A Dinner Party for All Ages (Macaroni & Cheese Two Ways and Homemade Chocolates)

15426457201_83a9f1b63d_c

Photo credit (sorry, this isn’t an actual photo; we devoured it before I could get a shot in).

This year, I spent four whole months in Flagstaff, Arizona. I was there to see my best friend, to focus on getting healthy after a very difficult 2015, and to take some time to just slow down and relax.

It was all that and more, and since I was staying put for such a long time, I also did a whole lotta cooking. For the first time in awhile, I could buy big bottles of olive oil and a myriad of spices. I bought bags of flour and bottles of maple flavoring. And with a big dining room table and an even bigger kitchen, I also took the time to throw dinner parties.

The largest was made up of seven adults and three kids (ranging in age from three to nine). And the challenge (which I embraced happily) was making something the whole group could eat and enjoy.

So I decided to go with that never-fail staple: macaroni and cheese.

Of course, I can’t just do regular mac and cheese, though. So I committed to doing it two ways, both with a twist on the classic recipe.

The first recipe I used was the closest to classic mac and cheese. It’s creamy and rich and has a tiny kick. It was the favorite of the night for both kids and adults. I went a little light on the cayenne pepper and heavy on the cheddar and used whole milk instead of skim and it worked out fabulously. One caution, though: it serves way less than you think. I added 50% to the recipe (which supposedly serves four adults, so adding 50% should serve six) and it still wasn’t enough. If you’re serving four, I’d suggest doubling the recipe.

The second recipe I chose because it incorporated bacon (and who doesn’t love bacon). I made my version with regular pasta (instead of whole wheat noodles) and whole milk (instead of skim). The bacon was a nice touch, but I wasn’t a fan of the panko bread crumbs. And if I had it to do over, I would replace this with Caprese Mac & Cheese.

Finally, I finished off dinner with homemade chocolates (of the paleo variety) made with maple syrup. I placed two small chocolates at the bottom of each person’s small bowl and then topped it off with a scoop of toffee ice cream (which I did not make from scratch). The chocolates weren’t my personal favorite, but they got rave reviews from the other adults, so give them a try and see how you like them.

Continue Reading

Travel & Foodie Gems From Around the World—In Your Mailbox

7747992088_55c723cac0_k

So, you know those subscription boxes that have been getting so popular? The ones where every month or every quarter a package arrives full of cute stuff for your dog or your kitchen or your bookshelf? Stuff you probably wouldn’t have found on your own, but that delights the dog-lover or gourmet chef or avid reader in you?

Well, there’s a new box in town.

This one for lovers of world travel.

Curated by yours truly and only open to a handful of subscribers.

That’s right, for the rest of 2016, I’ll be putting together three quarterly boxes full of little gems I find during my travels, as well as a personal letter explaining why I chose those things and maybe a few coupons or freebies for experiences—like food tours, hotel stays, zip lines, cooking classes—around the world.

What kinds of things will you find in the boxes?

Every box will be custom-curated based on where I’m traveling and what I find along the way that quarter (and thus every quarter will be very, very different). That said, some things that I’ve found and gifted to people in the past include:

:: Chocolate-covered spices from Paris
:: Local postcards, both stunning and quirky
:: Handmade soaps from Croatian, Parisian, or Spanish markets
:: Specialty jams made with flowers in France
:: Quirky journals from Toledo, Spain
:: Excellent airplane books
:: Good bottles of French wine
:: Real Swiss chocolates

PLUS, every box will contain:

:: A letter from me about how I stumbled upon its contents and why I chose them
:: Bonuses like coupons for discounted hotel stays, food tours, or restaurants around the world

And perhaps a monkey named Justin Bieber.

Monkey time

Okay. Just kidding about the monkey part.

As you can see, the boxes aren’t 100% foodie delights, but it’s my plan to include some along the way.

So, now, the boxes themselves. You’ve got two options:

The Basic Travel Box

Every quarter, I’ll send you a small box of hand-picked local gems for travel-lovers from wherever I’m traveling. Think of it as a quarterly care package from your crazy always-traveling friend.

Quarterly cost: $55 (that’s only about $19 per month)

2016 (three box) cost: $165

Sign up now for 2016

The Bigger Better Travel Box

Filled to the brim, the Bigger Better Travel Box is twice the spices, wines, postcards, and travel goodies every quarter.

Quarterly cost: $99 (that’s $33 per month)

2016 (three box) cost: $297

Sign up now for 2016

I’m only taking 10 people and registration for the first quarterly box ends on April 30. Currently, this is only open to residents of the US and Canada (though I may expand if things go well, so stay tuned if you’re outside North America). The first set of packages will ship out this June.

Paris mailings

Ready to sign up and get a quarterly box from your world-traveling friend?

Again, I’m only taking on 10 boxes this year and registration for the first quarter ends April 30. So, click the pink buttons below to sign up now and get in early!



Sign Up Now:

       

2016 Basic Travel Box         2016 Bigger Better Travel Box



Not ready to commit to all three 2016 boxes? Sign up for just the first quarter and give it a test run:

One-Time Basic Travel Box         One-Time Bigger Better Travel Box


Questions? Special requests? Trouble signing up? Leave a comment on the original post at gigigriffis.com or here and I’ll get back to you asap.

Continue Reading