Friday, September 30, 2016

Maypo Hot Breakfast Cereal for Young and Old Alike

Few kids these days have ever heard of Maypo. I vaguely remember it myself, but ask your parents or grandparents if they’ve heard of it and they will automatically say, “I want my Maypo!” Maypo, developed in 1953 by the Maltex Corporation in Burlington, Vermont was one of the original flavored oatmeals. They gained their popularity with a highly successful television campaign with an adorable 4-year-old named Marky Maypo who would exclaim "I WANT MY MAYPO!" Over the years, other warm breakfast cereals gained market share while the Maypo brand bounced from company to company. Today, Homestat Farm is working to reacquaint customers with Maypo by introducing it to a new generation of children.

We recently received three varieties of Maypo to sample: Instant Maple Flavored Oatmeal, Vermont Style Maple Oatmeal, and Instant Maple Oatmeal with Quinoa. The first question in deciding which to try first was “What is the difference between Maypo Maple Oatmeal and Maypo Vermont Style?” The oats used to manufacture Instant Maple-flavored Maypo are thin rolled oat flakes. The texture and eating qualities of Instant Maypo are similar to other brands of oatmeal products. However, the oats used for Vermont-Style Maypo are finely cracked oats or oat bits making the texture smoother and creamier. Both cereals have the same flavor profile have 2/3 less sugar than the leading brand of maple-flavored oatmeal.

The new Maypo Instant Maple Oatmeal with Quinoa combines maple-flavored, whole grain oatmeal with protein-rich, golden quinoa flakes. The ancient grain quinoa is a complete protein source, and a valuable source of certain healthy fats and is also rich in antioxidants. This combination sounded most interesting so we decided to start there.

In addition to a multitude of health benefits, the Instant Maple Oatmeal with Quinoa is incredibly easy to prepare either in the microwave (or one a stove top.) Place one cup of water or milk in a microwavable bowl with ½ cup Maypo and a pinch of salt and cook on high for 1½ to 2 minutes. That’s it! The result was a hot breakfast in minutes. While not a huge fan of instant oatmeal because it tends to be a bit slippery, the consistency of the oatmeal with quinoa was excellent.

Because I like my oatmeal a bit sweeter, I added a drizzle of another original Vermont product, pure Dark Robust Maple Syrup from Thunder Bay Maple Supply. The delicious, all-natural syrup contains higher levels of beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals than white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. I also tossed some pepitas and berries on top for the perfect post-workout snack.

With cooler Autumnal weather on the way, I am looking forward to trying with the other Maypo flavors and styles as well experimenting with recipes using Maypo products such as Easy Apple Crisp, Maypo Oatmeal Cake or Marky's Maypo Cookies available on the Homestat Farm website.

Disclosure: While we received a complimentary samples of Maypo products and Thunder Bay maple syrup for review purposes, the opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

In the Demo Kitchen with ONE.midtown Chefs

Each week from April to November, the Morningside Farmer’s Market hosts cooking demonstrations with some of Atlanta’s most talented chefs. This past Saturday, shoppers were treated to not just one, but two gifted chefs: Matt Weinstein and Christopher Maher of ONE.midtown kitchen.

Chef Matt, former Executive Chef at the now-closed Woodfire Grill, and Chef Christopher, previously sous chef to One.midtown’s Nick Oltarsh, now serve as Co-executive chefs. The menu reflects both chefs’ personal styles: Chef Matt’s modern, out-of-the-box style accentuates Chef Christopher’s more traditional style of cooking. Watching the pair work together seamlessly, cajoling and encouraging each other made for an even more enjoyable morning.

While Chef Matt made an aioli with black garlic, Chef Christopher blistered green shishito peppers and tossed them with sesame seeds, unagi sauce and a chiffonade of cilantro. The combination of flavors was staggering. The charred peppers with fresh cilantro, and the umami of the aioli are the perfect representation of the chefs combined talents.

“I enjoy doing chef demonstrations because It's a fun way to get to know the people in the neighborhood and to show support for our local farmers and artisans,” shared Chef Christopher. “It also shows people that cooking is easy and fun. I hope visitors can take away a fun new cooking technique or recipe to try at home, adds Chef Matt.

Black Garlic Aioli: 
2 shallots, sliced thin
1 cup port or robust red wine
1 head black garlic
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 oz. red wine vinegar
3 egg yolks
1 ½ cups neutral oil (such as soybean, canola oil and safflower oil)

Place garlic, shallots, and port in a small saucepan, and over medium heat, cook until the shallots are softened and the port has reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Allow the mixture to cool. Place the garlic mixture in the pitcher of a blender, along with the egg yolks, vinegar and Dijon mustard, and then process on high for 30 seconds to completely combine.

Turn down the speed of the blender, and slowly drizzle in the oil to emulsify. You should be able to observe the mixture go from very liquid to think like mayonnaise. Season the aioli to taste with salt and pepper.

Blistered Peppers: 
2 cups shishito peppers
Neutral oil
½ tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon unagi sauce (available in most Asian markets)
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
Black garlic aioli
Kosher salt
Bonito flakes

Heat oil in a skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add shishito peppers, and cook until softened and blistered (about 3-5 minutes).

Transfer the peppers to a bowl, and toss with sesame seeds, unagi sauce, chopped cilantro leaves and salt.

To serve, spoon a dollop of aioli on each serving plate, and layer 2-4 cooked peppers over the aioli. Sprinkle some bonito flakes over the top. Serve and enjoy!

To experience more of Chef Matt and Chef Christopher’s cooking, make plans to attend Concentrics Restaurants’ annual Harvest Dinner on Sunday, October 16th at ONE.midtown Kitchen. The dinner will feature six paired courses highlighting the best of the Fall’s bounty prepared by the seven Concentrics’ chefs including Chefs Matt and Christopher.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Atlanta Welcomes Tervis to Midtown & Giveaway

Photo Credit: Tervis
With 90 consecutive days of 90-degree weather, it is easy to understand the need for insulated cups and mugs. Almost every Atlanta resident carries a water bottle or tumbler to stay hydrated making them as much a fashion accessory as a necessity. This might explain the popularity of Tervis drinkware products which are available in hundreds of styles representing some of America’s favorite brands (Marvel, Harley Davidson, Star Wars) and sports teams (NFL, MLB, NCAA).

Shopping for your perfect Tervis selection will get even easier on Saturday, October 1st when Tervis will open its first company store in the Atlanta-metro area in Midtown. The 1662 sq. ft. space located in Atlantic Station on 19th Street will be filled with a wide assortment of designs from favorite brands like Coca-Cola®, Simply Southern® and Realtree®. There will also be plenty of sports and college designs to select from including the Atlanta Braves™, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, and Georgia-Tech. Chad Blankenship, Tervis Head of Stores says “We can’t wait to become an active part of this vibrant community.”

Even more exciting is that during the October 1st Grand Opening, the first 100 customers will receive a free tumbler beginning at 10:00 a.m., as well as 15% off purchases all day! For those of you who are not able to attend the Grand Opening on Friday, Tervis has partnered with us to give you the chance to win an in-stock item of your choice for entering our giveaway!

In addition to the huge assortment of ready-made products, Tervis also has many designs that can be personalized with your name, monogram or phrase making them the perfect addition to your style wardrobe. Customers can also create their own tumblers and water bottles with their exclusive online design shop.

Choose from in-stock backgrounds, stamps and fonts, or upload your own images to create your own individual custom Tervis product. The process is super easy and fun as you can see from the unique tumbler we created to celebrate our blog.

Whether you are looking to show support for your favorite team or have a fun collectible of your last vacation, Tervis, the third generation family-owned-and-operated business, employing more than 900 people and celebrating 70 years of Made-in-the-USA success; has just the product to accentuate your style and keep you well hydrated at the same time.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Creating the Perfect Cheese Board

An afternoon spent sampling a selection of French cheeses at the Cheeses of Europe Pop-up recently held at Lenox Square Mall reminded us of the pure joy that is cheese. We sampled a variety of cheeses including Camembert, Abbaye Ste-Mere, St. Andre triple cream and enjoyed some amazing appetizers with cheese from Dogwood Catering including roasted pears with St. Agur bleu cheese and toasted pecans, grilled peaches with Mimolette and prosciutto, and crostini topped with fig preserves, brie and rosemary. We were inspired to share our favorite tips for crafting an impressive and delicious cheese platter.

Creating the Perfect Cheese Board:
  • Offer three or four different types of cheese including a soft, mild and sharp. If the cheese platter is the centerpiece of the menu, be prepared to offer five or six cheeses. Since variety is the spice of... cheese, consider buying a range of milk types, flavors, and textures:
    1. Fresh cheese that's moist, creamy, and mild including Boursin, Chèvre or Humboldt Fog.
    2. Bloomy-rind cheese that's buttery, mushroomy, and decadent like Camembert, Saint Albray, or Brie.
    3. Semisoft cheese that's pliable, mellow, and earthy such as Comté, Abbaye Ste-Mere or Fontina.
    4. Hard cheeses that are dry, savory and caramelly with a tendency to crumble include Parmigiano-Reggiano, Mimolette, P’Tit Basque
    5. Blue cheese that's dense and pungent like Bleu, Roquefort or Gorgonzola.
  • If you are serving the cheese as an appetizer, plan on 2 to 3 ounces of each cheese per person. For an after-dinner course, plan on 1 to 1½ ounces per person. 
  • Serve cheese at room temperature for ideal flavor. Take cheeses out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes before serving. This brings out those lovely nuances of flavor and aroma.
  • Don't crowd the cheeses on the platter. If you are presenting the cheese in whole blocks or wedges, leave room around each cheese so that it can be cut easily. Also think about letting guests slice their own semi-hard cheese vs pre-slicing it, as cheese slices can dry out around the edges if left to sit for too long. Hard cheeses like parmesan are ok to crumble a bit to show guests how to enjoy it.
  • Separate the strong-flavored or strong smelling cheese from the milder ones on the platter. 
  • Label each type of cheese and offer a separate knife for each. Labeling cheeses is a good idea, especially for your more cautious guests! Reusable cheese markers are handy, as are small cards. China markers or dry erase markers are wonderful on erasable surfaces, and chalk boards are also popular for good reason: they’re cute and customizable.
  • Serve cheese with baguette slices or crackers and choose mild or neutral flavored crackers that will not overwhelm or alter the flavors of the cheeses. Be mindful of guests who may be restricted from eating gluten by offering gluten-free crackers.
  • Don't let the cheese stand alone. Select two or three add-ons with contrasting flavors and textures. Follow the "what grows together, goes together" rule. Serving a Manchego? Add some Marcona almonds and Manzanilla olives. A nice selection of charcuterie always complements a cheese board; a haphazard pile of prosciutto, some slices of salami or a ramekin of rillettes would all be welcome additions. Below are some general guidelines for accessorizing various types of cheeses although toasted nuts, dried fruit and honey complement most cheese selections.
              1. Fresh cheeses are complemented by honey, fresh berries, radishes and slices of prosciutto.
              2. Bloomy-rind cheeses match well with onion marmalade, tomato jam and toasted nuts.
              3. Semisoft cheeses should be paired with mustard, pickles and fig preserves.
              4. Hard cheeses deserve bold condiments like chutneys, balsamic vinegar, salami and dark chocolate.
              5. Blue cheeses pair well with walnuts, crisp apple slices and olives.
  • Be creative when it comes to serving pieces. Use a cutting board, a large ceramic platter, cake stand, a collection of antique plates, a metal or wooden tray, or a piece of marble. A slate tile from your local hardware store along with a piece of chalk make an impressive yet inexpensive hostess gift!
  • The most inviting cheese boards have casually-arranged ingredients on a clean surface. You don’t have to put all the fruit in one corner and all the meats in another corner either. Separate items to fill in the cracks, and to make sure everyone can get a little bit of everything no matter where they’re standing around the board.
  • Most importantly, keep it to your liking and don’t stress. Be as adventurous or as tame as you like and trust your instincts when assembling your board. If you create a selection that you will enjoy, undoubtedly so will your guests!
Photo Credit: Honestly Yum


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Brussels Sprouts & Bacon Quiche Euphoria

There a few things we like better than a food festival! Whether it is Taste of Atlanta, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience or any other celebration of food, we want in. Having grown up in North Georgia, the closest big city was actually Greenville, South Carolina rather than Atlanta.

While Greenville has 13% of the total population of Atlanta, their food scene is constantly growing and thriving. Similar to the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, Greenville hosts their annual Euphoria Greenville every September to showcase the city’s thriving Culinary and Arts Communities. The 4-day event includes tasting events, cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, a food truck rodeo, multi-course dinners and live music concerts.

Euphoria invites some of the South's top food and drink talent hailing from Maryland to Florida to highlight the rich food and beverage traditions of the region. We were very excited to learn that Atlanta’s Chef Billy Allin will be demonstrating his culinary skills at both the Taste of the South and Feast by the Field festival venues. Chef Allin’s philosophy of serving high quality, clean food in a humble setting at his family of restaurants which includes Cakes & Ale, Cakes & Ale Wine Bar & Café, Proof Bakeshop and Bread & Butterfly, have earned him the title of James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for Best Chef: Southeast for the last 6 years.

This adaptation of Chef Allin’s recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprout and Gruyère Quiche which was featured in Food and Wine magazine in December 2014, is one of our family favorites. This recipe is proof that his dishes at Euphoria Greenville should not be missed.

1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 lb. Brussels sprouts, roasted
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1/3 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups (4 oz.) Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 deep-dish pie crust, blind baked (recipe here)

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the milk with the cream, egg yolks, eggs, salt, white pepper and nutmeg together. Stir in the Brussels sprouts, bacon and scallions into the egg mixture.

Sprinkle the grated cheese in the bottom of the crust and pour the filling on top. Set the pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake the quiche for about 1½ hours, until set. The quiche will be done when a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the center does not jiggle. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes before serving. Cut the quiche into wedges and serve. The quiche can be served warm or cold.

For more information or to buy tickets to Euphoria Greenville which will take place Friday, September 23rd  until Sunday, September 25th visit their website.


Friday, September 16, 2016

What is a Gourmet Baby Anyway?

Lately we have been asked to review several cookbooks which we truly enjoy doing. It exposes us to new cuisines, recipes and most importantly, to new food stories. Recently, we was asked to review a cookbook titled “Growing Up Gourmet” promoting the idea of raising children to be non-picky eaters. While I'm sure that it is a lovely book with wonderfully useful information, I find that I am extremely irked by the title. Please be clear that this is not a review of that cookbook (or any other), but a long coming disquisition.

Teaching children to eat a variety of healthy foods does not make them gourmet. It makes them well-adjusted children who develop healthy diets and eating habits. Over the years, we have known more than a few parents who feed their children chicken nuggets on a nightly basis and making a separate meal for themselves including one mom who regularly carried a cooler bag with turkey hotdogs so that her son would be able to eat when visiting friends.

When, for a short period of time, our son adopted a “brown” diet, wanting only meat, potatoes and plain pasta and going on a hunger strike when we did not comply to his dietary wishes. Worried he was not getting a balanced diet, we discussed this with his pediatrician who said, “No child will willingly starve to death.” Sure enough, he ate “colorful” foods when he was hungry and learned to eat what he was served.

Many doctors and specialists fear that eating the same foods on a continuous basis may lead to a consistent lack of intake of very important vitamins and nutrients. Further there is some evidence suggesting that a monotonous diet can interfere with sleep patterns. Another theory is that more children are developing food allergies because they are not being exposed to common allergens, such as nuts and shellfish, at an early age, if at all.

For most parents, teaching children to eat foods they are preparing for the rest of the family makes economic sense or even an economic necessity. Purchasing those tiny jars of prepared baby food can get extremely expensive and puts a huge dent in a family's grocery budget.

It is so easy to make your own baby food; so easy in fact, that it is hard to believe the amount being charged for a 2-ounce jar of baby food! Most fruits can be mashed or pureed from the raw fruit with little or no preparation or can be easily adapted for kids from the less expensive “adult” packaging. A perfect example of this is applesauce which is quite inexpensive in a large jar and very versatile. 

Our boys always LOVED mashed bananas, mango, and avocado, and yes, avocado is a fruit! As much as you like avocado toast, so will they. Peel and take out the pit of a ripe avocado or mango – they do not need to be cooked! The nice thing about making your own baby food rather than depending on the flavors available in jars is that you can make combinations that your baby likes and naturally sweeten vegetables that might be less appealing with sweeter fruits or vegetables. Simply puree raw and/or steamed vegetables together. Freeze excess amounts in an ice cube tray for serving size portions later on. And, don't be afraid to add a small amount of fresh herbs and spices to the mix (except maybe for chili peppers). A favorite in our house was always carrot-mango. Try some of these combinations with your babies:
  • Mango and Carrots
  • Peachy Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon
  • Avocado and Spring Peas
  • Basil Zucchini
  • Banana, Potato, Coconut
  • Apple Chickpea Hummus with (a pinch of) Curry
  • Cauliflower, Pear, Parmesan
  • Pumpkin, Papaya, Paprika
  • Beets and Rutabaga
There are so many delicious foods in the world. Let your youngsters enjoy them early and often!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

We All Scream For… Yonanas

We scream for ice cream. Whether it’s coffee bacon ice cream or plain vanilla for Bananas Foster, we are all in. Alas, the calorie count on a bowl of the sweet frozen concoction is enough to send one screaming in the other direction. And since we are not fans of frozen yogurt, we tend to skip frozen treats all together. For this very reason, we were very skeptical when we received a Yonanas Classic machine to review. What is a Yonanas you ask? It is a machine for making soft-serve frozen fruit. Yes, fruit. The claim is that you can instantly churn frozen fruits to create a healthy dessert without additional fat, sugar or preservatives.

Following the easy to read instructions, I tossed some ripe bananas (they even give you a guide to determine the perfect ripeness for best results) into the freezer in the morning to use for dessert that evening. As directed, I removed the bananas from the freezer 10 minutes before use. As the machine came fully assembled, I plugged it in when it was time for our after-dinner treat. We put the bananas in the chute pressed down on the plunger and presto-chango – soft serve banana puree. It looked exactly like mashed bananas, but the consistency and temperature perfectly resembled ice cream. Originally concerned that it wouldn’t be sweet enough, we were pleasantly surprised. Yet, we knew it wasn’t ice cream, it was sweet, frozen, creamy and delicious, but not ice cream.

The litmus test would have to include kids. So I sought the opinion of our 7- and 9-year-old neighbors. On a hot Friday afternoon, they were invited for an afterschool treat. With frozen bananas and peaches at the ready, I had hoped to make the treat ahead so they wouldn’t notice the lack of cream in the recipe. Instead they excitedly marched into the kitchen straight from the bus stop leaving no time for surprises. The kids were actually thrilled to try the machine which is incredibly kid-friendly as it turns out. The only hiccup is that they wanted to force the fruit through the machine too quickly and it seemed to over freeze…

Of course the critical assessment was the taste test and these youngsters took their job VERY seriously. We discussed the taste, texture, and temperature. The consensus was that this was a very acceptable frozen treat! They did not miss the omitted cream or yogurt and it was sweet and creamy enough without any added sugar. They scored it an A+ and asked if they could come back the next Friday to do some more testing (the truest endorsement of all!)

When they left, I was left to clean the mess which took less than 5 minutes as the machine is easy to take apart and clean and is even dishwasher safe. It is also easy to reassemble.

Okay, I know what you will say… You can do the same job with a food processor or blender. Ah, but you would be wrong; I tried. The Yonanas machine makes the texture more like ice cream and stays colder longer while the blender version was slimier and did not stay frozen. And the clean-up… Yonanas definitely won that battle.

So the verdict is that if you are a fan of frozen treats, Yonanas is an excellent choice especially if you are lactose-intolerant or maintaining a plant-based diet. I am looking forward to experimenting more fruit combinations (like Piña Colada) and attempting a frozen pumpkin pie for an October book club meeting!

Disclosure: While we received a complimentary Yonanas machine for review purposes, the opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited. Yonanas machines are available from the company’s website and, as well as Target and Walmart stores.


Monday, August 15, 2016

The Santa Margherita Aperol Spritz

Our first trip to Italy was in 2003 and was the most enlightening experience of our lives. Everything is larger than life, truly and in every way. We tried to patronize restaurants and shops that were popular with locals to get the true Italian vibe. We began to notice that most Italians enjoy a cocktail in the evening before heading to dinner often with a small bowl of olives, nuts or potato chips (yep, potato chips).

Our favorite city for observing this custom was in Santa Margherita Ligure where La Passeggiata (evening promenade) began around 5:00pm with locals and tourists alike nicely attired strolling through the streets stopping for a gelato or aperitivo. We have cherished memories of our boys (then seven- and nine-years-old) being drawn into a local soccer game where the language barrier was irrelevant.

In Italy, the aperitivo (pre-dinner cocktail) of choice is the Aperol Spritz. In the Veneto region alone, around 300,000 of these wine-based Aperol cocktails are sucked down daily, according to Campari, the company that makes Aperol. Like all spritzes which are wine-based cocktails made with a bitter liqueur and a splash of soda. The aperitivo is meant to stimulate the appetite but not weigh down the palate, or get you too smashed.

Everyone has heard the expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” but when it comes to an Aperol Spritz, it should be when in Santa Margherita, use Santa Margherita Prosecco for your aperitivo! According to the Campari Company, the official Aperol Spritz recipe calls for 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, a splash of club soda and is usually garnished with an orange slice. It is light on alcohol and refreshing.

3 oz. Santa Margherita Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore
2 oz. Aperol liqueur
1 oz. club soda
Orange slice for garnish

Fill a large rocks glass with ice. Fill the glass with prosecco, add the Aperol and top with club soda. Stir well and then add the orange slice. Cincin!

Disclosure: While we received a complimentary bottle of Santa Margherita Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore for review purposes, the opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited.

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