Family * Travel * Food

Sensitive stomach? Give Gourmend a try!

So many people worldwide deal with stomach problems, from minor issues to more serious conditions, affecting around 20% to 30% of the population. Some people are especially sensitive to certain foods like garlic and onion bulbs, experiencing discomfort, bloating, and other digestive woes after eating them. This sensitivity can happen for different reasons, like certain enzymes or compounds in garlic and onions that don't agree with everyone's stomachs. So, for those folks, picking what to eat can be a bit of a balancing act to keep their stomachs happy.

If you're one of these people who have a sensitivity to ingesting onion and garlic bulbs, this post is for you. I have a dear friend whose husband is going through cancer treatments, and ended up developing major stomach issues to where he has become very limited on what he can eat. His wife had to find as many low FODMAP recipes as she could to be able to cook nutritious meals that actually taste good. 

Good thing there are seasoning options from Gourmend foods. Gourmend offers seasonings and broths that are low FODMAP-friendly, and are made from natural ingredients. All of their products contain zero fillers, additives and preservatives. They contain no gluten, sugar, dairy, onion bulbs, or garlic bulbs. Another bonus is that they contain limited salt so that you can add salt to suit your taste or dietary needs. 

But, how do they taste? 

Wow, wow, let me tell you-- they taste incredible! I am already coming up with ideas in my head on how I plan to use all of the seasonings. That Garlic Scape Powder is so dang tasty. It has a sort of sweet taste, and then the deep garlic flavor creeps in. The taco seasoning has a good kick and is super flavorful. I love that you can add salt as needed, and really you wouldn't need to add much else when you're cooking your protein for your next Taco Tuesday. I know what I will be using to season my shrimp and chicken this upcoming Cinco de Mayo! 


The Garlic Chive Salt tastes like something I would want sprinkled all over freshy air-fried chicken wings or potato wedges. I need to make that happen! The Green Onion Powder is perfect for everyday seasoning for basically anything you want an onion flavor added. I still have to try out the broths, but I have a feeling they will not disappoint. I'm envisioning a soup with shrimp, baby bok choy, mushrooms and bean sprouts. I will report back when I do give 'em a try. 

Here's some helpful info on Gourmend products 

🐮 Bone Broth 🐔

Our bone broths (beef and chicken) are simmered for 16 hours with free range bones for savory richness. They feature several gut-friendly vegetables and leek and scallion tops replace garlic and onion for that gentle allium deliciousness.

 🌱 Gut-friendly Powders 🌿 

Our 3 original powders: Garlic Scape Powder, Garlic Chive Powder, and Green Onion Powder. Even if you're sensitive to onion and garlic, you can bring those flavors back into your cooking. All of the tastiness, none of the digestive issues.

 🌮 Taco Seasoning 🌮 

Our taco seasoning is a gently delicious blend of single origin ingredients that ramp up any taco night. It features our Garlic Scape and Green Onion Powders as well as several other ingredients that we carefully source from other brands we know and love.

 🥕 Vegetable Broth 🍄 

We worked for 2 years to get our recipe just right for this one. With so few quality vegetable broths on the market, we wanted to make sure this tasted amazing while being easy on digestion. This broth features oyster mushrooms for umami flavor and a host of other fun vegetables.

💚 Salt Blends 🧂 

These salts are made using our unique Garlic Chive and Green Onion Powder along with Californian sea salt.

**As always, none of our products have any fillers or preservatives.

Find out more about Gourmend

Want to try Gourmend products out for yourself? Go to their website, and use code: MOMFILES15 for 15% off your first purchase. 

Disclosure: Gourmend provided product samples for my family to test out, and all opinions are our own. Please note that there are affiliate links in this post

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Survey: America’s Favorite Modern Christmas Dishes for 2023

Created by Miss Wish • Viewlarger version

Thanks to https://misswish.com for this infographic
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Certified Barbeque Judging Class Coming to Greenville


The South Carolina Barbeque Association (SCBA) will hold a one-day seminar in Greenville to train new barbeque judges. The seminar is July 15, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Project Host, located at 525 Academy St. 

Registration for the seminar is open to SCBA members and costs $50 per person, which includes a catered barbeque lunch. Non-members must join SCBA prior to or while registering for the seminar to be eligible to attend. SCBA annual membership dues are $45 for an individual or $60 for a family. 

The seminar is the first step in becoming a SCBA-certified barbeque judge. After completing the class, potential judges will continue their training with hands-on experience as novice judges at four SCBA-sanctioned barbeque competitions. Competitions are held around the state at festivals and fairs, as well as other community events or stand-alone BBQ contests. 

Those interested in becoming SCBA-certified judges and attending the July 15th seminar should visit www.scbarbeque.com to register for the seminar and/or join the SCBA. 

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An Overview of Tequila Alternatives

Imagine a zero-alcohol drink that has the aroma and taste of tequila. 

A golden hue greets you upon pouring, while a traditional blue agave aroma and ripe tropical guava follow suit. Earthy mesquite smoke, clean spice, and a kiss of sea salt complete the experience. 

Agave

The agave plant, or maguey, is a succulent from the Asparagaceae family native to the arid regions of Mexico and the Caribbean. It has been used for centuries by indigenous people for food, fiber, and medicine, including the boiled sweetener known as agave nectar. Its stem is incredibly dense in carbohydrates immediately before flowering and is harvested to produce tequila and mezcal alcohol.

As tequila recovers from its reputation as the spirit of bad decisions and blacked-out college years, its sister mezcal is sashaying onto craft cocktail menus. In addition, a growing number of bars and restaurants are stocking shelves with tequila alternatives like bacanora and pulque.

In cocktails, tequila alternatives pair well with citrusy, tropical flavors such as cilantro lime and tropical guava. They also work with savory tomato juices in margaritas and palomas. And they add a smoky, herbal, earthy element to drinks with agave syrup or honey.

In addition to a lower glycemic index than table sugar, agave syrup has a high level of beneficial fats that can help boost metabolism and lower cholesterol levels. It also contains minerals like potassium, selenium, and folate. Unlike fructose, which many people can’t properly digest, agave syrup is digested by the body and converted to energy without raising blood glucose or insulin levels. That makes it a healthier alternative to white sugar and other liquid sweeteners.

Aesthetics

With golden color, these non-alcoholic spirits look most like a reposado tequila. It smells smoky, like mezcal or charred wood, and it tastes sweet with a spicy finish. It blends well in drinks with spice, especially margaritas. It also works in mules and sour mix drinks.

It has a low alcohol content of less than 0.5%, making it suitable for many people. However, it does contain a small amount of sugar, so you should be careful when adding it to a diet. In addition, it contains glycerol and citric acid for natural flavors and sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate as preservatives.

Add a tequila alternative to a glass of tonic water for an impressive mocktail, and garnish with a jalapeno slice and basil. Allow the jalapeno to soak for 15 minutes to make it spicier. The result is a refreshing drink that you can enjoy all year round.

Mezcal

Mezcal is a spirit with a unique flavor with much to offer to drinkers. Its savory and potent flavor has made it a popular alternative to tequila in cocktails and on the rocks. It is also one of the lowest-calorie liquors when served straight without mixers. This may help those looking to limit their sugar intake while still enjoying a spirit with a bit of a buzz.

Mezcals can be enjoyed alone or with a variety of mixers and foods. Its earthy, smokey flavor pairs well with citrus, fruits, and other foods. It can even be mixed with ice to make margaritas or juleps. A splash of honey or lime can also enhance its smoky undertones.

A mezcal’s flavor is influenced by the type of agave used to make it and the distillation and cooking processes. Some mezcals are aged in barrels, creating a more complex and nuanced spirit.

Mezcals are becoming increasingly popular in the US thanks to a growing interest in artisanal spirits. Several mezcal brands have emerged in the past decade. These mezcals are sourced from families operating their palenquero (distillery). The founders of these mezcal brands understand sustainability. They have incorporated youth into their businesses and have combined knowledge of the North American market with traditional mezcal production practices.

Taste

Unlike most spirits, tequila doesn’t spike blood sugar levels, making it one of the healthiest alcohol options you can drink. It also contains agavins, which are non-digestible sugars that provide an excellent source of dietary fiber. This helps your body burn calories and lower cholesterol.

Tequila has also been shown to have prebiotic and probiotic properties. It detoxifies the skin and reduces bloating. It is also a natural astringent that removes oil and cleans pores. In addition, it has a high amount of potassium and calcium, which help balance blood pressure and prevent strokes.

The agave plant has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. It can help treat inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also improve bone strength and prevent osteoporosis. It also promotes fat metabolism and boosts energy.

The tequila alternative has a delicious taste reminiscent of real tequila. It smells fresh and has a subtle agave aroma, making it the perfect ingredient for cocktails. It’s also calorie-free and contains no artificial colors or flavors. You can mix it with various ingredients to create the best non-alcoholic margarita. You can even use it to make other non-alcoholic cocktails, such as a mojito. Try pairing it with lime and orange juices for a more authentic taste.

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Easy Gazpacho Made Without Juice

Today we're taking a refreshing plunge into the realm of gazpacho—a beloved Spanish classic that's perfect for savoring the summer season. Gazpacho is a chilled soup bursting with the essence of ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, zesty peppers, and fragrant herbs. Its smooth texture and tangy flavors make it a tantalizing option for those seeking a light and invigorating dish. Whether enjoyed as an appetizer, a light lunch, or even a refreshing beverage, gazpacho offers a delightful respite from the sweltering heat. It's also a tasty way to get more vegetables into your diet. 

I want to share my version of this delightful chilled soup. Many recipes online call for canned or bottle tomato juice. This recipe is made from all raw fruits and vegetables. It helps a lot to use a high-powered blender to get a nice smooth consistency. Now if you want it chunky, you can blend it a little less. This soup is packed with flavor, and is so quick to make. 

Check out the recipe below

I didn't have quite enough Roma tomatoes, so I added a hefty handful of cherry tomatoes. 

What you will need 

For the soup: 
  • 5-6 fresh Roma tomatoes cut in quarters  
  • 1 small or 1/2 of a large red or orange bell pepper, cut in big pieces
  • 3/4 of an English cucumber peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1/2 of a small red onion
  • 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • a big handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and cracked pepper to taste, about a tsp each
For the topping: 
  • the remaining 1/4 cucumber dice finely (skin on)
  • cherry tomatoes cut into small pieces
  • cilantro
  • avocado chunks

How to make it

  1. Add all of the cut up vegetables except for the toppings into your blender. 
  2. Next, add olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. 
  3. Blend on high speed until you reach the consistency you like. Taste for seasoning, and add additional salt and pepper if needed. 
  4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to come together. 
  5. Top with the chopped veggies and a drizzle of olive oil if you'd like. ENJOY! 


Gazpacho is a versatile soup that offers a wide range of topping possibilities, allowing you to tailor it to your personal preferences. Traditional toppings include diced cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and croutons, which add texture and enhance the overall flavor profile. You could even add cooked, chilled shrimp to make it a heartier meal. For an extra touch of elegance, consider adding a drizzle of high-quality olive oil or a sprinkle of fresh herbs like basil or cilantro. As for storage, gazpacho can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days, allowing you to enjoy its refreshing taste and vibrant colors over multiple servings. So go ahead and explore the endless variations and toppings to create your own delightful gazpacho experience, perfect for cooling down during hot summer days or whenever your taste buds crave a burst of Mediterranean flavors!
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Last Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas from Gourmet Gift Baskets

Father's Day is coming up soon, on June 18th. Sending a gift from Gourmet Gift Baskets is a great choice for a number of reasons. Firstly, they offer a wide variety of gift baskets to choose from, catering to a range of tastes and occasions. Whether you're looking for a gift for a chocolate lover or a wine enthusiast, you're sure to find something that fits the bill. Additionally, their gift baskets are of high quality, filled with gourmet foods and beverages from top-notch brands. This ensures that the recipient will receive a gift that is both delicious and luxurious. Furthermore, Gourmet Gift Baskets offers reliable and efficient shipping, so you can rest assured that your gift will arrive on time and in great condition. Sending a gift from Gourmet Gift Baskets is a thoughtful and impressive way to show your appreciation or celebrate a special occasion. 


This Father's Day, consider spoiling your dad or father figure with a Father's Day Sweet and Savory Meat and Cheese box. This delicious gift comes in a handsome keepsake box packed with care, and contains: 

  • Summer Sausage by Hanover Smokehouse - 5 oz. 
  • Stoned Wheat Crackers by Mariner - 1.5 oz. 
  • Olive Oil & Sel Gris Organic Flatbread Crackers by Rustic Bakery - .7 oz. – Qty. 2 
  • Cheddar Cheese by Mountain View Farms - 6 oz. 
  • Vegetable Cheddar Cheese by Mountain View Farms - 6 oz. 
  • Raspberry Honey Mustard by Terrapin Ridge Farms - 4 oz 

This gift is only $49.99 and is sure to be well received! Even the delivery box has a peel-away tab that reveals a greeting card. The savory summer sausage pairs so well with the crackers, cheese and the sweet-tart combo from the raspberry honey mustard. Most dads love to tell you to not buy them anything, but the dads I know would not want to turn this one down. Just don't be upset when he chooses not to share. This is a good one! 

Other gifts to consider: 

New for 2023! Bacon and Chocolate Bundt Cakes, $39.99, SKU 2004

Baked Goods and Tea for Dad, $99.99, SKU 6673F

Bloody Mary Bar, $99.99, SKU 6031


We highly recommend Gourmet Gift Baskets as a gift for Father's Day, birthdays, thank yous, get well soon, anniversaries, and even just because! The person receiving it will feel extra special and loved.

Many thanks to our brand partner, Gourmet Gift Baskets for a sample gift to enjoy. All opinions in this post are my own like always. Thank you so much for stopping by today! 

Shelly
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Beginners Guide to Whiskey Drinking

Starting with a milder whiskey and cleaning your palate with water in between each sip is recommended for beginners. Adding water can also open up the flavors of the whiskey by diluting it. There are many different types of whiskey, and they all have unique flavor profiles. The most common are bourbon, Tennessee, and rye whiskeys. 

Smell

If you're new to whiskey, trying different kinds might seem like it could be safer. There are so many different flavors and aromas to choose from! However, the good news is that there's whiskey for everyone. The key to finding your favorite is experimenting with it and finding a reputable store like Curiada, which has many options. When you're drinking whiskey, take a moment to enjoy the smell. The nose has five million olfactory cells that can detect 32 primary aromas. You'll notice a lot of hints of the whisky's flavor in its scent. If you're a beginner, having a whiskey aroma wheel handy is helpful to help you identify the different smells and flavors. These are similar to wine aroma wheels and help you identify a whiskey's characteristics.  Whiskey is one of the most versatile drinks, and you can enjoy it in many ways. Whether you prefer your whiskey neat or in a cocktail, knowing how to enjoy it properly is essential. This comprehensive guide to whiskey for beginners will help you learn everything you need to know about the spirit. When tasting whiskey, sniff it before you take a sip. It allows you to detect more aromas and flavors the spirit offers. If you are new to sniffing, try experimenting with different techniques to find what works best for you. Be careful not to inhale too hard, or you could have a sore nose! When drinking whiskey, drinkers recommend using a large chunk of ice. It is because more giant ice cubes melt slower and will dilute the whiskey less quickly. Then, gently swirl the whiskey in your mouth before swallowing it. It is known as the 'mouthfeel' and is when you can experience all of the flavors that the whiskey has to offer.

Mouthfeel

The mouthfeel of whiskey can be complex for newcomers to accept. While it's partly a matter of physiology, it also depends on the individual's expectations and culture. For this reason, it's best to start with a standard whiskey drink before trying something more complex. Ideally, whiskey should be drunk neat or with only a tiny amount of ice. It allows you to experience the whiskey's authentic flavors. However, it's important to note that adding ice can change the flavor and texture of the spirit. It can also numb the taste buds, making picking subtle flavor notes more challenging. Many enthusiasts recommend drinking whiskey with a few ice cubes, which helps open up the spirit and bring out its flavors. However, there may be better ideas for beginners, as they can quickly mask the drink's complexity and make it unpalatable. 

Add water or ice

There are many ways to enjoy whiskey, and while some whiskey connoisseurs may frown upon adding water or ice to their drinks, there is no right or wrong way to consume it. What matters is that you find a method of drinking that maximizes your enjoyment. Whether it's a cut-crystal Glencairn glass, a well-organized ritual, or a brown paper bag, that's up to you. Adding water to a whiskey can help dilute it, which opens up more flavors. However, the type of water and how much you add will alter the taste, so it's essential to experiment with different styles. Filtered tap or spring water can make a difference since they have no chemicals. If you add ice, it's best to use more giant ice cubes or even ice balls, as they melt slower and dilute the whiskey slowly. Also, avoid adding too much ice, as it can numb your taste buds and make the whiskey too cold. 

Add garnish

As you become more comfortable with whiskey, you should experiment with garnishes. Adding a garnish can help you identify different flavors and aromas in the whiskey. It can also add a bit of color to your drink. Try using a lemon twist or a simple cherry to add color to your whiskey. You can enjoy it independently, but it's also a great addition to cocktails. Many novices prefer to mix whiskey with a mixer to get started, and there are many standard cocktails that you can try. Alternatively, you can use a low-calorie mixer. When drinking whiskey, you must take small sips and roll the whiskey around your mouth before swallowing. It will allow you to experience the whiskey's full flavor and texture. You can also add ice to your whiskey, but it's best to use large pieces of ice so that they melt slowly. It will prevent your whiskey from diluting too quickly. You can also use whiskey stones and soapstone chunks that chill your drink without diluting it.

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5 Tips for Choosing the Best Ground Beef for Your Recipes

Ground beef is a staple for most families. Whether it’s for chili, meatloaf, or tacos, there are some essential things to consider when selecting your ground beef.

Look for packages with a nice cherry red color. Anything darker may have been exposed to oxygen and could have been spoiled. Also, avoid buying ground beef that looks dry or pasty.

Look for the USDA Quality Grade

When it comes to choosing ground beef for recipes like meatloaf, tacos, or burgers, shoppers may find themselves comparing packages of ground beef that look very similar in the grocery store. While the packaging might say “ground chuck,” “ground round,” or “ground sirloin,” it’s important to know what these terms mean.

The quality grade system evaluates meat for traits that predict tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. The highest grade, Prime, is reserved for carcasses with a high level of marbling and is very tender. The two highest grades are Choice and Select, both very delicate. The lowest three grades are Utility, Commercial, and Canner, and these are typically used for really cheap ground beef and other processed meat products such as hot dogs and dog food.

While the higher-grade ground beef will cost more than cheaper options, it’s well worth the extra expense if you’re looking for the best possible meat for your family. The taste of the heart is far better than what you’d get from a low-grade cut labeled as hamburger or ground beef.

Look for the Lean-to-Fat Ratio

Many ground beef packages list the meat’s quality grade and lean-to-fat ratio. The fat content varies depending on the grind of the beef and its intended use.

The lean-to-fat ratio is usually listed on the package in a slashed number format, with the amount of lean meat before and the fat content after. For example, a box of 80/20 ground beef has a high level of lean meat and a low-fat group, making it ideal for burgers and other recipes that call for a formable patty that won’t fall apart or dry out.

Other types of ground beef are more suited to stews and soups as they contain more fat. One popular choice is ground round, which has a lower fat level but isn’t as juicy as other types of ground beef. It is often used in recipes of moist cooking methods, such as casseroles and stuffed peppers. It can also add moisture and richness to a dish without much fat.

Look for Freshness

Ground beef is one of the most perishable items in the meat case. So it’s important to choose new packages. A bright cherry-red color is a good sign, meaning the meat hasn’t gone bad. Also, be sure to smell the box, as foul odors can tell you a lot about the quality of the heart.

Ideally, it would help you to look for a source grind label, which tells you what part of the animal’s body the meat came from. This makes a difference when cooking, as the fattier cuts are more flavorful and tender.

In addition, choose packages with a “use by” date that is as close to your recipe’s window of opportunity as possible. And be sure to keep raw ground beef and other foods separated in the fridge, as cross-contamination can spread illness-causing bacteria from the meat to ready-to-eat foods. For longer shelf life, Underly likes the little plastic or foam packages (called trays) you sometimes find in the meat case, which can be stored in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days and frozen for up to three months. 

Look for the Meat’s Color

From the basic burger to meatloaf and chili, ground beef is the cornerstone of many dinner recipes. But have you ever considered what kind of ground meat you’re grabbing off that shrink-wrapped tray in the supermarket?

Those bright red packages of ground beef may look the same at a glance, but they each have a unique lean-to-fat ratio and come from different cuts of meat. Choose one that suits your cooking needs and goals, and opt for a high-quality cut of meat whenever possible.

To make the best choice, select a “source grind” that specifies which cut of meat is used in the mix. Canal House recommends selecting ground chuck (from the neck and shoulder) for casseroles and meatloaf and 80 percent lean ground sirloin for hamburgers.

Look for ground beef that is a rosy pink with defined white flecks of fat to ensure that the meat is fresh. Ground grayish or brown beef is a sign of spoilage and should be thrown away immediately for food safety reasons. The color change is due to the meat’s myoglobin changing to oxymyoglobin as it is exposed to oxygen.

Look for the Butcher’s Mark

Ground beef is a staple in many meals. It’s convenient, inexpensive, and delicious. However, not all ground beef is created equal. The quality of ground beef can make or break your recipe. This is why you should always buy the best ground beef you can afford. Whether you are making burgers, meatloaf, or casseroles, you want ground beef that is tender and flavorful. The best way to achieve this is to get your ground beef from a butcher or deli.

At the supermarket, look for packages that say what kind of cuts were used to produce the ground beef you are purchasing. For example, you will see boxes that indicate ground chuck, ground round, or ground sirloin. This will tell you what fat percentage was used and show its quality.

Always store your ground beef properly and avoid raw meats or ready-to-eat foods. Raw ground beef can spread illness-causing bacteria to those foods and utensils that come into contact with it. Also, never pour its liquified fat down the drain when cooking ground beef. This can cause clogs and lead to future plumbing problems.

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Delicious Summer Cocktails and Mocktails for Entertaining

Summer is the perfect season for entertaining friends and family outdoors, and what better way to do it than with some delicious and refreshing cocktails and mocktails. Whether you are hosting a backyard barbecue or a pool party, these recipes are sure to impress your guests and keep them cool and hydrated during those hot summer days. 

Classic Margarita

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Tequila
  • 1 oz. Lime Juice
  • 1 oz. Simple Syrup
  • Salt for the rim

Instructions:

  1. Rub the rim of a rocks glass with a lime wedge, then dip it into a plate of salt.
  2. Fill the glass with ice.
  3. In a shaker, combine tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup with ice.
  4. Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds, then strain into the prepared glass.
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy!                                                                                                

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chopped seedless watermelon
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 limes, juiced

Instructions:

  1. Combine watermelon, water, and honey in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add lime juice and blend again.
  3. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a pitcher.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Serve over ice and garnish with a slice of watermelon.

Pineapple Coconut Mojito

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 tbsp. coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 1/2 oz. rum
  • Club soda

Instructions:

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle together mint leaves, pineapple, coconut cream, honey, and lime juice.
  2. Add rum and ice to the shaker and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds.
  3. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice.
  4. Top with club soda and garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of pineapple.                                   

Strawberry Lemonade Mocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups cold water
  • Lemon slices and strawberries for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a blender, puree strawberries, lemon juice, and honey until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a pitcher.
  3. Add cold water and stir well.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices and strawberries.

Peach Bellini

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe peach, peeled and pitted
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 bottle Prosecco

Instructions:

  1. Puree peach and honey in a blender until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into a champagne flute.
  3. Top with Prosecco and stir gently.
  4. Serve immediately and enjoy!

These summer cocktail and mocktail recipes are perfect for entertaining guests and cooling off during hot summer days. Try them out and get creative with your own ingredients and flavors to make your signature drinks that everyone will love. Cheers to a fun and refreshing summer!

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Homeware Essentials: How to Choose a Coffee Machine

Tea and coffee are the drinks of choice for many people today. Traditionally, coffee was made from granules, although in recent years, coffee machines have become more popular in Britain, and for a good reason. Coffee machines simply make a better cup of coffee. However, with so many models on the market, it can be hard to choose the right one. This is why we have put together the following guide; keep reading to learn more. 

Cafetiere/French Press

A cafetiere, or French press as it is sometimes known, is one of the simplest coffee machines. It is a glass jug with an inbuilt wire mesh that works as a plunger. Allow the coffee to brew for a few minutes before using the plunger to catch the grinds. They are relatively cheap and easy to use too. They are compatible with any ground coffee. 

Capsule Coffee Machines

These are arguably the most popular form of coffee machines. They use disposable capsules or pods to create the coffee. It tends to be one pod per cup. They are really user-friendly and convenient to use. The brand of the machine will limit your choice in capsule. There are pod recycling schemes which lessen the environmental impact of these machines. Luckily, OnBuy has a huge range of coffee-making machines, which includes a number of the make and models listed above. So be sure to check them out.

Coffee Filter Machines

A coffee filter machine works by allowing hot water to drip slowly through ground coffee into a jug or a cup below. Depending on the size of the machine, it can make large quantities of coffee too. They are perhaps more ideal for those who want to drink coffee regularly throughout the day or in a house where there are several coffee drinkers. There is a range of models which hit all price points, and they again are compatible with any ground coffee.

Percolators

Percolators work similarly to coffee filter machines, although in the opposite way. The water is pushed up through a tube to brew the coffee in a jug above the water tank. They are also traditionally used on a hob, although you can find electric models. Percolators cannot keep the coffee hot for a long time, and they also may overflow. They do make a great cup of coffee, but they tend to be quite strong. They again range in price and can be used with any ground coffee.

Espresso Machines

In essence, espresso machines are essentially smaller versions of the machines that baristas in coffee shops use. Depending on the model, they may also have a number of other features to explore, like milk frothers and different settings too. They can be tricky to master, and depending on the model; they may require a bean grinder. Some of the models are on the more expensive side, but you can still find affordable options. The type of coffee required would depend on the machine and whether you need ground or whole beans. 

How to Choose?

Your choice will depend on a number of factors, including your budget, the size of your household, how much time you have and what type of coffee you prefer. This is why doing research is key. You might even want to consider the aesthetics of your home and which machine will go best with your kitchen and general interior design style. 


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Certified Barbeque Judging Training Class February 18 in Columbia, SC

The South Carolina Barbecue Association (SCBA) will hold a one-day seminar in Columbia to train new barbecue judges. The seminar is Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the recreation hall at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 1715 Bull St. 

Registration for the seminar is open to SCBA members with a $50 per person fee for the class. Non-SCBA members may join SCBA prior to or while registering for the seminar. SCBA annual membership dues are $45 for an individual or $60 for a family. A catered BBQ lunch is included with the seminar.

The seminar is the first step in becoming an SCBA Certified Barbecue Judge. After completing the class, potential judges will continue their training with hands-on experience as novice judges at four SCBA-sanctioned barbecue competitions. Competitions are held around the state at festivals and fairs, as well as other community events or stand-alone BBQ contests.

Those interested in becoming SCBA-certified judges and attending the Feb. 26th seminar may visit www.scbarbeque.com to register for the seminar and may also join the SCBA. 

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Cocktail and Mocktail Recipes for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a special occasion to celebrate love and romance, and what better way to do that than with a delicious cocktail or mocktail? Whether you're planning a romantic dinner for two at home or hosting a party with friends, these easy Valentine's Day cocktail and mocktail recipes are sure to impress. 

Cocktail: Raspberry Rose Martini

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz raspberry vodka

1 oz rose liqueur

1/2 oz lime juice

1/4 oz simple syrup

3 raspberries for garnish

Instructions:

1. In a shaker, combine the raspberry vodka, rose liqueur, lime juice, and simple syrup.

2. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.

3. Garnish with 3 raspberries on a toothpick.

Mocktail: Strawberry Basil Fizz

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

3 basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup simple syrup

1 cup club soda

1/2 cup ice

additional basil leaves and strawberries for garnish

Instructions:

1. In a blender, puree the strawberries, basil leaves, lime juice, and simple syrup until smooth.

2. In a glass, add the puree and club soda. Stir until well combined.

3. Add ice and garnish with additional basil leaves and strawberries.

Cocktail: Chocolate Covered Cherry Martini

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz vanilla vodka

1 oz cherry liqueur

1/2 oz chocolate liqueur

1/2 oz heavy cream

1/4 oz simple syrup

Chocolate shavings for garnish

Instructions:

1. In a shaker, combine the vanilla vodka, cherry liqueur, chocolate liqueur, heavy cream, and simple syrup.

2. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.

3. Garnish with chocolate shavings. 

Mocktail: Pink Lemonade Spritz

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup simple syrup

1 cup sparkling water

1/2 cup ice

additional raspberries for garnish

Instructions:

1. In a blender, puree the raspberries, lemon juice, and simple syrup until smooth.

2. In a glass, add the puree and sparkling water. Stir until well combined.

3. Add ice and garnish with additional raspberries.

These cocktails and mocktails are easy to make and are sure to be a hit on Valentine's Day. They are perfect for a romantic dinner for two or for a party with friends. So, whether you prefer a cocktail or a mocktail, you're sure to find something you'll love in this list.

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Google Data Reveals the Highest-rated Vegan Restaurants in the US

Healthy lifestyles have surged in popularity over the past decade along with larger public awareness of the impact livestock has on the environment. Logically, veganism also spread like wildfire and today, most people have at least one friend who is vegan. To commemorate World Vegan Day on November 1, millions of people will be opting for at least one plant-based meal on Tuesday.

As this day gives both vegans and non-vegans the opportunity to try out a new vegan restaurant or dish, the team at BonusInsider ventured into identifying the ten highest-rated vegan restaurants in the entire United States. We used Google Places API to collect data on all restaurants that offer vegan cuisine in the 200 largest cities by population in the US and after sifting through thousands of diners, we found the 10 places with the highest online rating on the map.

Methodology

To compile a list of the highest-rated vegan restaurants, the team at BonusInsider wanted to gather as much data as possible. This is why we put to use Google Places API, which let us access customer review data on Google Maps. We searched for the “vegan” keyword, filtering for the “restaurant” place type in the 200 largest cities by population in the entire US. This gave us a long list of 9845 locations, so we sorted those firstly by rating and secondly by number of reviews, including only places with a minimum of 100 reviews to end up with the 10 highest-rated vegan restaurants in the United States.

1. Green Green Trees Your Vegan Kitchen, West Covina

This is a casual vegan eatery in West Covina, California, offers a wide variety of plant-based Asian soups and noodles, sandwiches, fried rice, porridges, desserts, and more. The restaurant also has nice vegan “meats”, sushi, and all-organic dishes, all prepared with high-quality fresh ingredients. 

2. Frescura Vegan Kitchen, San Juan, Puerto Rico

This is a small eatery in San Juan and is considered one of the best vegan restaurants in Puerto Rico. Led by Chef Jessica, it serves a wide variety of vegan burgers (called vurgers), wraps and quesadillas, soups, salads, and main dishes, as well as delicious smoothies, acai bowls, and many more. Customers can also enjoy vegan cappuccinos and other coffees, or several types of superfood lattes.

3. Yumz Vegan Bakery & Cafe, Salt Lake City

This vegan diner is located in South Salt Lake and along with the wide variety of plant-based meals, it offers customers to have a great time playing the vintage arcade games installed in the restaurant. The menu focuses mainly on Latin cuisine so you can enjoy a wide variety of tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, Chile Verde, and chimichanga. The abundance of heavenly desserts, however, is probably the best thing about Yumz – and as this is also a bakery, there are plenty of cakes and you can even order an all-vegan birthday cake here.

4. Get Together, El Paso

Get Together is a charming, little restaurant in Downtown El Paso that encourages people to get together for a nice, delicious meal. It’s just 10 minutes away from the Mexican border, so it’s hardly a surprise that the menu combines the best of both countries – there are burgers and tacos, Mac & Cheese, and nachos, as well as wonderful vegan alternatives to classics such as the Tuná Ceviche, made with watermelon. And for those bringing their non-vegan friends to the restaurant, Get Together has meat dishes, as well.

5. Cajou – A Plant-Based Creamery & Cafe, Baltimore

Located in Downtown Baltimore, Cajoy is a remarkable ice-cream shop that offers the most delicious plant-based ice cream you’ve ever tasted. It guarantees that everything is hand-crafted from the best superfoods available and has no dairy, no gluten or soy, and no artificial ingredients. So, how do you make ice cream without milk, you would ask – from house-made cashew milk, mixed with organic wild blueberries, green cardamom, Saigon cinnamon, pistachios, raw cacao, or sweet potatoes.

6. Channel Islands Juice Co., Loma Vista Restaurant, Oxnard

This is a fruit juice shop and restaurant on Loma Vista Road between Oxnard and Ventura, around 60 miles from Los Angeles. The company, Channel Islands Juice Co., has two locations – one on Loma Vista Road and the other on E. Thompson Blvd. It offers cold-pressed organic juices from locally sourced ingredients that “nourish the mind, body and soul”. Apart from the various juices, nut milks, and wellness shots, the restaurant a menu full of has tasty and healthy breakfast meals, acai and chia seed bowls, plant-based tortilla wraps, red lentil pasta, and more.

7. Eris Vegan Food, Oceanside

This is a relatively new vegan restaurant in Oceanside, a city on the South Coast of California that lies between Los Angeles and San Diego. The restaurant is close to the beach and has a wonderful patio where customers can enjoy a wide variety of plant-based meals and kombucha. And since it serves Mexican-American fusion cuisine, there are plenty of tacos, seitan, jackfruit or coconut “fysh”, flatbreads, burgers, buddha bowls, etc.

8. Rush Bowls, Charleston

Rush Bowls is a health food restaurant in West Side, a neighborhood in Charleston, South Carolina. As its name suggests, it focuses its menu on nutritious bowls with fruit, granola, and honey. The bowls are rich in healthy ingredients, protein, and vitamins, but most of all, they are always fresh and delicious. The restaurant also has a wide variety of smoothies, banana bread bites, and non-dairy or natural milk options.

9. Vegan and Vine, Phoenix

Vegan and Vine is a family-owned business located on the Northwest Corner of 7th Street and Thunderbird in Phoenix. It is a cafe, market, and wine shop that serves plant-based comfort food, brunch, shared plates and elevated vegan dishes along with cocktails, wine, and coffee. The restaurant has an extensive wine list, while the menu includes vegan and vegetarian food, as well as special kids’ meals.

10. Slutty Vegan, Ralph David Abernathy Blvd, Atlanta

Slutty Vegan is Pinky Cole’s plant-based burger restaurant chain in Atlanta, which has built a cult following not only among vegans but among everyone who loves modern fast food. The restaurant’s mission is to offer vegan junk food that is delicious and made with vegetables at the same time. The Westview location was the first Slutty Vegan restaurant and it is incredibly popular, which has led to long lines and, sometimes, hours-long wait times. All this is worth it, however, especially if you are craving some not-so-traditional junk food.

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Thanksgiving Cocktail Recipes from The Mixer

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to spend quality time with your loved ones, enjoying tasty food and family traditions. When you’ve gone to the trouble of cooking up a feast, you’ll want delicious drinks to match. 

The best thanksgiving cocktails are easy to serve when hosting a crowd. The kitchen gets busy, so choose drinks that suit your time frame. Also, serve cocktails that pair well with your Thanksgiving menu. Here is our ultimate pick of incredible drinks to serve this holiday season without going into a complete tailspin on Turkey Day!



Kir Royale


This French Champagne cocktail (aka Kir Royale) is a New York City favorite and an incredibly simple cocktail to master. You’ll wonder why you’ve waited all this time to try one! 


Ingredients (per person)


  • 0.5 Oz blackcurrant liqueur

  • 6 Oz Champagne


Method


  1. Pour creme de cassis in a champagne glass

  2. Top with Champagne and serve!



Apple Butter Old Fashioned

An Apple Butter Old Fashioned cocktail is packed with the inviting flavors of warm apple pie. Made with real apple butter (just like mama used to make), this fall Old Fashioned drink is perfect as an indulgent drink with your bourbon-loving friends. For this recipe, you’ll be making your own apple butter. Don’t worry, it’s super simple to make because YOLO! And it’s downright delicious. If you have leftovers, you can add it to cheese platters, use it as a glaze for that roast beef dinner or dollop it onto pancakes. Yum!


Hot tip: “Contrary to what the name suggests, apple butter does not contain any butter. It’s basically just a fancy name for apples that have been pureed, spiced and cooked down to give them a butter-like texture. It is easy to make and store in your fridge. Use it in cocktails, to spread on toast, as a glaze on meat or add it to your morning oats.” (Helena Lombard, The Mixer)


Ingredients (per person)


  • 0.5 Oz of Apple cider 

  • 0.5 Oz of Wild Turkey Bourbon

  • 2 tablespoon of apple butter 

  • Dash of orange bitters 

  • Juice of half a lemon 

  • Ginger beer (to top your glass) 

  • Coarse cinnamon sugar and simple syrup, for rimming 

  • Thinly sliced apples and a cinnamon stick, to garnish

 

Instructions


  1. Pour some simple syrup on a plate and some coarse cinnamon sugar on another

  2. Dip the rim of your cocktail glass into the syrup and then into the sugar, twisting to coat, before adding ice cubes to the glass 

  3. Combine the apple cider, apple butter, Wild Turkey, lemon juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker and give it a dry shake (in other words, a shake without ice) 

  4. Shake vigorously until properly combined then strain into your prepared cocktail glass

  5. Top up with ginger beer and garnish with a cinnamon stick and apple slice on the rim to serve


Hot Toddy


Looking for warming thanksgiving drinks that are easy to make? A Hot Toddy is an ideal drink as you can let the crockpot do all the work - another thing you can tick off the to-do list!


Ingredients (per person)


  • 2 Oz Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey

  • 0.25 Oz Fresh lemon juice

  • 2 Teaspoons brown sugar

  • 5 Cloves

  • Sliced lemon

  • Boiling water  


Method


  1. Take a slice of lemon, press the cloves into the lemon round and set aside 

  2. Boil water and fill a mug to the three-quarter mark

  3. Pour in the whiskey and lemon juice and stir in the sugar until dissolved

  4. Add the clove-studded lemon wheel and allow to infuse

  5. Serve in a warmed mug



Mexican Coffee Cocktail


Also known as a Carajillo, this is a classic coffee cocktail that you can make with just a few ingredients. The tequila gives this coffee a decent kick, and the coffee liqueur balances out the flavor and adds sweetness.  


Ingredients (per person)


  • 1.5 Oz Espolòn Tequila Reposado

  • 1 Oz coffee liqueur

  • 5 Oz freshly brewed coffee

  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream (optional)

  • a dusting of cocoa powder, cinnamon or cayenne pepper (optional)


Method


  1. Pour the tequila and coffee liqueur into a mug

  2. Top up with freshly brewed coffee

  3. Garnish with whipped cream and dusting of your choice, if you want



Bourbon Apple Cider


This spiced cocktail is exactly what you need to warm up your guests on a cold night. This is a full-flavor cocktail, and the sourness of the lemon balances beautifully with the sweet notes of caramel, vanilla and apple.


Ingredients (per person)


  • 0.5 Oz of Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey 

  • 0.5 Oz of apple cider 

  • 0.5 Oz of Cinzano Vermouth Rosso 

  • 0.5 Oz of lemon juice 

  • 0.5 Oz of orange bitters 

  • Apple slices to garnish 

  • A sprig of thyme to garnish 

  • Ice

 

Method


  1. Add ice to a large mixing glass or cocktail shaker

  2. Pour in the bourbon, cider, sweet vermouth, lemon juice and bitters

  3. Stir until chilled (about 30 seconds)

  4. Strain into any cocktail glass of your choice

  5. Garnish with a few apple slices and a sprig of thyme

 

Hot Pumpkin Pie Cocktail


If you love the taste of a pumpkin spice latte, then choose this cocktail as the star of your Thanksgiving feast this year. Serve your Hot Pumpkin Pie cocktails in warmed mugs, topped with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. As an extra treat, you can serve baked pumpkin pie crusts on the side for some decadent dipping.


Hot tip: “Make pumpkin-infused vodka by mixing together pumpkin puree and spice, with ½ cup of vodka in a large jar. Seal and keep in the fridge for three days before using, shaking it a few times a day.” (Helena Lombard, The Mixer)


Ingredients (for 6 people)


  • 2 cups of Irish cream 

  • ½ a cup vanilla or pumpkin pie vodka 

  • 4 cups of milk 

  • 0.67

  • 1 can of pumpkin puree 

  • 1.5 teaspoons of pumpkin spice 

  • Whipped cream 

  • Cinnamon 

  • Strips of baked pumpkin pie crust to garnish, optional

 

Method


  1. Add the Irish cream, vodka, and milk to a pot  

  2. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a slow simmer

  3. Stir through pumpkin puree and spices until mixed through 

  4. Ladle into warmed glass mugs

  5. Dollop over some whipped cream

  6. Dust with cinnamon

  7. Serve with baked pumpkin pie crusts for dipping

 

Visit www.themixer.com for more cocktail inspiration.


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