Archive for the ‘Mason Cash’ Category

Black Friday Preview and Pre-Thanksgiving Sale!

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Sing it with me, folks. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”  Christmas sales, that is! I know, I know, it’s before Thanksgiving, but we wanted to put some things on sale now, just to tell all of our customers how thankful we are for them. Plus, we figured you could get some of your shopping out of the way now and take Thanksgiving to enjoy time with family – that’s what it’s really all about.

So, what do we have on sale now, and what do you have to look forward to?  Let’s start with our Pre-Thanksgiving sale* – First up, Free gift with purchase with every order of Deco Leaves!

Deco Leaves Cheese Leaves

Offer: One pack of Snowflake Deco Leaves with Each Retail Purchase of Deco Leaves

You read that right -with each order of Deco Leaves cheese leaves (any style!)  you’ll get a free pack of snowflake cheese leaves ($11.95 Value.) They’re great for holiday decorating and a beautiful way to bring some wintry weather indoors, without bringing the cold in.  Whether you’re using the cheese leaves to accent a cheese plate at Christmas, line your platter of latkes at Chanukah, or line a dessert tray, you’ll get a ton of use out of these food-safe parchment leaves. Plus, they come in a resealable package, so you can use half now, and save half for a Christmas in July type party!

DecoLeaves

Each Pack of Snowflake Leaves contains 4 patterns – 20 pieces total

Next on the Pre-Thanksgiving sale sale rundown: Our Mason Cash Tagines!  Whether you’re shopping for a gift for an adventurous cook or for an addition to your own bakeware collection, these beautiful stoneware pieces are a fantastic idea.  For the sale, we’ve got them marked down to $49.95, and we’ll even ship them for free via UPS ground.  So, if you’ve got a foodie on your list, consider the gift of a beautiful Tagine. They’re the traditional cooking vessel of Morocco and are fantastic for cooking richly flavorful braised meats and stews.

Buy Mason Cash Tagines - Holiday Gift Idea!

Tagines are just $49.95

If you’ve got a baker on your list, consider our bread baking set – it comes in a beautiful gift box and is a fantastic addition to a baker’s kitchen.  The set includes a generously sized mixing bowl made of signature Mason Cash stoneware. The bowl doubles as a proofing bowl and comes with a stoneware lid that, when turned upside down, works as a baking stone – the unglazed surface actually helps homemade bread get that crisp crust and tender crumb that makes bread so delicious! The set comes with recipes and is marked down a whopping $20.00!

MC Terracotta Bread set A

What else is on sale? Bakeware.  Our Mason Cash Terracotta and Enamour Bakeware lines are both marked down 25% so when you discover that you just don’t have enough oven-to-table bakeware at Thanksgiving, you’ve got plenty of time to stock up before Christmas.  The pieces in both lines are classic and go beautifully from your oven to table, so they make wonderful gifts as well as being great additions to your own kitchen! Enamour on Special Holiday Sale

Pre-Thanksgiving Sale - Black Friday Event

Both Terracotta and Enamour are on special holiday sale!

As you can see, our Pre-Thanksgiving sale is definitely something to give thanks for. But what can you look forward to for Black Friday Weekend?  Well for starters, a whole different set of items on sale, so keep checking back. Second, we’ll be running our sale Thanksgiving day through Cyber Monday (December 1.) to give you plenty of changes to figure out what you want and put in those orders!  There may even be some free gifts going on – because everyone likes free stuff.

But that’s not all (do I sound like an infomercial yet?)  From December 3-December 15, we’ll be doing a “12 Days of Christmas” sale event.  1 item per day on super sale. If you want to get email notifications, sign up for our mailing list (popup in the corner.)  You can’t use the 15% off code on the super sale items, but you can save it to use another time.  And rumor has it, Mason Cash bowls may be back!**

Are you psyched for the holidays yet? We sure are!

*Special offers apply to retail customers only. Re-sellers and commercial accounts cannot take advantage of these deals.  Unless otherwise specified, deals are not combinable with other offers, including our newsletter signup coupon code and free shipping code. Please call us at (888) 207-8999 or reach out on livechat with any question.

**For Retail orders only.

Our Signature Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Every time I look at the Calendar, I’m amazed at how fast time is flying. Thanksgiving is only two weeks away! Last week, we covered the veggies, but this week, we’re all about everyone’s favorite side dish, stuffing.  Since I cook for a huge crowd, I always do two versions of stuffing, a cornbread stuffing with sausage, and this vegetarian stuffing recipe. I love having a little something for everyone! If you’re looking for something a little different this year, scroll on down to the bottom of this post where we’ve compiled some of our favorite dressing recipes from all over the internet.  But before we start, I’ve got an important question: Stuffing or Dressing?  Is one more correct than the other?

Anyway, on to the recipe.  As we mentioned, this is a vegetarian recipe, but if you want to carnivore it up, saute some sage sausage with the carrots, celery and onions, and chicken stock instead of vegetable stock. Boom- sausage stuffing.  You can even stuff it into your bird, though I never do – I love the crispy texture the top of my stuffing gets when I bake it in a terracotta dish. It’s kind of like the edges of brownies – I just can’t get enough. Plus, you don’t have to worry about overcooking the bird while you’re waiting on the stuffing to get hot enough to kill off salmonella and that’s definitely a double win. Crispy edged stuffing and a moist, juicy bird! Let’s go.

Ingredients

  • 1 large loaf of challah or brioche (about 1 pound) cut into small cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 sprigs thyme, minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced sage
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • salt

Instructions

  1. The night before, spread the bread out on a sheet tray  and leave it uncovered and out of reach of pets and small children. You want it slightly stale.
  2. Add half the butter to a saute pan. When melted, add the carrots, celery, onions, garlic, apple and herbs over medium heat until they are tender and fragrant.  Taste the mixture and add salt, leaving it slightly underseasoned.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the bread, sauteed vegetables, and cranberries. Let rest until the mixture is room temperature.
  4. Add the rest of the butter and the vegetable stock and mix until well combined. Taste for seasoning – add salt or pepper as needed.
  5. Once you love the way it tastes, add the egg and pack the mixture into a baking dish – I love cooking in terracotta since it gives me nice crusty edges while keeping the dressing moist in the middle – the perfect combination!
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 20-25 minutes until the surface is crisp.  Serve alongside all your favorite Thanksgiving dishes (or with a roast chicken for a perfect Sunday supper.)

Ok, so there are a lot of ingredients, but as you can see, It’s pretty easy to make homemade stuffing. Once you have the basic stuffing recipe down, you can play with it – I’ve done cornbread instead of challah, added sausage, pecans, mushrooms and roasted garlic over the years, and even oysters for a traditional oyster stuffing – no matter what, the basic formula stays the same and the dressing turns out beautifully. That’s the magic of having a great basic recipe- all the variations are so exciting.

Now, I promised you some of my other favorite stuffing recipes. Here we go, from all corners of the interwebs!

This wild rice stuffing from Tidy Mom is not only delicious, it’s gluten free! It’s got the traditional flavors of a bread stuffing, but with nutty, flavorful wild rice, pecans, and a hint of smokiness from bacon. And really who can go wrong with bacon? It’s awesome.

Want something a little different? Try this chorizo and cornbread stuffing we found on Table for Two.  I love the addition of mushrooms and the combination of sourdough for stability with super-flavorful cornbread. It’s a totally well-rounded stuffing that’s pretty delicious on its own as well as being a great addition to your Thanksgiving table.

If you want to go the whole wheat route, that’s pretty easy with stuffing as well. Our friends over at Love and Lemons have this beautiful Kale and Shiitake stuffing recipe made with whole grain bread. Super bonus – it’s completely vegan. I know how hard it can be to accomodate everyone’s diet at Thanksgiving, so having a great vegan Thanksgiving recipe or two never hurts.  And admittedly, I’ve made this one just for myself, for dinner a number of times. There’s kale and mushrooms, so totally healthy, right?

There you have it, folks. Whether you’re a carnivore or a vegan, a bread lover or keeping it gluten free, stuffing is one of the most versatile thanksgiving recipes out there. So versatile, in fact that it goes by two names. Stuffing or dressing, it’s delicious!

A Pumpkin Bread Recipe You’ll Fall in Love With!

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

At this time of year, pumpkin is king! You see it in your ice cream, cookies, cakes, soup, salad and even your coffee.  One of our favorite pumpkin treats is pumpkin bread. While it’s delicious, I’m not talking about the pumpkin bread that reminds me a little of banana bread and is readily available in a certain chain coffee shop. I’m talking about this subtle, spiced, yeasted pumpkin bread recipe. When shaped into rolls, they’re perfect for Thanksgiving (especially if baked in one of our tear and shares, naturally) but I sometimes braid this bread like challah or even shape it like a rustic loaf. On its own, this is a fantastic vegan pumpkin bread recipe, but if you want to push it a little over the top, you can fill each roll with a bit of cream cheese for a tangy surprise.

Ok. Are you as psyched as I am? Let’s get baking. Get ready for your entire home to smell like heaven.  Seriously. This pumpkin cream cheese bread recipe is BEYOND delicious, with or without the cream cheese. Made into a loaf, it’s heavenly for turkey sandwiches. . . especially those great Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches. Full disclosure: This recipe is loosely based on a recipe by King Arthur Flour. The proportions are theirs, the tweaks are all ours.  Suggestions for making this recipe vegan are in italics.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons instant or active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (or orange juice)
  • 2 large eggs (or just increase the pumpkin puree to 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups puréed pumpkin, either fresh or canned
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 1/2 cups  Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • zest of 2 oranges, divided in half
  • 1/2 lb cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. Ok, that may look like a ton of ingredients, but it’s easy, I promise. Even easier, this first step is only if you want cream cheese filled rolls. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, half the orange zest and the teaspoon of sugar.  Just mix it together well, and when combined, transfer to saran wrap. Roll it into a snake (it’s like Kindergarten art class folks) about an inch thick and stash the whole thing in the fridge. You won’t need it for a while.
  2. In a large bowl (I seriously suggest breaking out our bread baking set or a Mason Cash bowl if you’ve got them) add the milk or oj, checking that it’s not too hot – should be just around body temperature or a little higher. Add in the maple syrup and the yeast and stir well to combine.  Leave the mixture alone for 5 or so minutes. If you see it foaming, you’re good. If not, your yeast is dead and you should buy fresh and start over. You can’t make happy bread with sad yeast.
  3. Once you’ve double checked that your yeast is alive (see image above) It’s time to make that bread dough. Whisk the eggs (if using,) pumpkin puree, and vegetable oil into the yeast mixture until completely combined. Add the spices and orange zest (but not the salt.)  It’ll look less than beautiful, but trust me, it all comes together in the end. Plus, it smells totally awesome, doesn’t it?
  4. At this point, add in about 4 cups of the flour,  mixing with a spoon or your well-floured hands.  When it’s combined, and probably still a hot mess, pour a generous amount of flour on a cutting board or counter top and turn the dough out.
  5. Flour your hands even more, then add the salt and about a cup of flour to the dough and begin kneading (here’s how.) If the dough begins to come together as a smooth, soft dough (it should still be sticky, but not too sticky to handle) then you’ve got enough flour. If not, add more, kneading between additions. Just don’t add more than the 6 1/2 cups the recipe calls for, or you’ll get a disappointingly dry dough. Once your dough is well kneaded (here’s one good way to check) place it in an oiled bowl. Cover with a lid (see bread baking set) or a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place until its volume has doubled. It’ll take a little over an hour – the perfect time to re-watch your favorite episode of Game of Thrones. . . or whatever.
  6. Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly oiled work surface.  Break it in half and decide how you’re going to shape it.  This recipe will either make two loaves, a loaf and a tear and share, or a large batch of rolls. Shape as desired.  If you want to put that cream cheese mix from step one in the rolls, now is the perfect time. Simply divide the dough into rolls, flatten each roll, place a chunk of the cream cheese inside it (no larger than about 1″ x 1″ and shape the roll around the cheese, double-checking that it’s sealed well. If you’re skipping that step, just shape the bread. A bread form for loaves works, as does shaping a rustic round loaf, or even braiding it. If you’re doing rolls, I suggest baking them in a tear and share or casserole dish for crisp tops and super moist sides. Just place them about an inch apart.

  7. Once your bread is shaped, cover the pans and set it aside to rise until almost doubled in size. This will take between 35-45 minutes, so preheat the oven to 350 and use this time to wash the dishes. Unfortunately, this isn’t Beauty and the Beast. They’re not going to wash themselves.
  8. Bake the bread about 30-35 minutes (20 minutes for the rolls)   until it sounds hollow when tapped, is nice and crusty on top, pulls away from the pan a little, and a digital thermometer inserted into the center registers about 190°F. At that point, let your bread cool. This will be the most difficult part. It’s going to smell absolutely amazing but you can’t touch it until it’s just a little warmer than room temperature or the whole loaf will fall apart, and that would be sad. Once it’s cool, enjoy. If you’re serving it to guests, make sure you grab a piece before serving – the whole loaf will be gone in a blink of an eye. It’s that good!

Well, friends. There you have it. An easy pumpkin bread recipe that you’ll find yourself totally addicted to. It’s the perfect thing to serve with a holiday meal, or to grab a thick, buttered slice of at 2 in the morning. It’s also super-delicious on a cheese plate with cheddar or brie! Enjoy! I know I did.

 

Mother’s Day Breakfast: How to Make Pancakes from Scratch

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Mother’s Day already? Yep, Mother’s day is on Sunday, May 11 – Just 2 weeks away. If you need help figuring out how to plan a great Mother’s day, we’re ready to help you out. Our trick: Start the day right!

Easy Pancake Recipe to wow your mom

If your mom is anything like mine, she taught you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So help your mom start her day off right with a stunning, easy to make breakfast: homemade pancakes, made with love.  We’ve even put together a pancake breakfast kit so you can make mom’s breakfast as beautiful as it is tasty.  So let’s get cooking.

Whether you’re an experienced cook or just learning how to make pancakes from scratch, this buttermilk pancakes recipe is as simple as it is delicious.  As is, it’s the perfect basic pancake recipe, and with a few tweaks (see suggestions at the end of the recipe) it can become a unique, unexpected, highly delicious breakfast experience.

Make Pancakes for Mother's Day!

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus extra for griddle
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (either white or brown
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 to 2 cups buttermilk
  • Optional ingredients: vanilla extract, lemon zest, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, blueberries, chocolate chips*

Buttermilk pancakes, Blueberry Pancakes, from scratch pancake recipe

Instructions:

  1. Get ready for an easy pancake recipe. Very few ingredients, very simple process, great results. It may seem like a lot of steps, but trust me. each step is easy!
  2. In a large bowl, like the Counter Grip Bowl from our Pancake Breakfast Set, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until thoroughly combined.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and eggs. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add the butter and whisk, or stir until just combined. Some lumps are good – DON’T whisk til smooth. If it seems too thick (like mine above) add more buttermilk.
  5. Heat an electric griddle to 375 or a pan to medium high heat.
  6. When skillet or griddle is hot, add butter. Let it melt and bubble.
  7. Add a drop of pancake batter to the pan. If it sizzles, it’s hot enough.
  8. Using a ladle, pour pancake batter into the pan. You can make your pancakes as big or small as you want, but I find that 5″ – 6″ diameter pancakes both cook evenly and are easy to flip.
  9. Leave the pancakes alone for 1-2 minutes. Seriously, don’t mess with them.
  10. When to flip pancakes: Flip the pancakes when they appear set around the edges and bubbles are rising to the surface throughout.
  11. How to flip pancakes:  Grease your spatula. Wiggling it a little, slide it under the pancake all the way. Lift and turn over quickly.
  12. Let cook another 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat.
  13. Serve immediately, drizzled with maple syrup or keep warm in the oven. No one likes cold pancakes.  We suggest a stack of 2-3 pancakes per person, served with a side of sliced fruit.

How to make pancakes for breakfast

*  About the optional ingredients: Consider amping up the flavor of your pancakes to make them extra special for mom.  Play with flavor combinations and think about what your mom likes. My mom’s favorite pancakes have orange zest and nutmeg in them.  Vanilla and lemon zest is also great as is cinnamon and almond extract.  With any herbs, spices, extract or zest, add them to the pancake batter with  your liquid ingredients.  I like letting my citrus zest sit in my melted butter. I think it gives a stronger flavor.   For bigger add-ins like blueberries, fresh bananas or chocolate chips, add them in when the first side of the pancakes are almost set – RIGHT before the flip.

There you have it. Delicious pancakes that are perfect way to kick off a beautiful Mother’s Day.  This recipe is literally the best pancake recipe. It is adaptable if you want to make blueberry pancakes from scratch, great for chocolate chip pancakes, and super-easy.  If you plan it right, these pancakes are the perfect breakfast in bed entree: Easy to cut and eat with a fork, comforting, and delicious.  Sure, you run the risk of getting syrup on the sheets,  but if mom loves breakfast in bed, it’s totally worth it.

Learn How to make Pancakes from Scratch!

When is Spring Cleaning? Right Now! – Spring Cleaning tips, Tricks and Sale!

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Here at Pacific Merchants we’re big believers in getting organized, simplifying, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. One of the ways we’re doing that is throwing an epic Spring Cleaning sale. That’s right, some of our best-selling items are up to 50% off.  Make sure to check out our sale page to see how we do spring cleaning, and how awesome it’ll be for you!  Everything from Acacia to Placemats to Teapots are on sale, so make sure to check them out!

If you’re here to get some cleaning tips, we’re happy to help you out! We’re going to give you our top tips on how to organize a pantry, how to spring clean, and how to clean your house fast. We’ll even give you a truly helpful checklist to help you get organized at home?  Ready? Bookmark that sale page (it’s running through March 19 and we’re gonna put new stuff up all the time) and let’s clean!

somerwhere to put all your stuff1 – Create a landing strip. No, your home isn’t an airport, but it’s amazing to have somewhere to throw all your odds and ends when you walk through the door. I was particularly inspired by this little nook I saw on Apartment Therapy. Check out that big wood bowl for mail. I immediately went home and did something similar with our oval bowl –  it’s the perfect size and shape to hold my mail, but just small enough that I actually go through the mail regularly.  If you’ve got a large space, consider dedicating an small room or closet , but if you’re in a smaller apartment, something as simple as a small cabinet, a shoe rack, and a couple of hooks will suffice.   I suggest 2 hooks per per person (coat, bag/purse) and enough room for a couple of pairs of shoes each, plus a catch-all for odds and ends, whether it’s a big bowl, a sectioned tray or even a Kilner jar. Trust me, it may seem a little dumb, but having a place to dump your stuff when you walk in the door helps if you’re trying to keep your home clean.

Getting organized using Kilner jars2- Pull things off the shelves. You know those cabinets/closets/pantry shelves that are just full to the brim of disorganized odds and ends? Pull EVERYTHING out of those cluttered cabinets. Clean them (trust me, start with a clean slate) and put things back in a neat, orderly fashion. Stack dishes  by size and put them back.  Organize odds and ends in that junk drawer – I use small Kilner jars and label the lids. They’re short enough to sit in a drawer and the labels mean I can easily find those spare keys, rubber bands, loose change, or push pins.

3. Consolidate. This is another great time to break out the Kilner jars. Whenever I go through my pantry and cabinets, I find 3 half-used bags of sugar, the occasional extra bag of flour, and 5 or 6 half-used bags of chocolate chips I forgot I had.  I’ve recently begun combining all these half-used bags in large clip top jars rather than trying to put them back. The stuff I use frequently – cereal, coffee, sugar, pretzels – goes on the counter for easy access since Kilner jars are just so pretty. The stuff that I don’t use as much still gets combined, but goes in the pantry or in my cabinets.  And once you’ve consolidated, you’ll find yourself with more space for sure!

4. Throw stuff out. While you’re organizing your closets, pantries and cabinets, you’ll come across things you forgot you had, like that  sweater that just doesn’t fit or that bundt pan you’ve never used. Time to get critical: If you’ve had it longer than 6 months and haven’t used it, consider donating it – with the exception of seasonal things you actually DO break out every year.  If it’s broken, time to either repair or discard. If that pan hasn’t had a handle for months, it’s just been taking up space.  This is another great way to free up some storage space. kilner storage jars - perfect for organizing!

5. Put everything away. Use this strategy: If you use it all the time, make it the easiest to reach. If it’s one of those things you break out once a year, that highly inconvenient cabinet above the refrigerator is perfect.   If it’s something you use semi-regularly but not daily or even weekly – stand mixer, food processor, spare sheets, consider a less convenient shelf.  Once everything is put away, you’ll be happily surprised by all the newfound space you’ve got!

6. Put away anything that didn’t have a home.  You’ve got room now!

7. Dust and wash surfaces. This won’t be as hard as it sometimes is, since you cleaned those shelves and cabinets when you were organizing. Right??  Right.  Go over everything with a dustcloth first – make sure to pick things up and get under them. Once everything is dusted, give them a wipe down with a damp cloth or some windex and paper towels (where appropriate) until all your surfaces are sparkling!

8. Once you’ve got clean surfaces, move on to the floors. Vacuum where needed. Mop where needed. Make sure to run over your baseboards with a damp cloth.

9. Do your laundry. I always put this off until last since I make laundry the whole way through – All the rags, microfiber cloths and mop heads I own go in the laundry. Wash, fold and put away.

10. Holy crap! Your home is clean!  Kick back, enjoy, and check out that spring sale you bookmarked. Chances are, you’ve cleared off a perfect home for that teapot you’ve been coveting, and magic – it’s 50% off!

 

 

How to Cook a Romantic Meal For Valentine’s Day

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

SMALL Heart T&SValentine’s Day is right around the corner, so naturally there are diamond ads on TV, specials on long-stemmed roses, and boxes of chocolate everywhere! If you’re trying to figure out what to do for valentines day,  avoid some of the obvious cliches and pull together an unforgettable night for someone you love! We’re going to teach you how to make a romantic dinner that won’t overwhelm you! It’s even good enough to turn those people who claim they hate Valentine’s day into hopeless, mushy romantics. Ready? OK!

First, we’re going to start with some basics to teach you how to make dinner without making a mess of your kitchen and your clothes. We’ll break it down for you and teach you how to cook a romantic meal in just a few easy steps.

 

 

  1. Prep in advance. Chefs call this mise en place, which means “everything in place.” Cut your veggies, season your meat, and even make bread or dessert in advance. Just store all your prepped food in little bowls in the fridge until you’re ready to go.
  2. Consider a 1-pot meal. You’ll have less cleanup later, your house will smell amazing, and you’ll have time to do other important things, like shower.
  3. Set the table in advance. Use pretty dishes. Trust us, you don’t want to be rushing around at the last second. Light some candles.
  4. Do what you’re comfortable with.  You’re creating a special night. You don’t want your date to show up and find you frazzled because the souffle you’ve never made before won’t rise or the suckling pig isn’t done.

With those simple tips, a little kitchen know how, the right tools, and some foolproof, delightful recipes for how to cook a romantic meal, we promise you, you’re going to have a blast.

I love serving warm bread with dinner, and our Heart Shaped Mason Cash Tear and Share make it as romantic as it is delicious.  We’ve got a big tear and share if you’re cooking for a crowd lady-and-the-tramp(say, Valentine’s Day for a family) or a little one that’s the perfect size for two. The nice thing about bread baking is you can get it done in advance (even a couple days before) and just throw it in the oven at the last minute. Plus, the Tear and Share bread forms come with some truly delicious recipes. Of course, if you’re super busy and need to cook a romantic meal quickly, you could even get pizza dough at the store, roll it into balls (stuff with cheese and sauce for extra points) and just bake that. Even less mess, and just as delicious.  And nothing says “welcome, I love you” like fresh, hot bread!

Second, throw together an entree that’s easy, delicious, and beautiful.  It doesn’t have to be complicated. Personally, I think Lady and the Tramp got it right. It can be as simple as spaghetti, but if you’re with the right person, it’s perfect.  So whip out a big salad bowl (I love serving spaghetti in the Acaciaware Deep bowl) and a set of pasta servers, and go to town.  If you need a recipe for swoon-worthy meatballs, scroll on down to the bottom of this page.  Serve with your favorite pasta sauce and some extra long spaghetti!

Acacia bowl saladOf course, one can’t live on spaghetti alone, so it’s worth serving a side salad, or maybe some grilled vegetables.  I’m partial to a classic Caesar salad (chicken is absolutely  optional) with my spaghetti.  It reminds me of old movies and just feels (and tastes) classic and romantic!  And isn’t that what you’re going for on Valentine’s day?

Of course, bread, salad, and a beautiful spaghetti and meatballs are just one person’s interpretation of a classic, unforgettable romantic meal for Valentine’s day.  But seriously, it’s the simple, intimate meals that are responsible for creating tender memories; consider classic recipes, done perfectly.  To all the ladies out there trying to figure out what to get a guy for Valentine’s day: skip the lines, cook a nice dinner. To all the guys: women love a man who can cook. To all the couples: Try cooking dinner together. It’s a great way to have fun and unwind, especially if you take a moment to open a bottle of wine and toast to your mutual awesomeness while cooking.

And now, without further ado, that meatball recipe I promised you.  I opt for a beef meatball, since I love the way it stays moist, and the way it stands up to a flavorful tomato sauce (see our blog post here if you want to make your own tomato sauce.) You can use whatever protein you’d like. Pork, sausage, turkey and even chicken work pretty well.

Ingredients meatballs -raw

  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced.
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp milk

spaghetti and meatbalssInstructions – Can be made a day in advance, saving you a mess on Valentine’s Day.

Throw all the meatball ingredients in a bowl. Ideally a Mason Cash bowl that you chilled in the freezer for 10 minutes.

With your hands (they really are the best tool)  mix all the ingredients until they’re well combined. be careful to mix rather than squish things to get perfectly fluffy, most meatballs and not crumbly meatloaf.

Once everything is combined, shape into balls You shouldn’t be pressing them together hard, just rolling them between your hands until they’re barely holding together. We’re going for meatballs, not meatloaf. This mixture makes 12 golf-ball sized meatballs or more small ones. I suggest doing small meatballs for a romantic meal. They’re easier to eat (one biters always are) and they’re darn cute. Plus you’re making this ahead (right?) so you don’t need to worry about rushing.  Just store them in a covered casserole dish in the fridge til you’re ready to use them.

When it’s time to cook,  Make some sauce (or buy a bottle of really good quality sauce, if you must.) And heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan, let it heat and coat the pan, then add the meatballs in a single layer.  Let cook for 4 minutes before turning.  Let cook an additional 4 minutes, then add the tomato sauce to the saucepan.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, which, coincidentally enough, is time enough to boil water and make pasta.  Add the pasta to your serving bowl, with the sauce, tossing to combine.  Top with meatballs, a sprinkling of fresh grated Parmesan (avoid the green can, please!) and a sprinkle of basil. Serve with that amazing warm bread and a salad you made (but didn’t dress) before even starting to cook and you’re good to go!  Have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Lots of Love,

Pacific Merchants

 

 

 

How To Throw A Superbowl Party They’ll Never Forget

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

How to throw a Superbowl Party: Really, it’s not that hard.

With this year’s Superbowl tickets costing upwards of $2,500 a pop (if you can find one.)  There’s a pretty good chance that you’re watching the game from on aSuperbowl XLVIII TV somewhere. And there’s a really good chance that your friends are going to be watching the big game (or just the awesome commercials) as well. So why not take the time and host an awesome Superbowl party?  To help you out, we’ve put together some delicious Superbowl food ideas, some awesome party planning tips, and some party ideas that are so creative, you’ll be glad to be home in front of the TV instead of freezing your tail off in NJ. As an added bonus, you can recycle a lot of these ideas a week later and throw a killer Olympic kickoff party! Two parties in one post? Winning!

Best Deviled Eggs on Acaciaware plateFirst, figure out what you want to serve.  I suggest keeping it easy to make, easy to eat, and delicious.  For the Superbowl, finger foods are always a good, safe way to go. They’re something that can be enjoyed with no mess, even if your guests are holding drinks. Some of my favorite game day snacks are Hot Wings, Deviled eggs, Chips (with salsa, guacamole, and dip, naturally,) sliders, cheese and cold cuts, and tacos.

If you need Superbowl Party Food ideas for bigger meals or entrees, consider ribs, steak, burgers, chili (either meat or vegetarian) and even a baked potato bar.  All of these are universal crowd-pleasers, they’re all relatively easy to make, and, in the rare event that you have leftovers, they all reheat nicely the next day!

Once you’ve got your menu worked out,  it’s time to figure out where you’re putting all the food. Do you have a table big enough, or are you going to have to improvise? I seriously suggest putting the food a little ways away from the TV, so that folks who want to nibble and chat aren’t disrupting the people who want to watch the game. Put out some food near the TV too, be it a big bowl of chips or snack mix, or a large tray of finger food so that people have the chance to munch without getting up as well.  Superbowl food on a table, superbowl foods

Along with figuring out where to stage your meal, make sure you have the right serving trays and dishes, and enough plates to go around.  You can definitely serve on paper plates if you want, but make sure they’re thick enough that they’ll hold up to a plate of food. Better yet, get some unique, reusable plates. I love this set of oval wood plates.  They’re the perfect size for a meal of finger food, they’re durable (even if you have clumsy guests who drop dishes) and they’re beyond easy to care for. I got a set for a small dinner party, and they come out pretty much every time I have company.

Along with checking out your plate situation, consider what you’re serving each dish in. When I’m doing something like hot wings with Blue Cheese dipping sauce, I love this deep, almost bowl like sectioned tray. It’s perfect for containing all the saucy, messiness of wings!  When I’m serving chips and dips, I use a chip and dip tray for the coffee table in front of the TV and set out bigger bowls of chips and dips with the rest of the food.  I find that sectioned trays not only look nice, but really make people feel like they’ve got plenty of options, even if I’m only serving ruffles and onion dip.

Kilner Jars and Lemonade

Of course, if you’re serving food at your Superbowl party, you’re going to need some super drinks as well.  I suggest making cocktails well in advance (just skip the ice) and putting them in Kilner jars in a cooler. I even do this for lemonade and fruit infused water. People can just grab a jar and sip, and you can enjoy the game instead of bartending.

Last but not least, have one solid Superbowl party food recipe that you can fall back on, even if everything else is going wrong. For me, it’s Guacamole.  It’s vegetarian, healthy party food that goes equally well on chips, veggies and burgers.  Having at least one fall-back recipe means that even if your ribs are burned and your deviled eggs fall to pieces, you’re good to go.

Here’s how to make the best guacamole recipe from scratch. It’s simple to make and easy to customize If you like more heat, add a chopped up jalapeno.  If you like more tang, add more lime.  This serves 4-6 people and is the perfect amount for the large Mason Cash Mortar and Pestle.

  • 3 avocadosguacamole acaciaware
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ tsp whole cumin
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In the bottom of your mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic, cilantro and cumin until they form a paste
  2. Add the lime juice and half the avocado
  3. With the pestle, grind until very smooth. Add the other half of the avocado, the onion, and the tomato
  4. Combine with pestle (you may also need to use a fork) until thoroughly combined
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve right in the mortar and pestle!

If you want to make a bigger batch, the recipe doubles or even triples really nicely.  Just grind up the cumin, mince the garlic and cilantro, and make the whole thing in an Acaciaware bowl. Just like when you serve in the mortar and pestle, there’s one less dish to clean, since your serving dish is also your prep bowl

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

As 2013 winds down, we’re taking a quick look at some of our favorite products from the last 12 months.  It’s been an exciting year, and we’re psyched to share some of that excitement with you
DSC_9815 DSC_9989 Full assortment of Kilner jars, bottles, and canning accessories

We were thrilled to bring in a new line this year, and we couldn’t have asked for something more exciting than Kilner! We’ve had a lot of fun canning, preserving, and pickling this year, but we’ve had just as much fun trying to figure out other fun uses for all the beautiful Kilner jars, bottles and accessories.  We’ve crafted with Kilner, baked in the jars, and even used them in place of tupperware for lunches.  But we quickly found out that one of our absolute favorite uses for Kilner jars is for storage.  The larger clip top jars are perfect for pantry organization.  All our jars proved to be awesome for organizing small items, from hardware in sheds to markers and craft supplies to sprinkles and spices!

Beautiful Mason Cash in the forest mixing bowls. Mason Cash counter grip bowl

It wasn’t just a good year for canning and preserving – it was an amazing year for baking.  Mason Cash not only brought back the incomparable counter bowl, which tilts as you mix, but a set of four stunning Forest bowls. Whether your style reflects the whimsy of the forest bowls (stunning stoneware embossed with sweet woodland creatures) or you’re more about a bowl that’ll become a workhorse in your kitchen, Mason Cash has you covered.

Mason Cash Bread Baking set Mason Cash Tear and share Bread Form

2013 was also an awesome year for all things terracotta.  Not only did we use our clay cooker and tagines constantly, but we introduced some really cool new terracotta pieces that were designed with the baker in mind.  Our Bread Baking Set features a mixing bowl with a lid that doubles as a baking stone! This year, I’ve used mine for everything from brioche to pizza and each loaf has come out with a perfectly crisp crust and absolutely tender crumb. We also released some Mason Cash Terracotta Tear-and-Share bread forms that really went a long way to adding some charm to my holiday meals this year.  Plus, the unglazed terracotta bread forms really make sure that each roll has a terrific crust and is perfectly, evenly baked.

strawberry salad in pacific merchants acaciaware bowl. cobb salad in bowl.

Acaciaware® really got the chance to shine in 2013. Not only were our beautiful acaciaware® bowls and salad serving sets featured on some top notch blogs and food websites, from The Domestic man to Apartment Therapy (see images above) but we got the chance to expand our line and bring in some new items (see below.) Whether you’re looking for a classic round serving bowl or organically shaped dishes, our acaciaware® line has what you need.

New Acacia images

This was also the year we really got to see just how versatile our new line of Laguna placemats can be. We’ve set dozens of tables with brightly colored Laguna mats and no matter what the occasion, the brightly colored, neatly bordered placemats really tied the whole table together. Check out both a Christmas shot and a Cinco De Mayo themed shot below to see just how nicely our placemats bring things together, whether set traditionally, scattered haphazardly for a pop of color or laid out neatly as a table runner!

Laguna Mats for Christmas Fiesta laguna mats

As you can see, we’ve had quite the year here at Pacific Merchants, and we’re going to spend tonight celebrating 2013 and getting excited for all the awesome things that 2014 has in store for us!  Cheers to a happy, healthy, exciting new year! Have a Happy New year, Everyone!

 

A Very Homemade Christmas – Christmas Feast, and the Best Mashed Potatoes Ever!

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Well, we’ve talked sweets, we’ve decked the halls, made the gifts and generally gotten you ready for Christmas. But what Christmas would be complete without a really awesome Christmas dinner?  Whether you’re stuck in a rut, ready to spice up some classics, or hosting for the very first time, we’ve got some insanely delicious options for you.  So break out your serving platters and mixing bowls. We’re going to make dinner!

Mushroom Soup for Christmas

I love to start my holiday meal with soup. I make it the day  before and reheat it, so it doesn’t take much time.  My family absolutely adores this mushroom soup recipe from Food and Wine! It’s easy to make vegetarian (swap the chicken stock for veggie and you’re there,) is hearty and warming, and compliments the rest of the meal perfectly. It’s a rich soup, so I don’t serve massive bowls of it. Instead, I serve it in cheery red tea cups. Everyone loves the presentation and I love using dishes that can go through the dishwasher for a big meal.  We often end up serving the soup in the kitchen while everyone puts finishing touches on their dishes, so using handled mugs makes for really easy eating. Plus, they’re perfect for little hands.

Holiday Roasts

Whatever your dietary preference, consider doing a roast as the Christmas entree. I got sucked into this article on the New York Times site this weekend that reminded me how universally crowd pleasing roast meat is, and how easy it is to serve a crowd without a ton of work. We always serve a standing rib roast for Christmas, with a second entree for vegetarians (see below.)  I love putting my rib roast on a big acaciaware serving platter and garnishing it with fragrant fresh rosemary, roast onions, and caramelized lady apples. So elegant.  So easy.

Pot Pie

For my vegetarians, I’m doing a vegetarian pot pie. I may make individual pot pies in pudding basins or tea cups, or I may whip out a beautiful baking dish and make a huge one to share. It all depends on the final guest count (plus, the meat eaters love this dish as well!).   I love this recipe from A beautiful  mess. It works with pretty much any vegetable, and using pre-made puff pastry as the crust really saves time.  I just weave the puff dough into a lattice for a more polished look.  I change up the veggies based on what’s in season. Sometimes it’s butternut squash and mushrooms, sometimes the classic potato and carrot. This year, I’m going root vegetables with carrots, potatoes and turnips. YUM!

sprouts

I do try to vary my sides so I’m not having Thanksgiving side dishes twice in just under a month. Sure, I keep the mashed potatoes (see my insanely rich recipe at the end of the post,) but everything else is different. I replace my Green Bean Casserole with a big serving bowl of The Pioneer Woman’s Brussels sprouts with balsamic and cranberries. They’ve got this awesome sweet/salty tangy balance that I can’t seem to resist, so I don’t.

roast onions

I swap out my mom’s creamed onions for a really stunning roast onion recipe from Martha Stewart.  I  make triple what I think I’ll need, use some to decorate my roast platter and there’s never anything left at the end of the meal, which, in my mind, is the mark of a perfect dish. Even the pickiest eaters at our table wolf this one down.

apple-thyme-wild-rice-stuffing

To update my stuffing recipe, I swap out the Thanksgiving cornbread for wild rice and rock this recipe from Fork Spoon Bacon. There’s something about the combination of apples and thyme that really compliments my Christmas menu. I bake it in the biggest baking dish I have and my family pretty much devours it all.

Sweet Potato Latkes

One thing I’m not nixing from my Thanksgiving menu is the Sweet Potato Latkes I made this year. Everyone LOVED them, they were easy, and they’re a great alternative to that over-done sweet potato casserole.  Kids loved them, adults loved them, and the leftovers are really good in a sandwich.

So there you have it. A pretty-simple, super easy Christmas menu that’s absolutely a crowd pleaser.  I find that by keeping all the side dishes vegetarian, it’s really easy to put together a meal that fits with a variety of dietary restrictions! And, since I promised, here’s my incredibly easy, incredibly rich Mashed Potato recipe.  They’re the best mashed potatoes. I make it the day before and reheat it in a slow cooker on Christmas day so I have more time to spend with my family.

Kate’s Mashed Potatoes (serves 8) – They’re the best mashed potatoes ever!

  • 3 1/2 pounds yukon gold or russet potatoes
  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3/4 cups half an half
  • salt and pepper
  1. Place potatoes (whole, skins on) and a tablespoon of salt in a large pot. Cover completely with cold water.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 30-35 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  2. Drain, and let potatoes cool until you can handle them. Rub off the skins (they should come off pretty easily) and cut the potatoes into quarters. Return them to the pot.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine butter, half and half and sour cream. Heat over medium heat until just warm, then add to the potatoes.
  4. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. I use a cheap one from the grocery store. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be fancy to do the job.
  5. Stir constantly until smooth and heated through. Add salt and pepper, tasting as you go.  Transfer into a big bowl and serve immediately or reheat the next day (just add a little extra liquid before re-heating.)

We hope you have an especially Merry Christmas this year! If you’re stuck on desserts to go with your Christmas feast, check out our Sweets post, or go the extremely classic route and make a Bouche de Noel (yule log) cake!

A Very Homemade Christmas – Homemade Christmas Gifts

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

There’s just 2 weeks to Christmas. If you’re anything like me, you’re not quite done (or haven’t even started) Christmas shopping. Maybe the easy to buy for folks on the list are taken care of, but those hard to shop for loved ones are still sitting out there, confusing you. If you’re stuck, I suggest making your own gifts.  Nothing says “I love you, you’re awesome” quite like a gift made with love.  This week, we scoured the internet to find some awesome homemade christmas gifts that’ll thrill even the trickiest folks on your list. So break out your Kilner jars and put those crafting hats on!

Kilner jar candle

First, one of my favorites, candles. It’s actually super-easy to make candles, as this tutorial from Martha Stewart explains, and you can get all of the materials online or at a craft store relatively cheaply. Martha makes hers in a teacup, but you can really use anything from a uniquely shaped acacia bowl to a Kilner jar (see image above) to a pudding basin!  With the right scents and colors, these will look good in anyone’s home. Just match your colors to the colors in their home and you’ve got a beautiful, custom gift!

bathfizzies_msliving

Also from the wonderful Martha Stewart, consider bath fizzies. They’re the perfect treat for anyone who likes to kick back and relax in the bath. If you want to get really creative, do a candle with a complementary scent. As seen above, Bath fizzies stored in large jars not only  make a really visually striking gift, but it keeps the fizzies from fizzing from the humidity in the air, instead of in the tub!  Learn how to make them Here, and find the perfect jar to wrap them in here! If you’re feeling like REALLY spoiling someone, you could take it a step further and put together an entire spa in a jar!

 

Hot-Cocoa-Mix-in-Jar

Another great gift (inspired by My Baking Addiction)  is a homemade cocoa mix. If you’ve got someone on your list who is either a hot chocolate or a mocha drinker, consider putting together a Kilner jar full of custom hot cocoa. You can do everything from a spicy hot cocoa to a peppermint hot chocolate or you can make an assortment and give a small Kilner jar of each. Bonus points if you stack the jars and decorate them like a snowman.

 

FNM_120109-Gift-Jars-009_s4x3_lg

If one of your loved ones lives somewhere cold, consider giving the gift of comfort. And by that,  naturally, I mean soup. Now I’m not saying to wrap a steaming hot pot and put a bow on it, but create some really warming soup mixes in jars. I love the curried lentil soup pictured above. It makes even the chilliest days feel warm, and isn’t that what you want in a soup? If you’re feeling generous (and who isn’t this time of the year?) give the soup mixes with some beautiful soup bowls.

output_K2PSjQ

Next up? Cookies in jars.  This is an especially great gift for people with kids, or folks who love cookies but don’t necessarily want to do all the hard stuff, like measure!  We did a whole post on Cookies in Jars just a few short weeks ago, so check it out, get some ideas, whip out those Kilner jars and create your own festive mix. Some of my favorite very merry add ins include: Crushed peppermint candies, red and green M&Ms, Festive sprinkles,  Dried cherries, candied ginger, and white chocolate chips.  But use your imagination. Go wild.

homemade-vodka_300

Our friends over at Real Simple gave us this idea, which we think is an inspired use of Kilner Bottles  and a fun way to beat the holiday stress – Infuse your own liquor (both to drink and to give as gifts.)  They use vodka (see tutorial) but you can use whatever you’d like. Pack ingredients and your liquor of choice into a beautiful bottle  (I’m partial to our Kilner bottles, obviously) and rock out. Some of my favorite combos are tequila with pineapple, gin with lemongrass, vodka with vanilla beans, and bourbon with cocoa nibs, but the possibilities are seriously endless.

As you can see, there are a TON of killer gift ideas out there, and you don’t even have to spend a ton of money to make great gifts. As a bonus, these gifts are so unique that even the man who has everything doesn’t have them. After all, they were  made with love!

Check back in on Friday to get some great, foolproof, crowd pleasing holiday recipes, both to give as gifts (hello apple cider caramels!) and to serve at your Christmas dinner.


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