Lifestyle

Colorado Springs – Garden of the Gods

We love getting out in nature. As fortune has it, we were lucky enough to get to Colorado last summer. We covered our trip to Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain in a previous post. Today we are going to stroll down memory lane and recall all of the amazing fun that we had in Colorado Springs – Garden of the Gods. We will talk a bit about the history of the site, and cover some of the amenities and attractions that the site has to offer. If you are interested in an amazing outdoor adventure that won’t cost your family a dime, then keep reading!!

History – Garden of the Gods

As we mentioned previously, Garden of the Gods is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The two-hundred and eighty acre site was originally purchased to be a summer home for the head of the Burlington Railroad, Charles Elliott Perkins. Thankfully, he preferred the splendor and beauty of the land he purchased and chose not to build his summer home on the property itself. Instead, before he passed, he arranged for the land to become a public park. The land was conveyed to Colorado Springs in 1909 by the Perkins Children on behalf of their fathers wishes, with a few stipulations.

Perkins’ Stipulations

Perkins insisted in his grant that the park was to remain free to the public, forever. In addition, Perkins wanted to create a family-friendly attraction, so he allowed no alcohol to be manufactured, sold or dispensed on the site. Lastly, to preserve all of the natural beauty of the land, he included a clause that no buildings or other structures can be built unless they are for the care of the property.

Garden of the Gods still adhere to these stipulations today. The Garden does have a rather impressive Visitors and Nature Center, which are located across the street from the site itself. Inside you can view interactive exhibits on geology including a new dinosaur species. You can also familiarize yourself with local flora and fauna. They even have a display filled with taxidermized local wildlife. Lastly, you can learn more about the history and people of the indigenous tribes through an exhibit that guides you through the life of the Red Rock People and early American explorers. Keira loved getting her picture taken while she sat on top of the metal bison in the local wildlife display.

In addition to the exhibits the Visitors and Nature center, there is a small café and gift shop. The café offers healthy and exciting lunch options for children and adults. I can’t wait to go back for their Chicken Pesto Chango! We’ve visited a TON of gift shops during our Colorado adventures and Garden of the God’s is by far the best gift shop. If you intend to take home a little something for your family and friends this is the place to get it. The American Indian pottery and jewelry displays alone are worth the venture into the gift shop.

Getting Around – Trolley Ride

You can sign up and pay for all of your adventuring at the Visitor’s Center in Garden of the Gods. They host various different adventure programs where you can enjoy rock climbing, photography classes, and guided hikes through the park. They also offer bike rentals, electric bike rentals, Segway tours, Jeep tours and Trolley Tours. Of course, you are free to bring your own non-gas-powered modes of transportation. You can also walk, but the site is rather expansive. For the cost and convenience, we picked the Trolley tour. Lost was our tour guide, and she was amazing. We were impressed by how energetic she was and her stories were funny and relevant. She was full of knowledge and she had a unique Colorado style about her. Her take on Garden of the Gods definitely made the whole process fun and her energy was contagious.

Getting Around – Hiking

After the trolley tour with Lost we ventured down the hiking trails. There is a large section of paved trails that break off into dirt paths. The rock formations along the paths are incredible! Seeing the rocks from the trolley is impressive, but when you are standing next to them, you get a deep appreciation for just how massive these formations are. Climbing on top and posing for pictures is a popular activity on and around the rocks.

During our trail hike we went back to some of the rock formations that Lost discussed during her tour. How these rocks stay balanced and their interesting formations was fascinating. The rocks look like they could tip over at any minute… but they don’t because they have been in this position for ages. In addition to the rock formations, you can explore small staged cliff dwellings that reproduce the way people lived in ancient times.

Preparation

 If you plan on spending any time around the rocks, bring a good first-aid kit. The chances of skinned knees and elbows are very high. Also, make sure you bring lots of water. Hydration in high desert is not a joke… It does not take long to dry out at that elevation. Lastly, make sure you have everyone slathered in sunscreen and that everyone is wearing a good hat. The sun is closer than you think, so things get hot quickly! Also, sturdy walking shoes are a must. Pro-tip: We recommend taking a park map with you when you venture down the paths. There are park guides and rangers traveling around to assist if you become lost. To avoid this issue, you should remain on the paths at all times.

Conclusion

Visit the Garden of the Gods website to find out more. While you are there, check out their calendar of events and plan your trip. Garden of the Gods remains free to the public and is one of our favorite places to climb amazing rocks!

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Lifestyle

Crostini & Olive Oil Herb Dip

Our Crostini & Olive Oil Herb Dip is a perfect way to start off just about any meal. The simple, fresh ingredients combine into an easy to prepare, flavorful appetizer or side dish. These crostini also look and taste great, so they are a perfect compliment to any charcuterie or grazing board. If you are looking for inspiration, check out our Valentine’s Day No-Cook Charcuterie Board.

Crispy, Crunchy Crostini & Olive Oil Herb Dip

Preparing the Crostini

Because it all starts with a baguette or similar sized bread, making a crostini is quite easy. Pick up a thin baguette at your local grocery store. Simply use a bread knife to cut the baguette into thin slices. Our crowd likes them cut at 1/2″ thick, but find what works for you. As long as the bread holds up to dipping, there is no such thing as too thin. Place the baguette slices on a cooking sheet or in an oven crisper.

If you will indulge me for a moment, I need to get a shameless plug in for my oven crisper. These things are life-changing. I am not exaggerating, not even a little bit. They make reheating food a snap. And if you are like me and love crispy, crunchy tater-tots, you absolutely need one of these in your kitchen.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake the crostini for 5 minutes. Flip the baguette pieces over and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until they are slightly browned. Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of your bread. Also, if you like your bread a bit on the darker side, you may want to leave your crostini in a bit longer to bring out those charred flavors.

It is worth mentioning, that not everyone will want their bread toasted. This dish still tastes great when served with just the baguette slices. If you prefer your breads soft, or simply don’t have the time or energy, consider skipping the crostini and making this a no-cook night!

Preparing the Olive Oil Herb Dip

This herb dip is super simple and contains a great blend of aromatic spices. Because it calls for ingredients that are probably already in your cabinets, it is a perfect choice for busy weeknights.

Ingredients

  • Dried Rosemary – 1 TSP
  • Crushed Red Pepper – 1 TSP
  • Dried Basil – 1 TSP
  • Ground Black Pepper – 1 TSP
  • Dried Oregano – 1 TSP
  • Granulated Garlic – 1 TSP
  • Dried Parsley – 1 TSP
  • Minced Garlic – 1 TSP
  • Kosher Salt – 1 TSP
  • 1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Instructions

Presentation

You may have noticed that we chose to serve our Crostini & Olive Oil Herb Dip on a lovely Birch board with turquoise epoxy inlay. While we don’t serve everything we make on a charcuterie board, we certainly think it adds a touch of class to any event. We have boards for all occasions and tastes in our Etsy shop. We also have a selection of end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks available as well. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop, or you can click here to see our selection of boards and blocks on the site.

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Lifestyle

Beginner’s Guide To Wine Glasses

Pairing the proper wine for your meal has been a staple in entertaining for as long as wine has been around. One subtle aspect of enjoying wine that people often overlook is glassware. In our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses, we will share with you everything you need to know to enjoy your favorite vintage to the fullest. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, now would be a great time to check out our Valentine’s Day No-Cook Charcuterie Board. This simple, elegant, and quick treat is sure to delight your special someone.

Wine Glass Design

To keep things simple, we will focus on red wine, white wine, and champagne. There are millions of variations within those three categories, but we will keep it short and sweet for now. There are 2 distinct parts of a wine glass, the Bowl and Stem, that help us identify what type of glass to use for optimum flavor and taste. It is worth noting that the foot of a wine glass is a component, but is not noteworthy other than they vary depending on the size of the glass. They are simply there to provide stability (which is an important job), but add nothing to enjoyment of wine.

The Bowl

Depending on the type of wine you’re drinking the ideal shape and size of the bowl will differ. There are even stemless wine glasses, which are basically just the bowl. The bowl doesn’t just give you something fancy to hold in your hand. It also operates as a decanter. Decanting is the process of exposing the wine to air, allowing the flavors to develop further. As you might have guessed, larger bowls allow far more air than the smaller ones, which is a huge bonus for red wines. Red wines will benefit from the additional air flow, which helps the wine to “open up”. The amount of wine poured into the bowl will also impact the aroma of the wine. For proper flavor and taste, wine should be poured to the widest point in the glass.

The Stem

The length of the stem is another key indicator to help differentiate between Red and White wine glasses.  White wines glasses generally have a longer stem because white wine is best served chilled. This is also why you hold a wine glass from the stem as opposed to the bowl. The longer the stem on your glass, the further away your warm hand will be from the wine. Red wines are usually served at room temperature. Because of this, red wines are not impacted by temperature changes like white wines are.

Choosing A Glass

When selecting a wine glass I often search for the glass that will bring out the best in the wine that I am drinking. Wines have complex flavors and the wrong glass can bring out the wrong notes of the wine. Red wines have three different categories and each category has an ideal glass specifically designed to bring out the very best in the body of the wine. We will cover three types of red wine glasses in our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses.

Red Wines

Bordeaux Glasses – Full bodied over 13.5% alcohol

Full Bodied red wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec. As the name indicates, these wines are known for strong, rich flavor. When poured into the wrong glass, these wines can have a strong alcohol aroma to them. With a proper pour, Bordeaux Glasses are designed to put distance between your nose and the wine. This distance also allows air to flow throughout the glass. This air flow will contribute greatly to a positive tasting experience. Often these types of wines are served from a decanter to ensure there is sufficient air flow to bring out the full body of the wine while also eliminating any off-notes.

Medium-Bodied Glasses – Medium bodied between 12.5% and 13.5% alcohol

This category includes wines such as Cabernet Franc, Carignan, and some Pinot Nior vintages. Old world wines taste best when served in Medium-bodied glasses. These glasses are like the Bordeaux glass but a smaller version. Medium-Bodied glasses help to soften the flavor of the wine. The shape of the glass keeps the alcohol aroma in the glass, similar to the larger Bordeaux glasses.

Burgundy Glasses – Light Bodied under 12.5% alcohol

Light-bodied wines include some Pinot Nior vintages or Gamay. Burgundy wine glasses tend to have a shorter lip. This shorter lip allows the wine to reach your full palate. These glasses have a very distinguished shape. Burgundy glasses are easy to spot because the center appears wider than the top or the bottom.

White Wines

As you may have guessed, white wines also have a variety of glasses that will bring out the best in flavor and taste. White wines are the opposite of the reds. They should be as close to your nose as they can be. Because of this, you are able to smell the sweet aroma that white wines are known for. Therefore, the bowls are shorter, bringing the wine closer to your nose when you drink. Whites wine glasses have 2 distinct types that we will cover in our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses.

High-Acid Glasses

Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Rieslings and Rose wines are examples of high acid white wines. High-acid glasses are generally smaller than full-bodied glasses. Their shorter design allows for the wine to touch the middle of your palate as you sip. These glasses bring out the best in the wine.

Full-Bodied Glasses

Chardonnays are a classic example of a Full-bodied white wine. The opening of a full-bodied glass is wider than a high-acid glass, but not as wide as a red wine glass. This design allows the aroma of the wine to flow past your nose, greatly enhancing aroma.

Champagne Flute

There are some other noteworthy types of glasses. A Champagne Flute for example. Some prefer to drink their champagne from a Burgundy glass, but most enjoy their celebration bubbly from a traditional flute. The Flute bowl is long and narrow with a long stem. The rim is small allowing for the sweet aroma to please your nose.

Universal Glasses

There are also universal glasses you can purchase if you would like to enjoy your wine without the fuss of selecting just the right glass. Stemless wine glasses also come as universal glasses and have increased in popularity over recent years. I have used universal glasses and stemless glasses. If you look closely, you may even see one photographed with a charcuterie board every now and again. In my experience, I find they do not take anything away from my experience.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses. In addition, we are sure that you will use the insights you have gained to enjoy your wine to the fullest! Please take time to check out our other articles and recipes. In addition, we have charcuterie boards for all occasions and tastes in our Etsy shop. We also have a selection of end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks available as well. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop, or you can click here to see our selection of lovely boards on the site.

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Lifestyle

Simple Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Fresh Strawberries and delicious chocolate make such a great couple! This tasty and simple dessert is a staple in our house because they are so easy to make, and we can customize them to match everyone’s preferences – even weirdos who don’t like chocolate. I still can’t get over the fact that Andy doesn’t like chocolate. How?!?! Anyways, I hope you enjoy our Simple Chocolate Covered Strawberries recipe. And if you are looking for more ideas for Valentine’s Day or any intimate affair, check out our Valentine’s Day No-Cook Charcuterie Board for more inspiration.

Simple Chocolate Dipped Strawberries on Walnut Board with Roses
Simple Chocolate Dipped Strawberries on Walnut Board with Roses

Double Boiler

Do you need a double boiler? The short answer is no. You can stack two pots together, or use a metal bowl if you want. Just be careful not to spill hot water or melted chocolate all over the place. A double boiler does make all of this significantly more convenient. It is also safer and easier. And who knows, maybe you will find other uses for your double boiler, like making candles, or melting home-made caramel.

Drizzle Spoons

Drizzle spoons are the coolest thing we have added to our kitchen arsenal in quite some time. They make decorating the strawberries an absolute breeze. We have found many other creative uses for them , such as adding an artistic flair to dips and dishes by drizzling on ingredients that create flavor or color contrasts. That said, you don’t need drizzle spoons. regular spoons, forks, or whatever you have handy will work to get lines of yummy chocolate on your strawberries.

Chocolate Types

There are so many choices when it comes to chocolate. We chose to keep things simple for this recipe, but feel free to get what you like. Regardless of what type of chocolate you choose, try to stick to chips or mini-chips. Larger chunks of chocolate can provide a bit of a challenge to melt fully.

White Chocolate Chips

Milk Chocolate Chips

Dark Chocolate Chips

Instructions

So, we have all of our ingredients ready to cook. We also have our pots, pans, and drizzle pens ready to go, so let’s start cooking!!

  • Fill 3 cooking pots 1/2 way with water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. It is important to maintain a low simmer.
  • Fill each double boiler 1/2 way with white, milk, and dark chocolate chips.
  • Place double boilers on top of simmering pots.
  • Stir chocolate with rubber spatula until it is silky smooth. Continue to stir periodically through next steps to avoid burning.
  • Hold strawberries by the stem and dip into chocolate. Set on plate or tray to cool. Move to fridge to set up.
  • Continue to stir chocolate in double boilers.
  • Once strawberries have cooled, use drizzle pen to create contrasting crisscross patterns across the surface of the chocolate.
  • Place strawberries in fridge until ready to enjoy!
Simple Chocolate Dipped Strawberries on Walnut Board with Roses

Presentation

You may have noticed that we chose to serve our Chocolate Covered Strawberries on a lovely, dark walnut board. While we don’t serve everything we make on a charcuterie board, we certainly think it adds a touch of class. We have boards for all occasions and tastes in our Etsy shop. We also have a selection of end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks available as well. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop, or you can click here to see our selection of lovely boards on the site.

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If you enjoyed our Simple Chocolate Covered Strawberries, subscribe below.

Lifestyle

Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Board

No-Cook Charcuterie Boards

We love to cook. That said, we understand that not everyone does! We also have nights where we simply can’t. In order to solve this issue, we have created a number of recipes that require very little preparation. This is why we created our No-Cook Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Board. Don’t worry, this board still have plenty of flavor and fresh ingredients to please your palate. Our goal is to simplify your busy life and allow you to spend more time socializing and enjoying yourself, as opposed to working in the kitchen. All of the ingredients in this recipe can be bought, ready to eat.

Valentine's Day Charcuterie Board by Royal We Studios
Fresh, Delicious, and Simple – Amazing!
Valentine's Day Charcuterie Board Ingredient List
Super Simple Preparation!

Preparation

Prep Time: 30 minutes

With the exception of the Brie Heart, all of the preparation time for this meal is spent either slicing or arranging fruits, meats , or cheeses. Buying ingredients pre-sliced can save even more time, but can get costly. Do what works best for your timing and budget.

Additional Tools

You will need a platter that measure approximately 20″ L x 8″ W. We chose to place this spread on one of our Crown Jewels Collection boards. Click here to see our selection of charcuterie boards. If you don’t have a charcuterie board, don’t worry – the food will still look and taste great! You will need a sturdy metal cookie cutter for the Brie Heart and a paring / chopping knife for the rest of the preparation. A small vase for the flowers will help them to stand upright, or you can lay them on the board – Your call!!

Instructions

Roses

It wouldn’t be a Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Board without a few roses! Cut the stems down to 4-6 inches and bunch 4 together inside of the small vase. Place 1 rose at each end of the board.

Brie Heart

Making Brie Hearts is very simple and gratifying. Not to mention, TASTY! Start by placing the cookie cutter in the center of the cheese. Press down firmly and evenly until the cookie cutter penetrates to the bottom of the cheese. Move the cookie cutter from side-to-side to loosen the cheese. You can also twist the cookie cutter a bit, but be careful not to lose the heart shape. Once the brie inside of the cookie cutter is dislodged from the rest of the wheel, lift up. You should be left with a heart-shaped void in the Brie. Spoon in your favorite preserves and place it at the top of your board. Remove the heart from the cookie cutter and place on the board.

Olive Oil w/Herbs

Add a bit of savory flavor to your Olive Oil with generous amounts of Italian Seasoning. You can also add a pinch of Garlic Powder and Crushed Red Pepper for extra pop. To complete this delicious dipping oil, drizzle Balsamic Vinegar to taste. If you want to take your bread offering to the next level, consider our Crostini & Olive Oil Herb Dip recipe. It has a wider variety of dried herbs and also includes the option to bake your bread for added crunch.

Slice & Garnish

Slice the remaining ingredients and place them as seen on the board above. Once everything is in place, tear off cilantro leaves and place them throughout the dish to give an added pop of fresh color and aroma.

Ready To Serve

Your No-Cook Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Board is ready to serve. Whether you are dining by candlelight with your partner, enjoying a night in with friends, or grazing with the family, this board is sure to delight. If you enjoyed this tutorial, subscribe below and follow us on social media for updates. We will be creating no-cook board ideas for every holiday. In addition, we are constantly posting new Recipes, Charcuterie Boards and Home & Garden tips. Make your night complete by serving up Chocolate Covered Strawberries as a perfect dessert!

Presentation

You may have noticed that we chose to serve our Valentine’s Day No-cook Charcuterie Board on a lovely piece of birch with epoxy inlay. While we don’t serve everything we make on a charcuterie board, we certainly think it adds a touch of class. We have boards for all occasions and tastes in our Etsy shop. We also have a selection of end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks available as well. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop, or you can click here to see our selection of lovely boards on the site.

Featured Items

If you enjoyed our Valentine’s Day No-Cook Charcuterie Board, subscribe below!