Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vacation Time

I am out of town again (just for a week) but I can't promise to post regularly. But I just saw this awesome article on Tastespotting and I think everyone who likes to cook good food in an easy way (Crock-pot, anyone?!) should look at this article!

5 Tips for Buying and Using a Slowcooker

I hope everyone has an awesome weekend and I will try to post some of our food adventures with the family reunion if there's time!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Recent Kitchen Adventures

Last night, Jonathan and I made some homemade pizza (using the pizza yeast with the recipe on the package- wonderful!) and some sweet peppers and rosemary on my side and bacon and extra cheese on his side. It was SO delicious. Every time I make home made pizza, I always regret ever ordering carry-out pizza.

But today, I made some biscuits from scratch for the 52 Weeks of Baking: Week 15 swap. I got the recipe from the Magnolia's cookbook. Just some standard Southern biscuits. So simple to make, but so delicious!

White Lily Cream Biscuits
Makes 24 (1-inch) biscuits

2 1/2 cups White Lily self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons melted butter (optional)

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. 

Place the flour in the mixing bowl.  Add the heavy cream and mix with a spoon until it starts to come together and forms a wet sticky dough. 

Place on a lightly floured surface, lightly flour the top of the dough and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. 

Cut the biscuits with a 1-inch biscuit cutter, place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, about 8-12 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with melted butter and serve immediately.

That made me thirsty, so I made another batch of Iced Moroccan Mint Tea (in an effort to use some of my fresh peppermint!)

I got modified the recipe from Our Red House. Its pretty simple, but tasty.

Iced Moroccan Mint Tea (modified)


3 green tea bags
1 cup fresh peppermint or spearmint
3 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
4 cups boiling water

Pour the boiling water over the tea bags and fresh mint. Let steep for 10 minutes. Strain and then mix in the sugar while still hot and then place in the fridge to chill before serving. Then enjoy!

It makes about 3 servings so it's perfect to make every other day and have fresh tea.

Oh, and I tried to recreate some fantastic juice from Ecuador (jugo de sandia or watermelon juice). It was so simple and turned out great because our watermelons were so sweet to begin with!

I wanted to make it look like something special :) but all it is is mashed up watermelon without the pulp. Super easy and in the blender.

I hope you enjoy these recipes :) let me know if you use them!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Weekend Trip to Asheville and Grandfather Mountain

I love/miss the mountains already!

We drove in the morning on Thursday to Asheville and made it into town just in time for lunch.  We stopped by Tupelo Honey Cafe, after hearing raves about it from friends. And rightfully so! It was delicious! The wait wasn't too bad, and we waited for our food for less time than the wait for the seats.

I ordered their Rosemary Peach Lemonade- it was spicy and unique. Not what I expected, but good. Jonathan just got sweet tea. Then, our waiter brought us some of their biscuits and black raspberry biscuits. To die for.

Then the main event: 

I got the Cheesy Grill and side salad. The cool thing is that you can choose your own cheeses for the grilled cheese. I chose Brie and Swiss. So creamy and wonderful.

Jonathan's Charleston Chicken Sandwich. Not just any chicken sandwich, possibly the best chicken sandwich I have ever tasted. So delicious. Oh, that's cranberry mayo on the side, which he didn't want on his sandwich. It was just as good without it.

After being thoroughly stuffed, we walked around and ended up at Spice and Tea Exchange.

I was mesmerized by the assortment of spices, tea blends and spice blends. But I was good and only bought 2 tea blends and 1 spice blend.

After the spice shop, we stumbled upon an antique shop with a huge table full of depression glass (perfect because I collect pink and yellow depression glass) and I found the yellow teacup and saucer and the platter for a steal- about $25 for all of it!

The next day, we drove back into Asheville from the hotel and hit up a quaint little hot dog shop called Cats and Dogs for lunch. Not great, but not bad either. My favorite part was their "suggested toppings" that had names like Carolina Blend (BBQ and coleslaw, among other toppings).

I got my first-ever veggie dog because I wasn't really in the mood for a big hot dog.

We did some more shopping and found some awesome stuff at import stores and a cute little bead store. I picked up some henna hand beads, but I found these adorable little beads. I didn't buy them because I didn't know what I would do with them, but aren't they cute?!

Then, Jonathan was hungry again (we didn't get sides at Cats and Dogs to leave room for a snack later) and we stopped by Cafe Ello. 

I just got an iced Chai latte, but Jonathan got the turkey club sandwich.

We kept walking around and looking for cool places to stop in, and we walked into this indoor shopping complex and found the Fresh Quarter, an amazing fresh produce stand.

Isn't it adorable?

I didn't buy much, but just a couple of the Golden Echo plums to taste them because we were driving to Grandfather Mountain right after this stop. 

Then, we just got on the road and drove up to the mountains and through some pretty heavy rain to the hotel to meet my parents and my brother.

Before the hotel and in between the heavy rains, we stopped in at a gem store and an antique store. Both were so quaint and had great prices. It was fun stopping at places along the mountain road. I picked up the berry colored depression glass punch cups for my mom because she has been looking for them for a while.

Saturday,  we went to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games because my brother plays the bagpipes and competed. He actually walked away with 1st place in the march competition! It was a very hot day, but so much fun to be around the atmosphere and the constant music. You should definitely find a Highland Games near you and visit! 

It was a great day at the games, but Jonathan and I left in the early afternoon to get to the antique store one more time before going home (we stopped in 15 minutes before they closed and got the berry cups, but I wanted to check it out more thoroughly) and I got the pink depression glass teacup and saucer (seen in a picture above!) before hitting the road to go home. 

It was a great trip! I hope you had a great weekend too!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

U-Pick Blackberries

My mom and I bonded while picking blackberries this morning.

It was a gorgeous morning for it- not incredibly hot and there was a slight breeze. Although, because blackberry season here finishes in a week or so, the vines were starting to overtake the blackberry bushes and it was a hunt for the blackberries. But we ended up with 11 pounds of blackberries- so excited!

We are going to put most of them in the freezer, because I have some orders already for my blackberry lemonade in my family, and I was afraid we would run out of our frozen supply before September! But not a threat anymore :)

Does anyone have any good blackberry recipes I should try? I think they are just delicious and want some new ideas.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Currently Drooling

I didn't get a lot finished today, but I did start some sewing projects with my mom (translated: I cut out and arrange the pieces, because I am not allowed to sew on her fancy embroidery/sewing machine because it costs too much for me to replace....)

But I am currently drooling over a few cookbooks that I have checked out from the library and am planning on cooking from soon! I just wanted to share my current obsessions:


cover of Vegan Lunch Box Around the World

You should check them out for some inspiration :)

Foodie Fun

Yesterday, I was missing Ecuador a ton, so I made some kiwi juice because the fresh juice in Ecuador was probably one of my favorite "food" memories. It was amazing to have fresh juice almost every day- so much better than "juice drinks" in the US! So look forward to more fresh juice from me! And the one of the best parts about the juice is that women made it in their homes with just blenders!

But I focused on the juice that I didn't actually get to try in Ecuador, but the family that one of my friends stayed with made fresh kiwi juice a couple of times a week for her and I was dying to try it.

I just juiced 3 kiwis (without the skin), about 3/4 cup of water, and a little sugar to taste. You strain out most of the seeds and then enjoy! It was just delicious.

For dinner, Jonathan and I met up with Sarah and Trent at the Mustard Seed in Mt. Pleasant. Oh my goodness, it was so delicious!

This was my dinner: sea scallop salad. This picture does not even do it justice- it was to die for! I love fresh scallops.

This was Jonathan's plate- sesame crusted chicken. I tasted some, and it was also fantastic.

After dinner, we stopped by Harris Teeter for some s'mores supplies and headed to the new waterfront park in Mt. Pleasant. 

We watched some dolphins and another group on the pier saw a huge turtle come up for air. It was just a gorgeous night!

Then, we used Sarah's creme brulee torch to melt the marshmallows and chocolate.... it worked surprisingly well and they tasted just like regular s'mores.


I can't believe how wonderful last night was! I really am in the mood for s'mores again tonight! I think its time to try some of my saved up s'mores inspired recipes. More later today!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Recipes I Tried

I bookmark recipes a lot. A lot. I can't help but be in love with the pictures of the results on TasteSpotting or the blogs I have on my Google Reader and Blogger... and I kept saving them the whole month I was in Ecuador without a kitchen. So, here are two of the recipes I have been DYING to try! And I had some great results!

First, I had to recreate Publix's red pepper hummus for my boyfriend and his mom. Actually, I just knew I could make it tastier and cheaper, so I made it today. Standing ovation :) I got my recipe from gimme some oven. So delicious and just as easy as can be- puree everything in the food processor, get some pita and enjoy. Or with Ritz Crackers, because the BF's house, which always has pita chips, was out.  But I think this hummus, as with all other hummus dishes, would taste equally good with carrots and veggies.

*If you love hummus and get a chance, go check out the recipes at gimme some oven because she did a whole week's worth of different hummus recipes! All of them look delicious!

For my sister, who came home for the weekend, I pulled out my recipe I had saved for Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sugar Cooking. They are so delicious and chewy and hazelnutty. Perfect if you like Nutella! The only change I made was to use dark chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet and it made it richer, I think.

It was a successful day in the kitchen... More to come!