Category: Entertaining (page 2 of 3)

Cheesy Lemon Herb Deviled Eggs

I was a teenager when my mom stumbled across a deviled eggs recipe that skipped the mayo in exchange for cheese and sour cream.  My family loved it.  And we never used mayo again.  Even now that I’m…older, I still rely on the cheese substitution.  However, after having lived in Los Angeles for going on 7 years now, I’ve also come to substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream.  Still, I never make deviled eggs exactly the same way twice, but cheese and Greek yogurt are the two constants.  Parsley too, if I’m being honest.

For Easter this year, this is how I made my cheesy lemon herb deviled eggs…


1 dozen eggs

2 heaping tablespoons of Greek yogurt

4 ounces of sharp white cheddar, grated

1 tablespoon olive oil

zest of 1 small lemon

1 handful of parsley, dill, chives, basil; finely chopped

splash of milk

salt & pepper to taste


Boil the eggs in water for at least 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set in fridge to cool.  Once cool, peel the shells away and cut each egg in half, lengthwise, removing the yolks and collecting them in a large bowl.  Set aside the halved egg whites.  In the bowl with the yolks, add all of the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Place the mixture in a plastic bag, concentrating the mass to one of the bottom corners.  Arrange the egg whites on a serving dish.  Snip the corner of the bag with scissors and squeeze the filling through through the hole and into the egg white halves.  The first couple of eggs may turn out ugly until you get used to squeezing out the mixture.  Go ahead and eat any ugly eggs.  You’ve earned it.  Finish with fresh herbs or cracked pepper and serve cold or at room temperature.

For additional menu ideas, check out my early Easter brunch.




The Best Stouts on Instagram

Before your order a Guinness this St. Patrick’s Day, consider an alternative stout. Don’t get me wrong; Guinness is a classic choice, but if you’re looking for a beer with a bit more bite, more spice, more…character, give one of these a try…

Bootlegger’s Black Phoenix Chipotle Coffee Stout.  The name says it all: spicy chipotle and rich coffee flavors elevate this dark beer without being too overwhelming.

Give Guinness a Rest & Try These Stouts Instead

via Firestone Walker on Instagram

File this one under “Damn Near Perfect”.  That’s the only way I know how to describe this smooth, oatmeal stout.

Jackie Tar & Other Stouts to Try Today

via MacLeod Ale on Instagram

Served on cask, which means it’s a little warmer and slightly less carbonated, this brown ale is smooth and easy to drink with an interesting, nuanced finish.

The Best Stouts on Instagram

via North Coast Brewing on Instagram

With a motley of dark and intense flavors, this stout will put hair on your chest, which is why–as I woman–I only enjoy it in very small quantities.

Gwen's Favorite Stouts

via Motley_Decor…are you following yet?

And last but  not least, a beer from my home state of New Mexico, Santa Fe Brewing‘s Java Stout.  This one will help you stay awake into the wee hours.

Wishing you a happy & safe St. Patrick’s Day filled with yummy stouts!  Cheers!

3.14 Pie Recipes for Pie Day

Happy Pie Day!  I’m not much of a baker, but pie is perhaps my favorite dessert.  Here are 3 of my favorite pies with links to their recipes.

1. Pinwheel Cherry Pie

Pinwheel Cherry Pie | Pie Day | Via Motley Decor

Leave it to Martha Stewart to put a pretty twist (or spiral, rather) on the cherry pie.  Still sweet and tangy, the flavor we all know and love remains true to its roots in the pinwheel cherry pie.

2. Almond Pear Pie

Almond Pear Pie | Pie Day 2016 | Motley Decor

Both almonds and pears impart their delicate yet decadent flavors to this round masterpiece of a pie.  It’s pretty too.  Isn’t it?  Find the recipe at My Recipes.

3. Mixed Berry Pie

Mixed Berry Pie | Pie Day 2016

Can’t commit to a single berry?  I’m with you!  Luckily, the mixed berry pie doesn’t make you choose.  Thanks to Taste of Home for the recipe!

0.14 Add Brie

If you were wondering how I was going to give you 0.14 of a recipe and really commit to the Pie Day theme, it’s the same answer to how I do most things–with cheese!  Do yourself a favor a melt a little brie over your next slice of pie (particularly if it’s a berry pie).  You won’t be sorry.

Piece out!

3 Easy, No Bake Desserts for Valentine’s Day

Desserts are practically mandatory on Valentine’s Day.  Sweets have become synonymous with this pink and red, heart-studded holiday.  This a challenge for folks like me who like to entertain, but are intimidated by baking.  Fear not!  This Valentine’s Day, I’ve conjured up 3 extremely easy desserts that don’t require careful measurements or an oven.

Easy, No Bake Dessert #1: The Chocolate Board

You’ve heard of a cheese board.  Why not apply that same concept to dessert?  Build your own fruity, nutty, and chocolaty crostini with a chocolate board.

Chocolate board & other easy no bake desserts for Valentine's Day on Motley Decor

For this one, I used tea biscuits and brioche toasts as a base.  The three ceramics contain caramel, cookie butter, and Nutella.  Sliced strawberries and pomegranate seeds provide a dose of acid, while almond and pistachio pieces contribute a nice textural contrast.  A sprinkling of sea salt brings all of the flavors to the forefront.

Introducing the Chocolate Board + 2 More Easy, No Bake Desserts for Valentine's Day on Motley Decor

Still, dozens of variations come to mind.  Cookies would make excellent vessels.  Nut butters, honey, and melted chocolate are easily spread over them.  Raspberries always pair well with chocolate–as do hazelnuts.  And how about sprinkling some orange zest over it all?  What about adding jam or yogurt chips?

3 Easy, No Bake Desserts for Valentine's Day | Chocolate Board | Motley Decor

This easy dessert requires zero cooking and allows for variety and customization.

Easy, No Bake Dessert #2: Ice Cream with Fresh Fruit

Here’s another super low maintenance option: delicious ice cream with fresh fruit.  Just scoop, chop, and sprinkle.

3 Easy, No Bake Desserts for Valentine's Day on Motley Decor

In this example, blueberry ice cream combines with strawberries (conveniently sliced to look like hearts) and pomegranate.  But, again, you can substitute nearly any flavor of ice cream (or sorbet or gelato) and swap in nearly any fruit or berry.

Blueberry ice cream with strawberries & pomegranate | 3 Easy, No Bake Desserts for Valentine's Day | Motley Decor

Pump up your presentation by serving the ice cream in vintage teacups with demitasse spoons.  Don’t have napkin rings?  Bracelets will do the trick.

3 Easy No Bake Desserts | Valentine's Day Dessert Ideas | Motley Decor

Easy, No Bake Dessert #3: The Perfect (Poached) Pear

Wine Poached Pears with Marscapone, Caramel, Pistachio & Sea Salt | 3 Easy, No Bake Desserts on Motley Decor

For dessert #3, I poached pears in wine and served them alongside marscapone cheese, drizzled the entire plate with caramel sauce, and then finished with crushed pistachios and sea salt.  The pears are like flavor sponges, absorbing the essence of the wine and manifesting it in a soft, slightly gritty body.  The marscapone cheese delivers richness and creaminess.  Caramel ushers in the sweet (since I used a dryer poaching liquid), intensified by sea salt.  And the pistachios give you something to crunch on.

Wine Poached Pears with Marscapone, Caramel, Sea Salt & Pistachios | 3 Easy Desserts for Valentine's Day | Motley Decor

Unlike the first 2 suggestions, this dessert actually requires cooking…kind of.  Let me put it to you this way: if you can boil water, you can make this dessert.  Here’s the recipe for this particular incarnation with ideas on variations following…


2 pears, skinned, with the bottoms cut off (so they stand upright)

Poaching liquid: 1 bottle red dessert wine, 1 bottle dry sparkling white wine

2 tablespoons marscapone cheese

Caramel sauce to taste

1 handful of pistachios, crushed

Sea salt to taste


In a pot slightly taller than your pears, bring your poaching liquid to a boil.  Add the pears (they should be mostly submerged), cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  How long you poach the pears with depend on how ripe they are.  Since my pears were pretty firm, they simmered for about 45 minutes.  However, you should check them at around 30 minutes to be on the safe side.  When done, they’ll be soft enough to cut with the edge of a fork.

Remove the pears from the liquid carefully and place on a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess liquid.  At this point, I prefer to let them cool so that their heat doesn’t instantly melt the marscapone.

On a plate, drizzle caramel, then stand the pears side by side in the center.  Add two scoops of marscapone to opposite sides of of the pears and drizzle more caramel.  Add a dusting of sea salt and a handful of crushed pistachios.


Recipe: Wine Poached Pears with Marscapone, Salted Caramel & Pistachios on Motley Decor

Wine-based poaching liquids are a popular choice, but not your only option.  Truth be told, I only used a 50-50 mix of dessert and sparkling wine, because I happened to have it on hand.  In the past, I’ve used Moscato made sweeter with simple syrup and even spiced cider.

This was also the first time I used marscapone, caramel, and nuts.  Previously, I’ve leaned on vanilla ice cream and a little cinnamon.  Next time, I’ll try ricotta, blueberries, and walnuts.

In cooking–as in Jazz–improvisation elevates the art form.  So, make it your own!


6 Last-Minute Champagne Cocktails to Ring in the New Year

Champagne cocktails are always a treat, but on a holiday synonymous with sparkling wine, they are an essential!  If you’re a procrastinator like me, here’s a list of 6 last-minute champagne cocktails to serve this New Year’s Eve.

1.  A Twist on a Mimosa

A mimosa is probably the first thing that springs to mind when you hear “champagne cocktails”.  However, they are so closely associated with brunch that it seems like a faux pas to drink them past 1PM.  Luckily, there are more riffs on the mimosa than…well, I don’t know what.  In any case, there’s a lot of them.  I came across this tempting number while trolling pinterest.

Mimosa + 5 More Champagne Cocktails

found on RueMag

If apricots aren’t your thing, try pear nectar, pomegranate juice, or nearly any other fruit bi-product.  Can’t find the thyme?  (Get it?)  Why not substitute rosemary or mint?  The possibilities abound!

2.  Champagne Sorbet Float

6 Champagne Cocktails

Similar to the mimosa is the increasingly popular champagne sorbet float.  Again, just about any fruit flavor will do the trick, but I was particularly intrigued by mango lime combo from willcookforsmiles.  It even seems to lends itself to a punch application, which makes for effortless entertaining.

3.  Sparkling Sangria

Whether you prefer red or white, bubbles always seem to elevate the sangria experience–and this is something I’ve researched extensively!  This recipe incorporates rose petals for extra-fragrant and luxurious imbibing.  Go wild with your fruit, berry, and citrus combinations.

4.  Putting on the Spritz

I was lucky enough to visit the enchanting city of Venice in 2014, where I fell in love with the Aperol sprtiz.  Since then, I have spent many a night in my home sipping the fizzy, slightly bitter concoction–eyes closed–retracing the cobblestone streets and waterways in my mind.  It’s pure magic.  Here’s a straight-forward recipe with fresh orange and thyme.

Tip: If you want to get a little more bang for your buck, buy a bottle of Campari for about $10 more.  It’s twice as potent in flavor and alcohol content, so  you can use 1/2 as much in each drink.

5.  Ginger Royale

If you’ve read any of my Moscow Mule-inspired cocktails, you know I’m a fiend for a ginger cocktail.  So, when I saw the Ginger Royale on instagram the other day, I had to click through to get the scoop.  In a nutshell, it combines spicy ginger with citrus, bitters, pomegranate, and creme de cassis.  Oh yeah, and champagne.  I was instantly sold on this one!

6.  The Golden Boy

The Bazaar by Jose Andres is one of my favorite restaurants and they used to serve this sublime cocktail called “The Golden Boy”.  Why golden?  Because they actually add a pinch of gold dust into the drink, letting the champagne bubbles bounce around the glittering specs in your glass.  Not only was it delicious, but it looked like you were drinking nectar from Mount Olympus.  Luckily, LA Times snagged and published the recipe.  Here it is…

Golden Boy | the Best Champagne Cocktails

May you have a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve.  If you happen to have any champagne cocktails from list or something new, tell us about in the comments.  See you in 2016!

Milk and Cookies Aren’t Just for Santa

Traditionally, milk and cookies are left out for Santa on Christmas Eve.  However, that doesn’t mean that you and your guests can’t also indulge.  Substitute spiced rum milk punch for regular milk and serve equally spicy cookies for a holiday-appropriate dessert and cocktail combo.

Having grown up in New Mexico, I have a special bias towards the state’s official cookie of Christmas: the biscochito.  It’s akin to an anise-flavored sugar cookie.  The spice in the cookie pairs well with the spiced rum, cinnamon, and nutmeg of the punch (recipe below).  However, it’s not your only option for milk and cookies.

Norwegian pepper cookies–laced with generous doses of cardamom and (you guessed it) pepper–are another great choice.  I was introduced to these last year by Brookie’s Bites.

I’ve linked to recipes for both cookies rather than providing my own, because baking is not something I excel at.  I do, however, make a mean rum punch.  Here’s how I like to make it…


1/2 gallon milk

1 cup spiced rum

7 teaspoons of sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Cinnamon and nutmeg

A crock pot

1 day lead time (for best results)

Add the milk, rum, sugar, vanilla, and a dusting of the spices in the crock pot and stir thoroughly.  Set to medium heat to avoid boiling the mixture and burning off all of the alcohol.  Instead, the punch should be just steaming.  Once steaming, let it continue for about 20 minutes.

At this point you have 3 choices.  First, you can serve the rum milk punch right then–hot and in mugs.  However, if you have the patience, let the brew return to room temperature, transfer it into a sealed container, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.  (Most liquid things taste better after spending the night in the fridge.)  On the following day, you can either enjoy it cold or heat it up again.  The third option is to freeze it.  When serving the next day, use a fork or something sharp to break up the snowy concoction and serve it like a slushy.

A few notes…  However you decide to serve the spiced rum milk punch–hot, cold, or slushy style–make sure you garnish with a little extra cinnamon and nutmeg.  Also, experiment with the amount of rum, sugar, and spices to tailor the recipe to your preferences.  I tend to enjoy just a little sugar and a lot of spice.  Finally, when you heat milk, a thin film forms on the top, but it is easily removed (because it can be a little unsightly).

Hope you enjoy this spicy, adult version milk and cookies!


4 Easy Thanksgiving Centerpieces You Still Have Time to Make

With all of the madness that comes in the days preceding Thanksgiving, there are often little details that are overlooked.  If your tablescape falls into that category, here are 4 easy Thanksgiving centerpieces you can pull off in the 11th hour and still dazzle your guests…

Sugared fruit thanksgiving centerpieces

Sugared fruit sparkles in candlelight and makes for a festive focal point.  Photo from DiscoverYourJoieDeVivre blog.

Edible cheese centerpiece

If any holiday deserves an edible centerpiece, it’s Thanksgiving!  Steal this clever idea from Southern Living and stack cheeses in a cake formation, adorn them with flowers and herbs, and encourage your guests to nibble in between courses.

scattered candlesticks centerpiece

Modwedding cleverly grouped miscellaneous candlesticks together to light and gussy up this table.  If you have a collection of candlesticks, you might try this easy idea…

Pheasant feather Autumn centerpiece

And finally, why not use season-appropriate pheasant feathers in place of flowers?  Nathan Turner did just that in this lovely Domino feature.

Planning a Thanksgiving Menu

Even though it’s my second favorite holiday (behind Halloween), I gotta be honest: Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. I didn’t finalize my Thanksgiving menu until Saturday–just in the nick of time to hit the farmers markets on Sunday morning with my shopping list in hand. However, just because I’m a little behind this year, doesn’t mean I’m any less excited or that less care went into my menu.

There was never any doubt that a Peking duck would be at the center of our Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition that the hubs and I started a few years. Neither of us are huge turkey fans and our one attempt at cooking a turkey was uninspiring. Not that I haven’t had good turkey, but even the best turkey in the world doesn’t hold a candle to many other proteins. (Let’s be honest.) And when it comes to the winged beasts, it doesn’t get any better than a delectable, Chinese-style roast duck–at least for my money.

Taking my cue from the East, I usually try to add an Asian twist to traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. For instance, last year, I made curried sweet potatoes, added scallions and water chestnuts to my stuffing, grilled bok choy, and used a miso dressing on my kale salad. Still, I wanted to challenge myself to come up with some new plates for this year. Here’s what I got…

Peking duck
A 50-50 mix of the plum sauce that usually accompanies duck the and–of course–cranberry sauce
Wild rice pilaf with shitake mushrooms
Mashed potato medley with miso gravy
Caramelized butternut squash with Panko bread crumbs
And grilled broccoli in a spicy mustard glaze

I will also mull some red wine, using cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, and orange slices. It’s like hot sangria and the spicy profile suits the menu and the season. In addition, we’ve amassed a small arsenal of pumpkin ales and various other autumn-inspired craft beers to enjoy Thanksgiving day.

Inevitably, someone always wants to make or bring something at the last minute. So, I leave room in my menu for that. You may have noticed that there’s no salad, appetizers, or dessert. (However, my contingency plan is to whip up a last minute cheese plate & veggie platter if needed.) And if previous years are any indication, my husband will beg his our sister to make her famous chocolate souffle. This doesn’t fit with a Thanksgiving or an Asian theme, but more importantly, it’s about appreciating family–and their culinary talents!  It always warms my heart to see the exchange between the two of them.

With that all squared away, I’ve busied myself with styling little Thanksgiving vignettes around the house. Here are some pictures.

Thanksgiving menu ingredients

With my refrigerator overflowing with Thanksgiving menu ingredients, I had to store some fruits and vegetables on a platter on my counter.  I also stuck my parsley in a glass vase.

Orange tulips with clove-studded clementines

Clove-studded clementine oranges not only look festive, but also smell incredible.  I paired them with some orange tulips on my dining room table.

Cornucopia vase and floral arrangement with little white pumpkins

Cornucopias are holiday-appropriate, but this brass beauty sits in my hallway year-round.  For this year’s Thanksgiving, I stuffed it with with white hydrangea and scattered some mini white pumpkins.

What will you serve this Thanksgiving?

Another Twist on a Moscow Mule

Another twist on a Moscow Mule

As promised in a previous post, I’m following up with a Mexican twist on the classic Moscow Mule cocktail.  I’m calling it the Mazatlán Mule.  As you may have guessed, this version calls for tequila in place of vodka, but that’s not the only substitution…


Gold tequila


Ginger beer


Fresh cilantro (instead of mint)



In a mortar and pestle, grind a pinch of cumin seeds to unleash their essence.  (If you really love cumin, you can toast the seeds first.  However, be forewarned: this greatly intensifies their smell…and it lingers.)  Fill a copper mug halfway with ice,  then add 2 shots of tequila and 1 shot of Cointreau.  Throw in a handful of cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and sprinkle with cumin.  Fill the rest of the way with ginger beer, stir and serve.

Lime, cilantro, and cumin act a zesty, spicy trinity.  Cilantro and cumin actually come from the same plant, so it’s little wonder that they work well together.  The lime brings out the subtlety of the cilantro and kicks the cumin into high gear.  The spiciness of the trio is well matched to the equally spicy ginger beer.  Tequila adds a kick and the Cointreau takes the edge off with its citrusy properties.  In other words, it’s delicious.  But don’t take my word for it.  Make Mazatlán Mules the next time you entertain.  Cheers!

Halloween Party Playlist

Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday and, corny as it is, I usually spend the morning listening to “The Monster Mash” on repeat.  However, even I can only listen to it so many times before going crazy.  To that end, I keep a list year-round of Halloween-appropriate songs.  Here’s my 2016 Halloween Party Playlist, from the most obvious to the (perhaps) most unexpected…

The Monster Mash by Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers

Thriller by Michael Jackson

Original Ghost Busters Theme Song by Ray Parker, Jr.

Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones

Enter Sandman by Metallica

Dragula by Rob Zombie

Dark Lady by Cher (not me, the other one)

Ava Adore by Smashing Pumpkins

Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon

Howl and Shake It Out both by Florence + the Machine

Hotel California by The Eagles

Back in Black by AC/DC

Disturbia by Rihanna

Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran

Back to Black by Amy Winehouse

Demons by Imagine Dragons

Le Freak (Freak Out) by Chic

Like a Stone by Audioslave

You Can Do Magic by America

Jump in the Line and Banana Boat Song (Day O) both by Harry Belafonte (from the Beetlejuice soundtrack)

What songs will you play at your Halloween party?

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