Bacon Wrapped Scallops and a Whole Foods Market Gift Card Giveaway

[tabs] [tab title=”Whole Foods Market Giveaway “] bacon wrapped scallops with fig butter

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.

bacon wrapped scallop dinner

 

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Holiday Mingle Pt One: Food in Portland

HolidayMingle_CH_1

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!

HolidayMingle_CH_4 HolidayMingle_CH_6

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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doubledragon1maxwellpr olympicprovisions

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tailsandtrotters thebentbrick theoriginal

wateravenue broussard communicationsdepaturefishpeoplebesaws

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.

making community events potluck

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

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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!
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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?

Picnic Week: Italian Inspired Picnic Menu

Picnic Week on A Well Crafted Party

If you haven’t been reading this week then you may not know that it is Picnic Week on A Well Crafted Party! I’m sharing all kinds of fun picnic ideas in honor of the Portland Bloggers family picnic that is happening this weekend. I’ve already shared a quick pasta salad, my favorite picnic supplies, and a huge list of picnic inspiration from around the web. Today I thought I’d delve into the picnic food menu. YUM. I’ve crafted menus that will make for a fabulous picnic meal and will continue sharing them throughout the weekend!


Italian Inspired Picnic Menu

I love a well crafted menu. There is just something really special about a menu that has been thought about and crafted to taste great together. I’ve come up with picnic menus based off of some of my favorite styles of food to inspire your own picnic menus. I’ve linked to some of my favorite recipes as well. You’ll get everything from snacks to nibble on while playing bocce ball through to dessert and beverages. Starting things off today is one of my very favorite types of food— Italian!

Beverages—

Okay, maybe it is a traditionalist in me, but you can’t go wrong with some sparkling water and your favorite Italian red for a picnic. Try taking a chilled Lambrusco to relieve the heat! A great way to keep your chilled red or white wine cold (and not watered down) while drinking is to freeze grapes and plop them in your wine glass! Eat the wine soaked grapes as they thaw.

Snacks—

Antipasti platters are one of my favorite Italian appetizers. Make it picnic-ready by creating antipasti skewers. You can really make this one up with items you like and stack them on skewers. I like to add items like olives, basil, cherry tomatoes, marinated mozzarella, Italian meats, and cooked tortellinis. Try this antipasta skewer recipe out for more ideas.

Italian Pressed Sandwiches— Photo by Motormouth Studios

Italian Pressed Sandwiches— Photo by Motormouth Studios

Meal—

Caprese Salad—I think salads are the perfect summer food. And, caprese salads are so easy, delicious, and refreshing. To make a caprese salad in a jar simply build the salad by putting in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, cherry tomatoes, balls of mozzarella (the fresher, the better), and basil leaves. I sometimes like to mix my basil with sweet baby green as well.

Italian pressed sandwiches— These sammies make for a filling and very portable lunch. I’d cut them into individual portions, wrap in wax paper, and tie up with twine to add an extra special touch. This would be a great way to identify speciality sandwiches for friends and family that need items left out of their sandwiches— just write a note on the paper or tie it on with the baker’s twine! There are a ton of recipes out there for Italian pressed sandwiches. My favorite? My own! Check out my Italian Pressed Sandwich Recipe here!

Dessert—

No Bake Tiramisu in Jars— When I think Italian dessert I instantly think of tiramisu. MMMMM. I’m not a fan of too much fuss for a picnic meal, so I tend to lean toward things with “no bake” or “one pan.” Building an easy and delicious tiramisu in a jar will make you look like you slaved for hours over a hot stove while you sit pretty and relax with your Lambrusco in hand.

Do you like to have a coordinated menu for your picnics? Or, would you rather throw something together the day of and wing it?

 

 

Picnic Week: A Super Easy and Delicious Pasta Salad

Picnic Week on A Well Crafted Party

 

I’m posting a series of picnic-themed posts this week in honor of the Portland Bloggers’ family picnic that is happening this weekend. The first post was all about fun picnic supplies to make for a pleasant picnic in the park (or wherever). Now, onto the food!\


One of my favorite things to make for a picnic is my super easy and delicious pasta salad. It doesn’t have any name that I know of… I learned it from word of mouth from a friend and have been making it ever since. It doesn’t have any mayo so it is pretty heat friendly. You can add in things or take them out as you like. I’ll share the base recipe I use and then one of my favorite modifications!

Easy Pasta Salad

A Super Easy and Delicious Pasta Salad

Serves a whole bunch of people… I really can’t even estimate well, but over 12 side dish portions.

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 6 cups of tortellini (You can decide the filling, I typically go with cheese filling or half cheese and half spinach)
  • 1 16oz bag of frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 bottle of your favorite Italian dressing— I’ve used everything from Wishbone to Olive Garden. My favorite is Newman’s Own Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Italian Dressing (Affiliate Link)
  • 1 bag of shredded parmesan cheese— approximately 5 to 8 oz of cheese will be used. I sometimes shred my own. I sometimes get it in a bag. The pictured KRAFT Shredded Italian Cheese Mixture (Affiliate Link) would work nicely as well.

Directions:

  • Boil the tortellini as you would any pasta— tortellini tends to float to the top when done. I always give it a taste test to check for sure.
  • Pour the frozen peas and carrots into a colander and put in sink while the tortellini is boiling.
  • Pour the finished pasta and boiling water into the colander after the pasta is al dente. The hot water will cook the veggies!
  • Rinse with cool water until the whole mess of yummy food is cool.
  • Pour in a BIG bowl.
  • Then add up to 1 full bottle of dressing (to taste, I typically use 1/2 to 3/4 a bottle) and the parmesan cheese to taste (I usually use the whole bag)
  • Cool and enjoy!

See, so easy! Now, here is my most recent modification. I used all of the above ingredients, but I added diced ham and chives at the end! One of the best things about this recipe is you can make it as simple or as gourmet as you want. If you want to go supremely foodie on this picnic favorite then get some fresh tortellini, make your own Italian dressing, grate your own super nice parmesan, and add in some prosciutto.

A great way to serve this dish is to just put them in individual canning jars. The jars can be the food storage containers and double as dinnerware.

Want some more awesome pasta salad ideas? Check out my friend Bee’s Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Sun-dried Tomatoes or Rebekah’s Six-Ingredient or Less Greek-ish Pasta Salad.

What food do you love bringing to a picnic?

Toddler Food

Kid with Ice Cream

Feeding a toddler is one of the more frustrating things I’ve experienced of late. Before having my son I had ALL sorts of ideas on how I would feed him. I read book after book. I made promise (to myself) after promise. But, as with most of my prior ideas about parenting, out the window those rules went. I still adhere to some, others bent a little, and some just broke.

I’ve talked a little about my own childhood food relationship and how that shaped me, and I’ve said a few things about what I’d like to teach my own child about food. What I haven’t shared is what we are ACTUALLY doing with food and our toddler. It isn’t rocket science, though it feels like it sometimes. And, goodness knows that not everyone agrees with what we do and how we do it. I’m open to suggestions, but he is still my son and I am doing what I really think is best for him and us.

My Toddler’s Diet at 23 Months:

This is an approximation of my kiddo’s diet at 23 months. It changes from day to day with his likes/dislikes. I can usually tell when he is feeling bad or is about to have a growth spurt by his disinterest in food and extra interest in milk. He drinks more milk than many kids his age. 

Our (Current) Toddler Food Rules

  1. (Almost) Everything in moderation
  2. Limit sugar to one sweetened item a day (fruit doesn’t count)
  3. NO artificial sweeteners
  4. NO caffeine (other than chocolate, but that fits in the limited sweets.)
  5. As much veggies as he wants. Almost as much fruit— kid will make himself sick if he really gets as much fruit as he wants.
  6. Juice is rarely given.

A lot of this is just how we eat… so, it is easy to follow. My son really doesn’t care for a lot of beverages besides milk and sometimes water. He does love a glass of spicy V8 though! So, if he doesn’t seem like he is getting enough veggies I will let him have a glass of V8. He does typically get a sweet treat daily. We try to limit the amount. But, seriously, his ice cream smile is totally worth it.

My Toddler’s Approximate Day to Day Menu:

Breakfast: Kiddo usually wakes around 8-9 in the morning (don’t get all jealous for the late sleeper… sleep is a HUGE issue for us and he still doesn’t sleep through the night). As soon as he wakes he drinks a sippy cup (4 oz) of milk and eats 1 banana. Then we typically serve scrambled eggs and toast. Lately though he hasn’t really wanted eggs and is going for yogurt and berries and/or granola instead.

Snack: He has a milk between breakfast and lunch. Sometimes he will also eat an apple or a few raw veggies.

Lunch: Lunch is hard. This is the meal that he is so often throwing fits about. We’ve tried everything from leftovers, to sandwiches, to junk food, etc. Sometimes he eats eat and other times he refuses. Some things that we can usually get him to eat include: pasta, ham, veggies, and cheddar.

Snack: Yet another milk—sometimes two. Snacks at this time typically include almonds or any of lunch that he didn’t eat.

Dinner: Whatever we are eating. This usually works out fine. He surprises us often on what (and how much) of what he eats. But, recently, he has been refusing all but one or two items. If he eats REALLY well then we will give him a treat if we are having one. He will sometimes get a tablespoon or so of ice cream.

Bedtime: Another milk—or two… and then usually 2 overnight.

We’ve tried to restrict his milk to once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening. It results in a LOT of crying (from everyone) and still no eating. We’ve talked to his pediatrician about this and she thinks, from his behavior when he receives the milk and from his growth, that is is actually still needing the milk. The doctor’s office doesn’t seemed fussed about his diet… but, boy is it difficult!

Our Toddler’s Food Likes and Dislikes

Foods X LOVES: pickles, spicy V8, pasta (but, not filled pastas), ham (but only by itself), cheddar (no other cheeses), raw veggies, pizza, salad with ranch, milk, chips, salsa, almonds, yogurt, berries, bananas, peaches, apples, cake (though he has only had a couple small slices in his lifetime… he loves it and asks for it constantly!) and ice cream. Kid loves him some ice cream.

Food X Dislikes: hot dogs, chicken nuggets, chicken, mac & cheese, bread (seriously), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches

icecream02

Kid confounds me. By the by…the above ice cream cone was shared.

More Info about our Food Journey and Other Mom’s Journeys: 

When you were a kid did you have foods you really loved and really hated? Does your kid have some strong likes and dislikes?

Simple, Refreshing Gin and Basil Cocktail

Gin and Basil Cocktail

Gin and Summer go hand in hand in my book. This simple and refreshing cocktail is perfect for a hot summer evening. Make it in single servings or mix it up in a batch to serve a crowd. I recently made a batch of this to serve at my husband’s Farm to Table Birthday Party. I also made a batch of Fruity Whiskey Collins. The two drinks went FAST and were perfect for an evening celebrating out in the garden and backyard.

Simple, Refreshing Gin and Basil Cocktail Recipe:

Gin and Basil Cocktail Ingredients

Gin and Basil Cocktail for one

Ingredients:

  •  2 oz of your favorite Gin
  •  1 oz of Lemon Juice (approximately 1 lemon)
  • 1 oz of Basil Simple Syrup
  • 4 oz soda water
  • ice
  • glass (at least 8 oz glass)
  • stirring spoon
  • garnish of Basil

Directions: 

  1. Pour 2 oz of Gin, 1 oz of Lemon Juice, 1 oz of Basil Simple Syrup, and 4 oz of soda water over ice in a tall glass.
  2. Stir
  3. Garnish with Basil leaf
  4. Enjoy!

Gin and Basil Cocktail

Gin and Basil Cocktail for Eight

Ingredients:

  •  16 oz of your favorite Gin
  •  8 oz of Lemon Juice (approximately 8 lemons)
  • 8 oz of Basil Simple Syrup
  • pitcher (at least 32 oz)
  • stirring spoon
  • Soda Water to be used at time of serving)
  • Measuring cup for 4oz (1/2 cup)
  • glassware, ice, stirring spoons, instructions sign and garnish of Basil for guests to make their own.

Directions: 

  1. Pour 16 oz of Gin, 8 oz of Lemon Juice, and 8 oz of Basil Simple Syrup into a pitcher
  2. Stir
  3. Set out with sign, glasses, stirring spoons, ice, measuring cup and soda water so guests can make their own.
  4. Pour 4 oz of the mixture over ice, top with soda water, stir, garnish with Basil and enjoy!
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