Winter Sunrise Smoothie

Winter Sunrise Smoothie with @nataliesoijc // Feast + West

As we head into the second month of 2015 (that’s crazy talk, right?) it’s a good idea to reassess goals made at the start of the year. One of mine has been to eat more healthfully, especially at breakfast. Because I work from home, I often cozy up to my desk with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, swearing I’ll make it downstairs for a snack in a little while. It’s easy to get caught up in emails and client work and forget all about the most important meal of the day. I’m working on making breakfast more of a priority, even if it’s as simple as a smoothie.

My friends at Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co. sent me some of their juices to try, and I think they’re some of the freshest juices I’ve ever tried. Mix any of Natalie’s amazing juices with fresh and frozen fruit for a tasty breakfast smoothie. I love that Natalie’s has lots of options for fresh-squeezed citrus juices that don’t have any preservatives or hidden ingredients.

Winter Sunrise Smoothie with @nataliesoijc // Feast + West

This Winter Sunrise Smoothie is a bright and sunshiny blend that’s both delicious and good for you. To make it, you’ll blend Greek yogurt, a banana, fresh and frozen berries and some fresh grated ginger plus Natalie’s sweet Orange Mango Juice and Pure Lime Juice. The tropical notes in this smoothie give me a glimpse of summertime, something I’ve been craving lots in this ice-cold weather.

Natalie’s selection of fresh juices will certainly elevate any smoothie. If you are, like I am, working on eating better breakfasts this year, then this Winter Sunrise Smoothie is a great recipe to get you started.

Winter Sunrise Smoothie with @nataliesoijc // Feast + West

(This post was sponsored by Natalie’s. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who allow me to create delicious recipes for you.)

Click below for the Winter Sunrise Smoothie recipe! 

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Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread // Feast + West

When I was a kid, it used to delight me to watch the bananas ripen on the counter. Even though I wouldn’t touch them on their own (it’s a texture thing), I sure hoped my mom would make them into banana bread for us to snack on. She used to send me or one of my siblings over to our elderly neighbors’ house with an extra loaf.

Nowadays, I still do the same thing. I’ll eat a few bananas off the bunch, then I’ll wait until they’re covered in brown spots and make my own version. I like to throw in a handful of dark chocolate chips. There’s definitely nothing like a slice of warm Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, and it’s even better to share it with friends. Bake three loaves — one for yourself and two more for a friend or neighbor.

Sharing is caring right? Good, because I’m sharing the recipe for Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread over at My Cooking Spot today. It’s an awesome site that features great recipes and kitchen tips from lots of food bloggers. I’ll be contributing recipes there more frequently, so be sure to keep an eye on their Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Happy baking! // susannah

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How to Cook with Bourbon

How to Cook with Bourbon // Feast + West

I talk a lot about cocktails on this blog. I love showing you how you can get the most out of your home bar, but there is so much more you can do with your liquors than just make cocktails. All month long I’ve been sharing bourbon cocktail recipes, but today I wanted to highlight what you can do with it in the kitchen. If you missed it, you can see here what I wrote about this month’s Kindred Spirit and how to mix drinks with bourbon. Keep reading to learn how to cook with bourbon.

WHAT IT TASTES LIKE

Traditionally, bourbon has been used to flavor confections and desserts (like pumpkin pie!), but it has a place in savory dishes and sweet sauces as well. Bourbon lends the flavors of caramel, vanilla and a faint taste of wood to your recipes.

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, an extra kick of bourbon 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.

SUBSTITUTIONS

Bourbon is quite similar to brandy, so you can use bourbon in its place in most recipes.

If you don’t want to invest in a big bottle of bourbon for a recipe, you can’t go wrong with the tiny airplane bottles. That’s also a great way to test out any liquor to see if you like it.

WHAT TO MAKE WITH IT

Savory dishes: Bourbon works beautifully as a marinade or glaze with meats, fish or poultry, or even as a flavor in a sweet sauce. You can also add it to vegetables, like mashed sweet potatoes, or to soup.

Sweet dishes: You’ll often see bourbon paired with honey, caramel and vanilla. It goes well in most baked goods, like cakes, pies and cookies. It’s also lovely as a flavor in frosting or whipped cream.

Infusions: Flavor your bourbon with vanilla, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom or dried fruits. This will give you your own version of bourbon to bring into your recipes and drinks.

RECIPES

I rounded up eight bourbon 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 bourbon cocktails I made this month, including:

Bourbon Recipe Round-Up // Feast + West

1. Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cake by bethcakes // 2. Bourbon Squash Soup by Love & Flour // 3. Decadent Bourbon Caramel Sauce by Milo & Oats // 4. Bourbon Bananas Foster Monkey Bread by Cake ‘n’ Knife // 5. Apple Cinnamon Infused Bourbon by Shutterbean // 6. Sticky Bourbon Chicken with Rice by Pinch of Yum // 7. Bourbon BBQ Meatballs by Nutmeg Nanny // 8. Vegan Salted Bourbon Caramel Ice Cream by Minimalist Baker

Don’t worry, bourbon month isn’t quite over. I have one more cocktail for you on Friday, and soon I’ll be announcing on Instagram which liquor I’ll be highlighting in February. Stay tuned! // susannah

What’s your favorite thing to make with bourbon? 

(Photo // MsSarahKelly on Flickr)

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The Southern Islander Shrub

Southern Islander Shrub cocktail with barbecue sauce // Feast + West

One of the most delightful things in life is finding a friend who shares a hobby with you. For me, it’s rare to find a friend who shares my love for mixology. In other words, a friend who loves making the drinks as much as drinking them. For me, it’s so much fun to try another’s cocktail concoction. It’s very curious to me to see what other people will make with similar ingredients.

When I learned that my new pals Amanda and Paul of The Great NC BBQ Map share my love of cocktails as well as our already established love for barbecue, I asked them to design something special for Feast + West. They combined both of our common interests and pulled together this Southern Islander Shrub, a unique cocktail combining bourbon, pineapple juice, honey syrup and a North Carolina vinegar-based barbecue sauce.

Yes, you read that correctly. Barbecue sauce. In a cocktail.

Southern Islander Shrub cocktail with barbecue sauce // Feast + West

Shrubs are cocktails with a tangy mixture of vinegar, sugar and fruits added to the alcohol. The Southern Islander Shrub also has a honeyed rim with hickory smoked sea salt for added sweetness and spice. This cocktail puts a tropical spin on North Carolina favorites, and it would be delicious year-round. (Local readers could even use all-North Carolina ingredients like whiskey from Troy & Sons and farmers market honey.)

Many thanks to Amanda and Paul of The Great NC BBQ Map for sharing this unique recipe. If you haven’t checked out their amazing map of North Carolina barbecue eateries, you absolutely must. // susannah

Click below for the Southern Islander Shrub recipe! 

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Hidden Gems: Charlotte Travel Guide

Hidden Gems: Charlotte, N.C. travel guide // Feast + West

I’m so thrilled to be sharing the first travel guide in my new series! I already have tons of incredible bloggers from around the globe lined up to show you their cities’ hidden gems over the next several months. First up is a Charlotte travel guide by yours truly.

Charlotte, N.C. has been my home for most of my life. I was born here, grew up here and moved back here within the last couple years, though I have lived a few other places in between. When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to leave, but I am enjoying getting to know the Queen City in a new light.

Hidden Gems: Charlotte, N.C. travel guide // Feast + West

Named for Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (who was the wife of King George III), Charlotte is lively, bustling and full of surprises. The Queen City is well-known for its banking industry and its racing empire, but Charlotteans also place value on the arts and the environment.

If you visit, I think you’ll find that it’s an up-and-coming Southern city with lots of charm, trees and history. It has lots of options for foodies like me, gorgeous shops and beautiful green areas. Though you can ride the light rail from Uptown to the South End neighborhood, you’ll benefit from renting a car to get to all these hot spots. I hope you enjoy my tour! // susannah 

If you’re interested in writing a Hidden Gem guide to your city, I am putting together a list of interested bloggers. If you’re curious, please click here to find out more, then email me.

Click below to see my top hidden gems in this Charlotte travel guide!

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‘One Pot’ Cookbook Review + Fruit Skillet Cake

I can be a very messy cook. I tend to dirty what seems like every single knife, spatula, bowl and spoon in the cupboard, and then I’m left with a bunch of dishes to clean after dinner. And I hate, hate, hate doing the dishes. I mean, I’ll do them, but sometimes I have to ask, ‘Why do I do this to myself?!’

Because of this, I often crave recipes that require very little measuring and few dishes, just to make it easier on myself after a meal. Enter One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living. This book is based on the premise that you can cook an amazing meal using just one dish. In other words, this cookbook is the answer to my dirty dish prayers.

'One Pot' cookbook from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living

One Pot is organized by vessel, featuring meals you can make in a Dutch oven, slow cooker, skillet, roasting pan, pressure cooker or stock pot. There’s a recipe for every diet — meaty, vegetarian and vegan. There’s even a whole dessert section, but we’ll get to that in a minute. For some of the recipes, you might need a measuring spoon or chopping board, but by and large each recipe is pretty simple.

Take the Fruit Skillet Cake recipe for example. I made it over the weekend, and my mom and I fought over the last piece. It’s a luscious, soft cake that you can whip up in 15 minutes and have ready in an hour. The batter goes straight into a greased and floured cast-iron skillet, then it’s topped with the fresh, seasonal fruit of your choice. (I opted for berries.) The result is a gorgeous and easy dessert that requires next to no clean-up. More of that, please!

Fruit Skillet Cake from 'One Pot' cookbook from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living // Feast + West

I just know One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More is going to become a staple in my kitchen. I am dying to try some more of the recipes, like the meaty Texas Red Chili made in a Dutch oven or the slow cooker-made Garlic Chicken with Barley. I’m also excited to try the skillet Macaroni and Cheese you can make three (!) ways, the Salmon with Kale cooked in a roasting pan, Easy Chickpea Curry made in a pressure cooker or Split Pea Soup in a stockpot. There’s also a whole host of other dessert recipes, like the Skillet Chocolate-Chip Cookie.

Give the cookbook a try by trying out the Fruit Skillet Cake recipe at the end of this post and see how nice when there are fewer dishes to wash! // susannah

Blogging for BooksFull disclosure: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this honest review. This post contains affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking one of them at no additional cost to you. All opinions are purely my own. Thank you in advance for supporting Feast + West!

Fruit Skillet Cake from 'One Pot' cookbook from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living // Feast + West

Click below for the Fruit Skillet Cake recipe! 

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The Manhattan Cocktail

The Manhattan cocktail // Feast + West

Today’s Friday Night Delight is a classic, sophisticated cocktail. I haven’t done too many of the very classic drinks on the blog yet, but since I’m focusing on one liquor per month, I thought it would be fun to share some of the very classic recipes along with more modern ways to use each liquor. January is bourbon, and the Manhattan is probably as classic as you can get — tied only with the martini.

If you’re new to Manhattans, you should know right now that this is not a beverage for the faint of heart. It’s a strong, serious, Mad Men-esque cocktail. Though it’s typically made with rye whiskey, I like the Manhattan better with bourbon as I find it makes it a bit sweeter and easier on my palate. It’s also the Southern way to do it, which is totally fine by me. You should try the Manhattan both ways — with rye whiskey and with bourbon — and decide how you like it.

The Manhattan cocktail // Feast + West

To make a Manhattan, you’ll need bourbon or rye whiskey, Italian vermouth and a couple dashes of Angostura bitters. Everything goes into a cocktail shaker filled with ice before shaking and straining into a cocktail glass. I like to shake mine vigorously until the ice is ‘bruised,’ which means there are tiny ice crystals that float on top of the drink. Bruising is technically a martini term, but it can apply here too.

Then, you’ll garnish with a twist of an orange peel and a maraschino cherry. But if I’m being totally honest, for this one, I used a cherry leftover from the Cherry Bounce I made over the summer. My family and I drank it throughout the holidays, and now I am left with two jars of incredible, spiced fermented cherries that go surprisingly well in the classic Manhattan. Don Draper would be proud. // susannah

The Manhattan cocktail // Feast + West

Click below to learn how to make the Manhattan cocktail! 

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New Series: Hidden Gems Travel Guides

Hidden Gems: Travel Guide Series. Now accepting guest bloggers from around the world. Visit feastandwest.com for more information. // Feast + West

Back when I started Feast + West, I envisioned it to blend together equal parts design, food and travel. For me, all of those things intersect and it’s hard to say which one inspires me most. I was able to share a lot of recipes and products in my first year, but I hit a roadblock with the travel section. How could I possibly share a travel guide for, well, everywhere?

Well, I finally figured it out, and I’m thrilled to announce my new travel guide series, Hidden Gems. On Thursdays for the foreseeable future, I will be welcoming bloggers from around the world who will take you off the beaten path in the cities they love. These guides are going to be packed with the kinds of places locals go, the spots not in the travel guides. Keep a bag ready to go in case you’re inspired to travel somewhere new, big or small.

Next week, I’m kicking off the series and giving you a taste of my hometown, Charlotte, N.C. Every week after that, one of my blogger friends will take the tour guide reins. If you’re a blogger interested in contributing a travel guide, check out the guidelines then drop me a line. // susannah

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Sesame Thyme Pita Chips

Sesame Thyme Pita Chips // Feast + West

When my sister was visiting last month, she whipped up a huge batch of baked pita chips for a party we hosted. We served them alongside a big bowl of hummus and a cheese plate for people to snack on while they mingled. These chips went so quickly! And then my sister left just a few days later and I totally forgot to ask her for the recipe!

And then I noticed there were a few pita pockets hiding in the fridge so I decided to try to recreate her recipe. I had watched her brush wedges of pita bread with olive oil, then sprinkle salt, dried herbs and sesame seeds over top. My sister and I cook the same way, often without measuring, so I was pretty sure I could closely match the ones that she made.

Sesame Thyme Pita Chips // Feast + West

Sure, you can buy a box of pita chips at the grocery store. But why? You can easily make four times as many for a lot less. Buy a stack of pita pockets to cut up, season and bake yourself! These Sesame Thyme Pita Chips are amazing as a snack all on their own, but you could also serve them with party dips or alongside a bowl of soup for something totally different. They would go so well with my recipe for Italian Hummus, too.

Better yet, you can season them with anything you have on hand. I bet they’d also be delicious on the spicy side with cayenne pepper and garlic, or even with cinnamon sugar for those with a sweet tooth. You really can’t go wrong here. // susannah 

Click below to see the Sesame Thyme Pita Chips recipe! 

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