Tuesday, February 24, 2015

French Lentil Salad

Since I still have some lentils leftover from my previous lentil recipe I decided to try this recipe for French Lentil Salad.  I adapted this recipe out of the Pollan Family Table Cookbook.  I made a few tweaks to suit our taste better.  I also love that there is some wine in this dish, because you can serve it with dinner and it ties all the flavors together nicely.  This is a side dish that could easily go with any meat entree'.  And, lentils are high in fiber and Vitamin B.    

Monday, February 23, 2015

Darrin's Coffee Co.

My latest search for locally roasted coffee took me to the cobblestone streets of Zionsville, Indiana to Darrin's Coffee Company.  Nestled in among the quaint shops of the city sits a little coffee shop with some fun and flavorful specialty coffee drinks and a variety of fresh roasted coffee beans.  A cozy spot to grab a cup of java or even hear a live concert on a Friday night.  
The owner of Darrin's Coffee shop started roasting beans in his kitchen back in 2009, then two years ago opened this shop and since then has been daily serving up fresh coffee.  Darrin's offers light, medium and dark roast coffees.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Herb & Parmesan Crusted Lamb with Mint Pesto

Since February is National Lamb Lovers Month I couldn't resist sharing a lamb recipe that I recently prepared for our Valentines Day dinner.  And, while I made this up special for my family, don't think that you have to be a french chef or have a formal occasion to eat lamb.  It's just as easy to prepare and fix in the kitchen as pork or beef, and will definitely add some flavor and variety to your dinner menu.

This particular recipe is one I combined from two cookbooks; the Pollan Family Table Cookbook and my Taste of Home Cookbook.  And the great thing about this recipe is that it is versatile enough to use on any number of cuts of lamb.  While I used it on a rack of lamb you could easily fix this on chops, steaks or a roast.  And I love that the Mint Pesto recipe calls for some red wine.  You can easily pour a glass of the same wine to enjoy with your dinner.  I used a Shiraz, but any dry red wine will work great.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Harvest Cafe' Coffee & Tea

This week my quest for locally roasted coffee gave me the pleasure of drinking Harvest Cafe' Coffee & Tea.  In business since 2002, Harvest Cafe' is a small batch roaster offering single origin beans, coffee blends (like espresso) and flavored beans.   Their roaster can handle 30 pounds of beans at one time and while they specialize in medium roasts they do offer some robust blends that come close to a dark roast.  Harvest Cafe' Coffee beans are USDA certified Organic and the company does go through the proper channels and requirements to maintain that Organic status. 
While in their roasting room I sampled the Organic Guatemalan bean.  I found this coffee to have a nice body and a smooth finish.  A versatile coffee that could easily be your go to cup in the morning or enjoyed in the evening with a sweet dessert.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

McDonalds Share the Lovin' Giveaway

Did you see the McDonalds commercial during the Super Bowl?  The one where the customer made an order and the McDonalds employee told them that if they said what they loved about their child (who was standing right there beside them in the store) they would get their order for free?!?!  Or give someone a hug.  Or call your mom.  Or even giving the cashier a fist bump.  That's right from now until February 14th between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm customers will be chosen at random to "pay with lovin'" for their order.

Pay with Lovin' is a unique way for McDonalds to thank their customers and make their day.  A little kindness goes a long way and a free cup of coffee or hamburger is a great motivation to pay it forward to someone else.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Liberation Roasting Company

Starting up just over a year ago, Liberation Roasting Company is providing fresh locally roasted beans to a coffee shop or deli near you.  I recently stopped by their roasting room located in the Fountain Square district of Indianapolis, and visited with the owners.  

Their desire is to inspire local coffee consumers to drink fresh locally roasted coffee.  And when I say fresh, I mean their goal is to sell beans roasted a short time ago, so you can enjoy the fullest range of flavors in their beans.  They focus on medium roast to bring out those little nuances that one seeks in a freshly ground cup of coffee.    
The roaster at Liberation can handle 11 pounds at a time and takes about 15 minutes.  Ninety-five percent of their beans are single origin meaning the beans come directly from a single farmer.  Besides offering several roasts they also offer decaf and an Espresso, which is made up of 4 different beans and then blended together. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Purple Canning Jars Perfect for Peacock Party

If you'll recall for the past two years, Ball Home Canning jars has released the limited edition Heritage Collection series to commemorate the anniversary of the "Perfect Mason" and "Perfection" jars.  These were available in period inspired blue and spring green colors.  Well 2015 will be the third and final year for the Heritage Collection series and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the “Improved” jar, the brand is releasing limited edition purple jars available in both pint and quart size!
I love the color purple, so I was very please to see Ball select this color for their jars and to receive a sample to check out and play around with.  These purple jars helped seal the deal on my latest party.... 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Beef Chilaquiles

First off, I have to admit I had never heard of Chilaquiles before, but after finding this recipe in The Pollan Family Table Cookbook I have to tell you what a great recipe this was for Super Bowl Sunday.  Think of it as a nacho lasagna!  As it's an ideal use for leftover taco meat when you have a taco bar or Taco Tuesday.  There's tortilla chips, cheese, beef and refried beans all layered and baked in the oven to a warm yummy-ness that is great for either snacking on or eating as part of your meal.

As I mentioned this recipe came from The Pollan Family Table cookbook, which I am reviewing, sharing a recipe out of and giving away a copy to one of my readers.  The 3 sisters and mother of the Pollan family have compiled a collection of recipes from their family table and share helpful tips for shopping and making these recipes.  Each recipe contains a list of ingredients you probably already have in your own kitchen as well as list of things you may need to go buy.  I like reading in the opening sections of this book the importance of sitting around their table as a family at meal time. The forward is written by their bother and best selling author Michael Pollan.   

This recipe for chilaquiles caught my eye because of the simplicity of it and it was Super Bowl weekend and I needed something to eat during the big game.  And as a busy mom I needed to make this meal a little quicker so I used a store bought taco seasoning mix, but this cookbook does contain a recipe for just the seasoning mix and all the spices that go into it.
Copies of this cookbook are available for purchase on amazon or at Barnes & Noble.  You can also find out more information about this book on their website.  And one lucky reader will win a copy of this cookbook.  Simply click on the rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this blog post for your chance to win.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tinker Coffee Co.

I stumbled upon Tinker Coffee Company by surfing the internet for locally roasted coffee. And, I have to say I'm glad I did, as I have just recently sampled some of their coffee and it was a pleasant delight to start my morning with.
Tinker Coffee Co. is located in Indianapolis, Indiana and while they do not have a cafe' their beans are available for purchase online and served in some establishments around town.  What I appreciate about Tinker Coffee is their willingness to educate consumers about coffee production, roasting and brewing by offering classes on Thursday and Sundays.  (I plan to blog more about this later.)  By learning more about the roasting and brewing process you can fully enjoy your daily cup of joe to a greater extent.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Crock Pot Moroccan Lamb

I'm always ready to try new lamb recipes and when I found this one in the newest Penzey Spices catalog I knew I had to try it.  (And believe me when you see all the spices in this recipe you'll know why a spice company wanted to share it.)  But what I liked most about this recipe was the fruit that's in it and how those flavors compliment the lamb meat.  The juices act as a marinade for the meat and when cooked in your crock pot there is plenty of time for those spices and juice to penetrate the meat giving your mouth a flavorful combination.  And I like that this dish can be served as a stew, or a one pot meal or even main entree' alongside some couscous and other vegetables.  It's versatile, it's easy, it's tasty and it gives you another option to cook/try lamb in your own kitchen.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hubbard & Cravens Coffee and Tea

For my first installment of "What's in Ott, A's Latte'?" I decided to stop in on a local coffee roaster that's been in business since 1991.  Hubbard & Cravens Coffee & Tea!  They have 4 locations in the Indy Metro area as well as providing coffee to numerous restaurants around town.  In fact 80 percent of their business is wholesale and it was while dining out where I personally heard about and tried their coffee..  Recently, I learned they had a coffee shops so I knew I had to stop in and drink more of their beans.
I sat down with one of their employees at their 49th & Pennsylvania street location for some "coffee talk" and learned of the owners travels all over the globe to source coffee beans.  The beans are graded on flavor and body and those that are top rated are then cupped (coffee tasting technique to evaluate the different characteristics of the bean) to ensure the aroma and flavor.  This process is done several times both during the growing phase and after harvest to ensure the perfect taste profile. And, if you follow along on their Instagram account you can view pictures of their travels and bean selections, as it's fascinating to see.
The coffee bean crop is seasonal, therefore the different blends of coffee offered for sale at Hubbard & Cravens changes throughout the year.  Since different regions of the world harvest their beans at different times of the year when the coffee bean offers the most flavor.  The variety of beans offered at different times of year changes to ensure a flavorful cup of coffee.

Once the beans are here in Indy additional work on roasting the beans to perfection is done in their test kitchen on ensure the distinct flavors they desire can be obtained.

While at Hubbard & Cravens I drank the Sobro Organic Blend.  These beans were sourced from Indonesia and East Africa and the cup had a bold initial flavor with a sweet finish.  And, of course I had to try a Lemon Poppy Seed muffin (which was delicious).

Looking ahead to the future the owners are looking outside the traditional coffee drinking regions of the world for new innovative ideas.  Places like Poland and Thailand have given them insight on coffee ice cubes and sweetened milk in coffee that will inspire them to new tastes and flavors back here in Indy.

Their coffee and teas can be purchased online or at their coffee shops and be on the lookout for their brews at some of your favorite restaurants.

Thanks to Hubbard & Cravens for hosting me for the day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

One Pot Apples, Brats & Squash

I have heard about and seen recipes for "One Pot Meals", but I have never actually made one before. So while I was at the grocery store I saw a stack of recipe cards sitting out and picked one up to look at it and it looked like it contained a lot of ingredients I like to eat.  Apples, squash, grapes, bratwurst... it all sounded good so I stuck the recipe in my purse and continued my shopping.  Well a couple weeks went by and I saw the recipe card in my pile of recipes to try and thought, this is as good of a time as any to make this.  It's super easy to make and the flavors of the squash and apples really do compliment the brats nicely.  So here is my version of One Pot Apples, Brats & Squash.   
Ironically, when I was in grade school I used to not like my food to touch on my dinner plate.  I wanted a space in between each and every dish because heaven forbid they would a little bit of potatoes would get on my green beans or meat or whatever else we were eating.  My mother would say, "it doesn't matter if they touch because it all ends up in the same place."  My response was, "Yes, but you don't cook it all in the same pot."  Well here I am 20 some years later and.... cooking it all in the same pot.
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