Archive for the ‘Gift Guide’ Category

Top 10 Creative Holiday Gifts

Friday, December 2nd, 2016
  1. These Whimsical Parchment Cheese Leaves

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    For your fanciful loved one we have these adorable and food friendly parchment leaves. Whether you gift the leaves themselves or use them to construct one of the centerpieces above, these table decorations give any holiday table a festive aesthetic without being too “campy”. I use mine to serve appetizers to guests, but there are a ton of creative crafts you can use them for as well as decorating your table (without having to actually use dead leaves – yuck!)

    2. This Rustic Acacia wood Cheese Paddle Set

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    The holidays are a time for family, friends, and appetizers. When I hosted my first holiday dinner I had poured my all into the menu, without giving any thought to how I was going to actually going to serve my delicious dishes. Save your new host/hostess from scrambling around the kitchen with this live edge cheese paddle, that is sure to give your holiday cheese log that festive country-chic vibe.

    3. This Acacia Wood Condiment Set

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    These are perfect for the person in your life that is obsessed with that ‘food blog’ look (or like me just can’t stand to see plastic bottles on a beautifully set table). Get them all set up for an Instagram worthy table top with these guys.

    4. This Mortar & Pestle with a Potted Fresh Herb

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    Fresh ground herbs are a gift in themselves (fresh ground mint in green tea is one of my favorite things on this planet), but I also love the action of grinding my own herbs. Mostly because I enjoy pretending I’m on chopped as soon as I step into my kitchen, but also because it makes the herb brighter in whatever dish you add it to (at least in this poster’s humble opinion). Pair one of our mortar & pestle sets with an herb of your choosing (I always suggest mint or basil), to help your host/hostess discover their inner Chopped contestant this holiday season.

    5. This new Fusion Wood Serving tray

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    If your friend has a family like mine, then you spend your holidays with about 50 plus people. When the bird comes out everyone makes a mad dash for the aluminum tray (that inevitably ends up leaking from all the knives/forks stabbing into the bottom) and results in a cleaning nightmare that not even Martha Stewart would want to deal with. Save your loved one the hassle with this beautiful Fusion Wood (blend of Black Walnut, Oak, Ash, Hard Maple, Acacia, Sapele & Teak) serving tray, perfect for this holiday’s main entrée.

    6. These 4 section Acacia wood serving trays : Get the first one Here, and the second Here.

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    Does your loved one have kids who are picky eaters? Are they themselves picky eaters? This tray is perfect for them! Aside from being the perfect snack tray, it’s a great way to pile on your dinner feast without any of the foods touching each other. Or if you’re like me and can never decide between salsa, guacamole, or queso now you can have all three (ITS LIKE GROWN UP LUNCHABLE NACHOS- You’re WELCOME).

    7. The Movie Night Bowl “basket”

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    Let’s face it, going to the movies is now more expensive for two people than tickets to Disneyland (ok-slight exaggeration but I miss the old days of $5 movie tickets). I love doing movie night at home, and what better surprise for your newly married friends or your parents (or friends with kids even) than with their own home movie night! Get a big ‘Popcorn’ bowl, throw in their favorite movie (or if you want it holiday themed hit the $5 dollar movie bin for some seasonal favorites for cheap), some popcorn & snacks, and maybe a bottle of wine. Then poof! You’ve got your very own adult movie night set (side-note you probably shouldn’t share the wine with the kids- but hey you do you). 😉

    8. Guys Night Out Bowl

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    My husband used to get together with his buddies for poker night once a week when we all used to live closer, and his game nights are the main inspiration for this “basket”. For this gift stuff the bowl with the mixings for some good Dark ‘N’ Stormy’s (one bottle of dark rum & ginger beer), a deck of cards (or Risk), poker chips, chips dip and other assorted snacks, a few cigars if that’s your bag, and follow it up with a Die Hard DVD (in my opinion the best Christmas movie ever made). The men in your life will thank you, I promise.

 

  1. Girls Night Bowlk0475 9509632741_d8e4c32522_b

    This is gift is all about treating yourself. Stuff our Acaciaware ‘popcorn’ bowl with snacks, movies, a massage coupon, and a mandala coloring book and your girlie best friend will be in heaven! Throw in one of our mortar and pestle sets so she can make her very own face masks from scratch. Give her the ultimate night of relaxation and self-care, I bet she deserves it!

Happy Holidays! Here’s Our Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe.

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

With just a week until Christmas, isn’t it time that you have a foolproof sugar cookie recipe?  This recipe makes fantastic cutout sugar cookies that hold their shape and don’t need to chill first – a huge bonus if you’ve got impatient kids, or if you’re just busy. ‘Tis the season of busy, after all.  Read on for a fantastic Christmas cookie recipe that we hear Santa loves! We’re also going to link you to some of our favorite cookie baking and decorating tips from around the web. Huge bonus – even if you’ve got ZERO time to go Christmas shopping, everyone loves a box (or Kilner jar) of cookies. And these are not only super easy to make and highly delicious, but they’re inexpensive – a great way to save some money during this expensive time.

How to make Christmas Cookies, How to make sugar cookies

Items Shown: Acacia Wood Plate

Of course, if you want to buy a gift, we’ve got options, and as long as you place your order by December 23rd, there’s a way to get it to you for Christmas (Call us or Live Chat us for details – Ground shipping WILL NOT necessarily do the trick, depending on where you’re located.)  Check out our Odds-and-Ends section for really cool one-off pieces up to 50% off, or take a look at our Holiday section for gifts and table decor. Or, you know, feel free to browse our entire site. We’ve got some INCREDIBLE gift ideas. Got a baker on the list? We’ve got cake stands.  A holiday junkie? Consider a Mason Cash Christmas bowl. A tea drinker?  Give them a beautiful new teapot!

But enough talk. Let’s bake instead! What makes these cookies extra special? You don’t have to chill the dough before baking. You can freeze the cookies OR the dough. They hold their shape without being too hard. They bake quickly. But most importantly, they’re super-tasty.

Our signature christmas cookie recipe

Items Shown: Holly Leaves, Wood Plate

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of one tangerine or small orange
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 (unless you’re making and freezing the dough.)
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer (or with a hand mixer if you want)  cream together the butter, lemon zest, tangerine zest and sugar until the mixture is well combined.
  4. Add the egg, scrape the bowl, and then add the vanilla extract.
  5. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Don’t over mix or you’ll ruin the texture,  but scrape bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
  6. Once dough is barely incorporated (It’ll still be crumbly, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead it lightly with your hands to combine, then roll to about 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Cut into shapes and put on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown, or freeze flat with parchment between cookies.
  9. Decorate as you see fit! I use a quick royal icing (powdered sugar, lemon juice, egg white) to ice my cookies. Sometimes I go crazy with the sprinkles.

See below for more cookie baking, decorating and gifting tips!

decorated christmas cookie ideas, PLUS christmas cookie decorating tips, tricks, and recipes

Photo Credit: Bake at 350. Check it out – she’s ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!

Need some cookie decorating inspiration?  The Brilliant Bridget over at Bake at 350 (hello, alliteration!) has a killer holiday cooking guide – everything from recipes to tips to decorating ideas all in one place. Click here to be absolutely wowed!

Invisible Outline with Royal Icing_3

Photo Credit: Sweet Sugar Belle!

How about some flawless icing?  This post (and hello, video tutorial) over at Sweet Sugar Belle will have you making professional looking iced cookies in no time!

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Photo Credit: We are Not Martha

Need a pretty cookie that packs? We are Not Martha suggests these sandwich cookies – Check them out at the end of the post, packed in cute holiday gift boxes!

Photo Credit: The Purl Bee via The Kitchn

Need more cookie-wrapping inspiration? Check out this post over on The Kitchn. Everything from jars (hello, Kilner) to take out containers to brown lunch bags can be made into beautiful gift containers with a little ingenuity.

So there you have it, folks. It’s not too late to make (and give) a fabulous holiday gift – I mean really, can you think of anyone who doesn’t like cookies? Whether you’re making our cookies or favorite recipes of yours, whoever is on the receiving end is going to be one lucky friend! And, since it’s a week away, Merry Christmas. If that’s not your thing, Happy Holidays, happy winter, happy day!

 

 

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.

Caramel Apple Recipe and Tutorial: How to Make Caramel Apples

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Can you believe we’re halfway through October? Just two weeks until Halloween. What are you dressing up as? Scroll to the VERY bottom of this post to check out the owner of our company in his costume. ANYWAY, one of my favorite things about this time of year is all the special treats, especially things made with apples. They’re SO good right now being as they’re in season. I can’t get enough apple cider, apple fritters, apple pie, apple cider doughnuts, and especially, caramel apples. They’ve been a favorite since I was a kid and I used to buy them all the time. Now that I know how to make caramel apples at home, they’re a favorite party treat, especially in the mini size shown here; what a perfect serving size! If you’re looking for a Halloween party food, a dessert buffet idea or just a fun lunchbox treat, consider making caramel apples!  Read on for the caramel apple recipe and some tricks and tips, such as how to make the caramel stay on your apple!

Ingredients:

  • 8 large apples or 16 small lady apples (shown)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large pinch sea salt.

Optional Ingredients for toppings:

  • Sea salt
  • Chopped peanuts or almonds, toasted
  • Minced candied ginger
  • Sprinkles
  • Finely chopped chocolate

Special Equipment:

  • Craft Sticks, strong wooden skewers or other sticks for handles
  • Heavy Bottomed non-reactive saucepan
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Bowls large and deep enough to submerge the apples in (to roll toppings)

Instructions:

  1. It’s honestly incredibly easy to make candy apples with the right ingredients, a little patience, and a little know-how. Really, it’s all in the prep. One of the most common pitfalls is making your beautiful caramel and having it slide off the apples. Why does caramel fall off your apples? Simple – most commercially available apples are lightly coated in wax.  To remove the wax, either scuff the surface of the apple with sandpaper or submerge apples in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Like magic, your caramel will stick.
  2. Dry each apple completely and put a stick into the stem end, making sure the stick is solid and secure. Hot caramel burns and you don’t want to be fishing your apples out with your fingers. Craft sticks work better on larger apples, but on our lady apples, wood skewers cut in half did the trick!
  3. Arrange your toppings in bowls. Fill them half to 3/4 of the way full with the toppings of your choice. Chopped peanuts are a classic candy apple topping but my favorite is diced candied ginger. SO spicy and nice for the fall. Also, prepare a tray lined with a piece of parchment paper or greased wax paper. This is where your finished apples will hang out to dry.
  4. Time to make the caramel! Add  your corn syrup, half your heavy cream, your sugar and your butter to a saucepan, making sure the pan is half full at most. Cook over high heat until it is a rich golden color and measures 250 degrees on your candy thermometer.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the heavy cream, vanilla and sea salt, stirring to combine. The mixture will spatter and foam up. That’s normal, and that’s the reason you gave yourself extra room in the pot. Once all the cream and vanilla is incorporated, it’s time to dip.
  6. Dip and turn your wax-less apples in the caramel to coat completely. You may need to tilt the pan to get all the way up on the sides. Hold the apples over the pan and twirl them on their sticks, letting the excess caramel drip off, and back into the pan.
  7. While the caramel is still warm, roll in the topping of your choice and set on the parchment to cool completely. Keep going until you’ve run out of apples or caramel. If you end up with extra caramel, just spoon it into a Kilner jar and pop it in the fridge. Rewarmed, it’ll be amazing over ice cream or your morning yogurt.
How to do the caramel apple dip

Items Shown: Delicious Caramel Apples!

See? Not too hard. And those pictures are making your mouth water, right? This time of the year, there are so many types of apples available, and they all make pretty good caramel apples. But, in my (totally awesome) opinion, the best kind of apple for caramel apples is either granny smith (that sour apple/sweet caramel contrast is amazing), golden delicious, or little tiny lady apples like the ones pictured above.  If you’re serving bigger apples at a party (especially to kids with loose teeth) consider slicing them up for ease. The little ones are easy to bite into so you can skip slicing. And remember, these make a fantastic party favor. Put them in a cellophane bag and tie a ribbon around the stick for instant cuteness.

Oh yeah, I promised a picture of Bruce, President of Pacific Merchants, dressed up for Halloween. Because I ALWAYS keep my promises, here you go!  He takes Halloween very seriously. Can you blame him? It’s the best.

mr peanut

Better than Maraschino Cherries: DIY Cocktail Cherries Recipe

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time, I was a 5 year old flower girl in a wedding. White dress, adorable, the whole nine yards. Well adorable until I, the 5 year old flower girl, got rip-roaring drunk. No, this is not a tale of bad parenting, but a cautionary tale.  You see, at the wedding they served a cocktail, and in those cocktails were maraschino cherries. You know, the bright red ones. Anyway, since maraschino cherries are somewhat gross to the adult palate, apparently, lots of the adults left them in their empty glasses. And since as a 5 year old child nothing tasted better than super-sweet candied cherries, I went from table to table, plucking the booze soaked cherries from the empty cocktails and eating them. A few dozen boozy cherries later, and I was tanked.  My parents were somewhat embarrassed and my pristine white dress was stained red from cherry juice.

homemade cocktail cherries

Cut to 25 year later. I STILL love boozy cherries, but I’ve learned to enjoy them more responsibly. Of course, at this point, in the age of craft cocktails, I’m not satisfied with the almost-glowing red canned maraschino cherries of my ill-spent youth. Instead, I generally make my own homemade cocktail cherries. These awesomely flavorful brandied cherries are perfect in a cocktail, incredible on ice cream, and delicious on their own. We’ve also mixed them in to sangria, syrup and all – SO good.  making brandied cherries from scratch

While it is very possible to buy high-quality cherries for cocktails (think luxardo cherries rather than maraschino cherries,)  those high-end bottles of cherries in syrup are expen$ive!!! And with it being cherry season, and cherries being so cheap, I thought, why not make and can some of my own? They’ll be just as good (even better) than store bought, significantly cheaper, and way less scary.  Bonus: they make awesome gifts or party favors. This recipe is really easy to multiply if you’ve got an abundance of cherries.  Ready for an awesome cocktail cherries recipe? Lets go.

How to make your own maraschino cherries

Materials

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Pitted Cherries (pit then weigh)
  • 1 cup brandy or maraschino liqueur (like luxardo, available at most well-stocked liquor stores)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • zest of one orange, in large strips (use a veggie peeler or knife)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Brandied Cocktail cherries

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients except brandy and almond extract to a saucepan.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until cherries release their juice.
  • After about 5-7 minutes, turn the heat to low and add the maraschino liquor or brandy.
  • Cook on very low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • When the syrup is very thick and sticky, remove the cinnamon stick and orange peel from the mixture and set aside.
  • Remove from heat, add the almond extract.
  • Immediately pour the cherry mixture to clean, sanitized jars. I like these kilner jars (or these!)for party favors or gifts, or these larger ones if I’m just keeping them on my bar cart.
  • Process jars in boiling water for 10 minutes.
  • When properly processed and sanitized, these cocktail cherries will stay good for up to 6 months at room temperature, or a month opened in the refrigerator. They won’t last that long.

There you have it – a simple, delicious way to preserve delicious cherries during the peak of the season. If you really want to show these beauties off in a cocktail, keep it simple. A Manhattan or an Old-Fashioned will do the job.  Other delicious ways to use up these cherries – drizzled over ice cream or yogurt, blended in to a milkshake, between layers of a black forest cake,  or strain and bake into your favorite chocolate dessert. Just don’t throw out that syrup! It’s delicious!

homemade maraschino cherries

Spanish Tapas Recipes Worth Trying: Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp with Garlic)

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Shrimp with garlic recipe

It has been said that Gambas al Ajillo is the world’s most perfect tapa, and every time I try this killer tapas recipe I seriously have to agree. Shrimp. Garlic. Olive Oil. Salt. A hint of parsley. A touch of Paprika. Really, it’s that simple. 6 ingredients total and you have a full-on perfect bite of food.  Now, if you don’t like garlic, or you’re not big on seafood, this probably won’t rock your world.  But for the rest of you, believe me. This is one of those tapas recipes you’ll try once and end up  making a million times, over and over again. You’ll look for any excuse to make it, because it’s that easy and that delicious.

How to make Spanish Food

Want the perfect excuse?  Throw a summer tapas party. Pull together some of your favorite recipes for small, shareable bites (that’s what tapas are, after all) and invite a few good friends. Break out a bottle of Spanish Cava or Rioja (or a lovely, fruity summer cocktail) and enjoy the easiest dinner party you’ve ever thrown. If you need more tapas ideas, click here for last week’s patatas bravas recipe.  Or bounce on over here for some meatballs.  Or head on over to this post for a watermelon salad that, when served in small bowls makes for a refreshing, flavorful bite.

Tapas tasting set spread

But enough talk. Let’s make some shrimp. I’m sure you want to see what the best tapas recipe ever is all about.  This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb shrimp, shelled and de-veined. I often buy mine frozen. It works and it’s cheaper.
  • 10 cloves garlic, sliced. It may seem like a lot, but it’s delicious. Don’t skimp.
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil (Go for Spanish if you’ve got it.)
  • 1 pinch of salt, plus more to taste
  • 1.5 tsp hot smoked Spanish Paprika
  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley.

Instructions

  1. Make sure your shrimp are thawed (if frozen) and peeled. make sure your garlic is sliced and your parsley is minced. This will go quickly.
  2. Throw olive oil, a pinch of salt and garlic into a large saucepan.  Gradually bring to medium high heat, stirring frequently in order to keep garlic from burning.
  3. When garlic is golden brown and your entire kitchen smells amazing, remove garlic from pan with slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add shrimp and paprika to the hot oil. Give it a stir to combine the ingredients. It may spatter. Prepare yourself.
  5. Cook over medium high heat until cooked through, tossing occasionally. If you used fresh shrimp, they’ll most likely be cooked through 3-4 minutes – They’ll be done a minute or two after they turn pink.
  6. Add garlic back in with shrimp, tossing to combine.
  7. Taste a shrimp (chef’s privilege, y’all) and decide if it needs anything. Add salt, additional paprika. Consider a squeeze of lemon.
  8. Transfer from pan into a terracotta dish.
  9. Serve with crusty bread to sop up all that garlic-oil deliciousness. #carbs

tapas restaurant style gambas al ajillo

There you have it, folks. In less than 10 steps, and WAY less than 10 ingredients, you’ve got the best tapa recipe in the world. So break out your tapas serving dishes (don’t have any? let us fix that!) and call up your friends. You could be rolling in the shrimp and the awesome conversation in less time than it takes to get one of those fancy, $12 cocktails at your local upscale watering hole. Seriously though. Since when does it take 20 minutes to get an old-fashioned?

Restaurant style tapas at home

Easy Tapas Recipe: Patatas Bravas (Spanish Potatoes with Sauce)

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

When it comes to summer entertaining, there’s nothing I love more than bringing together a bunch of good friends, whipping up a bunch of easy tapas recipes, and entertaining on my patio.  It’s the easiest, most relaxed way to throw a party, and let’s face it: summertime just calls for relaxed, chilled out fun. I’m SO inspired by super-awesome summertime tapas parties in fact, that we put together a tapas party serving set on the website.  Now everyone can enjoy one of my favorite summertime activities.

Patatas Bravas Recipe: How to make tapas

Now, unless you’ve been to Spain or to an awesome Spanish restaurant (or you watch a lot of the Food Network) you’re probably wondering: What are tapas and why are they awesome? Simply put, tapas are small bites of food, often served family style, meant to be shared, and straight-up perfect with a cold, refreshing drink.  They’re often foods that taste good hot, room temperature or even cold, so you can serve and forget all about them while you mingle and have a good time.   Plus, they’re tops with a glass of sangria, a cold beer, a glass of wine, or even a nice summery cocktail. And since they can be eaten with fingers, they’re pretty ideal for a party where you want to encourage mingling.

Delicious tapas: Patatas Bravas

So on to the cooking! This recipe for patatas bravas (sometimes called papas bravas) is one of my favorite tapas recipes ever. It’s a little nontraditional, but I’m totally fine with this spicy, flavorful update on a classic. Plus, since we’re sauteing the potatoes rather than deep frying, it’s a little lighter.  This hearty vegetarian tapas recipe (actually it’s a vegan recipe AND a Gluten Free Recipe) is one that will stun both meat eaters and herbivores with its simplicity and seriously bold, punchy flavors. So get your taste buds ready, folks. Let’s make some potatoes that’ll put a tapas restaurant to shame.  Spoiler alert: they’re really easy to make.  This recipe serves four easily, most likely 6. Of course, it makes for fantastic leftovers as well. Reheat in the oven with a fried egg for the best hangover breakfast ever!

Ingredients for gluten free vegan recipe

Ingredients

For Potatoes:

  • 3 lbs red skin potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley

For Sauce:

  • 3 ripe tomatoes (canned ok)
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked hot paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-Cook the potatoes: Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until cooked through. When potatoes are fork-tender, remove from heat, drain and allow to cool. Leave them alone while you make the sauce.
  2. Make the Sauce:  If you like the taste of raw garlic, keep the cloves raw. If not, saute the garlic cloves in the olive oil over medium low heat until tender.  Set garlic and oil aside.
  3. Add tomatoes (chopped or crushed,)  roasted peppers, salt, spices and vinegar to the carafe of your blender.  Pulse to blend.  Add garlic and oil and blend sauce until creamy.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Sometimes I add a little lemon juice.
  4. Saute the potatoes:  Heat oil and sliced garlic cloves in a pan and bring to medium high heat, stirring constantly so garlic doesn’t burn. When garlic is golden-brown and fragrant, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon. Set on a paper towel and resist the urge to snack on the garlic chips.
  5. Add the paprika, garlic powder and salt to a small bowl. Toss to combine, then add the potatoes. Toss again, then put directly into the hot pan of oil.  Saute until the outsides of the potatoes are golden brown and crisp and the insides are warm, moving the potatoes occasionally so they don’t burn.
  6. Plate your food: Pour the potatoes into a couple of terracotta dishes (they’ll hold heat so the potatoes don’t get cold). Drizzle with that red-pepper/tomato sauce and garnish with parsley leaves.

Patatas Bravas Closeup

There: Told you it was easy. This recipe fits pretty perfectly in the large terracotta dish included in our Tapas for Two Tasting Set.  Sure, it may overflow a little, but we love that bountiful look.   Let us know in the comments: What’s your favorite tapas dish? What’s your favorite finger food? What’s your fave way to serve potatoes? Also share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #PacificMerchants. We’ll repost/share our favorites.Restaurant style tapas at home

 

May the tapas be with you.

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!

How To Make a DIY Pincushion

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Dear readers,

I hope you are all having a fabulous Sunday! This weekend has been a busy one for Pacific Merchants Trading Company as we have a photo shoot tomorrow and a few huge trade shows coming up.  Today I stained wood for tomorrow’s photo shoot, and I also made a DIY pincushion from a #kilnerjar – it doubles as a sewing storage kit.

Kilner Jar Crafting DIY Pincushion

This simple project requires all that you see here plus scissors.  So easy, fun, inexpensive and practical!  Makes for a great gift or personal item.  We suggest using our .25L Kilner Preserve Jars, but the .5L Kilner Preserve Jars also work, especially if you want more storage room. For a full tutorial, visit Take Courage Blog.

Kilner Jar Pincushion  Klner DIY Crafting

I had so much fun with this project today.  Did you do anything fun this Sunday?  Talk to us in the comments, and find more photos at the Pacific Merchants Instagram (@PacificMerchant) and Pinterest.

 

The Pacific Merchants Guide to Gift Wrapping: Gift Wrapping Ideas that Pop!

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Sure, putting a bow on it may not be quite as hip as, say, putting a bird on it, but creative wrapping sure makes gifts stand out! Now that we’re stocked up on carefully chosen, lovingly made ornaments, we’re all about putting as much care into the wrapping as the gift itself. It really is an art form, so we scoured the internet looking for great gift wrapping ideas!

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First up, gift wrap doesn’t have to be pricey to be beautiful. Check out these totally recycled, totally free ideas from Martha Stewart. Wrap in maps (free at a lot of tourist information centers,) newspaper, and even brown paper bags. When packed with a pop of colorful ribbon, a contrasting gift tag, or even a little twine, they look SO unique.

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Of course, a gift doesn’t even have to be all wrapped up to be wrapped. A beautiful, re-usable container, like a cookie tin or Kilner jar, a pop of colorful ribbon, and a pretty gift tag are all it takes to turn a gift festive. And you can pack anything, from cookies to tiny toys in jars. I mean come on, who doesn’t want a big jar full of hot wheels?

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Gotta wrap a gift at the office? At home without ribbon? Substitute colored paper. This super-cool idea from Real Simple Magazine features plain white paper and a contrasting paper “ribbon” that’s simply a strip of colored paper with holes punched in it. Could it BE any easier?

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One of our favorite blogs, Garland of Grace, featured one these oh-so-classic “brown paper packages tied up with strings” recently. I love the perky addition of gold paint and fresh greens to wrapping so traditional it’s immortalized in song.  Plus, you can do this with brown paper bags, making it a recyclable idea. I wonder if Julie Andrews has a song about recycling.

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Another one of my absolute favorites, Styling My Everyday, featured this chalkboard inspired paper.  I’m loving the chalkboard trend right now (stay tuned for some chalkboard-inspired products in the new year) They used black kraft paper, and a white paint marker to create some totally unique gifts – And check out the way the ribbon pops against the black and white!

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Last but not least, another one of our faves, How About Orange featured these snowflake-adorned parcels. Still not quite as hip as putting  a bird on it (HUGE Portlandia fan here,) but in sun-soaked California, these snowflakes are a welcome addition to an otherwise green and sunny Christmas!

What are some of your favorite ways of wrapping gifts? Let us know in the comments! I’m always looking for beautiful ideas!


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