Friday, July 31, 2015

What's Cooking: July Edition

I cannot believe July is over! Complete disbelief at how fast this summer is going.

BUT I'm excited to start my birthday month! Anyway, I don't always do a good job promoting my weekly columns over on so here I am, letting you know about all of the other delicious foods I've been cooking.

Pictured above is my all time favorite dessert that I've made: double chocolate bourbon brownies. Make these immediately.

Next up:

Turkey Bolognese

BBQ bacon was another hit this month:

For a summery and refreshing fruit salad, citrus salad with basil sugar. So good.

Posted this week: a snickerdoodle cake with a dollop of dulce de leche.

I had a chance to attend the second edition of the Scenic City Supper Club and it was fantastic; I covered it for my column.

Photo by: Our Ampersand Photography

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Around the Web

Never argue with fools.

10 things to know before getting in a relationship with a food lover - via The Kitchn

The average cost of engagement rings from state to state - via PopSugar

Wondering what the life of a successful food blogger is like? - via Huffington Post Taste

Wine + ice cream? - via The Kitchn

Need a favor from someone you don't know? Here's how to get a response - via A Pair and a Spare

The NFL's first female coach? Awesome! - via Marie Claire

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Easy Gourmet Cookbook: 4 Recipes to Try

Cooking is therapeutic for me and once in a while, when a cookbook like Easy Gourmet comes around, it only reinforces my love for being in the kitchen. Easy Gourmet is the brainchild of the food blogger behind I am a food blog. If you've never checked out this blog, please do. She has beautiful photos and really delicious recipes. When I found out she was working on a cookbook, I was ecstatic and rightfully so. This cookbook is wonderful. One of my favorite features of Easy Gourmet, besides the recipes, is the premium binding. I know that sounds so weird but it's seriously the best. So what does premium binding mean? It means the book stays open while you're using it without you having to use your hands. This is such a necessary treat to have in a cookbook.

While flipping through this book, I've tagged many recipes that I cannot wait to make. It was a difficult choice to only pick four recipes for this post but I did it. So here are four reasons you should pick up this book immediately.

Seafood Pappardelle
(page 58)

Has scallops and shrimp served in a spicy tomato cream sauce. Yum!

Coffee Cake
(page 213)

Not your average coffee cake. This is a Vietnamese coffee cake with sweetened condensed milk frosting.

Peaches & Cream French Toast
(page 18)

Cinnamon toast, which sounds amazing plus bourbon syrup. I'd like to have this for breakfast now.

French Onion Grilled Cheese
(page 166)

All of the flavors of French onion soup but between bread.

Have you picked up Easy Gourmet?

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Weekend

Another hot weekend.

John and I went to Atlanta Saturday afternoon to hang with our friends at a Young Jeezy concert...yes, Young Jeezy. It was actually a lot of fun. It was the 10th anniversary of one of his albums so naturally, you have to throw an anniversary concert/party. We were all contemplating who would show up at this concert and I have to be honest, I was sort of hoping Jay-Z would BUT despite Mr. Carter not being there, we got a chance to see some really awesome guest appearances. Let's see...



Kanye West

Bun B


I mean, there were more but that's all I can remember right now. Definitely a fun and memorable evening/weekend. Now we're paying for it on Monday.

If you're in Atlanta, be sure to try Bartaco - the duck tacos are ridiculously delicious.

I love getting delicious mail and this weekend was no exception. I was gifted the new Oreo thins and I haven't cracked them open yet but I'm so excited to try them. I imagine they taste the same as "regular" Oreos though...just smaller. Whatever. I'm still excited.

Also, go see the movie Southpaw. It is AMAZING. Jake Gyllenhaal is fantastic!

Hope you had a good weekend. Happy Monday!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pineapple Pepper Margarita

Did you know that today is National Tequila Day? We have so many random "holidays" that folks make up just for the sake of it...and as expected, I continue to celebrate these random days.

Anyway, I love concocting fun cocktails; just the thought of it makes me so happy. Thinking of what flavors compliment each other and just toying around with different spices and herbs is a whole lot of fun for me. Since it's National Tequila Day, I thought I'd share a margarita. Actually, I'm lying. I had no idea it was National Tequila Day until I randomly saw it on Twitter...two days before this post was to go live. My initial thought was: SCORE! Then I thought: how perfect is this? I just happen to be posting a tequila drink on a tequila day - what are the odds? Luck, I guess. Moving on, I sort of love citrus paired with spicy flavors. Not sure where that came from but I love it. One day I was reminiscing over the delicious pineapples John and I had while in Costa Rica and I thought why not make some fresh pineapple margaritas. Oh wait, better idea: let's add some black pepper!

There are so many variations of how to make a margarita. Blah blah blah. I chose to use the 3-2-1 method. So, for this margarita you'll need:

3oz fresh pineapple juice (if you can't make your own pineapple juice, store bought will be fine)
2oz tequila (silver/white)
1oz fresh lime juice
coarse black pepper
kosher salt

There's some debate on whether to shake or stir margaritas. I believe in the philosophy of 'do what you want' BUT I shake my margaritas because that's what feels right to me.

Rub a little lime on one section of the glass rim. Then roll it around in a mixture of kosher salt and black pepper. This will reinforce the pepper flavor and add the familiar flavor of salt.

So here we go - combine the tequila, pineapple juice, lime juice and black pepper in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until the cocktail shaker is cold and frosty.

Pour into a glass with ice and sprinkle with more black pepper.

Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Around the Web

Thinking of a master plan.

Nick Offerman's thoughts on healthy school lunches (video) - via PopSugar

How to properly clean your keyboard - via Domino

"Researchers" have discovered the best age to get married - via Huffington Post

Riley Curry is my favorite person in the world right now - via YahooTV

9 ways to use coffee around the house (besides drinking it) - via The Kitchn

How to prevent bloating? Here's what you do - via Prevention

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

photo:Krzysztof Puszczynski, StockSnap

Occasionally, I get asked about certain tools and gadgets that I use when cooking. I have a weird love for all types of kitchen tools and I love buying random things. Some of items (like my pink lemon zester) are used way less than others while some I use almost on a daily basis. I have a few items that are relatively new to my kitchen collection that I'm still learning about and I have some that I cannot live without (kitchen shears). I thought that I'd share my most favorite kitchen gadgets that help me "do what I do". I've also made it easy for you and provided the links where you can shop and add some of these to your kitchen collection. Here we go...

KitchenAid Mixer - I've always wanted one of these and thankfully, we received one as a wedding gift. I love it. It's easy to use and you can use it for several different things from making frostings, cookie dough and even mashed potatoes. If you can afford one of these (the prices range), get one - great investment!

Mr. Coffee Grinder - I never thought I 'needed' one of these until I bought one. We make our coffee using a French press and the beans have to be grounded coarsely. I buy whole beans and grind them at home. It's easy and, in my opinion, the most effective method. When I made cardamom coffee, I simply grounded the coffee with the cardamom seeds in my coffee grinder. Perfect.

Oster Immersion Blender - I bought one of these when I was making a potato soup that called for placing some of the soup in a blender to give it the perfect consistency. Instead, I bought an immersion blender which meant I could simply blend it without even taking it out of the pot. I have to be honest, I don't use my immersion blender a lot but I do love it and it makes blending things much easier.

OXO Digital Scale - Talk about cool. I'm not sure what took me so long to get one of these. Just the other day, I made a frosting which I needed to measure the amount of chocolate precisely. Insert my digital scale. I was able to measure exactly how much chocolate I need and it does so very easily. The scale that I have measures up to 11 pounds. Though I doubt I'll ever measure that much, it's nice to have the option.

KitchenAid Chopper - I love to chop veggies but let's be real, sometimes it's a huge time suck. Having an electric chopper on hand makes life way easier and helps save you some time in the kitchen. This one, I can definitely not live without.

Breville Juicer - I've raved about our juicer since we first got it. Sure, we use our juicer for making delicious juices but I also like to use fresh juices when making cocktails. It's just so good! Whenever it's time to clean out our refrigerator, it's very nice to have a juicer on hand for all of our extra fruits and veggies just lying around. Again, juicers can get sort of pricey so do your research to find the right one at the right price for you.

Kitchen Shears - Any particular brand will do but do yourself a favor and make sure you have shears in your kitchen. I can't stress enough how much I love them and how necessary they are. If you get a really good pair, they will last you for quite some time and they'll be super-sharp so they'll be able to really do some damage (in a good way) in the kitchen.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Weekend

So it's John's birthday today! I LOVE birthdays! To me, birthdays are the 'real' opportunity to start fresh and begin a new year. Sure, I get it, January 1st is the start of an actual new year but everyone is starting a new year at that time. The birthday is an opportunity to have more personal goals for the year and really focus on yourself rather than the resolutions of the rest of the world, right?

Anyway, we had a jam-packed weekend and the celebration isn't even over yet. Tonight we're heading to a baseball game (in the sweltering heat) then food/drinks with friends. This weekend we went to see Trainwreck with Amy Schumer - pretty funny. Then we had breakfast at one of our favorite places, Bluegrass Grill, we headed to our local zoo for a beer, barbecue and bluegrass event. Within the first 10 minutes, I think I succumbed to the pressures of the heat but it got a little better when we walked around the zoo for a little bit. We went to dinner at Easy Bistro then dessert at Alleia - I've ranted and raved a lot about the flourless chocolate cake at Alleia. It was so worth going to two different restaurants to try and accomplish what could really be done at one restaurant. Whatever. Sunday we went to the Chattanooga Market, had brunch and I baked a cake! So much fun!

I think I'll say it: this weekend was absolutely perfect! Next weekend, I get to see my BFF...this summer just keeps on getting better.

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Blackberry + Ginger Cocktail

Finally, the weekend is here. I have been pining for the weekend probably since last Sunday night. This week wasn't bad or anything, I'm just excited to welcome the weekend and all of the activities that will follow. Monday, is John's birthday so we're starting the celebration over the weekend and I can't wait. He's not a crazy person about his birthday like I am about mine but I still love to celebrate and do fun things for him. John knows that he married someone who's a little nuts when it comes to birthdays.

I thought I'd end the week with a cocktail! I found this cocktail in a Bon Appetit magazine and it's a drink that can be made as a large batch. I didn't have a need to make a large amount so I made enough for single cocktails. My measurements are non existent (sorry) but you can use the Bon Appetit recipe as a guide.

You'll need:

mint sprigs
vodka (if making one drink, 1-2 oz should suffice)
fresh lime juice
ginger beer

Muddle blackberries along with a few mint sprigs in a cocktail shaker or large pitcher if making a big batch.

Add in vodka, lime juice and ginger beer.

Pour over ice and garnish with some additional mint.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Around the Web

The weekend is so close, I can smell it.

Features in the new iPhone update - via Brit & Co.

Steps to help you become more productive - via The Glitter Guide

Rules for cooking a multi course meal - via The Kitchn

Guys and open toed shoes, no bueno - via Mashable

Funny tweets from some funny ladies - via Huffington Post Women

Tips to becoming self-employed - via PopSugar

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Honey Sriracha Brussels Sprouts

Growing up, my parents never cooked Brussels sprouts and I definitely didn't complain about it. Brussels sprouts were these weird little vegetables that I never knew anything about. I knew that they were odd looking but resembled a mini head of cabbage and I thought they smelled pretty bad. Actually, I still think they smell pretty bad but whatever. Even now, obviously I love to cook and I do it all of the time. Veggies are always a part of our meals but never Brussels sprouts. I determined that since I didn't eat them growing up, I didn't want/need to start eating them now and that was that.

John hasn't ever brought up anything about Brussels sprouts so I assumed our little family was fine without them. One day, I decided I wanted to venture out and try something new. I wanted to experiment with Brussels sprouts. John wasn't opposed to the idea so I proceeded. When I mentioned I would make roasted Brussels sprouts, we were interested. When I discovered honey sriracha Brussels sprouts on Shared Appetite, I think that's when I won John over for sure. These are so easy and so delicious.

You'll Need:

a pound of Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons of olive oil
kosher salt
1 tablespoon sriracha
3 tablespoons honey
juice from 1 lime

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Prep your sprouts: if there are any ugly yellowish leaves, tear them off and cut any large sprouts in half.

In a bowl, drizzle olive oil over the sprouts and season with kosher salt. Stir to coat then add to a baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes. The outside should be browned and a little crispy.

Meanwhile, make the marinade by combining sriracha, honey and lime juice. Season with salt if desired.

When sprouts are done, add to a serving dish and pour sauce over them. Toss to combine.

These are good. Totally changed my mind on Brussels sprouts. John and I will definitely be adding these to our veggie rotation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Weekend in Miami

Last week for the Fourth of July, John and I traveled to Miami for a quick weekend getaway. Even though we had just returned from Costa Rica roughly four weeks prior to us leaving for Miami, we were both still so ready to get away and chill on the beach for a little bit. The very first time I went to Miami I was a sophomore in college and my friends and I were on spring break. That trip still makes me laugh every time I think about it. So young, so naive just living it up in Miami. One thing I remember very vividly about that trip is meeting Tyson Beckford. It was like a dream come true.

Anyway, this trip to Miami didn't have any Tyson Beckford sightings but it did make for a relaxing and delicious weekend with John! For the three nights that we were there, I thought I'd share a little insight to where we ate, drank and frolicked.


We stayed at the cutest boutique hotel, Circa39. Very close to the beach (not even a block away) and the hotel provided beach towels and chairs. The bar was beautiful - very colorful and vibrant. They also have Aveda products. Definitely would stay here again.


We were exhausted when we got in Thursday evening. The original plan was to go grab a late bite to eat and a drink but we fell asleep. We were getting up early the next day so this sleep plan worked out great.

We first dined at Joey's Italian Cafe in the Wynwood Arts District for lunch. Super cute and cozy restaurant, friendly staff and the food was pretty tasty. I noshed on the Pappardelle Gratinate (with a delicious bolognese bechemel sauce) and John ordered a Salsiccia pizza with mozzarella, Italian sausage and bell peppers. 

Bodega Taqueria y Tequila - This place wasn't originally on our dining list but I became aware of it after doing a little research on tacos in Miami. Bodega operates out of an Airstream. Once I read that, I was sold. For a Friday night, it was pretty busy but not too crazy. I kept it simple with chicken tacos (which were DELICIOUS) and John stepped up his taco game with a couple of pork belly tacos, which he continues to rave about even now. The cool thing about this place is that there's a lounge connected to just have to find the right door in order to gain entrance...

Next door to our hotel, was Primo Cafe & Market. Primo sales everything you need: snacks, sunscreen, alcohol, etc. They also have fresh food. We decided to walk over there one morning and get breakfast. We both ordered croissants and neither one of us could finish them. I had an egg and cheese croissant and it was literally the largest croissant I've ever seen in my life. So good and very fresh. Definitely worth a visit but bring your patience. This place gets pretty busy and the setup isn't the most logical.

Joe's Stone Crab has been on our list since we purchased our plane tickets. From what we were told, even though dinner doesn't start until 6pm, getting there at 5pm when the bar opens, is smart. Joe's doesn't accept reservations so if you want a seat, better get there early and that's just what we did. Once at our table, the feeling in the place was very old school - almost mob like but in a good way. Not sure if that even makes sense. Whatever. The waiters move like clockwork helping folks to their tables, pulling out their chairs and placing bibs on diners who need it. Great, historical place - definitely worth a visit.

On our list for next time:  Yardbird


Obviously, this is Miami so there are tons of places to drink. One of the first places we went was EDGE Steak & Bar at the Four Seasons Miami. We met friends there and they have the BEST happy hour. Half off drinks and buy one get one free apps. The food was so good; I mean, it's the Four Seasons, I wouldn't expect anything less.

JugoFresh is a cool, super hip juice shop in the Wynwood Arts District. They play cool music and there's a huge Biggie quote on the wall so obviously I'm a fan. The juices are delicious and there are tons of variety. The staff is really knowledgeable about all of their produces, which is a huge plus! They have food too.

The Dutch is located near Mr. Chow and is a full service restaurant but we decided to go here late night for coffee and dessert. Beautiful restaurant. I'm sure if we had cocktails they would have been really delicious but the coffee was good too.

Our hotel had a really cute bar called WunderBar. The drinks were great! They have a huge selection of rums and I was quite impressed with their bitters selection - it was massive. Good drinks and a gorgeous atmosphere.

On our list for next time: Michael's Genuine Food & Drink


Now, I don't know if this is a normal occurrence but John and I got a chance to visit Miami's 104.3 radio station (The Ticket Miami). One of John's favorite podcasts is the Zas & Joy show and a quick and random email to them resulted in an opportunity to visit the studio and sit in on their show. Not sure if the studio does tours but if you're into sports radio, this is where you want to go. So much fun!

Wynwood Arts District is such a cool neighborhood in Miami. Every city should have a neighborhood like this. Wynwood Walls is a neat art collection of graffiti and street art featuring a variety of artists. It's beautiful - so colorful and was worth walking around in the scorching heat.

The beach, duh. I love the beach. Lucky for us, there was a convenience/liquor store across the street from our hotel so we stopped in to get some crucial necessities for hanging at the beach.

While hanging in the Wynwood Arts District, we made a pitstop in a cute boutique, Frangipani. This store has a variety of candles, soaps, clothes, notebooks...lots of cute stuff. Definitely worth a peak.

On our list for next time: Zoological Wildlife Foundation

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Weekend

It's these types of weekends that make my heart so joyful. This weekend was full of me eating, drinking and frolicking with John and friends and I loved every minute of it. In between all of the fun times, I did have a moment to sort of reflect, I guess. I feel like I'm in a weird space career-wise and Saturday afforded me a brief opportunity to just think. You know, sometimes you just need time to think. Not necessarily do a million things or make a ton of decisions...just think and that's just what I did. I also made moves on a project that I've been talking about and dreaming about for quite a few months. There's not a ton of progress but it's a start and hopefully one day it'll be finished and I can share.

Anyway, Friday John surprised me with a little cocktail hour at home, which was really sweet. Normally I'm always in charge of Sunday cocktail hour so it was nice to come home and have snacks and drinks waiting for me. Saturday we had breakfast with John's parents, then a dinner date and later drinks with friends; we all got together to try a new cocktail bar that just opened here called Robar. We were able to fit in a little brunch Sunday and I attended Scenic City Supper Club's second dinner last night and it was fantastic. Unfortunately, it was outside which, when you live in the south and at 8pm it's still 90+ degrees out, doesn't look that cute but I tried.

Great weekend and now it's time to prepare for John's birthday! Happy Monday!

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