Every Pound Saves A Hound

Grounds & Hounds Aprons & Stilettos

I like coffee. A lot. So much in fact, our home houses a French press, pour over and espresso machine… ready to brew the perfect cup of coffee for our morning adventures. But what I love equally as much is the driving force behind Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co.

As a lifelong dog lover (and coffee fanatic), I was ecstatic when my friend Jordan Karcher launched Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. An incredible company committed to using a percentage of sales from their organic fair trade, specialty coffees to support the no kill rescue organizations providing safe-havens for pups between homes. Did you know that every year, approximately 2.1 million dogs are euthanized in the United States animal shelters due to the shortfall of suitable homes, however 90% of these pups are deemed adoptable but simply run out of time. That’s roughly 1.9 million dogs that are killed every year.  Fortunately, there are thousands of no kill shelters all throughout the US, but these shelters are challenged by fully relying on public donations and adoption fees in order to remain open. That’s where Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. steps in to join the fight to save these adorable dogs, young and old, by donating 20% of sales to no kill shelters nationwide.

Grounds & Hounds

So how did this amazing company get started? Jordan’s journey to launching Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. began through two key life experiences. His first experience goes back to a cold winter day in Pittsburgh, where Jordan took his first sip of coffee at the age of 12. From that moment on and for the last 15 years, his passion for the perfect brew has steered him to seek out remarkable coffees all over the world.  His second experience happened unexpectedly when Molly, a malnourished brown and white Dalmatian, crawled into his lap at a dog adoption operating on the side of Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. Jordan wasn’t planning, nor prepared, to adopt a rescue animal when he left his house that spring morning, but Molly would forever change his (and more pups in need) life.

After Jordan adopted Molly, he began working with rescue organizations to help in any way possible. While working with the groups as a volunteer, he became more cognizant of the issues facing animals (as well as non-profit animal rescue groups) in the country. The more he learned, the more committed he became to finding a solution to the mistreatment of at-risk animals in our country, which eventually led to the creation of Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. 

Ground & Hounds Coffee

Let’s talk coffee. I’ve had the pleasure of trying almost all of the coffee options from Grounds & Hounds’ portfolio and let me tell you – it’s amazing. Jordan and his team are extremely passionate about carefully sourcing the most delicious and sustainable coffee beans from the very best growing regions in the world. Their coffee is 100% Fair Trade (learn more about what Fair Trade is in a nutshell here) and Organic certified. They then roast each and every batch to bring out the beans unique characteristics, ensuring you have an amazing experience each and every time you brew a cup of Grounds & Hounds.

Some of my favorites include their Alpha Blend™, a dark roast coffee made from Arabica beans grown in Colombia, Guatemala, and Sumatra and the Sit & Stay Blend™, a medium roast with notes of clove and chocolate.



I’m extremely proud of the work Grounds & Hounds has done over the last two years they’ve been open for business. You can find Jordan and Molly on their daily walks around the park, enjoying a baseball game or visiting shelters nationwide. Click here to learn more about the wonderful rescue organizations they support around the country and click on the below video to learn more about their amazing mission.



Every Purchase Matters

Every Purchase Matters Fair TradeFair Trade Package Klout

As you know by now, I love food. Furthermore, I love quality food. What if I told you that certain food products you see at your local market were not only GREAT tasting but also help to make a possible difference for people around the world. Before Rochelle and I left for Cabo I received a package (Klout Perk) from Klout that contained several goodies that were Fair Trade Certified. Being among the 80% of Americans who do not know what Fair Trade certified products were I was pleasantly surprised to learn more about Fair Trade and sample a selection of their certified products.

Fair Trade Klout Perk

What Is Fair Trade?

It’s exactly that – fair. Buying Fair Trade Certified products can help farming families in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities. There are over 11,000 products throughout the grocery store that bear the Fair Trade Certified label and purchasing these products is an easy way to support the hard-working people who grow and sew the products we love.

  • Quality Products: Farmers receive training and feedback to help grow products that meet the quality requirements of the global marketplace helping them increase their incomes and improves their communities.
  • Improving Lives: Workers receive fair wages, safe working conditions, access to education and healthcare.
  • Protecting the Environment: Farmers receive higher prices for organic crops and learn about sustainable farming.

Fair Trade Certified Products

Fair Trade USA Products

Allegro Coffee: This medium-bodied coffee is balanced, sweet & chocolaty. Cafe La Duena is a blend from a small-holder women farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico and San Ignacio, Peru. This organic coffee gives focus and celebrates women coffee farmers and is… oh so delicious! Caffeinate Your Conscience™ and learn more!

Alter Eco: This dark chocolate coconut toffee bar is made from cocoa sourced from small farms in Peru. Crunchy, toasty texture, chewy and smooth with a fantastic buttery finish. Find this awesome chocolate bar  online or at your local natural food store or Whole Foods.

Bhakti Chai: Get your spice on with this Fair Trade black sea. Made with freshly-pressed organic ginger, fiery spices and non-GMO soy milk. Mmmmm….

Badger Balm: This organic Cocoa Butter lip balm truly is magic for your lips! Creamy and rich with a delicious fragrance of dark chocolate. $4.99 and worth EVERY penny 🙂

Guittard Chocolate Chips: The cocoa beans for these Semisweet Chocolate Chips were grown in West Africa and delivers a deeply rich flavor perfect for your favorite cookie recipe. Check out Guittard’s original chocolate chip recipe here!

Numi Organic Tea: Lately I’ve been getting more into tea. Numi hand picks premium organic teas and herbs and blends them with only real fruits, flowers and spices. This Jasmine Green Tea was sourced from the first Fair Trade gardens in China where workers wages have increased 30-40%. To learn more about Numi’s commitment to people, planet and pure tea visit numitea.com

Sweetriot: sweetriot supports Fair Trade and sourcing exclusively in Latin America which directly supports a better life for farming families through fair prices and direct trade. Celebrating culture & diversity on every package they are building a movement to fix the world. This 70% dark chocolate bar is all-natural, organic and sweetriot’s very first Fair Trade Certified and Organic line. Sweet for the world and sweet for you, check them out!

Simply Organic Cocoa Cayenne Cupcake Mix: Simply Organic offers healthy, wholesome, organic and gluten-free products you can trust. Made with Fair Trade Certified cane sugar, cane sugar syrup and cocoa powder, these mixes help to improve the communities where the products are grown. This unique cake mix offers the delicious rich flavors of Fair Trade Certified cocoa with a kick of cayenne. Dress them up with homemade vanilla or cherry cream cheese frosting!

Learn More!

I was given a free product or sample because I’m a Klout influencer. I was under no obligation to receive the sample or talk about this company. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company. Fair Trade Certified products rock and I just want to share it with the world! ~Crystal

It’s Mardi Gras | Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler

Mardi Gras 2013

“Let The Good Times Roll”

The Mardi Gras festivities have already commenced in New Orleans in preparation for the big Fat Tuesday celebration on Feb 12th.  On this day, the city gathers in the French Quarter to welcome the Mardi Gras parade where hundreds of local businesses and organizations come together to show off their beautifully extravagant floats, throwing colorful beads and doubloons to the spectators in the crowd. After the parade, the town rushes off to Bourbon Street to continue the endless festivities of eating, drinking and enjoying some of the best live music around – from jazz to latin to blues and reggae.

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street

I’ve been to a few Mardi Gras themed parties here in the “Golden State,” but have never truly appreciated the deep history and traditions that surround this day until I met my neighbor, Morgan. Morgan and her family have been deeply rooted in the Louisiana culture since the early ’70’s. Being born in Louisiana herself, she has always had a strong affinity to the Cajun culture and considers Mardi Gras one of her favorite holidays. As we got to know each other better over a glass of wine, she began to share with me the many southern traditions and family memories that have always been part of her life.  Although her family moved to North Carolina when she was young, they continued to embrace the Cajun traditions through the medium of food, dialect and music. Many mornings began with beignets and café au lait, the infamous Café Du Monde’s specialties. Gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, muffaletta sandwiches, crawfish and ētouffēe are common dishes seen at the dinner table with jazz music playing in the background. People often order New Orleans crawfish from all over the states to be shipped overnight for varies parties and gatherings. Morgan’s Aunt & Uncle, who live in Colorado, fly in Louisiana crawfish every year for their crawfish boil – an annual family tradition.

Jar of Beads

Mardi Gras doubloons & beads are some of the treasures thrown from floats during the parades in New Orleans. Doubloons are a particular favorite with collectors because they have dates on them, and can be identified by krewe emblems.

One of Morgan’s fondest memories as a little girl was playing with a jar full of colorful beads and doubloons that were collected by her grandparents over the years. This jar was handed down to her and is now one of her most prized possessions. As we continued to chat, and another glass of wine later, Morgan shared with me a unique Mardi Gras tradition that she enjoys making with her family each year: Homemade King Cake. “King Cake?” I asked, never heard of it. This traditional holiday treat is a ring shaped breakfast cake covered in icing and topped with green, gold and purple sprinkles along with an array of other decorations such as beads and doubloons. The most essential part of the cake is the little plastic baby cooked inside it. It symbolizes a fresh start and if you receive the baby in your slice you are deemed good luck for the whole year. If you are fortunate enough to receive this luck, it’s your turn to make the cake for next year’s festivities.

Thank You Morgan

Morgan’s Homemade King Cake

I now have a new appreciation for the holiday that I once thought nothing more of than just a day of parties, beads, colors and masks. Making some of the traditional fare this weekend with Morgan was a ton of fun, and the recipes were delicious and so easy to make. I hope you enjoy this little bit of “Mardi Gras” and southern culture through the recipes below.

Thank you Morgan for sharing a little piece of your traditions with me. ~Crystal

Beignets & Café au Lait

Beignets Cafe

3/4 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 envelope active dry yeast
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Nonstick spray
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

How to Make Beignets

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Add the egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the butter and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Add oil to a large, heavy pan and heat on medium (make sure to cover the entire bottom of pan with oil, about 1/2 inch.) Roll the dough out and cut into 1-inch squares. Add dough to oil and fry for about 2 – 3 minutes or until golden brown and flip. Cook for another 1 – 2 minutes. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then sift confectioners’ sugar over beignets. Makes 1 1/2 dozen.

Enjoy beignets with cafe au lait: steam milk and add to coffee.

Morgan’s Cajun Jambalaya


There are two types of Jambalaya: Cajun and Creole. The only difference between the two is that the Creole version incorporates whole tomatoes in the stock, hence the nickname “red jambalaya.”

1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green or yellow bell pepper, diced
2 bay leaves
1 garlic clove, grated
1 cup long grain white rice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups chicken broth or stock
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken (boneless, skinless), shredded*
1 package Andouille sausage (2 large sausages)
Spice mix
Vegetable Oil
Salt and pepper

Spice Mix:
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

How To Jambalaya

Add oil to a large stock pot, just enough to cover the bottom. Dice the first five ingredients and add to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves and grated garlic. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir with the other ingredients in pot, melding the flavors together. Let sit for about a minute and then add tomato paste, chicken broth and bring to a steady simmer. Cover, slightly reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes. While the rice is cooking, coin slice the sausages and saute until slightly brown, about 5 – 6 minutes. Test rice, if done reduce heat to low. Add the shredded chicken, sauteed sausages and spice mix. Stir and let ingredients cook on low for another 5 minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve immediately.

*A small rotisserie chicken or two boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Cream Cheese-Filled King Cake

King Cake

This is a twist on the traditional King Cake, incorporating a delicious cream cheese filling. To make a traditional King Cake, omit the filling and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top of cake before baking.

8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Creamy Glaze (recipe below)
Sugar sprinkles: Green, Purple, Gold
Mini plastic baby (you can get these at PartyCity)

Creamy Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
Stir together first 3 ingredients. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.

How To King Cake

Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside, and cool. Stir together yeast, water, and 1/2 tablespoon sugar in a measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes. Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, egg, and 1 cup flour at medium speed until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (2 to 2 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms. Lightly flour surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, cover and let rise for about an hour.

How to Make King Cake

Punch down dough and roll into a long rectangle (make sure it’s long enough to fit around entire bundt pan*). Beat 3/4 cup sugar, cream cheese, 1 egg, and vanilla until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on dough rectangle, leaving 1-inch borders. Roll up dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Before sealing, place the plastic baby into dough and close. Place dough roll, seam side down, in a lightly greased bundt pan. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375° for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cake on wire racks (about 10 minutes). Drizzle glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.

*Don’t have a bundt pan? No worries! Form dough in a ring shape and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Mardi Gras wouldn’t be the same without the infamous drink of New Orleans: The Hurricane

Hurricane Cocktail

Pat O’Brien’s motto since 1933 has been “Have Fun!” and people from all across the globe have experienced just that throughout its history. From the ambiance of the old French Quarter architecture to the specialty drinks served, always in a logo souvenir glass, one visit to Pat O’Brien’s and you’ll know exactly how they “Have Fun!”

So how do you make an authentic Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane cocktail? Click here to find out.