget the perfect drink to wash down your yummy cheese and charcuterie board. This is also another area to be creative and specifically pair your drink with the cheese you buy at the store! Instead of just drinking wine, we decided to make a Summer Rosé Peach Sangria with fresh fruit. It was chilled and paired very nicely with our selection. And we love a beautiful drink!

Grocery store hauls are some of our favorite blogs to write because you get to pick out exactly what you want to make that picture perfect cheese board at home. It’s all personalized and customized just to your liking. How fun is that! This may be surprising, but HEB has a great selection of imported and unique cheeses. They are fairly priced, as everything is at HEB, and you will not be disappointed by what they have to offer. We encourage you to go and let your tummy be creative! Be sure to share with us the board you create… We may just have to come over and try some!

 

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals