Thursday, May 11, 2017

Treat Mom to the Perfect Brunch

Each year, we all do our best to spoil our Moms on the day named just for her. We lay plans to let her sleep late and make her breakfast in bed. This year, why not go a step further and plan a brunch for the whole family replete with breakfast and lunchtime favorites accompanied by cocktails to complement the offerings. If you’re new to planning a brunch and would like to make your own this weekend, here are a few ideas that will make your brunch a treat worthy of Mom.

Eggs:
Eggs are the staple to brunch menus. Whatever you decide to cook, always include an egg recipe as either the main dish or a side dish. However, making eggs doesn't necessarily mean you have to be satisfied with the common scramble. Be creative! There are several ways you can dress up your eggs.

Herbs are a marvelous addition to accentuate their flavor. Parsley, cilantro, dill and tarragon are all good choices. One of the most common mistakes one can make when making eggs is to overcook them. Depending on how you’re making them, the perfect eggs will be creamy and buttery to the touch. A technique you can use for the perfect eggs are to turn off the burner as soon as they appear slightly under cooked  They’ll finish cooking as they rest on the pan. Another trick for better eggs is to add about a tablespoon of water into your egg mixture. This will make them airy and fluffy. Other egg dishes that lend themselves to a brunch buffet are frittatas, eggs benedict, omelets or even a south of the border classic like huevos rancheros!

Meats and Veggies:
Meat always makes an appearance at brunch. Europeans commonly serve platters of cold cuts and cheeses as part of their typical breakfast buffets.Whether it’s bacon, sausage, chorizo, pancetta or ham, meat is always a binding element that brings veggies (like red and green pepper, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, or onions) and eggs together. Meat and veggie skillets are popular side dishes for brunch, providing a savory and salty contrast.

Crepes, Waffles and Pancakes:
Another component for a successful brunch is to have breads and pastries that will contrast the hearty taste and texture of eggs. Most common brunch ideas for batter-made foods are crepes, waffles or pancakes.

Waffles and pancakes are probably the easiest to make, nevertheless the bad execution of said dishes could make them chewy or tough. A tip to keep batter from becoming dense in the pan or oven is to hold back from over mixing. The more you beat the batter the denser they’ll be, leaving you with thicker but tough pan-fried dough.

Fruit:
There is nothing more spectacular than fresh seasonal fruit to complement any brunch table! Strawberries, blueberries, a selection of melon and even pineapple are delicious on their own or served atop your pancakes, crepes and waffles.

Beverages:
There are a variety of drinks that will both quench your thirst and enhance your brunch menu. Freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice are popular favorites. These also make delicious mixers for brunch cocktails such as mimosas or grapefruit sparklers. Bloody Marys are another common brunch beverage and our personal favorite is a Creole version:

  • 4 oz. tomato juice
  • 1 ½ oz. vodka
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard (we use Zatarain’s)
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce to taste (we prefer Louisiana brand)
  • Lime wedge for garnish
  • Pickled okra (or any of your favorite vegetable condiments)

Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into your favorite glass and add lime wedge and pickled okra.

By planning ahead and getting a little creative, you can start Mom’s day with a treat she will never forget!

Originally posted 5/7/2013

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Beautiful Handcrafted Gifts for Mother's Day & Giveaway

Every year we all struggle to find just the right gift for Mom for her big day - Mother’s Day. Because Moms are the heart of the home, we often look to find a special gift that she can use at home; something as unique and timeless as she is. When the folks at Fennel & Fork reached out to me to review their hand-crafted artisanal serving pieces, I was thrilled to oblige!

When Fennel & Fork founder, Abhinav Sawhney, went in search of high quality, beautifully designed, and affordable home décor reminiscent of products found in his home country of India, what he discovered was a multitude of basic mass-produced kitchen wares that look dull after minimal use, or pricey designer-labeled items that are too precious to use. After a year of searching for a solution, he partnered with select craftsmen from India to create beautifully-designed and affordably-priced serveware. He feels that the pieces used to serve food should be as natural and unique as the food served in it.

We received a salad serving set from the Willow collection. With its narrow leaves and dense stems, these silver-finished, stainless steel servers have a classy design that are nicely weighted, and comfortable to hold and use. They add a note of elegance to any salad and will look beautiful on the table for your Mother’s Day brunch!

To celebrate Mother’s Day this year, Fennel and Fork has released a special collection of products. When you order from the collection, Fennel & Fork will gift wrap it, attach a custom handwritten Mother’s Day card, and then ship it to your mom, grandmother, aunt, wife… in time to arrive for Mother’s Day.

And to help celebrate Mother’s Day, Fennel & Fork is hosting a giveaway! Each week between April 8th and May 6th, they will give away products from our website and on the final day, one lucky winner will receive a $100 VISA gift card. Enter below for your chance to win!




Fennel and Fork Mother's Day Giveaway

Disclosure: While we received complimentary products for review purposes, the opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Kitchens that Makes Meals Look Better

Compensation for this post was provided by Premier Surfaces to promote the opening of their new location in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Have you ever purchased a new appliance, such as a new washing machine, and thought to yourself, “this washing machine is going to make doing the laundry enjoyable?” Maybe you got the latest vacuum, and you got a little excited to clean your family room? Surely, you have bought a new outfit or pair of shoes and instantly felt a surge of confidence? A new look can give us a whole new attitude. It changes us somehow and makes us look at things differently, as if through a new prism. We experience a paradigm shift. Things we once disliked become likable, chores we might have loathed become bearable, and features commonly hidden we suddenly flaunt with confidence.

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The same can be true for your home. Take for instance when you paint your walls a new color, it makes the whole room more inviting and fresh. There are so many changes, small and large, which can renew a home. Alterations can be made in steps and stages, making the entire process more manageable from a budgetary standpoint, but also more rewarding. You also get to enjoy the sweat equity and embrace each adjustment.

The kitchen is considered the heart of the home and is the primary gathering place for family and friends. Your countertops are highly visible and something use every single day. Envision your morning routine, stepping into the kitchen and reach for your favorite coffee cup. You idly stare at the coffeemaker as it spills out your liquid energy. Your thoughts and eyes wander, darting through the kitchen - the refrigerator, the cabinets, the sink, and the countertops - you may not even register the appliances and the kitchen layout in which you are so comfortable. It is mundane and regular, and therefore all the details fade into the background.

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Now imagine that you have brand new countertops. Does your coffee taste better? Likely not, but given the juxtaposition of your old countertops, you have a little more pep in your step when you go to the office. You are aware that when you return home, you will get to bask in the beauty of your updated kitchen. One simple change will make you enjoy your time in the kitchen even more.

Natural stone countertops elevate the aesthetic of your home, and they can also increase the property’s value. Granite offers the greatest long-term value, but Marble is a timeless and classic option. Soapstone, Limestone, and semi-precious stone countertops provide a unique design twist on the common desire for stone countertops, plus they are considered an upgrade for most homes.

Premier Surfaces is the leading countertop company in the Southeast with four showroom locations in Birmingham, Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and its newest showroom in Alpharetta, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. They sell a wide variety of unique, luxury countertops, but they specialize in natural stone countertops like granite, quartz, semi-precious stones, and marble. Premier Surfaces has earned its sparkling reputation for by offering superior products and top-of-line service.

When you trust the professionals of Premier Surfaces, you can rest assured they are delivering the highest quality product and expert-level craftsmanship. Premier Surfaces stands by its products and its people, offering a 100% limited warranty on all craftsmanship. They even use Slabsmith Perfect Match Technology which is the newest, most advanced technology available to the countertop industry. It allows the countertop installers to take high-resolution images of a natural stone slab and then digitally render 3D images depicting how the countertop will appear in your kitchen. Slabsmith Perfect Match Technology is only available at one Atlanta-area natural stone countertop fabricator, Premier Surfaces.

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Eric Tryon leads the company as the President and CEO. Eric promotes a positive and honest work environment for his employees and customers. His foresight, innovation, and leadership have earned him numerous accolades. Premier Surfaces was named one of the “Top 20 Best Places To Work” by Atlanta Magazine in 2009 and 2015, it was named a Top Place to Work by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2015 and 2016, and it was also nominated in Wall Street Journal’s Top Small Workforces.

Premier Surfaces has all the technology, trained and capable staff, quality products, and integrity to give your kitchen a complete makeover with one simple change - new countertops. Stop living in a figurative black and white kitchen and add color and life to your kitchen by contacting the professionals at Premier Surfaces.

We are a website that needs compensation to operate like any other website. Sometimes we receive consideration for our reviews, yet we only recommend the most reputable companies to our readers. 


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Friday, March 31, 2017

Championship Grilled & Saucy Chicken Wings

Just like tailgates and Superbowl parties, nothing says March Madness like chicken wings which are always on our menu for the Championship game! If only they weren’t so – well – fried. So how can you enjoy your favorite game time food and still be health conscious? Baking is always an option, but usually requires added oil and doesn’t result in the crispy skin that makes chicken wings so irresistible. Solution: grilling which is so much easier to prepare without the need to deal with splattering oil and messy clean up. We all know that saturated fats, like butter and lard, are bad for us. One of the best ways to avoid eating excess fat is to grill your proteins. Grilling adds flavor to meat and allows you to bypass the addition of oil.

Grilling also allows for the natural fats to drip off and cook away. Grilling is a great option for feeding the family on those busy nights. Not only will grilling make it easy for you to consume less fat and sodium, but it’ll also hold in more of those nutrients that our bodies crave. Throwing some healthy protein and seasoned vegetables on the grill is quick, and those chicken wings will lose less of their nutritional properties due to the short cooking time for most meats on the grill. And as an added bonus, you can get nice crisp skin. The key is getting a good char on them, and using a great sauce at the end like Moore’s… Did you know that the traditional recipe for wing sauce is hot sauce and butter? More fat. Moore’s Buffalo Wing Sauce has only 1.5 grams of fat per serving, is gluten free and certified Kosher.

Grilling up some wings also gave us the chance to try out our new toy from TNK Brand. The Stingray BBQ multitool is a spatula, tong, toothed tong, fork, launch control, bottle opener which sits up when put down, to prevent your countertop from getting dirty. After washing in the dishwasher, it can be locked to be put away safely. Because wings are small, they can be hard to turn and move on the grill. The stingray made it easy to maneuver those little buggers without burning our hands. Looking forward to a summer of easy grilling! Now back to those wings…

10 whole chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
1/2 cup Moore’s Wing Sauce (of your choice)

Rub your grill racks down with some oil or cooking spray and ready your grill. You want to cook the wings at about 350ºF.

Put the wings in a single layer on the grill directly over the heat and grill for about 20-25 minutes. We start by leaving them in one place with the lid closed, for a few minutes. Because some tend to cook faster due to hot spots on the grill, keep monitoring and flipping as they brown. If a few wings seem to get dark before others, shift them to a cooler part of the grill. They'll keep cooking but not browning.

After about 18 minutes of flipping and moving them around as needed, use an instant read thermometer in the center of a few wings to make sure that they've all reached 165ºF. If some aren't quite there, give them another 5 minutes. You are looking for wings that are nicely charred on all sides and cooked through.

Using tongs, transfer the cooked wings to a bowl. Pour your favorite wing sauce (like Moore’s) over the wings and toss. Add more sauce to achieve your ratio of sauce to wings. Serve with plenty of napkins!


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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pampering & Lunch with Blogging Besties

After a busy week, there are few things better than getting together with friends for a Sunday lunch date and catching up. Except being sincerely pampered by experts at L'Occitane en Provence located in Alpharetta’s Avalon shopping area. With a mimosa in hand, I was treated first to a mini facial with lovely products from the Immortelle collection which contains organic essential oil rich in active molecules that offer unique anti-aging beauty results. Following the facial, I received a luxurious chair massage from Bria Dailey of Dailey Relaxing, Inc. I felt all the troubles of the week melt from my muscles as relaxing melodies played by harpist, Julie Koenig helped clear my mind.

 What was the occasion? This was a gathering of the Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society arranged by VP Melissa Pelkey Hass. So as others were being pampered we chatted and played catch up as we shopped the glorious array of products available for hair, face, hands, and body care. I had a lovely hand massage which began with a salt scrub and then a soothing shea butter massage.

Before leaving for lunch, we were presented with swag bags loaded with treats: Shea butter hand cream, a Divine cream sample and certificates for a free hand massage and mini facial from L’Occitane; an adorable wine glass with a mini cocktail kit of Stirrings margarita mix and a small bottle of tequila; a candle, lavender bath soap and aromatherapy essential oils from Scout & Molly’s with additional coupons; and, and the latest issue of Dining Out Atlanta magazine. We all hated to leave the store, but had a reservation at Butcher & Brew in historic downtown Alpharetta, a short mile from Avalon.

It’s hard to say whether this spot is more brew pub or sports bar, but it indeed is both.  With the Spring weather in our favor, we chose to sit at the indoor table with doors wide open onto the patio. The space is rustic and relaxed with wood tables and chairs and an open bar that spans the length of the restaurant. Bowls of spicy popcorn were on the table as we sat and soon after shared plates began to arrive. First there were Pigs in a Blanket made with cheddarwurst sausage, puff pastry and a honey mustard, and Fried Cauliflower with goat cheese, tangy Korean BBQ sauce, cilantro and topped with a chicharon.

Next came a sampling of their “bowls” which are large and healthy options to a burger or sandwich. The Paleo included sweet potato, spinach, red bell pepper, hard-boiled egg, peanuts, broccolini, crumbled bacon topped with slices of avocado.; and, the Tropical made with couscous, mango, avocado, pickled red onion, black beans, baby kale, feta, and drizzled with a balsamic cherry glaze that made the dish.

Sandwiches were brought to the table next. We tried an “Adrian” made with slow-roasted pork, garlicky broccolini, sharp cheddar and a smear of Dijon-mayonnaise, and the “Homer” which was a vegetarian combo with garlicky broccolini, fried cauliflower, caramelized onion, parmesan and a ginger-chili mayo. By far my favorite was the B&B Burger: two patties, sharp cheddar cheese sauce, American cheese, pickles, grilled onions, secret sauce, yellow mustard, shredded lettuce…. saucy, meaty perfection on a bun! Oh, and don’t let me forget the sides of garlicky French fries, mac and cheese, uber-thin and super crisp Sweet Potato Chips, and velvety cole slaw.

We lingered for a bit and continued our chattered before the food coma started to take effect and everyone said their goodbyes before heading home to sneak in naps if possible!

Special thanks to L’Occitane of Avalon, Scout & Molly’s, Melissa Hass, Stirrings, and Butcher & Brew for a lovely day! While I received complimentary services, gifts and lunch in exchange for this blog post, all content, photos and opinions are my own.


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Monday, March 20, 2017

Corned Beef Rehashed

After enjoying a corned beef feast to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, the question becomes what to do with the leftovers. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the classic Reuben sandwich: corned beef stacked on rye bread layered with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut topped with Thousand Island dressing and griddled to perfection.

Another option is a traditional hash (also known as "stovies" in Scotland,) a dish consisting of a base of mashed or chopped potato and leftover meat; usually roast beef. Growing up this was a staple of our diets with canned corned beef as the meat of choice. It was hearty, filling comfort food that was also easy on the checkbook. This version has an extra zing from the addition of horseradish and Worcestershire sauce.

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ cups corned beef, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Eggs for frying, if desired

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add potatoes. Cook potatoes, turning often for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.

Add garlic, oregano, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce, and stir to combine. Stir in corned beef and toss to distribute evenly. Season with hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Once combined, spread the hash evenly over the pan and firmly press down with a spatula. Cover pan with the lid and cook until browned and heated completely throughout.

If you are serving with fried eggs, cook eggs sunny-side-up in a separate pan and slide onto hash. Serve with a toasted slice of rye bread for a delicious, filling meal any time of day!



March 14, 2012


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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bourbon & Food Experience with A Dining Diva

With a background in food service and a lifetime love of food, Nichola Hines enjoys sharing her dining experiences with readers of her food blog, “A Dining Diva.” Recently, the Diva hosted a Bourbon Tasting experience in partnership with Jim Beam Distillery with inspired noshes prepared by Chef Joe Marshall. Each of the 4-courses were paired with sips from the Jim Beam family of whiskeys ranging from on the rocks, cocktails or straight.

A Jim Beam Bourbon ambassador was on hand to educated guests on the history of bourbon peppered with interesting facts. For instance, there are more barrels of whiskey aging in Kentucky than there are residents of the state. Jim Beam is one of the best-selling brands of bourbon in the world. Since 1795 (except during Prohibition,) seven generations of the Beam family have been involved in whiskey production. The named the brand "Jim Beam" in 1933 in honor of James B. Beam, who rebuilt the business after Prohibition ended.

We began the tasting tour with a charred tomato and Brussels sprout salad with bit-size mozzarella drizzled with a gastrique of honey and Jim Beam White Label which was a beautiful as it was delicious. Next was a smoky lobster bisque served in a diminutive bread bowl topped with bourbon-infused olive oil paired with 86-proof Jim Beam Black Label. The caramel and cinnamon notes were a nice addition flavor to the creamy soup.

The peppery, honeyed flavor of Basil Hayden made a great complement to cardamom-spiced seared scallops and bitter kale served atop a roasted red pepper coulis, while lemony-sage chicken with a sweet potato puree and chocolate vinegar reduction was contrasted by the expansive herbal notes of Knob Creek Rye with its bold rye spiciness and undertones of vanilla and oak. We ended the evening with a dessert of bourbon cheesecake with chocolate ganache and an incredibly sippable Makers 46 with rich, complex notes of oak and caramel and a nice warm finish.






As if that weren’t enough, the Diva sent us home with a hand-dipped Maker’s Mark cocktail glass, a nightcap of Jim Beam Black Label and an adorable set of Jim Beam Apple earbuds. All-in-all a tasty and educational evening of whiskey and cuisine.

Disclosure: I attended this event as a brand Ambassador for CulinaryLocal. While the whiskey and dishes I sampled were complimentary, the content and photographs are original and all opinions are unsolicited. 



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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wahoo Wine Tastings Offer Perfect Pairings

Atlanta has more than a few venues that offer wine tastings to be sure. However, finding an event that offers unique and fantastic wines paired with an exceptional tasting menu is a rare treat. That is exactly what I found when attending one of the monthly wine tastings at Wahoo Grill in Decatur.

At first glance, Wahoo Grill appears to be a quaint little neighborhood restaurant, but upon entering you find room after room of seating including a charming patio perfect for al fresco dining in better weather. Due to the chilly evening, I was seated in the bar area with a full view of the kitchen as the chef assembled the small plates.

With each tasting course, the knowledgeable sommelier would pour the corresponding glass of wine; on this occasion three French wines from the Languedoc wine region of France. He spent a few minutes talking about each wine, its vintner and some fun facts about the grapes. Hearing the particulars lends context to the taste and terroir of the pours.

The first pairing was a 2015 Château de Lascaux Languedoc Rosé served with Moules-frites: PEI mussels in a rosé wine broth accentuated with ginger, pink peppercorns, and a hint of basil topped with crispy shoestring potatoes. The crisp, mineral aspects of the wine emphasized the slight heat of the peppercorns and richness of the mussels.

Next a Domaine d’Aupilhac Vin de Pays de Mont Baudile “Le Carignan” Rouge 2009 was paired with Terrine de Campagne: a warm pork and chicken liver terrine made with wild mushrooms, warm spices and bay laurel topped with a dollop of excellent Dijon mustard and grilled bread. This rich red with bold cherry notes matched well with the rich game flavors, minimized the fatty mouthfeel of the pork and was a distinctive contrast to the Dijon mustard.

Last, I enjoyed Domaine Brumont Madiran Torus 2011 with Duck Confit in a thyme & juniper jus dotted with dried cherries, and a potato-rutabaga hash. This uber-tannic, juicy red with an unexpected bit of sweetness was a wonderful complement to the sumptuous duck and helped to cut the richness of the duck fat which might otherwise have been overwhelming.

While the dishes I’ve described may seem pretentious, this restaurant is not. Wahoo Grill was packed with regulars on this Wednesday night along with new guests there for the tasting event. Whether you are looking for a casual dining spot to gather with friends or an exceptional monthly wine tasting, Wahoo Grill is the place for you. And be sure to stop into Wahoo! Wine and Provisions for great wine selections and a free wine tasting every Saturday.

Disclosure: I attended this event as a brand Ambassador for CulinaryLocal. While the wines and dishes I sampled were complimentary, the content and photographs are original and all opinions are unsolicited. 

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