Archive for the ‘Acaciaware’ Category

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)!

Pacific Merchants Presents: DecoLeaves Cheese leaves

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Leaves for food presentation. Foodsafe cheese leaves parchment leaves french leaves

We’ve got exciting changes afoot here at Pacific Merchants! If you’re a regular on our website, you may have noticed a few new items, and even a few new categories!  Over the next week or so, we’re going to be featuring a ton of new items, so get ready!  First up, we’re thrilled to introduce our new line of DecoLeaves – totally food safe parchment cheese leaves to amp up your food presentation.  Whether you’re decorating a table or lining a cheese board, these beautiful, detailed leaves and flowers will add color and visual interest to your table! Plus, they’re made and packaged right here in the USA!

leaves for cheese, food, table decorations

We’ve got cheese leaves (and flowers, too!) for all seasons.  If you want to deck a spring table in roses  and sunflowers, we’d love to help you. If you’re putting together a wine and cheese tasting, we’ve got the perfect grapes and grape leaves to compliment your spread. If you’re already planning that perfect summer luau, we’ve got banana leaves and tropical leaves to help you decorate. Bonus: our cheese leaves and flowers compliment our acacia wood trays SO perfectly. If you’re putting out a cheese board or a tray of appetizers, look into acacia (if you haven’t already!) We’ve even got leaves for holiday decor, though we know that’s a long way off.

foodsafe parchment leaves decoleaves euroquest leaves, french leaves

No matter what kind of gathering you’re planning this spring/summer, make sure to invite decoLeaves! They’re an easy way to add a splash of color to even the most casual barbecue or picnic, and they’re a beautiful way to bring a touch of whimsy to more formal affairs! We’ve even seen them incorporated into gift wrapping or used for crafts!

party supply leaves, party decor, decorations, cheese leaves

 

 

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 – Christmas Crafts and Decor

Monday, December 9th, 2013

We’re obviously big into baking and crafting around here. Anyone who happens across our blog knows that. And this time of the year, it seems that crafts and treats are absolutely everywhere! Instead of getting overwhelmed by the over-abundance of craftiness, we decided to pare things down a little and put together some of our favorites in an easy little roundup.  Merry Christmas!

This post will cover Christmas crafts and decor, from easy crafts you can do in an hour to crafts that take an entire day. If you check back in later in the week, we’ll be posting a homemade gift roundup and a Christmas treat roundup, so keep checking back.

snowglobes in jars

I absolutely love snow globes. Sure, I don’t have as many as I used to, thanks largely to the TSA not being so fond of me carrying them on the plane, but around this time of the year, I make my own christmas-y snow globes to decorate my home.  I follow this really simple tutorial from the incomparable Martha Stewart and I always get great results.  I use everything from big, half liter preserve jars for detailed scenes to our tiniest blue top jars for snow globes that double as ornaments – Just hot glue a ribbon to the top!

icey luminaries

I’m based out of LA and I totally miss the snow and ice.  To bring a little winter into my holiday decor, I got inspired by this post on Epsom salt luminaries. The effect looks just icy enough to bring a little winter into my apartment without requiring any actual defrosting.  I love doing this with my 0.25 liter Kilner jars. They’re just the right size for tea lights and they look really beautiful with the pine boughs on my mantle.

Sweater-Candles

Now, if you love the idea of luminaries, but hate the idea of bringing even pretend ice into your house, consider a cozier approach, like the folks from Brit & Co did – Sweater luminaries. Lately, Everything from christmas ornaments to pillows have been bundled up in sweater-style knits, so why to create luminaries that do just that?

GlitterMasonJars2

If you’re looking for a festive vase for flowers, evergreen branches or holly, consider a glitter dipped jar, like these stunners from Lilyshop (tutorial here.)  They’re perfectly festive this time of year, look awesome at new years, and really serve as a lively accent all year round!

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Also worth considering is a stunning floral arrangement. We’ve got an easy tutorial for making bountiful flower arrangements work in any sized bowl. Whether you use one of our Mason Cash christmas tree bowls, a large wood bowl, or even a traditional mixing bowl as the base for your arrangement. Pick flowers and foliage that screams Christmas to you (red berries and roses, white lilies, freesia and baby’s breath, evergreen and eucalyptus are a good place to start.) Add in elements of interest, from fruit to christmas ornaments to little bells. Arrange and enjoy, all season long.

We hope that this list gives you some great ideas for decking your halls. If you’ve got any inspired ideas we should feature or if you just want us to share your christmas crafts, email [email protected]  This time of the year, we’re all about the sharing.   Check back in a couple days to see our homemade gift idea roundup! There are so many great ones!

If you’re looking for more ideas, you can always take a cute from our festive Halloween Painted jars.  Switch out spooky colors for festive ones and jack – o -lantern faces for holiday motifs and you’ve got instant decor!

Best Football Food and Party Ideas -Hot Wings Recipe

Friday, September 6th, 2013

It’s the end of the first weekend in September, and that means football season is upon us! If you’re thinking about hosting game day at your house, here are some great ideas that will keep your guests content from kickoff through the post-game show.  Make sure to bookmark this page for your Superbowl party as well!

First, time your party well. Double check what time the game starts and what channel it’s on. Make sure you’ve got that channel ready to go, and start your party about an hour before the game. That gives guests plenty of time to socialize, snack and get comfortable before the game starts.

 

Second, set up two areas for food. One should be on a coffee table, side table or somewhere within easy reach of the couch. One should be away away from the game. Consider putting down easy-to-clean placemats in your favorite team’s colors to make cleanup simple.

Third, think small. Small food, that is.  Easy finger foods and bite-sized snacks are perfect for football parties. They’re easy to prepare and fun to eat. Here are some delicious options to consider: Small sandwiches, Meatballs,  Dumplings, chips and dip (or see our guacamole recipe from last week), tacos, and wings.  Put out an assortment of dipping sauces in small bowls and all your guests can get creative with their food while you enjoy the game!

If you want to get really into the spirit, consider doing themed food – Crab cakes if the Baltimore Ravens are playing, Chicago Style Hot dogs if the Bears are playing. You get the idea.   One of the first games this weekend is New England against Buffalo, so naturally, you’re going to want to make Buffalo Wings. Here’s our recipe for easy buffalo chicken wings. They’re baked rather than deep fried to keep it healthy, and they’re a classic football foods

Our hot Wings recipe: The ultimate Football food.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chicken wings, rinsed and pat dry
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¾  cup hot sauce (we prefer Frank’s Red Hot, it’s classic!)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves minced garlic.
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping
  • carrots and celery sticks (optional)

Directions

  1. Toss the wings in the oil, salt and pepper, place them on a rack, in an enamel baking dish or a foil lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 400F oven until golden brown and crispy, about 45-50 minutes.
  2. Put the hot sauce, garlic, soy sauce, sugar and butter in a microwave-safe Mason Cash bowl.
  3. Microwave on medium power until butter is melted.
  4. Toss with chicken wings in a large bowl.
  5. Serve while warm with blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping and optionally with carrots and celery sticks. We love to set out the dressing, vegetables and wings in an Acaciaware serving  tray with a separate bowl for the sauce.

 

Win or lose, we hope you have a fantastic football season!

 


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