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Celebrating the Holidays with Line 39 Wine

Celebrating the Holidays with Line 39 Wine

Tracking PixelThis is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Line 39 Wine, and our opinions expressed here are our own as always. Content for 21+/

When the holidays come around, I always get excited about entertaining at our house. There’s just something special about having friends over when the air gets chilly, sitting around a fire and enjoying each others’ company. This year we’re celebrating the holidays with Line 39 Wine, and that is bringing next level festivity to our neck of the woods.

Celebrating the Holidays with Line 39 Wine

From California wine country to our house with love, the wines from Line 39 Wine are easy to enjoy – distinctive yet totally approachable. Growing up in Northern California, I was surrounded by wines and grew up to like several varieties that matched my palate. Line 39 Wines are from this area, and are literally named for the region. The 39th Parallel runs through this part of the California wine country. The result is the perfect climate for making good wine. Perfect name for a winery too!

Line 39 Wine sent us a few bottles to try out, so of course we called a friends to come over and share a glass or two. Since we were in the holiday spirit, it was fun decorating the house for the season in advance of our friends arriving.

Decorating the House for Fall

I don’t know why gourds make me laugh so hard, but they always do. There is something inherently funny to me about their odd shapes, random striped patterns and gnarly warts. I just love them. In years past, I may have perhaps been accused of over buying gourds in my obsessive need to decorate with them. This year was no exception, and I went to three different markets to collect just the right menagerie of gourd misfits to place around the house. Throw in a couple ears of brightly colored Indian Corn and BOOM! We’ve got Fall up in here.

Before our friends rang the doorbell, we had the charcuterie platters ready, the Line 39 Chardonnay chilled and the Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon corked and breathing. And the gourds artfully arranged, of course.

Red or White?

As our guests get settled, the first question is always the same red or white? To this day, I still cannot predict what someone will answer when asked if they prefer red or white wine. Is it their mood? The kind of day they had? Or maybe it’s the siren call of their taste buds demanding a certain flavor profile? Honestly, we have a lot of friends that are sommeliers or close to it, and I still cannot predict what to pour for them. That’s why we always have both a bottle of red and white on hand.

Line 39 Wine sent us a couple of different options to try, and both are delicious.

Red

Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon – This smooth red packs plenty of flavor, with fruity/chocolate hints that don’t overpower. Our wine expert friends said they detected notes of blackberry, pepper and dark chocolate in this rich ruby red pour. It’s suggested that this wine pairs well with hearty dishes like short ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, and slow cooked pork shoulder. Although not an expert myself, I know what I like. And I like the Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon a LOT. We served it with our charcuterie board containing salume and other cured meats, sharp bleu cheese and fresh figs.

White

Line 39 Chardonnay – A solid Chardonnay, Line 39 has bottled a rich, medium-bodied wine that is both crisp and refreshing. Among our group of friends, we have several that favor Chardonnay almost exclusively and they loved this wine. Oaky and fruity, Line 39 Chardonnay lightly tickled our palates as we eased into the evening. Pair this wine with roasted chicken, poached fish and other lighter fare. At the end of our little party, there was no Chardonnay left. I guess that tells you the popularity of this wine – in our crowd anyway.

At our house, we served Line 39 Chardonnay with Camembert cheese, crackers made with raisins and nuts, and fresh slices of sweet and tangy persimmon I scored at the farmer’s market.

Easy To Find

Line 39 Wine can be found in most places wine is sold, and comes in at a good value for approximately $11 per bottle. The quality versus price ratio on these wines is darn good. A quick search via the Line 39 Wine website showed me at least a dozen locations where I can buy these wines. They are all within a very short driving distance from our house.

Entertaining for the Holidays

With Hanukkah and Christmas coming up, we have lots of reasons to celebrate with Line 39 Wine. We’ll be pouring Line 39 Chardonnay and Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon at our house. Maybe we’ll bring a bottle or two over to a friends’ party as a host gift too!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Line 39 Wine.


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Learning About the Different Cuts of Steak

Learning About the Different Cuts of Steak

*This post was sponsored by Omaha Steaks, and we are proud to be Brand Ambassadors for America’s Original Butcher.

Recently, we’ve been learning about the different cuts of steak. After spending time with the good people at Omaha Steaks at their headquarters in Omaha, we left there schooled on all the cuts of meat that qualify as different steaks in the carnivore’s repertoire. There are many nuances between one cut of steak from another. For example, why the filet mignon is so tender. Or why certain steaks are more expensive than others to butcher.

Omaha Steaks master butchers

Don’t let this friendly pose fool you. I’m holding some sharp-ass butcher knives, ready to carve this meat!

It’s eye-opening to realize how many options there are! Learning about the different cuts of steak is something best taught by a true butcher. So we went straight to the best.

America’s Original Butcher

Harkening back to the old days when people went to the butcher shop several times a week to pick up the finest meats, Omaha Steaks has introduced Custom Butcher Services. Thanks to this new service, you can connect with Omaha Steaks and order cuts of meat to your specifications and liking. Want filet mignon steaks that are 5 inches thick? No problem. Or perhaps you’d like a giant King Cut T-bone steak weighing in at 48 ounces (3 pounds of meat)? They’ve got you covered. Maybe you’re having a special party and want to serve steaks cut in the shape of the State of Texas? Absolutely can be done (and has, for a customized order recently!)

Omaha Steaks is known as America’s Original Butcher for a reason. They’ve been known for butchering the best steaks in US for more than 100 years.

Learning About the Different Cuts of Steak

Being onsite at the Omaha Steaks facilities was a huge eye-opener. The professionalism and pride each team member exhibits is so impressive and inspiring. Now I can understand why meats from Omaha Steaks are so widely respected! The quality of each cut is impeccable, and created with love. They took time to teach us about the different cuts of steak. Where the steak comes from on the cow creates big differences between them in taste and flavor. Fact is, I like them all:

Filet Mignon

Widely viewed as one of the finest cuts of steak available, filet mignon is the one you probably order in restaurants when you want to be fancy. So tender you can cut it with a fork, this cut is from a muscle area that isn’t used much.  The result is a soft and very lean cut of meat with a very mild flavor.

platters of different types of steak from Omaha Steaks

These platters display all the cuts of steak we sampled at our Steak Tasting Party.

Top Sirloin Steak

One of the top cuts and highly sought after, the Top Sirloin Steak comes from the loin area of the cow. It’s extremely lean like the filet, with a little more chew and meaty flavor. It’s usually butchered in a square-ish shape.

New York Strip Steak

Much beloved for its impressive look on the plate, the New York Strip Steak is half of a T-Bone steak. The cut on other half of the bone being the Filet). It might not be as tender as the filet, but it makes up for it in texture and flavor. The Strip also tends to be a less pricey cut than some others, but packs a lot for the money.

Ribeye Steak

The Ribeye Steak is my favorite for flavor and texture, and I guess a lot of others agree. This is one of the most popular cuts because of its marbling – the description used to describe the look of fat interspersed into the meat. This bit of fat melts in cooking, and flavors the beef like fine butter. So delicious!

Raw New York Strip Steak, Top Sirloin Steak, Filet of Prime Rib steak

The marbling in the Strip and Prime Rib steaks is very visible in comparison to the lean Top Sirloin steak.

T-Bone Steak

Mentioned earlier, a T-Bone Steak is  literally divided by a T-shaped bone. On one side on the bone is a New York Strip Steak, and the other is a Filet Mignon. This can be a large meal best suited for someone pretty darn hungry.

Flat Iron Steak

The Flat Iron Steak is best served in slices, since it can be more tough than the others but still full of flavor. The cut comes from the shoulder area, which is a pretty active muscle – thus the tougher chew. We like the sliced Flat Iron Steak in salads and stir fry dishes.

Flank Steak

A larger cut of meat, the Flank Steak can be hard to cook properly. We like it best when marinaded in lime and spices, and grilled quickly. This steak cooks fast, and should then be sliced against the grain for best enjoyment. For some reason, we love Flank Steak in the summer with corn on the cob and watermelon.

Don’t Try This at Home

While in Omaha, I even got to try my hand at butchering a steak myself! Let me tell you, it’s not as easy as those butchers make it look. An extremely sharp knife is necessary, along with the decision to cut in one fell swoop without hesitation. All that without chopping off your fingers in the process. Put that together with the pressure of cutting each piece of meat in identical and equal parts, and it becomes a highly skilled endeavor. The steak I cut was supposed to measure at 10 ounces, and mine weighed in at 15. Oops!

butchering meat with Omaha Steaks

My butchering lesson with the experts from Omaha Steaks was such a blast!

Serve It Up

After all that butchering, we were off for a field trip to the corn fields of Iowa to see the cows and their wholesome feed. To be honest, this city boy has never set foot in a real life corn field. IN IOWA NO LESS! I loved our visit to the Hough Farms.

Omaha Steaks steak and fries at farm dinner

The steak I butchered, served up with some delicious thrice-fried potatoes. Full circle from butcher’s cut to my plate!

The day ended perfectly with a barbecue on the lawns at the farmhouse. Omaha Steaks chefs had cooked up the steaks we had cut for ourselves earlier, and boy were they delicious. I’m not sure whether it was the quality of that cut of meat, or my expert butchering (ha!). For whatever reason, that was just about the best steak I have ever tasted.

Host a Steak Tasting Party!

Here’s a fun idea – host a steak tasting party for your friends and family. We just had a dinner party at our house with some friends, and I ordered five different cuts of steak from Omaha Steaks Custom Butchers Services. They worked with me over the phone, creating the perfect order by customizing the size and cut of each steak to fit my needs. Out friends had a blast tasting each kind of steak, and comparing the flavors, textures and favorites. Here are some details about our Steak Tasting Party, if you’d like to host your own.

people sampling steak at steak tasting party hosted by Omaha Steaks

Our friends dug right into tasting the various cuts of steak to determine their favorites.

Now I know what to order from the custom butchers services at Omaha Steaks. How about you?

 


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Halloween at Our House is a Thing

Halloween at Our House is a Thing

Halloween at our house is a Thing, and always has been. Since the kids were babies, we’ve hosted a big Halloween party at our house and it gets rowdier every year. As the kids have grown, the candy frenzy has died down but the tradition lives on. The tradition of Halloween celebrations morphs and changes, but All Hallows Eve is always a night to remember at the Bailey-Klugh household!

Dead Panda and Dead Alice in Wonderland costumes

Dead Panda Bear and Dead Alice in Wonderland costumes were our kids’ themes in 2011.

The Tradition of Halloween Celebrations Begins

At first it started as an opportunity for some of our friends to bring their babies over so we could take them trick or treating together, pushing strollers along the sidewalks amid the older kids who ran around like lunatics. Now our kids are the lunatics, hopped up on candy, sugar and teen drama. We parents now enjoy each other’s company, toasting with a glass of wine and chowing down on Jon’s White Chicken Chili recipe with cornbread.

LGBT family with Halloween costumes

We’ve had some pretty elaborate get-ups. Look how small the girls look in this photo from 2012!

The party has grown a bit – last year there were close to 50 adults and kids roaming around the house. Still, the love of Halloween and the lure of Butterfingers keeps them coming back each year. It’s our thing, and we love it.

Decorating the House

Skull Halloween table decor

Spooky skulls, bones and test tubes make our Halloween table extra fun.

Over the years. we’ve collected a fair amount of Halloween decorations to adorn the house. In fact, there are now 5 bins worth of paraphernalia that we scatter about the property – inside and out. The kids used to freak out over some of the stuff, especially the ghoulish face that emerges with a scream from its spooky coffin. Even now, it still brings a slight discomfort to their faces. Of course this makes us laugh, and then they get mad.

Halloween decor with skulls, Indian corn cobs and black crow

A little Dia de los Muertos inspired, these bowls are filled with mini Indian corn cobs, skulls and adorned with a spooky crow.

Halloween Costumes are a Specialty

Last year, Triton and I decided to dress like the Grateful Dead. Get it??? Dead?  Yeah, so that was fun.

Grateful Dead Halloween costumes

Halloween costumes are a tradition in our family, dating back to way before our kids were born.

Another year we had a Little Mermaid theme going with some close friends, and Triton was – wait for it – King Triton. I was Prince Eric, our friend Erica was Ursula the Sea Witch, and our friends Julie and Nick came as a cross-dressing Ariel and Sebastian. That was pretty epic, considering Nick is a giant ex-military special forces dude (he looked awesome in his Ariel tail and red wig!)

children in costume on Halloween

What a crew for Halloween 2010! But who is that kid in all black – he is creeping me out.

Last year, we had a Game of Thrones theme going. You’ll have to wait until that night to see what our costumes are this year, but I must say they are pretty epic. Maybe it helps that Triton works for a Halloween company called InCharacter Costumes, but we still put most of the pieces together ourselves, scavenged from the bins of years past with a few new extras.

The girls? They will probably dress as pretty teen girls this year, carrying a brown lunch sack and extorting candy from the neighbors – just as it should be. Other parents with their cute little babies in strollers can dodge around them now.

So, what are YOU going to be this year????

gay couple Hawaiian costumes

Oh remember those Halloween parties before we had kids, and we had abs and tans and all our hair? Yeah, well.


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20 Non-Alcoholic Summer Drink Recipes

20 Non-Alcoholic Summer Drink Recipes

It’s summertime, and there’s nothing better than a refreshing cool drink on a hot day. Whether you’re by the pool, lounging on your porch or patio, or staying inside enjoying the AC, these 20 non-alcoholic summer drink recipes are sure to quench your thirst all summer long!

20 Non-Alcoholic Summer Drink Recipes

1. Watermelon Agua Fresca Float

Nothing says summer like watermelon, and this recipe brings the flavor in dessert drink form.

Watermelon Agua Fresca Float recipe

2. Instant Pot Iced Tea

Your Instant Pot isn’t just for meaty meals and boiled eggs. Try iced tea three ways in your favorite appliance!

Instant Pot Iced Tea recipe

3. Blueberry Soda

Homemade blueberry syrup in a delicious summer fizzy drink. That’s a win in our family!

Homemade Blueberry Soda recipe

4. Sugar-free Lemonade

Delicious summer drinks can be loaded with sugar, so this Stevia lemonade is a perfect, calorie-free alternative.

Sugar-free Lemonade with Stevia recipe

5. Blue Hawaii Mocktail

Feel like your on the islands with this pineapple flavored juice drink. Our kids love this one too.

Blue Hawaii Mocktail recipe

6. Pineapple Kale Smoothie

We were hesitant about the popular green leaf smoothie addition, but this one is delicious AND nutritious (well, sort of).

Pineapple Kale Smoothie recipe

7. Virgin Banana Daiquiri

Three-ingredients make these blended drinks the perfect fruity summer refreshment.

Virgin Banana Daiquiri recipe

8. Raspberry Peach Italian Cream Soda

Club soda and delicious syrup flavors garnished with fresh fruit will be a favorite for kids and adults alike.

Raspberry Peach Italian Cream Soda recipe

9. Orange Star Fruit Juice

Straight from The Juicing Bible, this four-ingredient juice features oranges and star fruit for a sweet treat.

Orange Star Fruit Juice recipe

10. Homemade Energy Drinks

With only five minutes of prep time and Vitamin B100 Complex, this drink will start your day off right or give you a much needed pick-me-up into the night.

Homemade Energy Drink recipe

11. Coconut Mocha Frappuccino

This coconut-flavored coffee drink even has a dairy-free option. Watch out Starbucks!

Coconut Mocha Frappuccino recipe

12. Sparkling Sorbet Floats

This recipe calls for blueberries, but you can use any fruit to make this sparkling sorbet drink.

Sparkling Sorbet Float recipe

13. Tropical Slushie

Top this drink with a cherry, and you’ll be ready to channel paradise through this frozen, blended drink.

Tropical Slushie recipe

14. Strawberry Lemonade

Five minutes to fresh ingredient strawberry lemonade sounds like summer in a cup.

Strawberry Lemonade recipe

15. Mocktail Hawaiian Sangria

Do you love the taste of sangria but don’t want the alcohol? This fruity favorite is a party pleaser.

Mocktail Hawaiian Sangria recipe

16. Iced Latte

Coffee in the morning is a great pick-me-up, especially when it’s a dairy-free iced latte.

dairy-free iced latte recipe

17. Strawberry Iced Tea

Here’s another iced tea recipe that we just love! Put it in a cold glass mason jar and you are good to go.

Strawberry Iced Tea recipe

18. Lavender Lemonade

Cooking and making drinks with lavender is the latest trend, and we approve. We even grow the lavender in our backyard.

Lavender Lemonade recipe

19. Tiki Punch

Having a tropical themed party? This mocktail will complement everything on your menu.

Tiki Punch recipe

20. Hazelnut Affogato

An affogato is an Italian coffee dessert drink, and this one hits the mark. My Sicilian family would approve.

Hazelnut Affogato recipe

 

Choose from these non-alcoholic summer drink recipes for fruity, coffee, or sugary thirst quenchers that your family and friends can enjoy all summer long. Let us know your favorites, or share a new recipe with us and we’ll add it to the list!