John Emerald Distilling: A Small Town with Big Dreams

John Sharp and Jimmy Sharp, the father-son duo who spearheaded John Emerald Distilling Company, casually sit at the bar, which officially opened its doors in 2014.

John Sharp and Jimmy Sharp, the father-son duo who spearheaded John Emerald Distilling Company, casually sit at the bar, which officially opened its doors in 2014.

Almost 20 years ago, my husband and I began our journey in his small hometown of Opelika, Ala. At the time, this sleepy little town was filled with people who had big dreams to see their little city come back t life.

When we relocated to Florida in 2000, we had no idea we would return 15 years later to call it home yet again for our family. Upon moving back, it was evident those sleepy dreams were becoming a reality. Today, the downtown is filled with gift boutiques, restaurants, live entertainment venues, a brewery and it’s very own distilling company.

John Emerald Distilling Company opened its doors in early 2014, and at the time they were one of the first to open a legal distillery since prohibition. Jimmy and John Sharp, the father and son duo, are the ones responsible for creating the John Emerald brand. They make gin, rum, vodka, brandy and a great single malt. Their single malt was recently featured in the 2016 edition of the Southern Living Food Awards. Their spirits are created in house from scratch with many ingredients brought in from the local area.  In addition to distilling spirits, they also operate as a local watering hole and music venue.

Proudly serving Alabama-made spirits, John Emerald Spirits gives a nice nod to the rick flavors of the state. 

Proudly serving Alabama-made spirits, John Emerald Spirits gives a nice nod to the rick flavors of the state. 

 

Today, you can find John Emerald spirits in Alabama and Georgia. Soon you will be able to find them in select Florida and Mississippi locations. If you aren’t able to find it, don’t fret, you can always order online at www.winefolder.com

 One a final note, if you ever get the chance, come visit downtown Opelika; you won’t be disappointed! 

Friday Five: Father's Day Favorites

Yikes! did you just realize Father’s Day is just around the corner like me? Not sure why it always seems to sneak up. Maybe it’s because it’s the start of summer and it the kids' schedules become so busy. Maybe another reason is that I never know what to get for the men in my life. It can seem like an almost impossible task some years. Here are a few of my husband’s favorite things that I know have proved to be winners in the past — and may even be on his list this year! 

1. Happy Socks - Eternity Gift Box: This year has been the year of the sock in my house. My husband has fallen away from the boring old sock and has embraced the happy sock. Secretly, I know he loves digging through his drawer to find the perfect pair to wear. Guaranteed to put some pep in his step!

2. The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge: Tony Dungee is a man I deeply admire. His life has had many ups and downs but through it all he has found eternal hope. Daily wisdom and encouragement is something we can all use, and I am excited to give this gift to my husband this year. 

3. Canvas Briefcase: Durable and functional, you can't go wrong with this briefcase! It has a convenient spot for everything. 

4. Brackish Bowtie: My husband and sons love their Brackish bowties. They are a bit pricey, but are a classic that will stand the test of time in the world of style. They make dressing up a more fun occasion.

5. Eat Your Bourbon Gourmet Gift Box: Absolutely love Bourbon & Barrel foods! They know how to make great products perfect for the man who loves to grill.

Friday: Favorite Meals On the Go!

Does it seem like you are constantly asking yourself, “what’s for dinner?” Then, there’s the question of what can I make that’s not only easy but something that will please everyone in my family.

It’s common consensus that this is an issue among so many households. With all the fantastic food blogs and inspirational food photos on the web , you can quickly feel inspired, yet quickly feel like a cooking failure because you don’t create these crazy and beautiful masterpieces you see all day long on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

While there are nights I love to create a masterpiece or try something new, I have a list of “staple” meals that seem to be in my regular rotation. I know how to make them blindfolded and I know when I make them, I can slightly modify the way I serve them to appease each person around the dinner table. Hope you find some everyday inspiration with these Friday faves of mine! 

1. Marinated Grilled Chicken: Gorgeous and flavorful, this marinated grilled chicken, in fact, requires no grill! Use a cast iron stovetop, some TLish salad dressing, and you're to go. 

2. TLish Asian Sesame Chiicken Lettuce Wraps: This recipe might as well be a classic. It's healthy, easy to make and a delight to the taste buds. You can't go wrong. 

3. Fish Tacos with Slaw: Tacos have to be one of the easiest meals to throw together — and always delicious! This meal is always a hit with my family. 

4. Simple Tortilla Pizzas: This pizza is perfect for making on days where making an involved meal is too much to bear! Compared to delivered this pizza, these tortillas are less calories and don't break the bank — two benefits I always try to reach! 

5. Grilled Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Smoky Aioli: Summertime calls for an all-American burger! With Memorial Day only a few days away, keep this recipe in your back pocket. Your guests will think you worked tirelessly for hours on these burgers! 

 

Friday Five: Favorite Summer Cocktails

My kids are finally out of school, which means summer has officially arrived! One of my favorite parts of summer is sitting on my front porch in the early evening with no threat of homework, sports schedules or early bedtimes. When friends or neighbors drop by, I love to offer them a lively summer libation fit for the season.

During the summer months, you will almost always find my kitchen loaded with fresh berries and citrus. Another thing I love to keep in my fridge is homemade infused simple syrups, as well as mixers such as soda, tonic and ginger beer. With these ingredients on hand, you will be ready to whip up something lively and delicious to serve your friends. Here are a few of my favorites!

1. Rosemary Greyhound Cocktail: Kick back and relax with this sophisticated cocktail — perfect for taking the edge off after a busy week! For an added level of sophisticated flare, add a fresh sprig of rosemary from the garden :)  2. Five-Ingredient Ginger Beer Margaritas: When ginger beer and tequila join forces, something beautiful and delicious happens — the ginger beer margarita! I love this cocktail, and it's so easy to make. Best part? This libration appeals to both the guys and gals!  3. Blueberry Basil Vodka Tonic: Make use of summer's bounty by blending blueberries and basil with a splash of vodka! Not only is this concoction refreshing, but it also presents beautifully.  4. Orange Blood Mojitos: Made with fresh mint, simple syrup, blood orange and lime juice, this mojito encapsulates all the best flavors of summer! It's refreshing, sweet and pairs perfectly with almost everything. Serve up this concoction with my salad pizza for an awesome summertime meal.  5. Spicy Jalapeno Margaritas: Kick off the weekend with a kick of spice! These margs are perfect for an outdoor soiree, or just a leisurely evening with friends. Serve with my fish tacos for a complete fiesta! 

1. Rosemary Greyhound Cocktail: Kick back and relax with this sophisticated cocktail — perfect for taking the edge off after a busy week! For an added level of sophisticated flare, add a fresh sprig of rosemary from the garden :) 

2. Five-Ingredient Ginger Beer Margaritas: When ginger beer and tequila join forces, something beautiful and delicious happens — the ginger beer margarita! I love this cocktail, and it's so easy to make. Best part? This libration appeals to both the guys and gals! 

3. Blueberry Basil Vodka Tonic: Make use of summer's bounty by blending blueberries and basil with a splash of vodka! Not only is this concoction refreshing, but it also presents beautifully. 

4. Orange Blood Mojitos: Made with fresh mint, simple syrup, blood orange and lime juice, this mojito encapsulates all the best flavors of summer! It's refreshing, sweet and pairs perfectly with almost everything. Serve up this concoction with my salad pizza for an awesome summertime meal. 

5. Spicy Jalapeno Margaritas: Kick off the weekend with a kick of spice! These margs are perfect for an outdoor soiree, or just a leisurely evening with friends. Serve with my fish tacos for a complete fiesta! 

 

Friday Five: Favorite Target Finds for Easy Summer Entertaining

Summer evenings are almost upon us, and that means gathering fresh summer ingredients, lighting the grill and sharing casual dinners with friends and family. If you are like me, you rarely (if ever) pull out your fine china for entertaining. I often wonder what it would be like to register as a bride in this day and age. The options brides have today seem so much greater than when I registered almost 20 years ago. I feel certain I would have collected much more casual and versatile pieces that could be mixed and matched for any occasion.

Having said that, I have purchased “I don’t know how many” white platters, plates and bowls from Target and West Elm that I use EVERY day. Target pieces are so affordable and durable. Target also does a great job for offering pieces to update your table for the season that won’t break the bank. Here are a few of my current favorite purchases.

1. Set of 4 Engineer Stripe Napkin: These versatile napkins offer the perfect summertime accent to your table! They're durable, too — perfect for a poolside soiree. 2. 16-piece Coupe Dinnerware Set in White:  You can't beat fresh, white porcelain dinnerware. It goes with everything. From casual family dinners to upscale Sunday brunch, this set will become your go-to for summer entertaining!  3. 5-piece Izon Flatware Set in Gold: I love Threshold! They offer finely crafted flatware at such an affordable price. This flatware set is especially great for taking a casual dining experience and adding a splash of elegance.  4. Charger Rattan: I love the contemporary-woven style of this charger — perfect for any summer occasion. Plus, they're super easy to take care of — just wipe them down with a moistened cloth!  5. Home Cedar Condiment Trio: Summertime means hamburgers and hotdogs — and lots of condiments! Bring some flavor to the table with these beautiful soapstone bowls, perfect for any dipping sauce, seasoning or some TLish Dressings!  6. BONUS: 11-inch Stoneware Serving Platter: Because Target has so many great finds, I had to include this awesome serving platter too! I love the reactive glaze applied to this piece, which gives it a nice rustic look. Serve your favorite meal (maybe my sweet garlic and chicken skewers) on this plate for an elegant presentation! 

1. Set of 4 Engineer Stripe Napkin: These versatile napkins offer the perfect summertime accent to your table! They're durable, too — perfect for a poolside soiree.

2. 16-piece Coupe Dinnerware Set in White:  You can't beat fresh, white porcelain dinnerware. It goes with everything. From casual family dinners to upscale Sunday brunch, this set will become your go-to for summer entertaining! 

3. 5-piece Izon Flatware Set in Gold: I love Threshold! They offer finely crafted flatware at such an affordable price. This flatware set is especially great for taking a casual dining experience and adding a splash of elegance. 

4. Charger Rattan: I love the contemporary-woven style of this charger — perfect for any summer occasion. Plus, they're super easy to take care of — just wipe them down with a moistened cloth! 

5. Home Cedar Condiment Trio: Summertime means hamburgers and hotdogs — and lots of condiments! Bring some flavor to the table with these beautiful soapstone bowls, perfect for any dipping sauce, seasoning or some TLish Dressings

6. BONUS: 11-inch Stoneware Serving Platter: Because Target has so many great finds, I had to include this awesome serving platter too! I love the reactive glaze applied to this piece, which gives it a nice rustic look. Serve your favorite meal (maybe my sweet garlic and chicken skewers) on this plate for an elegant presentation! 

Taking the edge off entertaining

Hosting friends and family has always been one of my favorite things to do. It’s part of the reason I landed on the journey I did. That’s why one of the best parts of creating my brand, T.Lish, has been the opportunity to see my ideas and recipes come to life.

Recently, I spent the day with my creative team, Mason + Dixon, doing just that. They helped me create a series of photos that represented a “day in my life” for an Instagram Takeover with Taste of the South magazine. We had a blast! I have to say, having that much help to pull it off made things a lot easier. 

In reality, I don’t have it all together. In fact, most our entertaining is done LAST minute.

I am not good at planning in advance, and my husband is not good with not having a plan. So it means he usually tells me last minute that friends are coming for dinner. It works for us, and is just how we roll! Our friends always love a last minute call because they know when they come they can relax, let me take care of them and have a great time without feeling stuffy. Meals are typically low key and not complicated. Check out my recipes! I promise not to give you recipes that will cause you agony and distress!

While entertaining has always come easy, I’ve often wondered why some don’t like to entertain. I've decided it’s because people put too much pressure on themselves to appear like the perfect host or hostess. I can’t lie that I am not busy running around fluffing cushions before my friends arrive, but the bottom line is they just want to have a great time.

Let’s be honest, your pillows and flowers looking perfect aren’t the reason they will want to come again. The reason they relish in the invite is you — the hostess!

So just relax and be yourself. The more uptight you are, the more uptight your guests will be — and that’s a fact. So remember, the next time you throw a party, take a deep breath and be present with your friends and family. That will go further than the food or the flowers. 

Friday Five: Favorite Cleaners

Being a busy mom comes with lots of spills, stains and — let's be honest — messes. When it comes to keeping a tidy house, I call on these handy cleaners to keep everything spic and span! Happy Friday :) 

1. OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover: With a family of 5, stains are inevitable. I can’t live without my OxiClean laundry powder. I add it to almost every load and use it constantly to pre-treat stains. I have rarely met a stain that doesn’t disappear with OxiClean. 2. Method All-Purpose Cleaner: Favorite everyday cleaner that I use daily on my counters. Honestly, I love all the scents and don’t buy the same one every time. They leave your kitchen smelling so clean. 3. Concentrated Dish Detergent: This dishwashing liquid has a sweet yet earthy scent. It’s a great way to treat your friends to something special by giving it as a gift.  4. Multi-Surface Concentrate: This multi surface cleaner is my favorite for floors, cabinets, tile and more. It cleans effectively, is safe to the environment and leaves your home smelling fantastic. A little goes a long way so it tends to last for several cleanings. 5. Tyler Candle Glamorous Laundry Wash: This is definitely a splurge but so worth it! Dive Laundry Detergent by Tyler smells amazing. People will stop you to ask what the smell is. If I run out, my kids are the first ones to ask when I am getting more. The good news is that you can mix it with your regular detergent (I use Gain original). I would say 3 parts Gain to 1 part Diva. It makes your entire house smell amazing. Warning, it’s highly addictive. (I order from Amazon)  

1. OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover: With a family of 5, stains are inevitable. I can’t live without my OxiClean laundry powder. I add it to almost every load and use it constantly to pre-treat stains. I have rarely met a stain that doesn’t disappear with OxiClean.

2. Method All-Purpose Cleaner: Favorite everyday cleaner that I use daily on my counters. Honestly, I love all the scents and don’t buy the same one every time. They leave your kitchen smelling so clean.

3. Concentrated Dish DetergentThis dishwashing liquid has a sweet yet earthy scent. It’s a great way to treat your friends to something special by giving it as a gift. 

4. Multi-Surface ConcentrateThis multi surface cleaner is my favorite for floors, cabinets, tile and more. It cleans effectively, is safe to the environment and leaves your home smelling fantastic. A little goes a long way so it tends to last for several cleanings.

5. Tyler Candle Glamorous Laundry WashThis is definitely a splurge but so worth it! Dive Laundry Detergent by Tyler smells amazing. People will stop you to ask what the smell is. If I run out, my kids are the first ones to ask when I am getting more. The good news is that you can mix it with your regular detergent (I use Gain original). I would say 3 parts Gain to 1 part Diva. It makes your entire house smell amazing. Warning, it’s highly addictive. (I order from Amazon)

 

Friday Five: Favorite Candles

Nothing sets the mood for some much-needed relaxation like a candle burning, spreading a beautiful aroma throughout your home! These are some of my favorites — perfect for breaking out on the weekend, or when you just need a little extra stress relief :) Happy Friday!

1. Pomegranate Sage + Soy CandleMy house staple; you can even find more in my linen closet stashed for when I run out. My signature candle scent. 

2. Voyager Sandbag CandleThe Mer Sea line is a new find for me! The Voyager scent takes me immediately to summer and growing up on the coast. A great company started by three women who wanted to challenge themselves.

3. Aromatic Candle - Red Currant:  You can’t go wrong with Votivo. They are a great value and offer amazing scents. I love several of them but you can never go wrong with red current. I still have not met one person who doesn’t like this one.

4. Fleur d' AgrumesI just purchased this one and love it! Very fresh and feels like spring. The vessel itself is beautiful and will be perfect for a fresh bouquet of flowers after the candle has burned.

5. Apothia CandleIt’s a bit of a splurge but BEST CANDLE EVER!!! This signature candle from Nashville’s Imogene and Willie is my absolute fave. You can read description on the link.

Friday Five: Favorite Kitchen Gadgets & Tools

Cooking becomes so much easier when you have the correct tools — it's a fact! These are some of my go-to kitchen gadgets and tools. They'll make your cooking experience so much easier, I promise! Happy Friday :) 

1. Classic 8-inch Cook's KnifeI know they are expensive, but totally worth the investment. No kitchen should be without. Oh, and have them professionally sharpened every year! If you can only get one, this one will do the job. 

2. Good Grip 9-inch Locking Tongs with Nylon HeadsTongs may seem less immediately essential, but being able to easily and precisely grip hot foods is a major plus. I love them for tossing and mixing any type of salad as well. This model locks for storage.

3. Classic Zester - Grater: My absolute fave! Use it for citrus, garlic, ginger and chocolate. 

4. Mix n' Measure Glass Measuring CupThe one measuring tool you need. 

5. Spoonula With Classic Wood HandleSpoonula — can’t have enough! for anything from cooking to baking, this little thing is a must-have. 

Friday Five: Favorite Popcorn

It's finally Friday, and you know what that means — time to kick back and relax! I love closing my laptop and gathering the family together for a good old fashioned movie night. After we chow down on dinner (maybe some honey chipotle glazed chicken tenders) the kids love something sweet to munch on while we watch a movie. These are some of my go-to popcorns, perfect for adding that needed festive flair to the night! Happy Friday :) 

1. Budda Bowl Organic Popcorn Himalayan Sweetness: Himalayan Pink Salt and pure sugar cane give this popcorn the perfect balance between salty and sweet. Lesser Evil also uses organic coconut oil when making their products 2. Kettle Foods Popcorn Sriracha: Everything I love about hot sauce but on popcorn, making this the perfect guilt free snack! 3. 479 Degrees Chipotle Caramel + Pumpkin Seeds: You may be thinking this is too many flavors thrown into one bag but it’s surprisingly delicious. I love it as a snack in the fall and winter months. 4. G.H. Cretors Popcorn Chicago Mix: This stuff is ridiculous! You can’t eat one handful. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. I’ve been known to pack this in my suitcase.  5. Quinn Popcorn: Microwave Popcorn Reinvented: I couldn’t resist since one of my sweet son’s is named Quinn. This is microwave popcorn reinvented! My fave is the Rosemary and Parmesan. 

1. Budda Bowl Organic Popcorn Himalayan SweetnessHimalayan Pink Salt and pure sugar cane give this popcorn the perfect balance between salty and sweet. Lesser Evil also uses organic coconut oil when making their products

2. Kettle Foods Popcorn SrirachaEverything I love about hot sauce but on popcorn, making this the perfect guilt free snack!

3. 479 Degrees Chipotle Caramel + Pumpkin SeedsYou may be thinking this is too many flavors thrown into one bag but it’s surprisingly delicious. I love it as a snack in the fall and winter months.

4. G.H. Cretors Popcorn Chicago MixThis stuff is ridiculous! You can’t eat one handful. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. I’ve been known to pack this in my suitcase. 

5. Quinn Popcorn: Microwave Popcorn ReinventedI couldn’t resist since one of my sweet son’s is named Quinn. This is microwave popcorn reinvented! My fave is the Rosemary and Parmesan. 

Friday Five: Favorite Pots & Pans

You have the delicious recipe. Now all you need is the perfect pot or pan to cook it in! These are some of my favorite products that I use in my kitchen almost every day, and I know you'll love them too! 

 

1. I adore cast iron and have several pieces! If you want to start with one, be sure to get a standard pre seasoned 10” skillet from Lodge. You can use it a million and one ways. Just don’t use soap and keep them well oiled. (Amazon, $10.59)

2. Yes! Another piece of cast iron. However this one just stays put on my stove and is perfect for the short order cook. Mornings with my kids call for pancakes, and lunch is often grilled sandwiches (with T.Lish, of course). Great for quesadillas as well. (Amazon, $39.78) 

3. A quality 10-inch non stick skillet is something I can’t live without. I could scream when food gets stuck halfway through the cooking process. This little pan will keep you from losing your mind when cooking things like eggs. (Amazon, $54.81) 

4. This is absolutely essential! Unlike a skillet, a sauté pan has tall sides and a larger bottom surface for searing. Also helps to protect better against splattering and making a big ole mess. This size is perfect for 4-6 hungry mouths. (Amazon, $249.95) 

5. Ok…I have an obsession with LeCreuset like some women do with shoes. The choice of colors paralyze me every time I invest in another piece. They are perfect for slow cooking, simmering soups and stews and even baking. If you don’t have one, start with the 5.5 qt dutch oven. You won’t regret. (Sur La Table, $319.95) 

Noodle Salad How-To

Making this Noodle Salad is easy as 1, 2, 3 — literally!  First, blend one part Tlish Asian Sesame and one part peanut butter. Then, add a mix of your favorite seasonal vegetables. And for the grande finale? Simply add your preferred protein and garnish with cilantro. I love making this salad for a quick, on-th-go meal that leaves me feeling satisfied and nourished. Plus, the Asian Sesame sauce adds an extra layer of delightful flavor! 

Enjoy, 

Tiff

Roasted Acorn Squash & Kale Salad with Parmesan Crisps, Apple and Sweet Garlic Vinaigrette

What do you get when you blend a superfood like kale with savory roasted acorn squash topped with parmesan crisps, sliced apples and sweet garlic vinaigrette? A delicious meal that will quickly become a family favorite. This recipe is one of my go-to favorites during the cold months! Packed with nutritious seasonal ingredients, this salad is perfect for lunch, dinner or pairs well with a main dish when hosting an upscale dinner. 

Serves 2
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Kale, 12 ounces
  • 1 Acorn squash (halved and sliced into ½” wedges)
  •  1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 2-3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 1 Fuji apple, sliced or diced
  • 1 small Shallot, sliced (if desired)
  • 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans, roasted
  • T.Lish Sweet Garlic

Directions: 

Roast the squash: preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Halve the acorn squash, then scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice the squash into 1/2” wedges. Toss the squash on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of cayenne, salt, and pepper. Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking, until soft and golden brown.

While the squash roasts, make the Parmesan crisps. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper. If you do not have parchment, lightly oil the baking sheet. Place the Parmesan (about 1 heaping teaspoon at a time) onto the parchment to form 2-inch circles, about 1 inch apart. Make sure the Parmesan is layered evenly. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 4-5 minutes, watching constantly, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Remove and discard the kale stalk, then tear the kale leaves into bite size pieces. Halve, peel, and mince the shallot.

Toss the kale into the vinaigrette and massage with your hands until the kale softens slightly. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. 

Toss the apple into the kale mixture along with shallot, if desired. Plate the kale salad, then top with roasted acorn squash, roasted nuts and Parmesan crisps. 

Enjoy, 



Brussels Sprouts & Cranberry Power Salad

Banish winter’s gray skies with this bright, and oh so flavorful Brussels sprouts, pecan and cranberry salad. Packed with super foods and dressed with sweet garlic vinaigrette, this seasonal recipe makes for a light, yet filling meal. I like to prepare this gluten-free dish for lunch, then pair it with grilled chicken for dinner — it’s one of those recipes that gets more flavorful the longer it marinates! 

Serves 4-6
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, rinsed and ends trimmed, then halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • T.Lish Sweet Garlic Vinaigrette
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to tast

Helpful tip: when shopping for Brussels sprouts, the smaller the head the sweeter the taste!

Directions: 

Combine all ingredients. Toss with T.Lish Sweet Garlic Vinaigrette and serve.

Enjoy,