Eat Your Way to a Prosperous New Year

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE
Champagne goes with everything!

Champagne goes with everything!

Growing up, my family got together every January 1st for lunch or dinner. It was always the same meal, but I really never realized that pattern. One year, I heard someone say “I gotta get some more collard greens, I need all the money I can get!” This confused me, so of course I asked my mom what that meant and she explained it all to me.

 

It is a tradition in some cultures to eat a specific meal on New Years Eve or New Years Day. In Span and many latin american countries, they eat 12 grapes at midnight. In Pakistan and India people eat rice to symbolize prosperity. There are even behavior traditions, like packing a suitcase to encourage travel in the new year. Other people believe the first person to cross the home’s threshold will be the most lucky. And in my family, we make sure that we have a very clean house by midnight.

 

As for food, our tradition is fairly simple. We eat black eyed peas, collard greens, candied sweet potatoes and ham. The black eyed peas and ham are for good luck. The collards represent financial gain. But I have no idea why we always have candied sweet potatoes. There are other foods around too, but those four are the main staples.

 

Even some restaurants get in on this game. One year a lot of my relatives were traveling, so my mom, my aunt, my cousin and I went out for lunch. In honor of the new year, South City Kitchen was serving a black eyed pea and collard green soup as a special starter. We all indulged. It was fantastic.

 

Anyway, I wish all of you a very happy new year. If you’re even a little bit superstitious, be sure to eat some good luck foods! The list below could be a good place to start. Happy New Year!!

Click for more ideas for good luck meals on New Years Eve and New Years Day!

(more…)

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

The Bitter Truth about Bitters

The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler's Set
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE
The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler's Set

The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s Set

I have to admit that for years I had no idea what “bitters” were. I would see the word in cocktail ingredients list and shrug it off. 

I also didn’t know that there were so many different types of bitters. I only ever saw angostura bitters and orange bitters on the shelf at the grocery store. So you can imagine my surprise when I started talking to mixologists about why they used bitters in drinks. 

So for those of you who don’t know:

What are bitters? Bitters are literally liquid extracts of herbs, seeds, barks, roots, rinds, flowers and leaves. .

What do bitters do? Bitters were historically used by apothecaries to aid in digestion among other things. Today they are used to add very specific flavors and to add amazing smells that bringing out mild, unique flavors in your cocktails.

Can I use bitters at home? If you want to upgrade your home bar, you should absolutely include at least two different types of bitters. You’ll seriously really impress your friends with your extensive home bar if you include these key ingredients.

Where do I start? Purchase The Bitter Truth Traveler. This set includes five different flavor bitters in a cool box. As an added bonus, this set is TSA regulation for in-flight carry-on bags! And from my personal experience, since you only need a few dashes per drink, this kit will last you a long time! 

For more information about the kit click here. And click below for cocktail recipes for the bitters!

(more…)

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

Thanksgiving Prep… Never Feel Overwhelmed Again!

"The Turkey" by Antony Quintano (CC)
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE
"The Turkey" by Antony Quintano (CC)

“The Turkey” by Antony Quintano (CC)

For many home cooks, Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most stressful meals of the year.  This year, however, can be different thanks in part to these 7 Thanksgiving Cooking Hacks from the team at Chef Works, the leading supplier of culinary apparel for chefs and home cooks alike.

 

7 THANKSGIVING COOKING HACKS

1. Create a timeline and master grocery list

Cooking a meal for a lot of people can be quite the challenge. To help make the process easier, you can spread out parts of the meal and cook it throughout the days leading up to it. By the time your Thanksgiving guests arrive, you’ll have everything ready sans the extra stress and clean up.

Start by making yourself a cooking timeline and a master grocery list several days before the big day. Not only will this allow you more time to enjoy your family and friends, but it also gives you wiggle room for mistakes and ensures that you won’t be making last minute grocery trips because you forgot an essential ingredient.

 

2. Prep ahead of time

One of the biggest challenges on Thanksgiving Day is juggling multiple dishes at the same time.  Instead of trying to do everything at once, take a look at your menu and see what can be done ahead of time including:

  • Pie dough. Make your dough far ahead of time and freeze it. That way all you have to do is thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and you have homemade piecrusts to impress everyone the next day.
  • Turkey stock and gravy. You can easily go to the butcher and get all the turkey extras you need (necks, wings, etc.) to make your homemade stock that you will use for stuffing and side dishes and freeze it weeks in advance. The same goes for gravy, which is usually the most stressful part to make with everyone breathing down your neck anyway. Making gravy ahead of time gives you plenty of time to pay complete attention to the process (we all know that stepping away from constantly stirring the gravy can mean disaster) and give you time to strain it so that you don’t have bits of anything in it. Plus, gravy freezes well, so all you have to do is reheat it Thanksgiving day.
  • Casseroles, soups, and roasted vegetables. When creating your menu, consider items that can be done a day or two ahead of time then reheated just prior to the big meal including corn, green bean, and/or sweet potato casseroles; creamy squash or carrot soups; and roasted root vegetables and/or Brussels sprouts.  And if refrigerator space is limited, simply store them in an ice filled cooler until they are ready to be reheated.
  • Prepping vegetables. Cut down on the prep time Thanksgiving Day by chopping all of your vegetables, peeling all of the potatoes, and sauté the stuffing ingredients ahead of time.
  • Add frozen butter to the dough. Adding cold butter to your pastry or biscuit dough rather than melting it or softening it to make it easier to mix in is what makes the end result deliciously soft and flaky. However, “cutting in” cold butter is the ultimate pain. Instead, use a cheese grater to grate frozen butter into your flour.
  • Skip peeling the potatoes. My family doesn’t serve mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, BUT… One of the most tedious tasks that usually ends up with peels flying all over the kitchen no matter how careful you are, peeling the Thanksgiving potatoes is not necessary. Boil your potatoes with the peels on, then once they’re cooked, “shock” them by dunking them in ice-cold water and the peels will slide right off when you rub your hands over them.

3. Cook your turkey outdoors

We all know how precious stovetop and oven space is before holiday meals.  This year, consider cooking your turkey on the grill or in an industrial fryer (grilled turkey with citrus-herb salt and sage butter here).  Not only does this free up a large amount of room in the oven for side dishes and desserts, the smoky flavor from the grill will be a welcomed surprise for all of your guests. And who doesn’t love fried meats?

 

4. Tape all your recipes to your cabinet doors

Printing out all of your recipes and taping them to your cabinet doors not only gives you a visual of what still need to be done, it’ll save precious minutes as you won’t be searching for recipes online, in cookbooks, and elsewhere. Plus, this makes it easier for others to jump in the kitchen and help.

 

5. Ran out of butter but have heavy cream?

It’s crunch time and you suddenly realize that you’re out of butter.  No need to panic, however, as you can make your own as long as you have a jar, heavy cream and salt. Watch this video to learn how.

 

6. Have your emergency contacts ready

Okay so Thanksgiving is rarely an absolute disaster, but there are definitely moments of panic and second-guessing throughout the day. Have this list of holiday hotlines on hand if you need a quick answer about your Thanksgiving dinner preparations. From turkey preparations to how to store and what to do with leftovers, these hotlines can help you out in a pinch (especially if you’re the stubborn kind who doesn’t like to ask family for help).

 

7. Don’t forget about your slow cooker

Your oven will be getting a workout and you might be panicking about getting all your dishes heated in time for dinner. Slow cookers are an excellent and out-of-the-way cooking option for veggies, mashed potatoes, or cranberries. There are plenty of Thanksgiving recipes for slow cooker casseroles, so don’t let this space-saver go to waste!

 

I you have tips for how to make Thanksgiving dinner prep much easier, send them to me via twitter or facebook! Talk to you soon. Until then remember life is good; eat it up!

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

Buttermilk Kitchen… The Best Ingredients for a Basic Breakfast

Buttermilk Kitchen fried egg BLT  from IG @DineWithDani
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE
Buttermilk Kitchen fried egg BLT  from IG @DineWithDani

Buttermilk Kitchen fried egg BLT from IG @DineWithDani

After roadtripping to a samba gig at a latin festival, my fellow passista and favorite vegetablearian (more on that to come) joined me for brunch at a place I drive by almost daily. Buttermilk Kitchen is nestled in Buckhead just south of Chastain Park and next to a few other restaurants I’ve been meaning to try (10 degrees south and Mirko). This farm-to-table, local foods restaurant is known for its fried chicken served on a buttermilk biscuit. And as is my luck when I go in search of certain dishes, they were sold out when I got there.

Buttermilk Kitchen has a pleasant atmosphere. Parking on site is very limited and a bit disjointed, but it is clearly marked. When you finally enter the restaurant, the hostesses are smiling and helpful. And since the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, be sure to allow for about a wait during peak times. On a sunny day the breakfast bar/waiting area is bright and airy. You won’t be able to sip a mimosa or bloody mary while you wait, since this place has no bar. Major downer.

Anyway, I found the Buttermilk Kitchen breakfast menu to be full of unpretentious ingredients and techniques, offering familiar dishes with a slight twist. Its not the most comprehensive breakfast menu, but it covers most of the basics.
With her dietary restrictions, my vegetablearian friend did her best with the menu and opted for the market scramble, which changes seasonally. This one included sweet potatoes, poblano peppers, red onions, cilantro and cotija cheese. A strange combination to me, but with the addition of tabasco sauce–  it seemed to work for her. While ordering, she asked if they could add spinach to her scramble. The response was a long-winded explanation about different types of spinach, the local demand and then ultimately the rule that they don’t modify dishes. The latter would have sufficed upfront. My friend ultimately chopped up a side of sauteed kale and mixed it into her dish.

I ordered a fried egg BLT on ciabatta. the green tomatoes and mountain of bacon on the sandwich were perfect, but I wasn’t really a fan of all the bread. My hash browns with rosemary salt were pretty good. They looked like a prettier version of the kind you get at mcdonalds, but they tasted way better. I wish I had more to say about it.

I really love a local foods, farm-to-table scheme in a restaurant. But I have to admit that I was underwhelmed. This cute little rustic blue house with the very nice staff serves good food, but this first impression was not great. Maybe my mind would change if I had the fried chicken biscuit. However, I saw a biscuit on someone else’s plate. Meh.
If someone else invites me to Buttermilk Kitchen, I’ll definitely consider it. And I’ll pray that I can try the fried chicken. But otherwise, this place wouldn’t be added to the list of options. I’m glad i finally checked it out. I have nothing bad to say about Buttermilk Kitchen, but nothing stellar to say either.

Buttermilk Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

Start a Better Breakfast Routine… BistroMD

Courtesy of BistroMD
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

September, Better Breakfast Month, is nearly at a close– but it is never too late to improve the way you start your day. Breakfast truly is the most important meal. A good breakfast can give you more energy and help you to make better choices throughout the day. I have a horrible habit of skipping breakfast usually because I don’t leave myself enough time to make something great, but I notice a difference when I make time for myself.

Don’t let the fact that September is almost over deter you from beginning a better breakfast routine. Fall is really good time to jumpstart your health and fitness regimen– it is so much easier to roll into the new year with good habits when you do.

BistroMD shared a few simple recipes with me that I’d like to share with you! Trust me– they are pretty yummy. Have fun!

bistroMD’s Sweet Potato Pancakes:

Courtesy of BistroMD

Courtesy of BistroMD

Serves 2

Calories: 330

Protein: 24 g

NET Carbohydrate: 19 g

 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cooked sweet potato
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Peanut Butter
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

Directions: Mix all ingredients in bowl. Mixture will be lumpy. Cook on a skillet or griddle and enjoy!

Serve topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a side of turkey sausage.

 

bistroMD’s Black Bean Omelet

Courtesy of BistroMD

Courtesy of BistroMD

Yield’s one serving

Calories: 330

Protein: 21 g

NET Carbohydrate: 44 g

 

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup of cage free 100% egg white liquid
  • 1/8 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of sea salt and black pepper

Directions: In a nonstick 8-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Pour the egg whites into a small bowl and sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Whisk for 10 seconds, add in the egg mixture to the skillet to cover the bottom and cook the eggs for two minutes. Using a rubber spatula, flip the egg over and cook for another two minutes. Transfer to a plate and leave the omelet open.

More ingredients that you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup of canned organic black beans
  • 1/8 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of diced green pepper (1/4″ x 1/4 “)
  • 1 tablespoon of diced red pepper (1/4″ x 1/4″)
  • 1 teaspoon of dice onions (1/4″ x1/4”)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon of fresh chopped cilantro
  • A pinch of sea salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of Mexican shredded cheese

Directions: Drain black beans and rinse with cold water. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add in the onions. Cook until the onions are clear, add in the peppers and cook for another two minutes. Add in the black beans. Continue to cook for another minute and add in the cumin, cilantro and salt and pepper. (The cheese is for the stuffing).

This delicious breakfast staple gets kicked up a notch with a black bean filling and fresh salsa on top.

Check out BistroMD.com for more healthy recipes and information about eating to live.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

Never Clean Your Grill Again… Cookina Reusable Grilling Sheets

courtesy of 5WPR
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE
courtesy of 5WPR

courtesy of 5WPR

When I first heard about Cookina Reusable Grilling Sheets I was really curious. I love using parchment paper and liners when baking; it saves so much time in the cleanup process. I seriously hate doing dishes. The dishwasher is one of my favorite kitchen appliances, but certain items aren’t dishwasher safe– namely the grill. And since cleaning the grill can be cumbersome, I’m so grateful to have these Cookina Reusable Grilling Sheets to avoid that messy process.

When the sheets came in the mail (sent from Cookina’s reps) I was super excited. I thought the packaging was really cool. Not the box per se, but the fact that it comes rolled up and with a reusable metal ring to help you store it neatly and discreetly among your other grilling accessories as well as a scouring pad to help you clean it.

After grilling chicken wings, chicken tenderloins, sausages and vegetables, I have to say that i’m pretty pleased with the sheets. While I was unable to get grill marks on my food (I’ll keep you posted on whether it happens on the next use), the food was evenly cooked. And afterward the grill grate was still perfectly clean.

My only unanswered question is about how long the sheets last: how many uses one can get out of one sheet? I think they’ll last at least an entire season of grilling if not longer. Either way, the price is worth sparing yourself the grief of cleaning the grill grate for the time being.

I would absolutely recommend the Cooking Reusable Grilling Sheets. They are available at Home Depots, Ace Hardware and the Cookina website. I’m so glad to have the sheets. I’m not a grill master, but I imagine this is going to make grilling meats and veggies that much simpler.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

TACO TUESDAY… My Simple Ground Beef Tacos Recipe

CC gnokii
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE
CC gnokii

CC gnokii

If you follow me on instagram, you probably know that I take Taco Tuesday seriously. Not really, but I do love tacos. My mom used to make something like this when I growing up. But a few years ago, I stopped buying taco kits and started making my own seasonings. Its so much better. And I can control the sodium content and there is no secret high fructose corn syrup, etc.

No I’m not claiming that these are authentic Mexican tacos, but I promise you that they are YUMMY! Tried and true! I intend to make a video for the guacamole– so stay tuned.

Anyway, this recipe is SUPER simple– as all of my recipes are. Enjoy!

 

Dine With Dani Tacos (serves 4)

[please read the entire recipe before you shop and again before you begin cooking]

 

Meat Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp taco seasoning (see large batch recipe)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ white onion diced
  • 1 minced garlic (or one tbsp from the jar)
  • 1 bell peppers diced (optional)
  • 1- 1.25 lb ground beef (90% lean or more)
  • 1 tsp salt (to taste)

 

Serve with:

  • corn taco shells [3 per person]
  • arugula [to taste– just a few leaves per taco]
  • shredded cheese [to taste– likely a tbsp per taco]
  • sour cream [to taste– likely a tsp per taco]
  • salsa [to tast– likely a tbsp per taco]
  • cilantro [to taste] (chopped fresh or dried)
  • guacamole [to taste– likely a tsp per taco]

 

Taco Seasoning (large batch):

  • 1-cup chili powder
  • ¼ cup garlic powder
  • ¼ cup onion powder
  • ¼ cup red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup dried oregano
  • ½ cup paprika
  • ¼ cup cumin
  • ⅛ cup course sea salt (to taste)
  • ⅛ cup course black pepper grinds (to taste)
  • [dry whisp together in a bowl, store in a resealable container, will last forever!]

 

Tools:

  • bowl
  • stove
  • oven
  • pan
  • spatula
  • whisp
  • baking sheet

 

STEPS:

  1. Dice one half a white onion (and 1 garlic clove, optional: one bell pepper)
  2. In a pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat.
  3. Saute the diced onion (and optional whole bell pepper)
  4. Preheat oven on 350 degrees.
  5. Once onions are translucent (and peppers softened) add a tablespoon of minced garlic
  6. When garlic is fragrant and toasted, add 1 lb of ground beef.
  7. Salt the beef (onion, pepper, garlic mixture) to taste while still pink.
  8. Raise heat to high and brown ground beef constantly moving around with the spatula (or spoonula) .
  9. When beef is brown, turn off heat and stir in 3 tbsp of the DineWithDani taco seasoning.
  10. On a baking sheet, arrange shells in an overlapping pattern and heat in the oven for five minutes.
  11. IF your beef was less than 90% lean, drain off half of the liquid fat.
  12. SERVE!

 

Re-gram’d my own gram! Happy Taco Tuesday! #upgram #recipe #dinewithdani #foodblog #simplemeal

A video posted by Dani Styles (@dinewithdani) on

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

My First Time at The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

AFWF 2015.
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

I was credentialed for the 2015 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for the first time ever! This was huge for me because I’d never even attended as a civilian, and now DineWithDani is part of the press to cover the event. My how things change!

Anyway, it was a very rainy day in midtown. After checking in at the Loew’s Hotel and walking the few blocks to the festival grounds, patrons were scuttled into nearby parking garage until the storm [sorta] passed. Those of us waiting in the covered garage were allowed first entry when we the gates finally reopened– after all we were the first there.

I’ll admit a little bit of unwarranted disappointment when I first entered. I saw an area of booths to my left in the mud (um, no) and then I saw a tent full of liquor and sweets. I couldn’t fathom people paying hundreds of dollars for this, but once i got thru the liquor tent, I found two others behind it with all the good stuff!

*sigh* ahhh. This was what the hype was all about. My first bite of real food was an oyster with pot-liquor shaved ice on top. What? Wait, you froze pot liquor and now you’re gonna shave it on top of an oyster? How did you know this is what my heart desired when I didn’t even know? It was everything!

After that I saw barbeque joint after barbeque joint, from one end of the tent to the other. Places from right here in Atlanta to South Carolina to Texas. It was amazing. And they were all decent too. The stand out for me was One Hot Mama from South Carolina. Yes, please! Next time I’m there– that’ll be a stop on the road.

There were chocolatiers, bakeries, new american cuisine, new southern cuisine, indian, italian, and more, serving combinations I couldn’t even imagine. I was blown away by One Flew South. I’d heard good things and they were happily confirmed with some type of fava bean, chicken cracklin-something that made me dance. I ate at that booth twice!

There were bourbon companies, tequilas, beers, vodkas, wines. And I. Was. Lit. About halfway through. If you’re not into the food, no worries, there is plenty of booze to keep you occupied. But then, why wouldn’t you be into the food? The tasting tents are the best part of the festival right? WRONG!

The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival offers VIP experiences like cooking demonstrations, dinners, book signings, parties, trainings, etc. I heard so many wonderful things about those that I can not wait to attend next year! Hopefully as credentialed media so I can actually interview the amazing chefs who come from all over the country. And maybe even as a presenter! I met a group of ladies, The Cocktail Bandits, who presented this year. I’m already in love with what they offer. So I now know that the standard is pretty high! Much like the ticket prices.

I won’t pretend that this festival is in everyone’s reach. A day pass is more than $100 for the tents alone. The VIP experiences come at a VIP premium. But if you want to make it happen, you won’t be disappointed. For some food festivals you have to pay to enter and then pay for tickets to get the food. At the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival all of the samples/small plates are included in your ticket price. No surprises, no tickets, no long lines to re-up when you run low on tickets. I actually think I prefer this model because I know what it will cost up front to have the full experience.

I’ve made a slideshow of photos provided to me because my camera got wet. Womp womp. But I posted a few iphone videos on the official Dine With Dani facebook page from the festival grounds. I got all made up that morning, but you’ll can see how frizzy my hair got in the rain, how runny my makeup was from the steam and how glossy my eyes were from all the bourbon.

Anyway, when you see tickets go on sale for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival– be sure to grab them. It’s totally worth it. Wear comfortable shoes, check the weather report before leaving the house and if you have a wine glass lanyard– bring it! Trust me, I’m an expert now!

AFWF 2015.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

How-To: Big Brunch/Tiny Kitchen

In all the confusion, I took no photos. This one is from Clemens & Vogelsang (Lumberjack Breakfast)
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE
In all the confusion, I took no photos. This one is from Clemens & Vogelsang (Lumberjack Breakfast)

In all the confusion, I took no photos. Clemens Vogelsang (Lumberjack Breakfast)

This year I celebrated my birthday all weekend in small patches. I didn’t hit a landmark number like 21, 30 or 40. So I thought that hosting something at home would be an easy, low pressure option. When I hosted my “Globeleza Party” for Brazilian Carnaval in February, the hardest part was getting our tiny apartment ready for our 20 guests. Of course I worried that people wouldn’t like my feijoada, but I wasn’t stressed about food prep– I knew exactly what to do.

This year I decided to cook my favorite meal of the day: brunch. I kept the menu simple, but for some reason I STILL got behind. I invited everyone over for a 1:30pm meal followed by pool time. BUT we didn’t actually eat until after 4pm– so we missed the sun at the pool. I was so embarrassed. Thank goodness for my love who managed the grill and for my girl Gretta who kind of took over in the kitchen while I hosted my guests. Apparently I can drink and cook at the same time, but I cannot TALK and cook at the same time. Ah ha!

Anyway, this experience reiterated some things I knew all along, but clearly didn’t adequately consider for this event. Key learnings: (1) Timing is Everything. (2) You WILL Need an Assistant.

I knew that I needed to do SOME food prep ahead of time. I purchased the ingredients early on Saturday morning and that night I chopped five pounds of potatoes. But I didn’t anticipate that everything else would take forever. Cooking brunch for me and my love takes NO TIME. Cooking for 12 people is a bit more. I should’ve known this, but the concept clearly didn’t register completely. So this is what I will do next time:

MENU (recipes coming soon):

french toast

roasted herbed potatoes

assorted chicken sausages

roasted mini bell peppers

spicy scrambled eggs

scrambled eggs with veggies (mild)

mixed fruit

 

The Night Before:

  • wash and chop potatoes
  • wash and prep peppers (remove stems, seeds and such)
  • wash fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, mint)
  • thaw veggies for the scrambled eggs (that makes it easier)
  • slice bread (the bakery should be able to do that for you at purchase, but just in case they can’t)
  • chop fruit (remove stems, seeds and such)
  • PLAN where you will serve the food–  I generally set up the food in the kitchen so people can serve themselves and all other space in the small apartment can be used for seating and dining

The Morning of Event:

FIRST begin your potatoes

  • 1(a) herb and spice them with olive oil
  • 1(b) place in oven for roasting (the thinner the layer, the faster they will cook)

SECOND fire up grill and cook sausages (you’ll need the oven and stove top for other things)

THIRD mix the fruit in special bowl and add any special ingredients if you choose [like fresh mint], cover and re-refrigerate

FOURTH roast your mini peppers

FIFTH begin your french toast

  • 5(a) make your french toast batter in a big bowl
  • 5 (b) soak your bread (multiple batches at once)– I had to use disposable roasting trays to accommodate all the bread
  • 5(c) grab every surface you can cook on and heat butter for cooking– I had a nonstick pan on each eye of my stove (i should have also used my electric cooktop too)
  • 5(d) as each slice is cooked, place and stack it in a roasting pan

SIXTH once the potatoes are done, turn the oven down to 200 degrees (or as low as 150), cover and place all cooked food (so far) in the oven to keep warm until you are ready to serve.

SEVENTH begin your eggs

  • 7(a) set up two nonstick pans on the stove
  • 7(b) whisp both batches of eggs together with your fresh herbs
  • 7(c) with a little olive oil and salt, saute mixed veggies in one pan
  • 7(d) when veggies are done, pour half the eggs over the veggies and scramble
  • 7(e) add cayenne or whatever spicy ingredient you choose the remaining eggs, whisp again, then scramble in second pan.

Yes, it seems like common sense, but without an exact game plan, you might find yourself behind the eightball as guests begin to arrive. Especially if some of your friends come early “to help”. And remember, you don’t want the food to be kept warming in the oven for a long time– the texture of breads and meats will start to seem stale. So it is important that you time it right. I say about 1.5 to 2 hours ahead of time, put your potatoes in the oven. They can warm for a while and still be good. 

I hope that these key learnings will make your big brunch more successful than mine. I’m looking forward to a do-over pretty soon! Anyway, happy dining. Remember: life is good, so eat it up!

 

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

Get Your Passport… It Is Time For Your First International Trip!

from the monitor on the plane
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE
from the monitor on the plane

from the monitor on the plane

So you’re ready to take your first international trip? I went to mexico at 17, the same year as 9/11 (don’t do the math) and I didn’t need a passport– just parental permission. But now, a passport is needed to leave the U.S. period. And my passport never saw a stamp until 2014. I held on to it for years. And I was so proud and cheesing from ear to ear when the Brazilian government official stamped my passport and said “bem-vindo”. Actually i think he said “welcome”, but whatever.

If you don’t know where to start for your first international trip, I’ve got ten steps for you!

  1. Get a passport. I know that may seem like common sense, but you won’t believe how many people say they want to go to London or France or Japan, but they never take the first step and invest in a passport. In the grand scheme of travel expenses, its probably one of the best and cheapest investments you’ll make. $135 + cost of photo. PS- don’t expect your photo to be good.
  2. Pick a Country (and maybe a city). If you’re like me and lust after everything on the travel channel or inside national geographic, the choice could prove difficult. So for this I say follow your heart and go big. If your heart is torn, talk to friends and family, or whoever you intend to travel with. Actually, finding a travel companion can be harder than picking a location.
  3. Do Your Research. Common questions to have answered early that could change your decision: What language(s) do they speak? What kind of food can you expect? What are some local customs? When is the best time to travel? What’s the weather like? Does my church or alma mater offer group travel with excursions? How much is average for airfare and accommodations? Do I know anyone who has been? Do i know anyone who lives or lived there? Does our government discourage or regulate travel to this place? Does it require an entry visa in advance of travel?
  4. Apply for a Visa. Not all countries require an entry visa, but that should be part of your research. Is a visa required? How much does it cost? How long does it take to approve? How long is it valid? What are the requirements for approval? For me the process of gathering materials for the application and awaiting the response made me kind of anxious. It was all worth it.
  5. Book Airfare. Some visa applications require you to have your airfare already booked. And if you don’t need a visa, book it as far in advance as is feasible for you. Consider your financial, personal, social and professional obligations at this time.
  6. Book Accommodations. In your research, you already found out what prices were common, but you should remember that hotels are not your only option. Airbnb is blowing up. Hostels are getting better and better. And truthfully, depending on how exotic or remote your chosen location, those may not even be options. So be open minded.
  7. Make a List of Activities. When you pay the premium to travel internationally, staying in your hotel or laying on the beach all day probably isn’t the best use of your time. Go see something historic. Go do something philanthropic. Go learn something new. Your vacation will be better for it. And if it goes badly, at the very least you’ll have an interesting vacation story. But just keep in mind the cultural customs and try not to piss off the locals.
  8. Don’t Piss Off the Locals. Travel blogs, books and more can give you the do’s and don’t for nearly wherever you want to go. If the city you want to visit expects one to dress modestly, do that. If the city you’re visiting is one where people smile and say hello to strangers, try that. Most importantly: if they speak another language and you hit a wall of communication do not, DO NOT yell in english at the locals expecting them to understand.
  9. Prepare for the Expected. There are a few things that will keep coming up in your research, like the suggestions to learn to say a few phrases. If you leave your hotel, you’ll need them. And avoid high exchange rates by exchanging your money at your bank before you leave. Speaking of money, a flesh tone money belt to wear under your clothes may not be a bad idea– just don’t open it on the street. Again, most of the “common sense” international travel tips will come up in your research.
  10. Embrace the Unexpected. Some people say to prepare for the unexpected. That oxymoron doesn’t fit with international travel. No matter how much research you do, you’ll never be prepared for everything that comes your way. So just do your best to go with the flow. You’re on vacation now!
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
SHARE

1 2 3 18