Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Best Gifts for Foodies

Gifts for the ultimate food lover — from the novice cook to the master chef — these culinary inspired items are fit for every kitchen.

Oulesa olive oil

Made from the rare Palomar olive from the Catalonia region of Spain, Oulesa is quickly becoming the most sought after olive oil among foodies. This aromatic oil is deep green, with a sweet yet light flavor amid tones of artichoke, grass and fruit. With a distinct aroma and bountiful flavor, Oulesa is best used for dipping, brushed atop a fresh baguette or drizzled over your favorite soups, salads and specialty dishes. Imported exclusively by Tia Conchita Brands in the U.S., you’re guaranteed a unique and exceptional gift as only 5000 bottles are made every year.

Oulesa Olive Oil2_TiaConchitaBrands32 (2)

Oulesa Olive Oil, $32 , available at TiaConchitaBrands.com

For more Foodie gifts, click here.

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Spooktacular Halloween Cocktails

Whoever said Halloween is just for kids? With more adults partaking in the ghoulish festivities than ever before, I thought it’d be fit to share some creative and delicious new libations. For all the Halloween hosts who want to impress their guests with the latest in cool and creepy cocktails, try out the following recipes! And remember, you can also serve these sans alcohol for an equally spooky treat!

Spiced Pumpkin Martini

Courtesy of Mixologist Claire Smith, Belvedere Vodka

2oz Spiced pumpkin infused Belvedere vodka*

1 oz Puree*

1 oz Spiced syrup

1 Slice of fresh ginger

Muddle ginger with the syrup in the base of a cocktail shaker. Add pumpkin infused Belvedere and shake with cubed ice. Serve in a martini glass and garnish with a slice of ginger.

*Spiced pumpkin infused Belvedere
Roast a 500g pumpkin (braised with honey) at 200 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and place roasted pumpkin contents into a small saucepan with bay leaves, cover with 200g of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves and blend with 500g of Belvedere Vodka. Pass through a muslin cloth to remove pulp and use. Keep refrigerated.


Spiced Pumpkin Martini

Jack O’ Lantern

Courtesy of Regional Beverage Director Damon Dunay, The Empire Hotel, NYC

2 oz Jack Daniels

2 Sugar cubes

Orange Bitters

½ oz Lucid Absinthe

Coat a rocks glass with Lucid Absinthe by rotating liqueur around glass. In a cocktail shaker, place sugar cubes and two dashes of Orange Bitters. Crush cubes with a muddler. Add Jack Daniels and ice cubes and stir until combined. Strain and serve over ice in the rocks glass. Garnish with a Jack O’ Lantern face carved out of an orange (an orange slice or peel works too).


Jack O Lantern

Alien Cooler

Courtesy of Mixologist Jon Ojinaga, Redwood Room at Clift Hotel, San Francisco

1 ¼ oz Crop Organic Vodka

¾ oz Veev Acai Liqueur

¾ oz Lime juice

¾ oz Simple syrup

Soda (fill with)

2 Pinches of julienned cucumber

1 Cucumber slice

Combine all ingredients in a tall Collins glass with ice. Fill with soda. Stir to mix cucumber in the glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice.


Alien Cooler

Basil Hayden’s Bloody Mary

Courtesy of Basil Hayden Bourbon

1 oz Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

2 Dashes of celery salt

2 Dashes hot sauce

2 Dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 Teaspoon wasabi

Tomato juice

Celery, lime wedge & blue cheese olives

Rim a pint glass with lime juice and celery salt. Fill with ice to the top. Add Basil Hayden’s(R) Bourbon, celery salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and wasabi. Fill remainder of the glass with tomato juice. Stir well. Garnish with celery, lime and blue cheese olives.


basil hayden bloody mary

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Father’s Day is just a week away – do you have a gift for Daddy Dearest?  It seems like we’re always looking to find Dad that special gift, that WOW present that will really knock his socks off!  In honor of our Proud Papas, here’s a list of Unique Father’s Day gifts that will not only impress Dear Old Dad, but also won’t break our budgets – all these gifts are under $50! 

The Cocktail Loving Dad

No matter if your Dad enjoys beer in a frosty mug or a stiff martini, the following gifts will definitely add some zest to his cocktail repertoire. 

For the Dad who loves to entertain behind the bar, Peterson’s Happy Hour ($11.56, Amazon.com) is a collection of classic cocktail recipes with a sarcastic twist.  With simple instructions for making more than fifty tasty libations, an equipment glossary, and loads of hilarious vintage photographs, Peterson’s Happy Hour will give Dad some new and inventive ideas for Cocktail Hour.  Clever concoctions like the Tech Tonic and En-Gin Trouble are perfect antidotes for the bombardment of social networking and frustrating auto troubles that Dad faces on a daily basis!

For a great conversation starter at Dad’s next soiree, give the gift of BevShots, uniquely posh prints of beers, wines, and cocktails that have been photographed under a microscope and magnified in to fine art.  On their user friendly website, you can custom create a print for Dad by selecting his favorite alcoholic beverage, or browse by color theme.  Select from Fine Art Prints starting at $24.99 on canvas, or Metallic Prints starting at $37.99.  The vibrant colors and intoxicating designs will add a modern edge to any room, from Dad’s bar to his office or den.  Dad will surely be mesmerized by the beauty of BevShots!  (For rush shipping requests, please email BevShots at media@bevshots.com and mention Your GAL Kara.)

BevShots Print - Tequila

The Fashionable Father

For the Dad that loves to discover the newest and most fabulous finds in fashion, the following gifts will surely excite!

Cuff links, ties and slippers…oh my!  Fortunately, there’s a glam new accessory available for Dad that will set him fashionably apart from the rest!  The G-Tie is a beautifully crafted accessory for men that perfectly envelopes the knot of a tie.  When worn, the G-Tie brings a sleek and polished accent to the classic suit and tie ensemble.  The affordable and environmentally friendly ECO Collection features three finishes: shiny chrome, brushed aluminum and brushed charcoal.  With prices starting at $45.00 for the skinny version and $49.00 for the regular size, Dad can look striking and confident in one of the hottest accessories on the market!

If your Dad hates the bulk of traditional wallets, the Jimi Wallet is the perfect gift!  Made from 100% recyclable materials, the Jimi is the first wallet of its kind that is compact, water resistant, and attachable.  Available in 14 colors, this must have accessory is both fashionable and affordable starting at just $14.95.  The lightweight Jimi is perfect for all Dads, from the suit and tie businessman to the outdoor adventurer.  It also makes for a handy I.D. holder as most Jimis are translucent and can be worn around your neck on a lanyard (clever idea for busy travelers).  Dad will also be proud to know that proceeds from the US made Jimi go back to the environment, through the 1% For The Planet initiative.

Jimi Wallet in Clear

The Gadget Guy

You might think finding a cool tech gift for Dad under $50 would be impossible?  Well, with all the accessories and Apps available today, all you need is a little creativity!

If Dad recently invested in an iPad, he’ll definitely love and appreciate the Neoprene Sleeve for iPad from Built ($30, Builtny.com).  This slim sleeve will protect Dad’s investment without bulk, so it’s easy to carry to business meetings or while traveling.  Available in basic black or fiery orange, Dad can rest assured that his precious iPad will be safe from the bumps and scratches of everyday life!

If Dad enjoys travelling or is in the military, Jibbigo is the ideal gift!  Jibbigo ($24.99 -$27.99, iTunes Store) is a new speech to speech translation application for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (Android and Droid support coming soon).  All Dad has to do is speak a sentence in to his device, and the App instantly speaks the sentence aloud in the other language – like your very own personal interpreter!  The App also shows the translation on the screen so Dad can be sure everything is accurate.  Available in Spanish-English, Chinese-English, Japanese-English, and new Iraqi-English, Jibbigo is the perfect companion for the Dad who travels for business or pleasure, or who is in the military.  The newest Iragi-English App was created specifically for service personnel in the armed forces, so Dad can overcome frustrating language barriers.  (Update 6/16/10 – Sorry friends, but the redemption code is no longer valid.)

Jibbigo - English to Spanish

The Grill Master

For the Dad that lives to grill, the following gifts are a necessity – no BBQ aficionado should start their Summer without these essentials! 

The ultimate guide to all things BBQ is Steven Raichlen’s latest book, Planet Barbecue ($15.61, Amazon.com).  The award winning grill expert will inspire Dad with his extensive collection of recipes – Raichlen visited 60 counties and rounded up 309 of the tastiest, most tantalizing, easy-to-make, and guaranteed-to-wow recipes from every corner of the globe.  Raichlen opens the world’s doors and showcases inventive international recipes, unique grilling methods, and mouth watering full color photographs – enough to make Dad salivate! 

Grill Charms are the coolest new BBQ accessory since the branding iron, and a must have for any serious Grill Master!  Grill Charms ($19.99, Grillcharms.com) are dime sized solid stainless steel charms that are placed in food before grilling.  The charms distinguish spices and flavors, steak temperatures and avoid health or allergy issues.  With the Steak Collection (with MR for Medium Rare, etc.), Dad no longer has to cut into each piece of meat to find out how each is cooked.  With the Spicy Collection, Dad can now offer his guests Mild, Medium, or Spicy sauces and rubs without any confusion.  Other collections include the Charmed Life and the Pink Collection.  (For a limited time, Grill Charms is offering a $5 discount, just type “grilling” in the coupon code section at checkout.  Order by Wednesday, June 16th for arrival by Father’s Day!)

Grill Charms - Steak Collection

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You don’t need to have a movie star budget to entertain like Carrie Bradshaw and the gals!  Today marks the release of the much-anticipated Sex and the City 2, and fashionable women across the country will be gathering for the ultimate girl’s night out!  With a little work and creativity, we can all throw a Sex and the City 2 inspired party, for as little as $100! 


Hosting a great party is all about atmosphere!  Even if you have a small space to work with, adding a bit of mood lighting and other décor will change the mood from frumpy to fabulous!  First, set the scene with either the original Sex and the City: The Movie ($12.99 on Amazon) DVD or the new Sex and the City 2: The Soundtrack ($11.99 on Amazon).  Can we say Liza Minnelli singing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”!?  What could be better party music than that?

Flowers are next – it’s amazing how impressive a room can become with the addition of fresh flowers.  Stock up on one type of flower in one color – pink or purple roses, gerbera daisies and orchids are always beautiful.   Local grocery stores like Kroger and Albertsons have great deals on fresh flowers, usually 3 bunches for about $12-$15.  This way, you can create your own assortment without spending a ton of money on a florist.  Keep arrangements simple, and if you want to jazz it up, add a colorful ribbon around a square vase to give it a modern look.  Or, go simpler with single bud vases throughout the room. 

For the buffet or cocktail area, an exotic table runner ($18.49 on Overstock) or tapestry would be perfect for a Sex and the City 2 inspired soiree.  Metallic accents will also add a Middle Eastern flair, from chargers and jewels to decorative glassware.  Stores like Pier 1 and Cost Plus always have great exotic accessories for as little as $5! 

Nothing completes a room like candles.  Small, simple clear votives are best and a great bargain when purchased in bulk ($6 at Big Lots).  Like the flowers, you can coordinate themes here by wrapping each glass candle holder with the same color ribbon. 


No Sex and the City party would be complete without the perfect Cosmo!  This recipe from Prairie Organic Vodka is the perfect combination of sweet and sassy, just like Carrie Bradshaw herself! 

Carrie Cosmo

2 oz. Prairie Organic Vodka ($18.99 on Marketview Liquor)

1 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

1 oz.  Organic Cranberry Juice

Shake over ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a fresh lime. 

For another glamorous beverage option, try Nuvo Sparkling Liqueur ($19.99 on Raeder’s Wines) served over ice in an elegant champagne flute.  The bottle alone is centerpiece worthy, just gorgeous! 

It’s always a good idea to have a non-alcoholic option as well, here’s one for a delicious Virgin Cosmo:

Virgin Cosmo

1 oz. Tonic Water

1/2 oz. Citrus Juice

1/2 oz. Lime Juice

1/2 oz. Cranberry Juice

Shake over ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with strip of lemon, orange peel, or sprig of mint. 


When it comes to food, keep it simple and easy with appetizers.  Finger foods are best as there’s no need for plates or utensils, just festive cocktail napkins!  Get some help from your local deli by creating your own antipasto platter with assorted cheeses, meats, olives, grapes, and crackers.  Remember it’s all about presentation – place all items on a rustic cutting board or modern serving tray and garnish with fresh herbs or a single flower bud.  Serve a warm and savory appetizer as well – I love Pillsbury Savorings.  For just $4 at your local grocery store, guests will think you slaved for hours to roll these delicious pastries filled with cheese and spinach!  Round out your appetizers with a vegetable platter (create your own to save) and some sweet bites. 

Another money-saving tip, have each of your guests bring an appetizer – this way, all you have to do is supply the atmosphere and beverages! 


Other than cocktails, fashion is THE most important thing to make a fabulous Sex and the City party!  Have your guests wear their most glamorous pair of high heels, or dress up like their favorite SATC character.  To find out which SATC character you are and for some amazing looks for less, check out my Sex and the City 2 Fashion Roundup!

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