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Everyday Entertaining

How To Easily Pack For a Picnic; Plus Homemade Pimento Cheese & Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads

My go-to's for an afternoon in the park
Filed Under > Appetizers & Sides

How to pack for a picnic, waitingonmartha.comPicnic outfit inspiration on waitingonmartha.comMason Jar Salads on a Picnic with @waitingonmarthaHow to plan a picnic in the park, waitingonmartha.comEasy pimento cheese recipe for a picnic, waitingonmartha.com How to make mason jar salads for a picnic, waitingonmartha.com Mason Jar Salads for a Picnic in the Park, Waiting on Martha How to pack for a picnic in the park, Waiting on Martha

Friday I shared a picnic-ready outfit, along with peek at my ideal day off: an afternoon visit to the farmers market, followed by a picnic in the park.  It’s one of my favorite things to do when I have a little free time with the Mr., and always a sign that spring is finally upon us. As promised, I’m sharing a few of my go-to picnic essentials, along with two super simple recipes that I like to pack in my picnic basket, neither that sacrifice flavor or a gourmet effect: my Homemade Pimento Cheese & Mediterranean-inspired Mason Jar Salads.

Whenever I’m packing for a picnic, I always make sure I have the following: a big blanket, a great picnic basket, portable tunes and easy food.  Nobody has time to deal with messy, high-maintenance bites when you’re camped out on your favorite blanket in the grass!  So today I’m dishing on the recipes for said easy food. 

First off, with your pimento cheese, and I’m just going to come out and say it: don’t ever use the pre-shredded cheese for your homemade pimento cheese. It’s just not ever going to taste as good as the stuff you buy by the block and shred yourself.  You’ll get a much creamier and more satisfying spread when you do it the right way. And I like my pimento cheese a bit chunkier, so I stay away from processing/blending it so that I can see the cheese and peppers with each bite.  Of course, if you like yours creamier (which is just as heavenly), take it a step further and throw the mixture into a food processor until you reach your desired consistency. I also love to use Vegenaise (vegan mayo) in place of traditional mayo, though I know all southerners will tell you that Duke’s is the only way to go. 

For the Mason Jar Salads, I went with a Mediterranean vibe; a tangy balsamic vinaigrette (I used store-bought, but you definitely can make your own) with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, cooked orzo, greens & more. The trick with any good Mason Jar Salad is to layer the ingredients in your jars (I love this set with clamp lids) so that the salad doesn’t’ get soggy or begin to wilt when in transit.  You do that by always, always putting the salad dressing at the bottom of the jar. Then, you’ll put whatever ingredients won’t get soggy from being in contact with the dressing (think tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, etc.)…bottom line is you don’t want the greens to be next to the dressing. 

You can have fun with Mason Jar Salads; the possibilities are truly endless!  Find my current go-to combination, along with my recipe for the best homemade pimento cheese below.  I’d love to know how you’re shaping up your picnic plans in the comments below!  Truly, MKR

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Homemade Pimento Cheese & Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad

Ingredients

  • Pimento Cheese
  • 1 block of yellow sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 block of white mont jack, shredded
  • 3 large spoonfuls of mayonnaise, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 chopped jalapeno (optional)
  • dash of cayenne (optional) 
  • Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad
  • balsamic vinaigrette, to taste
  • cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • red onions, sliced thinly
  • cucumbers, sliced thinly
  • edamame, cooked and shelled
  • almonds, raw and unsalted
  • cranberries
  • cooked orzo
  • lettuce (I used baby kale, mixed greens mix)
  • micro green mix

Instructions

  1. Pimento Cheese
  2. Add all ingredients in mixing bowl. When adding the jar of pimentos, eyeball this with how creamy/chunky you want it.
  3. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, and serve!
  4. Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad
  5. Stack your ingredients inside the Mason jar in the following order:
  6. balsamic vinaigrette
  7. cherry tomatoes
  8. red onions
  9. cucumbers
  10. edamame
  11. almonds
  12. cranberries
  13. cooked orzo
  14. lettuce
  15. micro green mix
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Everything You Need to Make Coffee Shop Coffee At Home

The Secret Tools Behind a Barista-Approved Cup of Jo
Filed Under > Entertaining

Coffee shop architecture, Waiting on MarthaStumptown coffee New Orleans, Waiting On MarthaMorning coffee moments, Waiting on Martha

I don’t know about you, but I can never make a cup of jo at home the way they do at my favorite coffee shops.  I thought a lot about that when we were in New Orleans a few weeks ago and made our way into this gorgeous Stumptown Coffee location.  

So naturally, I came home and did some research, and can say that I think I got to the bottom of what it takes to make barista-approved coffee. A few tools are needed, yes, but deciding on which ones you should buy depends on how much of a coffee purist you really are.  A Keurig is a really great option for those of you that simply want a quick cup, while a Nespresso machine is perfect for an espresso like you’d order at your favorite cafe.  But you may not want either; a French press is for the self-proclaimed coffee snot (I say this lovingly…I know many), while an Aeropress claims to brew a cup that’s even more pure!  If you’re a cold brew kinda person, this iced coffee maker will be your new best friend.  Lastly, a great frother is an absolute must for any latte (and latte art if you’re feeling extra creative)…most are affordable but I’ve gone through so many that I think it’s worth an investment for a good one.  

The list of course goes on, and I’ve broken it down in detail below.  But I’d love to know: what kind of coffee drinker are you?  Do you swear by any of these essentials?  Cheers friends, Kat
   

A Grinder

KitchenAid® Coffee and Spice Grinder

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When you find great coffee you love, there’s a good chance it’s in whole bean form. You’re going to need a strong grinder to get those beans in the form of grounds to brew your cup of coffee.  We’re big fans of this one by KitchenAid to do the heavy lifting. 

An Airtight Container to Store Beans

Airscape Stainless-Steel Storage Container

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Making a proper cup of coffee starts with good beans, if we’re being honest here.  And in order to store your beans (and their grounds) at their best quality, use an airtight container. It will extend the shelf life and further the flavor. 

A Quick One-Cup Coffee Maker

Keurig® K55 Elite Brewing System in Black

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When you just want a good cup of coffee quickly in the morning or during your afternoon slump, this Keurig does the trick.  It keeps the process super simple, the cleanup minimal, and is perfect if you don’t want to find yourself with leftover coffee in a pot. 

A Quick Espresso-Maker

Nespresso® VertuoLine Coffee and Espresso Maker

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If you’re looking to make a quick cup of espresso, you really need this machine.  Well scratch that, it makes cappuccino, coffee AND espresso. This is your best bet for coffee shop coffee at home, in my humble opinion. 

We’ve gushed about the Nespresso VertuoLine for caramel iced coffee, chocolate espresso cake and the best ever holiday coffee

The French Press

Bonjour® Monet French Press

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Here’s to you, coffee purists.  I know this is the way to do it right.  A French press is an at-home coffee staple.  It’s the key tool to manually brewing a rich, strong and smooth coffee by simply pouring boiling water on top of the grounds.  The method helps the grounds retain their oils for an amazing cup each any every time. 

The Aeropress

Aeropress Coffee Maker

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My favorite coffee shop has an Aeropress coffee item on their menu.  I had to figure it out, and discovered the Aeropress coffee maker.  This is an amazing option for the coffee lover that doesn’t need the fuss of a French press, but still appreciates great coffee on the go.  The Aeropress claims to brew an even smoother cup than the French press does, and includes an easier and less messy cleanup.  It only takes about a minute to brew a cup of coffee or 1-3 shots of espresso. 

A Frother

Rösle Frother

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This magical tool is a must-have for any kind of latte (even and especially a matcha tea latte!). I’ve tried several frothers in the past, and they all have turned out to be quite dinky, so I definitely think you get what you pay for with these.  I’d suggest a higher quality one like this one to last a few seasons of coffee brewin’. 

A Cold Brew Maker

Primula® 50 oz. Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker

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I used to think that I could simply make cold brew by pouring hot coffee over ice. But a proper cold brew will use simple steeping in a coffee maker like this one to bring out all the good flavors in coffee.  The steeping actually works to eliminate the bitter, almost-burnt taste you can sometimes get from pouring hot coffee over ice. 

I like how you can customize the flavor with one of these, AND the maker seconds as a pitcher to serve once you brew.  Bonus!

Photography, Haley Sheffield for Waiting on Martha

10 Block Party Essentials to See Summer Off in Style

A checklist of must-haves for your outdoor bash
Filed Under > Everyday Entertaining

This week we’ve had a blast sharing scenes from our end-of-summer block party with Pottery Barn, along with a few of our favorite fuss-free finger food recipes and a super refreshing mocktail/cocktail.  We already hit the basics you’ll want to have at your own outdoor bash, but we wanted to round up a final checklist today for you as well.  You’ve got the comfy chairs and pillows covered, but you don’t want to forget about the great playlist, string lights and games.  Click on the image above to scroll through the slideshow of our top 10 block party essentials. Cheers, Kat

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String Lights

String Lights

It's a given that string lights make every outdoor experience more magical, and a block party is no exception.

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VIA WAITING ON MARTHA
Lounge Chairs + Pillows

Lounge Chairs + Pillows

You want everyone to feel like they can stay awhile, so stock up on the comfy lounge chairs and pillows.

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An Outdoor Patio Set

An Outdoor Patio Set

One great patio set is all you really need to set up a food station since the evening won't call for a full sit-down meal.

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VIA WAITING ON MARTHA
Fuss-Free Finger Food

Fuss-Free Finger Food

The key to a great block party is an easy menu full of food you can grab-and-go. Healthy homemade dips are great options, as well as gourmet (but simple!) sandwiches.

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A Mocktail (Easily Turned Cocktail)

A Mocktail (Easily Turned Cocktail)

Whip up a refreshing batch drink that everyone at the party can enjoy (and can easily turn into a cocktail with a little vodka). We're huge fans of Arnold Palmers & John Daly's, and this new Citrus Cooler is one you'll want to try STAT too.

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A Cooler

A Cooler

Keep cool things cool with a galvanized tin party tub or traditional cooler.

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Easy Desserts

Easy Desserts

Find ways to serve sweet treats that are easy to enjoy and mess-free. Watermelon on popsicle sticks and freeze pops are great options!

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Good Tunes

Good Tunes

Crank the summer playlists for everyone to hear with these storage cubes with portable speakers or your favorite Bluetooth player.

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Outdoor Games

Outdoor Games

Great outdoor games like ladder toss and bocce ball can easily be set up in the neighboring yards at the block party for kids and adults alike.

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DIY Activities

DIY Activities

Consider simple ways to incorporate DIY crafts like a Paint & Plant station for the little ones.

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