bar cart essentials

Fall is in full swing and, let’s be honest, that means the holidays are on the horizon.  Holiday entertaining and parties will be here before we know it.  Now is the time to get those bar carts stocked and ready to go!  Hollywood Regency Brass Faux Bamboo Bar Cart

The folks over at Chairish challenged me to select my favorite bar cart and subsequently style it.  They came to the right place because I am a big fan of vintage bar carts!  I have bought and sold a few over the years.  Chairish makes buying and selling vintage furniture, art, jewelry and accessories online very easy.  From their selection, I chose a Hollywood Regency number.  I love the simple bamboo lines and those brass casters…swoon!

10 Bar Cart Essentials-

The double tiered cart will come in handy because we’ve got a lot of necessities to fit in order to craft the perfect libation.  Here are my Top 10 Bar Cart Essentials

Tools

  • First, you need the tools of the trade!  A muddler, jigger and shaker are any mixologist’s best friends.  The mason shaker adds a rustic appeal that I love.
  • Bitters are a bar cart necessity these days.  Hair of the Dog is a crowd pleaser!

Recipe Books

  • We like to muddle fresh fruit and herbs for our refreshments, taking tips from The Drunken Botanist.
  • Another book always close at hand is Shake which does a wonderful job of illustrating the drink recipes it outlines.

Glassware

  • What bar would be complete without crystal?  These vintage, crystal wine glasses from Chairish are very similar to a set of family heirloom glasses we have at our home bar.  They are our go-to glasses. Crystal  elevates every cocktail.  We don’t just reserve it for special occasions.

Accessories

  • I always have fabric cocktail napkins on hand.  These ticking striped ones are adorable and perfect everyday napkins.
  • The striped straws are just plain fun and whimsical, as well as functional.  Form and function?  Win/Win!
  • The beautiful artisan-made peach basket is used to corral tools when not in use.  It can also double as an ice bucket in a pinch because it is ceramic.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

In case you’re wondering, The Valencia cocktail is still one of my favorites using citrus medica bitters and fresh squeezed orange juice.  The recipe can be found in Shake.

All of the bar ware above can be found at Circa Dee and the vintage bar cart and crystal glasses can be found at Chairish.com.

 

trail mix cookies

spring. Spring. SPRING!  I think it is really here.  The sun is pouring through the windows.  The trees are starting to bud.  It’s amazing!

Over the weekend, I made trail mix cookies.  This is the third or fourth time I’ve made these and they never last long.  I thought I’d share the recipe with you all because they’re pretty tasty, vegan and the trail mix ingredients pack a lot of energy. There’s not a ton of sugar either so they’re not overly sweet.  The cookies have a crunchy exterior and are soft inside almost like a granola bar.  Yum!

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

I’ve dubbed them Trail Mix Cookies because there is 3/4 cup of trail mix ingredients that you can choose – seeds, nuts, dried fruit.  I haven’t made these the same way twice.  Stay tuned and I’ll explain…

Trail Mix Cookies – makes about 2 dozen

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 apple sauced
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup seeds (1/8 c sunflower kernel + 1/8 c flaxseed)

Trail Mix Cookies recipe - 1 cup of granola

Pre-heat your oven to 275 degrees and grease 2 cookie sheets.

I like to sauce a fresh apple.  Core and peel an apple.  While measuring the other ingredients, allow the apple to boil.  Using an immersion blender, blend the apple into sauce.  (A work around for this step is to just add 1/2 cup of jarred apple sauce.)

Combine coconut oil, brown sugar, apple and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  This will make a nice adhesive for your trail mix.

Combine flours and baking soda and add to your mix.

Now for the fun part…and in the “trail mix” of your choice – 1 cup of granola + 1/2 cup of dried fruit (like cranberries, peaches or raisins) + 1/4 cup total of seeds and/or nuts.  I usually use 1/8 cup of sunflower kernels and 1/8 cup of flaxseed.  I have also used cashews.  The possibilities are endless.

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

Spoon cookies about 2 inches apart on your baking sheet.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Trail Mix Cookies recipe (5 of 10)

Enjoy!

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

For the brown sugar, we have been using Turbinado sugar which is essentially raw “brown sugar”.  We have been avoiding processed white sugar where we can.  Most brown sugars are just processed white sugar with the addition of molasses.  Turbinado is raw sugar with molasses.

Trail Mix Cookies recipe - Turbindao sugar

There are other modifications you can make to this recipe for it to work for your pantry choices.  For example, you can substitute the coconut oil for canola oil.

And while we’re in the kitchen, I don’t believe I shared you with you my two cents about oiling cast iron.  I posted last week over on Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint blog about the wonders of hemp oil and cast iron.  Check it out here.

Hemp Oil + Cast Iron

In fact, I’ve been all over the web lately.  I’m excited to share that our bathroom renovation was featured on Apartment Therapy and Hometalk over the weekend.  So if you’re new here, welcome!  Please enjoy our Trail Mix Cookies!

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

 

the valencia cocktail

Get excited because I have a fantastic cocktail recipe to share with you today.  Fortunately, I was able to book America’s next top model and canine for this very profesh photo shoot…

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

We have been juicing frequently here.  And when the mood strikes us we make cocktails using the fresh juice as a mixer.  The Drunken Botanist has had quite the influence on me.  I am in love with this book and all of the garden-to-cocktail concoctions it describes.  I have been considering which edible plants I want to grow this year based on the recipes and knowledge in this book.

Our new favorite cocktail is refreshing and fruity and sparkly.  Yum!  Plus it warms you up during these remaining winter days.  It’s called The Valencia.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

Have you ever heard of it?  It’s an old time-y cocktail that has been around for ages.  Apparently there are different versions out there.  We use Apricot brandy and bitters combined with freshly squeezed orange juice and champagne.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

1 1/2 ounces apricot liqueur

3/4 ounce orange juice

4 dashes Citrus Medica bitters

 Shake all of the ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Top with champagne and garnish.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

We now carry an assortment of bitters at The West End Garage including Citrus Medica.  For those of you who are not familiar with bitters, they are essentially herbs with a bitter flavor processed into a liquid.  Bitters are traditionally used in both cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks like tea.  Less traditionally, bitters can be used to add flavor to salad dressings, soups and more.  They have therapeutic qualities and can help with digestion.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe and NJ state cutting board

The New Jersey cutting board pictured was a wedding shower gift that we just love.  When we’re not using it, we display it on the wall. You may have caught that in an earlier kitchen post.

Flea Market Style Eat-In Kitchen - Vintage Serve letters, Blueprint Wallpaper, Galvanized Pendant Light

It inspired us to stock the Made in the USA bamboo New Jersey cutting boards at West End Garage too.  On each one, Cape May is highlighted with a heart, star or home.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

Thanks everyone for your enthusiasm around our shop news at The West End Garage!  Now, who is shaking up The Valencia tonight?

Or today?  No judgement here!

the quesadilla i can’t quit

Winter.  Blah.  Let’s not even talk about it.

Let’s talk about beautiful, tropical colors instead.  How about some superfoods?

mangos

Yes, I went there.  Superfoods.  Such a trendy term applied to foods that have health benefits and in some cases may even help medical conditions as well.  Avocado, mango, beans to name a few of my current faves.

Superfood Quesadilla Recipe - avocado mango black beans

They’re so tasty when pressed together between a tortilla with shredded cheese, a dash of onion and spinach.  I simply can’t quit this tropical combination.

To make a quick quesadilla for one, I fold a round tortilla in half on a Foreman grill, line it with ingredients, pull the other half of the tortilla over and close the lid.  I don’t like greasy, soggy quesadillas.  The Foreman method has worked for me for ages vs. pressing it in a pan.

Superfood Quesadilla Recipe

Don’t forget a dollop of Greek yogurt.  Possibly my favorite part…  Trick yourself into thinking you’re eating sour cream.  Go ahead.  Try it!

Superfood Quesadilla Recipe - avocado mango black beans

What are you snacking on this winter?

frigid weather soup

On a frigid cold day, like today ’round here, there’s nothing like hot spicy soup.

Tortilla soup, that is!

Spicy Tortilla Soup

I adapted part of this recipe from Happy Herbivore (which I am a big fan of) but gave it my own spin.

It all started with a jar of salsa and a 15 oz can of pinto beans.  Not the most glamorous ingredients in the world of eating fresh plant-based foods but the pantry choices were slim and we were in the midst of a snowstorm.  So my friends, the two main ingredients came from a can and a jar.  And I think it’s quite genius in a pinch.

Puree 1 cup of salsa, 1 cup of the beans with 1 cup of broth.  Fortunately I made my favorite French Onion Soup the night before so I simply drained a cup of the flavorful broth from there.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

Once blended into a creamy broth (you know how I love creamy soups, right?) I transferred into a stock pot.  Adding a fresh diced mango, another half cup of salsa and a teaspoon of cumin.

mangoes

I let the soup simmer on low while juicing mangoes.

sliced mangoes

The perfect drink companion to spicy tortilla soup.

freshly squeezed mango juice

The soup was served with feta cheese and Late July brand tortilla chips, which I also love.  Yep, I go heavy on the feta.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

There you have it, spicy tortilla soup in a bind.  Super tasty and ready in under 30 minutes!

Let me add that in the future I am going to make this as a follow-up to Taco Tuesday.  Usually there are diced tomatoes, peppers and more left over that I am going to try as a fresh substitute for the jarred salsa.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

it’s soup weather

I finally did it.

Yep, I finally made my own healthy and light butternut squash soup.  After hearing about my mom’s and mother-in-law’s versions.  I decided to try my own spin and so Apple Butternut Squash Soup was born over here on a chilly October day.

apple butternut squash soup recipe

It was simple, friends.  There was barely anything left in the refrigerator except for a large butternut squash taunting me.  Plus 3 golden apples – I can’t remember the variety.  And 3 lonely, nearly forgotten about radishes.  I know.  Radishes.  What do you do with these other than throw them in a salad?  I found out that they taste pretty darn good in a warm creamy soup.  Radishes seemed to give a little bit of bite where you might otherwise use an onion.  An onion we didn’t have.

apple butternut squash soup

So that’s where I started.  I chopped and peeled the squash, apples and radishes.  Then boiled the chunks in a large sauce pan.  Once soft I pureed them all in a blender.

Once the fruit and vegetables were a nice creamy consistency, I tossed them back in the empty sauce pan along with 16 ounces of vegetable stock and let simmer.

I seasoned with salt and pepper.  A teaspoon of cinnamon, half teaspoon of ginger, quarter teaspoon of cloves and quarter teaspoon of thyme.

About 20 minutes later, we had this healthy soup for lunch!

apple butternut squash soup recipe

Alongside the soup, I came up with a fantastic new smoothie that was a little bit more like dessert!  It consisted of a banana, spoonful of peanut butter, spoonful of raw honey, 2 spoonfuls of vanilla Greek yogurt, kale and about half a cup of coffee.

java green smoothie and apple butternut squash soup

Yum!  It was a mid-day energy boost.  And surprisingly, the flavor complemented the Apple Butternut Squash Soup so well.  We’ll call this one the Java Green Smoothie.

mediterranean veggie burgers

Guys, I’m always on a quest for interesting veggie and bean burgers.  I came up with a little combination for a Mediterranean inspired burger last week.

Mediterranean Veggie Burger

Making any veggie burger can be a bit time-consuming with all of the chopping and food processing so I finally got smart a doubled up my recipe this time so we’d get twice as many.  For us, that means 2 dinners and 2 lunches instead of just one of each.  Or 8 burgers.

And since I am in post-Clover Market hangover mode today, that means I can just pull out the 2nd half of these burgers and fire them up tonight with minimal prep.  Amen to that.

Mediterranean Bean Burger

So here’s what’s in my (double) Mediterranean veggie burger.  I chopped, ground and combined the following ingredients:

  • 2 cans of kidney beans
  • 1 can of olives
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 large tomato (draining the juice)
  • 1-2 stalks of scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt, pepper, oregano

*We were out of fresh peppers or I definitely would have added one however olives are definitely the key to making this veggie burger full of Mediterranean inspired flavor.  I may just add more next time!

For a binder, I used one slice of bread plus a handful of oats and 1 egg.  I usually use 2 of the 3 mentioned binding agents but I felt wild so I threw all 3 into the mix this time.  It is just preference.

Mediterranean Veggie Burger

I pan cooked these for about 8-10 minutes on each side and then served them up on ciabbatta rolls with avocado & lettuce.  Yum!

What is your favorite veggie burger combo?  What should I try next?

spiced pumpkin bread

For as many years as I can remember, I have been making my tried and true pumpkin shortbread.  I wish I could remember the original source for this recipe but it has been so long.  I particularly love it because a.) it is so tasty and b.) it yields 3 loaves.  One for us, one to gift and one to freeze for later.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread Recipe

This year though I tweaked my recipe to make it just a little bit healthier or “cleaner” as we are on a quest to eat fewer processed foods.  I started with subbing white flour for whole wheat flour and refined sugar for raw sugar.

It is also the first time I made it with actual pumpkin versus the canned stuff.  In fact, I plucked this one right from my porch.  Yum, so much tastier with the real thing!

natural fall vignette

I’d love to try tweaking the recipe even further by substituting the vegetable oil for perhaps more pumpkin puree.  I think some of the sugar could possibly be substituted for apple sauce too based on what I’ve read.

But anyway, here’s the recipe as it stands today, just a little bit “cleaner” or less processed.

15 ounces real pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups raw sugar
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

WholeWheatFlour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans.

Remove the skin of a small pumpkin.  Cut in chunks and boil until pumpkin is soft.  Puree in a blender or food processor.

spiced pumpkin bread

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for about 50 minutes.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread Recipe

The spiced pumpkin bread is perfect paired with a cup of coffee!

You’ll notice that I had a squash in my fall porch vignette too.  It is also long gone because we ate it!  (So is that little zucchini.)

natural fall vignette

You may have caught a snippet on my instagram or facebook of the butternut squash & spinach lasagna that we had for dinner last week.  It was so good!  I followed the SkinnyTaste recipe posted here.  Delish!  However, I didn’t roll the noodles as recommended.

I would make this again for the creamy butternut squash sauce alone.  We used the extra for pasta a few nights later.

butternut squash lasagna

Looks like I need to redecorate since we ate most of my fall porch vignette.  What fall dishes are you cooking up?

P.S. This Sunday we’ll be at Clover Market with a truck full of vintage finds!  And next weekend I’ll be at Serendipity showing you how milk paint works.  Hope to see you soon!

MMS October flier

Sharing at the Pumpkin Parade!

kohlrabi stew

I’ve mentioned kohlrabi a few times this past summer.  It is still a phenomenon to us.  How have we never heard of this root vegetable before this summer?  It is one of Ryan’s new favorites.  Buuuut…we can’t just keep roasting kohlrabi.  Boredom will certainly set in.

It is fall now which means a warm hearty stew is in season.  So, friends, kohlrabi stew is born!

kohlrabi stew

This may possibly be the least photogenic dish but don’t hold that against it.  Trust me that kohlrabi stew is tasty and not so bad for you considering how creamy it is.

kohlrabi stew

Here’s how I made this which yields 4-6 servings:

  • Cover the bottom of your pot with sunflower oil, simmer and saute 1/2 – 3/4 cup of chopped scallions
  • Chop one large kohlrabi into 1/2 inch chunks and add to the pot.  Simmer for a few minutes on medium heat until they are soft
  • Next add 2 cups of vegetable stock (or chicken stock) and 1 can of cream of broccoli soup
  • Season to your preference: salt, lemon pepper, parsley, thyme
  • Put the lid on the pot and boil for 20-25 minutes
  • Allow the entire mixture to cool for about 20 minutes before transferring to a blender or food processor
  • Puree in batches
  • Once pureed, transfer back to the pot and add in 1 cup of small pasta shells
  • Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil, cooking the pasta right in the stew.  This is also where you could add in pre-cooked beef
  • Serve and enjoy!

kohlrabi stew

Side note:  I have been wanting to make butternut squash soup for a long time.  Longer than I have been cooking, actually.  It is always so delicious but I’m quite aware that it is usually made with lots of heavy cream.  I am going to try it by following the above principles (minus the pasta).  The cream of broccoli soup is the only creamy offender here.   I will let you know how it turns out!

What are you cooking this weekend?