Thursday, July 17, 2014

{Homemade}: Summer Pickling

Last weekend I finally got around to doing something that I had been wanting to do for what seems like forever: make my own homemade pickles.  With it came the nostalgia of remembering my truly amazing grandmother whom I used to watch as a little girl.  Upon reflection, it dawned on me that she could do it all, literally.  From preserving to canning to pickling to baking to cooking, her culinary prowess was as broad and as effortless as they come--and her pantry was always stocked with the abundant fruits of her labor for the taking and relishing.

So back to me and my kitchen, here I was, finally about to embark on my first pickling expedition.  Inspired by the abundant pickling ideas floating around, I decided to start with a simple method that didn't require the heavier lifting and technicalities of sterilizing jars, etc., etc., but only required the coming together of my homemade pickling brine (scrumptious) and my vegetable of choice, crisp carrots.  Within a matter of minutes, I was pouring my brine over the carrots and garlic cloves in my jar and salivating with the anticipation of what the next 24 hours would bring. 

Waiting period over, I couldn't wait to retrieve the treasure from my refrigerator and finally have a taste.  I loved the slightly sweet under note and briny goodness from the apple cider vinegar, along with the bright, sharp flavors that carried through from the mustard seed, fennel seed, red chili flakes, and more.  Light, healthy and refreshing, my pickled carrots are my new favorite snack for Summer.  

Not one to let a good thing go to waste, I plan on increasing my pickling repertoire in the days ahead.  In fact, I'm already eyeing fresh jalapenos for what's next.  Give it a try in your kitchen and let me know how you like it and what combinations you come up with.  From the brine variations to the ingredient profiles, there's a world of briny deliciousness just waiting to be discovered and savored!

Happy Eating!

Carrot Fridge Pickles
 Adapted from FOOD52


1 lb. carrots
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 teaspoon whole coriander
2 teaspoons fennel seed
2 teaspoons mustard seed
½ teaspoon chili flakes

2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 ¼ cup water
2 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
¼ cup sugar

Cut the carrots into spears that fit the height of the jars you are using.  Set carrots aside. In a saucepan combine the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a simmer, and then turn off heat.  

Place the cut carrots in a clean jar(s).  Carefully pour the hot brine over until they are submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least one day. Well sealed refrigerator pickles will keep for 1 month. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Postcard from the Bahamas: A Slice of Paradise

When the time calls for a getaway to relax, relate, release and reconnect with a good friend, somehow nothing fits the bill quite like tropical breezes, abundant sunshine, glistening oceans and blue skies.  Paradise, right?  Well my recent time in the Bahamas served up more than its share of sea, sand and sun, making for a "just what the doctor ordered" girls' trip and a delicious slice of paradise.  

My time in Nassau, nestled on Paradise Island, couldn't have been a better start to my Summer travels and exploration.  And from my digs, to local fare, to one dreamy excursion, paradise never felt so good. 


A palatial destination within a destination, we settled in at the Atlantis Paradise Island for our stay.  Surrounded by a marina, beaches, gorgeous waterfalls, cabana-flanked pools, an astounding aquarium, restaurants, shops, and more, we were settled amidst stunning grounds and no shortage of leisure activities from spa indulgences to fine dining to simply unloading and relaxing heavily on one of the surrounding beaches (my personal favorite.) 


My first bite on the island was everything I was hoping for--a bright, fresh, ceviche-reminiscent, conch salad.  A Bahamian favorite and staple, there was more conch to be had during my venture.  In addition to my now-favorite salad, conch fritters and "crack conch", as it's locally described, abounded on local menus and were a highlight at the Bahamian-famed Fish Fry.  Our outpost in downtown Nassau served up platters fit for sharing and overflowing with fried conch (Crack Conch), fried fish, peas and rice, coleslaw and plantains. Whew! Needless to say we couldn't finish it all.  

Fish Fry, Downtown Nassau


Before arriving to the Bahamas, I did a bit of scouting for "must-do", "can't-miss" excursions that I might want to take in.  Not that lounging around the resort the entire trip was a bad way to go (I've been known to do that), but I wanted to take in more of what this travel hotspot had to offer.  And I'm so glad that I did!  If there was anything to top the relaxed lounging, coconut sipping, beachside-massage filled afternoons at the resort, it would likely involve being on a boat, taking in passing views of celebrity beach homes, docking at an unspoiled, pristine, private beach, noshing on a Bahamian buffet lunch, and indulging in more beachfront lounging.  This duly sums up my day trip excursion to Sandy Toes, Rose Island.  

A self-proclaimed "beach bunny", this is the beach that dreams are made of! My dubious posture from the morning rain back at the resort quickly subsided as we set sail into the crystal blue waters and the clouds gave way to full-blown sunshine.  The beauty of it all was truly invigorating and served up a treasured experience that I will never forget.  
Between girl talk seasoned with lots of laughter, and the perfect tempo of relaxation combined with a bit of adventure, my latest visit to the Bahamas was nothing short of a refreshing slice of paradise.  

Happy Travels!
P.S. What's on your Summer travel agenda?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

D.M.R. Fine Foods Pop Up Cooking School ~ The Perfect Summer BBQ

My increasing excitement over the Summer edition of my Techniques and Tastings(TM) Pop Up Cooking School culminated in a fun, delicious and inspiring time this past weekend.  With a menu featured around the fresh, vibrant, seasonal tastes of Summer, I taught and shared culinary techniques and tips, dished up tasty recipes and equipped my amazing class with the know-how and inspiration to recreate the dishes on their own throughout the Summer--and beyond!  

From fruity sangria mocktails, to scrumptious, chilled gazpacho, to succulent, gourmet meatball sliders, to a decadent sweet finish of berry and balsamic shortcakes, we tasted Summer in all its goodness and had a blast during it all!

It was the ultimate in Happy Eating, and I hope to see you at our next one!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

{Homemade}: Dutch Baby Pancake with Blueberry Compote

I was already thinking of whipping up homemade pancakes as a part of my weekend wind-down, when I stumbled upon a recipe for a homemade dutch baby pancake from Bon Appetit, replete with a homemade fruit compote to take it over the top.  Because it had been years since I'd made my first dutch baby, I was sold and couldn't wait to wake up my kitchen with this scrumptious first bite of the day. 

Moments later, a quick scan of my kitchen pantry and fridge revealed that I had the necessary goods to get this recipe off the ground--but with no cherries and peaches for the compote (as featured on Bon Appetit).   What, then, could I do to still make it work without leaving the compote behind?  I employed my philosophy that cooking is often equal parts inspiration and improvisation--and I improvised!  Instead of a cherry compote, I would take the luscious blueberries I had sitting pretty and make the compote all the same.  (I love it when a plan comes together!)

So without any further ado, I gathered my ingredients and made myself one grand breakfast.  In truth, I didn't allow myself to eat the entire thing since I knew there might be some waistline repercussions, but I savored enough to leave me satiated--and thankful for a little improv.  It was the perfect weekend indulgence, and I hope you'll bring it into your kitchen with the same abandon--and enjoy!

Happy Eating!

Get the recipe here (and substitute fresh or frozen blueberries for the cherries).

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Salad Nicoise

With Summer nipping at our heels, my mind and palate are already there--and anticipating the lighter, fresher fare that it offers.  So it didn't take much convincing for me to get a head start in my kitchen recently with one of my favorites, Salad Nicoise.  

I was inspired to put a slight spin on this french classic for a simple, one-pan dish that lacks nothing in taste or wow-appeal from the original.  Now it's your turn to bring this sure-to-be-favorite into your kitchen, so head over to PopSugarFood for my recipe and...

Happy Eating!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Link Love: Summer Travel

If ever there was a time to pack a suitcase and head out into the world, Summer has to be it.  And for good reason.  The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and if you've been in hibernation, you're likely eager to emerge and explore.  

Whether your penchant is for solo travel, top foodie destinations, luxury getaways, or you're seeking tips for making the most of your journey, I've rounded up my favorite inspirations from around the web to get you on your way.  Now all that's left to do is...just go!

Have Food, Will Travel
I've been known to arrange my travel around a destination's food offerings, so I understand this foodie inclination.  If you can relate, then you'll appreciate--no, welcome--this list of the best American cities for foodies. {Conde Nast Traveler}

Party of One
I've definitely expanded my horizons as a solo traveler over the last several years.  Not that I mind the splendored benefits of companionship (I adore them, actually), but I find equal fulfillment in striking out for solo adventures and the excitement they bring.  Whether you're seasoned at going it alone or looking to take the leap, you'll be well-suited with this list of the world's best destinations for solo travel.  {Huffington Post}

Plane, Train, Automobile
Who said luxury travel was reserved for the jet-set, cruise-set or road-trippin'-set?  Taking to the rails can--and most definitely does--include travel of indulgent proportions.  These luxury vacations by train will help you redefine the art of travel. {Pure Wow}

Before You Go
No matter how often the travel bug strikes, you can never be too prepared.  And that's where savvy travel tips from how to pack to navigating airfare purchases to savings tips to getting the most out of your journey with the proper travel etiquette, will leave you in good stead and ready to focus on what matters most: enjoying the journey. {Travel + Leisure, Creative Native, The New York Times, Travelista TV}

So here's to a Summer filled with adventure, relaxation, new memories and...

Happy Travels! 
P.S. Need more inspiration? Visit our Travel page!

Photo Credit

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

{Taste Of Atlanta}: Blue Ridge Grill

Blue Ridge Grill
 As much as I love making things happen in my kitchen, I equally relish dining out--especially when it's good.  So when I received an invitation to attend a menu tasting at one of Atlanta's long-standing restaurants, Blue Ridge Grill, I had to accept.   Sister to the fabulous Bones and casually cool OK Cafe restaurants, the Blue Ridge Grill could be considered the hidden gem of the family for many.  After attending last week's tasting, however, it's apparent why it has remained a vibrant part of the Buckhead dining scene for so long.

The evening unfolded within the restaurant's cozy, interior porch and gave way to a decadently, scrumptious seven-course tasting menu featuring the cuisine of the restaurant's acclaimed new executive chef, Joe Brown.  Chef Brown's menu presented seasonal dishes, including Hot Smoked Salmon, Golden Lump Crab Salad, Pecan-Stuffed Chicken and Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop, which highlighted locally sourced ingredients, while also paying homage to long-standing signature dishes such as Corn Souffle (my favorite), Seared Diver Scallops and a Signature Cookies Platter. 

Hot Smoked Salmon
Seared Diver Scallops with Low Country Red Peas and Rice

Pecan-stuffed Springer Mountain Chicken

Assorted Cookies Platter
Beyond the mouth-watering cuisine, the restaurant boasts beautiful interiors that, in addition to the porch and dining room areas, includes a private dining room that is a perfect choice for intimate celebrations or special events.  

The tasting showcased Southern cuisine and hospitality at its finest and cemented why the Blue Ridge Grill continues to represent a delicious taste of Atlanta that's not to be missed!