Archive for the ‘Acaciaware’ Category

How to Make Deviled Eggs: 2 in 1 Deviled Eggs Recipe!

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Whenever I throw a dinner party, backyard barbecue or picnic, I always, ALWAYS make deviled eggs. They’re a a ridiculously easy, ridiculously delicious bite sized snack. As a bonus, they’re a cheap party food – When I’m cooking for a crowd I buy a flat of eggs at my local bulk store, where I can get 60 eggs for under 10 bucks. Most addictive, budget friendly appetizer on the planet! Seriously – unless you’re serving vegans.

While I’m always happy to make basic deviled eggs, sometimes it’s fun to switch things up a little bit.  This deviled eggs recipe is going to give you a really solid base to work from (or eat, if you like them plain) and two killer variations that’ll knock your guests’ socks off. Whether you’re looking for a classic deviled eggs recipe or something with a little more punch, keep reading.  But first, what the devil are deviled eggs, and what does Satan have to do with them?

Short answer: Other than being diabolically delicious and addictive, deviled eggs have absolutely nothing to do with the underworld. The term “deviled” is an 18th century term for food that’s seasoned in a zesty, spicy or zippy way. And with their mustardy kick, even the basic version of these deviled eggs is indeed zesty.  Random history note: Deviled eggs were a traditional first course in ancient Roman times. If they were good enough for the Romans. . .

Anyway, here’s how to make deviled eggs. It’s a pretty basic recipe to start, but just you wait. We’re gonna spice things up. So whip out your favorite serving platter and a bunch of prep bowls. We’re gonna cook!

Basic Deviled Eggs (Deviled Eggs Base)

Ingredients – this recipe is for 12 eggs. I normally make 12-24 at a time. Just multiply the recipe as needed

  • 12 large eggs, hard boiled – Here’s how.
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper

See? Simple ingredient list so far. Ingredients for our variations below:

Horseradish Deviled Eggs (for 6 whole eggs)

  • 2 teaspoons grated horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Potato chip to garnish (optional)

Curry Deviled Eggs (for 6 whole eggs)

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced parsley
  • Parsley leaves for garnish (optional)

Ok, so you’ve gathered your ingredients, right?  Here are the instructions!

  1. First, peel the hard boiled eggs. The simplest way I’ve found is to drain those piping hot eggs, put a bit of cold water in the pot with them, and shake them up so the eggs are cracked all over. Add more cold water, let sit until the eggs are easy to handle, and peel. The peels should slip right off with very little fuss.
  2. Cut the eggs in half the long way and pop out the yolks. Every now and then, you may get a yolk that’s a little close to the edge of the white, and the white may break. That’s ok.

  3. Arrange your whites on a serving platter. I LOVE arranging them in a flower shape on a big round plate. It’s ok if there’s a little yolk still clinging to the whites. It’ll still taste delicious. I promise.
  4. In a separate bowl, mash up your egg yolks, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper until pretty well combined. It may still be a little chunky.  At this point, if you want to make one (or both) of our variations, skip to step 6.
  5. Skip this step if you’re making the horseradish or curried deviled eggs:If you want classic deviled eggs, it’s time to add the mixture to a gallon sized zip top bag. Mush it with your hands (through the bag, no need to get messy) until the mixture is creamy and smooth (no chunks,) snip off a corner from the bag, and pipe the mix into the little egg white cups. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

    Eggs are delcious

    Items Shown: 10 Inch Round Plate

  6. To make the variations, divide the egg mixture in half into two smaller mixing bowls. They complement each other really well, so I suggest making both variations, or you can keep half plain (see step 5 for the plain instructions).
  7. For Horseradish Deviled Eggs: Combine grated horseradish and paprika with the basic egg yolk mixture. When it’s well combined but still a touch chunky, scrape into a gallon sized zip top bag. Mush the contents with your hands (through the bag) until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Snip off a corner of your piping bag and pipe into the egg whites.  When serving multiple kinds of deviled eggs, I alternate. It makes for a cool presentation.
  8. Garnish with shards of ruffled potato chips for a really cool salty, crunchy texture.
  9. For the Curried Deviled Eggs: Combine curry powder and finely minced parsley with the basic egg yolk mixture.  When it’s well combined, but still a touch chunky, scrape into a gallon sized zip top bag. Mush the contents with your hands (through the bag) until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Snip off a corner of your piping bag and pipe into the egg whites.  Garnish with whole parsley leaves for a fresh looking, fresh tasting garnish.
devil eggs

Items Shown: 10 Inch Round Plate

BOOM. Three easy deviled eggs recipes for the price of one. Whether you’re combining one or all three, you’re about to make (and eat) the absolute hit of the party. No matter what else I make at dinner parties (or even Thanksgiving Dinner)  I never EVER have leftover deviled eggs, which is kind of a bummer. I like them for breakfast.

Want some other ideas? Does this recipe for deviled eggs just not cut it? Consider the following deviled eggs variations – just mix the seasonings with the basic recipe to taste. Really, the possibilities are endless. Get creative!

  1. Truffled Deviled Eggs – truffle salt, truffle infused mustard.
  2. Sriracha Deviled Eggs – Add 2 teaspoons of sriracha to the mix.
  3. Bacon Deviled Eggs – Mince up some crispy bacon and mix it with the yolk mixture. Garnish with slivers of crispy bacon.
  4. Pickle Devil Eggs – Add some pickle relish to your deviled egg mixture. Garnish with pickled onions.

Thanksgiving Recipes 2014: Our Favorite Green Bean Recipes

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

So, you know that classic dish, the green beans, with the can of soup and the crispy onions? It’s the one dish that is always leftover after my family’s Thanksgiving meal. This year, I’m throwing out the classic green bean recipe because I’ve figured out how to cook green beans in a way that everyone will love – it’s a colorful, flavorful seasonal recipe that plays with the other flavors of the holiday meal wonderfully!  Bonus for anyone contending with allergies or dietary restrictions: This recipe for fresh green beans is a vegan, gluten free thanksgiving recipe that even the most traditional eaters will enjoy! It’s a twist on the classic green beans almondine that really brings a lot of color to the table – just look at how pretty it looks here! Want even more green bean recipes? Scroll on down past the recipes for a taste of some of our other favorites from around the web!

How to Cook Fresh Green Beans

Items Shown: Acacia Wood Tray

Let’s get cooking. Here’s our Thanksgiving recipe for green beans with almonds, pomegranates and oranges.  It’s a little sweet, a little salty, and SO flavorful that I almost prefer it to turkey. No joke, it’s that good. Plus, it only takes one pan and one burner to make – huge bonus on a holiday when burner space is harder to get than Superbowl Tickets.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • two oranges
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

Thanksgiving Sides: Garlic Green Beans with Seasonal Fruit

Items Shown: Oval Serving Tray

  1. Prepare your oranges.  This recipe uses pretty much every part of the orange, so zest them, set the zest aside, cut out the sections from between the membranes, (video here) and squeeze the juice from the membranes into a bowl.
  2. Prepare your pomegranate. Here’s our video on how to get the seeds out. Remove the seeds and set them aside. They’re the last thing you’ll use.
  3. Heat your largest skillet to medium heat. Add half of your olive oil, the garlic, and the almonds, stirring  regularly until they’re golden brown but not burnt. Pay extra attention to this step, as it’s extremely easy to burn almonds and garlic, and they’ll make the whole dish taste bitter.  Once they’re done, remove to a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Adjust the heat on your skillet to medium high. When hot (a drop of water should sizzle) add the rest of your olive oil and your green beans. Add salt at this point, as well.
  5. Toss your green beans every couple of minutes. The color should change from dull to bright green and the beans should begin to shrivel or even char a little. You’re building flavor
  6. Once the beans are tender, add in the orange zest, orange juice and orange segments.  The juice will sizzle and steam a lot.
  7. Turn pan to medium low and add pepper. Taste and add salt as needed.  Toss beans in orange segments and juice until they’re well coated, then turn onto a serving platter
  8. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and your almond/garlic mixture and serve!

 

There you have it,  A stunning, vibrant part of any holiday meal. This is the perfect fresh, bright, healthy thanksgiving side to serve along with some of the heavier dishes. It’s also quick to make, so it doubles as a wonderful weeknight option – it’s great with roast chicken!

Now I know we promised you some other favorite Thanksgiving vegetable dishes. Here are a few, from some of our favorite bloggers!

Fried Brussels Sprouts

Photo Credit: Hilah Cooking

Brussels sprouts are trendy and delicious! These Fried Brussels sprouts from Hilah Cooking are beyond delicious. With the fish sauce and rice vinegar, they have a bit of Asian flare, but are traditional and subtle enough to pair with a more basic Thanksgiving menu. We’re pretty impressed, and addicted.

Photo Credit: What’s Gaby Cooking

Another dish that we’re bringing to our Thanksgiving table this year is this insane recipe for Thyme and Honey Roasted Carrots from Whats Gaby Cooking – the fact that they’re easy to make AND super flavorful makes them a delightful Thanksgiving option.  Plus, I love carrots and easily go through a pound a week. How can I NOT have carrots on my Thanksgiving table?

Salad? For Thanksgiving dinner?  Absolutely. Not only do I have awesome salad bowls to put it in, but I love having something fresh to contrast all the heavy, carb-filled foods of the season. This salad from Two Peas and Their Pod is studded with pecans and dried cranberries. I always make a huge batch – unlike traditional lettuces, the greens in this salad don’t wilt, so it stays beautiful for leftovers the next day, and is great with sliced turkey!

 

What are you making for Thanksgiving this year? If you need more inspiration, keep checking our  blog  and our social media pages – we’ll be posting Thanksgiving recipes, tips and tricks until Thanksgiving day! Make sure to tag #PMTCHolidayTable for a chance to win a gift card to our site, too!

More Football Food: 2 Fantastic Dip Recipes

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

If you checked in last week, you may have noticed some delicious looking dips in the background of our chicken wings post. Today we’re gonna talk about them. In my mind, chips and dip are pretty much the perfect football food, but a lot of the time I opt for veggies with my dip for a healthier option.  For our football food fest we did a little of both and it worked beautifully.  Whether you’re hunting down chip and dip recipes for game day, for a pot luck, or just for fun, our recipes for caramelized onion dip and green goddess avocado dip are SO good.  You’ll find yourself  making them for years to come.

Let’s start with our Green Goddess Avocado Dip recipe. With a food processor, blender, or immersion blender, it’s shockingly easy to make, and it’s always fun to have something to do with avocado besides guacamole – though if you want a great guacamole recipe, we’ve got one of those too.  So let’s get started on what may be my all time favorite dip for vegetables. I’ve been eating it as an afternoon snack all week.  As a bonus, I make this one with yogurt rather than sour cream, so it’s super creamy, nice and flavorful, and a really healthy snack.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados, cut in half, pits removed
  • 2 cups greek yogurt
  • 6 green onions, green part only (you can actually re-plant those roots)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2-6 cloves garlic (depends on your taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of your food processor (or a separate large bowl) crush the avocado with some salt and pepper. It blends better if it’s not chunky.
  2. Add all other ingredients to food processor or blender.
  3. Pulse until combined. You may find yourself needing to add a tiny bit of water if you’re working in a blender, which is why I prefer a food processor.
  4. Once your dip is well combined, taste it. Does it need any salt? Any pepper? More garlic? I sometimes even add a jalapeno to this; I like my food spicy and garlicky.
  5. Really, it’s that easy. You’re officially done. Serve with some chips, pita chips, or cut up veggies. Or just eat with a spoon.

In the immortal words of Chandler Bing, “Could that be any easier?”  I think not.  Which is why you need to make a second dip. They’re both super easy to make, they complement each other beautifully, and your guests will be wowed when they find out you made this from scratch. So on to our caramelized onion dip.  True story: I figured out how to make this because I became addicted to the pre-made version at Trader Joe’s. Homemade onion dip is super easy and crazy delicious. Let’s go.

Ingredients:

  • 4 onions, white or brown, sliced thin
  • 3 cups sour cream
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, pulled from stem
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1.  In a large saute pan, heat the butter.
  2. When it’s melted, add the onions and turn heat to medium.
  3. Let onions cook , stirring occasionally to keep them from burning. Depending on your stove, the moisture level of your onions, etc, this could take anywhere from 10-30 minutes.
  4. When onions are beginning to brown, add a sprinkle of salt, the garlic, the sage, and the thyme. You’ll have to pay close attention to keep the garlic from burning. Bitter garlic is gross.
  5. Lower the heat slightly and continue to cook until onions are a rich golden brown.
  6. Once onions are beautifully brown all the way through (they should be just lighter than an acacia wood tray)  spread them on a sheet pan to cool them quickly.
  7. When onion mixture is at room temperature, place in a large bowl. Add sour cream and stir to combine.
  8. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen – Two super-simple dips to make at your next football party, pot luck, barbecue, PTA meeting, or whatever the next event may be. Be sure to bookmark this page  – that caramelized onion dip is a total crowd pleaser around the holidays, and an easy distraction if you’re trying to keep folks out of the kitchen. But remember, friends – Use good manners when eating your chips (or veggies) and dip. Don’t double dip.

Great Football Food: Sticky Spicy Korean Chicken Wings

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

A little more than a year ago we taught you how to cook hot wings, and they were delicious. After spending a solid chunk of this past Sunday watching football at a restaurant that *gasp* did not serve wings, I was left with a serious crunchy, saucy chicken craving. I was thinking about wings so hard that I’m shocked I didn’t sprout a pair of my own. Naturally, after the game I dug up the recipe from last year, but then I thought “how do you make hot wings a little differently?” The answer? I turned to a favorite restaurant for inspiration and came away with some sweet, spicy, seriously flavorful Korean-style baked chicken wings. They’re definitely going on the Sunday Football food menu.

Ready? It’s a shockingly simple recipe. These are oven baked chicken wings, but you can also grill them or even fry the chicken wings, then toss them in the addictively sweet-spicy sauce. You can even make these ahead of time and reheat them before serving if you’re trying to save time on game day.

Equipment Needed:

  • Large Bowl
  • Baking Sheet
  • Foil
  • Whisk
  • Saucepan
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs chicken wings
  • 1/4 cup Korean Gochujang Chile Paste or Sambal Chile paste
  • 12 oz apricot jam
  • 1 Tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup green onions (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the oil, minced garlic, minced ginger, jam, chile paste and soy sauce.
  3. Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally until well combined and slightly thickened (8-10 minutes.)
  4. Pour 1/3 of the sauce into a large bowl. Add the chicken wings, tossing to combine.
  5. Spread the wings on a foil-lined baking tray, extra sauce and all.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, then turn over, brush with some (but not all) of the additional sauce, and bake for another 12-15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, toss the chicken wings in about half the remaining sauce, and return to sheet tray.
  8. Turn your oven to broil, and add the chicken, keeping a close eye on it. You want a slight char in places but no burning throughout. Ours took about 3-5 minutes per side.)
  9. When one side is done to your liking, flip and broil the other side of your chicken wings.
  10. Remove from oven, toss in remaining sauce and arrange on a plate.
  11. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, peanuts, and green onions as a flavorful garnish.

Just check out that closeup. Clearly, these are some delicious baked chicken wings.  Sure, there are a few steps involved in making these Asian chicken wings, but the process goes quickly and the end results are SO delicious.  If you’re not sure what to serve with chicken wings, you could go with a traditional football food spread of chips, dips and beer, or you can try to keep everything in theme – pair these with some Korean BBQ tacos, kimchi and rice for a satisfying, delicious, totally unexpected touchdown of a meal. Check back next week for more football food – some of our absolute favorite dips for veggies or chips. Spoiler alert: they’re almost as addictive as these wings.

S’Mores Ideas and a Labor Day Sale

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

It’s hard to believe that it’s the last week of August and summer is drawing to a close.  We thought that the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer would be to celebrate with some gooey, melty s’mores. Fair warning – we haven’t mastered the art of taking perfect pictures of massively messy concoctions, so brace yourselves – this gets gooey. But MAN, if you’re throwing a Labor Day Barbecue or a beach bonfire, consider setting out the fixings for s’mores. They’re a great picnic food idea – with the right mix of ingredients and options, everyone can customize their own.  If you’re only here to find out about our Labor Day Sale, scroll down to the bottom of the entry.

As you can see, we have a bit more than the traditional fixings on the table. But I always do start with traditional s’mores ingredients – milk chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers. No matter how many delicious fixings you have, someone in your crowd will be a purist. And that’s totally fine.

For those of you who don’t know, here’s how to make smores (and also, how to make s’mores in the oven, in case you don’t have access to a bonfire.)

  1. Toast your marshmallow. Either toast on a stick over a fire, or lay on half a graham cracker and broil in the oven.
  2. Layer your s’more.  You’re making a sandwich here, with the graham crackers as bread. 1 cracker, then the chocolate, then a hot marshmallow (for maximum meltiness) then the second graham cracker.
  3. Enjoy. It’s really that simple, and it works for pretty much everyone.

So, you’ve got the basics down and want to know how to make a s’more that’s a little more gourmet? The only thing that really needs to stay constant is a marshmallow.  Beyond that, listed below are some flavorful twists we’ve created to switch it up. Also, for fun, some ideas from other bloggers we love!

Gooey, Melty, Delicious S'mores

Items Shown: 7 Inch square plate

  • Add something salty. We did a layer of potato chips between the chocolate and the marshmallow for that super-trendy sweet and salty thing. I’ve also used pretzels or even a sprinkle of salt.
  • Change up the chocolate. As you can see above, we love our peanut butter cups in s’mores. I’ve also swapped the milk chocolate for dark, used favorite candy bars (make sure they’ll melt all the way through – Heath bars don’t work.)
  • Use fancy marshmallows. I recently came across some DELICIOUS coffee flavored marshmallows at a gourmet store. SO good in s’mores. Check gourmet websites and stores for interesting flavors.
  • Change out the cookies. Graham crackers are traditional, but as long as your cookies are big enough to contain the deliciousness of a s’more, you’re good.  Chocolate chip cookies work, gingersnaps are delicious. Also, ritz crackers and mini marshmallows are insanely good for s’mores. YUM!
  • Add sliced fruit. Thin sliced strawberries, crushed raspberries or slices of orange work so well with chocolate, marshmallows and the smokiness from a fire. It’ll add something addictive and unexpected!
  • Get saucy – add nutella, peanut butter or even caramel sauce for a little something unexpected!

And from some of our favorite bloggers, even more fantastic s’mores ideas.

 delicious smores, bacon smores, lime smores

smores are delicious

From Left to Right: (Top) Bourbon Bacon S’mores from Beyond Frosting, Key Lime S’mores from The Kitchn, Roasted Berry S’Mores from Jelly Toast Blog. (Bottom) Peach and White Chocolate S’Mores from  Peanut Butter and Julie, Dark Chocolate Passionfruit S’mores from Blogging Over Thyme. See how many amazing options there are?  Also, if anyone wants to give us some tips on photographing s’mores, we’d be interested. Clearly, it is possible.

Annnnd, Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about the sale.  We’re doing a labor day weekend Placemat and Wood extravaganza! Our placemat line and our Acaciaware wood line are beautiful transitional pieces – they work both outdoors and indoors, so whether you’re out on your patio enjoying the end of summer or dining indoors, they’ll look lovely.  Enter “LaborDay” at checkout for 25% off all retail orders of our placemats and our wood products.  Good stuff, right?

Happy Labor Day, friends! Enjoy your holiday. You’ve earned it.

 

 

Picnic Food Ideas – Just in Time for a Labor Day Picnic!

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

It’s hard to believe that Labor Day is just around the corner!  Where has the summer gone?  With schools starting earlier and earlier, Labor Day is no longer as big of a deal, but it’s still the perfect 3 day weekend to enjoy time with friends and family.  One of my favorite ways to celebrate is to really harness the awesome summer weather and have a picnic. Whether it’s at a park, at the beach, or just in my own backyard; there’s something about eating outside, enjoying nature and playing games that’s just so darn fun!  Want to throw the best picnic ever? Keep reading for tips on how to throw a picnic that’ll blow everyone’s mind. Or, if you’re just here for the recipes, scroll to the end of the post for a killer chicken sandwich recipe that’s picnic (or lunchbox) perfect!

Pacific Merchant’s Guide to the Perfect Picnic – Food, Gear and More!

  1. Pick the perfect place: it could be a picnic area in a park, a beach,  your favorite hiking trail, or even your backyard. What matters is that YOU and your guests are outdoors, having fun. Consider a late-afternoon picnic rather than lunch to avoid being out in the worst of the sun’s rays.
  2. Fend off pests: if you’re putting together a picnic somewhere prone to bugs, consider one (or more) of the following: Keep food in covered containers, bring citrus peels and mint (bugs hate those,)  light citronella candles, or distract bugs by placing a saucer of sugar water a few yards away from your picnic spot!
  3. Find the perfect picnic blanket: (or DIY it)  I’ve used everything from a flannel sheet to an old blanket to a dedicated picnic blanket. To keep the blanket (and our behinds) dry, I lay down a tarp or a cheap shower curtain under the actual picnic blanket.
  4. Chose dishes wisely: Sure, you can absolutely use disposable dishes, but consider lightweight, re-useable options as well.  I love bringing our wood plates to picnics – they’re lightweight and re-usable and totally beautiful.

  5. Plan a simple, hearty menu and know how to pack it for transport: I use Kilner clip top jars for things like pasta salad and fruit salad. I’ll sometimes even pack dessert parfaits in smaller jars. For sandwiches, I wrap them in paper (or occasionally doilies or cheese leaves if I want something prettier.) For wine, I use the incomparable Martha Stewart’s method of wrapping bottles in a blanket (often my picnic blanket.)  For things that need to be packed flat (like last week’s deviled eggs), I actually use egg cartons. Anything can be picnic food, if  you pack it right!
  6. Bring Clear Drinking Glasses: True story: When I was about 10, I was at a picnic and took a big swig from a bottle of delicious root beer. Turns out, yellow jackets also like root beer, and I ended up with a very angry bee in my mouth.  You can guess what happened next. To avoid any bug-related mishaps, I pack clear Kilner jars to drink from. I also pack their lids for people to use if they’re playing a game, taking a hike, or just not in the mood to sip. Anything to keep the bugs out.

    Peach iced tea in jars

    Items Shown: Kilner Jars

  7. The perfect picnic basket isn’t always a basket: I normally  bring 2: One large, soft-sided cooler where I stash ice, anything with meat, eggs, dairy, etc and a large canvas tote bag for non-perishables, dishes, etc.
  8. Bring Garbage Bags: A lot of designated picnic areas have trash bins, but no matter where you picnic, it’s nice to have a trash bag handy. I hang one off the end of a picnic table or keep one just a few feet away from the picnic to encourage folks to throw out trash BEFORE the wind takes it away.
  9. Plan for the end of the event: Bring zip top bags to pack any leftovers you want to keep, extra napkins, and baby wipes – the unscented kind so you don’t attract bugs. It’ll make clean up of sticky hands, plates, and more a breeze!
  10. Delegate: Let’s say you’re planning a picnic with friends – ask one person to bring drinks, one to bring chips, etc. Giving everyone something to bring (and carry in, if you’re hiking to a picnic spot) makes your job easier!
  11. Make it lovely: Picnics are casual, but there’s no reason they shouldn’t be beautiful. Bring a bouquet of flowers (marigolds give off natural bug repellant,) portable battery operated lights, some music, some games, and beautiful, colorful food. Really make the most of the beautiful weather and enjoy your party!

  12. Don’t forget utensils: I’ve done that a couple of time, and it stinks. Bring serving utensils if you’ll need them, and plenty of forks, spoons and knives! I always keep some in an outside pocket of my picnic cooler after forgetting one too many times. I also always pack a small chopping board and a utility knife. They’re good for serving cheese, cutting fruit into smaller pieces for kids, and more!

Ready to throw that picnic? I sure am.  If you’re having a Labor Day Picnic, tag pictures with #PacMerchantPicnic on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter. We’d love to check out what you do! You may even win a gift certificate to our site! Now on to that recipe.

Summertime Chicken Caprese BLT

One of my favorite things about summertime is fresh, ripe tomatoes. I just can’t get enough. When thinking up this recipe I realized that I could combine two of my favorite tomato dishes into one delightful sandwich. Voila-the super addictive BLT/Caprese salad mashup was born. And oh, I added some chicken for fun.

Ingredients (Makes 2 sandwiches):

  • 1/2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked until crispy
  • 1 ripe tomato, thinly sliced
  • Butter lettuce
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 5 large fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 of your favorite sandwich rolls, split in half (I used sliced baguette for the pictures)
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayo, basil, and garlic.
  2. Smear onto both slices of bread.
  3. On the bottom of sandwich, lay a butter lettuce leaf. If it’s too big, tear it into a smaller piece.
  4. Next add the tomatoes. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  5. Top seasoned tomatoes with thinly sliced chicken.
  6. Add the bacon, then close sandwich with the top of the bun.

To pack these sandwiches for a picnic, wrap them tightly in foil, butcher paper, or cheese leaves and tie with baker’s twine. I love using our large banana leaves for this. They’re big enough to really keep the sandwich wrapped tight so that transporting and eating them is a mess-free experience!

Delicious sandwiches

Items Shown: Banana Cheese Leaves, Round Doilies

Happy Labor Day, folks! Enjoy this last 3-day weekend in summer!

Summer Drinks: How to Make the Best Lemonade and Peach Iced Tea Ever!

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Kilner Glass Jars

Featured: Kilner Vintage Clip Top Bottles, Kilner .5L Preserve Jar, 4″ Acacia Wood Bermuda Bowl

Thirsty? Good. Follow your thirst, and quench it with our Thyme Lemonade and Peach Iced Tea Arnold Palmer; the perfect summer drink. Our homemade lemonade recipe is simple and easy to make, and provides you with a twist (no pun intended) on the classic lemonade recipe. Follow these super easy steps for a lemonade experience you’ll never forget.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-6-10 Large Lemons

-Small bundle Thyme

-Two medium peaches

-1/4 cup granulated sugar

-1/4 cup water

Ingredients

Lemon press

1. It’s thyme…to make our thyme simple syrup (Pun intended. I had to.)! This part is easier than you may think. Combine 1 part sugar, 1 part water. Bring to a boil, and then turn off the heat. That’s it. It’s SIMPLE syrup; don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be! Pour your syrup into a Kilner Clip Top Jar, add thyme, and let it infuse as the syrup cools. You can strain this syrup and store it in a jar in your fridge for up to 2 weeks. It’s great in cocktails, as well as to sweeten lemonade.  Let it cool completely before using it in the lemonade – to speed up that process, you can put the entire pan in a bowl of ice water.

2. Once that syrup is done, it’s time to move on to the lemons. Start squeezing all the lemon juice we possibly can out of our lemons. I find the best tool to do this with is a manual citrus juicer. SUCH a great kitchen investment. I use it to make fresh squeezed grapefruit juice for brunch, cocktails, and the like. Pour collected lemon juice into one of our Kilner Vintage Clip Top Bottles, and set in fridge for later. We’ll get back to our lemon juice.

3. Start boiling water for the iced tea. Yes, we’ll have to boil water, steep it, and then let it cool down. An alternative is to use sun tea, which will steep in room temperature water.

 

Steeped Peach Iced Tea

4. Once your tea water is boiling, pour into a large heat safe container. We used a Pyrex glass measuring cup. Add your sliced peaches and tea bags. Let steep for around 8-10 minutes, but keep the peaches in there even after the tea bags are pulled out. We want to extract as much flavor/juices from those peaches as possible without touching them.

Thyme Simple Syrup

5. Now, it’s time to make that lemonade!  Remember the lemon juice you put in the fridge? Combine 3 parts water, 1 part lemon juice, and add that thyme simple syrup to taste. If it’s too strong, add more water. If too sour, add more syrup. If too sweet, juice another lemon.  Once you’ve made that lemonade, stick it in the fridge.  If you’re short on fridge room and want cold lemonade, you can mix 2 parts water, 1 part lemon juice, and 1 part ice (by weight) and then add the simple syrup. Leave on the counter. As the ice melts, you’ll have perfect, cold lemonade.

6. Time to check on your tea. It should be significantly cooler, but if it’s not cool enough then add ice and stick in the fridge.

Peach Iced Tea in Jars

7. Garnish some glasses, and get pouring! You’re almost done. Pour either your iced tea or lemonade first–they’ll be mixed in the end, so it doesn’t much matter!

Arnold Palmer in Kilner Jars

Arnold Palmer

8. Sit back, relax, and sip the fruits (and herbs) of your labor! A great drink for guests or just to keep stocked in your fridge. Enjoy the best lemonade and peach iced tea ever, together or separately!

Let us know how your drinks turn out. Tag your photos on Instagram and Facebook with #pacificmerchants and we’ll repost our faves! Talk to us in the comments.

Love,

Pacific Merchants

 

 

Vibrant Summer Salad Recipes for your Next Picnic

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

It gets hot here in LA, and on a 105 degree day, the last thing I want to do is fire up all my burners, crank my oven, and make my apartment even toastier.  So what do I do? I make a ton of salads. Sure, some of these require a little bit of burner usage, but turning on one burner to boil water for pasta or cook a piece of chicken is nothing compared to throwing together an involved meal. .  Ready to get your summer salads on? Break out your salad bowls and dressing bottles. We’re gonna do this thing!

Bowls of Green Salad Recipe - So Easy

First up, let’s talk about the green salad.  Sure, it’s a great way to eat your veggies, but the humble green salad gets a little boring.? Here are my top 10 tips for spicing up a green salad.

  1. Right before serving, salt your salad. It tempers the bitterness, wakes up the taste buds, and adds texture.
  2. Unless it’s a kale salad, dress at the last minute to avoid wilted, sad greens.  Always use a large bowl to dress salad so the salad is fluffy and crisp, not matted and soggy.
  3. Hand tear your lettuce/greens into managable pieces. Tearing avoids blackened, wilted edges and breaking your greens up means you’ll get a little something extra in every bite.
  4. Got extra fresh herbs wilting in your fridge? Add them to your salad for unexpectedly flavorful greens.
  5. Add something crunchy. A variety of textures makes a salad feel more satisfying. Consider adding croutons, nuts, carrots, crushed tortilla chips or wonton strips. Let your imagination run wild. I like pretzels instead of croutons.
  6. Add some protein (but cut it small.)  Add cooked chicken, shrimp, tofu, steak, fish, or egg.  But don’t put a whole chicken breast or salmon filet on that salad. Breaking it up means you get a little more with every bite.
  7. Add a hint of sweetness. Most salads benefit from a sweet kick, whether it comes from the dressing or added fruit. I often add a bit of honey to my dressing, but during the summer I just add fresh fruit to the salads. Peaches and arugula are pretty much perfect together, as are blueberries and kale, strawberries and spinach, etc.
  8. Add extras, but not too many. A simple green salad is a great thing, but adding a couple of veggies can really punch it up.  Cut them small so they don’t weigh down the salad and don’t go crazy- 3-5 is more than enough to enhance your salad while still making it feel focused.
  9. Make it a full meal salad by adding whole grain. Barley, quinoa, wheatberries, wild rice and more turn a simple salad into a filling main course. Plus, they all work so well with dressing.
  10. Add brightness – A squeeze of citrus, whether it’s lemon, lime, grapefruit, or orange, really makes the flavors in a simple salad pop. Whisk citrus juice into dressing or just sprinkle it over your dressed salad. How to Make a Beautiful, Balanced Green Salad

Inspired?  Good. Now whip out that salad bowl, harness the power of summer produce, and make something delicious happen.

Want an even heartier salad? Consider a pasta salad. Growing up, I always considered pasta salads weird, overly-mayoed side dishes for potlucks and barbecues. I avoided them at all costs. But you know what? They don’t need to be mayo heavy or even pasta heavy to be an excellent summer side dish.  Here’s my absolute favorite of all the pasta salad recipes I’ve got: A simple caprese pasta salad. With all the ripe tomatoes gracing farmers markets and supermarkets this time of year, it’s the perfect time to make this salad.

Pasta Salad Recipe for Summer

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta, cooked (I like shells best. Whole wheat is fine.)
  • 1 pint container boccocini (small mozzarella balls) or 1 large ball mozzarella cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 lb fresh, ripe tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces, or cherry tomatoes sliced in half.
  • 1 large bunch basil, leaves sliced.
  • 1/3 c Olive oil
  • 2/3 c Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Black pepper

Instructions

  1. In the bottom of your large salad bowl, add the tomatoes and a healthy pinch of salt. Let sit while you make the dressing.
  2. In a jar or bottle, combine olive oil, vinegar, mustard and garlic.  Shake well to combine, then add half of the dressing to the tomatoes.
  3. Add the mozzarella to the mix and toss to combine.  At this point, you can go ahead with the salad or let this mixture marinate for up to 1 day.
  4. When ready to serve, toss pasta and sliced basil with the  tomatoes and mozzarella.  Add salt, pepper, and extra dressing as needed.
  5. Magic – you’ve got a fresh, light summer pasta salad that’s picnic perfect.  Sometimes I add steamed peas, roasted peppers, olives or capers to this salad. Sometimes I don’t.
  6. If you’ve got extra dressing, try it on a green salad. this is a killer basic balsamic vinaigrette. You’ll love it, I promise.

Easy healthy salad recipes

There you have it, folks – a couple of picture perfect summertime salads that’ll remind you why vegetables are so delicious, just in time for those 4th of July barbecues and cookouts. Check back next week for a fruit salad that’ll become your go-to weeknight dessert. Seriously, fresh fruit tossed with mint and raspberry sauce. Could it get any more summery?  Let me know in the comments -what’s your favorite salad? We may re-post the recipe!

Colorful Summer Fruit Salad

 

Korean Recipes: How to Make Korean Barbecue Steak and More!

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Last week we mentioned that we were looking for awesome Father’s Day ideas and decided  that one of the best ways to honor the amazing dads in our life is to cook an amazing meal.  Steak for Father’s Day is pretty standard, so we figured we’d spice things up a little and make a really killer Korean barbecue recipe. The brilliance of this marinade is that it works on anything – you can marinate chicken, beef, short ribs, pork, and even extra-firm tofu in this mixture, grill it, and you end up with culinary magic!

Korean Barbecue Beef on an Acacia plateKeep reading. Not only are we talking how to make the best Korean Barbecue Marinade, we’ll also talk about some other dishes to complement this killer steak, so you can cook your dad (or whoever) an awesome meal! From cocktails and appetizers to dessert, we’ve got you taken care of.  Added bonus: With a little planning ahead (marinate your protein overnight) this is a really quick, easy dish to cook. You can make it as a quick weeknight dinner recipe or as a special occasion meal.  Let’s get cooking!

A few ingredients. Learn how to make korean barbecue

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup fresh guava or pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger root, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2-3 lbs protein of your choice, sliced 1/2 inch thick (steak, extra-firm tofu, shrimp, pork loin, short ribs, chicken breast)

Ingredients for Korean Barbecue Layout

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except for protein in a jar or a bowl and shake/mix well to combine. I used a Kilner jar and it worked like a charm.
  2. Pour marinade over the protein of your choice. I spread mine out on a serving tray for pictures, but a bowl works too.
  3. Massage with your hands to combine.
  4. Cover and set aside for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.
  5. When ready to cook, preheat a grill to medium high heat. A pre-heated grill is your best friend if you want a nice char and rich flavor.
  6. Grill ingredients for 3 minutes per side.
  7. Remove from grill and serve.

Marinade in Jar Pour that marinade

Ingredients 1 Meatporn closeup

It’s honestly that simple. Nothing to it.  The only hard part is figuring out what else to serve, because meat alone doesn’t make up a meal.  I’m sure your dad told you to eat your veggies.  Here’s our suggested menu, if you want a fancy, multi-course meal. If you want it simple, you could always go the way we did and just serve kimchi, rice and meat, along with a nice green salad, or you can take it that extra step and make a highly fabulous Korean-inspired feast!

Cocktail: We Love this plum-basil cocktail from Saveur.  The ingredients aren’t traditionally Korean by any stretch, but the fruity, herbaceous flavors of the drink really work beautifully with our menu.

Soup: Traditional at New Years, this Korean Rice Cake Soup recipe from The Kitchn is a delicious, warming vegetarian soup filled with rice cakes, herbs, and a hint of seaweed. SO comforting. If rice cake isn’t your thing, consider their Korean noodle soup recipe. Also vegetarian, also delightful!

If it’s a little warm for soup, consider this awesome salad in its place: Spicy Bean Sprout Salad from Beyond Kimchee, an amazing blog with a focus on Korean food. Bookmark it. Read it. Love it.

It’s pretty traditional to serve Kimchi with Korean Barbecue and (humblebrag alert) our Kimchi recipe is excellent. Give it a shot. You may like it. Also, check out our Kimchi Kit.

Let’s move on to Dessert. Coffee and donuts are a pretty perfect pairing. We figured that tea and donuts would be equally good, and this pairing of a warm cinnamon tea (recipe from Aeri’s Kitchen) with sweet potato rice donuts (also from Beyond Kimchee) is the best way to end a meal. Soothing, comforting, and damn delicious!

Marinating MeatWhether you’re thinking about making a steak for Father’s day, looking for an epic menu, or just trying to figure out what to make for dinner tomorrow night, we hope this menu helped. I know we’re excited to have it again this Sunday, June 15 for Father’s Day!

One last thing – To all the dads out there, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY (yes, we’re yelling it!)   You rock. Thank you.

 

Perfect Spring Cocktail Recipe: Lemon Lime Margarita

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Lemon Lime Margarita in Kilner glasses

As we were photographing our brand new, spring gift sets for our blog, we realized that our Cinco de Mayo gift set was the perfect excuse to whip up some margaritas no matter what the date.  And as we sipped our margaritas in the afternoon sun (we were shooting outside) we realized – we just HAD to share our recipe for you! It’s the perfect drink for a warm spring evening.

Now, I have serious love for a classic, all lime margarita, but if you’ve been to the store lately (or if you listen to NPR) you know that limes recently got EXPENSIVE!  So, to help make my dollar go further, I came up with a truly sensational lemon-lime margarita recipe. It still tastes like spring and sunshine in a glass, but if you’re throwing a cocktail party, you won’t spend your whole budget on limes.  Plus, this recipe has 2 easy variations, a classic margarita recipe, and a spicy margarita variation.  With just a couple of simple ingredients, you’re getting cocktail recipes for the work of 1!

Perfect Margarita recipe for Cinco de mayo

Here’s what you’ll need to make 4 cocktails:

  • 4 half Liter Kilner preserve jars.  I love that the threaded rims hold onto the salt on the edges really well.
  • A large pitcher
  • 2 small shallow bowls (I like to use these Acaciaware® bowls)
  • 2 oz lime juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • 4 oz lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 6 oz tequila
  • 3 oz  Triple Sec
  • Agave Nectar
  • Ice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 fresh Jalapeno (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)

how to put salt on the edge of a margarita glass

Instructions

  1. Figure out how many of your guests want spicy margaritas and how many want mild.
  2. Pour salt into your shallow bowl.
  3. Using a slice of lemon or lime, moisten the edge of your Kilner jar drinking glasses.
  4. Dip the moistened rims of the  glasses for the non-spicy margaritas in salt. Tap once and flip over.
  5. Now, add cayenne pepper to your salt. I do about a 50/50 mix.
  6. Moisten the edges of the glasses for your spicy margarita drinkers.
  7. Dip glasses in the cayenne/salt mixture. Tap once and flip right side up.
  8. Add a healthy pinch of salt/cayenne mixture and a slice of fresh jalapeno to the spicy glasses.
  9. In a pitcher, combine the tequila, lemon juice, lime juice and triple sec.
  10. Taste and add agave nectar to sweeten to your taste. (You can also use sugar, but agave tastes better and is better for you!)
  11. Put some ice cubes in each glass and pour your Margarita mix in carefully, so you don’t mess up those pretty salted rims.
  12. Drink and enjoy!!  Add some chips and guacamole  and some great music and you’ve got yourself a party!!

Fiesta set

If you want to turn your perfect springtime margarita into a full-blown fiesta, we suggest some brightly colored decorations, a stunning chip and dip tray for those chips and guacamole, and some lively placemats, just to brighten things up.  If you want all the guesswork taken out, consider our Cinco De Mayo Cocktail party set and a coordinating set of 4  Laguna Placemats.  The Cinco De Mayo set includes a 3-sectioned tray that’s perfect for chips and dip, 4 plates, a set of brightly colored Deco Leaves© (just for fun!) and 4 Kilner drinking glasses – perfect for that margarita cocktail recipe! The placemats (check out that awesome GIF below!) come separately.  We’ve got SO many colors available!

gif maker

Let us know what your favorite cocktails are in the comments, or share pictures with our page on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #PacificMerchants. We’d love to see what’s inspiring you this spring (especially now that a seemingly endless winter is over)!


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