I recently visited The Swag Resort, a mountaintop getaway near Asheville, N.C. In addition to the breathtaking mountain views, rustic suites and direct Smoky Mountain National Park access, the resort also features upscale cuisine inspired by its geography: Think smoked Tennessee mountain trout, pot roast with burgundy sauce and apple-raisin bread pudding with Bourbon caramel sauce. Yum!
Swag Chef Ronnie Potter-Bowers, a North Carolina native, mixes his French culinary training with dishes he picked up in his grandmother’s Southern kitchen. Many of her recipes are on display at the resort’s weekly Thursday night barbecue.
Here, he puts the finishing touches on a barbecued pork butt, soon to be the melt-in-your mouth pulled pork on the plate featured above.
Ready to host your own summer barbecue? We’ve got a menu full of recipes from The Swag, including Ronnie’s signature pulled pork, potato salad and the resort’s famous peanut-butter-and-chocolate Swag Bars. Believe me — you don’t want to miss this.
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Halloween may still be months away but that doesn’t mean I can’t tempt you with a few of the devilishly delicious treats we’re cooking up now. Our entertaining pros are busy whipping up both sweet and savory party snacks your Halloween guests won’t be able to resist!
Here’s a small sampling; I’ll share the actual recipes when we get closer to All Hallows Eve. In the meantime, check out our Halloween feature for more spooky inspiration:
MORE HALLOWEEN IDEAS:
Halloween Sneak Peek: Outdoor Decorating Ideas
Halloween Sneak Peek: Kids’ Costumes
4 Halloween Crafts to Make Now
Halloween Cut-Outs: Spook Up Your Yard
Crafty Indoor Halloween Decorations
Free! Halloween Printables
Home Survival Skills: Prepare Your Home for Halloween
How to Make a Fall Felt Leaf Wreath
Next time I’m in New York to visit Lili, Briana and Alyssa, I have a few hot-spots on my list to check out: PDT (Please Don’t Tell), Milk & Honey, Little Branch and Gwynnett St. Some of these bars accept guests by reservation or referral only, or only allow members after a certain time. For some reason, that makes them so much more intriguing. I’m dying to check out the drink menu more than the atmosphere, though. Over at Milk & Honey, for example, fruit juices and extracts are all made by hand; mixing glasses are stored in the freezer to keep drinks cold; and ice is cut by hand using an ice pick to create imperfect, jagged pieces. If I know that’s the process going into my cocktail, I can certainly wait a few minutes for it.
So, are you ready for 5 p.m. to get here so you can wrap your hand around a refreshing, warm-weather concoction? I’m with you! Let’s celebrate the start of summer with four delicious drink recipes from renowned NYC mixologists (or alchemists, rather).
UP ALL NIGHT COCKTAIL:
Recipe courtesy of Lauren Schell, Little Branch, NYC
1 1/2 ounces Reyka Vodka
1/2 ounces rosemary-infused cognac
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce cane syrup
rosemary sprig, for garnish
Whip and strain into iced Collins glass. Top with soda water. Garnish with large rosemary sprig.
STEAM 75 COCKTAIL:
Recipe courtesy of John deBary, PDT, NYC
1 1/2 ounces Reyka Vodka
3/4 ounce Art in the Age Rhubarb
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce strawberry puree
1 ounce Brut champagne
lavender sprigs, for garnish
Shake and strain into chilled coupe. Top with 1 ounce Brut champagne. Garnish with sprigs of lavender.
Bloody Marys and brunch go together like, well, Bloody Marys and brunch. While the classic Bloody Mary starts with a vodka base, this spicy interpretation from Elise of A Beautiful Mess begins with a generous helping of curry-spiced, tea-infused tequila. Mix it up with carrot juice, Bloody Mary mix and a few shakes of hot sauce.
Make this drink spring brunch-ready by serving in a mason jar with a salted rim. Garnish with a fresh veggie skewer, a slice of lime and the traditional stalk of celery. What are you waiting for? Mix one up this weekend.
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Did you know that today is National Eggs Benedict Day? I didn’t know either until I checked my handy-dandy “Bizarre and Unique Holidays” calendar.
In honor of this delicious holiday, I spotlight Bobby Flay’s Texas Eggs Benedict recipe.
Scrumptious — eat up, D-Happers!
Conversation hearts are a Valentine’s Day rite of passage. It hardly seems like February 14th without a box of those pastel-hued candies, complete with their ever-evolving messages. (Remember how they’ve changed from “fax me” to “email me” to “text me?”)
While they’re adorable, though, they aren’t especially delicious. This year, swap the chalky candies for these delicious conversation heart sandwich cookies. The best part: You can create your own custom messages with an office stamp and an edible ink pen.
Add bright hues of gel-paste food coloring to basic sugar cookie dough, then stamp each cookie and sandwich the colored hearts together with a sweet vanilla cream filling.
As the resident happy hour blogger around here, I get emails from my fellow Design Happens bloggers all the time with great new recipes for drinks that they have made and loved. Briana recently sent a recipe for an eggnog martini that is now on my list of go-to holiday drinks. A martini? With eggnog? Does it get any better than that? Decide for yourself:
Eggnog Skinny ‘Nog-Tini
1 part high quality bourbon
1 part spiced rum *we used what we had on hand, blackstrap rum
1 part maple syrup
2 parts almond milk (or whole milk) *we used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 parts Polar® Eggnog Seltzer
Fresh grated nutmeg (garnish)
Combine all ingredients, except the seltzer, until foamy and aerated (you can always froth with a mini blender). Add ice, and swirl to chill. Strain into large festive glass; top generously with Polar® Eggnog Seltzer. Top with grated spice.
A note from Briana: I was skeptical at first, but it ended up tasting pretty decent! That said, this is coming from someone allergic to real eggnog who drinks SilkNog every year. The fiancé liked it, too, though, so I think it passes the test.
We’ve got more delicious holiday cocktails to the rescue. Infuriating in-laws? Kitchen woes? Long lines at the mall? Yep, there’s a drink for that. Here are our favorite holiday cocktail pairings to soften any situation the season throws your way.
Confession time: I’m not a pumpkin pie fan. There’s just not enough crust per slice, and the filling is often bland and watery — not exactly my dream Thanksgiving dessert.
Now, consider the pint-sized hand pie: It’s got an ample, buttery crust that gets evenly browned in the oven, and each pie comes pre-portioned with its own adorable cutout decoration — no slicing necessary. And the rum cream-spiked, roasted sweet potato filling offers more flavor per bite than plain old pumpkin. Convinced yet?
Make these in lieu of the traditional pumpkin pie, or whip up leftover sweet potatoes for a post-Thanksgiving snack.
Here’s How You Do It
Strawberry season is upon us, and for me, that means lots of opportunities to whip up my one of my all-time favorite spring dishes: strawberry shortcake. I know I’m not alone in my devotion to this dessert; in fact, I seriously question anyone who claims not to be head-over-heels for this classic combo. (If you want to diss strawberry shortcake, you’ll have to go through me first.)
That’s precisely what makes it perfect for a spring dinner party or a Mother’s Day brunch. Plus, it’s easy to give it your own spin to make it feel extra-special: In this Italian-inspired version, lemony ricotta cream and balsamic-mint strawberries elevate the Southern classic.
Strawberry Shortcakes With Ricotta Cream and Balsamic-Mint Berries
Get the recipe and see step-by-step photos after the jump.
I’m kind of obsessed with vintage vignettes. (Okay, majorly obsessed.) Apparently, so is Jeska, the creator, writer and editor of Lobster and Swan, a blog dedicated to sharing decorating ideas, daily discoveries, inspiring photos and recipes too amazing to look at when hungry.
Jeska says, “I live to make my (and hopefully your) surroundings a happier, more beautiful place by taking pleasure in the simple joys of everyday life and the theatre and wonder of some things that may be out of our reach but are delightful nevertheless.” Her blog does exactly that.