Mexican Mule

Mexican Mule // feastandwest.com

Here’s another ginger beer cocktail for your Friday. Ginger beer, if you didn’t know by now, is one of my favorite cocktail mixers — if not my only favorite cocktail mixer.

To bid tequila adios for now, I thought I’d make us a variation on the Moscow Mule, which mixes vodka with lime juice and ginger beer. It’s a classic. The Mexican Mule, on the other hand, uses tequila instead. It’s gingery, citrusy and spicy — everything a Latin cocktail should be.

Mexican Mule // feastandwest.com

Next time you’re considering a Moscow Mule, mix it up with tequila instead. It’s a lovely drink for springtime or sipping on the beach. Try it at your next taco night or ask your bartender to make you one of these instead of its vodka cousin next time you’re out. There’s no bad time to try a Mexican Mule, if you ask me.

Next week, I’ll be announcing the liquor I’ll be focusing on in March, so stay tuned! Until then, check out these tequila recipes and tips. Heaven forbid you run out of ideas for tequila any time soon! // susannah

Love tequila? See these posts for more ideas:

How to Drink Tequila // How to Cook with Tequila // Sweet Blood Orange Margaritas Paloma Cocktail // Coffee + Tequila Milkshake // Michelada // Classic Margaritas

Click below to see the Mexican Mule recipe! 

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Hidden Gems: Birmingham Travel Guide

Hidden Gems: Birmingham, Alabama travel guide // feastandwest.com

Today’s Birmingham travel guide comes from Beth of the sweetest blog, bethcakes

I’ve lived in Alabama my entire life. I grew up in the suburbs of Birmingham and went to college in Tuscaloosa. (Roll Tide!) After college, I moved back home to Birmingham, except now I live a little closer in towards the city, which I love. There’s currently a huge revival movement happening in Birmingham, and it’s really exciting to witness!

When I was growing up, we rarely ventured downtown. The only thing we ever did was go to the Alabama Theatre at Christmas to see a classic Christmas movie. About the time I was a senior in college, I began hearing people mention Birmingham or talk about going to Birmingham for the weekend. I sort of brushed this off, but after graduating, I realized just how much had changed in four years. Tuscaloosa is only an hour away from Birmingham, and I visited home often, but I had no reason to go downtown so it was a few months before I saw the change.

Hidden Gems: Birmingham, Alabama travel guide // feastandwest.com
The Alabama Theatre

There is so much growth and expansion happening in the Magic City right now, and I strongly encourage you to visit if you never have! And I know what people think of Alabama. I know the stereotypes and no, I have never ridden to school on a tractor. No, I don’t own any overalls. Yes, we have Internet, and honestly, I don’t even really have that much of a Southern accent.

My first internship out of college was at Southern Progress, which is made up of Southern Living, Cooking Light, Coastal Living, and MyRecipes.com, all located here in Birmingham. I worked at MyRecipes for about a year-and-a-half, and when I was an intern, I was one of two people who were actually from Alabama. All the other interns were from out-of-state, and I heard many of them say that when they realized these jobs would require them to move to Alabama, they didn’t know if it was worth it. But after being here for a few months, they changed their minds and many of them are still here.

Hidden Gems: Birmingham, Alabama travel guide // feastandwest.com
Downtown Birmingham, Ala.

Birmingham has a lot to offer and has so much for you to do. It seems like new restaurants and local businesses pop up every day! So here are just a few things you can do and see when you come to visit!

Click below to see Beth’s amazing Birmingham travel guide!  Continue reading Hidden Gems: Birmingham Travel Guide

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Birthday Cake Martini + Giveaway

Birthday Cake Martini // feastandwest.com

I first met Katie — before? after? I can’t remember! — her blog Twin Stripe’s second birthday. I was very new to blogging at the time, but I am so glad we connected. Katie was definitely my first blogging friend — it’s so nice to have people around you who have your back, even if you start out as email buddies at first.

Over the last year, we collaborated several times on things like our summer picnic series and our holiday party. I love visiting Greensboro and hanging out with Katie and her husband Chad, who is quite the beer connoisseur. He sometimes shares his favorite beers on Twin Stripe, and as a beer lover I am always interested to see what he recommends. We also love to exchange cocktail recipes — Katie made me an autumn spice martini last fall and I made her a spiked Mexican hot chocolate earlier this year. And of course there was the champagne cocktail bar we had at our holiday party.

Birthday Cake Martini // feastandwest.com

Anyway! It’s now Twin Stripe’s third birthday, and Katie asked me to celebrate with her by whipping up another cocktail. I debated what I should make, but since Katie decided to go gluten-free last year, I figured she might appreciate a birthday cake flavored cocktail.

This Birthday Cake Martini is made with cake-flavored vodka, whipped cream-flavored vodka, white chocolate liqueur and half-and-half. Pink is most definitely Katie’s favorite color, so I used a mixture of hot pink colored sugar and colorful nonpareils on the rim for a very birthday look.

And we’re giving you the a chance to join in on the celebration! Twin Stripe is giving away a birthday prize pack full of birthday treats and some of Katie’s favorite things. See below for details. Wishing you the happiest birthday, Twin Stripe! // susannah

Giveaway rules:
  1. Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget below. Everyone gets a free entry. You can enter multiple times, up to 11 additional entries by following my blog friends and myself on social media. (If you’ve followed in the past, that counts. Just enter the info as prompted.) All entries will be verified. No purchase is necessary to win.
  2. The giveaway is open until Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST. One winner will be chosen at random and emailed within 48 hours. Winners must claim prize within 48 hours of initial contact. The retail value of the prize is $50. Prizes shown in the graphic are the only ones available.
  3. Open to U.S. residents with a valid shipping address only. Must be 18 years of age as of Feb. 23, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click below for the Birthday Cake Martini recipe! 

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10-Grain Waffle BLT Sandwiches

10-Grain Waffle BLT Sandwich // feastandwest.com

I recently attended a fancy PB&J party. The rules for the party were that each person had to bring a beer and an ingredient for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The table was covered in all kinds of condiments from pickles to white chocolate chips. There was Nutella and almond butter and crunchy JIF. There was grape jelly, fig preserves and honey. There were strawberries and bacon and bananas. Everyone compiled their sandwich onto all kinds of bread and then warmed it a waffle iron.

Yes, a waffle iron. That party got me thinking about the final recipe for the Hot for Breakfast collaboration because this week’s theme is breakfast for dinner. Why couldn’t I make a waffle sandwich but with different ingredients?

This 10-Grain Waffle BLT Sandwich is the sweet and salty sandwich dreams are made of. Breakfast for dinner was the height of awesomeness when I was a kid, and I know I would have loved it if my family ate waffle sandwiches for dinner. Sandwiches in general should take place on waffles from now on, don’t you think?

10-Grain Waffle BLT Sandwich // feastandwest.com

Fire up that waffle iron. Cook up your best bacon. Slice a tomato and wash some lettuce. Whip up a whole-grain waffle batter using Bob’s Red Mill’s 10-Grain Hot Cereal. Put it all together and enjoy a breakfast for dinner that champions don’t even know they want yet.

It’s been a great month of collaborating with some awesome food bloggers from all over the country for Hot Breakfast Month. Be sure to check out all of our recipes over on Pinterest!

Today I’m headed to Orlando to make more food blogger friends at the annual Food Blog Forum. I’ll be off the grid a little bit on social media, but I have some great posts scheduled while I am gone. You’re likely to see me pop up on Instagram from time to time. I’ll be back Tuesday! // susannah

Click below for the 10-Grain Waffle BLT Sandwiches recipe! 

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The Lettermate + Giveaway

The Lettermate + Giveaway // Feast + West

Who doesn’t love receiving things in the mail? Cards, invitations, postcards, letters — you name it and it’s the best. (As long as it’s not a bill, I suppose.) I adore checking my mailbox and seeing what’s new each day. It’s always so special when someone has taken a moment to handwrite something and seal it up for your eyes only. It’s such a nice change of pace to get tactile, tangible mail in this email world.

Kimberly Wilson of the stationery shop August Press feels the same way, and she noticed that her bridal clients did too. They cared deeply about every detail of their invitations, but addressing them all was the most stressful part. She designed an envelope stencil to soothe their woes. The Lettermate helps make addressing envelopes easier and prettier.

The Lettermate + Giveaway // Feast + WestThe Lettermate + Giveaway // Feast + West

The Lettermate is made from translucent plastic. To use it, line it up with one of the sides of your envelope and start writing in the lines. On the bottom is a ruler to help you measure anything. There are also guides to help make centering text easier, or you can justify your lines to the left.

I purchased a Lettermate for myself recently and I have loved using it to address a few thank you notes and birthday cards. As a perfectionist, it sure is nice to have the Lettermate’s guides to help me write in a straight line! It also pushes me to try different lettering styles, whereas I used to default to my messy cursive. The size is perfect — it fits snugly into my stamp box but I can also clip it into my address book when I’m on the go.

The Lettermate + Giveaway // Feast + West

Anyone who enjoys writing letters and sending cards as much as I do would enjoy having one of these at their desk! Today, the awesome folks at The Lettermate are giving away one of their awesome stencils to five Feast + West readers. Find out how to enter the giveaway below. Good luck! // susannah 

Giveaway rules:

  1. Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget below. Everyone gets a free entry! You can enter multiple times, up to 6 additional entries by following Feast + West and The Lettermate on social media. (If you’ve followed in the past, that counts! Just enter the info as prompted.) All entries will be verified. No purchase is necessary to win.
  2. The giveaway is open until Friday, March 6, 2015 at 10 a.m. EST. Five winners will be chosen at random and emailed within 48 hours. Winners must claim their prize within 48 hours of initial contact. The retail value of the prize is $14.95.
  3. Open to U.S. residents with a valid shipping address only. Must be 18 years of age as of Feb. 24, 2015.

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How to Cook with Tequila

How to Cook with Tequila // feastandwest.com

February has been all about tequila. If you missed all the goodness, you can see here what I wrote about this month’s Kindred Spirit and how to mix drinks with tequila. Keep reading to learn how to cook with tequila.

WHAT IT TASTES LIKE

Because of its origins, tequila pairs well with Latin-inspired foods. Recipes that call for citrus are a good opportunity for tequila. Depending on the brand of tequila you choose, it will add a spicy, citrus or floral kick to whatever you add it to. Blanco and reposado tequilas are your best bets for cooking.

TEMPERATURE CONSIDERTIONS

Freezing it: Alcohol has a lower freezing point than water, which means it might not freeze properly. If you’re making a frozen dessert, too much tequila might kill the ice.

Cooking with it: When you cook with any alcohol, the heat makes the alcohol evaporate. Depending on the cooking method and temperature, the alcohol won’t burn off entirely, but your dish won’t be as potent as drinking straight alcohol. In general, the longer you cook something with alcohol, the more it will evaporate.

WHAT TO MAKE WITH IT

Savory dishes: Tequila has a great place in meats, such as in glazes, sauces or salad dressings. All you need is a splash of tequila for that extra little kick.

Sweet dishes:  And of course you can make dessert boozy. Add a teaspoon or tablespoon to icing, pudding, cake. Anything, really.

Infusions: Flavor your tequila by letting it infuse with fresh produce over time. You can add in berries or citrus juices, even spicy jalapeno peppers, for new flavors to use in cooking and cocktails.

RECIPES

I rounded up eight tequila food recipes to try. There are sweet ones and savory ones alike. If you’re after a cocktail to go with it, look here. You could also try any of the tequila cocktails I made this month, including:

8 food recipes to make with tequila // feastandwest.com

1. Margarita Cake Balls by Butterlust // 2. Honey Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos with Avocado, Purple Slaw, and Chipotle Crema by Tartine and Apron Strings // 3.  Tequila-Lime Shrimp and Quinoa Salad by Iowa Girl Eats // 4. Tequila-Lime Cheesecake Bars by Sweet Peas & Saffron // 5. Tequila Watermelon Popsicles by Love & Olive Oil // 6. Big Time Jalapeño Lime Black Bean Texas Chili by Half Baked Harvest // 7.  Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate with Tequila by Creative Culinary // 8. Margarita Cookies with Salty Sweet Tequila Glaze by Love from the Oven

Tequila month isn’t quite over. I’ll have one more cocktail for you on Friday, and next week I’ll announce which spirit I’ll be highlighting in March. (Hint: It’s sparkly.) Stay tuned! // susannah

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Coffee + Tequila Milkshake

Coffee + Tequila Milkshake // feastandwest.com

We’ve been talking about tequila this month, and I felt like today was a good time to bring in a different kind of tequila to try — coffee tequila. A few years ago, a friend introduced me to Patrón’s line of tequilas called XO Cafe. If you like Kahlua, you’ll love this smooth, sweet coffee tequila. It is high-proof, meaning it has a high alcohol content and the flavor has distinct notes of vanilla and chocolate. You can sip it on its own, or you can mix it into cocktails. Or, you can spike a classic milkshake.

Milkshakes are such a big treat for me. Since I’m lactose intolerant, I only let myself have them once in a while, and I usually can’t finish the whole thing. I’m trying to turn down ice cream-based desserts, but I just cannot turn down a coffee milkshake. And I definitely couldn’t turn down a coffee tequila milkshake.

Coffee + Tequila Milkshake // feastandwest.com

This one is creamy and coffee-y. It has three kind of coffee flavors — coffee ice cream, ground coffee beans and coffee tequila. It would make a fabulous dessert after dinner, or you could make it for a snack or just whenever you crave a milkshake. (If you’re like me, that’s probably all the time.) The coffee tequila is also fabulous drizzled over ice cream, so if you’re without a blender, you can still enjoy all the flavors of this milkshake.

Side note: If the thought of ice cream right now is terrifying because you have billions of feet of it at your front door, then I urge you to add some (clean) snow to your coffee tequila milkshake. You know, just for luck. Or because you can. I would, if our snow hadn’t already melted. I did it last year though, it was awesome. I would highly recommend. // susannah

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Hidden Gems: Sheridan, Wyoming Travel Guide

Hidden Gems: Sheridan, Wyoming and Bighorn Mountains travel guide // Feast + West

Today’s Hidden Gems travel guide to Sheridan, Wyo. and the Bighorn Mountain region comes from Haleigh DeRocher of the blog Consider the Peel and the Etsy shop Peels & Posies!

I’m a fairly new transplant to Wyoming, but in the six months I’ve lived here I’ve absolutely fallen in love. I’m a Midwest girl; mountains were always more of a dream than a reality until I moved here, and now that I live in their foothills I’ll never be able to look at a landscape the same way again.

Hidden Gems: Sheridan, Wyoming and Bighorn Mountains travel guide // Feast + West
Bighorn sheep

I was severely skeptical about moving to the least populated state in the country. There are 500,000 people here — the same number of people as Des Moines, Iowa — and the land rolls for miles without house or human. But don’t despair — though the population is sparse, the adventures are high. You don’t go to Wyoming for parties and crowds — you go to get away from the crowds. There’s not a better air to breathe.

I live in the tiny town of Dayton near Sheridan, Wyoming, the “Jewel of the West” according to their website and nine miles from the border of Montana. Sheridan, though not well known, is a tourist hub in the summer time; people traveling to Yellowstone stop there for good eats, the rodeo, and the scenic Bighorn Mountains. It is basically like stepping back in time to the Wild West; downtown Sheridan is a charmed, historical street and it’s easy to imagine yourself tying your horse to a post while wearing a crinoline and a sunhat.

Hidden Gems: Sheridan, Wyoming and Bighorn Mountains travel guide // Feast + West
Wyo Theater

About twenty miles outside of Sheridan is the Bighorn National Park, which is brimming with wildlife and amazing hiking, biking, and climbing. Sheridan and the Bighorns are the definition of hidden gems; this part of the country is an amazing vacation destination because it is not very well known — which means you have the trails to yourself. When people think about Wyoming they either think “barren wasteland, don’t wanna go there” or “Yellowstone.” What they don’t know is how much they’re missing up north a little ways.

Hidden Gems: Sheridan, Wyoming and Bighorn Mountains travel guide // Feast + West
Black Mountain Lookout

Click below to see Haleigh’s Sheridan, Wyoming travel guide!

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Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls

Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls // Feast + West

Coffee is what gives me energy in the morning. I’m totally addicted. I love it for afternoon pick-me-ups too. But I’m also a tea person. I grew up on tea, in fact. With a South African mom who makes herself a cup of tea every few hours, it’s hard not to like both beverages. (She does, too!) I like tea of all kinds. Darjeeling and rooibos are probably my favorites to drink at home, but I am becoming a huge fan of chai too.

Chai tea is an Indian flavored tea that’s made by brewing black tea with aromatic spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and black peppercorns. The chai latte is a popular coffee shop beverage made with chai tea and steamed milk.

And then there’s the dirty chai latte, which has an added shot of espresso. I know what you’re thinking: coffee and tea together? Yes. It’s possible, and delicious. A good friend of mine swears by her afternoon dirty chai.

Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls // Feast + West

I’m totally mind-reading today, because I know what you’re thinking again. Coffee and tea in cinnamon rolls? Yes, that’s exactly what is happening here, and I’m not sorry for bringing it to your attention. I have been dying to try these Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls ever since I dreamed them up. Filled with chai spices and coffee, a dollop of Bee Raw’s Colorado Sweet Yellow Clover Honey and topped with a creamy, spiced glaze, these rolls are everything I wanted and more.

I believe that anyone can tackle any recipe, regardless of their cooking skill level. If you can read, you can make anything. But cinnamon rolls require time and attention. They aren’t something you can whip up in an hour or two. You make them the night before you plan to eat them, and then let them sit all night long.

Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls // Feast + WestDirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls // Feast + West

In other words, good things come to those who wait. Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls are one of those things. Next time you’re planning a big family brunch or a special breakfast for overnight guests, take some time to make something that requires a little more effort. Your guests will recognize your labor of love. Plus, you can easily please the coffee people and the tea people. Win, win. // susannah

Click below for the Dirty Chai Cinnamon Rolls recipe! 

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DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads

DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads // Feast + West

It’s Mardi Gras! I’m coming to you today with a fun Fat Tuesday DIY — homemade Mardi Gras beads! This post might be a little late, but you can make them tonight and wear them tomorrow and pretend they were thrown to you during a parade, right? I won’t tell. Or perhaps you’re enjoying a snow day today? All the better.

A few years ago, I visited New Orleans with a group of friends and I learned it’s bad luck to pick up Mardi Gras beads off the ground. (That’s ironic, because that’s where they really seem to end up. Or in tree branches.) Technically, you’re supposed to earn your beads by catching them and it can become quite a game among friends. Catching them from a krewe’s parade is said to bring good luck for the coming year. And yes, perhaps sometimes there is a risque factor too.

DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads // Feast + West

Historically, the throwing of Mardi Gras beads stems from Rex, the king of the first daytime Carnival in 1872, who was also Russia’s Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff. He tossed beads in the royal colors to people who exhibited the beads’ meanings: purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power. The beads were originally made of glass, so they were dangerous to be thrown, but now that we have plastic and manufacturing, the sparkly beads are ubiquitous. And they come in every color, shape, size and finish.

DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads // Feast + West

This homemade version is super fun and I love that each bead is unique. I first came across paper beads like this in South Africa (where my mother is from). Some African craftspeople make beads from others’ trashed magazines, newspapers and catalogues, and they are what inspired me to try making these paper Mardi Gras beads.

These beads would be a lovely gift or just a fun activity for a rainy — or even a snowy — crafternoon. Click through to learn how to make them! // susannah

Click below to learn how to make these fun Mardi Gras beads! 

Continue reading DIY Paper Mardi Gras Beads

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