Bring your blog to the next level with a blogging conference & BlogHer ’14!

This post is a sponsored post opportunity from BlogHer. All opinions are my own. I signed up for this opportunity to bring my readers a great opportunity and to help connect more bloggers!

 

 


 

Kerry Washington is the Key Note speaker for BlogHer'14!
Kerry Washington—a keynote speaker for BlogHer’14!

I’ve been blogging her on A Well Crafted Party for just over 4 years now. I’ve done blogging part-time & full-time. Blogging is now such an integral part of my life now that has provided myself and my family with opportunities that I could have never dreamed of being able to part-take in. But, most of all, it has brought some of the most amazing PEOPLE into my life.

When I started blogging I never thought that it would take me away from my computer and out into the world so often. Moreover, that going out into the world more often would help take my blogging to the next level! It is funny how those things go together, isn’t it?

“Blogging” is one of the main content areas that I provide here on the blog, because… lets face it, often BLOGGERS are some of the best blog READERS. I like to provide the tools and opportunities that have been helpful for me in my blogging journey including Portland-area meet-upsblogging tips, and blogging printables. I’m really excited to be able to also share a little about this year’s BlogHer Conference and a link to some discounted passes, because let’s face it, networking is an important (and fun!) part of the blogging world and BlogHer is one of the best ways to get yourself into a room with a plethora of other bloggers and brands.

****Get your conference passes (with a discount) by clicking on the following link to the BlogHer’14 Eventbrite page.****

More about BlogHer’14:

  • The BlogHer Annual Conference turns 10 years old this year! (What!?!)
  • Dates: July 24-26, 2014
  • Where: San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, CA
  • They’ve got childcare covered. “We are proud to announce Childcare at BlogHer ’14 in San Jose! We have once again partnered with KiddieCorp and are offering childcare for all three days—Thursday, Friday and Saturday—at a subsidized rate of $50 per child, per day. “

BlogHer Keynote Speakers of 2014:

  • Arianna Huffington: Arianna is the chair, president, and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. BlogHer attendees will get the opportunity to hear Arianna discuss the evolution of her business, social media and of her thinking about wellness.
  • Kerry Washington: Ms. Pope… excuse me, actor and activist Kerry Washinton will be speaking about her causes and work and how the social platform amplifies them both.
  • Tig Notaro: Comedian Tig Notaro will share about her brand of comedy. (If you haven’t seen her… she is hilarious. Her talk is bound to be talked about!)
  • Jenny Lawson: The Bloggess returns to BlogHer again this year to tell a story of BlogHer success.If you haven’t read her blog. Do. It is amazing, real, and oh-so-funny.

Why go to a Blogging Conference?

That line-up alone makes me want to go! But, more than that, there will be bloggers, brands, parties, and many different classes to help with blogging skills! The opportunity to not only hone your skills, but to also have the opportunity to meet the brands and fellow bloggers that can help get your blog to the next level is too good to pass up.

I am not sure if I will be able to attend this year. But, boy oh boy, I am going to try! Meeting other bloggers and building on my blogging skills are important to me. More than that… I love the opportunity to connect other bloggers together. I have a goal to go to a future BlogHer conference, and then someday, a goal to see my name up on that speaker list too!

Have you been to a BlogHer in the past? Tell me about your experience in the Comment Section!

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Portland Fashion Week: Spring Edition

Portland Fashion Week

You guys… I’m so stinking excited to be attending the Spring Edition of Portland Fashion Week this weekend! As a member of the Spring 2014 Style Collective I have been attending some great pre-fashion week events to get ready for the big weekend and for some fun upcoming posts.

I’ll be sharing my experience through Twitter, Instagram, and my Facebook page. Follow along for sneak peeks at some great designers, awesome hair & make up from the master stylists at Dosha salon, and some Spring style ideas.

See my posts from Fall’s Fashion Week:
Behind the Scenes: Sister Fresh Clothing Designer
Behind the Scenes: Sun Jin Lee Wedding Dress Designer
Snapshots: Portland Fashion Week Day 1

Are you going to Portland Fashion Week 2014 Spring Edition? There are still a few seats left! I hope to see you there!

Savory Cocktails Giveaway!

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A Well Crafted Party// Savory Cocktails Giveaway

Savory Cocktails // A Well Crafted Party

 

There is nothing like a well crafted cocktail. I love the way the flavors of a smooth cocktail play together in my mouth. How not one flavor overrides another. That is a GOOD cocktail. I’ve now tried several of the recipes from Greg Henry’s Savory Cocktails: Sour Spicy Herbal Umami Smoky Rich Strong I can say, he created some GOOD cocktails. I love my little collection of recipe books, and this book has become one of the additions to my collection that I pick up often.

The pictured cocktail is a Green Tea Gimlet— a delightfully refreshing drink that is perfect for a warm Spring or Summer day. I’m keeping the recipe a secret though and I’ll leave it to those who get the Savory Cocktails book or to one lucky winner! (If you want to try out a recipe from the book, try his Honey Clove Syrup that I used for my Old Irish Cocktail!)

The good people at Ulysses Press have offered up an edition to one very lucky winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Irish Whiskey Cocktail with Honey Clove Syrup & Savory Cocktails Review

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Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

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.

Irish Whiskey with Honey Clove Syrup

How to make an Old Irish Cocktail:

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Clove-Infused Honey Syrup
  • 2 oz Irish Whiskey
  • Freshly Squeezed Juice of 1 Orange
  • 1 orange slice for garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients over ice in a rocks glass (I love my large ice cube mold for my whiskey drinks— the larger ice cubes don’t melt as fast or water down my cocktails as quickly.)
  2. Garnish with orange slice
  3. Sláinte! 

Old Irish Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

How to Make Clove Infused Honey Syrup

Recipe from Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry shared with permission

  • 2 tbsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup honey

“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.”

 


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of “Savory Cocktails” for purposes of review. All thoughts and opinions above are my own. I’ve also included affiliate links in this post. Items purchased from affiliate links help this blogger earn a small percentage of the sale. Thank you for supporting this blog.

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.

Real Party: Opal Apple of My Eye Baby Shower

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Apple Themed Baby Shower for After Baby is Born

My little sister had a baby in January! Since she lives in Oklahoma and I wanted to meet the baby, I decided to wait to throw her a baby shower until after the baby was born. I’m a big fan of Sip & See parties after little ones are born and ready for company. (Check out the awesome Pumpkin-themed Sip & See my sister threw for me.)

Opal Apples had contacted me a few months earlier about the possibility of throwing an Opal Apple party. After trying out their apples and LOVING them I agreed to throw an apple-themed shindig. Luckily for me, my sister and brother-in-law are both teachers so an apple-themed baby shower was perfect for them! The party decor was all supplied by Opal Apples– they sent fun paper lanterns, fans, and poufs that really gave the whole event a celebratory feel.

We decided an “Apple of My Eye” themed open-house-style sip and see where guests could stop in for a light lunch and tasty desserts while they meet the new babe.

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Apple Themed Party Sip & See Menu

We wanted to have a light lunch with healthful options for guests since it was the middle of the day and we were pairing the food with lots of apple-desserts. Our menu included 4 salads, freshly baked croissants, and desserts:

  • Steak Salad with Arugula & Spinach, Thinly Sliced Red Onions, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Opal Apple Slices, and Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Grilled Chicken Salad with Romaine Lettuce, Opal Apples, Dried Cranberries, Parmesan Cheese, & Apple Cider Vinaigrette (check back tomorrow for a recipe!)
  • Chilled Cucumber and Tomato Salad
  • Pasta Salad with Ham & Tomatoes
  • 3 Cheese Croissants
  • Mini Apple Pies
  • Caramel Apple Pie
  • Apple muffins
  • Italian Creme Cake topped with thinly sliced Opal Apples

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Shower Activity

We made the event an open house style party so people could come and go so we didn’t plan a lot of activities for the party. I am not a huge shower-game fan anyways. (Check out the post about the robot baby shower my friend threw for me that had GREAT baby shower activities!) We did want a couple of things people could do if they didn’t feel like chatting.

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We had a great time celebrating my brand-new nephew and getting to see friends and family throughout the day. A big thank you to Opal Apples for the great party decor and for introducing me to the tasty, yellow apple.


This post was sponsored by Opal Apples. The thoughts and words 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.

Hand Crafted Ice Cream in Portland, Oregon: Fifty Licks

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Fifty Licks owner Chad Draizin sharing about his packaging choices for the ice cream cartons they sell in store. I’m in love with the clean design and square packaging.

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Bee Pollen as an ice cream topping? Yep, I tried it. I even liked it. Other toppings include potato chips and ghost pepper salt (which by the by is amazing if you like spicy and sweet!)

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You read that right….cocktails at an ice cream shop. Fifty Licks has cocktails developed to enhance the flavors of their sorbets. I was completely wowed by the complexity of a couple of the cocktails.

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The cuban coffee is another speciality of Fifty Licks. Coffee cans line one of the walls and a cuban coffee order includes getting to watch the process of making the sweet, sweet coffee.

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Sometimes I struggle with putting way too much in a post. I try to get down EVERY little thought I had about a place that I’ve visited, an experience I’ve had, or item I love. I thought that for Fifty Licks the photos above spoke volumes. I had the fortunate opportunity to join several other bloggers in trying out Fifty Licks, a Portland small-batch ice cream shop, for a tasting last November. Since then I’ve been back to share the adorable little shop with friends and family on several occasions. Both the ambiance and the flavor deliver each time I’ve gone.

If you’re looking for some great combo ideas for ordering at Fifty Licks, please let me recommend:

  • A scoop of Passionfruit with Sichuan Peppercorn sorbet sprinkled with the Ghost Pepper Salt (WOW)
  • An order of cuban coffee with a scoop of Toasted Milk ice cream on the side (heck, I think it would make a pretty amazing affagato as well!)
  • Want your ice cream to remind you of the best part of the holidays? Try one scoop each of  Candied Yam with Toasted Marshmallow Swirl & Butternut Squash with Spiced Apple Swirl. 
  • Need something to make you look forward to Summer? Try the Nordic Palmer cocktail with a Rhode Island style Frozen Lemonade and Sparkling Iced Tea Mead.

Flavors and toppings may change on a seasonal basis. If you’ve tried Fifty Licks I’d love to read (and try) your favorite flavor or order. Comment your suggestions below!


A Well Crafted Party received a complimentary tasting for the purposes of review. All opinions and thoughts are those of Jenni Bost of A Well Crafted Party.

 

More about Fifty Licks: Fifty Licks began in 2010, as an innovative ice cream company, in a mobile food cart. Today Fifty Licks has a mobile cart available for events and catering, a stationary cart at the Good Food Here Pod at SE Belmont & 43rd, and scoop shop at 2021 SE Clinton in Portland, Oregon. Visit Fifty Licks on social media: Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram.

 

 

Family Friendly Dining in Portland: Pronto Pizza

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I’ve now had the pleasure of trying Pronto Pizza in SE Portland twice. It is one of those places that I was thrilled someone told me about, because I had never heard of it and probably wouldn’t have thought to look for a local-loving, in-house making pizzeria and kitchen in a strip mall on 82nd.

The first time I visited I brought my family out for a meal. My second visit was as blogger visit to sample and learn about the kid’s menu. I brought my husband and fairly picky 2-year-old to taste test the new menu items. It was difficult pulling him away from the kid’s area filled with toys and a train table. (Whoever that first person was that thought restaurants should have train tables and kid areas was a brilliant, brilliant person.)

In both visits I found that Pronto Pizza does a great job at being the type of family restaurant that I would frequent. So, I thought I’d share WHY I think Pronto Pizza is a great Portland-area restaurant for families.

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Five Things that Make a Great Family Dining Experience:

1. Affordability

I cannot go out to a family meal and enjoy myself if I am spending a full day of pay! On my family outing to Pronto Pizaa my husband and I were treating visiting relatives to a meal out. Four adults and one toddler enjoyed an appetizer, large Brussels sprout salad, two pizzas, wine, beer, and beverages, and a dessert all for under $100– just over with a tip. The meal served all four adults and the kiddo with leftovers. The prices were entirely reasonable and the value was high from our experience.

2. Choice

I like to have a variety of quality items to choose from (without so many choices that I am stuck reading a menu for an hour) when I go out with my family for a meal. On date nights I am much more likely to order a “chefs choice” or “prix fixe” menu that has very little choice involved. I’m all for trying new things… but, when I am going out with my toddler, it is nice to have a good variety of menu options. I will inevitably choose a restaurant with choices of both healthy items and gooey-cheesy goodness when we want a nice, easy family meal. I was very happy with Pronto Pizza’s menu selections. They had interesting and tasty salads (could be ordered in large or small sizes), pastas, pizzas, and more. The menu changes up based on availability and season (LOVE THIS) but, if you go and they have the Brussels Sprouts Salad on the menu you must try it! The salad had perfectly cooked (in my book) Brussels sprouts, thick pieces of bacon, and a house-made vinaigrette.

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3. Convenience

Nowadays, when we are thinking about restaurants, convenience of location and ability to reserve a table or get seated quickly are very high on our list of needs. Pronto Pizza has a large seating area and we never had to wait long either time we’ve been. Now, we would have to have visited several more times to be totally sure, but our experience so far was great. The SE location may not be super convenient to all our Beaverton friends, but it is GREAT for us! Plus, it is right off a highway, so that works for those who are making a trip out.

4. Kid-Friendly Atmosphere

Portland is pretty great about kids in most restaurants. I never really thought of it much before kids, but I really appreciate it now that I do have a child. Enjoying a nice meal out every now and again is important to me. It would be terrible if I couldn’t bring my toddler out to a meal! Pronto Pizza is one of the Portland-area restaurants that really bring that kid-friendliness up a notch with their play area for younger kids, video games for older kids, and Monday night screenings of cartoons. Hey, and the fact that kid’s eat free on Monday evenings* is pretty sweet too.

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5. Healthful Options (Especially on the Kid’s Menu)

Have you seen kid’s menus at most establishments? Mac & Cheese, chicken nuggets, pasta/butter/cheese… oh, and don’t forget the sides of french fries and bread! Typically the healthy option is  a side of apple slices or grapes. My son definitely eats pasta and pizza on more occasions than I’d like to admit. But, I really do try to get him some nutritious food items in EVERY meal. Limited kid menus make me want to pack a lunch for him from home. We will often just have to get food items for ourselves that are healthful and more kid-friendly. But, I really appreciate it when a restaurant puts thought into the nutrition, taste, and kid-friendliness of their kid’s menus so that I can have the meal I like and order my son a meal that he wants and that will be good for him!

So, this is the part about Pronto Pizza that I am MOST excited to share with readers…Pronto Pizza partnered with Jacki Abbott, medical educator and nutritionist with Northwest Primary Care, to help create their new kid’s menu. Pronto Pizza also invited 12 youngsters in to do a taste test of possible kid menu items when developing their new menu to ensure the food offerings weren’t just highly nutritious, but also palatable for kids. My kiddo totally loved the baked cauliflower sticks and marinara sauce. (Check out the new kid’s menu below)

The entire menus is something that I did as well. Besides the food being good. It is filled with ingredients purchased from local farms and farmer’s markets; seasonal pizza toppings with imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes, double zero flour and olive oil; and daily handmade pastas.

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* Kid’s EAT FREE at Movie Night on Mondays starting Monday, February 10th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Kids under age 12 are invited to enjoy a complimentary pizza with one topping with the purchase of an adult meal.
Classic Cartoons playing on the big screen!

What do you look for in a great family dining experience?


A Well Crafted Party was provided a free meal with purpose of review of the kid’s menu. All opinions and thoughts expressed are those of Jenni Bost of A Well Crafted Party. 

More information about Pronto Pizza: Pronto Pizza, formerly Sunshine Pizza Exchange, located off highway 224 and 82nd Drive, offers deliciously simple Neapolitan-style pizzas, fresh house made pastas and farmer’s market salads. There is a private banquet room, ample space for large parties, a kid’s playroom and various retro arcade games to keep the younguns’ entertained. The overall philosophy of Pronto Pizza is to serve fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable food to families at an affordable price.

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.

awcp-portland-local-jerky

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.

awcp-portland-made-beef-jerky

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.

Real Party: Aged Birthday Party

aged birthday party washington wine

This year I turned the big 3-0. I thought it would be much more significant or earth shattering than it ended up being. I mean… my mom was 29 until she turned 39. So, I expected to really feel sad about the end of my 20s.

I didn’t really care so much this year… as a matter of fact, I was actually sort of happy about turning 3o. I feel like I’m in a good spot in my life and I’m pretty happy with where I am in life. So, this year’s party I really wanted to celebrate the fact that I am happy in my age and that I think maybe I’ve even improved with age. What a better way to celebrate the great things about aging than celebrate with other things that get better with age… like wine, cured meats, pickled items, aged cheeses, and wonderful friends.

washington wine meat cheese party

photo 4 photo 3 washington wine meat cheese party photo 2 (1) wine tasting party

I celebrated with a ladies night “Aged” birthday party. Maryhill wines, a Pacific Northwest winery, provided me with bottles of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon to taste and serve with a selection of aged meats and cheeses. And, of course, chocolate! It was fun catching up with everyone and enjoying how different wines paired so nicely with different meats and cheeses. I especially loved the pairing of the Maryhill Zinfandel with chocolate laced cheddar. (Yes, that is really a thing and yes it is delicious.)

I’m pretty easy to please. But, this was probably one of my favorite party menus so far. The food was easy to put together with quality, store-bought items and a few pretty platters and bowls. The wine selection was limited (three different red wines and one white wine option) but, tasty and paired wonderfully with the food items. I actually set the entire thing up with the help of a couple of friends after I left work.

The decor for the evening was simple. I like the look of chalkboards for this time of event… something about the classic look of a piece of black slate with white chalked writing. I labeled the food items with a white gel pen on black cardstock and then wrote a quote on a big chalkboard in my kitchen. This party can definitely be brought up another level with a more coordinated and styled look. But, it was also perfect as a laid back event.

These photos were all from my iPhone the evening of the party. Next week I’ll be sharing some more photos, some menu & decor ideas for a slightly fancier “Aged” party, and some “Aged” party printables. I have birthday printables as well as printables I’ve created for a fun “Aged” New Year’s Eve event. But, for now, let me leave you with this question:

How do you feel you’ve improved with age?

Comment below! Leave your twitter handle and I’ll tweet out your comment as well!

PNW Blogger Holiday Brunch and Tips for Throwing a Holiday Brunch

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PNW Blogger Brunch

Over the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of participating in the planning and execution of meet-ups for bloggers in the Portland and Pacific Northwest area. I love getting to meet other bloggers, talk shop, and bring bloggers and businesses together. Well, and let’s not forget, I sure do love a party!

The PNW Blogger meet-ups, ran by Chelsey of The Paper Mama, happen every six months or so and are either held in the Portland or the Seattle area. Our most recent meet-up was in Portland at Union Pine. Myself and Heather of Aspen Summit (formerly the blog Just Lovely) helped plan the event and with the help of several awesome volunteers enjoyed a fabulous party with PNW bloggers.

As with all great parties… we had guest activities, great food, tasty beverages, fabulous guests, and super cool favors. Even if you aren’t an area blogger the ideas used in this meet-up are fabulous for any party you may want to throw. Click the above tabs to read my tips for throwing a holiday brunch and to see our easy, holiday brunch menu.

All the gorgeous photos in this post are curtsey of Motormouth Studios.

And, a HUGE thank you to all of the great businesses below that helped to make the PNW Blogger Holiday Brunch such a fun event:

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Holiday Brunch Tips

A Holiday Brunch is one of my favorite types of holiday parties. It can be done in the daytime, so it doesn’t fill up yet another December evening. Bacon is sometimes involved. Daylight makes photos look so much better than a dimly lit room. The list goes on… In helping to plan this party I fell upon a few tips that might help you in planning your next holiday brunch.

Tips for Hosting a Holiday Brunch

 

1. Have a good selection of food and beverages, but keep it simple.

It is easy to go overboard on food and beverage. Keep it simple and don’t stress yourself out over the food and beverage. Just go for good quality and a couple of different selections for guests to choose between. The most important thing about a brunch is having both sweet and savory, hot and cold. Oh, and you can’t forget the coffee! We had delicious Black Rock Coffee served as one of our beverage selections. We had several different items to choose from for brunch, including a bagel bar filled to the brim with Franz Bakery’s New York Gourmet Bagels. Check out the tab above to see our menu for this holiday brunch— it may give you some good ideas for your holiday party. Our bar, sponsored by The 7th Chamber (a video seeding company that works with blogs), simply had the fixings for bloody marys and mimosas. Perfect for a festive brunch! And, you can’t forget dessert… Pinhole Press sponsored the dessert bar with tons of tasty treats all decked out to coordinate with the event.

craft ideas for a holiday party

2. Have a couple of simple activities.

Super detailed and drawn out activities that EVERYONE has to participate in can be overwhelming. But, a few simple and fun activities can provide conversation starters and keep the party moving. At the PNW Blogger event we were fortunate enough to have Lia Griffith crafting along, teaching people the art of making a paper flower, and Fabric Depot teaching people to craft gift tags out of chalkboard fabric. (By the by… did you know there was such a thing as chalkcloth ??? So cool.) We also had a DIY photobooth area (sponsored by Yoked— a site that helps connect bloggers and businesses) set up with props so that attendees could snap some fun pictures of themselves.

Need ideas for crafting projects for your next holiday party? Check out Lia’s tutorial page on her blog for gorgeous (and easy) paper crafts and Fabric Depot’s blog for holiday fabric projects.

party favors

3. Great Favors

I’m a big fan of party favors. I like favors that guests can use and that don’t blow the bank. With big blogging connective events like this… I love it when we can connect awesome companies with bloggers!

The swag bags were great. I can’t wait to do some crafty projects with the wall paper supplied by Graham & Brown, make candies and wrap them up in cute papers from The Land of Nod, and wear my new glasses from Sunglass Warehouse. You’ll be seeing projects and posts featuring some of the items I got in my swag bag throughout the next couple of months. I encourage you to check out the list of great sponsors on the first tab and visit their sites.

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holiday brunch menu

A good brunch should have both sweet and savory, hot and cold. We had very little set up time the morning of the brunch and limited cooking resources. So, we wanted to keep the menu as simple, but varied as possible. And, because we were also serving alcohol, we needed the menu to be fairly substantial as well.

Our Holiday Brunch Menu

Bagel Bar— Franz Bakery donated an amazing selection of bagels and gluten free bread for the PNW bloggers to enjoy. The company recently came out with a new selection of gourmet bagels that the perfect start to a bagel bar. We served Franz Pizza, Tillamook Cheddar, Pumpkin Spice, and French Toast bagels along with wheat gluten free bread.

Our Bagel Fixins:

  • cream cheese
  • jam
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • smoked salmon
  • a variety of cured meats and sliced ham
  • honey

Yogurt, Honey, & Granola

Boiled Eggs

Snack Bars from Kind Snacks & Rawdacious Desserts

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Our dessert bar had donuts (also a Franz Bakery product), cookies, lemonades, and waters. Everything looked so good using the Pinhole Press stickers and cards!

pnwbloggerparty04

 

And, my favorite part…. the bar! For beverages we had bloody marys, mimosas, orange juice, virgin marys, and Black Rock Coffee Bar coffee.

See, a simple menu can still be fun and satisfy at the same time.

(PS. That gorgeous creature holding the bloody mary is the blogger behind The Boho Mama. Photo by Motormouth Studios)

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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

eggnog custard

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

[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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