Valentine’s Day Brunch for Dinner

Valentine’s Day Brunch for Dinner

For this semester’s Barque Team get-together, I thought it might be fun to have “Brunch for Dinner”.  The benefits would be twofold – a great way for my girls to sample a few of our food products (like buttermilk biscuit mix and local jams)… and second,  I thought it would be easy to cook on a weeknight!

In this post, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the invitation, party details, decorations, menu and party favors – plus an idea you can borrow to spark great conversation at your own Valentine’s Day gathering!

brunch invite

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vintage vtines

Since I love Valentine’s Day, I thought that would be an easy theme to work with.  I utilized my collection of vintage Valentines to add a little interest to my mantle.

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For the table, I used lots of layering – starting with a simple white tablecloth, then adding a length of sheer pink fabric (on clearance at Joann’s), followed by heart-shaped cut outs and doilies.  To finish it off, more vintage valentines strewn about (some on tiny easels) and a sprinkling of conversation heart candies.  For added ambiance, I combined a few tall white candles with strings of battery-operated, mini copper lights (a new arrival at the store).

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bday table

For each place setting, alternating pink and red napkins (folded in the shape of a heart) were adorned with a hand-lettered doily as a place card.  The talented @kelseylaineholt (check her out on Instagram!) made them for us – as well as the food/drink labels – and they really made the tablescape swoon-worthy, don’t you think?

doiliesBefore guests got settled in, everyone was asked fill out 2 “Conversation Hearts”. This idea was inspired by Darcy Miller’s new book, Celebrate Everything – and it ended up being one of the favorite parts of the evening for all of us.  HERE is a link to a free printable with the instructions, which can easily be displayed in a basic 4×6 frame.

You can download the conversation heart templates HERE and HERE – just print them out on pastel colored cardstock and cut out by hand.convo hearts

We collected the completed hearts in a fish bowl, and they later became our dinner conversation starters!  It was really fun to try to guess who each heart belonged to – and it sparked great conversation!  We learned a lot about one another (and laughed a lot too).

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The menu consisted of traditional breakfast food – eggs (heart-shaped of course), bacon, sausage, turkey bacon, buttermilk biscuits (see our tips for those here), local jams from Kelle B, fruit, yogurt (with heart sprinkles), and a modified version of Bobby Flay’s Rosemary and Pancetta Home Fries (from the cookbook Brunch at Bobby’s).  To be honest, I’ve made this recipe before and it was delicious, but I must have done something wrong this time – oops!  It didn’t work out as I had planned, so it became mashed the potatoes with rosemary and pancetta mixed in – sometimes you have to improvise!

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food

We tested out a recipe from the Forest Feast Gatherings Cookbook for the bar – Ruby Mimosa Punch – and it was quite tasty!

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brunch babes napsI think a party always needs a favor, and for this one, each of the girls received a ball cap (monogrammed with the Barque logo), a box of conversation hearts, a mini jar of Kelle B Jam, and a Butter London nail polish.  I love how the personalized tags turned out too!party favorsCorny or not, the tags are true – I really do love these girls!  They’re a great bunch, and I’m so blessed to have each one of them working with me.  The best part is I think they genuinely enjoy one other too – It’s not often you can work and play together and enjoy so much laughter.

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teamI hope our Team “Dinner” inspires a few ideas for your own Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Brunch, and if it does, we’d love to know about it!  Tag us on Instagram  (@barquegifts) or email us photos – we love to see how our friends and customers throw a party!

 

 

 

 

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Buttermilk Biscuit Basics

Buttermilk Biscuit Basics

At the store, we love the buttermilk biscuit mix from Callie’s.  They make making biscuits easy and delicious (plus they make a great gift when paired with our local Kelle B Jams)!

If you’re a biscuit pro, you might not need any tips, but if you’re a biscuit newbie, we want to share our best biscuit tips with you.

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First, start with our pre-packaged mix and add COLD butter.  And with a pastry cutter, keep breaking it up until it becomes crumbly in the mix.

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See those “crumbles”?  That’s the look you’re going for.  Now do the same thing with the cream cheese (amount specified on the package).

Next you want to add buttermilk.  Don’t have any buttermilk?  No problem, you can use regular milk, just add lemon juice and stir until it becomes a thicker texture and more curdled.

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Slowly add to the biscuit mixture and combine.

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It will look very sticky and wet.  Don’t panic.

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Turn the dough out on a biscuit-floured surface, and use extra mix to knead the dough gently (just so it’s not sticky).

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Now you want to carefully roll out the dough, folding it back over itself and keeping the thickness about 1/2 inch or more.

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Roll and fold, roll and fold (and turn as necessary).

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See how rectangular it looks?  That’s a good thing.

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See how folding and rolling creates layers like this?  That’s a VERY good thing – that’s where your flaky layers come from!  Next, cut the biscuits with a floured cutter and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  **Make sure that the biscuits are touching – they’re like little soldiers, so they need to stand shoulder to shoulder to rise properly – this is very important!**

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Brush with melted butter.

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And pop in the 450 degree oven.  You’ll end up cooking them 14-16 minutes, but set a timer after 12 so you keep a close eye on how brown they get (and turn around the pan if necessary to promote even cooking).

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Look at how beautifully they rise!  And those layers!  (all the heart eyes)

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Once your biscuits are golden brown on top, they’re done.

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Quickly remove them from the pan with a spatula and move them to a basket with a towel to keep warm.

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Perfection.

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Seriously.  Look. At. Those. Layers.  Aren’t you glad you took the time to make that magic happen?

Now, you just have to pop open a few jars of Kelle B Jam, slather on extra butter, and you’re all set!  Delicious buttermilk biscuit perfection.

We think you’ll love how easy (and tasty) they are.  You might even enjoy them so much that you decide to host your own Biscuit Bar Brunch?  Oh yeah.

 

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Custom Holiday Recipe Cards

Custom Holiday Recipe Cards

Do you have an avid baker or cook on your holiday shopping list?  Custom recipe cards make a great gift for foodies!  We have several options that you can personalize with their favorite color or style to match their kitchen decor… and anyone who likes to”slave away in the kitchen” can appreciate having recipe cards to record their experimental victories (and twists on traditional family favorites).

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Custom Recipe Cards are reasonably priced  – $15 for 25, $25 for 50, $40 for 100 and $52.50 for 150 qty. – so they make a great stocking stuffer too.

Are you or your family famous for passing out treats during the holiday season?  Personalized recipe cards with your family’s name and your handwritten recipe make an extra special touch to your plate of cookies or fudge.  It’s fun for the recipient to eat, but it’s even more fun for them to have the recipe too!

Come by the store or call us for more information on ordering custom recipe cards for yourself or a friend:  806-785-1195

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

For our Aloha Team Dinner, I decided to keep the prep easy for BBQ Pulled Pork tacos by using a slow cooker, and this recipe turned out to be a keeper!

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3-4 lb.) boneless Boston butt pork roast
  • 1 jar Kelle B Santa Fe Apple BBQ Sauce (we also sell this at Barque)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 white onion, coursely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1  32 oz. container of low sodium chicken  broth
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

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Remove the netting from the pork roast and generously rub it down with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper on all sides.  Place it in the slow cooker and add chopped onion, jalapeno, bell peppers and garlic.

IMG_4592 smPour BBQ sauce over the top, add chicken broth and water (enough to barely cover the top of the pork).

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Cook on the high temperature setting for 2 hours, then reduce to low for 4-5 hours.  If you’re not able to change the temperature, just cook it on low for 8-9 hours.

Warning:  This pork will make your house smell AMAZING!  🙂

Once you’re ready to serve, remove the meat from the slow cooker and place it on a cutting board.  Cut away the obvious fat, and shred the meat.  If you want even more flavorful meat, retrieve some of the veggies from the pot, chop them up and add mix them into the meat before serving.

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This pork is great for tacos, sandwiches, burritos… it’s very versatile.  And for how easy it is, that’s a beautiful thing.

Shannon’s Bridal Shower

Shannon’s Bridal Shower

Over the past three years, we’ve had the pleasure of working this pretty special girl right here —> Shannon.  She’s always got a smile on her face and our customers love her as much as we do!

DSC_0217 smShe’s a great student, a hard worker, a thoughtful friend, and now – a beautiful Bride-to-Be.   Our team has watched Shannon’s relationship with Austin blossom from the beginning, and even though we’re sad to see her move on (we don’t want her to leave!!!!)… we ARE excited for this next chapter in her life!  So naturally, the Barque team wanted to send her off in style with a Bridal Shower.  I mean, parties are what we DO – of course we wanted to throw one for one for her!DSC_0084 smThe fantastic hand-lettering details were created by another talented Barque team member – Kelsey.  {find her on Instagram  @kelseylainee}.  Don’t you love this chalk sign?  She also did all the mini signs for our snacks.DSC_0050 sm

DSC_0066 smThe gorgeous strawberries were handmade by our resident Party Queen, Suzanne.  She’s pretty much a pro when it comes to party mechanics and details.  She was also kind enough to host the shower in her home – and it served as the perfect backdrop!

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DSC_0067 smWe purchased the bride’s favorite thumbprint cookies from Simply Decadent Bakery, and the Keesha made the Artichoke Lemon Pesto Dip (we carry it in the store and it’s a crowd favorite at parties).

DSC_0091 smFor the floral arrangements, we decided on a combination of simple white flowers and vegetable garden accents.  I had seen one similar to this from Southern Living awhile back, so I was anxious to try it for myself.  I made a few modifications to their tutorial here, but I love how it turned out!DSC_0087 smThe larger arrangement also had hints from the garden with various pops of color from carrots, brussels sprouts, orange beets, artichokes, kale, collard greens and radishes.

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DSC_0047 smShannon’s guests showered her with so many great things!

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DSC_0135 smDo you recognize any of these pretty ladies from the shop?  🙂

DSC_0106 smNone of us wanted to play cliche “Bridal Shower Games”, so instead we opted for something PAPER related (shocking) – Milestone Mail for the happy couple!  Guests were asked to choose a milestone event, write it on the front of the envelope, then write them a blessing or word of encouragement to read when that milestone occurs.  It should be a fun way for her to remember these guests and how much they care for her – even years down the road!

DSC_0185 smThe hostesses of the shower gifted Shannon a big basket of kitchen goodies – and we made each item special with words of well wishes.

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DSC_0224 smWe ended the shower with a sweet photo of our “Barque twins” – aren’t they the cutest?  {By the way, Emory and Kelsey did some serious wrestling to get those balloons to cooperate – it was a windy day!}

Shannon, we are proud that you’ve spent the last three years working for us and we wish you nothing but happiness in this new chapter of your life!

Love, the Barque Team

[ If you’re planning a Shower soon, you might want to download our Shower Planning Sheet – this idea came from a customer who has throwing showers down pat!  Thank you for the great idea Tomi!]

Thanksgiving Dinner Game Plan

Thanksgiving Dinner Game Plan

I love planning a holiday meal.  As new food magazine issues emerge on the shelves, I start collecting them – and scouring them – using page flags and sticky notes to mark interesting recipes.

I’m lucky that my family is laid back when it comes to holiday meals.  They usually leave the menu up to me, and I love the responsibility – it lets me get a little creative!

A decision on the protein comes first – turkey, ham, duck, Cornish game hen, seafood?  From there I plan the sides carefully… and yes, I write it all down on one big list.  (Normally I make a list of possible sides and then mark them off based on relevance to the protein.)  Once I’ve narrowed down my sides and desserts (the two hardest categories to whittle down), I make a shopping list.  I go through the ingredients in each recipe and check it with items I have on hand.  If I need something, it goes on the shopping list – with amounts needed jotted out to the side.  So, if for example, I need butter for the green beans, butter for the mashed potatoes and butter for the dessert – I might have a side note of 1/2 cup + 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons… Before heading to the store, I do the math so I buy the right amount of each ingredient.

**My Holiday Grocery Shopping Trick – Buying in bulk (especially when everyone else is) can be a waiting game.  Instead, plan out your shopping list early and conquer it by making more frequent, quick stops during the week leading up to the holiday.  Plan to buy 10 items or less so you can go through the Express Lane – it’s a breeze and you’ll have all you need in no time, without having to wait 30-45 minutes in a long register line! **

I’ve made TWO free printables to help you with your Thanksgiving Dinner planning and shopping – just click on these links to download a thanksgiving menu planning and a thanksgiving shopping list.

Another clever idea for your holiday (and everyday) entertaining is to keep a Cooking Journal.  I got this one years ago at Anthropologie, but any journal or notebook will do.  In my food journal,  I keep track of menus for holidays and other special get-togethers.  It’s kind of like in the movie High Fidelity when John Cusack’s character reorganized his record collection in chronological order.  If I remember that we loved the potatoes from last Easter but our favorite turkey was from Christmas 3 years ago, I can mix and match to create a better menu for the next holiday.  It’s a good way to keep beloved recipes close at hand (if they’re well received I jot down the recipe in the book) – and I love to look back on what went over well and what didn’t.

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Here’s a peek inside my cooking journal.  I make notes of the event, date of the meal, who was in attendance and where the dinner was for future reference.  I also include a rating out to the side of experimental dishes – stars if we loved the dish and X’s if we hated it… keeps us from repeating culinary mistakes.  In this journal, I also experiment on recipes I’ve had and want to duplicate or recipes I’ve thrown together and liked.  It’s where I keep track of my culinary adventures (and misadventures too).

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I would recommend a cooking journal to any aspiring foodie… in fact, if you know a foodie who doesn’t have one, it might be a great Christmas gift idea.

It’s back to Thanksgiving dinner plans for me.  Happy Thursday!