food

My Current Coffee Crush is…

You can tell by the well worn travel coffee mug in this photo that I use it… A lot;)   I’ve written about my favorite beverage before in  A Perfect Cup of Pour Over Coffee.  Starting my day with a great cup of joe just puts me in a good mood.  It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.  That being said, I’m also very picky about my beans.  So, when I post about finding a coffee I love, you can bet it’s got to be good!   My current coffee “crush”  is from a local roaster in Smyrna, GA just north of Atlanta, called Rev Roasters Coffee.   In fact, I’m drinking a cup now, and I’m in a great mood!

I hadn’t heard of Rev Roasters until a few months ago.  They had a booth at the American Crafts Council show I attended in Atlanta.  (A note to organizers – coffee at an art or craft show is always a good idea;)  Rev Roasters was serving samples of a very dark roast at the show, and although I’m really not a super dark-roast person, as a coffee lover, I’m always up for trying something different.  I think coffee is a lot like wine –  so many different beans, grown all over the world, roasted in special ways to bring out the flavors.  Hmmm….is coffee sommelier a job? I’d probably never sleep again, but it would be a lot of fun;)

The dark roast from Rev was honestly excellent – strong, dark, acidic, with notes of burnt chocolate.  If you like dark coffee you’d probably have loved it.  I’m more of a medium to strong, rich and creamy coffee girl.  So, I decided to check out the different coffees they had displayed in the booth and chose one to take home. I selected their “Silver Bullet blend”.  The bag listed “the components” as “Brazil Cerrado and Guatemala Antigua” and the flavor as ” Creamy and Balanced with a bit of Black Cherry”.   Their website says,”with flavors of sweet black cherry that accompany a creamy and rich body, the Silver Comet was made to be a favorite among those who need flavors that stand up to the test of time.”

So…a ten second grind in my burr grinder, grounds placed into the Chemex filter, three quick pours of “just off the boil” H2O and…WOW!  Honestly this coffee is incredible!  Smooth, medium roast, strong, not weak, (have I said I don’t like weak coffee?) and full bodied.   I finished the first bag I bought at the show and took a ride over to Rev a few weeks ago and bought two more bags.  It’s that good!

If you find yourself in North Atlanta, take a ride over to Rev Roasters in Smyrna and check ’em out.   The shop is the epitome of what a coffee house should be.  Bonus – it’s only a mile or two from Sun Trust stadium.  Although,  in my opinion, this coffee is not inexpensive (a 12 oz bag will run you $14) it will also make you about 20 6-8oz cups of coffee.   For 50 cents a cup, and a guaranteed good mood, it’s totally worth it for me.  I’ll have to check to see if they offer discounts for repeat buyers;)  If they do I’ll share with an update.

Here is a link to Rev Roasters.  You can also follow them here on instagram.  If you’re a coffee lover take a minute and check out their site.  If you are in the North Atlanta area stop by their shop and try some one of their blends.  Let me know what you think.

-Kate

EATALY – A little Italy in the USA

EATALY – A little Italy in the USA

 

Have you been to an EATALY yet?  If not, and you live within 50 miles of one, you need to plan a field trip after you read this.  I promise it will be worth the drive.

I had never heard of EATALY until last weekend.  We were in Boston, visiting our daughter who goes to college in the city.   We literally stumbled across it, and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  I was honestly SO excited about this place that after wandering around for nearly a half-hour taking it all in, I told my husband I had to go back through and take pictures, because I knew I needed to share this with fellow “foodies” who have not yet experienced it. (I put as many as I could in this post.)

EATALY is a bit hard to categorize.  Yes, it’s a store.  You can browse and purchase things, but you can also eat there, enjoy happy hour, take a class, or just enjoy the environment they’ve created.  I would have to call it more of a “shopping experience”.   Think Disney World/Epcot for Italian food crossed with a Whole Foods store.  Very cool!

EATALY is an Italian company whose name was created by combining the words EAT and ITALY. Their first location in Turin, Italy was opened in 2007 and they now have 13 “shops” across the country.   There are currently five EATALY shops in the United States one each in Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago and two in New York City – Flat Iron and Downtown.  The company currently has plans to open a sixth location in Las Vegas later this year.  Their tag line is “Eat Better.  Live Better”  and their goal really seems to be to bring the experience of Italian food and the Italian way of life to the rest of the world.

EATALY Boston is located in the Shops at the Prudential Shopping Center located on Boylston Street  and it is H-U-G-E.  They have created smaller shops within the larger store for fresh produce, meat, fish, pasta, salad, wine, desserts and more.  In addition they have take away counters so you can grab prepared food and find a small table to eat it in store or take it with you.  Finally, they have at least five restaurants where you can sit down and be served some of the freshest Italian food you have ever had.   It’s great for lunch, happy hour and dinner with the family, friends or large groups.

Now, all that being said, as someone who grew up in Boston, I would still have to go to the North End in Boston if I wanted to have a romantic Italian dinner and some much needed authenticity.  EATALY and the North End are totally different.  EATALY is a bit upscale, modern and a great place to visit.  There were far too many people there when we went back around dinner time for it to be a romantic dining spot (although it was the weekend before the Boston Marathon, so it may have been extra busy because of that.)  The location, which is about 1.5 -2 miles away from the North End gives folks who work and live in Back Bay and South Boston a great local option for great Italian food and authentic Italian ingredients and groceries.

Since we were only in Boston for the weekend I didn’t have the need to buy groceries, but the foodie in me had a GREAT time looking at everything they offered. I spoke with a baker who told me the flour they use in their bread comes directly from a flour mill in Italy.  The bread is prepared with the same materials and in the same way as they do it in Italy.  That connection, and the thought that the bite I take here tastes exactly like it does in Italy, without having to take the trip, was a real lure for me. (Someone is a marketing genius in this operation!)  I asked what the rustic chocolate bread they offered was like as I had never heard of a bread like that before.  He promptly cut one open and gave us a sample…swoon.  It was amazing!  I immediately bought a loaf.  We left it with our daughter to share with her friends.  I’m sure if he put the rest out as samples everyone who tasted it bought a loaf.  I wish I had some right now.

I took the pictures of some of the restaurants below at about 10AM Saturday when we wandered through.  When I tell you it was packed when we came back at 5:30 PM I mean you could hardly move.  The wait for most of the restaurants was an hour.  Again, it was Marathon weekend, so a regular weekend might not be as bad.  Call ahead and check on the wait.

 

  

 

 

In addition to groceries, wine, take away food and happy hour they also host daily events.  A quick look at the EATALY BOSTON CALENDAR finds things like “Sip and Savor” a wine and cheese event, “How to make spring Risotto” and “Wine and Dine”.  Each event gives an overview and the cost associated with it.  I can tell you that this week’s events are already sold out.   If you want to attend something at EATALY check their calendar early and plan ahead.

I hope someone at EATALY Corporate is planning an EATALY shop for Atlanta;)  Maybe Atlantic Station? Or Avalon?  It would really add to either of these destinations and provide some new Italian dining experiences for the south.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of EATALY – sorry couldn’t resist;)  Check out one of their locations if you find yourself within driving distance or staying in a city that has one. I really think you’ll love it!

 

 

Kate’s Breakfast Cookies

Today I want to share my original recipe for Kate’s breakfast cookies.

Did I say breakfast cookies?

Yes. I. Did.

When my kids were little we always joked about how they wished they could eat cookies for breakfast.  I toyed around with recipes I found, or was given,  but if they were actually healthy, they never really tasted very good.  Or if they tasted good, they were not actually very healthy.  The eternal conundrum.

 

Fast forward a “bunch” of years.

If you read my blog, you know both my kids are now in college (sniff…sniff…I miss you guys!)   Last month I sent them each a few dozen shortbread chocolate chip cookies for Valentines Day.  A few weeks later I was talking with my son at OU.  He said he liked them so much he’d been eating them for breakfast – and had just finished his last two. I literally burst out laughing!  Some things never change.

So, I decided maybe it was time to give breakfast cookies another try.  There are so many healthy ingredients readily available in the grocery store these days, and I’ve discovered healthier alternatives and new techniques over the years.  I created a recipe this past week that I think they – and you – will love!  I’m going to send some to the kids at school…and get their brutally honest opinions.  The husband gave me a two thumbs up;)

Now…this is not a Toll House chocolate chip cookie.  This is a healthier, higher fiber, protein packed treat!  And, honestly, I think it tastes awesome (but of course I’m a little biased.)  The key to these cookies is the ground oatmeal and the brown sugar.  I’ve found a few recipes over the years that use ground oatmeal and only brown sugar seem to allow baked goods to keep their “softness”.

These are super easy to make!  The only ingredient that may be difficult to find is the wheat bran.  If they don’t have it at your local grocery store make a Whole Foods run – that’s where I get mine.  Or get it online – Amazon also sells it.

Grab two of these for breakfast on the go.  They’re great with milk, tea or coffee.  (I’m eating one right now with a cup of coffee from Rev Roasters – will tell you about them another time.)  Or pack a few in a baggie and throw them in your purse or backpack with a water bottle.  I packed two of them in my purse for a snack while my friend and I walked around the  American Craft Council show last Friday.  They were delicious and they kept my hunger at bay.

Because of the oatmeal, wheat bran, cranberries and pecans, this is also a great way to get some much needed fiber into the diets of kiddos (or grown ups) who…shall we say…need a little extra…ummm….help.   Let them eat one or two a few days in a row and they should feel better.  The best part is they will have no idea that the delicious cookies they ate were what helped.

Please give this recipe a try and let me know how you like them.

XO

Kate

Kate's Breakfast Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
I hope you will love these!
Author:
Serves: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Quaker "Old Fashioned Oats" - ground into powder in your food processor
  • 1 Cup Wheat Bran (I use Bob's Red Mill Unprocessed Miller's Wheat Bran)
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of butter ( 1 stick) softened
  • ½ cup of brown sugar firmly packed
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 2 Eggs
  • orange zest from one orange
  • 1 Cup of chopped pecans
  • ½ Cup of dried cranberries (I used the lower sugar ones )
  • 1 Cup of mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Put the 1 cup of Quaker "Old Fashioned Oats" into your food processor and run it for about 3 minutes or until the oatmeal no longer looks like oats, but is a slightly grainy powder - like flour;) Leave it there for now.
  2. Put the ½ cup of softened butter and the 1 cup of brown sugar into a large bowl and mix for several minutes - until light and fluffy.
  3. Add two eggs to this mixture and continue to mix for another one to two minutes.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla and mix until well incorporated
  5. In a separate bowl add the ground oatmeal powder from your food processor, then add the wheat bran, the whole wheat flour, the baking soda, baking powder and salt. Use a whisk to mix them all together well.
  6. Add the orange zest to this mixture of dry ingredients and whisk well to distribute.
  7. Add the dry flour mixture to the large bowl containing the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix well to incorporate. Scrape down the sides if using a stand mixer to make sure you get it uniform.
  8. Add the 1 cup chopped pecans, the ½ cup of dried cranberries and the 1/ cup of mini chocolate chips all at the same time and mix just until incorporated - about 30 seconds.
  9. Put parchment paper on your baking sheet and roll dough into small balls - approximately 1.5- 2 inches in size. Place 12 balls onto the cookie sheet and press down balls with your fingers or the bottom of a floured glass to make 12 flat disks about 3 inches wide;).
  10. Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 12 minutes - just until bottoms of cookies start to look golden...not dark brown please;)
  11. Cool and enjoy with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee or tea! SO YUMMY right out of the oven!
  12. Makes approximately 24 cookies. Leave out what you will eat in a day or two. Put the rest in a zip lock bag, seal and put in the freezer. Take them out when the first batch is gone. Voila! Fresh cookies at your fingertips!

 

Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines for 2017 Under $20

What’s better than sharing a good glass of wine with great friends over a delicious meal? It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.

We all have our favorites – red, white, sparkling – and we probably have a “go to” bottle.  But what do we buy when we’re going to dinner, the host likes Chardonnay, and all we drink is Cabernet?  How do we choose a wine we know is going to be a hit?  Sometimes I get great advice at my local liquor store, but I’ve also taken advice and bought some real snoozers! And how about buying a great bottle of wine without breaking the bank? Now there’s a conundrum – and I don’t mean the wine;)

My goal last month was to find a top rated Sauvignon Blanc (my current favorite) that was inexpensive enough that I felt comfortable, monetarily speaking, buying a case.  My target price point was $20 a bottle or less.  I picked up a copy of Wine Spectator and got to work.

Below you’ll find a list of wines, that were highly rated, and came in at or below $20 a bottle.  They were all included in  the December 2017 issue of “Wine Spectator’s Top 100”.  They’re listed below by rank (out of 100), brand, wine, total points scored and release price.

(Note:  Some wines may have gone up in price slightly due to customer demand, but they’re still a great buy!)

Rank      Wine                                                                                                                   Total Points      Price

#17          Volver Alicante Tarima Hill Old Vines 2015                                                          92 points            $17

#28         Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay California Vinter’s Reserve 2015                         91 points            $17

#29         Viña Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Reserva 2015                      91 points            $15

#30         Hijos De Rainera Perez Marin Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda La Guita NV    91 points    $15

#31         Forge Riesling Finger Lakes Classique 2015                                                             92 points           $19

#32         Sidebar Sauvignon Blanc High Valley 2015                                                              91 points           $20

#33         Jim Barry  Riesling Clare Valley The Lodge Hill Dry 2016                                     91 points            $20

#38         Luigi Einaudi  Dogliani 2015                                                                                     92 points           $16

#40         Matua Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016                                                              90 points            $12

#41         Bodega Garzón Tannat Uruguay Reserva 2015                                                       90 points           $17

#47         Bodegas Palacios Remondo Rioja La Vendimia 2015                                         90 points            $17

#48         Penley Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra Pheonix 2015                                          90 points            $20

#51         Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez Mencía Bierzo Ultreia St.-Jacques 2015          91 points            $20

#52        Domaine De Mouron Cōtes du Rhône-Villages Séguret Tradition 2014             90 points            $20

#54         Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir Yarra Valley 2016                                               90 points             $20

#56        Domaines Dominique Piron Morgon La Chanaise 2015                                   91 points              $20

#57         Mason Sauvignon Blanc Nappy Valley Yount Mill Vineyard 2016                       90 points             $19

#71         Donnachiara  Aglianico Irpinia 2015                                                                      90 points             $18

#72         Domaine Petroni Corse 2015                                                                                   90 points            $20

#73         Powell & Son     Riverside Barossa 2015                                                                 93 points            $20

#84      Simone Santini Vernaccia di San Gimignano Tenuta Le Calcinaie 2015             90 points             $18

 

I hope you find a wine on this list from Wine Spectator and give it a try!  I can vouch for both the Matua and the Mason Sauvignon Blanc.  I’m dying to try the Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir – the name alone makes it a conversation starter.   There are lots more great wines on the market for under $20 a bottle.  As I discover ones I like I will add to this post.

I hope you will share what you discover by posting the name of the wine and the price in the comment section.  Let’s share some great wine!

Cheers!

Caramel, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, Pecan Cookies!

Caramel, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, Pecan cookies….YUM!

I had a craving for a cookie today.  A warm, comforting, chocolate chip cookie.  But, I wanted it to be… I don’t know…a little more “substantial” is the only word that comes to mind.   My kids don’t usually like it when I get creative with chocolate chips cookies.  I consider them both “chocolate chip purists” –  if that’s a thing;)

But, my youngest is already back at Northeastern in Boston, and my oldest is getting ready to head back to the University of Oklahoma tomorrow… and I am a little sad.  Oh Hell!  Who am I kidding?  I am A LOT SAD!  What mom wouldn’t be sad when her kiddos leave and go so far away?  I knew I needed to get to work on something creative before I started my own personal pity party.

So.  Back to my chocolate chip craving.

As I was taking the chocolate chips from the pantry I saw the bag of Ghirardelli Caramel Chips I bought at Publix over the holidays.  I had been meaning to try them in something.  (If you didn’t read my last post -Flu – everything came to a halt – enough said.)

Hmmmm….how would caramel taste in a chocolate chip cookie?  Let’s find out. What else goes with butter, chocolate chips and caramel….maybe nuts? Walnuts? Eh. Not feelin’ it.  Pecans?  Yes- Pecans go great with buttery cookies!  (Didn’t Mrs. Fields have a pecan chocolate chip cookie?  I think so.) I was still stuck on the “substantial” part until…oatmeal.  Done -Caramel, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, Pecan Cookies.  It’s a very basic recipe…but it was just what I needed.  I’ve listed the recipe below so you can try them out for yourself and see what you think.

A final note.  So, I mentioned my one of my chocolate chip purists was still home today.  As I took the cookies off the cooling rack he said,  “Can I have one?”  “Of course. Let me know what you think.” He took a bite…and he said…and I quote…”This might be the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had.”  LOL!  No way;)  I hope you will give them a try and I your family will enjoy them.

Happy 2018!

Caramel, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, Pecan Cookies!
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 3-4 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 Cups White Flour
  • 2 Cups Whole Grain/Rolled Oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ Cup chopped pecans
  • ½ Cup Semi Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips
  • ½ Cup Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • ½ Cup Ghirardelli Caramel Chips
Instructions
  1. Combine 1 Cup (2 sticks) of room temperature butter, 1 Cup of white sugar and 1 Cup of light brown sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Add 2 eggs to the butter and sugars and mix well.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla and mix well.
  4. Add 2 Cups of white flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, ¾ teaspoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt and combine all ingredients well.
  5. Add the 2 Cups of oatmeal, ½ Cup of chopped pecans, ½ Cup of Semi Sweet chocolate chips, ½ Cup of bittersweet Chocolate chips, and ½ Cup of caramel chips and combine well, making sure everything is distributed fairly evenly.
  6. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet.
  7. Roll dough into balls approximately 1.5 inches - should be able to fit 12 on a cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 11-13 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Watch them as your oven may differ slightly. I like my cookies to be soft so I tend to take them out when they just start to turn golden brown.
  9. This makes approximately 3-4 dozen so feel free to freeze a dozen or two in freezer zip lock bags. Make sure to get as much of the air out of the bag as possible before sealing it. When you want to use them simply leave the cookies on a plate, covered with saran wrap, at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
  10. Enjoy!!

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