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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    A Look Back.



Sprucing Up Summer Caprese With Oliviers & Co. (+$300 Giveaway!).

While there is plenty to love about every season of food, there is nothing quite like the simple, fresh flavors of summer.  Crisp greens, sweet berries, and juicy tomatoes.  Summer grilling, charred corn on the cob, and flavorful herbs.  It is not a season for roasting, simmering, or digging into the spice cabinet.  In the summer, we keep it simple – oils and vinegars, fresh herbs, and pinch of salt. 

One of my favorite things to eat in the summer is the basic caprese salad (in fact, there are two variations of this salad on my recipe page already!).  And I think one of the things I love about it so much is that, because the basic ingredients – tomato and mozzarella – are so simple, there are so many fun twists and ways to elevate it.  It is amazing what a difference a few, flavorful oils and vinegars can do for an otherwise, relatively predictable dish. 

I recently got the opportunity to sample some artisanal oil and vinegar products from Oliviers & Co. – producers of naturally flavored specialty oils, vinegars, condiments and much more.  And in order to share a few of their products with you, I decided to showcase them all around my favorite salad.  Shall we?

First up – the grilled caprese crostini! 

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Since classic caprese is loaded full of fresh basil, I thought the pairing of Basil Oil and White Balsamic Vinegar with Oregano would really kick it up a notch.  How beautiful are these bottles?

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At the first taste, I was surprised at how much actual herb-flavor the basil oil had – this wasn’t a hint or an essence – this was the real deal.  I picked some fresh basil and small oregano leaves out of our herb boxes, and got to grilling.  A drizzle and brush of basil oil on each side of thinly-sliced French baguette, followed by a creamy smear of burrata cheese, a few leaves of fresh basil and oregano, topped with a slice of ripe tomato and a splash of oregano vinegar on top. 

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Ready for grilling!

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It only takes a few minutes for the bread to toast and the cheese to warm. 

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A perfect summer appetizer or side dish at your next cookout!

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The fresh herbs, paired with the delicious infusion of herbs in the oil and vinegar, made these crostinis the perfect summer bite.  Also – gooey burrata.  Enough said, right?

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Next up, I thought it would be fun to test out some flavored oils and vinegars on a more traditional leafy greens salad. 

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And so naturally, I chose to test out the Best Summer Salad Dressing pairing – green lemon olive oil and oregano vinegar.  I think this set would make a wonderful gift to take to a summer party!

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I started with a big bowl of fresh mixed greens – pruned and cleaned straight out of my very own garden!  On the side, I tossed together cherry tomatoes, ciliegine mozzarella balls, shredded carrot, and some sliced cucumber. 

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I used a 2:1 oil to vinegar ratio and shook up a mixture of the green lemon oil and oregano vinegar – the best summer salad dressing, indeed!  Tangy and bright, and a nice light compliment to the fresh veggies. 

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All dressed up and ready to dig in.

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Another great meal starter or appetizer, or even a light meal itself in a bigger bowl!

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The last oil and vinegar set I tried was a fun and fruity mixture of mint oil and apple vinegar – beautiful bottles and bright flavors. 

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And since the dressing was going to bring a lot of flavor itself, I opted to pair this one over a more traditional caprese.  Sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, with fresh mint leaves subbed in for classic basil!

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A generous drizzle of mint oil over top, with a finishing splash of apple vinegar just before serving…

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When I first put this together I was worried that the mint leaves might be too powerful, particularly when paired with the fragrant mint oil.  But it ended up being a really nice combo, balanced nicely by the sweetness of the apple vinegar.  A light pinch of salt pushed it over the top.

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And last but certainly not least, I couldn’t try out Olivier & Co.’s beautiful products without sampling a nice bottle of olive oil on its own.  At first glance on the website, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the options – so many to choose from, and for a novice like me, no real way to distinguish one from the next.  Thankfully, each bottle has a nice info section that includes things like producer, region, date of harvest, type of olive, and food pairings. 

My personal favorite way to use olive oil is to soak up as much as I possibly can into a thick piece of baguette – and then go to town.  And so because “bread dipping” was a recommended food pairing, I opted to try the Castello Di Poppiano Olive Oil.  Hello, gorgeous!

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Everything about the bottle just oozes elegance and fine food, and I immediately vowed to always have a few nice bottles of olive oil on hand for parties, special occasions, or even to give as gifts to foodie friends.  At $58 for the bottle, it’s not something I would use for sautéing vegetables or pan-frying tofu.  But it is a beautiful finisher to a mild dish, and of course – perfect for dipping. 

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And as for the taste, well – Casey and I were both blown away by the taste.  It was not at all what I expected, and made me realize that (much like wine) there is actually a noticeable difference between grades of olive oil.  This was super pungent and almost bitter, but in a good way, and left a prickly spiciness in my mouth that lingered long after the last bite.  In a word, amazing, and like I said – something that will absolutely be a special occasion pantry staple going forward.

And so with that said, I’d love to share the opportunity for you to try Olivier & Co.’s delicious products yourselves!  And this is no small giveaway – one lucky winner will receive $300 worth of product (of your choice!) to try.  And just to spread the love a bit further, anyone who enters the giveaway also receives a 10% off discount – something for everyone!

Giveaway Details:

Click the giveaway link here in order to join the Oliviers & Co. mailing list.  From there, browse the site for what Oliviers & Co. has to offer, and then leave a comment telling me a few products you might like to try!  Open to US readers only. Must have a US shipping address and valid email address.

Giveaway starts Monday, July 21st, 2014 and will run until Friday, July 25th.  Winner announced later that day!

Good luck, and happy summer eating!

This post was sponsored by Oliviers & Co.  Thank you for your continued support of Daily Garnish. 



Traveling With Two: Getting There.

When I was little, we road-tripped every summer up to New Jersey and then down to Hilton Head.  The Aerostar was packed to the gills with suitcases, coolers, beach towels, and anything else my mom could fit.  We’d drive for hours and hours, each of us with a small duffel at our feet filled with toys, books, and other entertainment (including small surprises my mom would always add at the last minute!).

I don’t think I even rode on an airplane until our big trip to Disneyworld at age eight.  And in the years that followed, I rarely went on another until I started flying by myself for things like spring breaks.  These days, living out on the west coast, we find ourselves in the friendly skies quite often!

One of the things we weighed heavily when we moved out to Seattle, was just how far we’d be away from family.  Of course there were the day-t0-day concerns of not being close, but also the logistics of not even being a car-ride away.  But the pros outweighed the cons, and travel is just a part of our life!  And we do it enough that it’s not even all that stressful anymore, although of course every new age brings new challenges and changes.  I have no idea how many flights Cullen has been on at this point, but Graham has done three in his first 9 months.

It’s worth noting, that we are also very, very blessed to be able to pay for almost all of our trips with air miles.  Casey travels for work enough that the miles he accumulates covers the cost of tickets for me and Cullen (Graham is still free).  Something I try to remind myself of when we are missing him when he travels! 

I get lots of comments and emails from terrified parents who are about to taking their children on first plane rides, looking for tips and advice.  And while I only know what works for my kids and our family, I am happy to share a bit of guidance for those traveling with young ones…

At the Airport

Even when we traveled with just Cullen, we always took both a carrier and a stroller to the airport.  The carrier is much easier with babies, because you can leave them strapped on through security, and it feels more secure in crowded spaces.  Some babies will even stay in the carrier snoozing during flights!

In the past, I’ve always taken my traditional Ergobaby carrier – which I LOVE for daily use.  But it’s a bit bulky when you are traveling, and it’s one more thing to lug around on the plane and through the airport when not in use. 

This time I tried the Ergobaby Stowaway carrier (which I’ve had for a while, but hadn’t used much!) and I absolutely loved it.  It is perfect for summer, as it is much more lightweight and a thin, nylon material.  The whole thing folds down into a tiny pouch that fits into a diaper bag – amazing!  (Also just noticed that for some reason the green color is half price on Amazon right now – a steal!) 

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We also took our Britax B-Ready stroller with the second seat attached (you can read more about the stroller in this post!).  In our day to day life at home, I prefer to use our BOB Duallie to stroll with both boys.  But it is super wide and I thought it would be obnoxious in the airport, not to mention I didn’t want to risk it being damaged during gate check. 

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Cullen is perfectly capable of walking through the airport, but actually prefers to be in the stroller in big crowds (which is fine with me!).  And even though we didn’t use the second seat at the airport, we needed it at our destination – so it served as handy storage for diaper bags and other carry-ons.  We have always checked our strollers at the gate, and have never had any issues (knock on wood).  Just don’t forget to grab it if you are connecting <— we actually did this once! 

On the Plane

Air travel is a constantly evolving process, depending on the ages (and number of!) your children.  So let’s start with the easy one.  I know there are parents who fill backpacks with stickers, books, crayons, toys, and more – and who tirelessly entertain their toddlers for hours upon hours in flight.  God bless these people, but I am not one of them.

From somewhere around age two and beyond, flying with our toddler became much, much easier.  Snacks + iPad + toddler headphones = not a peep for five hours. 

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We have a ton apps and games downloaded for him, as well as some episodes of Sesame Street, Super Why, and Daniel Tiger (the favorites!).  While he usually gets to watch one TV show a day while I put Graham down for the morning nap, he never gets to play on the iPad for several hours – so this is a fun treat! 

I always pack things like a sandwich, bunny crackers, sliced fruit, pouches, and an empty water bottle (the flight crew will fill it up for you!), so there is plenty to eat.  Depending on the length of the flight, sometimes we’ll buy a fruit and cheese plate too. 

With all that said, I DO always still pack Cullen’s backpack with a few fun things – one or two new small books, a Water WOW coloring book, some mini puzzles, and a few tiny cars or trucks.  He rarely plays with any of this on the plane, but it is there in case of a long delay or an iPad failure, and it doubles as something to play with when we get to our destination. 

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Traveling with a baby is a bit more complicated, and it’s something that so many parents fear.  I assure you, while not always a walk in the park, it is not THAT bad.  We flew with Cullen for the first time at 9 weeks, and Graham’s first flight was at 11 weeks.  From infant to about six months, it’s actually fairly easy.  I would always try to time takeoff with naptime (keeping him up a bit longer if necessary to avoid a short airport nap!) and a feeding, which usually results in a long airplane snooze (love that white noise!). 

If you are breastfeeding, it’s a simple as a boob and a blanket or cover (and a window seat if you can snag one!).  For bottle-fed babies, flight crews are always willing to warm up the milk or provide water for formula, so don’t be afraid to ask!  I also always travel with my Boppy pillow – even now at nine months old.  It is much softer and nicer for both mom and baby, and provides a cushy spot to take a snooze.  (Worth noting that they do make a travel Boppy, and I kind of wish I’d gotten one years ago!)

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When Graham is awake, he is generally very happy to chew on toys, bounce on our laps, and play with non-toy items like hats, airplane cups, and straws.  For that reason, the minute we sit down on an airplane I immediately wipe down all reachable surfaces with baby wipes – tray tables, arm rests, windows, seat belts, etc.  There is no way to avoid a curious baby (or toddler!) touching everything, so the best I can do is clean it and stop thinking about it. 

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Once babies reach the solid food age, things get slightly more complicated.  At home, Graham does a lot of self-feeding of soft foods in the high chair.  But that doesn’t work on an airplane!  He is not a big spoon fan, and likes to grab them and then throw food all over, so that wasn’t going to work either.

For this past trip (at nine months old), I packed a lot of fruit and veggie pouches, along with no-mess finger foods like puffs and freeze-dried fruits.  Over the course of a four and a half hour flight, he got really bored sitting on my lap.  So I did something kind of weird, but it totally worked…

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I strapped him into my seat, and I sat on the Boppy pillow in front of him on the floor!  This only worked because we had the bulkhead, which had extra floor space and no one in front of us, but man – it sure made a difference!  I sat like this for an hour or so, and honestly I think we were both more comfortable.  He ate his snacks happily, and my arms got a nice break. 

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I love this Oxo roll-up bib because it packs and cleans really well.  It also acts as a serving vessel!  Once Graham was tired of taking puffs one by one directly from me, I’d put a few in his bib and he’d have fun fishing them out.  Endless baby entertainment!

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The thing about traveling with kids is that, despite the urge to arm yourself with as much as possible, you want to travel as light as you can so that you are able to tend to your kids easily and not be weighed down.  Here are the basics that always go into my travel bag:

  • Full pack of wipes
  • Two times as many diapers as I actually need (in case of delays)
  • Outfit change for Graham (gambling on Cullen not needing one)
  • Several different snacks for each child
  • Snacks for mom and dad (usually Larabars)
  • Baby teethers and toys (note: nothing that makes noise! Sorry, Sophie)
  • Two Aden + Anais blankets (one for covering, one for snuggling)
  • Wallet, sunglasses, phone, etc.

And that is IT.  I try to really only take what I need for the flight itself, and I put all other non-essentials into my luggage to be unpacked when we get there.  Also worth noting that I don’t bother with things like books or magazines for myself.  The chance of actually reading something is so slim, and if it does come I can always just take a nap.  Cullen has all his things in his backpack (other than snacks), and Casey packs the iPad in his computer bag. 

A few other miscellaneous thoughts on air travel with kiddos:

We have this car seat travel bag, and we check our car seats with our luggage.  Having a bag with wheels makes a HUGE difference!  Also, there is a good amount of extra room in the bag (in the space where a child goes in the seat!), and I usually fill this with a small duffle of toys, packs of extra diapers, and bulky things like extra blankets or Cullen’s puddle jumper

Be kind and be respectful of the people around you.  Most people don’t want to sit next to a young child on an airplane (for many good reasons!). But remember that you and your kids also have every right to be there.  Babies have grandparents to visit, just like adults have business meetings.  You don’t need to apologize for being there.  You just need to do your best to keep things under control. 

I don’t think it is necessary to hand out chocolates or earplugs or buy drinks for all the people around me.  If your kids are acting out or being obnoxious, devote all your energy to making it stop quickly.  Get up, walk around, take a trip to the back of the plane – whatever works.  Air travel is not the time to practice hard discipline or new parenting strategies.

Have a little faith in your kids.  We’ve had a few bad flights, but we’ve had mostly good flights.  We’ve flown straight through nap times and we’ve all survived.  Kids are usually so excited for the big adventure ahead and all the fun that comes with planes, airports, pilots, and little wings – try to relax and have fun with them! 

This is much longer than I anticipated, so I’ll follow up with part two – feeding kids on vacation!  I feel like I’m forgetting something, so feel free to ask in the comments if you have specific questions.  I hope some of you parents find this helpful for your summer travels!

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