How to Cook with Gin

How to Cook with Gin, a guide // feastandwest.com

Gin, gin, gin. I’ve had a heck of a time with you this month. I really have been trying to like you. I even ordered a gin cocktail when I was out at a bar recently. (That’s a big step, friends. A big one.)

Honestly, I’ve really enjoyed trying these gin cocktail recipes, but I realized that I don’t see gin in food recipes all that often. Or perhaps I just haven’t been looking. (Given my history with gin, that is entirely possible.) I set out to change that, as I do each month when I round up food recipes with different spirits.

If you missed it, you can see here what I wrote about this month’s Kindred Spirit and how to mix drinks with gin. Keep reading to learn how to cook with it and find some awesome gin recipes you can eat and drink!

Click below to see how to cook with gin and some great gin recipes!

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Elderflower Rose Gimlet

Elderflower Rose Gimlet, a refreshing floral cocktail // Feast + West

Last weekend, I just really felt like baking. I was ready to make the first pie of the season. I got out the butter and the flour and made pie crust. (Yes, I know. It’s cocktail day. Bear with me for just a moment.) I knew I wanted to make an apple pie, so I settled on the Apple Rose Pie recipe in the absolutely beautiful Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. Essentially, it’s a regular apple pie, but with a hint of rose petals. And that’s what gave me an idea: a rose cocktail. (See, I told you we’d get there.) The flowers are starting to bloom here, so why shouldn’t our cocktails bloom too?

To flavor this Elderflower Rose Gimlet, you’ll need rose water (I like Nielsen-Massey’s) which is water scented with rose petals. Historically, rose water was used for medicinal purposes, but you can also use it for perfume and in the kitchen. You’ll also need St. Germain, a bright and delicate liqueur made from elderflowers. And gin, of course!

Elderflower Rose Gimlet, a refreshing floral cocktail // Feast + West

Now add the fragrances of roses and elderflower to the most Mad Men-esque cocktail of all: the gimlet. A classic gimlet recipe is made with 1 part gin and 1 part sweetened lime juice, often garnished with a cucumber slice. It’s tart and herbal and every gin drinker (or gin tinkerer) should try one. When you add the rose water and elderflower liqueur into the mix, it gives the a springtime feel.

Elderflower Rose Gimlet, a refreshing floral cocktail // Feast + West

The Elderflower Rose Gimlet is the kind of cocktail to drink on those warmer spring evenings. It’s ideal to sip with appetizers for a dinner party, even a wedding. Or you can enjoy it for a Sunday brunch al fresco. Any way you spin it, the florals give this cocktail a romantic, classical feel. Just like spring. Enjoy it while it lasts! // susannah

P.S. Let me advise you that if you struggle with pollen allergies, this is possibly not the cocktail for you. Some people may have trouble eating and drinking florals, so bear that in mind.)

Click below to see the Elderflower Rose Gimlet recipe!

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Hidden Gems: Columbia, S.C. Travel Guide

Columbia, S.C. Travel Guide // Feast + West

Hear hear! It’s Morgan from Yellow Door Diaries with a Columbia, S.C. travel guide! Read on to find some of the hidden gems in this historic city. 

I moved to Columbia from a small town in South Carolina to go to college at the University of South Carolina. (Go Gamecocks!) I wanted to leave home, expand my horizons and meet new people. I also had the comfort of knowing my sisters were there, as well as some people from my town. It was big enough to feel like a new and exciting adventure, yet small enough that it was hard to get lost and I would occasionally run into a familiar face. After four years of college (and after meeting the man that would later become my husband) Columbia was officially home. I got my first “big girl” job and my first one-bedroom apartment by myself.

Columbia, S.C. Travel Guide // Feast + West
South Carolina State House

Columbia, or Soda City as it’s affectionately called (Cola is short for Columbia… soda…) has really great places for college students, young professionals, singles, young professionals, families… you name it. There is so much to do and so many places to visit, many of which get overlooked. Next time you find yourself in Columbia, I would encourage you to check out a few places in this Columbia, S.C. travel guide! And if you want someone to show you around, give me a shout!

Click below to see Morgan’s guide to Soda City! 

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Yogurt Parfait Breakfast Popsicles

Yogurt Parfait Breakfast Popsicles

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really a breakfast person. Give me a cup of coffee and a bowl of yogurt, maybe a granola bar, and I’ll be fine until lunch. When I get tired of my morning routine, I look for something to mix it up.

Now that warmer weather is (almost) here to stay, I finally got to make these Yogurt Parfait Breakfast Popsicles I’ve been dreaming of for a while. Yes, that’s right. Popsicles for breakfast. Your inner teenager who would eat Ben & Jerry’s first thing in the morning can finally rejoice! These are the same fruit, yogurt and granola bowls I make for myself, frozen in popsicle form, making for an easy, on-the-go breakfast.

Yogurt Parfait Breakfast Popsicles

To make these Yogurt Parfait Breakfast Popsicles, you’ll make a berry and sugar mixture — I used strawberries and raspberries, but you could use blueberries, blackberries or cherries — and a mixture of granola and sweetened plain yogurt. Layer the two mixtures into popsicle molds and add sticks. Freeze until solid, and then they’ll be ready to enjoy any time you wish.

I recommend eating them on hot mornings. Really, you don’t know what you’re missing. Popsicles are the new cake when it comes to breakfast. Trust me. // susannah

Click through to see the recipe for Yogurt Parfait Breakfast Popsicles!

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Keeping a Travel Journal

Before a big trip a few years ago, a good friend gave me a travel journal with the suggestion I write in it during my trip. Having never kept one before that trip, keeping a travel journal hadn’t really occurred to me. I remember my grandfather keeping one when he visited us, but I’d never done it myself. It seemed silly at first. Wouldn’t I already take lots of pictures and bring home souvenirs? Was it worth the effort?

And then, I decided I should try it. Sure, I could make a scrapbook afterward, but when you’re away from home it somehow seems easier to build a little travel routine. I decided I would try to write each day of my trip. And by some miracle or dedication, I did it. Sometimes I wrote. Sometimes I drew pictures or did watercolors or pasted artsy collages of magazine clippings into the pages. Sometimes I taped in mementos like feathers, ticket stubs and photos I took with my Instax Mini 8 camera. By the end of the trip, I had a notebook full of memories.

Travel journals are a priceless and personal keepsake. Your journal is a place where you can write, draw or paste in memories from your trip. You can do as much or as little as you like, but even if you take just 15 minutes to write in your travel journal each night, it will pay off.  It will evolve into something you can look back in later for fun or to help you recall the name of that incredible restaurant on the beach for a friend. It’s something I will do on future trips for sure, especially big and important ones.

Before my recent trip, I did some research on cute travel journals. To save a few bucks, I ended up using one I already had but I couldn’t resist sharing these with you. Which one’s your fave? By the way, do you keep a travel journal, or am I the only one? Let me know in the comments. // susannah

Travel Journals // Feast + West

1. ‘My Explorations’ Travel Journal by Peels and Posies ($22) // 2. Igloo Letterpress Great Adventure Scrapbook ($45) // 3. Small Adventures Journal by Keiko Brodeur ($16.95) // 4. Worthwhile Paper Metallic Gold Nature Notebook ($22) // 5. Little Alexander Photographer’s Cahier ($6) // 6. Moleskine Sky-Blue Ruled Volant Notebook ($18.95) // 7. Garance Doré On the Go Notebook Set ($15) // 8. Small Adventures Journal by Keiko Brodeur ($16.95)

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Apps of My Eye: Highball

Apps of my Eye: Highball // Feast + West

I haven’t written about a new favorite app in some time. I’m often checking the App Store on my phone looking for something new to try and maybe write about, but it’s been I while since I’ve seen anything more than just lackluster.

Until I came across Highball, a new and beautiful iPhone app by Studio Neat that’s just for cocktail recipes. How could it not be my new favorite?

Apps of my Eye: Highball // Feast + West

The Highball app is a place where you can store your go-to bar recipes. It comes loaded with a few classics, but you can add more from a library filled with user favorites.

The app makes it easy to add a new recipe. You type out the ingredients and instructions, and you can even create your own illustration of the drink. Pick a glass, ice, garnish and color of liquid and the app creates an illustration to help you remember what your drink should look like. The only thing missing, if you ask me, is an Android version.

Apps of my Eye: Highball // Feast + West

I’ve already loaded up a handful of Feast + West cocktail recipes into the Highball app, like my favorite Dark + Stormy and the French 75. Which ones will you add? I’d love to know what recipes (mine or otherwise) you’d keep on your phone. // susannah

About the app

App: Highball
Developer: Studio Neat
Type: iPhone
Price: Free

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Gin-Gin Mule + A Giveaway

Gin-Gin Mule // Feast + West

Remember when I said I was learning to like gin? Something about it has never tasted right to me. But as a person who blogs about cocktails every week, I feel like I should learn to like it. Here’s how I am doing it:

The best way to like a new spirit is to pair it with mixers you already like.

Easy enough, right? So, my favorite cocktail to make at home is by far the Dark + Stormy. I love love love ginger beer, which is a spicy, non-alcoholic soda made from ginger root. If you’ve stuck around this blog a while, you’ll know that I love any cocktail made with ginger beer. So far, I’ve made a bunch of them for Feast + West: the Moscow Mule with vodka, the Mexican Mule with tequila, the Dala Horse with Swedish lingonberries and the Yule Mule with cranberries. See what I mean?

So, I set out to make the gin version, the Gin-Gin Mule — a mule cocktail made with gin and ginger. And a spot of mint.

Gin-Gin Mule // Feast + West

First, it’s really fun to say.

Second, it’s pretty delicious. The bite of the ginger beer pairs well with the tartness of the lime juice and the herbaceous flavors of the gin and the mint. It’s fresh and spring-y. If I make enough of these, I think I can be a gin fan in no time at all. I’m working on it, gin fans. See this month’s guide to gin cocktails, and keep checking the blog in April for more gin-focused drinks.

my-cooking-spot-target-giveaway

And third, there’s something fun to go along with the Gin-Gin Mule. I teamed up with my fellow writers for My Cooking Spot for a super giveaway. To celebrate springtime, we are giving the chance for one lucky reader to win a $100 gift card to Target. Cheers to that!

A huge thanks to the fabulous My Cooking Spot contributors who made this possible!

my-cooking-spot-contributors

Marcella of Marcella Roses // Erica of The Crumby Cupcake // Erin of Speckled Palate
Susannah of Feast + West // Jenna of A Savory Feast // Alli of An Alli Event
Bex of Butchers Niche // Madison of Wetherills Say I Do // Erin of My Cooking Spot

The giveaway runs from April 16, 2015 to April 24, 2015. All entries will be verified! Good luck! // susannah

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click through to see the Gin-Gin Mule recipe! 

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Hidden Gems: Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide

Hidden Gems: Fort Lauderdale, Florida Travel Guide

I’m excited to welcome Amy with today’s Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide! 

It’s got sun. It’s got sand. And its warm temperatures ensure everyone will be able to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle year-round. Fort Lauderdale has it all, and then some. 

The “Venice of America” is located on the east coast of South Florida, just north of Miami and slightly south of Delray Beach and Boca Raton. It has all the elements of a classic beach town, mixed together with a touch of luxury. It’s affluent, but not stuffy. A party place, but not sleezy. In short, somewhere pretty much anyone can enjoy no matter their tastes.

Hidden Gems: Fort Lauderdale, Florida Travel Guide
Fort Lauderdale Beach

I grew up in South Florida, roughly an hour and a half north of Fort Lauderdale. I recently moved to the city and set myself up right in the heart of downtown. I’ve been hard at work scouring the neighborhoods, and discovering the absolute best local spots eat, drink, shop and soak in the pulse of this vibrant city.

Click through to see Amy’s Fort Lauderdale favorites.

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Spicy Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Spicy Vegetarian Black Bean Soup // Feast and West

After a month overseas, I have been craving Mexican food like no other time in my life. Those spices, those limes… Oh, how I’ve missed it. I’ve always had a weird soft spot for black bean soup — I can eat it any season and I’ve made it a lot of ways.

This version is a Spicy Vegetarian Black Bean Soup. It’s exactly what the jet lag doctor ordered. It’s got onions and cayenne pepper and other herbs and spices. It’s got garlic and, of course, glorious and juicy black beans. And to top it off, it’s sprinkled with grated cheese, sour cream, creamy avocado and a drizzle of fresh lime juice. (But if you leave off the cheese and sour cream, you’ve got yourself a vegan soup. Which is just as fine and dandy, if you ask me.)

Spicy Vegetarian Black Bean Soup // Feast and West

In some parts of the country, soup season isn’t quite over yet. This one makes the transition into warmer weather a bit easier. It reminds you that summer evenings next to a taco truck are nigh. Pop open the Coronas, y’all, and serve this soup with a side of crunchy tortilla chips. Summer will be here before we know it. // susannah

Click below to see the recipe for Spicy Vegetarian Black Bean Soup!

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In Case You Missed It…

Blogging has been good to me in a number of ways, but by far the coolest thing is the people I’ve met. Even if I haven’t actually met them in-person, I am gathering a group of Internet friends. So when I started planning my trip to visit my family in South Africa (which came about quickly), a host of these awesome people offered to help me out with the blog. It really made my heart feel good to know these people have my back.

My friends put lots of time and effort into these posts, and I would hate for you to miss them, so I’m going to do a little re-cap on the blog today. Here are the glorious people who helped me out with posts! See all the posts below.

Alexandria of A Modern Girl’s Travels // Amy of Créatrice Mondriale
Becca of Two Places at Once // Beverly of Beverly Bean // Bri of Life by Bri
Chrissie of Off the Eaten Path // Erika of Erika Gibson Design
Erin of The Speckled Palate // Jenna of Dearest Love // Katie of Twin Stripe
Linda of Brunch with Joy // Meghan of Cake ‘n’ Knife // Melissa of Glisten & Grace


Beermosa // Feast + West

To make Melissa’s 2-Ingredient Beermosa, you need OJ and beer. Perfect for summer nights and Sunday brunches. See more of Melissa’s beautifully photographed recipes at Glisten & Grace Design.


9 Resources for Gluten Free Cooking // Twin Stripe for Feast + West

My pal Katie recently took on a gluten-free diet, and she’s racked up a wealth of resources for gluten-free cooking to help you do the same. She’s got loads more fun on her blog, Twin Stripe.


What to Expect When Dining Abroad // Feast + West

Alexandria loves to travel, and she’s picked up lots of advice for taking trips overseas. Check out her thoughts on what to expect when dining abroad and find more travel posts on her blog, A Modern Girl’s Travels.


A Tour de Tea: An introduction to tea drinking // Feast + West

I was delighted to learn my friend Beverly and I share a love for tea-drinking. In case you’re not into this age-old beverage yet, she’s got some tips for getting started in her tour de tea. Visit Beverly Bean for lots more creative inspiration.


Raspberry + Lemon Dream Parfaits // Feast + West

Meghan knows the way to my heart is dessert, and these Lemon + Raspberry Dream Parfaits are no exception. For more recipes that will make your heart sing, visit Cake ‘n Knife — which recently got a gorgeous facelift!


Pomegranate Wine Cocktail // Brunch with Joy for Feast + West

Whenever I email with Linda, I feel like we are chatting over cocktails. This Pomegranate Wine Cocktail is both gorgeous and delicious. See more of Linda’s innovative recipes at Brunch with Joy.


Bruschetta Pinwheels // The Speckled Palate for Feast + West

Everyone needs a good appetizer up their sleeves, and I sure wish I lived closer to Erin so she could bring these Bruschetta Pinwheels to all my parties. Find more of Erin’s gorgeous recipes at The Speckled Palate.


Blackberry Ramos Gin Fizz

I’m so glad Meghan and I are friends for many reasons, one of which being that we both have penchants for making cocktails at home. This Blackberry Ramos Gin Fizz is fun and might even convince me to start liking gin. More at Cake ‘n Knife.


DIY Watercolor Postcards from Erika Gibson // Feast + West

Erika and I love sending snail mail to each other, and I was lucky enough to receive one of her beautiful watercolor postcards in the mail recently. With her tutorial, you can make and mail your own to someone special! Find more art and design at Erika Gibson Design.


Carry-on Travel Essentials // Feast + West

One thing I love about Katie’s blog Twin Stripe is that she always knows where to find the cutest, most colorful things. Check out her round-up of carry-on travel essentials to help you plan your packing list for your summer vacation.


Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake by Brunch with Joy

I am a recent tiramisu convert (I know, I know — who am I?) but I think I need to make Linda’s tiramisu ice cream cake absolutely immediately now that I’m back. How gorgeous is this cake? See more of Linda’s recipes at Brunch with Joy.


I am seriously loving all the city guides that are part of my Hidden Gems series. While I was gone, we had posts about these gorgeous cities:

Speaking of these travel guides, I should probably study my own guide to Charlotte again. My traveling adventurer spirit hasn’t quite died down yet! (And if you’re a blogger who wants to write a guide to your city, drop me a line and let’s talk. I’m starting to plan out the travel guides for late summer and fall!)

Hope you enjoyed these posts. Thanks to all of the wonderful ladies who helped me while I was out of town! // susannah

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