10 Refreshing Ways to Enjoy Your Favorite Summer Fruit

things to do with fruitIt’s no secret that we love fresh food at Dressler’s Restaurants.

That’s because we believe that fresh ingredients are the difference between food that is humdrum and food that is extraordinary.

Fresh, local fruit is nutritious, affordable, easy-to-prepare, and delicious.

Listed below are 10 fun and tasty ways to make the most of this Summer’s fruit. Enjoy!

1. Start the adventure at your local farmers’ market. Check out the Atherton Market for fresh, local produce and Local Harvest for other farmers’ markets in the area.

2. Go berry picking. This is a great family activity and a wonderful way to teach children where their food comes from. See PickYourOwn.org-NC

3. Make fruit pops. Kids love helping out in the kitchen and fruit popsicles are an easy activity for even the youngest children. Simply blend ingredients, pour into molds, and freeze.

4. Here’s an interesting idea from Tim Buchanan. Buy liquor. Buy a watermelon. Cut a hole in the watermelon. Fill with liquor. Wait–cut up the watermelon and enjoy in the backyard kiddie pool with the sprinkler running.

5. Make some jam. Jam purchased from the store cannot compare to the homemade kind. To learn how, read How to Make Homemade Jam-Easily!

6. Experiment with kid-friendly beverages. Add fresh berries, bananas, pineapple, and peaches to smoothies, lemonade, and sweet tea.

7. Make (and eat) pie. Your home smells amazing when there is a pie cooking in the oven. Making homemade pie dough takes a little practice but is still fairly easy. Basic pie dough requires only 4 ingredients (flour, salt, shortening, and water). The crust is the most difficult part. Filling the pie couldn’t be easier: Combine your favorite fresh fruit with just a few added ingredients like sugar, butter, salt, and spices. See How to Make Pie Dough.

8. Create a fruit parfait. Parfaits are fun to create and look fancy without a lot of work. Start with glass jars or clear glasses so you can see the colorful layers. Then simply layer your favorite fruits with whipped cream or yogurt. 9 Irresistible Parfait Recipes

9. Add fruit to your Summer salads. Fresh fruit brings flavor, texture, and color to salads. Traditional fruit salads are another Summertime favorite because they are light, refreshing, and healthy. See 7 Fruity Summer Salads, 9 Fresh Fruit Salad Recipes and Add Fresh Fruit to Green Salads. 

10. Don’t forget the adult beverages. Summertime adult beverages beg for fresh fruit, both as a garnish as well as the main ingredient. Sangrias, mojitos, margaritas, piña coladas, and daiquiris taste best with fresh fruit. Check out these Summer Fruit Cocktails and Summer Drinks & Cocktail Recipes.

15 Fun Things To Do With Fruit

8 Fun Ways With Fruit

The Ultimate Summer Fruit Guide

Crazy About Grilled Meat? So Are We! Check Out Our Favorites!

favorite grilled meatsWho doesn’t love the smell and taste of tender, mouthwatering meat cooked on the grill?

Here at Dressler’s Restaurant, we are crazy about meat that’s cooked on the grill.

Of all the amazing foods to cook on the grill, our all-time favorites include flat irons, skirt steaks, and ribs.

STEAK

Hanger: also known as butcher’s steak; rich and full of flavor; marinate, grill, and serve rare to medium rare to avoid toughness; check out the Food Network’s Marinated Grilled Hanger Steak Recipe

T-Bone/Porterhouse: a strip loin and tenderloin connected by a T-shaped bone; have it cut 1-2 inches thick

New York Strip: this steak comes from the short loin; moderately tender with good marbling and rich beef flavor; check out The Best Way to Cook New York Strip Steaks on a Grill

Ribeye: taken from the rib section of beef; high marbling; tender, juicy steak with rib bone still attached; because of the high-fat content, grilling can be difficult due to flare-ups; pan searing is another option; see How to Cook a Perfect Ribeye Steak

Flat iron: this well-marbled steak cut from the steer’s shoulder makes for great grilling whether marinated or seasoned simply with coarse salt and pepper; take a look at this Flat Iron Steak With Red Wine recipe

Skirt steak: thin, long strip of beef cut from the plate; not as tender as other cuts because it is lean, but loaded with flavor

Tips for Grilling Steak

  • season with coarse salt, olive oil
  • get the fire hot
  • let meat rest for several minutes after cooking to redistribute juices
  • serve thinly sliced across the grain (which shortens those tough stringy meat fibers)
  • when buying steaks, remember to look for generous marbling throughout (this fat is what gives the steak its flavor)
  • have steaks cut 1-2 inches thick

CHICKEN–a tasty and economical crowd-pleaser; see Barbecued Chicken on the Grill and the Food Network’s Great Grilled Chicken

RIBS–cook low and slow on the grill for mouthwatering ribs; see Southern Living’s How to Grill Baby Back Ribs, Mastering Ribs, and Taste of Home’s Top 10 Recipes for Grilling Ribs

FISH–done right, fish on the grill should be moist, tender, and flaky; How to Grill Fish on a Gas Grill, Fish on the Grill-It’s Easier Than You Think, and The Only Technique You Need to Know for Grilled Fish

3 Simple Steps for Grilling Beef

Top 10 Inexpensive Cuts of Meat

The Best Cheap Cuts of Meat

The 4 High-End Steaks You Should Know

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

Have a Safe Summer and Follow These Important Water Safety Guidelines

water safety guidelinesSummer is all about spending time with family and friends, enjoying delicious food and drinks, and cooling off in the water.

And while water activities provide us with countless hours of refreshment and entertainment, they can also pose a serious threat to adults, children, and babies.

Dressler’s Restaurants wants you to be safe this Summer. Follow these lifesaving tips from the American Red Cross and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  • Even a few inches of water can pose a serious danger to children and babies, so use extreme caution when youngsters are near even small bodies of water.
  • Surround your pool with a fence that is 4-feet high and has a self-closing, self-latching gate. Place a safety cover on your pool/hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access.
  • Install a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool.
  • Supervise children at all times. Stay in arm’s reach of young kids. Designate a responsible person to watch the water when people are in the pool.
  • Never allow anyone to swim alone–even if they are a good swimmer. Have young or inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Enroll children in swimming lessons.
  • Keep your pool/hot tub water clean and clear. Maintain proper chemical levels, circulation and filtration. Regularly test and adjust the chemical levels to minimize the risk of earaches, rashes, or more serious diseases.
  • Establish and enforce rules and safe behaviors in the pool area.
  • Enroll adults and older teens in first aid and CPR classes.
  • Use caution with portable pools and baby pools–young children and babies can and do drown in them.
  • Keep children away from pool drains to avoid entrapment. Use approved drain covers.
  • Keep your cell phone with you by the pool for emergencies, but don’t be distracted while children are in or near the water.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first.
  • Adults and children alike should wear coast-guard approved life jackets when boating.

Besides these basic water safety guidelines, it’s also important to stay hydrated on hot Summer days and protected from the heat and sun. Read Staying Hydrated and Healthy from the American Heart Association and Sun Protection from the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Pool Safely

Home Pool Safety-American Red Cross

Pools and Spas-Consumer Product Safety Commission

Dressler’s Spotlight: Kent Voss

Kent_vossMeet Kent Voss, server (as well as captain/key/sage of service/trainer/sensei) at Dressler’s Metropolitan.

Kent, how long have you been with Dressler’s? “5 years, 4 months, 2 days.”

Please describe your responsibilities at the restaurant. “Ambassador to the kitchen, culinary guide, reading our guests’ auras, and, most of all, anticipating needs and providing service that appears seamless and graceful,” explains Kent. “To win friends and influence people.”

What is a typical day/evening like for you? “Clean nails and bright eyes to start, clean and polish the arena, take in new information and review old information, and mess with my fellow coworkers, and then off to shake hands and kiss babies.”

What do you like most about working at Dressler’s? “That list is long for sure,” says Kent. “I can’t speak for the other two locations but I can say for sure at the Metropolitan that I feel lucky and excited to be able to spend 6 nights a week around some of the most interesting, eclectic, and dynamic people that I have ever seen in one place. I feel so lucky to be exposed to the massive variety and flavors of people (guests and staff included) that I rub shoulders with in a typical work week,” says Kent. “And Jon Dressler is pretty nice as well,” jokes Kent.

What’s your secret to success? “Nothing slick here, just the inner child looking for approval. The more difficult it is to gain, the more interested I become.”

Any funny stories or people that you encounter in your position?  ”There are so many,” begins Kent. “I close my eyes and review the last five years, and the two that pop into my head first are bearing witness to Tim Buchanan running a half marathon and then working almost right after and conducting the restaurant meticulously–brilliant. Then, I think the same year, observing Erik Draheim apply the Heimlich maneuver on one of our guests, possibly saving their life, then going on to expertly perform his superior table visits like nothing had just happened.”

What are some of your favorite foods to eat at Dressler’s? “The Brasstown sirloin is awesome as well as local. The salmon is stunning. The Gnocchi with blue cheese sauce, green apple, and prosciutto is life changing. It’s disturbing how many wines you can pair with it. Of course, Joan Dressler’s cheesecake is remarkable, each bite begs for another–good God!”

 What are some of the customers’ favorites? Halibut, heart of ribeye, rack of lamb, and our signature calamari presentation,” says Kent. “Our signature cocktails that Jeff Keiser, Bar Manager at Metro, have put together are the best I have seen. Our guests have really taken to them. You can tell it was cultivated by someone who genuinely wanted something there for everybody–from a rum pineapple basil cocktail to a hearty premium bourbon old fashioned,” explains Kent. ”He still manages to be creative and charming (all the while he has a newborn baby that cries 12 hours a day). God bless you Jeffery Keiser!”

What do you do when you’re not working? “I go to a local studio and practice Tai Chi. A little-known fact about our Executive Chef Scott Hollingsworth is that he has trained Krav Maga and combat sports for a spell. We have trained, drilled, and sparred with each other.  I (he) ruined my meniscus. So I thank him for that. I feel so satisfied to be spending 6 to 7 1/2 hours a week in a sport appropriate for my rapidly-aging 44-year-old frame.

“Having my kids (17, 16, and 10 years old) invite me into their worlds and letting their guard down for whatever time I can grab is the highlight of my life,” adds Kent. “I’m also very excited to see my daughter (with Kent in photo) go off to Appalachian State in the Fall.”

What is special about Dressler’s that keeps people coming back? “There are no right words, catchy phrases, and/or eloquent mission statements to answer that. To be honest, I really feel like it is all that intangible stuff–the vibe. Come in and feel it for yourself!”

Fast, Easy, and Inexpensive Steps to a Sparkling Clean Kitchen

cleaning your kitchenHas it been a while since you’ve given your kitchen a thorough cleaning?

Don’t put this important project off any longer. A clean kitchen is not only a pleasure to work in, it is essential for preparing healthy, delicious meals for your friends and family.

If you are worried about using harsh chemicals in your home, try cleaning your kitchen with natural products like lemons, vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. They are inexpensive and effective for disinfecting and won’t harm you or the environment. Check out these Homemade and Natural Cleaning Products.

Declutter: Start by removing clutter from your kitchen. Empty your cabinets and clear everything off your countertops. It’s time to decide what you really want and need in your kitchen. Toss, donate, or recycle everything else. For more ideas, read Cut Clutter in the Kitchen.

Countertops: Your countertops should be disinfected daily, especially before and after meal preparation. How to best clean your countertops depends on what material they are made from. See 10 Countertops Cleaning Tips.

Cabinets: If you have open space above your cabinets, remove all items, vacuum, and wipe down the top surface. Remove everything from inside cabinets and wipe down shelves. Do the same for drawers. Once cabinet interiors are completely dry, replace and reorganize the items that you want and need to keep.

Windows: Wipe down windowsills. Wash the glass, inside and out. Remove screens, rinse, dry, and replace. Vacuum, wipe down, and wash curtains, shades, or blinds. Read How to Clean Windows Like a Pro.

Light Fixtures: Clean light fixtures give off more light, which is a necessity in the kitchen. Take down light fixtures if possible and gently wash and dry them before replacing. If you have a light with exposed light bulb, turn the light off and dust when cool.

Walls and Doors: Kitchen walls can get really grimy, especially near the sink and stove. With a damp cloth, wipe down walls and doors, working from ceiling to floor. Don’t forget to clean light switches and doorknobs.

Sink: Using baking soda, warm water, and a lemon peel to disinfect the garbage disposal. Run ice cubes through the disposal to sharpen and clean the blades. Scrub the sink with baking soda and vinegar. For more information, check out How to Clean Your Kitchen Sink & Disposal.

Large Appliances:

  • Refrigerator–Empty the refrigerator, throwing away expired food. Unplug and clean behind and underneath (cleaning the condenser coils will help your refrigerator operate more efficiently). Wipe down shelves and drawers and dry with a clean towel. Replace food items, organizing and sorting as you go.
  • Microwave–Wipe with a damp cloth. Fill a microwave safe bowl or cup with 4-5  tablespoons baking soda or one-half cup lemon juice and water and heat mixture on high for two to three minutes. Allow to sit for five minutes, then wipe again with a damp cloth. Clean exterior and door with warm, soapy water and dishcloth.
  • DishwasherRun an empty dishwasher with vinegar to disinfect and remove deposits.
  • Oven/Stove–Remove, knobs, burners, burner covers, and spill catchers off of the stove and wipe down. To clean the oven, mix equal parts salt and baking soda. Add enough vinegar to make a paste. Allow to sit. Use wire wool, sponge, toothbrush, or scraper to remove baked-on food.

Floors: Sweep and vacuum floors, making sure to get into the corners and baseboards. Shake/ vacuum rugs.

Garbage Can: Does your kitchen garbage can smell bad even after you’ve taken out the garbage? Empty it out and disinfect it with your favorite cleaner. Allow to completely dry before putting in a new bag.

5 Simple Steps For Throwing a Sensational Spring Garden Party

Garden PartySpring is here and it’s time to take the party outdoors!

Garden parties are all about friends, family, fun–and, of course, food!

Hosting a garden party for the first time? Don’t stress! These no-fuss parties are all about sharing great food and drinks with friends and family.

The steps to creating an amazing garden party are really quite simple. Start with a deck, patio, or just a patch of green grass. Add tasty and easy-to-eat food and drinks. Then invite your favorite people and enjoy!

Want to add a little flair to your garden party? Check out the ideas below.

Party Decor–Let Mother Nature be your guide when decorating for your garden party. You don’t have to plant a garden, of course, but you can lavish your deck or patio with potted plants and put vases of fresh flowers on the tables. Want to have a party theme? A favorite flower, color, or even fruit is all it takes.

Seating Arrangements–Set up tables and seating areas so your guests have room to mingle outdoors. Provide a mixture of chairs and benches for comfort and versatility. Make your table settings as casual or elegant as you like. Read 50 Great Designs for a Garden Party.

Light It Up–Will your garden party continue into the evening? If so, lights and paper lanterns will add light, ambiance, and fun to your festivities. String your lights around the perimeter from your pergola, trees, or deck/patio railing or roof. For more inspiration, check out 28 Outdoor Lighting DIYs to Brighten Up Your Summer.

Chilled Beverages–Make batches of your favorite drink to share with your guests. This signature beverage can be anything from sangrias to margaritas. Keep plenty of beer and wine cold in coolers or buckets filled with ice so guests are free to help themselves. Make sure to offer a variety of nonalcoholic beverages including iced water, tea, and lemonade. Check out the Cooking Channel’s Best Summer Drinks and Cocktails.

Unforgettable Finger Foods–We all love finger foods. The pure genius of them is that you and your guests are free to stroll, mingle, and socialize as you eat. Appetizers work well for outdoor parties because they are easy to prepare and you can often make them ahead of time.

24 Easy Outdoor Appetizers

Party-Ready Finger Foods

Dressler’s Spotlight: Mary Rogers

Mary Rogers, Dressler's RestaurantMeet Mary Rogers, Hospitality Expert at Dressler’s Restaurant in Birkdale Village.

What are your responsibilities at Dressler’s? ”Making our guest experience memorable,” says Mary. “Also making my Dressler’s family (staff and guests) feel happy to be at Dressler’s Birkdale. And to uphold our standard of excellence.”

How long have you been with Dressler’s? ”Twelve years this September.”

What do you enjoy most about your job? ”Meeting such interesting people from all around the world.”

What challenges come with your job? “I have to remind myself sometimes that this is a job, not a social event.”

What are some of your favorite things to eat and drink at Dressler’s? “Most of the menu,” laughs Mary. “But to name a few–the crab cakes, Caesar salad, halibut, Mom’s cheesecakes (including the pumpkin cheesecake in the Fall).”

What seem to be the customers’ favorites? “Calamari, Hear-of-Ribeye, Mom’s carrot cake.”

Describe a typical day/evening at work. “Every day is a surprise at Dressler’s,” explains Mary. “I always arrive dressed and ready for anything! It makes for interesting evenings.”

What have you learned from working at Dressler’s? “Ultimately, you have to be happy with what you do in life. I love what I do and I’m happy to be a member of the Dressler’s family.”

Describe the people you work with at Dressler’s. “A diverse group of individuals! Professional, but also having fun working together towards the same goal.”

Any hobbies or sports? “I have a collection of Pez Dispensers. I also collect foils off of wine bottles.”

What about family life? “John is my husband of 41 years. We have three sons and one daughter-in-law. We are expecting out first grandchildren–TWIN GIRLS!!”

Tips For Cooking With Your Kids

cooking with kidsKids love to eat as much as adults do. And kids also love spending time with their parents. So it’s only natural that when you combine the two you get an activity that kids are wild about–cooking!

Preparing meals, snacks, and desserts with your children is a great way to bond, while teaching them important skills that will last throughout their lifetime.

The best part about cooking with your kids is that it’s fun! The food you prepare together doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. The possibilities are as endless as their imaginations!

Not sure how to get started? We’ve got some simple ideas that will have them cooking in no time.

cooking with kids

Start them young. Toddlers love to eat, so it makes sense that they have an interest in preparing their food. Spending time with your children in the kitchen is fun (it also keeps them out of trouble when you’re preparing a meal). Remember that attitude is everything to kids, so if you make meal preparations fun, you children will want to be involved.

Start with the basics. There are so many valuable lessons to learn in the kitchen. All children should learn the importance of washing their hands and cleaning up their own messes. They can also help by setting the table with plates, cups, cutlery, and napkins. Put younger children to work washing fruits and vegetables under running water, placing food items into a bowl or on a plate, using a measuring cup to pour ingredients, and mixing with a spoon or spatula. Older kids can learn how to pour drinks, use a knife, and cook over heat.

The kitchen is an amazing learning environment. While cooking with you, children will learn math skills, practice fine-motor skills (chopping, stirring, sifting), learn about nutrition, basic cooking techniques, fire safety, knife safety, and good hygiene.

Show them where their food comes from. Shop at your local farmers’ markets. Visit local farms like Poplar Ridge Farm and Fishing Creek Creamery so kids can experience the wonders of a working farm. Grow vegetables in your garden. At the grocery store, teach your children how to read labels and pick the freshest products.

Discover new recipes together. Expose your your kids to a wide variety of foods. Read cookbooks together, look at recipes online, or watch your favorite cooking show. Give kids a say in the menu planning. Check out these resources for children:

Check out tasting bars and chef classes. Share your love for food and cooking with your children by taking them to tasting bars and chef classes. Dogwood has an amazing tasting bar where you can sit together and interact with the chef and kitchen crew while watching them cook.

Make meals a family affair. Once you’ve spent the time cooking together, sit down as a family and enjoy your meal. These are the memories that your kids will cherish and pass down to their own families when they are grown.

Cooking With Kids: 5 Ways to Get Children Involved in the Kitchen

10 Simple Ways to Involve Your Kids in the Kitchen

A Beginner’s Guide to Bourbon

guidelines for bourbon

Welcome to the Golden Age of Bourbon!

By far the most popular of American whiskeys, bourbon is distilled from fermented grain mash (corn, rye, barley, and wheat) and aged in oak barrels. Whiskey is made all over the world, but bourbon is made only in America.

“There is such a boom in bourbon right now, unlike any other time I’ve seen in my 18 years in this business,” explains Brian Lorusso, Bar Manager at Dogwood Southern Table & Bar. “The most popular way it is being ordered right now is on the rocks or in tasting flights. We are even seeing women ordering bourbon as well, and it’s great to see! We currently carry 50+ bourbons at Dogwood (actual bourbons, not just whiskeys).”

American whiskey needs to meet certain guidelines in order to be called bourbon. First of all, it must be produced in the United States. Second, it must be made from 51 percent corn. Third, bourbon can only be aged in new charred oak barrels. Fourth, bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125 proof. Fifth, it must be bottled at 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume) or higher. Lastly, bourbon must not contain any added flavoring, coloring, or other additives.

bourbon barrels

The quality of bourbon depends on barrel aging, blending, and bottling. Single barrel bourbon has been bottled from one barrel only. Small batch bourbon is made when a few barrels are aged together. Straight bourbon must be aged a minimum of two years.

What’s the Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey?

The Bourbon Boom: Buy the Whiskey, Not the Stocks

A Chocoholics Guide to Chocolate

types of chocolateDeath by chocolate–what a way to go!

There’s a reason why chocolate is considered one of life’s greatest indulgences. Its rich, smooth taste and texture, combined with its intoxicating aroma, make it a simply irresistible and oh-so-satisfying treat.

Try Dressler’s delectable chocolate cake with chocolate lava and vanilla ice cream!

Want to know more about your favorite sweet? Keeping reading.

It All Begins On Trees

Cacao beans grow in pods on cacao trees in West Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America. After the beans are harvested, they are fermented, dried, roasted, and ground. From there, different types of chocolate are made from different combinations and amounts of cocoa butter (smooth, solid fat), chocolate liquor (ground roasted beans), and sugar.

Most Common Types of Chocolate

cocoa powder–An unsweetened powder; pure chocolate with most of the cocoa butter removed; available in Dutch-processed (alkalized) or natural varieties; natural cocoa has an intense chocolate taste; it is also bitter and slightly acidic, so use in recipes calling for baking soda; alkalized cocoa has a milder chocolate flavor and is less acidic, so it’s best in recipes that call for baking powder. See Hershey’s Cocoa Recipes.

unsweetened chocolate–Also known as “bitter” or “baking” chocolate. This is pure chocolate liquor, composed solely of ground cocoa beans (contains approximately 50% cocoa butter); adds a rich chocolate flavor to baked goods; this chocolate is used to make all other chocolates (except white chocolate). See Bakers Unsweetened Chocolate Recipes.

dark chocolate–Contains chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, and lecithin (emulsifier); no milk solids added; dark chocolate can be sweet, semi-sweet, bittersweet, or unsweetened.

milk chocolate–Contains cocoa butter and chocolate liquor, as well as condensed milk or dry milk solids; per FDA guidelines, must contain at least 10% chocolate liquor, 10-20% cocoa solids (cocoa/cocoa butter), 3.39% butterfat, and 12% milk solids; easily overheats, so use caution when baking. Check out Milk Chocolate Dessert Recipes.

couverture chocolate–Used by professional bakers or confectioners, it contains at least 30% of cocoa butter and a high percentage of chocolate liquor; because it melts quickly and evenly, it is best for tempering and enrobing candies.

white chocolate–Contains cocoa butter, but does not contain chocolate liquor or any other cocoa products; according to the FDA, white chocolate must contain a minimum 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk solids, and a maximum of 55% sugar.

Chocolate: The Story from Beans to Bar

Chocolate: Types, Selection, and Storage