Farewell Cocktail Hour: Blackberry & Thyme Sparkler

A Feteful Life: Blackberry Thyme Sparkler

If you’ve been a regular reader of A Feteful Life, I’m sure you’ve noticed that we love a good cocktail. So, we couldn’t think of a better final send-off than a killer champagne cocktail to toast all of the possibilities the future holds. Champagne (or any sparkling wine for that matter) is a must for any celebration whether it be for a new beginning or for the close of a chapter in your life. We’ll definitely miss A Feteful Life but we’re sure you’ll be hearing more from us in the future. In the meantime, Fete on!

Blackberry & Thyme Sparkler (from A Feteful Life)

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup blackberries (extras for garnish – 2 per glass)
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (extra for garnish – 1 sprig per glass)
Chilled sparkling wine

Directions

Place the sugar, water, blackberries, and thyme into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes to let the berries and thyme release their flavor. Strain the mixture into a glass bowl and let cool completely.

Pour 1/2 ounce of the blackberry mixture into the bottom of a champagne flute. Then top off with sparkling wine. Garnish with the remaining blackberries and thyme.

Farewell Fete Favorites

Yes, you read that correctly. You might be wondering just where your weekly cocktail is, but we switched things up just a bit to share the bittersweet news of A Feteful Life’s upcoming closure. We’ve been blogging at AFL for almost a year now and love, love what we’ve done in this space. But our lives have grown busier, our plans ever-changing, and so we’ve decided to take a blogging break. But don’t worry. We continue to come up with middle-of-the-night ideas for our future, so we’re sure we might be back some day.

In the meantime, after tomorrow, all the AFL content we’ve posted over the past year will be available right here. Rebecca will continue to blog activities, DIYs, and celebration fun at her family-friendly lifestyle blog, Not-So-SAHM. And Suzanne plans to continue to pursue her love of graphic design and photography.

In celebration of our next to last day, we’ve each combed the AFL files for our Fete Favorites. It was hard task for both of us and we hope the blog has been as much fun and a source of inspiration for you as it has been for us. Thanks so much to all our family and friends (new and old) who have read, commented, and hired us! As always, friends, FETE ON! {and, don’t worry, they’ll be a farewell cocktail tomorrow!}

Rebecca Farewell Fete Favorites 

A Feteful Life: Rebecca Farewell Fete Favorites

celebrate / create / eat / give / love

Suzanne Farewell Fete Favorites 

A Feteful Life: Suzanne's Farewell Favescelebrate / eat / love / create / give

 

Party Time: Fall Harvest

Fall, fall, fall… after what felt like a bit of a slow start, we’re finally full swing into the most wonderful season of the year. We’ve been apple picking, we’ve visited the pumpkin patch, we’ve picked out Halloween costumes, and now it’s time to get outside with our friends to celebrate the bounty that fall has to offer. There’s no need to buy expensive party decorations because mother nature has provided more than enough for you to get the party started. So get out there and enjoy the great outdoors because you know that polar vortex will be here before you know it!

A Feteful Life: Fall Harvest

  1. A grouping of pumpkins always look festive. Simply write a welcome message on one of the larger ones and you will instantly make your guests feel welcome.
  2. This simple yet stunning garland is made out of real leaves! I love it!
  3. Apples and floating candles make a beautiful centerpiece and harken back to the old bobbing for apples game.
  4. Some bundles of hay with some simple fall colored garland makes a fantastic photo backdrop wall.
  5. A punch is one of the easiest ways to serve a big crowd. And, this beautiful apple harvest punch looks amazing!
  6. Looking to unload some of those apples you picked at the orchard? Set up a DIY caramel apple bar and let your guests pick their own toppings.
  7. Doesn’t this stuffed pumpkin look amazing?! Not only does it look impressive, it is filled with everything that is delicious.
  8. Send you guests home with something delicious, like these delicious pumpkin pie parfaits.

 

 

Cocktail Hour: Chai Tea Cocktail

A Feteful Life: Chai Cocktail

A few years ago, we spent some celebratory time in South Carolina and a lot of that time with sweet tea vodka. Needless to say, we’ve been on a sweet tea vodka break for a few years (really, a few years was warranted). But I broke it back out to try this fabulous fall chai cocktail. It’s iced, but still warms you up. And it’s delicious.

Chai Tea Cocktail (adapted from Plum Deluxe)

Ingredients: 
– 4 ounces cold chai tea concentrate
– 2 ounces sweet tea vodka
– splash of cream

Directions: Add all ingredients to a glass filled with ice. Stir gently and sip.

Dia de los Muertos Party Inspiration

I mentioned way, way back in our first Fete Favorites my love of Dia de los Muertos. I still haven’t convinced anyone to have an actual party celebrating the holiday, which I really cannot understand. It’s much more upbeat, colorful, and well styled than Halloween. So, I’m obviously going to have to throw myself my own party on November 1st. Here’s what’s topping my list of inspiration.

A Feteful Life: Dia de los Muertos

1. These gorgeous wedding invitations are obviously slightly more upscale than I need for my own party, but I love the idea of combining the bold colors with geometric prints.

2. I love the idea of a large communal table for dinner and that table runner is ahhmaazing.

3. Sugar skulls + edible confetti = party happiness.

4. Mini tissue paper flowers for striped straws!? That’s a new one (to me) and a must make.

5. Pan de Muerto is a traditional Day of the Dead pastry and looks delicious.

6. Obviously our Almond Milk Horchata Cocktail will be in circulation (and probably our Blood Orange Tequila + Lime Spritzers, too).

7. Decorated candles look like a simple enough DIY to help keep things festive.

8. Papel picado!

9. I’ve really been waiting for a good time to try a honeycombed wall and this seems like the perfect opportunity.

Cocktail Hour: Pumpkin Shandy

A Feteful Life: Cocktail Hour - Pumpkin ShandyThis cocktail – it’s fall in a glass and it’s wonderful! I did a fairly classic version of the shandy this summer but this one might be my favorite variation. I’m a huge fan of pumpkin but generally not in the drink form with the exception of pumpkin beer. It’s not overly pumpkiny but it has a nice addition of spices that I love. Combining it with some lemon juice and sparkling apple cider just enhanced everything I love about it. Happy Fall!

Pumpkin Shandy (adapted from Brit+Co)

Ingredients

1 bottle of pumpkin beer
Sparkling apple cider
cinnamon stick
half a lemon juiced
slice of lemon for garnish

Directions

Add a cinnamon stick to your glass (I used a pint glass but you could any glass that holds a beer). Pour between 1/2 and 3/4 of your beer into the glass, add the juice of half a lemon, and top off with the sparkling cider (be careful because the cider can easily foam over the glass). Garnish with a lemon slice and enjoy! A Feteful Life: Cocktail Hour - Pumpkin Shandy

 

 

 

Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

A Feteful Life: Butternut Squash Baked RisottoHappy World Vegetarian Day! While I may not be a vegetarian, every year I get closer and closer to taking the plunge. I’ve cut out pork, almost all red-meat and I still eat chicken and fish once or twice a week but I almost always prefer vegetarian meals.

I find it easier in the summer when there’s an abundance of fresh produce and I crave lighter meals. As the cooler weather rolls in during the start of fall, I start craving heartier dishes that often involve meat. But, recently I stumbled upon this baked risotto from Martha Stewart and it perfectly encapsulated my craving for a hearty meal with my desire to eat a more plant based diet.

It is delicious, elegant and so very simple. Make it for a weeknight meal or for a dinner party. It is excellent either way!

A Feteful Life: Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

A Feteful Life: Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

A Feteful Life: Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

Butternut Squash Baked Risotto (from Martha Stewart Meatless Cookbook)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 medium butternut squash (2 pounds), peeled and diced medium (4 cups)
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bunch black (Tuscan) or curly kale, tough stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add wine and cook, stirring, until completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add squash and broth; bring mixture to aboil. Stir in kale.

Cover, transfer to oven, and bake until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with Parmesan.

Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes

A Feteful Life: Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes

My husband is not a big sweets person. It drives me nuts! I have a super sweet tooth, so whenever I make a dessert at home, he’ll have just a taste (to humor me) and I end up eating or tossing out the rest of it. But it was his birthday yesterday and, despite his general ambivalence towards sweets, he does love a good peanut butter chocolate combo. So I wanted to make him something sweet to celebrate and came across a super easy (as in, my kids made most of it) no bake recipe for peanut butter cup cheesecake. To help keep those servings small, I mini-sized them. It was delicious and just the right serving size. I see a good use of excess Halloween candy in our future ….

Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes (slightly adapted from Beyond Frosting)
makes 10 servings (3.6″ ramekins)

Ingredients
For the crust
– 2 cups sandwich cookie crumbs
– 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling
– 1 package (8oz) cream cheese
– 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
– 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
– 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
-1 package (8oz) whipped topping (thawed)
– 10 peanut butter cups (chopped)

For the garnish
– 6 peanut butter cups (chopped)
– 1/4 cup caramel sauce

Directions
1. Remove the filling from the sandwich cookies and discard. Use a food processor to crush the cookies into a fine crumb. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl and our over cookie crumbs. Still well until combined.

2. Place a large spoonful into the bottom of each ramekin, using a spoon to compress into crust. Set aside.

3. Whip cream cheese using a mixer set on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add peanut butter and continue to beat until well mixed.

4. Add vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream, increasing mixing speed to medium high and whip for 2-3 minutes. Once combined, add whipped topping and beat into batter. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl as you mix.

5. Chop peanut buter cups into small pieces and mix into batter by hand. Spoon filling into prepared ramekins and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

6. Top with additional peanut butter cup pieces and caramel drizzle.

Cocktail Hour: Spiced Pomegranate Cocktail

A Feteful Life: Spiced Pomegranate Cocktail

I wanted to make a sweet (but not too sweet) cocktail to help celebrate Rosh Hashana using festive holiday flavors. I love, love this drink and the added fun of the pomegranate ice cubes. Moreover, it’s incredibly easy (and still delicious) to make as a mocktail for those who are abstaining from alcohol. Happy New Year, all!

Spiced Pomegranate Cocktail (adapted from Honestly Yum)

Ingredients
– 1 1/2 oz vodka
– 1 – 1/2 oz pomegranate sparkling soda (or plain pomegranate juice)
– 1/2 oz lime juice
– 1/2 oz vanilla cardamom syrup
– dash of bitters
– pomegranate ice cubes* and sprig of fresh mint for garnish

Vanilla Cardamom Syrup
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup water
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 6 cardamom pods, cracked open and ground with mortar + pestle

Directions
1. To make vanilla cardamom syrup, add water and sugar to a small saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves. Add vanilla extract and ground cardamom and let simmer two minutes before removing from heat. Cool to room temperature and strain through a fine mesh strainer.

2. Fill a glass with pomegranate ice cubes and add vodka, pomegranate sparkling soda, lime juice, vanilla cardamom syrup and dash of bitters. Stir and then garnish with fresh mint.

3. To make this a mocktail, leave out vodka and bitters and add either more pomegranate sparkling soda or sparkling water.

*fill ice cube trays with pomegranate seeds and then with water. freeze overnight.

A Feteful Life: Spiced Pomegranate Cocktail

A Feteful Life: Spiced Pomegranate Cocktail

A Feteful Life: Spiced Pomegranate Cocktail

A Feteful Life: Spiced Pomegranate Cocktail

A Feteful Life: Spiced Pomegranate Cocktail

99 Bottles of Beer…

Oktoberfest is in full swing and in honor of this beer-loving time of year I’m rounding up some of my favorite ideas of how to throw an awesome beer tasting party. Who wouldn’t love to celebrate with good food and good beer? It’s a sure winner so get planning and start drinking!

A Feteful Life: Beer tasting party 1. I am OBSESSED with this invitation set from Mint Love Social Club. The fonts, the paper, the design. I love it all!

2. Soft pretzels are one of my all time favorite foods – plus they pair perfectly with beer.

3. Beer is clearly a necessity. I suggest picking a local brewery (like these from DC area Flying Dog Brewery) and sampling their different varieties OR sampling a variety of your local breweries.

4. A chalkboard runner (like this DIY one we did last year) would be a perfect way to set up the tasting.

5. Keep notes on the beers you taste with these awesome coasters.

6. Since the aim is to taste several beers, keep the glasses small. These half pint glasses from Crate & Barrel are perfect.

7. German apple cake is delicious for any occasion but especially after a few beers.