Sandy Springs Heritage Farmers Market Haul

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I’m super excited about the Sandy Springs Heritage Farmers Market opening again! And I can not wait to see what lovely greens the farmer are coming with on April 11! Woot woot!

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The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook… Fancy Eats for Everyone!

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Cooking a meal that satisfies everyone at the table is hard enough. Harder still, is to prepare something that transports them to another era. That is exactly what the writer of the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook wanted to create; a resource for making meals that invoke images of an english manor and compel the epicure to affect Victorian manners.

cover
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Downton Abbey is one of my favorite shows. I’ve followed it ever since it debuted here in the U.S. And the dinner scenes featuring the Crawley family are some of my favorites. My father also loves the show. His favorite character is the kitchen maid turned assistant cook Daisy, for specifically the dynamic of her relationship with Mrs. Pattmore, the head cook. I’m partial to the storyline of Lady Mary and her many suitors.

Anyway, in nearly each episode there is mention of some delicious dish which I have either never heard of or never tried. And now, finally, there is a way for me to experience the grandeur that is dining at Downtown Abbey. The Unofficial Cookbook is not part of the PBS experience, but it is a nice way to supplement the DVDs, books, jewelry and other merchandise surrounding the show.

Author Emily Ansara Baines has worked as a professional baker and caterer, most recently in New York City. Like me her favorite show is Downton Abbey. And in my opinion, she has created the ultimate in gourmet experiences for home cooks who seek to emulate their favorite show. I tried a few recipes and I actually danced in my kitchen for each one. However, this is NOT a book for an inexperienced cook. For some of these recipes I’d have to call my Cousin Chef (deets on him coming soon) for some help. So if you’re not someone who is used to cooking very involved meals, with lots of detailed steps and you don’t know how to prep veggies like leeks and artichokes– you may find this book a little too advanced.

Dishes like vichyssoise, canapes, crumpets, osso buco, beef  wellington and such… Just think about that.

Anyway, the book is broken into multiple courses for upstairs and down, with recipes inspired by every character! And its not just sit down dinners, there are recipes for hors d’oeuvres, bites for tea time and more!

I’m so glad to have this book in my arsenal. My plan is to hold on to it and try a few more recipes to tide me over during the hiatus. And then when Season 6, the final season of Downton Abbey premieres, I’ll host a dinner party of at least five courses! Its going to be a jolly good time! Cheers!

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Super Food Kale… 10 Ways to Prepare

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Heralded as a “super food,” (and featured on a sweatshirt worn by Beyonce) Kale has rich nutritional value and its role as an antioxidant make it a perfect addition to your diet. There are many different types of kale, so find the one(s) that you like best and get creative.

PS– I prefer dinosaur kale.

And in case you need thought starters, below are 10 things that you can do with Kale courtesy of my friends over at Chef Works:

from Popsugar.com
from Popsugar.com

1 Make Smoothies

Green smoothies are becoming a popular breakfast choice for the health conscious, but the green of choice is usually spinach. Kale makes a good option, as it is just as nutritious (if not more so) and it has a mild flavor that you can’t detect when blended with fruit. It goes well with just about anything from apples to pineapple, to berries, so experiment until you find your favorite. You may want to leave out thick stems, as they may not blend as well and also add a somewhat bitter flavor.

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How to Make an Yummy Salad… My 5 Rules

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Salads get a bad wrap for being boring, bland rabbit food. But its a good rule of thumb for cooking that if you use good ingredients– you’ll likely end up with a good product. And I made this particular video when I got a craving for something healthy. I started thinking about what makes a good one. Watch this 30 second video for some of my favorite ingredients and below I’ve shared some tips making your own yummy salad.

HERE ARE MY RULES FOR MAKING A GREAT SALAD ↓ (more…)

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National Margarita Day… Feb 22

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Mango Scotch Bonnet Margarita
Mango Scotch Bonnet Margarita (recipe below)

Cinco de Mayo is not the only day you should celebrate with Margaritas. There is actually a NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY! I’m in!!

Some people struggle with making good margaritas. Here are some tips from the good people at Herradura Tequila so you can ditch the poorly made margaritas. And remember to say goodbye to artificial lemon juice.

1.       Avoid cheap tequila – If you are going to get serious about margaritas, you’ll need to invest in high-quality tequila. The key is being 100% agave, which means no additional sugars were added during fermentation process. Casa Herradura has been crafting 100% agave tequila since 1870 using traditional production methods. Use Herradura Silver for a taste of sweet, mild cooked agave notes with a touch of oak.

2.       Use real lime –using real lime juice is just as important. Avoid the artificial lime plastic ball, or any prepackaged sour mix and buy real limes. Limes are not expensive and they last a long time.  This will make a big difference!

3.       Get the orange stuff –Triple sec is key! This orange flavored liquor is sweet and it’s made from dried orange peels. You can substitute with blue curacao to make a blue margarita if you are feeling adventurous.

4.       It’s all about the measurements – The basic ratio measurement of a margarita is 2:1:1 which means two part tequila, one part of triple sec and one part lime juice. This will always depend on how strong you like your tequila so feel free to experiment with it.

I’ve shared below a recipe below! Cheers!

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Make Cranberry Sauce… a Holiday Condiment

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Don’t cook? No worries! Here is the recipe for everyone’s favorite condiment: Cranberry Sauce. (The people who don’t like it, probably had it made fresh!) With the recipe and video below– you have the ability to blow some minds and changes some lives!!


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Dadgum That’s Good! And Healthy… Cookbook Review

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I was sent a copy of John McLemore’s latest cookbook “Dadgum That’s Good! And Healthy” for review. It took me a while to review it because I like to try more than one recipe to make sure that I’m giving you the real. This cookbook offers recipes, tips and suggestions for ways to grill, smoke and fry your way to healthier you!  

dadgum FINALFRONTCOVER (2)When this book came my way, I had no idea how things would go. With no grill, zero experience with a smoker and minimal comfort deep frying foods—I was convinced that I would either ruin the food or severely injure myself (and maybe both). To my surprise and delight—neither horror occurred. In fact, I was lauded for my” mad skillz on the grillz”…. (yes, that’s a direct quote).

John McLemore has written more than a couple of cookbooks. But this time he decided to take some of his family’s signature dishes to a new level with healthy eating as the main focus. He proves that you can have an amazingly flavorful meal and still maintain your figure!

In flipping through the book you may not immediately notice, but majority of the recipes require a smoker. A VAST majority. So unless you own or intend to own a smoker—this ain’t the book for you. However, there are some good recipes for grilling and frying—and that was the direction I chose.  You may also want to make sure your kitchen is stocked with a few other tools as well. A food processor is not listed as a necessity, but I noticed that this was needed for more than one recipe. So just take your time looking through to make sure you can actually make the dishes.

Flipping through you may also appreciate the ground that the book covers. From details about smoking temps and times to the nutrition. In addition to calorie count for each recipe, he also includes tips for how to make some of the recipes even healthier. I can dig that!

My homie DJ Bigg H threw a Fall Shindig and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to try a few of the recipes I was set to review. He has a slow-cook grill as well as very cool family and friends. I chose three recipes; one vegan, one vegetarian and of course, MEAT.  I won’t pretend there are many vegan options but I was pleased to see grilled brussel sprouts alongside salsa verde skirt steak. I decided to go with grilled balsamic portabella mushrooms, grilled zucchini and jerk chicken. Not exactly cheap eats, but more affordable than the brisket I considered.

I almost never follow recipes exactly, giving everything I prepare a little DineWithDani flavor. But for this, I wanted to remain true to John McLemore’s vision. So instead of settling for the dried rosemary in my cabinet or the frozen chicken thighs in my freezer, I bought fresh everything at the market on the morning of the barbecue.

The prep wasn’t hard or lengthy really. The marinades were almost too easy. Authentic Jamaican jerk has a reputation for being laborious. While preparing the marinades, I’ll admit that I was underwhelmed with what I tasted. But I let the jerk chicken and balsamic mushrooms marinate while I got dressed. Shortly thereafter, I packed my icy cooler and got on the road. The whole way driving I was thinking, ‘please God let this be good. I don’t want these people to think I can’t cook.’

Click below to continue reading… (more…)

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How to Make a Caipirinha– Brazil’s Favorite Drink

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The caipirinha (Khy-pee-REEN-yah) is the signature drink of Brazil. Click the video below to find out how I make these delicious cocktails for my family and friends.

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Where I Shop in Atlanta… Markets, Grocers, Vendors and more!

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groceryI’ve always loved grocery shopping. It could be because it combines two things I love– picking out new things AND food.

And as a child I remember my mom (the consumate educator) would test my math skills by making me add up totals in my head while we shopped– a habit I’ve lately abandoned. And if i was on point I’d get a treat! ANY. THING. I WANTED. AT THE STORE! Usually tomatoes or swiss cake rolls. I know those are random options, but I would eat all of the tomatoes before my mom had a chance to cook with them– so she started buying me my own. I still love them today.

Outside of that, I had loads of other opportunities to earn sweets because my older cousins hated going to the store with their mom. So I would volunteer to go with my aunt when I was little. She would test my memory by verbally giving me a list in the car and pretending to need my help remembering. No matter what, I came home with a treat from the Kroger bakery when I went with her. #spoiled. So it was always good times!

Anyway, there is no one rewarding me for randoms tasks while grocery shopping these days, BUT i still enjoy going up and down the aisles, considering meal options and comparing prices. Over time I’ve learned where to go for certain things. And I want to share that with you guys!!! If you live in Atlanta– these are the places that I like to shop.

BEST PRODUCE: Any Metro-Atlanta Farmers Market!

I’m not going to say one farmers market is better than another for produce. It kinda depends on the produce you’re looking for, but I’ll say that farmers markets generally have better options than traditional grocery stores! I love checking out small pop up markets too. They usually feature locally grown organic items. I’ll splurge for that!

Side note: Dekalb and the Sandy Springs pop-up have great greens, but Buford Hwy has great potatoes and tomatoes.

BEST SPICES: Your Dekalb Famers Market!

HANDS DOWN. They have a wall of spices packaged in a variety of weights for the lowest prices you can imagine. I buy big tubs of coarse salt and peppercorns for less than $1.00 every time I go. And if you’ve ever tried to buy nutmeg at a traditional grocery store, you know that it’ll cost you a smooth $5 for nearly none. And at Dekalb, you can get an eff load it for under $2.00. That’s just an example. But think of a natural herb– and they have it for the low!

CLICK BELOW TO KEEP READING…

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Thanks for the Support… Here’s What’s Coming!

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