Simple Ways To Modify Your Popular Recipes To Be Healthier

We’re always on an unending search for ways to improve the nutrition, lower calories and appeal to the healthier food movement without sacrificing the savory flavor and aroma of our favorite foods. Whether it is about eliminating ingredients or substituting them with healthier alternatives, it doesn’t have to be hard.  Your establishment can be an option for those with diet restriction but want to regularly eat out if you take some easy steps to modify your menu items.

Are you confused with how you can adapt your menu and recipes without sacrificing taste? Fret not, because we are about to show you how to modify recipes easily.

Eight Gluten-Free Swaps

  1. Black beans instead of flour – a can of drained and rinsed black beans in brownies will eliminate the gluten while boosting protein. Substituting black beans for flour is ideal when baking darker colored foods like those with chocolate.
  2. Quinoa for couscous – as a whole-grain superfood, quinoa is a highly nutritious ingredient that, when used in the place of couscous, makes the food healthier. (Couscous is a product of processed wheat flour and thus contains gluten.)
  3. Replace bread crumbs with ground flaxseeds – when ground and mixed with herbs, flaxseeds make a great alternative for wheat-based bread crumbs.
  4. Corn for wheat – gluten-free food lovers can enjoy Tacos, corn tortillas, and cornbread.
  5. Zoodles or veggie spaghetti for pasta noodles – there’s no need for having carb-packed portions of pasta when you can simply saute flavorful veggies for a few minutes and enjoy your Zoodles.
  6. Lettuce leaves as an alternative of tortilla wraps.
  7. Veggies as an accompaniment instead of pita – in vegetables, you have killer dippers with hummus, fewer carbs, and more nutrients.
  8. Nuts for croutons for that crunchy taste on your salad (try slivered almonds or walnuts.)

Lower-Sugar Swaps;

  1. Unsweetened applesauce for sugar – if you need some sweetness without sugar, try Unsweetened applesauce.
  2. Natural peanut butter instead of reduced-fat peanut butter (reduced-fat peanut butter has more sugar, along with many other artificial additives.)
  3. Stevia for sugar – because natural sweetener stevia is over 3,000 times sweeter.
  4. Vanilla extract, instead of granulated sugar – use half the usual amount of sugar and use more vanilla when baking cookies.
  5. Cinnamon for cream and sugar in coffee – warm and cozy coffee made using cinnamon instead of sugar and cream is yet another healthy alternative.

Vegan Swaps

  1. Try some avocado purée instead of butter on your bread, pasta or vegetables.
  2. Banana or coconut ice cream instead of ice cream – no milk, no cream, no butter, no sugar?
  3. Olive oil for butter when you need to fry or sauté.
  4. Coconut milk instead of cream – thick and creamy, but natural and healthy.
  5. Mashed bananas or avocados for bacon fat.

Reduced Sodium Swaps

1.    Herbs or citrus juice instead of salt if you would like to get a better, fresher taste.

2.    Homemade salad dressing rather than prepared commercial ones

3.    Fresh tomatoes in the place of ketchup

Other ways to modify Recipes

  • Sweet potato fries will provide more vitamins and fiber
  • Potatoes and not potato chips.
  • Dark and leafy greens for lettuce
  • Brown rice for white rice
  • Don’t fry, just grill, bake, microwave, poach or roast
  • Use greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise

 

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Brewery Compensation

As you build your brewing business, you will ultimately hire employees to help you with the daily operations workload. There will be employees working on the brewing side, helping in making the beer. Then there will be sales employees who will look after the sales of your product to other retailers like restaurants and bars, or even wholesale distributors.  The sales team may also be responsible for sale of other branded products such as promotional items or other products sold in the retail store portion of the taproom. Lastly, the front of house staff that work your taproom such as the bartenders, servers and front of house managers.

This entire team of employees is very crucial to the image of your establishment, as they are the first people the clients interact with. Loyalty to a brewery is built on the experience at your brewery as much as it is on the quality of the beer products. Your staff is responsible for the image of your company to the community. These individuals create the atmosphere and experience that brings back repeat customers and results in positive reviews of your establishment and your beer. Let’s look at a few of the rules regarding employee compensation for these various team members.

 

Independent Contractor or Employee:

Employees who work at your establishment in the brewing or taproom operations are almost always going to be deemed employees. Independent contractors make their own hours and get paid by the project rather than an ongoing hourly compensation model. They have the ability to work for many places and to pick and choose which projects to accept or decline. (The Labor Department will look to see that they bear risk in the profitability of the project. That is the sign of an independent business.) Independent contractors may work the same positions or some other position at other establishments as well. In the end, the level of control your company has over the methods and means of work for these team members will render them as employees in almost every case.

Salespeople, on the other hand, may be independent contractors and paid a commission based compensation rather than hourly wages if their job is limited to sales functions. They generally get to make their own hours if they are independent contractors and can work from home or the road rather than be expected to be at the brewery. If their job involved several different responsibilities, if any of them are more like employees, it is best to treat the team members like an employee for all of his or her work.

Exempt or Non Exempt:

Non-exempt employees are generally paid hourly and are entitled to overtime and meal and rest breaks. Exempt employees, on the other hand, are paid a flat rate salary regardless of the number of hours worked. Under federal and state law, the default classification is non exempt status. Most of your brewing staff and front of hours staff will always be non-exempt. The managers, however, may qualify for the ‘executive’ exemption category if they meet certain criteria including supervisory authority and responsibilities and oversight over a certain number of direct report employees.

 

Tips:

Front of house employees generally receive tips for the service they provide. These are provided voluntarily by the customers and are property of the employee, especially when the employee is paid the lower minimum wage for tipped workers and this tip forms an essential part of their minimum wage earnings. Employers are legally forbidden from keeping anything from these funds. Some places have a combined tip pool in which back of the house staff are permitted to participate in this pool as long as the front of house staff are paid minimum wage. While, the FLSA permits this practice, numerous state laws only permit individuals involved in table service to participate in the tip pool. Oregon, Massachusetts and California are among the states with specific laws about tip pooling and tip sharing. Exempt managers should almost never be part of the tip pool – if they are providing direct table service as a primary job duty, they likely should not be designated as exempt.

 

Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees:

In some cases, the tip compensation is used as part of the minimum hourly wage to be paid to non-exempt employees. The FLSA permits employers to pay non-exempt, tipped employees only a portion of the minimum wage so long as the employee retains all tips and customarily and regularly receive more than $30 per month in tips. In the event where the direct wage plus the tips do not meet the federally required minimum wage, it is up to the employers to make up for it by increasing the base wages.

 

Mishaps:

There are often mishaps like walk-outs, breakages and shortages that your staff has to deal with. Can you dock the employee’s pay? Probably not a good idea. The FLSA does not allow the employer to deduct the cost of this mishap if it falls below the minimum wage requirement.

 

Uniforms:

If the front of house staff is required to wear branded gear and uniform during work shifts to make it easier to identify employees and reinforce branding and marketing, the employer generally can’t deduct the cost of uniforms from the employee’s wages if it results in the employee making less than the minimum wage. As restaurant workers tend to be paid minimum wage or close to it, the best practice is to issue one at the employer’s cost and permit the employee to purchase additional ones at it cost if he or she desires additional uniforms.

These are some of the most important issues to know about. Check with your accountant, attorney or payroll company for additional issues in your state or city. Labor is one of your most important resources for success and one of your biggest costs. Paying attention to this detail is time well spent.

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Can Event Space Add New Revenue Streams to Your Bottom Line?

Craft breweries are popping up everywhere. As competition increases, breweries will need ways to differentiate themselves in their market. They will also need to identify new revenue sources with new and different products and services, especially ones that utilize the unused capacity at the establishment. Said differently, what can we do to fill our slow times?  Though there are many examples in the market of things done right, there is one that stands out – Harmonic Brewery. Here is a story for you to learn from. They started against all odds in the Bay Area where the brewing market was filled to the brim. In order to stand out they had to create a bigger and better customer experience that generated a steady revenue. And they did it by offering their underutilized space as a venue, renting out their industrial style warehouse for meetings and events. They realized that this way they could earn the extra revenue that would be needed to grow their brewery business.

The owners of the Harmonic Brewery, Ed Gobbo and Jon Verna, had been in the home brewing business for over 10 years successfully when they decided to take the next step and launch Harmonic Brewery. In their first month, their plans were validated as they secured over $5,000 in venue/event bookings. From private parties to company events, guests were immediately drawn to the new trendy aesthetic of the brewery. It offered a unique experience that event planners couldn’t find elsewhere.

The venue rental process was a marketing opportunity, and they strategically used it for just that. Interested clients who want to use the space come to the brewery and get a tour of the place. The owners show off the brewery’s equipment and explain their unique brewing process. As the name suggests, the brand is music-centric. The give the story and history of the brewery, sharing its personality and music connection. This is an opportunity to create a relationship with the client and the community. The goal is to create excitement, a sense of surprise and the desire to come back and experience more after the initial event. The tours make clients feel welcome. The approachability of the owners is also a key factor.  Combined with a great space and great beer, it is a true revenue generating asset.

Now I reckon you’d want to do the same as well, because the model I just gave you using the example of Harmonic Brewery is just that good. If you have the idea to follow in their footsteps and maximize your revenue potential, then here is a checklist to get you started:

  • identify the space you have available that is private and segregated from the main public areas
  • identify the additional resources you can offer for the events (food, tastings, A/V, parking, etc.)
  • identify the target time period you would like to host events
  • identify groups or events that need space of the size and configuration you have
  • create a sell sheet describing the details of the space and services you can offer
  • create and implement a marketing and promotion plan
  • consider hiring an event coordinator to be the sales team for the event space and offer a commission based or results oriented compensation

Adding event space to your brewery can be done quickly if no construction is involved. Simply create you sell sheets and start getting the word out that you have the space available If there is construction needed, you will have to plan adequate time for building permits, changes to liquor licenses and construction itself before you can book the space. You can, however, advertise and start booking events while these things are pending. This generally will require an architectural rendering of what the space will look like when completed.

There is a potentially lucrative new revenue stream waiting for you if you have the right space and right market location. It is a effort offering significant ROI on the investment.

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The Legal Issues with Distillery Barrel Programs

Craft distilleries are often interested in introducing barrel programs. These can be a regulatory quagmire because distilleries generally can’t sell at retail to the public in the three-tier system. Distillery owners see others doing it but just don’t know how to do it the right way.  They hear from some people it is legal and others it is not and there just isn’t much reliable information on the internet on this topic.  There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about barrel programs. One reason is that each state’s laws are different so you can’t just take what is legal in one state and adopt it in another state. Some are control states, some are 3 tier states. Not to mention the very different regulatory schemes across the states when it comes to alcohol. I find there are 4 main legal issues:

1. Title to the whiskey.

When does it transfer? When the purchase is made or at delivery of the bottled product? This can be an issue for a small financially distressed distillery when a lien is claimed by the TTB for unpaid taxes, a creditor or bankruptcy situation. The question is who gets the whiskey despite it being fully paid for? In most cases, title can’t transfer until the final product is bottled and delivered (excise tax paid by the distillery) to the customer. Customers of course want to claim title upon payment especially when full pre-paid.

2. Structuring the transaction.

Is the transaction a pre-purchase or sale of a “future” right and obligation to purchase the product when it is ready? The reason this is an issue is that securities laws may apply in the sale of “futures.” That complicates the transaction and adds more regulatory issues. It is best to structure it as a pre-sale or an order to avoid any unintentional transgressions of securities laws or alcoholic beverage control laws.

3. Compliance with sales and distribution laws:

Distillers are generally prohibited from direct retail sale to customers, especially in a 3-tier system. They must sell to distributors who must sell to retailers. Thus, the legal transaction is between the customer and the retailer (liquor store). The retailer must have a corresponding arrangement with the distributor and the distributor must have yet a third corresponding transaction with the distillery manufacturing the product. There is a lot of risk and coordination required to make it work. In some states, micro or farm distilleries can contract with retail customers or retailers directly.

4. Compliance with state product allocation laws or contractual allocation obligations.

If there is limited product, there are sometimes regulations or contractual obligations covering an equal distribution of product to each “buyer” in the system. For example, if a distillery makes only 100 cases, it may be required to allocate the same amount to each of its distributors so they are all on equal footing. Thus, if a distributor or retailer takes part of its allocation in a transaction just for one customer, its other customers can be affected by the shortfall.

Barrel programs are on area where professional guidance ca be helpful. A little bit of advice at the beginning can save a lot of expense later if you are cited for regulatory violations with your operations, putting your licenses and permits at risk.

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New York Farm Distilleries Have Advantage in Barrel Programs

Craft distilleries are often interested in introducing barrel programs. These can be a regulatory quagmire because distilleries generally can’t sell at retail to the public in the three-tier system. Distillery owners see others doing it but just don’t know how to do it the right way.  They hear from some people it is legal and others it is not and there just isn’t much reliable information on the internet on this topic. New York has been passing legislation to support the craft beverage industry, easing the laws and making it easier to make a viable business in this industry. New York’s farm distillery license eliminates the complex barriers to barrel programs. Since farm distilleries are able to sell at wholesale and retail, the distillery can directly transact with its customers. It can do special barrels for a retailer like a restaurant or bar using its wholesale privileges or a barrel program for an individual person via its retail privileges.

New York farm distillers have a great market advantage without the complications and costs most other distilleries have in other states. I hope New York farm distilleries appreciate the significant advantage the state laws have given them and they support the legislators, Governor and Liquor Authority that made this possible.

Now, what regulations or legal issues do New York farm distilleries have to comply with in creating a legal barrel program? Let’s look at the issues.

 

Naming Your Barrel Program:

Title can’t transfer until the product is bottled and excise taxes have been paid. That is why many distilleries call it a “barrel adoption” program. This nomenclature makes it clear that that the whiskey is not owned during the manufacturing process, only at the end when the bottled whiskey is delivered. You need not call it an adoption program – you can name or brand your program anything you want as long as the disclosure to the customer explains when ownership happens. I have seen barrel programs with lots of great names. Choose the name that matches your brand  personality and marketing plan.

 

Contractual issues:

You need to detail the rules you want for your program. You are creating a binding contract with the customer. Here are some minimum situations you need to address in your program contract:

  • What if they change their mind? Can they get a refund?
  • If you permit payment in installments, what happens if they don’t pay on time?
  • What happens if their custom product is done but they don’t come in for bottling at the right time range? Is it forfeited? Do you bottle it and set it aside for them? How long do you store it before it is forfeited?
  • Do they design the mash or just blend batches of whiskey you have already made?

There may be other issues that you feel the need to address. The important part is to get it reduced to writing so there are no misunderstandings.

 

Recipe Ownership:

If the barrel will have a custom recipe, there are some additional issues to address when designing your program. Who will create the recipe? Will there be an extra charge for this service? Who will own the recipe? Can it be used again by the distillery for other purposes (used to make batches for others?)? How will the recipe be recorded in written form for future use?  What records need to be provided the customer if it will own the recipe?

 

Formula approval:

If your customers want something special added to the basic recipe, you’ll need a formula approval for the modified recipe. Your contract should discuss the regulatory restrictions as to what can and can’t be added and who will bear the cost of the new formula approval. If this is akin to contract manufacturing, you should provide for how the formula is transferred to another producer and whether any cost will be incurred.

 

Label approval:

You’d need approval on custom labels unless they agree to use a “standard template” that you have approved already and personalization is limited to the items that can be changed without new label approval being required. Your contract should discuss the regulatory restrictions as to what can and can’t be added/removed and who will bear the cost of the new label approval. If this is akin to contract manufacturing, you should provide for how the label COLA is transferred to another producer and whether any cost will be incurred. This may require filing or dissolving dba’s and terminating trademark licenses related to the brand assets.

 

Copyright/trademark issues:

If the label includes a proprietary image (label design or logo) or brand name, your agreement needs a license to use the copyright or trademark on the label for them but for no other purpose.

 

Trade secrets:

If you get into custom recipe for the barrel owners, there are issues as to ownership of the recipe and how different any other recipe you produce must be. Should new formulations be 5% different, 10% different, more?

Designing the program up front will ensure a successful experience for both the distillery and the customer. These are often the best experience the distillery offers because of the collaboration between artist and customer is relationship building over a shared passion for good distilled spirits.

 

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Fast-rising Healthy Fast Food Chains Evidence a Changing Customer

The long and successful legacy currently enjoyed by the mega fast-food and drive-thru brands is expected to end soon. For decades, national chains such as Wendy’s, McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell and Chick-Filet have been dominating the mainstream diet owing to their quick service and low prices.  While they are changing menus to respond to the healthier food movement, healthy fast-food chains are slowly emerging.

Looking at what’s popular can inspire ideas for your own menu.  Here’s some of the trendy new comers.

Salad and Go

One up-and-coming fast-food chain that’s poised to attract attention of the many because of its salads, soups, smoothies, and breakfast is Salad and Go. This brand offers healthy options in the desirable drive-thru chains experience a new.  Currently, it has eight branches spread across Arizona with new ones expected across the US.

Eatsa

A fast-rising, automated vegetarian chain is expected to attract many customers, thanks to its 100% healthy foods and easy, revolutionary way of placing orders. Eatsa is possibly the only fast food store that is giving its clients a different experience while serving mainstream vegetarian food. You just order via your iPad and pick what you love in quinoa bowls from automated cubbies. There are just four stores right now but new locations are expected.  This labor saving business model is likely to be adopted by other business in the near future.

Dig Inn

A farm-to-table chain that is indeed changing the fast-food industry is Dig Inn. Dig Inn is a growing brand whose popularity is bolstered by its emphasis on locally sourced vegetables. Diners order pre-made mains and sit at the counter to enjoy their bite.  Of all the healthy fast food stores in the US today, Dig Inn is a standout because it has a strong partnership with local farmers and thus prices are relatively low. It was launched in 2011, and it has 14 branches in New York City and another one in Boston.

Freshii

A ten-year-old Canadian fast food franchise is threatening to usurp the customers of KFC, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s, thanks to its cheap and affordable salads, wraps, and bowls. It has 300 locations worldwide with a sizeable of them in inside airports, stadiums, and Target stores.

Others to look for include The KitchenetteEverytable and LocoL.  The Consumers are demanding healthier food options.  Not adding some to your menu will cause potential customers to visit a competitor.

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Perceived Value, Price, and Profitability: Command A Higher Price For Your Tacos With Strategic Ingredients

Perceived Value, Price, and Profitability: Command A Higher Price For Your Tacos With Strategic Ingredients

Customer’s value proposition is key to your brand’s bottom line profitability.  To drive your brewery’s profits, you have to think about strategic ingredients that customers are willing to pay a premium for but to keep your operational costs low.

Why think extraordinary if you desire to command higher prices

In those locations and neighborhoods that comprise a constant customer population and the people are habitually loyal to a specific brand, there’s no need to focus on introducing newer foods. Instead, winning more clients can only be possible when you create a framework for organic growth using better customer value proposition. It means enhancing everything that’s expected of the customer – booth tangible and intangible.

Quick-service restaurant chains – the likes of McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King create new experiences for their customers without walking away from their traditions. They know that they command loyalty and higher following amongst their clients and strive to offer pure indulgence. That’s why they consistently register profits while expanding the number of their branches across the world.

But, you can go another route and record more revenues and profits

Wendy’s International Inc. is another internationally known fast-food chain, possibly the largest hamburger restaurant chains in the world. Using another profitable idea of improved value proposition, its market shares have tremendously increased over the years. One major way that they have done so is the idea of different and vehement ads.

Their 1980s ad “Where’s the beef?” introduced what the people didn’t know – salads as a regular menu item, and earned them widespread success. To date, there have many many techniques and strategies, but they all direct to the same ideology of introducing new value proposition for the large, commercially viable clients.

The Red Flag

Of course, it isn’t easy to try both strategies, and that’s why many brands try to “bottle lightning” their products. When their decisions are based on their executives’ hunches, they tend to fail, pretty much like when they force untested creativity. A few of them that have registered success in value, price and profitability introduced some separate practices, creativity, and market analysis.

The separate practices at a glance:

Market-back analysis

Hunt for consumer insights regarding your products and services so that you can create actionable intelligence.

Darwinian Competitive Review

It’s all those customer value propositions that have thrived across multiple markets and how people in the same niches perform. Remember, it’s all about profitability in tacos.

Capabilities-Forward Assessment

A drill-down analysis of where the business is doing well, and it’s a notable form of prowess that might prove profitable in the future. If you are great in making made-to-order hamburgers, you might have to use the same technique in other delicacies.

Finally, do your research well and do your work ahead of time. Rethink the product launch and use your new techniques to command better profits.

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How You Can Use High Profit, Low-cost Beans & Legumes as Featured Ingredients on your Menu

Breakfast and lunch are the growing segments for casual eateries.  Beans and legumes are low cost proteins and easy to prepare.  We just don’t immediately think about these gems when developing our menu.  Featuring beans on your breakfast menu is a win-win-win.  Low cost and non-perishable ingredients, high profit.  Appeals to customer segment willing to pay premium prices.  Extra win: trendy.

Here are some ideas you can add to your menu:

Various varieties of beans and legumes each come with their unique nutritional value and health benefits. There are lentils, chickpeas, split peas, black beans and kidney beans among the many others. In fact, there are hundreds – perhaps thousands – of varieties of legumes, and all of them have one thing in common. They’re superfoods!

Rich in proteins, fiber, Vitamin B, essential minerals and other body-friendly phytochemicals, beans and legumes can grace your menu and offer healthy options and amazing flavor. Combine them with a whole grain and you appeal to athletes, vegans, vegetarians, low-carb, low – fat, low-sugar and other special dietary needs.

Why Beans and Legumes?

All haricot varieties are high in protein.  Protiens form the basis of the major building structures in the body, and offer a generous supply of fiber that helps combat bad cholesterol.  Choosing beans and legumes helps stave off a host of diseases, notably type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.  Your menu could feature symbols for “diabetes friendly” “heart friendly” “low-fat” “low cholesterol” “vegan” and others.

[add a taste description of what each is]

  1. 1.    Easy, Navy Bean Bread

Up to six hours of preparation and cooking time and you will love what you will have. Don’t beat around the bush; follow this recipe: TreeHugger.

  1. 2.    Apple and Spice Breakfast Lentils

There’s no better way to break the boring cycle of corn flakes and oatmeal in the morning than offering a taste of this delicacy. This nutrient dense meal. Can be prepared with this complete recipe Here .

  1. 3.    Vegan Lentil, Pumpkin and Coconut Breakfast Bars

Epicurious is the simple name of the “chocolaty” bars and will offer what the rest of the morning dishes seldom offer – energy to push through the remainder of the day. And, by the way, it’s easy to prepare and delicious. Follow this Recipe Here.

  1. 4.    Bean Salad with Walnuts and Cilantro

A vegan salad that’s deliciously satisfying is, Bean Salad with Walnuts and Cilantro.  This salad brings a touch of creaminess, crunch and a nice texture.  Use this recipe Here.

  1. 5.    Hummus

Other menus idea’s with their respective recipes include:

  • Mushroom and white bean soup – Recipe and directions
  • Tuscan white bean soup – Recipe and directions
  • Green lentil and swiss chard stew – Recipe and directions
  • Chana Masala
  • “White” chicken chili

Take the recipes and make them your own.   We just want to provide ideas and inspiration.

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5 Great Foods Craft Breweries Can Make With a Simple Panini Maker

Don’t have space or money to install a full kitchen in your craft brewery? You can still offer a great menu with one or more simple kitchen “electrics.” Let’s look at what you can do with a panini maker. These typically cost anywhere between $20 and $100.  A versatile panini maker can be used to cook all kinds of sandwich style foods creatively and quickly.

In my opinion, there are several key things to the perfect panini:

  • Bread that is not soggy and somewhat dense so it does not fall apart when cooking or eating
  • Flavor brushed on the grill or the bread before cooking (oil, butter, etc.) that will also add a nice browning to the bread
  • Not too messy to eat with your hands (like a typical sandwich is generally eaten)
  • Something moist on the meat or vegetables to bind them together and add flavor (such as cheese, sauce, condiments like aoli)
  • If you use cheese, put it directly on the brad and put the remaining ingredients on top. The cheese is the glue that holds it all together.

There are entire television shows and cookbooks dedicated to sandwiches. The sky is the limit in terms of flavor profiles and ingredients. Here are 5 five great examples to get you started.

#1. Grilled Beef and Onion Sandwich

Yum, right? For this melt in your mouth beef sandwich, you will need 2 thick (not soggy) slices of bread; Dijon Mustard; Shredded Gruyere; Caramelized onion (ringed or not, it’s fine); and, of course, grilled beef (shredded or thinly sliced). Start off by spreading mustard on the two slices, then layer shredded Gruyere followed by grilled beef slices, onions, and a bit more Gruyere. Put your assembly on a panini maker and cook until golden.

#2. Caprese

Caprese is a customer favorite and appeals to vegetarians that eat dairy. Apply the inside of your Italian bread or divided sub roll with a little olive oil (herbed or garlic seasoned oil is great if you have some). Add fresh mozzarella, fresh sliced basil, fresh sliced tomato and some seasonings (salt and pepper, maybe some garlic powder). Press and wait until it’s golden. You can also have many twists on the classic. To make a smoked caprese, use smoke mozzarella. For eggplant-mozzarella caprese, ditch the tomatoes for eggplant slices. For anchovy caprese, sprinkle capers and add some anchovy fillets to the standard. For Prosciutto Caprese, use three slices of prosciutto instead of or in addition to the tomatoes.

#3. A Fruit Dessert

If you are looking for dessert ideas for you craft brewery, a panini maker can also come in handy. Sprinkle a little sugar on sliced fruit, preferably figs, stone fruits or pineapple. Press and grill for a decadent dessert. You can also serve press-grilled fruit slices alone or with cake or ice cream for dessert.

#4. Mexican Fajita Melt

Apply a little olive oil on the sides of a split sub roll or a tortilla wrap. Fill it with sauteed onions and peppers, shredded cheese (jack cheese will do fine), and thinly sliced or shredded roast beef, chicken or pork. Get fancy and add some fajita seasoning, lime juice or cumin. Grill it in your panini maker until golden.

#5. Grilled Smashed Potatoes

Who doesn’t love to drink great craft ale with smashed potatoes on the side, right? Boil or microwave the potatoes first. Place them on the press and grill until crispy. Add flavor to the potatoes before cooking by stirring in or topping with some butter or oil, salt, pepper, seasoned salt, red pepper flakes or cayenne, garlic powder, chive, green onion or paprika. Hey, create your own house seasoning!

These are just but a few foods you can make on your panini press. With a little ingenuity, you can turn your panini maker into a heck of a multitasker.

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5 Trendy Low Proof Cocktail Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and we should expect lots of shamrock-inspired products. It’s also a period to munch on traditional Irish food. But, for once, let’s just be honest with what the holiday actually brings – lots of drinking of green beer, Irish whiskey and partying, right? St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated to remember Saint Patrick, the patron saint who brought Christianity to the Irish lands. Christianity doesn’t endorse (nor prohibit) drinking, per se, but drinkers are in luck since all alcohol restrictions from Lent are lifted on this particular day.

  1. Tropical Leprechaun

It’s a holiday season, and a refreshing drink will work best. With the moderate snow and the cold temperatures, make yourself some Tropical Leprechaun as you stay indoors.

Pour 1 oz. coconut rum into a wine glass containing 5 oz. Blue Curacao liqueur and a splash of pineapple juice. Add the ice cubes and stir so that the blue color remains in the bottom part of the glass and green covers the top.

  1. Kiss Me I’m Irish

With a Midori Sour taste, Kiss Me I’m Irish cocktail can be a customer favorite with a sweet and slightly sour flavor profile.

Take 1 oz. of vodka, 1.5 oz. of lemonade and 1 oz. of Midori melon liqueur and pour all of them into a shaker with ice cubes. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass before topping with a sparkling wine or prosecco. We recommend Sparkling VOGA.

  1. Bushmills Irish Honey Smash

It’s almost unimaginable to celebrate the most important day in Ireland without a tot of whisky like Bushmills Irish Honey Smash. This low-proof cocktail can be easily prepared and use one of Ireland’s best exports.

To make this cocktail, just muddle two lemon pieces, three mint leaves, 1 oz. water and little simple Syrup into the bottom of your favorite shaker. Once done, pour in your 1 oz. whiskey, shake well  and strain into a wine glass filled with ice cubes.

  1. DownTowner

Another Irish whiskey cocktail for St. Paddy’s Day that screams spring features elderflower and vanilla flavors. It also features the hot and trending spirit absinthe.

To prepare this cocktail, you will need 1.5 oz. of nettle tea-infused Jameson Black Barrel (rum), 0.5 oz. elderflower liquor, 0.5 oz. absinthe, 1 oz. fresh lemon juice, 1 oz. simple syrup, 0.5 oz. cucumber juice, and Boston bitters in a shaker, then strained into a glass and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  1. BLT Green Bloody Mary

St. Patrick’s Day and green colored drinks are the standard. A trendy low proof BLT Green Bloody Mary simply makes the day incredible. You just blend green tomatoes, lime juice, parsley, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and horseradish. Pour in the rum and garnish using a piece of bacon, lime, and celery.

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