4 Tips for Perfect Cold Brew

Walk into your local coffee shop or neighborhood Starbucks and you’ll likely see cold brew on the menu – and if you’re an early customer, you might even get a cup. When my sister texted me a few weeks ago to tell me that she made her own cold brew and it was both delicious and easy, I decided to try it for myself.

Is it really as easy as Paige and Instagram make it look? Paige sent me The Ultimate Guide to Cold Brew Coffee from Wellnesting, which she used to make her version. All the details on how to make cold brew are in the guide, as are a few delicious drink ideas. Here’s 4 more little details you need to know to make the perfect cold brew:

1. You can use pretty much any coffee and it will turn out just fine. Most guides online will tell you that you need to buy whole beans from your local roaster – and if that’s your thing, go for it. It’ll taste great. But if all you have is Maxwell House grounds (that’s my whole family’s go-to), that works too. The beauty of cold brew is that it makes any coffee taste delicious.

2. Use cheesecloth to strain your grounds. Trust me on this. A paper filter just doesn’t do this job. The coffee drained slowly and I managed to rip a hole straight through the filter while trying to make the coffee strain faster.

3. This stuff is strong. Like really strong. I filled a glass with ice and had 1 part cold brew with 2 parts almond milk, and I was still bouncing my legs at lunchtime. If you’re sensitive to the caffeine in coffee, be careful with your first few cold brews and experiment to find what works for you!

Cold Brew Coffee Tips | Succulents and Sunnies

4. Make more than just a single batch. Cold brew stays fresh in the fridge for a week and it’s perfect for summer – no need to turn on the coffee maker and use a million ice cubes cooling your hot coffee back down to a refreshing temperature. Plus it just tastes so good.

Cheers to the Weekend at 12 Gates Brewing Company

I’m not going to lie, when Google Maps told Cody and I we had arrived at 12 Gates Brewing Company, I thought Google was experiencing a glitch. That was the only reason I could think of that would explain why we were looking at the entrance of an industrial complex just minutes from the Buffalo Airport. After double checking the address with the brewery website, we turned into the parking lot and followed the signs to the back of the complex, where the brewery did in fact await us.

Cody and I were looking for a new brewery to try without driving to the Southtowns on a Friday afternoon (we still need to check out Hamburg and 42 North, but this wasn’t the day). 12 Gates fit the bill. It’s in Williamsville and serves a good variety of bar snacks that would tide us over until dinner with Cody’s family.

12 Gates Brewing Company | Succulents and Sunnies

After getting over our initial shock about the location and passing the door to a machine shop on our way to the tap room, we settled in with a flight and nachos inside. The bar was packed with a Friday afternoon happy hour crowd from surrounding businesses and everyone was happy to be there.

I tried the coffee porter, which was good in flight form but would likely get overwhelming in a pint. Instead, I went for the seasonal wheat, which was still the spring apricot variety. After polishing off our nachos we moved outside to enjoy the sunny day. The patio might just be a collection of picnic benches on a corner of the parking lot, but the tall wooden planters filled with hops and bright flowers help you forget that fact. There’s also corn hole and we saw four little bunnies hopping around behind the asphalt.

Because of the proximity the the airport, a plane approaches the runway every 15 minutes or so almost directly overhead. I rather enjoyed this added entertainment, but I can see it being a little bit anxiety-inducing for some.

The atmosphere, outdoor space and very nice bartender more than made up for the initial shock about the location. We thoroughly enjoyed our first trip to 12 Gates and we’ll definitely be back!

6 Recipes to Try This Spring

Warmer weather and spring veggies have me craving new, fresh recipes. Here are 6 I’m excited to try this season!

1. One Pot Vegetable Penne Pasta – Love & Lemons

There is nothing I love more than one pot pasta recipes. They’re easy and yummy. This one is filled with tomatoes, pepper, zucchini and more. In a few months, we can make this right out of the garden, but for now the grocery store will do. I’m going to make this my lunch meal prep for the week.

Update: This recipe worked great for a whole week worth of lunches! I used 2 small zucchini, a pint of cherry tomatoes and 16 ounces of whole wheat pasta with 5 1/2 cups of water. Next time, I’ll add even more spices to really jazz things up.

2. Blackened Fish Tacos with Creamy Avocado Sauce – FoodieCrush

At this time last year, my roommates and I were spring break-ing in Florida, eating fish tacos with mixed drinks at beachfront restaurants. This year, not so much. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy fish tacos at home!

3. Slow Cooker Thai Curry Chicken – Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

I’m not going to put away the slow cooker just because it’s getting warmer. I’m excited to try this recipe! I love when I can make rice and add whatever has been cooking all day with no effort on my part to make a meal.

4. Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Power Salad – Little Spice Jar

This is a great side dish or a main meal. When I made it, I used less scallions and didn’t include dates. The flavors had a chance to blend overnight and it was even better as leftovers.

5. Glowing Green “Pasta” Primavera – Oh She Glows

Everything on Oh She Glows is delicious and unlike some vegan recipes, you can’t tell it’s vegan. I always love the sauces Angela creates and this sun-dried tomato basil-hemp pesto looks amazing.

6. Southwestern Veggie Wraps – Oh My Veggies

I love wraps, I love sweet potatos and I love black beans. These wraps look like an easy dinner with enough flavor and filling to make up for the meatless-ness.

Niagara Food & Wine Expo GIVEAWAY đŸŸ

Mark your calendars, the Niagara Food and Wine Festival is less than 3 weeks away! The Expo is a 3 day tasting event (running April 21-23) with samples of wine, beers and spirits from both around the world and local wineries. The list of exhibitors includes Aure Wines and Muskoka Lakes Winery, Goose Island Beer Company and Niagara Brewing Company, plus Alacran Tequila, Rheault Distillery and Relay Coffee Roasters. Don’t worry, there’s also food samples from dozens of the area’s best chefs to pair with all your drinks 😜

If all the food and wine wasn’t enough, there is also a Tasting Stage and Entertainment Area. The most exciting feature at this year’s Expo is the addition of demonstrations by The Chef & The Dish. The Chef & The Dish is “a global kitchen-to-kitchen culinary experience.” They’ve taken the traditional cooking class and turned it into a one-on-one experience with no geographical constrains, thanks to modern technology. You pick the type of cuisine you’re interested in making, and The Chef & The Dish pairs you with one of their chefs, located around the world. How? All through private, one-on-one cooking classes via Skype!

Niagara Food & Wine Expo | The Chef & The DISH | Succulents and Sunnies

Interested in learning more? Check out their website!

The Chef & The Dish is demonstrating their culinary experience with 4 presentations throughout the Expo, including Japanese cooking with Chef Yoshimi from Tokyo and Spanish cuisine from Chef Ana in Seville.

Now, the part you’ve been waiting for: The Chef & The Dish invited me to the Expo to watch their demonstrations, and they want you to come too! Thanks to The Chef & The Dish, I’m giving away 4 tickets (2 here on the blog and 2 over on Instagram) to the Niagara Food & Wine Expo in April.

To enter the giveaway:

  1. Follow this blog using the little white box on the right side of this page.
  2. Comment on this post to let me know you’re interested!
  3. Want to double your chances of winning? Share this post on your Facebook or Twitter (let me know you did this in your comment).

A few details regarding the giveaway and Expo:

  • Your tickets will be good for 1 of the 3 days of the Expo. You can attend on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
  • No one under 19 is allowed into the event, including infants and kids.
  • This event is in Niagara Falls, Ontario, so you will have to cross the border to get to the event.
  • Feel free to enter both this giveaway and the giveaway on my Instagram!
  • I will randomly select the winner of both pairs of tickets on Friday, April 14th.

Sunday Brunching in MontrĂ©al

On the quick trip Paige and I recently took to Montreal (read about the whole trip in this blog post), one of our biggest priorities was finding a great brunch before leaving on Sunday morning. The biggest hurdle was how early we wanted to eat, around 9 am, so we could head home. We also needed to be able to walk from our hotel on Rue Berri.

Sunday Brunch Montreal | Succulents and Sunnies | Taylor K Flynn

We landed on Le Bistro du Magasin Général du Vieux, which turned out to be a wonderful decision. The bistro serves a delicious, fresh menu with tons of both coffee and mimosa options. We also thought it was very fairly priced, especially for the prime Old Montreal location.

After we ate, an omelette for me, and an apple and brie sandwich for Paige, we browsed the beautiful collection of home goods, jewelry and scarves that the store sells. This collection is beautifully curated and I wanted to take everything home. We left full of both food and inspiration!

Sunday Brunch Montreal | Succulents and Sunnies | Taylor K Flynn

Sunday Brunch Montreal | Succulents and Sunnies | Taylor K Flynn

Celebrating DĂ­a de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos | Taylor K Flynn

Our local Mexican restaurant, Mariachi de Oro in Medina, is delicious on any day, from the housemade salsa to the sizzling fajitas. But this year, I was lucky enough to join them for the traditional meal they host each fall for Día de los Muertos, along with Cody and his family. Let me tell you, I was blown away by the event.

From the marimba band and the marigold ofrenda, to the worms in our tequila shots, this event was as celebratory as my family’s Thanksgiving. I truly felt included in the special night, hosted by the Rosario family, who owns and operates the restaurant.

The family is from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and between cheerful songs and more food than humanly possible to eat, they explained the tradition of the Day of the Dead. There was Pan de Muertos with Mexican hot chocolate, the most delicious tamales, endless chicken mole with homemade corn tortillas. To finish the meal, as if we weren’t already stuffed with the most incredible food, there was flan and shots of tequila – with worms (that I did not add to my drink), which is apparently something that began Oaxaca.

As the digital marketer I am, I also loved the Facebook Live Mariachi de Oro was rocking throughout the celebration.

If you’ve never been, I highly encourage you to check out Mariachi de Oro. And if you have, spending DĂ­a de los Muertos with them is a special experience you’ll definitely love.