Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mountain Valley Spring Water wants you to spend time with P.Allen Smith.

It’s true.

They said so.

You heard about my visit to P.Allen Smith’s Garden Home on Moss Mountain, right?  You read about the gorgeous gardens, the fabulous interiors, the droolicious food, and his entertaining kitchen… complete with half-full bottle of Mountain Valley Spring Water.

You heard and you lusted.

I understand.  Who wouldn’t want-to-go-to-there?

Now’s your chance… Mountain Valley Spring Water wants you to spend a little time with P.Allen at his Garden Home… and more.

You could win a trip for two to Hot Springs and Little Rock, AR for a one in a lifetime weekend giveaway featuring:

~ Dinner with P. Allen Smith at his Garden Home Retreat
~ Private tour of the Garden Home Property
~ VIP tour of the Mountain Valley Facilities and the DeSoto Building
~ A two night stay in the luxurious Capital Hotel
~ Lunch with the CEO of Mountain Valley, Breck Speed.
~ Spa package for two at the famous BuckStaff BathHouse
~ One night in historic downtown Hot Springs at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Spa
~ $100 voucher for use in the Mountain Valley Visitor Center


You would like that, wouldn’t you?

Check out the promo details and enter today. 

Contest ends August 31st.  Go on, do it and let me know if you win!

Eat well, my friends.  Eat well.


Monday, July 9, 2012

10 Northwest Arkansas food blogs you should be reading in 2012.

Okay Northwest Arkansas, are you ready for my 2012 recommended list of the best local food bloggers? 

I have 5 repeat sites from 20ll’s list and 5 new sites for you to explore, discover, and fall in love with!

Here they are {drum roll, please}...

1.  Our Everyday Dinners.  Congratulations Amy, you are a repeat!  Amy gave her site a complete overhaul this past year and it is smashingly beautiful!  If you haven’t visited her everyday meals and healthy recipes and checked out the new look, go give it a twirl!   

2. Eat Out NWA.  Don’s site is on the list for a second year in a row!  He continually gives honest restaurant reviews for local eats all around Northwest Arkansas.  Don’s is taking a sabbatical from his blog at the moment but don’t let that deter you… there is PLENTY of great reviews in his vast archive that are timeless and worth the browse time. 

3.  The Food AdventuressIt seems like everybody is getting a makeover, and Beth’s well written food blog about her “kitchen affliction” is the latest food blog revamp in NWA.  Beth easily makes this list again… especially since she has recently refocused her time and attention and is posting like crazy!  She also changed her blog address, so be sure to click on this link and re-save it in your favorites.  

4. Now that’s Cookin.  What can I say about Frank?  You want to latest news to all the food events happening in NWA?  Go hang out on Frank’s site and facebook page and you’ll be the expert within your inner circle in no time!  Frank is extremely supportive of the NWA food scene and has a wealth of restaurant reviews at your fingertips.  Congrats to Frank for a second year on the list!

5. Mealtime Mama, is a blog located within a blog.  This is the food-solution center for the wildly popular site, NWAMotherLode. Shannon and Gwen keep the posts flowing by reaching out to the community for fresh material.  There are times that I am convinced they are posting four times a day!  Even if you aren’t a “Mama,” this site has recipes that appeal to the kid in all of us.

6. Cucina Girl.  Northwest Arkansas received a blessing last fall when Elizabeth and her husband relocated to our neck of the woods.  I remember the day I received a twitter follow from her and saw her location as NWA and was shocked. “How could I have missed this beautiful blog?” I marveled.  After quick virtual introductions I quickly learned of her transplant to our neck of the woods.  Cucina Girl is heavy on the Italian and will blow you away with her creative recipes.  I hope your first year has exceeded your expectations, Elizabeth! 

7. Recipe Doodle.  If the word “doodle” doesn’t grab you, the treasure trove of culinary delights that are featured in this blog, will!  Over the past year, I had three of you recommend Ceri’s blog and yes, yes, yes, I agree, this blog is adorable!  Her recipes are easy to follow and drooooolicious. You won’t get bored visiting this site, I guarantee it.

8. Gluten Freedom. Guess what this blog is about?  Yep, all things gluten-free!  You know I have a soft spot for all of you who are living sans the G-word.  Ironically, about this time last year when I came off a gluten-free lifestyle, Dana debuted her blog.  If you or someone you love needs advice or simply a local "friend" who can help guide the way, Gluten Freedom is your blog.

9. The Bastard Chef.  Don’t let the name fool you because Sam is a good guy.  His posts are few yet they always make me question why I am not experimenting a little harder in the kitchen.  Sam blogs when he finds his muse and when he does… get ready!  Engage him in twitter whenever you want an honest opinion on all things food:  reviews, waitresses, cocktails, or recipes.  He’ll always make you think.

10. Dining With Debbie.  Debbie spends half of her time dining in Northwest Arkansas  living the retired life on Beaver Lake and the other half in Benton, Arkansas.  As soon as her husband retires, she is one of ours… full time.  In the meanwhile, don’t let the half-residence fool you.  Debbie posts regularly about her food adventures here in our  beautiful Ozarks. Follow her journey and you’ll fall in love in no time.  Welcome home, Debbie!

I hope you enjoyed the list and discovered something new. 

I want to THANK YOU for reading my blog, commenting, referring it to your friends and family, and providing input to make it better.  I appreciate you so much!

Eat well, my friends.  Eat well.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chef’n strawberry Stem Gem rocks, who’da thunk it?

I am so ashamed.

Shamefully I scoffed at this kitchen gadget for years.  Years!  “Silly, silly, silly strawberry gadget,” I would smugly muse to myself.  “Look how corny-campy you are, trying to be all look-at-meeee-I-am-a-strawberry.”

Let me redeem my shameful self by letting you in on a secret.

This strawberry huller, the StemGem, from Chef’n rocks.


Recently we were at Alicia's, my sister-in-law, house.  “Hey, Lyndi, want to use this strawberry huller and prep the strawberries?”  She innocently asked.

The mean-girl voice inside of me started silently mocking.  “Silly, silly, silly strawberry gadget.  She fell for its cuteness trap.”

No longer a shameful mocker, I am a convert.

I drank the cool-aid and I am obsessed!

You may be thinking a paring knife is fine and dandy and does the trick well enough.  You may think that but you are wrong, dead wrong.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The #BlacklistedFromThePTA signature cocktail drink... let's celebrate!

*** #6 Alicia, you are the lucky winner of the #BlacklistedFromThePTA autographed book or free kindle download!  Congratulations ***

Ready to celebrate? 

Independence Day is merely two days away, summer is in full swing, gardens are flaunting their abundant bounty and let’s face it -- every day in July is a reason to celebrate!

July brings us another reason to celebrate because it is birthday month for Blacklisted from the PTA, a humorous essay book from local Arkansan blogger and all-around super gal pal, Lela Davidson.  For every day this month, Lela is featuring local and national bloggers to help her celebrate her one-year anniversary since the launch of her book. 

Her book makes me laugh.

Seriously, who doesn’t like to sit back, kick up their feet, and have a good hearty laugh?

Sooooo… in honor of her celebratory birthday month, I created Lela a signature cocktail drink.  I wanted something sweet, yet bold.  Light, yet strong.  Summery, yet timeless.  Something "Lela."

Introducing… “The PTA.”

The PTA drink is the perfect summer drink. Put this on your July to-do list.  

I am not kidding. It's that good.

“The PTA” signature cocktail
Source: nwafoodie
Serves 1


P = peaches ( ½ peach + slice for garnish)
T = tonic (for the “bubbly”)
A = Absolut vodka, 2 oz (yeah, make it count)
½ oz simple syrup
sugar for garnish


1. Coat the rim of a double old-fashioned glass with water and then dip in sugar.  Add ice to glass and set aside.

2. Cut peach in half. Cut up and place in cocktail shaker.  Take muddler (or wooden spoon) and work peach into mush-like consistency.

3. Add simple syrup and ice to cocktail shaker. 

4. Shake until you can’t stand holding the shaker anymore because it is so cold to the touch.  Brrr… but worth it, trust me.

5. Pour into glass.

6. Top with tonic to the top of the glass.  Don’t stir.  This drink is about layering to bring out the greatest flavor combinations.

7. Lastly, add your peach garnish to rim and kick up your feet. Read a good book.  Here's a suggestion...

Now you can sit back, kick up your feet, and laugh, too… because I have a *giveaway* for a lucky someone!

Interested in your very own *free* Blacklisted from the PTA book or kindle edition, signed by Lela herself? 

Leave a comment below if you are interested and I will pick one winner via randomizer.  Contest ends this Saturday evening, July 7, at midnight CDT.  Good luck!

Be sure to check out Lela's month of celebration on her blog, After the Bubbly.  Every day brings a new story.  Mine just happened to bring on the bubbly!

Happy birthday, Blacklisted from the PTA and congratulations, Lela!  Thanks for doing Arkansas proud!

Happy July everybody!
Eat well, my friends.  Eat well.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Where can you find peaches in Northwest Arkansas? Vanzants!

nwafoodie peaches

We hit the turn signal at Wagon Wheel Road off of Hwy 540 in Northwest Arkansas, dreams of freshly-picked peaches from Vanzant Fruit Farm dancing in our minds. Will they have white peaches? Free stone? Will it be air conditioned in this triple-digit weather?

My anticipation was growing as fast as the growling in my stomach. 

Once on Wagon Wheel Road, we headed east, staying on Hwy 264 for a measly two miles.  Two miles!  Yes, it only took two miles off the highway to indulge in freshly picked peaches of seventeen varieties to my heart’s content?  Why have I not been here before?  Why am I not here every single day between now and August when those peaches ripen?


Dennis and I had the day off on Tuesday, so naturally “job #1” was to visit the Vanzant Fruit Farm in Lowell.  We took this drive on Sunday and found, to our dismay, that it was closed. On Tuesday, we were armed and ready.  The back seat was like a prop house, armed with coolers. 

They were beckoning and practically *begging* for juicy fresh peaches. 

So was I.

We pulled in the parking lot, strolled in with our best we-do-this-all-the-time-and-no-we-weren’t-too-eager look, took a deep breath and sighed.

We were home.

nwafoodie peaches

Peaches, peaches, peaches, peaches!  They were everywhere! Immediately my mind began to sing “millions of peaches, peaches for me.”

I had a mission to find free stone peaches.  Yep, that’s right, I was going to can peaches for my very first time and free stone’s were the ones to get.

We found them right away!  Vanzant’s had three free stone varieties available and ready to go. All I had to do was choose one.

nwafoodie peaches
June Haven Free Stone 

nwafoodie peaches
Loring Free Stone

nwafoodie peaches
These are the ones I picked, the "007 Free Stone." Why, because I like the name... why else?

And then we saw it… yes!  They had white peaches!  Of course we had to buy them!  Dennis’s family lived next to a white peach orchard in the Central California Valley and white peaches were always a treat.  They are similar to a free stone yet juicier, mellower, and, dare I say, they have more “depth.” 

They are too-die-for.

nwafoodie peaches
White Nectar

Happily, we purchased one ½ peck of the 007 free stones and ½ peck of the white nectar and waved our goodbye to the fruit farm staff. 

If you are wondering how that works out financially, one ½ peck was $7.50 and I canned five pints of peaches.  That means one pint cost $1.50 worth of fruit.  

Not bad, not bad.

We waved our goodbyes to the fruit farm staff and headed back towards the freeway and past the 4,000 fruit trees producing seventeen varieties of peaches. This farm has been selling peaches for over one hundred years and is one of our backyard treasures.

nwafoodie peaches

You’re in luck because those seventeen varieties will be providing fruit for Northwest Arkansas now through August.

You’ve got time.  

They’re bursting full of sweet summer delight and humbly waiting for you to partake of their goodness.

Are you in?

Eat well, my friends.  Eat well.


P.S.  Do you live near Bella Vista?  Good news for you!  Allen’s Market stocks Vanzant Fruit Farms peaches --  come get them while they are available! Just $1.49 a pound.

nwafoodie peaches

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