The official blog of BlendAbout, a Social Dining Network that helps people make new friends over group meals at great restaurants.


Read up on amazing new restaurants, check out our favorite Food Porn and find out about our latest Group Meals at the fabulous restaurants we all love.


Contributors:

Caitlin Heikkila
Cary Blair
Kate Spivak (Editor)



Recent Tweets @BlendAbout

The #1 rule in pairing wine and cheese:

Always pair what you like to drink with what you like to eat. 

Anytime you pair a wine with cheese make sure that you pick a wine that you would want to drink on its own, instead of hoping a food match will improve a wine varietal you don’t like. That way, even if it isn’t a perfect pairing, you’ll still enjoy what you’re drinking. 

Enjoy pairing wine with 5 new friends »

While we looove Taco Tuesdays, sometimes it’s good to switch it up a bit. So, let’s take a moment to celebrate the taco’s sister: Quesadilla!

Just as versatile, but oozing cheesy goodness, the quesadilla is Mexico’s answer to pizza. All it takes to make a quesadilla is 2 tortillas, your favorite cheese, and fillings of your choice. 

Pictured above is one of our favorites: Crab Quesadilla with Mango Salsa. It’s comforting, yet refreshing and always in season. But don’t take our word for it. Try it for yourself:

Mango Salsa 

  • 3 mangos, diced small
  • 1 red pepper, diced small
  • 1 small red onion, diced small
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, diced small (remove seeds first)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. agave nectar
  • ¼ cup of cilantro, chopped
  • For a little extra spice, add a dash or 2 of cayenne pepper 

Combine ingredients in a medium to large bowl and place in your refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.

Quesadillas 

  • Flour tortillas
  • Swiss Emmental cheese
  • Fresh crab meat
  • Green onion, chopped

Serve immediately!

It’s Meatless Monday and we’re celebrating with this super tasty Quinoa & Figs recipe by Mixed Greens

It’s a perfect combination of sweet and savory and surprisingly refreshing. But don’t take our word for it…

Quinoa with dried figs and apricots, olives and pecans recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • Dried figs
  • Dried Apricots
  • Olives
  • Pecans
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs apple cider or 1 T honey
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar,
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • salt & pepper to taste

Get the full recipe »

One could only wish…

One could only wish…

(via jonas1289)

Caramelized Onion Bacon Grilled Cheese

Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest things.

Making new friends isn’t that complicated: BlendAbout.com

Some Wine Fun Facts for Wine Wednesday:

  • Wine is fat free and contains no cholesterol. A 4oz glass of table wine has around 80-100 calories.
  • It takes about 600 to 800 wine grapes (2.4 lbs), to make a single bottle of wine.
  • One barrel of wine contains enough to fill approx. 300 bottles of wine. 
  • The global wine industry is expected to generate almost $292 billion in 2014, according to MarketLine.
  • The US is the largest wine consuming nation in the world with more than 100 million people now drinking wine, out of a total population of 316 million.
  • 55% of American wine consumers are women and 45% are men
  • 80% of people talk about wine on Facebook and 40% chat about wine on Twitter.

Now, do your part and celebrate Wine Wednesday with 5 new friends »

Deep-fried bacon-wrapped lard balls with a caramel center. Nasty thought, right? Hit pause and read on.

What’s the deal with these gluttonous junk food trends lately? I know very few people who don’t love them some culinary creativity, but at some point someone really should draw a line. Grilled mac & cheese, doughnut burgers … And now: Fried chicken is getting a reboot and taking center stage as 2014’s junk food super star. 

(*** Warning: The following contains graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised. ***)

Dominos’ Fried Chicken-crusted Pizza

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Step aside, Chicken Parm – you’ve been out-matched! This boneless chicken product features a “delicious” combo of various toppings, fatty sauces and cheeses layered over 12 nugget-sized bites of fried chicken. They say “lightly breaded, white chicken meat”, but does that matter after the meat is enveloped in cheese and blubbery sauces? The four unique flavors offered include Crispy Bacon & Tomato, Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple, Classic Hot Buffalo and Sweet BBQ Bacon. Let’s just call this grub what it is: Hangover food “super charged”.

Ramen-Crusted-Chicken-Wings

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Apparently Ramen hasn’t just situated itself into burgers of the modern age. Once a notoriously respected Japanese dish, that required at least 3 days and a lot of love to cultivate, Ramen has not just taken to infusing itself into mainstream junk food; Ramen has taken a hold of it and evolved gluttony into an entirely new art form. Introducing “Ramen-Fried Chicken”.  ‘Nuff said.

Meet the KFC Fried Chicken Corsage

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Because, on the most important night of her youth, what every teen girl dreams of is an oily piece of food tied to her wrist, that gently brushes against her high-priced gown throughout the evening, and leaves greased-stained memories to last her a fortnight. Yeah… A fortnight. Because that’s how long it’s going to take her to realize that the joke is over and that dress that she was so proud to wear is now sporting that fast food stank no dry cleaner can get out. 

Last, but most definitely not least, introducing the…

Fried Chicken Slider

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From Kobe burger to pork belly to, well, fried chicken. It seems as though slider trends are taking a turn of the carotid variety. It wasn’t enough to replace the sumptuously magical meat of Kobe with the ultra-saturated palatable pig product we call “pork belly”. No, instead some gluttonous kamikaze, out to make their mark, decided to come up with a deep-fried chicken sammy, slathered in cheese and sauce. After a long, wild night of partying, this cardiac-attack-on-a-plate-that-could-kill-a-marathon-man-in-a-single-bite may seem like a rationally wise choice of chow. However, we recommend chewing down 2 aspirin before sinking your teeth into a meal of Fried Chicken Sliders.

How would you categorize these fried-chicken-junk-food wonders? What’s next?

Deep-fried bacon-wrapped lard balls with a caramel center. That doesn’t sound so ridiculous now, does it?

[written by Kate Spivak]

Wondering how to spend your Meatless Monday? We’re recommending you do it by cooking up and chowing down on this Spinach and Split Pea Patties recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yellow split peas soaked overnight
  • 1 Tsp chopped garlic
  • Minced hot pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp ground cumin or garam masala
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 packed cups finely chopped spinach (fresh)
  • 2 Tsp chopped cilantro
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for shallow frying

Get the full recipe »

Nothing against Peeps, they’re sugary, soft, and fun to put in the microwave, but they aren’t the only sweet Easter treat worth indulging in this Easter. Check out my four picks for sweet Easter treats to try today.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs

Skip the chocolate peanut butter eggs at the drugstore and make your own. Food.com has a fun recipe that has a hard-to-resist creamy peanut butter center. Plus, they’re festive with a colorful sprinkle topping.

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

So carrot cake usually takes a back seat to chocolate and vanilla, but the maple cream cheese frosting definitely kicks this recipe up a few levels. Carrot Cake is also a spring staple, another excuse to make these cupcakes.

Egg-Shaped Meringue Nests

Lemon meringue pie is fun and all, but when it’s in the shape of a nest for Easter like in this recipe, it’s even better. I love the sweet meringue paired with the tart lemon—and the poppy seeds are a nice touch.

Bourbon-Vanilla Marshmallows

If you miss the soft marshmallow-y flavor of Peeps, try these Bourbon-Vanilla Marshmallows. They give you a little bit of booziness without being too overpowering, as well as a clean vanilla bean flavor that beats the sickly sweet sugary taste any day. 

[Written by Caitlin Heikkila]

Tomorrow is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day! We know your hesitation in celebrating such a gluttonous holiday. But here are a few “healthy” reasons we think you should:

  1. Cheese is a good source of calcium. Hello??
  2. Wheat contains fiber and fiber smooths the rough edges.
  3. You can add veggies to your grilled cheese and we all know how healthy veggies are!
  4. Add a protein like bacon or lobster or roast beef - can’t get enough iron now, can’t you?
  5. National Grilled Cheese Day happens only once a year and comfort food is good for the soul.

How are you planning to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day?

Oh, how we do love our wine! And since it’s Wine Wednesday, we’re going to show our love by throwing some winederful Wine Fun Facts your way:

  • The scent of young wine is known as an “aroma”, while the scent of a more matured wine is referred to as a “bouquet”. Laymen’s terms: Wine coolers set off an “aroma” (i.e. stank) and a fine Cabernet ’97 airs a fine “bouquet” (comparable to one laying in a valley of cherry trees, chocolate and rosemary).
  • Someone who constantly talks about the wine he or she will open but never does is considered a “cork-tease”.
  • Scientifically, women are better wine tasters than men. Half of the experience of wine tasting is in the scent. And it has been scientifically proven that women have a more acute sense of smell.
  • To taste wine properly, hold the wine in your mouth for at least 2 seconds and then spit it out, preferably into a spittoon. A really good wine will have a long aftertaste, while an inferior wine will have a short aftertaste.
  • The worst place to store wine is in the kitchen because the fluctuating temperatures can cause wine to spoil. With that said, refrigerators aren’t fit for storing wine either. Even at their warmest setting, refrigerators are too cold. The best place to store wine (if you don’t have a cellar or wine fridge) is in a floor-level cabinet – that is not under a sink – or on the floor of your closet.
  • Wine glasses should always be held by the stem and not the bowl because the heat of the hand will raise the temperature of the wine.
  • It is believed that consuming wine with another enhances the wine tasting experience.

Okay, that last one we made up ourselves. But still: What better way to enjoy a Wine Wednesday than ‘clinking’ glasses with new friends »

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The first records of pizza-slash-focaccia hark all the way back to 500 BC, to Persian soldiers used their shields as a pseudo pizza-paddle. They baked flatbread on their shields and then dressed them with cheese and dates. Ancient Roman soldiers used flatbreads as crude, edible plates.

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Pizza ovens are abound all over the ancient world; the preserved remains of Pompeii prove that the ancient Roman version of pizza ovens existed. The source of heat for these ovens? Hot lava stones, provided by the conveniently-located Mount Vesuvius.

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For centuries, pizza was a sweet affair; it wasn’t until the introduction of tomatoes to Europe in the sixteenth century that pizza took on its more familiar form of tomato pie. Naples is the home of modern, pre-“American” pizza, since the Neapolitans were the first to take advantage of the bread as a canvas of a myriad of toppings in 1500 AD. It took another 200 years before anyone thought to bake the toppings along with the bread, creating the dish that most resembles modern day pizza today.

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Pizza has always been a humble food, sold in open air markets since the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, it got the royal treatment in 1889, when the Italian Queen Margherita visited the city of Naples. Chef Raffaele Esposito presented her with three popular varieties: one with cheese and basil, one with garlic, olive oil and tomato, and one with mozzarella, basil and tomato. She was delighted with the last one, because of its resemblance to the Italian flag, and Esposito named the pie in her honor.

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Fittingly, Italian immigrants opened up the first US pizzeria in New York City in 1905 at 53 ½ Spring Street. However, it wasn’t until after the second World War that pizza entered the mainstream; returning soldiers popularized the dish that had captured their taste buds while fighting overseas. As of 2013, there are 70,000 pizza parlors in the U.S.; 9000 of them are located in the state of New York.

[written by Jasmine Lee]

Going meatless doesn’t have to hurt. Celebrate Meatless  Monday with us!

What is Meatless Monday? Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet.

 

Happy National Caramel Day! Of all the food holidays, this is definitely one that needs celebrating. Caramel is one of the most versatile dessert condiments… copy copy copy… 

Here are a few fun facts about caramel:

  • The process of caramelization consists of heating sugar slowly to around 170 °C (340 °F). As the sugar heats, the molecules break down and re-form into compounds with a characteristic color and flavor.
  • Americans created the caramel in the mid-1880s, slow-boiling sugar and milk to create a soft candy.
  • Honey was formerly used in place of corn syrup in making caramels but it was very expensive to use, and allowed the batch to grain unless extreme care was taken.
  • Cotton candy is a form of Caramel: “The Dictionary of American Food and Drink” reports that the item [cotton candy] originated in 1900 at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus, when snack vendor Thomas Patton began experimenting with the long common process of boiling sugar to a caramelized state, then forming long threads of it with a fork. 
  • The combination of salt and caramel had long been a favorite among the chefs elite, but didn’t hit mass-market popularity until 2008.
  • Even our President, Barack Obama, has taken to salted caramels, too. He likes to treat himself to a Seattle candy maker’s version, robed in dark chocolate and sprinkled with smoked sea salt.
  • In the case of salted caramels, the influence came directly from France. Heavily salted butter caramels are a traditional treat in Brittany. More recently, Pierre Hermé, the Parisian pastry chef known for his experimentation, invented a salted caramel macaron that inspired a small cult among American food professionals in the late 1990s.

Want to celebrate National Caramel Day, but not sure where to start? Try out this amazing Salted Caramel Sauce recipe that we discovered - and put it on EVERYTHING.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt, in a salt grinder (I bet table salt would work too- just not dissolve quite as fast)

Get the full recipe »

Summer means sunshine, beach days, margaritas, and grilling, but it also means something even better… food festivals. From Maine to Los Angeles, foodies will begin gathering together to celebrate their favorite eats. We picked out some of our favorite food festivals that you should have on your radar.

The Taste of Chicago, aka “The Taste,” July 9-13

The apple of Chicago foodies’ eyes, this is one of the biggest food festivals in the world. Millions descend on the city for a weekend every July to sample the best food & beverage Chicago has to offer.

Last year the festival got a face-lift, with the addition of a Pop-Up section & Chef du Jour, where festival-goers got to enjoy a three-course meal prepared by Top Chef favorites Graham Elliot & Stephanie Izard. Admission is free, and $8 will get you 12 food and beverage tickets.

Maine Lobster Festival, July 30 – August 3

With more than 20,000 pounds of ‘lobstah’, steamed mussels & clams, and plenty of fresh fish, this festival provides a true taste of Maine summers.

There’s also a fun run, parade, arts & crafts, and live music. Sitting on the sidelines not your thing? They are now accepting applications for this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Sea Goddess! Tickets are $8 and are available for purchase at the gates.

Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, July 20

You might initially think of Vermont more for its maple syrup, but the cheese industry in this state has made its mark on the artisanal cheese world.

More than 40 award winning cheese makers & local wineries and breweries offer up hundreds of delicacies for you to enjoy, plus cooking demos and workshops like the Sweet & Stinky, a wine and cider cheese pairing. Tickets are $50 & are available for purchase online.

Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, August 25-27

Food & Wine Magazine always puts on downright decadent food events, and we can’t wait for this year’s LA Food & Wine Fest.

Attendees will sample bites from top talent like like Giada De Laurentiis, Duff Goldman, and Fabio Viviani. The fest will have a variety of events, from Bacon + Bourbon to the Best of Belgium, to please every palate. Get your tickets here.

Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Flea Food Market, Weekends April - November

Naturally, America’s craftiest flea market brings us one of the tastiest food festivals. Featuring 100+ vendors, this festival has been hailed “The Woodstock of Eating”.

Sip a cup of fresh roasted coffee or craft brew, chow down on a lobster roll or grilled cheese – whatever strikes you! Admission is free, but you pay the vendor at purchase.

Other noteworthy food fests worth checking out:

Austin Food & Wine, April 25-27, 2014 »  http://www.austinfoodandwinefestival.com

Vegas Uncork’d, May 8-11, 2014 »  http://vegasuncorked.com

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, May 21-24, 2014 »  http://www.nowfe.com

Atlanta Food & Wine, May 29 – June 1, 2014 »  http://atlfoodandwinefestival.com

Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, June 20-22, 2014 »  http://www.foodandwine.com/classic

Bite of Seattle, July 18-20, 2014 »  http://www.biteofseattle.com/

Gilroy Garlic Fest, July 25-27, 2014 »  http://gilroygarlicfestival.com

Hawai’i Food & Wine, August 29 – September 7, 2014 »  http://www.hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com

Music City Food & Wine in Nashville, September 20-21, 2014 »  http://www.musiccityfoodandwinefestival.com

Feast Portland, September 18-21, 2014 »  http://www.feastportland.com

 

[Written by Cary Blair & Caitlin Heikkila]