Today my “Naturally Green Cocktail” is featured on [In]Complete Magazine! It is an Herbs, Gin, & Cucumber Concoction to tickle your taste buds. Check it out for a refreshing Spring drink that works great for St. Patty’s Day or your next Spring Soiree!
How are you celebrating today? Are you kissing someone Irish, wearing green, or enjoying a tasty dish of Bangers & Mash? I’ll be celebrating by whipping up a cocktail with an Irish twist!
This past winter I was sent the book Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry (affiliate link) for review. I’ve been making my way through the book getting creative with drinks such as a Perfect Martini and Salad Bowl Gin & Tonic. Enjoying the tart and refreshing combinations of herbs and liquor. As I was working on creating a cocktail in honor of St. Patrick’s Day I wanted to find something that would pair well with Irish Whiskey, so I picked up the Savory Cocktail book looking for ideas.
While I can drink a bourbon with just ice, for me Irish Whiskey has a bit more of a bite to it and I wanted something that would smooth out the flavor while keeping its notes of honey and citrus. (Not all Irish Whiskeys are the same… so, I may still discover something I can drink sans mixers.) That is when I stumbled upon Henry’s recipe for Clove-Infused Honey Syrup… the combination is PERFECT. It is smoky, rich, smooth, and sweet.
Recipe from Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry shared with permission
“Place the cloves in a small, nonreactive container and lightly crush them with a wooden muddler. Add the warm water and honey; stir to combine, then cover and set at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Taste the syrup; add more honey if you feel it is too strong.
When your syrup has the taste you want, pour it through a wire-mesh sieve lined with a double layer of damp cheesecloth; discard the solids. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Makes about 1 cup.”
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.
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!
Enter to Win a Whole Foods Market Gift Card:
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.
Check out my tips for baking the perfect pie crust before jumping into making this crust.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
Slightly stricter than the Paleo diet it’s based on, it rules out all:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
Serves 2 — Approximately 1 hour (though, most of that is oven and cooling time)
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
*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.
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!