Posts Tagged ‘Pacific Merchants Trading Company Blog’

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!

Labor Day Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Friday, September 2nd, 2016


Summer is finally coming to a close this weekend, which is no surprise for anyone- what with grocery stores and coffee shops already pushing pumpkin – flavored everything in our faces. But before we jump onto the ‘I heart fall’ bandwagon, let’s pump the breaks and get you ready for your Labor Day BBQ.

Labor Day is actually one of the best holidays in the US if for nothing else than the country takes a single day to honor all of its hard workers. The idea being that we are supposed to take the holiday and treat ourselves to some relaxation and fun, whether it is extra family time or a cookout (or heck a mid-day nap!). Now if there’s anything we love at Pacific Merchants it’s a good BBQ, and if there is anything we love more than that it would likely be guilt free snacking. BBQ fare is notorious for junk-food items and over-indulgence, but it doesn’t have to be! You can still over-indulge (now sans guilt) with this Vegan Gluten-Free Spinach Artichoke dip. Not only is it creamy and delicious, but a normal order of spinach artichoke dip comes in at a whopping 1,600 calories per order – whereas its vegan counterpart clocks in at roughly 83 calories per cup (WHICH IS A LOT OF DANG DIP FOR UNDER 100 calories). Plus (and this is from experience here) if you don’t tell anyone it’s vegan…NO ONE WILL KNOW- Which is especially helpful if you come from a family like mine, who thinks the word vegan is a synonym for bland.

Now aside from the fact that this recipe is incredibly healthy, it’s also super easy to make! And if you’ve been vegan for long you know how rare it is for those two things to go together. So here we go.

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Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:

1 Jar marinated artichoke hearts
3 cups of frozen chopped spinach (you’re welcome to use fresh)
1 cup frozen chopped onions
1 brick of Jalapeño Havarti Almond Cheese
1 brick of Soy Mozzarella
1 cup Almond milk
2 tsp of Olive Oil (or coconut)
1 tsp of garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Assorted Veggies & multigrain whole wheat pita chips (for dipping)

Method

– Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
– Prep a medium sized casserole dish (I spray mine with coconut oil for easy cleanup)
– Cube the 2 bricks of cheese and set in a large bowl
– Dice the artichoke hearts and set in the same bowl as the cheese
– Pour in the spinach and onions
– Add spices and oil to the bowl (I also toss in about 2 tsp of whatever the artichoke hearts were marinating in)
– Toss all ingredients together to mix everything up
– Pour bowl continents into your casserole dish
– Pour the cup of almond milk over the spread evenly (can add more later if you feel like your dip is too thick)
– Set casserole dish in the oven, cook for ten minutes, stir dip, and then cook for another ten minutes (so 20 min total). This is also the point to add more milk to the mixture if you want a runnier consistency.
– Once fully cooked, you can brown the top of the dip by switching the oven to broil for 2-3 minutes. Be sure to check on it frequently so it doesn’t burn (it browns up super quick!)
-Let cool for 5 minutes, and then plate the dip in your beautiful acacia 7 part flower tray from Pacific Merchants! I chose to use an assortment of veggies and whole grain pita for dipping (to keep this dish as healthy as possible). However, I will occasionally serve this with a nice bread (whole wheat challah or sourdough is my favorite).

Get your own Pacific Merchants Acaciaware serving tray here.

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How Fitting! Our May Spooning Contest

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

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We believe that in this time of turbulence and uncertainty, it’s about time someone stands up against the establishment and declare:

“It’s time to spoon!”

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Here at Pacific Merchants we love, love, LOVE to “spoon” our customers with lovely hardwood spoons from France!  So much so that we want to share the same LOVE with you!  Just send us a photo of yourself spooning and receive a FREE French wood spoon, and get entered to win gift certificates and other fun prizes!

Send your awesome photos to [email protected] or you can upload it to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and tag us @pacificmerchant #pacificmerchants for your chance to win!

Spoon your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, daughter, son, mom, dad, dog, cat, horse, iguana, sports car….it doesn’t matter just spoon!  We will take a vote here at the Pacific Merchants offices for the best spooning photos and award prizes throughout the month. Contest starts now through the end of August.
Yep, there’s no question about it.  We just LOVE to spoon!

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National Ice Cream Month: Banana “Nice” Cream Recipe

Monday, July 6th, 2015
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Peanut butter and plain banana ice cream. Item shown: Dipping Bowl 4″

It’s the quintessential summer staple. Cold. Creamy. Customizable. I’m talking about ice cream. From the humble ice cream truck you chased as a child (or adult, no judgment here) to decadent concoctions from the local parlor, it’s plain to see that ice cream is a crucial component of a happy, healthy life.

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Perfect Pecan Pie Recipe and Tips

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Today is National Pecan Pie day!  Like so many of those other food related holidays, we think that it’s a pretty good excuse to get creative in the kitchen and bake something delicious, and pecan pie is one of  my personal favorites! Even if you’re not a pecan pie fan, this simple recipe is sure to change your mind. It is fragrant with orange peel, rich with bourbon and cinnamon, and amazing with vanilla ice cream.  So let’s get started!   This is a great pie to finish off a summer BBQ, but it’s also wonderful for the holidays, so make it now and bookmark it for later! Trust me, it’s a total crowd pleaser at Thanksgiving!

First, gather up your equipment.  You’re going to need a saucepan, a mixing bowl that can handle heat (our Mason Cash cane mixing bowls are perfect,) a rolling pin, a pie dish, a baking sheet and a whisk. If you’re making crust from scratch, you’ll need a separate bowl for that. I suggest popping a Mason Cash bowl in the fridge for your crusts. They stay cold forever, which makes for a better dough!

 

A note on pie dishes:  You’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of different kinds of pie dishes on the market. On a recent trip to the cooking store in my area I saw flimsy foil dishes along with metal, Pyrex, enamel, ceramic and stoneware.  For pies with a pre-baked crust, I’m partial to enameled pie plates like our Enamour dish.  It conducts heat really evenly which is essential for baking an unfilled crust.  For other pies, I really love terracotta bakeware. I use our Mason Cash terracotta pie plate for pretty much every fruit pie I make, along with this pecan pie. It promotes a really crisp crust, but keeps it flaky and buttery, rather than drying out the crust.  Now on to that pecan pie recipe!

Ingredients

  • Pie crust (either store bought or use our favorite recipe HERE)
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon or whiskey
  • Zest of one orange
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups lightly toasted pecan halves (1/2 pound)

 

Instructions

  • Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round.
  • Place in buttered terracotta pie dish.
  • Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.
  • Fold overhang under and lightly press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively.
  • Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork.
  • Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add brown sugar and cinnamon, whisking until smooth.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, bourbon, orange zest, and salt.
  • Let cool for 2 minutes
  • Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl that can handle heat.
  • Gradually beat the corn syrup mixture into the eggs, whisking the whole time
  • Put pecans in pie shell and pour corn syrup mixture evenly over them.
  • Bake on baking sheet until filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Cool completely.

 

Enjoy! It’s National Pecan Pie day, so the calories definitely don’t count.

Tips for a Great Fourth of July Barbecue!

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

US-flag-Florida-BridgeCan you believe that Independence Day is just around the corner?  That’s right, July 4th is almost here! Naturally, we’re getting ready for a big family barbecue with all the trimmings, from Red and Blue placemats to all-American apple pies to an incredible spread of food laid out on our eco-friendly Acaciaware serving dishes.  They come in a huge range of shapes and sizes ,  from baguette traysto bread boards to chip and dip

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Acaciaware® Salad Bowl

trays and they’re  perfect for serving a crowd. They’re durable and don’t shatter when dropped.

If you want to get in on the Acaciaware action this summer, enter code FIREWORKS at checkout! You’ll receive a FREE salad serving set with every 10” or larger salad bowl. After all, no one wants to serve a fruit salad with their hands.

We’ve actually already published a couple of recipes on this blog that would be absolutely great for your Fourth of July gathering.  Check out our National Burger Month post for a perfect, foolproof burger recipe. If you’re a ribs lover (and how could you not love ribs?) check out our Father’s Day dry rub recipe. Of course, one cannot live on meat alone – unless you’re a shark or lion – so today we’re going to feature a great vegetarian recipe to help you balance out your barbecue.

Before we get to that recipe, we’ve got our top five entertaining tips to share with you. We want to make sure that you can throw America a great birthday bash and still enjoy time with friends and family, instead of manning the grill all night.

Tip 1: Make as much of possible ahead of time. This seems like absolutely common sense, but it’s easy to forget. If I’m making burgers, I slice my tomatoes and onions the night before the party and put them in a sectioned serving tray like the Acaciaware tray featured below.   I also make all my salads and sides ahead of time and put them in the refrigerator in their serving bowls, so on the day of the party I can just pull them out, stick some serving spoons in them, and be done.  To keep salads fresh, I don’t add the dressing until the last minute – I make it separately and store it in jars, but beyond that, ¾ of my party foods are made ahead so I’m not running around like a chicken with its head cut off as guests start to arrive.

     Acacia Wood Deep Bowl, 12" x 12" x 6" Kilner Preserve Jar, 1.0 Liter/34 fl ozAcacia Wood Fork & Spoon Serving Set, 12"

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Tip 2: Keep it simple.  I’ve thrown parties where I’ve overdone it on the food and forgotten to enjoy the guests. You’re throwing a Fourth of July bash. Burgers, a simple salad and a dessert , like our strawberry shortcake should be plenty. By making no more than one entrée, 2 sides, and a dessert, you’ll spend less time fussing and more time having fun.

Tip 3: Get help. There’s no rule that says that you have to make everything just because you’re hosting. Buy something (or a few things) pre-made at the store.  Most grocery stores have great vegetable trays, cookies, chips and dips, and so much more. If you want a consistent look, put them on your own dishes. Your guests won’t know the difference! We’ve got Acaciware serving solutions that are perfect for veggies and dips, chips and dips, and even big platters for appetizers and desserts.

Tip 4: Don’t try too many new recipes at once.  Maybe make a new entrée, or a new side dish, but don’t overwhelm yourself with new recipes unless you’re 100% sure they’ll work out.  You’ll be stressed by the time the food is served.  Adventurous eating is awesome, but it’s always good to have at least one dish you can make in your sleep, whether it’s burgers,  pulled pork, or guacamole.  You’ll know it’s good without trying it, your guests will love it, and it’s one thing you won’t need to worry about.

Tip 5: Fire extinguisher. It’s the Fourth of July, which means that there’s a grill going, fireworks, and children running around with sparklers. We’re not saying there’s going to be a fire, but it’s better for your peace of mind to have an extinguisher handy. Like my mother always says, “better safe than sorry.”

And now, on to the recipe:  Mom’s Black Bean and Mango Salad. With the protein from the beans and the sweet tang of mangoes, this salad is hearty enough that it can be a meal on its own. It’s also a great side that everyone seems to love, and it’s amazing on tacos. It can be made up to 4 days ahead, which is great: July 4 is on a Thursday this year, but you can get the prep out of the way on the weekend. Just add the avocado at the last minute or it’ll get brown and mushy.

 

This colorful salad looks particularly beautiful in an Acaciaware salad bowl. The natural wood tones really make colors pop! I l especially love the way it looks in a flared bowl.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked black beans (Canned and drained or cooked and drained)
  • 3 cups corn (canned and drained, frozen and thawed, fresh and lightly steamed)
  • 2 red peppers, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 3 ripe mangoes, diced
  • 3 avocados, diced right before serving
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • ¼ cup minced mint
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (more to taste)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients except avocados in a large serving bowl.
  • Toss to combine.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper
  • Add avocado right before serving.
  • Serve on own, as a topping for tacos, or as a side salad.

We hope that this simple recipe and our helpful hints keep your Fourth of July barbecue as fun and stress free as possible. And remember, no one wants to serve that delicious salad with their hands, so enter FIREWORKS at checkout to get a set of free salad servers with any bowl 10 inches or larger.

Happy 4th, everybody!

Summer Strawberry Shortcake

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Last week wasNational Strawberry Shortcake Day! For us here at Pacific Merchants, even if we’re late, it’s just a great excuse to get out our Mason Cash baking supplies and bake up a storm!

To make strawberry shortcake, you’re going to need a few bowls in a few different sizes: one for making the fruit filling, one for whipping the cream, and one for mixing up the dough.  Naturally, this was a perfect excuse for us to whip out our Mason Cash strawberry mixing bowls. They come in four sizes, so I used the littlest one to eat out of, the next  up for the whipped cream, the 2 quart for the strawberries, and the large mixing bowl to make the dough!

Mason Cash bowls are perfect for strawberry shortcake because both the bowls and the desserts are classics with a long history. Strawberry shortcakes were actually mentioned in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, so we felt it was natural to make a British heritage dessert in bowls from a British heritage company.  And while Mason Cash isn’t Shakespeare old, it does date back to the early 1800’s.  So let’s get cooking

You can use anything from angel food cake to pound cake to biscuits for your shortcake dough. Personally, I love this scone-inspired dough. It’s not too sweet,  it’s sturdy enough to hold up to juicy strawberries, and it comes together easily with just a little work and very little equipment, just a large mixing bowl, a couple of butter knives, and a wooden spoon.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg,
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup half and half

 

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place rack in middle of oven.
  •  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  • Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.
  • Whisk together the egg, half and half, lemon zest and vanilla extract and add to the flour mixture, mixing just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough.
  • Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat or roll the dough into a 7 inch round.
  • With a 3 inch round cookie cutter or an overturned drinking glass, cut out rounds and place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream.
  •  Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a scone comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

Once those scones are cooling, start on the strawberry filling. Because strawberries are so good this time of year, they don’t need much, just a little sugar, some orange zest, maybe a splash of vanilla and (if you’re serving adults) a dash of bourbon, which really highlights the sweetness of the berries.  This mixture fits perfectly into a medium Mason Cash bowl, or you can use your large strawberry mixing bowl again.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • Zest of one orange
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons good bourbon, optional (if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t use it)

Instructions

  • Wash, hull and quarter the strawberries.
  • Toss strawberries with the sugar, citrus zest, vanilla extract and bourbon
  • Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before using

Next, use a small bowl to whip up some cream. You can use a larger bowl and more cream if you want more whipped cream, but 1 cup of cream is plenty for me (probably because I put ice cream on my shortcake as well.  Do this right before serving or your whipped cream will fall flat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Combine cream, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl
  • Whisk until medium peaks are formed
  • Serve!

Now, assemble your shortcake!

  • Split each scone in half.
  • Put a few strawberries on the bottom of the scone.
  • Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream
  • Put a generous helping of strawberries over the top of the ice cream
  • Top with the second half of the scone
  • Top with whipped cream and more strawberries.
  • Enjoy

Our Father’s Day Gift Guide!

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost Father’s day already. That’s right, Father’s day is coming up right around the corner on June 16, which means that you have until June 10 to get those orders for dad in.  We’re told that fathers sometimes get the short end of the stick when it comes to the holiday. They’re given a tool as a gift and told to fix something, or given a grill and told to make everybody dinner. Not quite the restful, fun filled day they had in mind. Here at Pacific Merchants (a company owned by a dad, FYI) we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen with this great Father’s Day Gift Guide.