Pig, Pear, & Parm Pie + Whole Foods Market Gift Card Giveaway!

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I love me some pie. But, what I do I love even more than pie? A really good cheese. It just so happened to work out that I was working on a pie recipe just about the same time that Whole Foods Market invited me out to try some of their delicious Parmigiano Reggiano. I joined many people across the United States in joining Whole Foods Markets in celebrating Parmigiano Reggiano, the “king of cheese,” with a “crack heard around the world.” Each store simultaneously cracked individual 85-pound wheels using traditional methods. The crew from my store even juggled the cheese!

So, I had to incorporate some of that cheesy goodness in my latest pie creation. I think the Pig, Pear, & Parm Pie is Positively Perfect. ;-)

To celebrate the goodness that is Parmigiano Reggiano I am excited to be giving away a Whole Foods Market Gift Card worth $75!

Read on below for more information on Parmigiano Reggiano and to enter to win a $75 Whole Foods Market Gift Card.

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More About Parmigiano Reggiano from Whole Foods Market:

·       Parmigiano Reggiano at Whole Foods Market is always aged 24 months (this is the best age in terms of flavor and texture – it cannot be called Parmigiano Reggiano until it is aged at least 12 months but WFM goes the extra mile and ages it an additional year).

·       With a documented history dating back almost 1,000 years, only cheese made in one area of Northern Italy – Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and portions of Bologna and Mantua – can bear the Parmigiano Reggiano name.

·       Our cheese buyers travel to Italy each year to hand select the wheels to be sold at Whole Foods Market.

·       Each wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano is 85 pounds and requires special knives for cheesemongers to “crack” it open.

·       Parmigiano Reggiano flavor profile is toasted, salty and nutty with subtle crystal-like texture.

·       Real Parmigiano  Reggiano is known for its studded rind. Learn how to read the numbers on the rind here.

·       Whole Foods Market holds the Guinness World Records® title for the largest number of wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano simultaneously cracked – 426!

 Recipes

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Enter to Win a Whole Foods Market Gift Card:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep scrolling down for the Pig, Pear, & Parm Pie Recipe!

There just isn’t anything quite like the salty combination of Parm cheese with the sweetness of pears. Well, that is, until you add ham. Sweet, savory, and seriously good– this pie is full of alliteration.

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Introducing the…

Pig, Pear, & Parm Pie

 

Ingredients:

Crust:

Check out my tips for baking the perfect pie crust before jumping into making this crust.

  • 2 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1 8 oz Kerrygold butter- Frozen
  • 1/4 cup of ice cold water (as needed)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar

Filling:

  • 1 Ham Steak cubed
  • 4 pears peeled,  seeds removed (check out my tips for this too), and sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • Several twists of Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
  • Dash of Nutmeg
  • Dash of Powdered Ginger

Directions:

 Crust:

  1. Put salt, sugar, and flour in a large bowl. Grate 1 stick of frozen butter into the flour.
  2. Work the flour with your fingers. Work until the mixture is like course crumbs. Try not to overwork the dough. Little pockets of butter are what makes the dough AMAZING when it bakes!
  3. Add in the grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
  4. Slowly add ice water (water that has been chilling in ice… not water with ice) while mixing with your hands. Mix until the dough forms a ball. You may not need all of the ice water. Mix it enough until the dough easily forms a ball.
  5. Split the ball in two and then press into two discs. Wrap in cellophane and put in refrigerator.
  6. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour. SUPER important step. Dough can also be frozen at this point if you’d want to save the dough for a different day.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  8. Roll out each disk dough into a circle that is approximately one and a half sizes larger than the pie plate. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Make sure that the dough is fairly even. Press into pie plate.
  9. Fill with Filling (see below)
  10. Cover top of pie with second disk of crust, crimp the edges, slice an X in the top of pie, and bake at 350 degrees until pie crust is golden brown. Approximately 45 min.

Filling:

  1. Put 4 sliced pears in a large sautee pan on the stove top set to a Medium heat
  2. Add sugar, salt, butter, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to pears
  3. Move pears around in dish until the sugar mixture has melted and covered all pears.
  4. Let cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add Diced Ham to the bottom of the pie crust covered pie plate
  6. Cover with pear mixture
  7. Sprinkle grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over pear mixture
  8. Grind pepper over mixture
  9. Cover top of pie with second disk of crust, crimp the edges, slice an X in the top of pie, and bake at 350 degrees until pie crust is golden brown. Approximately 45 min.

We chose to serve our pie with mixed greens with an apple cider vinaigrette and mimosas at brunch. How would you serve your Pig, Pear, and Parm Pie?

Opal Apple and Grilled Chicken Salad

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Salads are one of my favorite go-to items to make for daytime events. It is an inexpensive, simple, and tasty way to feed a crowd. At my sister’s “Apple of my Eye” Sip and See party, sponsored by Opal Apple, I needed easy to make items that didn’t involve a lot of cooking. I was in an unfamiliar kitchen, so I took the super simple route and got nearly everything pre-made. This salad in particular is an easy meal to serve.

I created this salad with the crisp semi-sweet, semi-sour taste of Opal Apples in mind. Bonus, I didn’t have to worry about the apples browning as the salad sat and waited to be eaten. The non-GMO apples actually retain their bright yellow color when cut.

Grilled Chicken Salad & Opal Apple Salad

Serves approximately 6 meal-sized salads or 12 side portions. All items were bought with ease of use in mind. This salad can also be made completely from scratch and will be equally (if not more) delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Bags of pre-cut and pre-washed Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 packages of pre-cooked Grilled, Sliced Chicken
  • 1 large Opal Apple thinly sliced and diced into large chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups shaved Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup Dried Cranberries (Dried Cherries would be equally as delicious!)
  • 3/4 cup house-made Apple Cider Vinaigrette (see below)

Directions:

  1. Heat pre-cooked chicken in microwave
  2. In large bowl, toss lettuce, chicken, opal apple, dried cranberries, and Apple Cider Vinaigrette
  3. Top with Parmesan cheese & Sliced Almonds
  4. Eat!

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and combine well. Add salt & pepper to taste! Seriously tasty, and simple!

 


 

This post was sponsored by Opal Apples. The thoughts in this post are my own. More information about Opal Apples: Opal is a bright yellow apple that is like none other with its beautiful appearance, distinctively crunchy texture, floral aroma and a sweet, tangy flavor. But one of the most incredible, and natural features of this non-GMO apple is that it does not brown after cutting so it stays crisp and fresh in your salads and your kids’ lunchboxes.

A Well Crafted Man: My Whole30 Experiment and Shurky Jurky Review

Creative Commons Photo via Stephen Oung's Flikr

Creative Commons Photo via Stephen Oung’s Flikr

Cleaning out the system…

In January I changed my diet. I hadn’t been eating foods that would generally be thought of as unhealthy, so I didn’t think this would be a very disruptive experiment. My wife and I had been directed to the Whole30 idea, which basically boils down to eating:

  • meat, pasture-fed and natural, if possible,
  • veggies, in-season are best,
  • some fruit, the higher percentage of water content the better (watermelon has less fructose than mangoes),
  • and a handful of nuts.

Slightly stricter than the Paleo diet it’s based on, it rules out all:

  • sugar,
  • dairy,
  • grains,
  • and legumes.

You’d be surprised how sneaky soy and sugar infest nearly everything in the grocery store. You may also be shocked at how expensive it is to shop for meat and produce, even cutting out those expensive processed foods, and alcohol.

The Whole30 program works like a detox: eliminating food groups that are the usual suspects for food allergens for 30 days, then reintroducing them one at a time. Some symptoms I looked forward to getting rid of: congestion in the mornings, overall fatigue, and once a month headaches. With some skepticism, we decided the pros outweighed the cons, and started the day after New Year’s Day.

We struggled through the first week without too much complaining. Going without half and half in our coffee was a tiny challenge with a nice boost of pride. “Room for cream?” the barista asks. “None for me, thanks; I like it black,” I would smugly say. Going without a glass of wine at dinner was less satisfying, and cutting out beer made me sad. I think I compensated for my lack of beer by over doing the caffeine. My next detox diet will be to go 30 days without caffeine – crazy, I know.

What was most noticeable during the month was the fact that I was always thinking about my diet – even when I wasn’t hungry. It became a part of my identity. I was someone with dietary restrictions. With no history of known food allergies, I’d never had to really think about what I ate. Now, every bite was first mentally reviewed, and queried with the database of “compliant” foods. When my son left a good spoonful of yogurt uneaten, I had to catch myself from finishing up after him. But I felt good – I had clear sinuses each morning, steady energy levels all day, and I felt confident because of my self-discipline.

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Snack, snack, snacking…

When you cut out most carbohydrates – and rice, bread, and potatoes previously made up a large portion of my meals – you’re often left hungry. It takes a while for your body to look to proteins and fat for quick energy, when it’s used to getting its fix from carbs. The Whole30 authors also encourage refraining from over-snacking. Somehow, I was supposed to get by on three filling meals and be done with eating. Maybe someone with a slower metabolism could hack that, but I need to eat!

For snacks, I chose:

  • bananas
  • avocados
  • almonds
  • tuna
  • boiled eggs, until they became part of my very essence (seriously, the return on investment for owning chickens has got to be undeniably high).
  • Yams, which are very easy to cook in the microwave.

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Snackable Whole30 Compliant Protein from Shurky Jurky

But it was difficult to find snack-able proteins. I liked the idea of finding a good beef jerky for snacking. However, most beef jerky in grocery stores have sugar, added flavors, preservatives, and on and on. With serendipitous timing, the guys from Shurky Jurky had recently sent us a sample of their Whole30 compliant beef jerky. If you want to be adventurous, there’s also their chocolate covered jerky. I’m highly tempted to order their monthly subscription – monthly meat, delivered to my door. I’m not usually a fan of jerky – I find it too peppery and spicy – but this was different. It was chewable, smoky, and delicious beef. And it filled the gaps between meals.

Back to Reality…

January is over, and I can go back to eating whatever I want. It’s a little scary, to be honest. Even though I had to follow a restrictive regimen, my body felt good, and I didn’t have to guess what was causing annoying symptoms, aches, and fatigue. I weathered the gentlest cold virus ever over the last week. I’m not going to attribute mystical healing powers to the Whole30 (c’mon, you gotta admit diet programs can be a little cult-like). But I do think my immune system was strengthened. I’m looking forward to spring in the Pacific Northwest, and testing my immunity against the evil hay-fever. I think my body adjusted to higher amounts of protein from beef, pork, chicken, fish, vegetables, and nuts, and lower amounts of starchy foods. And I don’t want to ruin all my hard work. I’m in a difficult position of deciding how to proceed.

Do I want to keep certain food groups out of my diet, even though my experiment is over? Who does that make me – Brian, who doesn’t eat grains or drink beer anymore? Now, I get to choose.


A Well Crafted Party received a complimentary package of the Whole30 Compliant Shurky Jurky for purposes of review. All opinions are those of  A Well Crafted Man. The portable protein snack is created from beef, bison, turkey, or pork. It is Paleo, Gluten-Free, Primal, & Whole30 compliant. Check out the Shurky Jurky website for more information and to purchase your own gourmet jerky.

Holiday Recipe: Baked Eggnog Custard with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Baked Eggnog Custard Holiday Recipe // A Well Crafted Party

There is nothing quite like a great holiday dessert.

This dessert recipe is perfect for a holiday dinner for two— or you can make a larger batch and serve it at a holiday bash! I love how the baked custard creaminess of this dish makes me want to sit in front of a fire and cuddle up close to someone special. The eggnog, cinnamon, and molasses cookie crumble makes it taste like the holidays. I created this eggnog custard from a seriously delicious eggnog I found at Whole Foods Market called Traderspoint Creamery Grassfed Eggnog.

Eggnog custards are by no means an original idea. A simple google search will yield several delicious recipes. My recipe breaks down the process down to the simplest, easiest recipe that still yielded a delicious result. I upped the difficultly and the taste just a little with the custard toppings. But, if you are looking for a quick, easy dessert to wow your loved ones then this eggnog custard is a great base!

Ingredients for the baked eggnog custard

 

Baked Eggnog Custard with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and a Ginger Molasses Cookie Crumble

Serves 2 — Approximately 1 hour (though, most of that is oven and cooling time)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Traderspoint Creamery Grassfed Nog
  • Dash of Salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (1 for the custard and 2 for the whipped cream)
  • 2 4oz ceramic oven-safe dishes
  • 1 ginger mollasses cookie crumbled
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • One baking dish with at least 1 inch sides

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Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, 1 tablespoon of sugar, a dash of salt, and eggnog. Pour the mixture in to the two ceramic dishes.
  3. Put the two ceramic dishes in the deep baking dish. Fill the baking dish with water so that the water comes up halfway along the sides of the ceramic dishes.
  4. Bake the dishes for approximately 40 minutes. The tops of the custards will puff and brown.
  5. While baking the dishes, make your cinnamon whipped cream. Using a handheld or table top mixer, whip the heavy cream until it begins to have stiff peaks. Add in the remaining sugar (2 tablespoons), cinnamon, and vanilla, and mix. Be careful to not over beat your whipped cream or it will begin to clump.
  6. After the custards are out of the oven, let cool, top with whipped cream and the cookie crumble.

Only top the custards with toppings right before serving. Serve at room temperature for a thinner custard. Or, chill in fridge for a few hours for a thicker custard. Both are delicious!

Check out these other great eggnog custard recipes that I’ve tried and liked:

  • Baked Eggnog Custards by The Kitchn — larger yield than my recipe and has alcohol in it! YUM.
  • Real Simple’s Eggnog Custard doesn’t have eggnog in it, but the flavor is amazing and rich.

 

Bacon Wrapped Scallops and a Whole Foods Market Gift Card Giveaway

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Over the past month I’ve had several conversations with friends (and foodies) about Thanksgiving and the upcoming meal prep and plans. While some friends couldn’t wait to get to making their traditional items, others were commenting on the fact that they’d love to experiment with new items. Me? I fall into the “loves to experiment” category.

The past few several years we have spent Thanksgiving with friends because we live so far away from family. I love that am able to experiment often with new dishes to bring to our Friendsgiving dinner table. Areas that I find the easiest to experiment with for holiday dishes, even with all kinds of tradition-loving folks around, are the appetizers and desserts!

Which is why when Whole Foods Market approached me with the idea of creating a new holiday dish with ingredients from their store, I immediately went for creating an appetizer and a dessert selection. I created bacon wrapped scallops and elevated them with a fig butter spread. I also made a fun dessert I will share soon!

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with a Fig Spread

Click the tab above for the Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Fig Spread Recipe. Read on below for your chance to win a $25 Whole Foods Gift card so you can recreate this dish or something else entirely!

Enter to win a $25 Gift Card to Whole Foods Market!

This is a flash giveaway and will be over at the end of the day on the 25! That way you might be able to use your gift card for your holiday food shopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Bacon Wrapped Scallops Ingredients

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Fig Spread

Ingredients:

  • 12 Whole Catch Sea Scallops (Thawed)
  • 12 slices Wellshire Bacon
  • AFA Organic Fig Spread
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • Bamboo Skewers (optional)
  • Aluminum Foil

Directions:

1. Cut a length of foil off so that it will cover the bottom of a cookie sheet (a sheet that has at least a 1/2 inch edge) crumple up a bit, and then spread onto the cookie sheet. This will be a place for your bacon to rest on and drain as it cooks in the oven. Lay out slices of Wellshire bacon on the foil. Place bacon in cool oven, set at 350 degrees F, and cook for approximately 30 minutes. You’ll want to check your bacon to make sure it is done, but still pliable. Avoid crunchy bacon as it won’t wrap well around the scallop.

2. While bacon is cooking, spread some of the Fig spread on a platter or dinner plate. Spread using the back of a spoon.

3. While bacon is cooking, and after your platter is prepped, toss your scallops in a bowl with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

4. Take Bacon out of oven when done and let cool some.

5. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Put tablespoon of butter in pan. The pan needs to be hot to sear the scallops just right. Place about 6 scallops in the hot pan. DO NOT MOVE. Just let the scallops sizzle for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Turn the scallops using a pair of tongs. Then, let that side sizzle for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. The scallop will come opaque in color and firm. Move out of pan and onto a plate. Sear the remaining scallops.

6. Take bacon pieces and wrap around the scallops. Place on the platter with fig spread. Or, alternatively, place a few on a bamboo skewer and serve on skewer.

Garnish with chopped green onions if desired.

When eating the scallops make sure  you get some of the fig spread in each bite. It is divine! Serve as an appetizer or with a green salad as a light lunch or dinner.

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Holiday Mingle Pt One: Food in Portland

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I was beyond thrilled when one of the Portland Blogger organizers, Bee from The Spicy Bee, worked with local PR company Little Green Pickle to bring together an amazing opportunity for local bloggers. The Holiday Mingle was slotted as an opportunity for local bloggers to get a chance to meet and connect with some amazing restaurants and food vendors from the area– right in time for their holiday projects!  It was also an opportunity to listen to a panel of PR professionals talk about working with bloggers. Only in Portland can you get competitors working together to create an amazing event that hopefully, in the end, is beneficial to everyone involved.

I’m breaking this post up into two posts because there is just so much to cover… so, now I give you the amazing food and some fabulous companies! I’ll be back soon with tips for bloggers from real PR pros!

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The restaurant owners and vendors that came out for the Holiday Mingle brought their A-game. I highly encourage you to read on if you are in Portland looking for great places to eat, are planning on traveling to Portland, or are looking for an item or two for your foodie friends and family for the holidays.

I’ve been impressed with many of these restaurants in the past:

  • The Original Dinerant was the site of last year’s birthday party (where I had amazing food and excellent service) so getting to try some more of their dessert menu and some seriously amazing deviled eggs was certainly a highlight of my evening.
  • The Bent Brick wow’d me back in May with a fabulous Happy Hour selection. They brought their tasty smoked salmon chips (and other tasty menu items) to the Mingle. The only thing missing was their Peat & Peet whiskey drink that I fell in love with on my last visit.
  • Besaws is one of my absolute favorite places to go to brunch. The hubs and I usually bring visiting friends or family there over when they are traveling over the weekend. But, did you know they also do dinner!?
  • Another place I bring visitors to is Departure Restaurant and Lounge– not only does it have an amazing deck with a view of the city, but seriously tasty drinks and foods. Chef Gregory Gourdet showed up at the Mingle to pretty much everyone’s delight.
  • Olympic Provisions is a local salumeria. Their meats make for the best charcuterie platters! I’ve totally dined on and purchased Olympic Provisions goodies before… but, was completely unaware that they also have restaurants in the area. I can’t wait to try them out. (Also, they sell their meats… and, if you didn’t know, my birthday is just around the corner!)
  • Water Avenue Coffee and I go way, way back. ;) I fell in love with their rich, smooth coffee at a past Portland Bloggers’ meet-up. Since then I’ve visited their shop to also enjoy a great latte, tasty treats, and their laid back atmosphere. Whenever a blogger wants to meet at Water Avenue Coffee for a meeting the answer is always YES.

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The Original Deviled Eggs

And, the new-to-me vendors really gave a great first impression:

  • Tails & Trotters specializes in Northwest Hazelnut Finished Pork. O.M.G. (I don’t use that phrase often.) I couldn’t believe that you could actually TASTE the hazelnuts on the pork that we tried. It was amazing and it will end up in one of my holiday dishes this year. I can’t wait to start recipe testing! Oh, and if you are in NE Portland then you should stop by and grab a ham sandwich at their sandwich counter!
  • Double Dragon‘s appetizers at the event were the first that I had the opportunity to try. They brought a selection of bites that had the most amazing flavors and spices. I’m pretty sure I had a foie gras pate on bread and a mushroom pate.  AMAZING. And, I often frequent the SE area of Portland… I’ll be there to try some of their Banh Mi as soon as possible.
  • Fishpeople Seafood sent everyone home with packs of their Seafood Entree Pouches that have whole food products and no gross ingredients. I can’t wait to try these for dinner or even a quick to make lunch in the office. The ingredient list on the back of the package is the thing that really made me excited. I understand every word on the package and would cook with the ingredients in my own home.

A lot of my readers are from the PNW area and I hope that this list helps bring to light some of the awesome companies we have available. But, even if you aren’t from Portland, some of the products above can be shipped! I would be thrilled to find many of these items under the tree or at the holiday dinner table this season!

A big thank you to Macey Snelson & Chloe from Little Green Pickle for photos!
And to these amazing vendors and professionals that donated their time, expertise, and product:

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Featured: Fancy Fall Figs on Live the Fancy Life

Fancy Fig Recipe by A Well Crafted Party and Featured on Live the Fancy Life

 

The Fallen For You Printables that I created for a Live the Fancy Life guest post needed a delicious appetizer to really set off the table. Bonus, it served as a sweet and simple date for me and my hubby. These roasted figs are stuffed with a creamy goat cheese, drizzled with a peppered honey syrup, and garnished with sliced almonds. They paired beautifully with a crisp, dry sparkling wine.

Hop on over to Live the Fancy Life to get the recipe for this great early Fall appetizer!

Five Tips for Planning a Community Event + Portland Bloggers Picnic Review

Five Tips for Planning a Community Event + Portland Bloggers Picnic Review

I’ve been behind on posting about some of the many events that I’ve been attending lately. I don’t like filling your feeds with pictures of people you don’t know or things you may not care about. I try my best not to post ALL of the events at once. I also really want to focus on the things that you can use to celebrate one of your own life events, make in  your home, use as style or beauty tips, or at least find pretty to look at.

Near the end of July I posted a week of Picnic posts in honor of the Portland Bloggers’ Family picnic. I seriously have about 5 drafts of picnic posts I didn’t complete. I may have to save them for next Summer for another picnic week. And, while I shared some of the iPhone snaps of the event, I didn’t get the chance to post the gorgeous photos our amazing professional photographer shot of the event.

5 tips for planning a community event

Five Tips for Planning a Community Event

So, to make this post about more than just sharing photos of a whole bunch of (awesome) strangers, I wanted to share a few tips for hosting a community style event. Community events could include a blogging community, church group, Instagram meet-ups, block parties… you get the idea. ;-) Photos feature members (and their families) of the Portland Bloggers group and are taken by the lovely Portland Lifestyle Photographer Macey of Motormouth Studios.

1. Make sure you have the right licensing for your event.

Licensing? But, I’m just throwing a picnic! Well, once you get out of the small group of people that can go anywhere together part of a gathering then you need to make sure that you have all your legal bases covered. Portland Parks have a great website that allowed me to find the park with the amenities I wanted and the prices of the rental fees. Even block parties now days usually need to have some sort of licensing to protect everyone invested in the event. Check for information online first and then give potential venues a call.

planning a community event

2. Make sure your venue has a restroom and parking.

Oiw… this one is a toughie for a lot of venues. Restrooms and adequate parking are MUSTS for events. Yes, sometimes you have to deal with things like metered parking… and, it sucks, but it is better than NO parking or unsafe parking areas. Make guests away of the parking situation before hand whether in the invite, online message, or by phone.

3. Try to get an easy-to-find location or give REALLY good directions in the invitations.

Boy did this not go right for our event. I reserved a fairly popular park, but google maps sent everyone to a different part of the park and the park did not have great signage. It was a MESS. Thankfully everyone eventually found us! A way to avoid what we did is visit the site before your event and inform guests of special directions. Also, check to make sure you have phone reception at the venue in case people try tweeting, calling, or texting you at the event.

planning a community event

4. Put out items that guests can recognize to know that they are going to the right place.

Balloons, signs, and bunting are great ways of letting your guests know where you are visually. Our picnic space at the Portland Bloggers’ picnic was fairly recognizable due to its balloons and signage. As a matter of fact, we had several people come to our site while looking for a different group because they were looking for ANYTHING that resembled an organized event.

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5. Make it Potluck or BYO!

Unless you have a company or well-off organization backing your event then the question of who is going to pay for what is definitely going to come up. Making the event a potluck or a Bring-Your-Own event can help share the costs of the event. Be up front about any costs or expectations in your invitation of the event. We made our event a “bring-you-own and if you want to share extra, feel-welcome” event. Everyone brought picnic lunches for themselves and their family members and a few people brought treats to share!


About Portland Bloggers:

Portland Bloggers is a meet-up group and blogging resource for Portland, Oregon area bloggers and businesses. (Click the above “Portland Bloggers” tab for more information, a list of awesome Portland Bloggers, and to see more photos from our Portland Bloggers’ meet-up!

recomonk

Recomonk was in house at the Portland Bloggers’ meet-up sharing their brand new blogging widget with our group. Recomonk is an easy way to share reviews and recommendation for music, movies, books and products you love with your blog readers. Click over to find out how you can earn rewards and easily share YOUR recommendations with your readers by clicking over to Recomonk.com.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any financial compensation to mention Recomonk, but they did give away a free gift card at the Portland Bloggers’ event. I know that some of my readers are bloggers and might like the opportunity to discover a new resource. All opinions are my own.

Portland Bloggers 2013

I’ve been so lucky to have been a part of the Portland Bloggers’ meet-up groups for some time now. We have such a great, supportive community and some of my dearest friends have been made through my participation of this group. Sometimes blogging can feel like a very lonely job. While it is great to be your own boss and have full control over content and the likes… it can also become daunting, boring, or just plain un-inspiring at times. Getting out into the real-world and meeting fellow bloggers— people who understand why you continually check twitter and bring a camera to dinner— can help inspire better content, relieve some work stresses, and help build your audience and connections. I’d highly recommend finding a meet-up group in your area.

If you are in the Portland, Oregon area then we’d love to see you get involved with the Portland Bloggers’ group or one of the other many meet-up groups out here. If you live in the Pacific Northwest then the PNW Blogger group is a great one to get involved with!

Portland Blogs you should know

Portland Bloggers You Should Know:

Below is a list of many of the bloggers that showed up to the Portland Bloggers’ picnic. (My memory is a little fuzzy… so, please forgive me if you were there and are not on the list. Email, Tweet, or comment that you were there and I’ll make sure you get added!) If you are looking for some new blogs to peruse and follow then definitely check these out or pin the above photo to come check out later!

  • 12oz Beehouse— A place for Coffee, Style, Crafting, and lots of pictures of beautiful Portland OR
  • A Tiny Rocket—About a girl chasing after art.
  • A Well Crafted Party— Oh wait… you are already here. Haha. ;-)
  • Adventures in Dressmaking—Sewing, DIY, Décor
  • Capturing Grace — I photograph portraits (family, maternity, newborns and seniors) and I shoot editorial assignments and love photographing food. My simple, “Photo Blog”, is where I share my favorite images from my photo shoots. Enjoy!
  • Chic Steals— Staying on-trend with a hefty dose of creativity and a ton of DIY- find some fabulous fashion steals and Chic Steals.
  • Dress This Nest— Fashion buyer turned Portlander and stay-at-home mom renovates a Cape Cod home in Laurelhurst
  • Mind Fit Move— Home of Mindfulness based Fitness.
  • Motormouth Studios— Lifestyle, Family, Children, Senior and Event Photography and Graphic/Web Design
  • Pea Roo—A blog boutique and kids’ fashion, preloved
  • Pechluck’s Food Adventures—A blog that chronicles adventures in eating in Portland- dining out and cooking and imbibing with appreciation for local Portland deliciousness.
  • Pepper Scraps— Healthy Mom = Heathly Family
  • Rain OR Shine— A family blog with a Northwest perspective.
  • The Boho Mama— I’m a free-spirited mama of twin girls writing about motherhood and our daily adventures, coffee in hand.
  • The Spicy Bee— A food blog featuring recipes, restaurant reviews, and events. Introduce some spice to your cooking repertoire.
  • Thyme of Taste— We are foodies from the PNW, who love food to share our food recipes, reviews and everyday adventures!
  • Tossing the Script — Positive body/self image blog- writing a new story one day at a time.
  • Word Savant— Thoughts and Tips on Writing from a Fiction Writer, Blogger, and Writing Coach

The blogging resource that allows bloggers to easily share reviews and recommendation for music, movies, books and products you love
with blog readers and get rewards, Recomonk, was also in attendance at our meet-up!

great picnic recipes

The thing about picnics is that it is all about the food and all about portable food. You can’t have a great picnic without some delicious recipes! Well, actually, I guess you can… you can totally get some yummy sandwiches like my good friend Bee did. Or hit up your local deli and fill your basket with small tastes of delicious delicacies.

Picnic food sandwiches

Great Picnic Recipes:

Many of the bloggers brought tasty treats that they made and then blogged about it after which made it super easy to create a list of some great picnic recipes that are portable and easy to make.

Picnic Recipes - Caprese Skewers

Caprese Skewers from Pechluck’s Food Adventures

Picnic Recipes Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars from Thyme of Taste

chocolate chip cookie recipe

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Made by me from Alton Brown’s Recipe)

Puff Pastry

Cherry Tomatoes, Herbed Goat Cheese with Puff Pastry (Made by me and featured on Live The Fancy Life)

Featured: A Tomato and Herbed Goat Cheese Pastry Recipe

I love late Summer tomatoes. SO good. I’ve shared a quick and tasty recipe over at Live the Fancy Life for this delicious Cherry Tomato and Herbed Goat Cheese Pastry. Go check it out and let me know what you think!

Featured On: My Open Faced Tomato Sandwich on the Lilac City Momma Blog

Recipe for a Roasted Tomato Open Faced Sandwich

I shared a recipe with the Lilac City Momma Blog and it’s now live! Run, don’t walk, over to her blog to get this scrumptious open faced tomato sandwich made with roasted heirloom tomatoes! It truly is one of my favorite things I’ve made of late!

Recipe: Brix Layer Cocktail from Aviary

Disclaimer: I received a complementary happy hour and cocktail instruction from Aviary Restaurant in SE Portland for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated. Check out my review of the Aviary Happy Hour.

at-home-version of the Brix Layer Cocktail

Photo created from a photo taken by Bee of  The Spicy Bee

While enjoying several tasty dishes and cocktails at Aviary’s Happy Hour last week the barman Russ Hunsinger shared how he came up with one of Aviary’s most popular cocktails, the Brix Layer. Not only did he share his inspiration and thoughts behind the tasty concoction, but he pulled together a make shift bar in the dining room and showed us how to make it!

Russ came up with the drink while hanging out with friends, drinking Cabernet. He really wanted to figure out a way to create a cocktail that utilized the wine. He started off using a basic old fashioned recipe and working from there. The layering of the drink happened naturally and changes with the type of whiskey or cab used.

This recipe is only an approximation of the awesomeness we tasted at Aviary. But, I wanted to share with those of you that didn’t live in the Portland area and just have to schedule a trip to Aviary in to a future visit to our lovely city.

BrixLayer Ingredients

orange, cherry, bitters in glass

Muddle Well

sitr it up

fished product

Ingredients for the At-Home-Version of The Brix Layer:

  • 1 slice of orange
  • A few Parisian Brandied Cherries (Affiliate Link)
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • 8 dashes of angostura aromatic bitters (Affiliate Link)
  • 2 oz House Sour*
  • 2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Tools: ice, mixing tin, muddler, strainer, stirring spoon, large cocktail glass

*You can use any sour really, but the Aviary House Sour is made with lemon, lime, orange juice, and sugar. So, to get a similar taste you should use a homemade fresh sour that has orange juice in it. Try out this sweet-and-sour recipe from Baked Bree.

Directions for the At-Home-Version of The Brix Layer:

  1. In a mixing tin put one slice of orange, a few Parisian brandied cherries, 1 sugar cube and 8 dashes of bitters
  2. Muddle all ingredients in tin VERY WELL, releasing all of the oils and juices in the orange
  3. Add 2 oz of sour to the mixing tin
  4. Add 2 oz of Buffalo Trace Bourbon (or your favorite bourbon) to the tin
  5. Add ice to the tin and STIR with spoon
  6. Double strain the mixture into the cocktail glass
  7. Using the spoon (as in video below) to slow your pour, pour the 3/4 oz of Cabernet into the cocktail glass
  8. DRINK!
[youtube id=”RP_ibSlCRPo” width=”600″ height=”340″ position=”left”]
CHEERS! (My friend Bee with her Brix Layer cocktail!)

CHEERS! (My friend Bee with her Brix Layer cocktail!)

Featured: My 10 Food Tips are Featured on The Spicy Bee

You ever wake up to something awesome and it just sets your day on the right path? Well, this morning I sat down with a cup of coffee in front of my computer to see that I was featured on The Spicy Bee with my 10 food tips. Woot! I filled out ten foodie questions a while back, not really knowing what they were for and evidently they were for a fun feature! I’m excited about this new series on The Spicy Bee. If you haven’t been to Bee’s blog then you are missing out. She puts up beautifully crafted recipes that she tests and tests! Some of my favs include: Watermelon Jalapeno Soup, Dilly Beans (YUM!), and Spicy Mole Espresso Cupcakes.

Thanks for featuring me Bee!

Picnic Week: Summer Picnic Beer

Picnic Week on A Well Crafted Party

It’s Picnic Week here on A Well Crafted Party. My wife bought me beers to try so I could tell you which ones I’d bring to a picnic. It’s a hard, hard life. Check out the other picnic-related posts, but only after reading about the beer!


Picnic Beer Options from HUB

Beer in a Can, Perfect for a Picnic

Beer comes in cans or bottles, usually. We once thought that beer in cans was cheaper, not as tasty, and only for frat boys and hipsters. It still is, but the audience is widening. Around 2009, craft breweries starting canning in addition to bottling. That lead to a shift in perception, and there are a few good reasons for breweries to offer their beer in cans. Cans don’t break like bottles do, and are cheaper to ship. For beer drinkers, the beer quality is actually better in cans, since no light can penetrate them, and the seal is tighter than bottle caps. The green consumer will also be happy that cans recycle much more efficiently. So let’s get tasting.

Right now I’m trying the “Sweet As” Pacific Ale by GoodLife Brewing Company. They’re a brewery in Bend, Oregon (can we call Bend Portland’s tomboy sister, and get away with it?), and it’s a satisfying pale ale for an Oregon summer. The Pacific in the name refers to the two hop varieties used in this pale ale: Galaxy from Australia, and Pacifica from New Zealand. The galaxy hops give the beer a slight citrusy, passion fruit profile, and overall, it’s not so hoppy to fall into the IPA category of bitterness. If you’re a fan of Widmer’s Drifter Pale Ale, you’d probably like this summer brew by GoodLife.

Hopworks Urban Brewery IPA is next. The hops hide behind the malt – the aroma’s all sweet and malty, and you don’t really know you’re drinking an IPA at first. I’d recommend it to beer drinkers who want to like IPAs, (oh, you’re from Portland? You must like IPAs, right?) but find that most are so bitter they shrivel their tongues. Now, I may be losing beer snob cred here, since Hopworks claims this beer is 75 IBU. But taste it, then taste something like Ninkasi’s Tricerihops. The HUB may indeed be a better picnic beer, but it’s not overly hoppy for an IPA.

Another selection from HUB: Rise-Up Red, NW Red Ale. This seasonal beer was only made available in cans this year. It’s full bodied, thicker on the tongue than a pale ale or IPA, but delicious. It’s brewed with the northwest mainstays, Cascade and Centennial hops. I prefer more refreshing beers for picnics, but might go with the Rise-Up Red on a hiking trip in the spring. By the way, Centennial hops are also used in many other Oregon beers, like Bridgeport Brewing’s Hop Czar, Rogue’s Independence Hop Ale and Double Mountain Brewery‘s Pale Ale.

Beer Options for Picnics

21st Amendment Brewery’s Hell or High Watermelon is an American wheat beer, with watermelon added during second fermentation. I love eating watermelon, but I’ve never really been a fan of anything watermelon-flavored. When I tasted this beer, I did first notice the watermelon, but it really wasn’t overpowering. It ended up being really thirst quenching. I would pair it with campfire food or burgers.

Looking for a cheap, session beer? Some picnics call for trunks full of beer, but you just can’t stoop down to the level of Bud and Coors. And PBR makes you feel like you’re trying too hard. Our local  Trader Joe’s stocks the Simpler Times Lager, from Minhas Craft Brewery, in Wisconsin, IL. Set your expectations to low, and you’ll be happy with this affordable (under $5!) six pack.

If bottled beers are allowed in parks where you live, like they are in Oregon, I’d also recommend 10 Barrel Brewery‘s Swill. It’s a summer sipper, a berliner weisse infused with grapefruit. You might not find it to your liking, if you’ve never had a penchant for fruit beers. I loved the taste, and the look on people’s faces when they take a sip. It’s surprisingly good. And even the most machismo of men can maintain their masculinity while partaking in this fruity picnic beer. Maybe they’ll sell it in cans, after they read this post? C’mon 10 Barrel, you liked my tweet that one time, about your beer; you know you owe me for the free advertizing.

For the perfect picnic, my recommendation is just to try them all. If I had to pick one, I’d suggest the Hell or High Watermelon Wheat. I had two at the Portland Blogger’s Family Picnic this afternoon, and it just felt right.

What are your favorite canned beers?

Picnic Week: A French Inspired Picnic Menu

Picnic Week on A Well Crafted Party

It’s Picnic Week here on A Well Crafted Party. I’m chatting about Picnics all week long… and, honestly, the picnic posts might swim out into the next month because I have so many fun ideas swarming around in my head as I get ready for the Portland Bloggers Family Picnic this weekend. Check out all my posts from this week, including an Italian Inspired Picnic Menu, for more picnic goodness.


french-inspired-menu

Click here for a free printable version of this menu!

A French Inspired Picnic Menu

I LOVE French food. It is rich and flavorful and uses fresh ingredients. So, when shopping for this menu, check out your local Farmer’s Market or stick to the most ripe and delicious looking vegetables. I’m actually making a spin-off recipe from one of the below links for the picnic I’m attending this weekend. But, that is a post for another day!

Beverages:

French Vanilla Soda— Okay, okay, this may be a stretch. I was trying to come up with a non-alcoholic French-inspired beverage and my mind was coming up blank. But, a good French Vanilla Soda will make you forget all about the fact that it may not truly be French. You can pick up a six-pack of the Barq’s French Vanilla Creme Soda and call it a day (YUM, btw) or you can whip up a batch of syrup, bring some soda water to the picnic, and make fresh sodas on site!

Wine— The French love their wine as much as the Italian do! A great bottle of french wine… maybe some Champagne (!) and you are set!

Snacks:

Plateau de Fromage— You gotta have a cheese platter if you are doing a French meal. Pair some popular French cheeses (or, really your favorite cheeses in general), some fruit, and a fresh baguette and you are golden. I love getting little Baby Belle cheeses for a picnic because they don’t really need much prep!

and/or

Fresh Tomato and Cheese Puff Pastry Tart— The French do pastries right… savory or sweet! This fresh tomato and cheese puff pastry tart will be making it into my picnic basket soon!

Meal:

French Green Bean Salad— There is something so refreshing about a vinegery, delish green bean salad. Use thin green beens or haricots verts and a garlic & shallot infused dressing to make a wonderful green bean salad for your Parisian-style picnic.

Roast Provencal Chicken— Just imagine what it would be like to sit down at your picnic spread eating cheeses and drinking French wine and then pulling out a steaming basket of this roast provencal chicken. Seriously, you’ll be the envy of the park. Keep the dish warm, but still beautiful, by placing in a pretty ceramic bowl and covering with kitchen towels. Of course, you can never go wrong with foil either!

Desserts:

Macarons— Like many others out there, I just discovered the amazingness of macarons a couple of years ago when they started getting as popular as cupcakes. The brightly colored, light, and rich desserts would be a beautiful (and delicious) way to end a Parisian themed meal. Make some chocolate macarons or pick some up from your local French-inspired bakery. If you live in Portland, may I suggest Nuvrei?

Does this sound like a tasty picnic menu to you?

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