Goat Cheese Fondue

Goat Cheese Fondue is full of Mediterranean flavors like warm, bubbling goat cheese, fresh Rosemary, tomatoes, olive oil and Kalamata olives.

Goat Cheese Fondue

This post, Goat Cheese Fondue, contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

I love fondue! I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a big bubbling pot of melted cheese? My husband and I make fondue at home quite a bit. Honestly, it’s a great date night at home if you can’t go out. We’ve got little ones and so it’s really rare if we get a date night out. We’re taking anniversaries only. So when the kids are in bed, we’ll often create a special evening together and that is where the magic of fondue happens!

This is a great appetizer, even for a weeknight meal or an intimate dinner party. I’m surprised at how much this upscale, yet easy appetizer wows dinner guests. As soon as you pair these ingredients together, people automatically feel like it’s a fancy dish.

Making Goat Cheese Fondue

I love traditional fondue (Swiss & fontina cheese and white wine), but recently, I decided to do a different take on the Swiss classic. This recipe combines a several Mediterranean flavors. Goat cheese, also called Chèvre is combined with Kalamata olives, fresh rosemary, tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil. The flavor is like fireworks on your tongue. Seriously, it’s delicious. And best of all, you don’t need a fondue pot!

I love serving this dish with grilled baguette! To make it, just purchase a baguette from your local grocery store. After cutting into slices, brush extra-virgin olive oil on both sides of the bread. I use a cast iron grill pan, but any grill pan will work just fine. On medium heat, toast each side for 5 minutes or until grill lines appear.

Goat Cheese Fondue

I highly recommend serving this dish while still piping hot. Once, out of oven the cheese will start to solidify again as it cools down. After experimenting with the recipe, I don’t recommend adding wine or anything else to the cheese. I found the consistency isn’t good otherwise. So keep it simple and just melt the cheese as-is.

Goat Cheese Fondue

This delicious new take on fondue fuses Mediterranean flavors like Goat Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Fresh Rosemary, Olive Oil and Sweet Tomatoes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Appetizer
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3-4 Small Sweet Tomatoes
  • 4 Oz Goat Cheese
  • 1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary
  • 6-8 Kalamata Olives Pitted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • In a small dish, place goat cheese and place in the over for 5-10 mins until softened. 
  • While in the oven, pit olives (if not pre-pitted) and separate rosemary from stem.
  • Once goat cheese is semi soft take out of oven and spread the cheese to fully cover the bottom of the dish. 
  • Sprinkle fresh rosemary. Add 3-4 tomatoes and add olives
  • Turn broiler on low and place cheese in oven
  • Melt under broiler for approximately 5 mins. Pay close attention to the cheese as things can burn quickly under the broiler. 
  • Once melted, remove from oven. Drizzle olive oil on the top. Best served with warm bread.
Goat Cheese Fondue

I hope you love this appetizer as much as I do. I think it will become one of your favorites! If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think of it below in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more easy recipes!

How to Create a Guest Room They Won’t Want to Leave

This post, How to Create a Guest Room They Won’t Want to Leave, contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through a link I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

Hospitality is all about creating a home away from home. Learn how to create a guest room they won’t want to leave.

How to create a guest room they won't want to leave

Traveling is stressful. There is so much to remember when you pack, especially if you have a family. Commercial flights used to be nice, even fun. Now your knees are crammed into the seat in front of you and you’re forced to touch thighs of strangers in ever shrinking seats. Moreover, airlines no longer treat you like a person. If there is one thing you desire when you travel, it’s comfort. That’s why when guests choose to stay with us, I take it as a personal mission to make them feel comfortable. 

Create a Guest Room

Create the perfect guest room by making  your guest comfortable – and you make your guest comfortable by anticipating their needs. Basic needs are hunger, thirst, sleep, and personal and spacial cleanliness. I certainly don’t have all the answers. But today, I’m going to share what I do to make guests feel at home. 

Decorate you guest room for the seasons

Textiles & Bedding

img_3760

Getting a good sleep is pretty high on the list when it comes to comfort. Sleeping in a strange place causes most of us to repeatedly wake up in the middle of the night. Therefore, I strive to make guests as comfortable as possible. First, I provide the same quality of bedding as I do for myself. So my guestroom has quality pillows, Egypitan cotton sheets and belgian linen (Pottery Barn duvet and shams). I provide extra blankets and bedding in this beautiful custom Amish cedar chest. You never know if a guest will be too cold or warm in the middle of the night. Therefore, I provide a blankets and sheets of varying warmth. Which leads us to the next must-have item in your guest room. Black out curtains or curtains that block out the light reasonably well. Guests may nap during the day or need to sleep in. That being said, I also know that sleeping in a strange place with different ambiant noises and light can be challenging, so I also provide guests with the following:

  • Ear plugs
  • Sleeping Mask
  • Do not disturb sign (so I know they are choosing to sleep in)
img_3761

Clothes

It should go without saying, but consider providing a hamper and wastebasket for your guests. I’m often surprised how many times I don’t have this when staying with someone. No one wants to sleep in a mess. Give them a place to put their dirty clothes instead of the floor, on furniture or wadded up in luggage.

Wicker hamper

I had a job that required me to travel and I will tell you, I despise living out of a suitcase. This is why I always try to provide drawers, hangers and closet space for my guests. Offer guests as much comfort as you can.

You don’t need to purchase a luggage rack, although that’s a nice touch. But someplace to store their luggage (a corner, a closet, etc) is definitely nice so it’s out of their way. A table top ironing board and iron is helpful, but not necessary (Tip: Never, ever iron directly on a mattress. Mattresses contain a highly toxic fire retardant that can release carcinogens when heated and top bedding can ignite quickly.)

Food & Drinks

I’ve been surprised how many guests have mentioned they loved this, because it is such a small thing to do, but I create a snack basket for my guests. Let’s be honest, we all get a late night snack attack and when you do, you don’t really want to sneak into your host’s pantry – especially if you’re already in your pajamas or skivvies! Awkward. I get it. So I create a small basket of savory and sweet snacks. 

Some ideas could be: nuts, granola bars, chips, fruit snacks, chocolate, candy, popcorn, hot chocolate, tea, juice boxes, soda, fruit, chex mix, mints, etc.

Guest room snack basket

We have a refrigerator in our media room which is adjacent to our guest room, so I don’t worry about drinks too much. That is, except for water.

Have you ever woken up parched in the middle of the night? Everyone has. Moreover, they may take medicine or vitamins and need water to swallow them.

When you create a guest room, always provide a carafe of cold water with a glass. If you are worries about water rings on furniture, you can provide a tray and coasters.

I actually provide an in-room single-serve coffee pot. I’m a coffee and tea drinker. I know many people would love to have their coffee while they are getting ready for the day. On the other hand, some people just prefer to have that cup in the peace and quiet of their room. 

In room coffee pot, reading light and alarm clock

Entertainment

Obviously, a television is a great way to entertain your guests. Most people have streaming accounts so a TV and a Roku stick are great. That said, make sure to provide guests with your wi-fi network and password so they don’t have to burn through their data. I made and framed a cute wi-fi signed that I framed in the guest room. You can make one yourself or purchase this for your own room from my Etsy store or shop. 

wi-fi password sign

Should you choose not to put a TV in your guest room, I suggest putting an alternate form of entertainment like magazines and coffee table books. Make sure to provide a reading light or lamp. 

Guest room entertainment - books
Coffee Table Books

These days, everyone has devices, but I still provide a radio alarm clock or dock as a back up alarm. In addition, provide a visible outlet near the bed to charge up devices. A charging station really makes it easy for your guests. I’ve provided a link to the two I love.

Create a Guest Bath

There is a reason why hotel rooms don’t have cabinets in their bathrooms. It’s awkward to rummage behind closed doors that aren’t yours. Hotels always have necessary items within reach and in view. Guests want to know where to find things and don’t want to invade your privacy when they need things.

Let’s be real for a moment. There are very few things as embarrassing as being in a guest bathroom with no toilet paper. Having to call out to a host or ask a room mate to fetch you a roll is awful. Make sure there is more than enough toilet paper and towels than their stay requires and keep it in plain sight.

I’ve used floating shelves, but you could also use a toilet paper holder like these below. I actually have these in other bathrooms.

Necessary elements:

  • Hand towels
  • Bath towels
  • Wash cloths
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand soap
  • Body Wash

Thoughtful Elements

  • Fresh Flowers
  • Candle or air freshener
  • Cotton balls and cotton swabs
  • A basket of toiletries
  • Hairdryer
Soaps on top of a towel

I’ve traveled a lot in my life. 32 countries is nothing to sneeze at! But despite all my experience, it seems like I always forget something! I know how inconvenient it is to hunt for a store at 10 p.m. to get a toothbrush. That’s why I try to provide guests with a few things they might forget. 

In the bathroom, I keep a little basket of extras. In our basket: sunscreen, lotion, face cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, tampons, maxi pads, disposable razor, facial tissue, lip balm, deodorant, contact solution, hairspray, body powder, trial size cosmetics, leave in-conditioner, dental floss, dry shampoo, etc. I basically don’t throw away samples I get. They wind up here to help out forgetful guests.

guest room toiletries

In conclusion, I seek to create a relaxing, refreshing haven for my guests. I hope I’ve helped you learn how to create a guest room. I would love to hear the special things you do for your guests, in the comments below.

The post Creating A Guest Room They Won’t Want To Leave first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Learn about how to create a Hot Chocolate Bar

Hot Chocolate Bar

A Hot Chocolate Bar is a fun way to entertain and feed your guests at the same time. It’s always a huge hit at my holiday parties. Today, I’m sharing how to create an awesome hot chocolate bar your guests will love. 

Hot chocolate bar

I love entertaining. I love creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere for family and friends to flock to. But even more specifically, I love when people are actually excited to come. When they start asking me months in advance if I will be hosting something, I know they enjoy it. For the last 6 years or so I’ve done a hot chocolate bar during the holidays. I’ve been shocked to learn how much guests love this. They’re talking about it even weeks after the event. So today I’m going to share how I create a hot chocolate bar.

I will share all the things I’ve learned through (mistakes and) the years. Guests naturally want something to do. They enjoy being entertained. Guests also typically wait to be served and even being the first one to slice into a dish can be awkward. So giving them something that they can’t wait to dig into is a great ice breaker. The hot chocolate bar also get your guests to serve themselves and be happy about it! It takes the pressure off you to constantly refresh drinks. I have found the hot chocolate bar is a total win all the way around! Let me show you how to do it!

How To Set Up Your Hot Chocolate Bar

Slow Cooker Recommendations

I recommend using a slow cooker to keep your hot chocolate warm over several hours. The size of the slow cooker is dependent upon how much you are serving.

There are 4 cups to a quart. Consider that one cup is about 8 ounces. Most mugs and disposable coffee cups are typically around 12 ounces which is greater than a cup. Also consider that guests may have more than one cup. Here is what I recommend:

  • 3-4 qt slow cooker for 8-12 cups
  • 5-7 qt slow cooker for 12-20 cups
  • 8 qt slow cooker for 20 or more cups

The slow cooker can hold more than I’ve recommended, but when the contents are piping hot, it is best not to fill the slow cooker to the rim. Always use caution when leaving hot appliances around your guests.

The Hot Chocolate

You may have your favorite hot chocolate recipe. However, if you’re struggling to find a good one, look no further. I have the best hot chocolate recipe you will ever find! It’s creamy and decadent. It’s absolutely delicious and always has rave reviews from my guests. I’m always asked for the recipe, so I’ve shared it here.

I’m going to give you a great tip: Reynolds Slow cooker Liners are the best invention ever! Okay, maybe not the best like electricity or running water, but still amazing. I don’t use a lot of disposable things, but I highly recommend these. They make cleaning your Crockpot a 30 second chore. They fit all slow cookers. No scrubbing or soaking your dirty slow cooker. Just put the liner in like you would a trash bag on a trash can. When you’re done, gather and toss in the trash. Easy! You can find the in the store near the Reynolds wrap and sandwich bags.

Cups and Mugs

For small get-togethers I recommend using glass cups or mugs. In an intimate setting, actual dishes create a cozy, personal atmosphere. Don’t be afraid to pull out your beautiful china that rarely gets used. If you’re saving it for the Queen, I hate to tell you this, but she’s never coming. Don’t save it. The time is now.

Disposable cups are great for large parties. Otherwise you will need to keep a constant supply of fresh cups. If you don’t have many, you’ll end up spending the evening chasing down used cups for washing. After many years of hosting I can tell you, people set their cups down and can’t remember which one was theirs, so they simply grab a new cup. It creates endless work for you if you’re hosting a large party.

If you’re hosting, particularly a large party, prepare yourself for spills. They can and will happen. I highly recommend doing what you can to minimize spills and the ensuing damage they cause. That means, getting disposable cups with lids! They actually do help. I also recommend getting sleeves for cups, because even though everyone knows hot chocolate is hot, burns still occur. Do your part as a host to make things safe. I’ve inserted a link on this page to the ones I use. They aren’t fancy, but the neutral color means I can use the unused cups for any other parties during the year.

Toppings

This is where the fun begins. For whipped cream, I just put the can of spray whip in a bowl with ice. The really fun part is watching your guests pile on chocolate mints, peanut butter, or marshmallows. Cherries, nuts, butterscotch and caramel are all great additions. Adults love when you provide liquors along with the toppings. Great options are rum, coconut rum (Malibu), Irish Cream (Baileys), Raspberry (Chambord), Hazelnut (Frangelico) and Coffee (Kahlua). In my Hot Chocolate Bar Printable, I’ve included different pairing recipes!

Here is a tip: I put the toppings in mason jars. This is especially helpful if you’ll be using your hot chocolate bar for several events. Fill your jars with toppings. Label them, so people don’t have to guess or taste test. Make sure to provide spoons or some utensil for serving and to avoid cross contamination. When not in use, pop the lid on and put it away or just leave it on the set up (if it doesn’t need refrigeration).

Decorations

The theme you do is totally up to you. My personal favorite is galvanized metal, buffalo plaid, and kraft paper, but feel free to try things out. If you are super uncreative and have no idea how to pull it together, look no further. I’ve made a Hot Chocolate Bar Printable to help you! Buy it and follow the instructions. Print the sign on photo paper and put it in a document frame or trim it down to size and put it in an 8×10 frame. Print out the labels on full sheet sticker paper. Then cut out and stick them to your favorite container. Pair with red napkins and accessories.

In the Hot Chocolate Bar Printable, I’ve included

  • A Buffalo Plaid Hot Chocolate Bar Sign
  • Labels for Toppings
  • Adult and Child-Friendly Recipes (to encourage creativity)
  • Shopping List

Other Stuff

  • Use a spoon rest to minimize sticky counters. (If you don’t have a spoon rest, a bowl or bread plate works just fine)
  • Always place napkins at your bar. Spills and drips happen.
  • Place coasters where your guests congregate to minimize damage to furniture. (Liquid and heat damages wood)
  • I suggest using stirs for people to stir their mix-ins. They create much less waste than disposable spoons.
  • Paper straws or wooden spoons also add a special touch.

That’s it! I hope this post inspires you to do something fun! I’d love to hear what fun things you do at your parties!

Learn more about the Best Hot Chocolate Recipe you’ll ever find!

If you’re looking for other tools to help you at Christmas, try my Christmas Planner Printable
Continue reading “Hot Chocolate Bar”

The Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist

Looking to take your Halloween party to the next level? Try this Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist, a creepy curated song list for your next spooktacular event!

Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist

I love Halloween. The costumes, the candy, the fun food made to look like insects and bones. Seriously, how fun is that? I love Halloween and not because I get to live out my Walking Dead fantasy (yes, I love zombies with a passion). I throw a Halloween party as often as I possibly can. For years I struggled trying to find Halloween themed music, but after much trial and error, I think I’ve found a good mix!

So today, I’m sharing my Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist. I’ve done the work for you compiling a list of old school and new songs that make for a great party atmosphere.

These days, it’s easy to find playlists on applications like Spotify, Apple ITunes, and Pandora, but if you’re looking to DIY it, here you go! I’m sure this will help get creepy party vibes!

The Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist

  • Thriller, Michael Jackson
  • Ghostbusters, Ray Parker Jr.
  • Witchy Woman, The Eagles
  • Bad Moon Rising, CCR
  • Psycho Killer, Talking Heads
  • Sympathy For the Devil, Guns & Roses
  • Special Death, Mirah
  • I Put A Spell On You, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  • Devil Inside, INXS
  • Love Potion Number 9, The Searchers
  • Spooky, Classics IV
  • The Addams Family Theme, Vic Mizzy
  • Werewolves in London, Warren Zevon
  • Twisted Nerve, The City of Prague Philharmonic
  • Devil Went Down to Georgia, Charlie Daniels
  • Black Magic Woman, Santana
  • Nightmare, Artie Shaw
  • Superstition, Stevie Wonder
  • Ghost Town, The Specials
  • Time Warp, Little Nell, Patricia Quinn, Richard O’Brien (from Rocky Horror Picture Show)
  • Monster Mash, Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt Kickers
  • Season of the Witch, Donovan
  • Weird Science, Oingo Boingo
  • Freakshow, Britney Spears
  • Somebody’s Watching Me, Rockwell
  • The Boogey Monster, Gnarls Barkley
  • The Imperial March, John Williams (from Star Wars)
  • In the Midnight Hour, Wilson Pickett
  • Super Freak, Rick James
  • Out of Limits, The Marketts
  • American Horror Story Theme, Cesar Davila-Irizarry & Charlie Clouser
  • Witch Doctor, David Seville
  • Beetlejuice Theme, Danny Elfman
  • Evil Ways, Santana
  • Jump In the Line, Harry Belafonte
  • Little Red Riding Hood, Sam “The Sham” & The Pharaohs
  • Hedwigs Theme, John Williams (from Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets)
  • Jaws Theme, John Williams
  • Frankenstein, The Edgar Winter Group

Take a look another music playlist in the post Classic Rock Mornings: Your Sunday Playlist

The post, The Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess