Friday, August 29, 2014

What's Cooking: August Edition

This has been a pretty busy month and it has flown by!  It's been pretty busy over on my column too. In case you haven't followed, I've rounded up this month's tasty columns.

Pictured above: 

Spicy yam potato salad - interesting flavor combinations that I loved!

Next up...

Salt-roasted fish - Didn't go as planned but the orange salsa was delicious!

Photo via: Diane, A Broad
This particular week, I focused on 5 beach inspired recipes.

My most recent column...

An easy marinara sauce - simple and takes almost not time.

What'd you cook this month?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Spicy Papaya Sangria

Oh summer, don't ever leave me.  

I love this season. Despite the unbearable heat we've been having the last few days, I still long for this season to never end; this particular summer anyway. It's been so wonderful to me.  Sangria is one of those beverages that's particularly refreshing in the dog days of summer. It's cool, crisp and full of fruitful flavors.  I know, a spicy sangria may not be exactly what you have in mind when trying to cool off but this particular sangria is still quite refreshing despite the peppers in it - or at least I thought it was.  

I love the blog The Kitchy Kitchen. Her photos are always so beautiful and she has the most creative recipes. I originally pinned her recipe for spicy mango sangria and thought it looked gorgeous and sounded crazy enough for me to try.  I ended up making spicy papaya sangria not to be different from The Kitchy Kitchen for simply because I couldn't find mangos at my grocery store so I thought papaya would be a decent replacement.

Spicy Papaya Sangria - adapted from The Kitchy Kitchen
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large papaya, peeled and roughly chopped 
2 serrano chilies, finely sliced 
1 bunch of basil, leaves removed and roughly torn
1 bottle of white wine (I used Riesling)
Make the brown sugar simple syrup: combine a 1/2 cup water and a 1/2 cup of brown sugar in a saucepan and stir until sugar is dissolved. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature.
Place the papaya, mint, peppers and basil in a pitcher and add the wine.  
Add a bit of the simple syrup and taste after every addition to make sure it sweet enough to your taste.
Place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to let it chill. The longer the sangria sits, the spicier it becomes. 

*you can use 2 papayas and more than one bottle of wine if you're making more than one pitcher.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Weekend

This weekend was HOT! The last few days we've been experiencing a major heat wave and it's no joke. Friday, John and I went to an early-ish dinner and then to hear some live music. Saturday, I thought I would get a chance to finally clean but that didn't happen - had too much going on (as usual). Went to a super-cute bridal shower early Saturday at the Mayors Mansion Inn and then off to a floral crown workshop.  Girly Saturday, right?  The flower crown workshop was really nice but it was so hot outside - it was almost unbearable but we made it through...somehow.  Lots of water and delicious lavender lemonade helped. Sunday, we took a really quick trip to Atlanta just for a couple of hours to meet up with my BFF and drive by a potential wedding venue (eeeek!); it's starting already ready!  Quite honestly, I hope that we're both able to enjoy this process and not forget what's really important.  I will say though...I'm really just ready to set a date and keep it moving.

I couldn't say no to those colorful condiment containers from Oh Joy!. They're just so cute. While at the floral workshop, I got a chance to see the cutest baby goat ever.  His name is nutmeg and I loved him.  

Hope you had a great weekend - back to the grind!

Friday, August 22, 2014

48 Hours in Fort Walton Beach/Destin

In this week's Weekend post, I shared John and I took a quick weekend trip to Fort Walton Beach (FWB), which is about 10 minutes from Destin. This week has been such a taxing week - I think I've said everyday this week: I wish we could go back to the beach.  It was such a relaxing few days and I'm pretty sure I need a vacation...from the vacation.  Don't we all?

At any rate, while we were in FWB we at lots of food, drank lots of cocktails and obviously spent tons of time at the beach (one of my favorite parts of the trip).  I thought that I would share a short guide on what we did, where we ate and all that good stuff in case you're interested in a quick beach getaway. 

Getting Around:

Our hotel was just steps from the beach.  We did drive into Destin where the main highway is super busy, from what I could tell, all the time.  But if you're concerned with only beach life, chances are, if you stay in Fort Walton Beach or Destin, most of the hotels or even some of the homes/condos are literally, just steps away from the beach - I love it.

Where to Stay:

There are TONS of options whether you're in FWB or Destin.  If you'd like to have your own home, obviously there's tons of places for rent for the weekend too.  We decided to stay at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, which was a really large hotel.  This isn't the nicest hotel on the beach but it was extremely close to the beach and the pool was pretty popular too.

They have a tiki bar near the pool where you can order food and drinks, free DVD rentals, a vintage game room, lots of activities for the kiddos and this is where we got engaged! So there'll always be a special place in my heart for the Wynhdam Garden Hotel.   

Bonus: Free beach chair rentals with an umbrella.  SCORE!


Once we were settled in, we decided to quickly grab something to eat at our hotel's tiki bar.

The food at the bar is pretty simple and to the point.  We both had their blackened chicken sandwich with fries and of course we had two margaritas to accompany it.  The tiki bar at the hotel is a fast and easy way to grab a bite to eat before heading to the pool or the beach.


The beaches are beautiful here. I've always loved the beach so I was in heaven here.  We both fell asleep out here the first day were at in town. We both had a pretty long and tiring week so a nap was absolutely necessary.

Friday Night:

Old Bay Steamer

After getting over the initial shock of getting engaged, we had to eat. So off we went to Old Bay Steamer.  I picked this restaurant after doing a bit of research earlier in the week and saw they had just what I wanted: big bowls and steamers of fresh seafood.  I was sold.

The food was delicious.  Everything was seasoned and not one part of the steamer was bland and the service was great. I can't imagine a better celebratory engagement dinner.

The restaurant gets pretty busy but it's really large so the wait goes pretty fast.  You may be able to make reservations for large groups.

If you go:
Old Bay Steamer
102 Santa Rose Blvd.
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548

Cash's Liquor Store

There are liquor stores all over FWB but this particular was close to both Old Bay Steamer and our hotel. We knew we wanted to be prepared for our Saturday beach day, so we took a trip.  I loved this place simply because of this photo:

The counter of shame.  It's  huge collection of everyone who's used a fake idea there! I found this to be so hilarious.  Prices were reasonably priced and you can get a few laughs while you're there.

If you go:
106 Santa Rose Blvd.
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548


Our first priority was breakfast so we headed to Another Broken Egg Cafe.  Yes, I know it's a chain but I never went to the one in Atlanta so I figured we'd try it here.

Very hearty, filling food.  So much so, that we decided afterwards to we would do a little walking around and shopping before heading to the beach for the day.  Another Broken Egg gets a bit busy so be prepared to wait just a few minutes.  Our wait wasn't too bad about 20-25 minutes.  They do have mimosas if you'd like something other juice, coffee or water.

If you go:
979 US Hwy. 98 #4
Destin, FL 32541

One of the stops we made Saturday morning was at Goodwill.  I love stopping at different Goodwill shops or any thrift stores when out of town to look for photo props.

I picked up a couple of cool vintage glasses that I can't wait to use for cocktails. Not pictured, I bought a beautiful yellow baking dish - Love it!  The glasses were .79 each and the baking dish was 3 bucks.

If you go:
747 Harbor Blvd.
Destin, FL 32541

Saturday Afternoon

Back to the beach

Naturally, we went back to the beach.  I'd suggest you do the same.

Saturday Night

Louisiana Lagniappe

I heard lots of amazing things about this restaurant so we HAD to try it.  It's located in a gated community in Destin and has a lovely view of the ocean.  If you decide to sit outside, you have a view of people arriving to dinner on their boats.  How glam!

Because of the lighting and not being super prepared, I'm not including any food photos but know...the food is delicious.  They start you out with a bowl of hush puppies so naturally, I was in heaven.  We split a meal and I'm so glad we did.  For an additional $7, we were able to split a full entree and get our own sides.  

Bonus: the twice baked potato is ridiculously good. I still have dreams about it.

If you go:
775 Gulf Shore Drive
Destin, FL 32541 

Afterwards, we were pretty stuffed so we took a late night walk on the beach and turned in for coma.


Sunday we made a decision to wake up at 6:30am (eeek) to sit on our hotel's balcony and watch the sun come up.  Beach sunrises and sunsets are like nothing I've ever seen before. If you go, please take the time to do this.

The Donut Hole

Just a warning: this place gets pretty busy.  We drove by Saturday around 10ish and there was already a very long line outside.  The key to enjoying The Donut Hole is to go super early or very late.  We went Sunday around 7:30am and it was perfect.  Don't get me wrong, it was still busy even at 7:30 but we were able to get right in (we sat at the bar).

The food came out quickly and the service was great.  I had an egg sandwich and John had a breakfast burger. We obviously couldn't leave without without getting a bag o' donuts.  I really liked their donuts.  The regular glaze wasn't overly sweet, which I liked. It allowed you to actually taste the dough and not just the icing.  

Note: I can't stress enough...GO EARLY!

If you go:
635 Hwy 98 E 
Destin, FL 

Before we left, we made a stop at De'France Indoor Flea Market Antiques

This place is HUGE! We were not expecting this.  Lots of great items from kitchen decor, some clothing, children items...I mean, the options are endless.  

Sure, there's some pretty creepy things in there but I loved it! Definitely stop here if you enjoy the art of thrifting and antiquing.  I ended up buying a vintage tea towel and cute set of mini milk bottles. Can't wait to share on the blog!  This place is over 13,000 square feet and they do lots of DIY classes and workshops!

If you go:
235 Miracle Strip Pkwy.
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

Next time we go:

Noonies Thai Cafe

Air Force Armament Museum

Have you been to Destin or Fort Walton Beach? Where are your favorite stops?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Comfort Food Chronicles: Spaghetti

You know, there are certain foods that just make me feel warm, fuzzy and just plain ol' comfortable. I mean, that's what comfort foods are, right? I realize not everyone likes the same comfort foods but I feel like mine are pretty common:

mac & cheese
mashed potatoes

Pretty much anything starchy, I'm in.  Growing up, my parents made spaghetti often but honestly, my favorite part was eating the leftovers.  Not sure why, but I loved to warm it up and eat it the next day.  To this day, spaghetti is a comfort food that I make pretty often.  I keep it pretty simple when I do make it and I go back and forth between jarred sauce and homemade sauce.  Occasionally, I try and jazz it up a bit with different herbs, spices and veggies.

How do you enhance a simple bowl of spaghetti?

Monday, August 18, 2014

The [extended] Weekend

Good grief - what a whirlwind of a weekend.  

First, thanks to my uber cool friend ModernSauce for taking the above photo, which pretty much sums up my weekend.  It started Thursday (which was also my birthday) and it was my best weekend/birthday yet.  I met a few friends at Alleia - one of my favorite restaurants here.  I was initially drawn to Alleia simply because of their flourless chocolate cake; it's seriously the best thing I've ever eaten and it's served with cinnamon ice cream.  There's no picture of it in my weekend recap because I ate it too fast. At any rate, we had a blast and the cake was nothing less than perfect.

Friday morning John and I hit the road for Florida...Fort Walton Beach/Destin to be exact and it was beautiful and the perfect way to wrap up a birthday weekend.  Oh and, yes, we got engaged! Totally shocked (obviously) but it was a beautiful surprise and I wouldn't have imagined it any other way.  I'm excited about entering a new age but also starting a new phase of my life with John! Cheers to an exciting year!

I promise I won't turn this into a wedding blog. Yes, I'll share wedding stuff but a girl has to eat so I'll still be eating, drinking and as usual.

birthday shoes!
Loving this book I received from my friend Natalie. I'm pretty much obsessed with it already.

haha! Remnants from our beach excursion. 

My weakness.  On our way back home, we stopped at Chipotle for dinner. 

I'll be posting a brief weekend guide to Fort Walton/Destin soon! Stay tuned.

Happy Monday!

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