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Monday, October 31, 2016

Three Awesome Things to do With Your Halloween Candy Besides Eating It

If you find yourself with overwhelming amounts of candy this Halloween, you have a few options. You could always gorge on it and consume astounding amounts of sugar and fat, or you could do something more.

You can sell it to a dentist. Some local dentist offices will buy your Halloween candy. They pay per weight and it seems the average is $1 per pound. You can search by zipcode for the nearest participating dentist here:

You could send it to a soldier. Operation Gratitude will gladly take your candy and send it in care packages to soldiers oversees. Here's their link:

You could donate it to charity. Among others, Ronald McDonald House accepts unopened candy after Halloween. You can find the nearest location here:

There is no wrong decision regarding what you do with your Halloween candy, but it's nice to be able to weigh all of the options.

What do you do with your Halloween candy? Do you eat all of it?

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Check Out This Fortune Telling Cake for Halloween!

"Candy!" is generally the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of Halloween, but a traditional Irish fortune-telling cake is more accurate.

We all know that Halloween is the modern-day celebration of the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhaim (pronounced Sow-in). It was originally celebrated as the time of year when the veil between the living and the dead was at its thinnest. This led to all sorts of fortune-telling and divination methods in hopes of learning about the future.

Thus enters the barmbrack. This simple fruit bread is the delicious ancestor of the questionable fruit cakes of today. The fun part about this bread though, has nothing to do with its taste or appearance, but what it has inside.

Particular "charms" are wrapped in parchment paper, evenly distributed, and baked inside. Traditionally, the items include a coin, ring, thimble, button, and scrap of cloth.

The cake is then divided and whatever charm you had in your piece was your fortune. The coin symbolizes riches ahead, the ring is marriage within the year, thimble is for a woman who will never marry, button for a lifelong bachelor, and scrap of cloth means poverty in the near future.

If you're planning a Halloween party, this could be a really fun addition. (Just be sure to warn your guests, no one wants to choke on a thimble.)

Here's a great recipe courtesy of :

For other Halloween party recipes, check this out:

Have you ever eaten barmbrack? What do you think of the tradition?

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Move Over Chicken, Goat is the New Lean Cuisine

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2017 may be the year of the rooster, but goat is predicted to dominate the dinner table. The U.S. is now catching up with the rest of the world when it come to this delicious protein staple.

When I was in primary school, (many moons ago), we had a guest restaurant come in and cook for us. They made goat stew. There were a lot of kids that skipped lunch that day and out of those that ate it, there was only one who went back for seconds...yep, you guessed it, it was me.

I've always enjoyed trying new foods and perhaps it was then that I realized I was a future "foodie". The goat stew was amazing. The meat was tender, the potatoes and vegetables adding just the right notes of flavor and texture. It was delicious! So, imagine how excited I am that it's finally trending for the new year.

And why not? Many other countries already utilize this versatile, lean red meat. Its low in fat, cholesterol, and calories. Goat meat actually has less calories than boneless, skinless chicken breast per serving. It has a mild flavor and pairs well with most cuisine.

With the popularity of goat milk and cheeses and the increasing focus on less waste, goat is poised to be the go-to protein at dinner tables across the country. Restaurants are already serving many goat dishes to stay ahead of the trend and have created some absolutely stunning dishes along the way.

Goat can be roasted in the same way that you roast lamb and it can also be stewed, barbequed, and fried. The key is to cook it low and slow. Its such a lean meat that high temperature cooking will cause it to dry out and rob it of its flavor.

Expect to see goat meat selections popping up in stores soon, but for now, your best bet is farmer's markets and local co-op.

Do you or have you ever eaten goat? Would you? What do you think of this new trend? For info on other food trends for 2017, check these out : and

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Food the Ultimate Status Symbol for Millennials

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, no matter where you go online you are bombarded with images of someone's plate. Is it narcissism or a positive trend?

It seems that millennials love to be one of a kind, even though fifty percent of them identify as "foodies". In a world where individuality reigns supreme and with so many "trendy" diets to choose from, food choices are an easy place to assert one's own uniqueness.

For many young people, especially those in their early 20s, buying a house or their dream car is not possible with the current market. More of these millennials are choosing to assert their adulthood, status, and education level by being very deliberate about their food luxuries. Nothing quite says "look how well I'm doing in life" like a snapshot of your caviar covered Maine lobster plastered on social media.

Normal food has become boring, a thing of the past. Now it's all about the search for specialty cheeses, exotic fruits and vegetables, luxury proteins. The goal is to make the experience as unique and individualized as possible. The search for the next big culinary thrill is ongoing quest.

With the world at our fingertips, the expectation for transparency from companies and organizations has been the next evolutionary step. The age of "secret" sauces and ingredients are a thing of the past. Millennials want to be able to recreate their favorite dishes and they want to be able to feel empowered about where their food comes from. Locavores is a real term now and it's all about locally sourced and sustainability.

To be gluten-free or vegan is trendy and stylish. Its okay to eliminate entire food groups as long as you're doing it for ethical reasons, or under the guise of health choices. Its hip to choose the organic kale and berry salad with local crumbled goat cheese. Fast food fried chicken and box macaroni and cheese just aren't as photogenic. And, really what's the point in eating it if you can't upload an amazing, envy-worthy photo to social media? For more on how this is affecting restaurants, check this out :

What do you think of millennials' food focus? Is it beneficial or is it leading to more food obsessed problems?

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Fight World Hunger While Eating Delicious Food At Insane Discounts, Here's How!

Now there's a service that enables you to help save the world while enjoying amazing food for next to nothing! 

BuffetGo let's you buy leftover buffet food for a mere fraction of the cost. And it gets even better, they donate 20 percent of the proceeds to the U.N. World Food Programme, the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger. You can learn more about that here:

During a time when more than 240,000 food portions are wasted daily and 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to landfills, this company is doing its part to provide a solution.

BuffetGo was founded in Finland in 2014 and was just launched in the U.S. in September. Currently the service is available in 8 countries in the world. The app is not available in the United States yet, but don't worry, the website is fully functional: Expect to see restaurant names such as the Hilton and Double Tree as well as a multitude of smaller businesses.

The company describes its mission as "combating global climate change, world hunger, and the food waste epidemic around the world". After a preliminary view, it looks like CA has the most options, with a few in NY as well, and they range in price from $3 to $5. Currently BuffetGo will refund your first meal, so you can basically try the service for free.

With so much waste going on in the world, companies like this are a beacon of hope. Have you tried this BuffetGo? What was your experience? What do you think of this service?

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Is This New Restaurant Trend Killing Ambiance?

We've all heard the saying, "we eat with our eyes". Well, restaurants have started taking it to the next level. If you've noticed the dimly-lit, cozy atmosphere in restaurants replaced by bright, unflattering lights, you can blame social media.

As the quest to be "Facebook famous" grows, more people are searching for that perfect dining photo. Restaurants have picked up on this and are attempting to cash in on the free advertising.

This means brighter lighting for higher quality phone camera shots. Some restaurants are taking it a step further with food photography classes on a weekly basis. Specialized plates are being utilized that allow even the most amateur photographer to produce high quality images.

With all of this focus on photography, expect your dishes to be dressed up a little fancier than usual. Extra garnish, elegant presentations, all of the bells and whistles to make them camera-ready.

Some restaurants are tring to encourage this trend even more by offering incentives to guests who upload photos to their social media sites. While other restaurants feel that this new trend is an abomination and are banning photography completely.

What are your thoughts on this new trend? Do you think restaurants and chefs should be focused more on diners' experiences than their photographs? Do you prefer the brighter lighting?

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Having a Halloween Party? Here's the must-have recipes!

It's no secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday. And, I may have been known to go all out for parties...fog machines, strobe lights, horror movies in the background, the whole nine!

But, you can have the best atmosphere and if the food is lacking, it makes the whole thing a flop. So without further adieu, here's the recipes that will MAKE your party!

Meat Skull
Deli meat, barbeque sauce, plastic mold
This is a simple set up that packs a punch. I bought a plastic skull form from the Dollar Tree to start. Then take your favorite deli meats and tear than into various sizes. It should be somewhat messy, so no need for perfection.

Cover the skull in a layer of barbeque sauce and add a layer of the meat. More sauce, more meat. Continue until you're happy with your skull.

Serve with cheese and crackers and you're off the a great start!

Jello Shot Worms in Oreo Dirt
Jello, Vodka, Oreos
To make these, you need a pack of bendy straws. Cut them in half and stretch them out. Bundle them together with a rubber band and put them in a tight fitting cup.

Now use your favorite Jello shot recipe, might I suggest this one Pour your Jello into the straws and let them set.

While it's setting, run some oreoes through a food processor for your "dirt". Put this to the side for now.

After the Jello straws are solid, run them under some lukewarm water to loosen them and remove them from the straws. Bam, worms!

Toss the worms gently with your Oreo Dirt and them put them in a serving dish, sprinkle the remaining "dirt" on top.

Perfect adult Halloween party snack!

Gruesome deviled egg eyes
Eggs, Mayonnaise, green food coloring, Sliced Olives, Black icing, salt
Boil a dozen eggs for 35 minutes. Remove the shells, rinse, and halve the eggs. Remove the yolks and mix a tablespoon of mayonnaise at a time until you have a creamy, stiff consistency. Add 1/4 tsp salt and a couple of drops of green food coloring.

Put the filling in the egg whites and top with a slice of olive. Use black icing to make veins and you are done! These will keep in the fridge for a day or so, you can make them ahead of time if you need to.

Ashtray Fruit Dip
Oreos, Powdered sugar, candy cigarettes, assorted fruit
Gross, I know...but really delicious all the same.
Run Oreos and powdered sugar through a food processor for your "ashes". Put these in a "brand-new" never used ashtray, (for realism).

Add a few candy cigarettes and serve with a fruit platter. Apples and bananas pair very well with this.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and above all, have fun! I would love to hear your Halloween party stories, so comment below.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

This one switch can help you lose weight effortlessly

It seems that every day we are bombarded by some guru or weight-loss program telling us how to measure, weigh, or divide our plates for perfect portion sizes. Honestly, it seems like a tedious task, unrealistic, and I'm not interested in rationing my food out for every meal.

While I was re-organizing my kitchen, (clearing out the clutter), I came across our gorgeous China that was sadly, collecting dust. I decided to purge the rest and only use China.

Not only do I feel special at every meal, but I have lost weight! The sizes of antique China dishes are considerably smaller than almost all modern dishware. Smaller portion sizes come naturally on these delicate little plates. And, they're so fun!

I am a firm believer that meals should be enjoyed. China can transform any meal into an elegant event. Even if you're dining alone, I challenge you to break out the China, and cloth napkins if you have them, and sit at your table to eat.

When we treat a meal as an experience, we naturally slow down, (which is great for digestion and full signals), and we can easily eat smaller portions.

I haven't thrown out the food scale yet, but I also can't tell you exactly where it is.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences relating to China. Do you use it? So you think it helps with portion control?

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Toss the smoothies-chocolate cake is the new healthy breakfast food

Chocolate cake? The kid in all of us is doing a happy dance right now and rightfully so.

New studies suggest that adding chocolate cake to your breakfast routines can have a plethora of positive results. And, unlike other diet trends out there, you don't have to psych yourself up to indulge in chocolate.

Scientists have conducted new studies that show eating cake occassionally for breakfast can have positive effects on your waistline. Groups that had cake as their morning meal were less likely to indulge throughout the day and saw an increase in weight loss.

Eating dessert foods in the morning when your metabolism is at its highest is the best way to our those delicious calories to their best use. And chocolate has been proven to increase cognitive brain function and memory. I like to eat it because it tastes good, but hey, you can't argue with science.

We should be seeing an increase of dessert menus and options at restaurants for breakfast in the coming year. And, I predict some amazing new breakfast cake recipes as well.

Experts suggest choosing lower sugar, high quality chocolate options and using common sense. You are not advised to polish off an entire black forest cake. Reach for amuse-bouche chocolate cakes and you'll be right on track.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this new trend, as well as any experiences you have on this subject.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Influence Your State of Mind...with your pantry

Few things affect our state of mind more than our sense of smell. We can get a whiff of something and be transported through time to our most significant memories.

Recently, I was cleaning my fridge and found an orange that was, shall we say neglected. It was not technically bad, but it was beyond the realm of ripeness that I'm ok with. Thus began my simmer pot experience.

I checked my pantry and next thing I knew, I had a pot of sliced orange, cloves, cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla simmering away. I felt like a mad scientist.

The smell was amazing!

Simmer pots really can not be much simpler. If you have a container for heating, your fave fall fruits and spices, and water, you're set!

Popular ingredients are apples, oranges, cranberries, lemons, whole cloves, bay leaves, star anise, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, rosemary, and whole cloves, just to name a few.

Mix and match however you like, even creating your own signature scent combination. Let your creativity shine!

These scents will inspire nostalgia as well as acting as a humidifier for the dry winter months ahead.

On a side note, a jars of dried ingredients for a simmer pot would make excellent presents in December. Thoughtful, easy, and enjoyed by all!

Please comment below with your simmer pot experiences and any favorite recipes, I can't wait to hear about them!

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Want to be the trendiest mom on the planet? Start with sardines

Sardines? Those little bony fish in the can? Well, you can get them fresh as well, but yes.

2017 is predicted to see a rise in sardines from gourmet options to homemade baby foods. And why not, they have the highest RNA content of any known food. They're free of mercury and PCBs and high in Vitamin E and omega-3s.

These ocean-friendly delights have a creamy taste that pairs well with an abundance of flavor combinations. 

Try them mixed with kale and pasta, with garlic and olive oil. Or mashed with mayo, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper for fun sandwiches. And, for a more elegant meal, spread some honey goat cheese on toasted circles, topped with a sardine and a sprinkle of parsley. 

If you want to feed your family the trendiest things while giving them the best nutrition possible, start with sardines.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Accent on Wine, Summerville, SC-Review

Though the evening was overcast, wet and dreary, I couldn’t help but feel optimistic as I saw the warm and inviting light of Accent on Wine in Summerville. As I walked up to the outdoor seating, I was compelled to experience the small town atmosphere while enjoying what I anticipated to be a very pleasurable meal. Nestled in the historic downtown Summerville on a quiet street, I perused what was an impressive, yet comprehensive menu. There were so many choices and all of them seemed so elegant and well thought-out, (not the montage of items thrown together that one encounters on a lot of menus in this day and age).  I ended up, after careful consideration, choosing the Monday beer flight and the duck and orange pâté.

Both arrived very quickly and I was impressed by the attentiveness of the staff. The music was the perfect combination of optimistic, yet relaxing and set the perfect tone as I took in the culinary artwork that was displayed before me on a modest wooden platter. Such a simple dish was laid out in a way that made me feel as if I had ordered the most exquisite item on the menu.

The bread was light and airy but browned enough to give it the perfect crust. The gherkins and dates balanced the dish out perfectly with just the right combination of tart and sweet. The pâté itself was done in the most traditional French style. Each bite was filled with wonderful layers of flavor. The combination of duck with orange gave a rustic feel that transported me to the French Countryside. It was juicy, full of flavor, meaningful. The mustard that accompanied the dish, I have to say, stole the show. That mustard will haunt my dreams, the way that it brought out all of the flavors of everything else, it was truly exceptional. It was not your traditional mustard , it had texture and depth and soul.

Regarding the beers I have to say that the Mikkeller 19 and the Southern Tier crème brulee stout we’re truly amazing. The 19 paired with the dish perfectly, complementing the other flavors as it unfolded each one of its own. And the crème brulee stout was the perfect ending to an exceptional meal, with its vanilla bringing back the best memories of childhood with a very adult twist that balanced out the entire experience. Enjoying each sip as I admired the paintings displayed on the walls was a truly cultured experience.

Overall, I would have to say that Accent on Wine in Summerville far exceeds expectations and delivers in a way that makes it a shining beacon of elegant gastronomy in the heart of the south. I am blissfully daydreaming of my next visit to this exceptional establishment.

Tipping-Is It Really Necessary?

Tipping is a topic that can polarize a room almost as quickly as politics. There are those that feel that it’s the employer’s responsibility to pay a living wage and that the general public should not be held accountable for this shortcoming. Then there are also those that feel that you should not go out at all if you can’t afford to tip.

Traditionally, we’ve all been told that the tip should be based on a percentage of the total bill. A different camp of thought is that it should be determined solely by the quality of the service. There was a time that tipping was viewed as a compliment to waitstaff for excellent service. Now, it’s expected and is a legitimate need for servers to make minimum wage.

As someone who has had a range of occupations in the service industry, I can say that tipping is important. Personally, I think that some of the more modern restaurants, such as San Francisco’s Sous Bette Kitchen are on the right track. <a href=""></a> Tipping is banned there and the quality of service as well as the morale of the employee’s has skyrocketed. We see this same result time after time for restaurants that adopt this policy.

If a restaurant has not implemented living wages and a tip ban, then tipping should be based on service. Someone who orders a steak shouldn’t automatically be obligated to tip more than someone who orders the dinner salad, (or vice versa). If your server treats you well, keeps your glass full, happily takes care of your requests (within reason), they deserve a generous tip.

In my experience, if you take care of your server, bartender, or anyone else in a service industry occupation, they will take care of you. And the better you take care of them, the better your service. Here’s a link that gives 5 great points when it comes to tipping <a href=""></a>

What are your experiences with tipping? Have you ever worked in the service industry? Do you tip and if you dont, why not? I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject so please comment below. And if you enjoyed this article, be sure to subscribe so that you never miss a post!

Oregano-the overlooked wonder herb

Oregano is an often overlooked and underappreciated herb. Most of us are aware that it’s on pizza and that is the extent of our interest with it.

The word oregano literally means “joy of the mountains”. Greek sheperds encouraged their sheep to graze on the wild oregano that grew on the hillsides because it caused the meat to become sweeter. It is traditionally used in the cuisine of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It is customarily used in poultry seasoning and turkey stuffings, as well as pizza.

Oregano combines well with garlic, thyme, parsley, and olive oil. Its flavor is described as slightly bitter and pungent, lemony, with a hint of sweetness. Dried, it has a stronger taste. When preparing a dish, it is advised to add it in the last few minutes of cooking, as the process evaporates it’s volatile oils, causing it to lose its distinctive flavor.

Medicinally, oregano can be used to treat the common cold, asthma, nasal congestion, and menstrual cramps. The regular use of oregano in diet can also prevent certain cancers, such as breast and prostate cancers. It has been proven effective in lowering cholesterol and is beneficial to heart health. Here are the recommended guidelines for using this incredible herb as a home remedy.

Colds- 1T per 1 cup, drink 2-3x day<br>
Asthma- 1T per 1 cup, drink 4-5x day<br>
Cramps- 1/2T per 1 cup, drink 3-4x day<br>
Congestion- 1T per 1cup, inhale steam 3-4x.            day<br>
(Steep all recipes for 10 minutes. Honey can be added to taste.)

A convenient way to prepare oregano for teas in advance is to use coffee filters to make individual tea bags. Perfect for person use or as gifts for any occasion. Here is a link to step-by-step directions for diy teabags; <a href=""></a>

This often overlooked herb is beneficial in so many amazing ways. Be sure to take full advantage of the wonderful properties of oregano by sprinkling it on your pizzas, soups, salads, and even in your morning smoothie.

The information provided in this post is not a substitute for the services of licensed medical professionals and is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition.

I would love to hear about any experiences that you have had with oregano, so feel free to share them below! And don’t forget to subscribe so that you never miss an article.

Burntshirt vineyards, Hendersonville, NC review

A quaint, peaceful road leads into Burntshirt vineyards and ends in convenient parking right next to the rustic main building. As I walk up, I can see fields brimming with rows of grapes, an apple orchard in the distance. A cafe-style outdoor patio creates a welcoming environment. Inside, it is crisp and clean, with various merchandise lining the walls and there are two tasting stations.

There are two different flights of wine offered or you can try both. I choose both with a feeling of optimism. The first three wines are unremarkable. The next three…decent. The Meritage is an exquisite red blend. It’s dry but not overly so and the notes of each wine in the blend create a symphony of taste. A beautiful wine.

On to the floral and fruity wines, the Apple wine is excellent. It is not overpowering and could be paired with a multitude of fall dishes, the Riesling is a triumph as well. The Rosé is a beautiful marriage of berries, a fun drink for throughout the year.

The two that really exceed expectations are the Villa Rosa and Sunset Sippin’. The Villa Rosa is a semi-sweet red that delights the senses with its fruity bouquet. The Sunset Sippin’, true to its name, is the perfect sipping wine. Easy to drink, excellent bouquet, multiple notes, a beautiful masterpiece!

Sunset Sippin’ is so enjoyable that I purchase a bottle to enjoy on my vineyard picnic. It pairs perfectly with the crackers, cheeses, meats, biscuits, spreads, olives, and fruits. The vineyard provided an adorable top hat ice bucket to chill the bottle.

Overall, Burntshirt vineyards is a fun place to visit. The selection is enjoyable, the atmosphere inviting. If it’s during a busy time of day, you may end up waiting a ridiculous amount of time in between tastings, but all-in-all, a fun experience. If you are traveling to the mountains of North Carolina, it’s worth the trip to stop in and enjoy the Burntshirt experience.

Tines up v. Tines down-how not to eat like a savage

Depending on where you’re from, you have most likely spent your whole life setting a table with your flatware either facing up or facing down. But which is correct?

Well, if you are dining American-style, you are probably accustomed to setting a table with the utensils face up. This is due to the American way of eating where you hold your fork tines up. This style of eating involves holding your fork in your left hand, knife in right, and cutting a bite-sized piece of food. You then put your knife down (on your plate, of course) and switch your fork to your right hand to eat. This is also known, for very good reasons, as the zig-zag style of eating.

Now, if you are from England or any European countries, you may have noticed at some time or another, a table setting with flatware face down. There are a few reasons for this. The first and most obvious, is that the European-style of dining involves keeping your fork in your left hand, tines down, and then bringing your food directly to your mouth maintaining the tines in a downward position. A second reason for this placement is that the least amount of surface area on the flatware touches the table. This is viewed as much more hygienic. A third and final reason for tines down is that around the 20th century, tines up was viewed as threatening and disrespectful. If you have ever seen flatware that is engraved or embellished on the back, it is because of this custom of place setting.

No matter which way that you choose to set your table, as long as you are consistent, you are correct!

Please share your experiences and preferences with seating your own table “tines up” or “tines down” and make sure to follow me so that you never miss an article!