smoked gouda fondue + a fondue party!

for the past few weeks, on evenings when we don't have volleyball games or music things or figure skating to watch, we've been plopping ourselves in front of the office with a stack of guidebooks for our honeymoon. eggboy hasn't totally figured out trip advisor yet, so we're going with guidebooks for now :) we'll be spending some time in vienna with a day trip to budapest before tinkering around the alps because to be totally honest we have just not gotten enough snow up here in winterfell and i need moarrrrr. 

my ideal vacation consists of staying in a mountainy lodge/castle, eating hotel breakfast until i get kicked out, looking at mountains, maybe doing a somersault in the snow or going in a sauna, basking in areas of no cell phone reception, and then eating schnitzel or fondue, depending on what side of the swiss/austrian border we're on. eggboy's ideal vacation consists of walking around a city and seeing historic things, especially as they pertain to alban berg, hence the vienna part. i hear they have good cake there though, so i am v excited.

perhaps the most amount of excitement for our honeymoon that i've had thus far was when we had our little fondue party last week. i was swirling the melty cheese and eggboy was playing a mahler 9 record and our friends came wearing the cutest sweaters and it occurred to me that next month we're going to be eating fondue in the alps and hearing the cowbells that mahler heard when he wrote his 6th symphony and maybe even skiing!!!!! i can't contain my excitement. this fondue party was like a little amuse bouche to our trip, it was so fun.

here was our menu:

smoked gouda fondue // with pretzel rolls, salami, grapes, broccoli, and apples for dipping

matcha white chocolate fondue and dark chocolate fondue // with strawberries, cake, marshmallows, and pretzel rods for dipping

kendall-jackson grand reserve pinot noir 


thanks so much to kendall-jackson for sponsoring this post!!!! all opinions are my own!!

goodies pictured in this post: fondue pot // wood board // tiered plate 

an apple picking party

fall is here!!! fall is heeeeeere!!!! holy root vegetable, i am so excited. 

clearly i've already gotten into the spirit of things, but here's a scientific fact for you: fall isn't fall until you've picked an apple from a tree. (right??) like, you can eat all the pumpkin spice things you want, but you mustn't forget about the apples. 

in the past, my annual apple orchard trip has coincided with a trip home to illinois, but this year i figured there would probably be some hardcore apple orchards in the middle of all this rural business, so i conducted some research on the best places to go apple picking around grand forks. 20 minutes of failed googling later, eggboy came in from the fields, laughed really hard, and then directed me to the two fairly large apple trees in our backyard. apple picking parties are a thing here explained cathryn


so rather than having our regular brunch club, the ladies and i became the most hipster versions of ourselves, took a picnic out to my backyard, sipped some wine, and picked a ton of apples. it was perfect. we talked weddings and miss america, we ate cheese and more cheese. we took moody photos of handfuls of apples. (good thing one of us had a fresh manicure.)

and then we retreated inside, away from the buttercream-loving bees, put on the sufjan, and stretched our definition of proper caramel apple coatings...

here was our menu:

for noshing // brown sugar challah, jam, baked teddybear camembert with raspberry preserves, and a bunch more cheese

for dessert #1 // sprinkle cake

for dessert #2 // caramel apples with coconut, toasted sesame seeds, sprinkles, sea salt, and smoked sea salt

for sipping // kendall-jackson avant chardonnay

for supper // chicken with apples + chardonnay 

i highly recommend an apple picking party, even if you don't have an apple tree. make friends with someone who does! or grow your own. or trespass. (don't trespass.)


thanks so much to kendall-jackson avant for sponsoring this post!!!! all opinions are my own!

mini champagne cakes with fresh whipped cream and stevia leaves

this time last week i was up to my neck in cake batter that had been spiked with champagne. there was an impending opera premiere, and like all opera premieres, it required cake.

the thing about making mini cakes in someone else's kitchen is that you find yourself doing silly things like hollowing out tomato paste cans to use instead of biscuit cutters and measuring every single ingredient using just a teaspoon and a quarter cup. (the former mathlete in me was proud when i nailed the 2/3 cup of champagne.) the real joy came when i got to style these puppies using all foreign dishes and props, and then top them with fresh stevia leaves grown right outside. have you ever had a stevia leaf? it is so lovely and sweet.

more joy came of course when i served a bunch of hungry friends cake. add that to my list of hobbies: serving friends cake in a post-opera situation.

these little cakes are incredibly moist and at a real good point between dense and light. they're based on my new go-to vanilla cake recipe, from pastry affair, and they're accompanied by a simple fresh whipped cream. i should mention that the libretto for the opera had a really wonderful line about cheese, so in my first test batch of these cakes, the whipped cream got a heavy dose of ricotta folded in. which i thought was yum. eggboy thought it was odd though, so i left it out of the party cakes, but if you're feeling that you'd like your wine cake to have some cheese cream, then do it.

mini champagne cakes with fresh whipped cream and stevia leaves

makes 8-12

cake recipe based on pastry affair's vanilla cupcakes


for the cake:

1 3/4 c cake flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 c sugar

2 large eggs

2 tb vanilla extract

1/4 c vegetable oil

1/3 c plain yogurt

2/3 c champagne

for the whipped cream:

1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream

2 tb powdered sugar, or more to taste

a healthy splash of champagne, or more to taste

for garnish:

powdered sugar

fresh stevia leaves or other pretty edible plants


preheat oven to 350. line a 9 x 13 casserole dish or half sheet pan with foil (using enough so that it hangs over the sides), grease it, and set it aside.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

beat in the vanilla, oil, and yogurt. gradually add the dry ingredients, and then add the champagne, to form a smooth batter.

pour the batter into your pan and bake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. (check the cake after 18 minutes and add more time as needed.)

let the cake cool. use the foil to lift the cake out of the pan. wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for at least an hour or overnight.

to make the whipped cream, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. add the powdered sugar and champagne and beat to stiff peaks. 

to assemble the cakes, use a 2- to 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out cake circles. if the cake was baked in a 9 by 13 casserole dish, the layers may be quite tall for a mini cake, so i would recommend slicing them in half. stack up the cakes, 3 layers each, with a bit of cream in between. dust with powdered sugar, top with desired garnishes, and enjoy!



on day two we ate lychees and sat on a bunker on a hill for one of the best history lessons i ever done had. as we peered out over syria and the dmz and united nations territory, we learned about syria and all of the wild history that went down right where we were sitting. we learned about the political and military significance of that very spot and the gutsy ones in the group went down into the bunkers. not me. i just... took pictures of lychees to later make GIFs out of them.

i was a little bit scared.

just a little. 

after the hill we toured the golan heights winery with a tour guide called shalom who sported a very fantastic beard. he taught us that, because israel hosts so many climates, they can produce many different kinds of wine. we tasted a few and my favorite was the muscat because when it comes to wines i just choose the ones that taste most like juicy juice.