Tuesday, July 7, 2015

9 Reasons to Shop Earth Fare at Emory Point + Giveaway

Yesterday, we visited the new Earth Fare at Emory Point. The store’s grand opening is scheduled for July 8th and we got a sneak peek at all the goodies before the location’s opening to the public. Of course, the produce department was completely empty, since they will fill that at the last minute to ensure the ultimate freshness of their items. As we toured the store, we learned all about the benefits of shopping at Earth Fare. Here are our top nine:

1. Their Food Philosophy
The foundation of Earth Fare is built on their food philosophy that the food they sell is as close to the ground as possible. Earth Fare has extremely high quality standards.
  • Free of added hormones
  • Free of antibiotics
  • Free of artificial fats and trans fats
  • Free of high-fructose corn syrup
  • Free of artificial sweeteners
  • Free of artificial preservatives
  • Free of bleached or bromated flour
  • Free of artificial colors or flavors
In fact, if you find a product on their shelves that contains any “banned” items in the ingredient list, they will remove it from their shelves and reward you with a $50 gift card.

2. Earth Fare Teaches Healthy Lifestyles
Earth Fare has initiatives for promoting health through healthy eating. Their high quality organic produce speaks for itself. Earth Fare constantly updates their website and provides helpful links about the basics of organic foods, healthy eating, a comprehensive food guide on lots of ingredients, to name just a few. Many educational resources (recipes, cooking tips, local initiatives, etc.) are regularly posted to the Earth Fare Facebook page and their Twitter account. Earth Fare employees pride themselves on their knowledge with their products. If a customer asks them about a product that they are unfamiliar with, they will open the product and try it with you.

3. Organic Options
Looking for organic food? Just look for circle-shaped symbols on packaging. This makes identifying organic options foolproof. Eating organic products reduces health risks. It’s common sense – well-balanced soils produce strong, healthy plants that become nourishing food for people and animals. Added bonus: organic agriculture reduces the chemicals released into the air, earth and water that sustain us.

4. Gluten-Free Selections
While there are a great many foods that are inherently gluten free, and increasingly more gluten-free alternatives for foods that commonly contain gluten (such as gluten-free pasta and cereal) are available in conventional grocery stores. Careful reading of food labels is absolutely necessary when adhering to a gluten-free diet. Sometimes gluten-containing ingredients are obvious, and sometimes they are not – such as with modified food starch, thickeners, natural flavorings, etc. Earth Fare has read the labels for you. Earth Fare offers many breads, cookies, crackers, salad dressings, and other products which are packaged in gluten free facilities, and each is clearly marked with a pretty blue label dot to make your gluten-free shopping easy.

5. Earth Fare Supports Local
Earth Fare seeks out products that are raised or made within 100 miles of your local store. That means that each store has a different local selection -- which is how it should be. Earth Fare supports local farmers by expanding and creating new markets for organic products. Earth Fare Family Producers are small, family-owned or artisan-operated producers. Whenever we can, we love to support the little guy. Look for locally brewed beers from Second Self, Monday Night Brewing and Orpheus as well as peanut and almond butters from Atlanta-based Georgia Grinders.

6. Natural Medicine and Wellness 
There is an entire section of the store dedicated to “Wellness” items. There are a dizzying array of natural cosmetics, deodorants, lotions, soaps and even toothpaste! There is a gorgeous island of  Biggs & Featherbelle handcrafted soaps and bath salts that draw you in with their tantalizing aromas. There is also a vast selection of natural medicine options with natural and holistic treatments for common ailments.

7. Fast Healthy Meal Choices
Earth Fare is your one-stop-shop for a quick meal anytime of day. With a variety of healthy options for every meal of the day, Earth Fare has an all-in-one hot and cold food counter, a deli shop, a pizza parlor, a sushi station, a juice and smoothie bar, and a scoop-your-own ravioli station.  So when you have the munchies or are just pressed for time, check out their healthy fast food options guaranteed to be better quality than the fast food chain restaurants and certainly better for your waistline.

8. Tomato Bank Rewards Program
Earth Fare has a rewards program called “Tomato Bank.” Every 100 points equals $1 of Earth Fare credit towards anything they sell, except alcohol and gift cards. You earn points by purchasing items on the “Get List” (which offer up to 200 points per week,) and bringing your own grocery bag. Email updates inform you of special point opportunities each week. Sign up online or at the store, and receive 100 points just for joining, then enter your Tomato Bank ID number at the register each time you shop to bank or redeem your points.

9. There’s An App For That
Earth Fare's mobile app for iPhone and Android is a simple and useful tool for Earth Fare shoppers. Download the app and sign in using your Tomato Bank account to browse deals available at your local store. Save deals that you want to use on your next visit and receive reminders before saved deals expire. So easy to shop, grab your deals, and show the app at checkout.


Earth Fare graciously shared a $25 gift card to giveaway to a lucky We Like To Cook! reader! To enter, simply follow the instructions below! I look forward to seeing you in the aisles of Earth Fare at Emory Point. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Want more chances to win? Visit my fellow members of the Atlanta Food Bloggers' Society to enter their giveaways:


One Glam Day
Red Velvet Confections
Shana Was Here
The Cardigan Kitchen
Diva Foodies

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 4th Menu Planner

Stay relaxed while you celebrate our nation's independence with some easy cookout ideas. When it's time to eat, remember to say "thank you" to all who have sacrificed for our freedom. We have put together a list of our favorite 4th of July recipes. We hope they will become your favorites as well!

It's too hot to cook inside, so fire up that grill:

And these chilled sides are excellent accompaniments that can be made ahead:

And what summer party is complete without a frozen dessert?
Lastly, don’t forget something to keep the kids from underfoot and away from the fiery grill. Yard games of bocce, corn hole or horseshoes are always popular and you can NEVER go wrong with bubbles. Try our mixture for the Ultimate Bubble Elixir and get ready for the squeals of delight!

Be safe and enjoy a safe and well deserved three-day weekend! And, don’t forget to designate a driver or enjoy the night air by walking home when possible.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Home Cooking with Georgia Grinders

Georgia produces 50% (or more) of the peanuts consumed in the entire nation, and for the first time in history, Georgia boasts its own peanut butter manufacturer. Jamie Foster, known for her NaturAlmond products, has recently launched her Georgia Grinders line of peanut and cashew butters. We had the privilege of attending a dinner at the home of the editor of Pretty Southern to try some amazing dishes prepared by Jamie using her all natural nut butters.

“Our nut butters are perfect for baking, making dips and sauces, churning homemade ice cream and pairing with different cheeses and jams. Depending on what you pair it with, the sweet or savory flavors in the nut butters emerge,” she says. Her true commitment to her products shines through as she chats with us through dinner. She reverently shares that each time she tastes her almond butter that she can feel the presence of her grandfather whose recipe she uses to painstakingly create each jar she makes.

We arrived to find medjool dates that had been stuffed with almond butter and goat cheese, wrapped in bacon, and a wheel of brie topped with jam and almond butter and baked in a puff pastry crust. Both were rich and flavorful with the butters lending the perfect complement to the other ingredients. Our entrĂ©e was baked filet of salmon with an almond butter and soy sauce glaze and panko sesame crust with an orzo salad with cashew butter dressing both of which were a fresh and unique twist on these classic dishes. For dessert we had a peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake and a special after-dinner beverage that originated as a base for a peanut butter ice cream that didn’t quite set properly and the addition of Kahlua. For the record, I preferred it as a cocktail!

We all left with a jar of peanut butter and the recipes for the dishes we shared. I enjoyed the salmon so much, I thought I should share Jamie’s recipe with you all. I plan to try it at home and hope you will too.

1 ½ tablespoons NaturAlmond Almond Butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce (Jamie used Light soy sauce)
1 tablespoon mirin (seasoned rice wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon hot sauce
1 ½ lb. salmon filet(s)
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons almonds, chopped, sliced or slivered
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 425°F before lining a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spraying with vegetable oil.

In a small bowl, combine almond butter, soy sauce, mirin, honey, ginger, garlic and hot sauce until smooth. Immerse the salmon in the sauce and then place fish on the lined baking sheet. Spread a little more sauce over the top.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs, chopped almonds, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the fish and bake just until fork tender, about for 12 – 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet(s).

While the food items we sampled were complimentary, we received no additional remuneration. The opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tex's Tacos Spices Up Neighborhoods

It's hard to think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than with friends munching on tacos. Members of the Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society converged on the home of Lauren Patrick, editor of Pretty Southern with our beverages and lawn chairs to enjoy treats from the award-winning and ever-popular Tex’s Tacos food truck that was parked outside her house.

This fully-equipped taqueria on wheels serves a delicious assortment of Tex-Mex treats with bravura and flair. Tex’s Tacos started when two long time friends shared a meal San Antonio. Mac Helms, bemoaning the lack of his Texas favorites in Atlanta, joined forces with Harrison Jones to bring authentic Tex-Mex tacos to his city. They call their take on the Tex-Mex cuisine “Nueva Texicana,” creating a style that is unique & exciting.

The duo spent six months working with chefs to craft their offerings, dedicating as much as a week to perfecting each individual taco. The resulting menu is comprised of fresh, high-quality ingredients and packed with flavor and includes only best tacos, tantalizing quesadillas, chips with salsa and guacamole and their signature Texicana Fries which are lime fries loaded with toppings like grilled onions, queso fresca, and pico de gallo. While the food truck concept is quick-serve, all of their food is made fresh to order and is fully customizable.

We had the option of sampling our choice of tacos. I chose a Carne Asada and a Pastor De Puerco taco and Texicana Fries. The Carne Asada taco had citrus-splashed skirt steak, grilled onions, cheese, guacamole and cilantro, while the Pastor de Puerco contained pork al Pastor, pineapple, cheese, grilled onion and cilantro; both were garnished with copious amounts of fresh cilantro and a fresh lime wedge. The first impression when they hand the tacos out of the window is how good they smelled and how very fresh they looked. The carne asada was earthy and rich while the pork was a bit sweeter with very tender pork. The over the top lime fries were like a variation on nachos with toppings over crispy fries. The generous portion of fries could easily make a meal of their own. Of course they were all the better with a cold cerveza with one of those lime garnishes!

We chatted with neighbors and friends as we devoured our Tex-Mex goodies all the while discussing how convenient and enchanting it was to have a food truck pull right up in front of a home, delight guests and drive away when the party is over. Now for the beauty part, we can and you can too because Tex’s Tacos caters. You invite the guests, select the menu items you want to offer them, give Tex’s the headcount and they do all the rest. Convenient and enchanting indeed!

While the food items we sampled were complimentary, I received no additional remuneration. The opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Meatloaf Smeatloaf Romeo Style

“Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double beatloaf. I hate meatloaf.” This quote from the 1983 movie, A Christmas Story could have been taken directly from a scene in our family kitchen growing up. There is a notorious story from my childhood that can still cause my mom’s jaw to set during the retelling.

Upon arriving home from school one day, I noticed that there were two items strategically placed on the kitchen counter: a lump of thawing hamburger and a loaf of Wonder bread. These two ingredients placed in close proximity at this time of the afternoon could only mean one thing, one bad thing: meatloaf.  So being a clever and resourceful daughter, I waited for just the right moment when Mom’s back was turned I nonchalantly stole the bread from the counter and hid it.

Tick, tock, tick, tock; I waited in my room pretending to be doing homework. Nothing. My father arrived home and pleasantries were exchanged; still nothing, until… “Where’s the bread” came a slightly shrill call from my mom. “What bread?” my dad and I replied in unison. “The bread for the meatloaf.” came the brief and definitive explanation from Mom. Dad then made the face; the I-hate-meatloaf-more-than-even-you-do face. I silently mouthed, “I hid it,” to my Dad whose eyes instantly lit up. Mom came trudging down the hall. I was busted, yet, there I stood steadfast and determined not to give in to the mundane meatloaf menace. Low and behold Dad backed me up! “We aren’t really in the mood for meatloaf tonight,” he diplomatically attempted to skirt the issue. Mom retorted something about us never being in the mood for meatloaf. The cards were on the table, all bets were off, the secret was out; "No, in fact, we hate meatloaf and would prefer to never have it again," Dad responded. And we didn’t. Meatloaf was off the regular menu rotation, reserved only for occasions when mom was cooking for herself or for Dom who completely shares her love for the hamburger-bread amalgamation.

Dom, who knows of my meatloaf aversion and typically honors my preference not to ingest the dish, recently needed a meatloaf fix on a stormy, unfriendly evening. He dug out a dusty copy of James Beard’s tome of recipes and set to work at creating dinner. I’ve known him a long time and he knows me; he knew that if he used JB’s recipe, I wouldn’t (couldn’t) dream of protesting. So here is Dom’s variation on meatloaf inspired by the equally indomitable James Beard.

2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 doves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper
½ cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
Thickly-sliced bacon

Mix all ingredients except bacon thoroughly and knead with the fingers until the mixture is very thoroughly blended. Form into a long loaf or cake and press firmly. Arrange enough slices of bacon or salt pork on the bottom of a baking pan to hold the meat loaf. Brush the loaf liberally with a mixture of half ketchup and half yellow mustard and then cross with 2 to 4 additional slices of bacon. Roast at 325°, basting occasionally with more ketchup and mustard, for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the loaf is cooked through.

Once the internal temperature reaches 155°F, the loaf is done and can be removed from the oven.  Let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes before carving to allow the juices to settle. If you want to try my Mom’s and Dom’s favorite preparation, wait until lunch the next day and sandwich a thick slice between pieces of crusty bread.

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