Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

In the last couple of years, when cooking anything, I've been all about the mentality of: the spicier, the better.  Recently, I had a cookie with cayenne pepper in it and discovered that chocolate + spice is the most delicious combo ever.  We had friends over last week for dinner, and after tacos, these seemed like the perfect sweet and spicy treat.  
Ingredients:
- 2 sticks salted butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup special dark cocoa powder
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a saucepan, melt butter on medium-low heat. (Do not boil.)
3. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in sugar, followed by the rest of the ingredients.
4. Spread batter onto a parchment-lined and buttered 13 by 9 inch pan.
5. Sprinkle on chocolate chips (this will allow them not to sink to the bottom of the brownies).
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out just a little fudgy.
7. Allow to cool in the pan and slice into squares.
Even if you don't like spice, this homemade brownie recipe is legit.  I've never had homemade brownies I liked before this, and now these are my go-to.  If you're looking to remove the heat, substitute the cinnamon and cayenne for an additional 1/4 teaspoon of salt. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Summertime Hostess Gift Ideas

Hi friends, how was your weekend?  We had a great one with friends; it's officially party season!  Summer get-togethers are the best.  I absolutely love all the food, the friends, pools, and lawn games.  When we go to parties, I always try to think of new ways to thank the host or hostess.  
I always go with one of two mentalities when choosing a hostess gift.  First, before attending, I always ask if I can bring something (a side dish, dessert, beer, wine, etc.).  I text or call the party planner before showing up with a dish to make sure what I bring fits the theme of the party or meal.  If the host(ess) says yes to wanting a contribution of food or drink, I try to bring a gift that guests can use with that item but the host can also keep after the event.  There's nothing worse than making the party-thrower wash dishes in the middle of the party so that you can bring your serving plate home that night.  In addition to bringing a new, cute serving tray that the hostess can keep, other ideas are things like the wine opener and beer caddy below.  On the other hand, if the host(ess) says that there is nothing I can bring, I arrive with something just for him/her: something they can enjoy after all the guests have gone!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cooking for One: Three Cheese, Peach, and Prosciutto Pizza

If you happened to see my Insta stories last week, you may have seen that Mike was out of town for more than just the weekend.  Before we were both bachelor/bachelorett-ing it up, he headed to New York City a few days early to hang out with his best friend.  Whenever Mike is gone I do 3 things: clean the house a lot (this is nothing more than me being super bored while being home alone haha), watch television shows he doesn't like, and make foods he hates.  Mike pretty much as 3 food groups that he despises: ranch dressing, balsamic anything, and vegetables that replace other food groups (i.e. zoodles and veggie burgers).  

The first night he was gone, I scoured my "Need to make it" Pinterest board for something that would totally disgust him, and I knew what my first solo meal would be: Three Cheese Peach and Prosciutto Pizza with Basil and Honey Balsamic Reduction.
I followed this recipe, only making a couple of changes: I made only enough balsamic reduction for the pizza drizzle (1/4 cup balsamic and 1 tablespoon honey) and I covered the pizza in fresh arugula, instead of balsamic.
It was absolutely as good as it looks!  I made my own peach sangria to go with it, too: dry white wine, peach schnapps, and the rest of the peaches I didn't use for the pizza.  I have now moved the recipe to my "Pinned it, Loved it" board - check out the rest of the recipes I've tried on Pinterest and loved here

Monday, July 9, 2018

Bachelorette Party in Charleston, SC: Five Must-Dos

What a weekend!  Mike was in Brooklyn, performing his best man duties at his friend's bachelor party, and I attended his fiancee's bachelorette party here in Charleston.  Ever since they came to visit us last year, they have fallen in love with Charleston.  I was so excited when she told me that her bachelorette would be here, and I had a blast helping her maid of honor plan it!

I started this list for her MOH, and since I get questions often about what to do when in Charleston, I thought I would share this list with you for a destination Charleston bachelorette party or Charleston girls' weekend.  One of the best parts about visiting Charleston is that the "touristy" part of the city is pretty small and doesn't require a rental car or many Uber rides to get from place to place.

Before I jump in, let's talk about how to get there.  Flying into the Charleston International Airport is super easy.  Almost all big-name airlines fly here, and I've had tons of success finding cheap flights in and out of the city.  From there, it's just a 20 minute Lyft or Uber ride downtown.  If you're driving, I would definitely suggest finding the city garage closest to your hotel.  There is almost no free overnight street parking, but there are tons of garages with flat daily fees (that are much cheaper than hotel valet prices).

1. Where to stay:
If you're looking for a downtown Charleston weekend, I would definitely suggest staying on King Street (anywhere south of Spring Street for best walk-ability) or in the French Quarter (between the City Market and Broad Street).
The Vendue - This is where we stayed last weekend, right in the middle of the French Quarter, and it was perfect! The complimentary breakfast was delicious, there were milk and cookies each evening, and I love the rotating art exhibition.  Right now, it's an amazing array of food-themed art!  Plus, there's a rooftop bar with great views of the harbor. 
The Spectator Hotel - Modern and exuding 1920s glam, this spot is one of the newer hotels in the city, only a block away from the City Market.  They have complimentary room service breakfast each morning and full-service butlers.
The Mills House - One more in the French Quarter: I love this hotel because it has a rooftop pool and some of the easiest parking in the city (with a parking garage attached to it).
- The Restoration - If you're looking for a cozy place to stay as a group, this is it. The suites are beautiful, and this hotel is such an all-in-one find. It has it's own rooftop bar, coffee spot, shopping, spa, and a pool.
- The Dewberry - In what used to be the Rivers Federal Building, these hotel rooms are brand new and full of natural light.  The hotel is right on Marion Square, and super close to all of Upper King Street's bars and restaurants!

2. Brunch and dinner for a group:
If you're planning on visiting Charleston, you might already know that it's absolutely a destination for its food.  However, even though there are tons of restaurants up and down every street, some of them can be pretty small and/or require reservations really far in advance.  There are five that are walkable from any of hotels listed above and are able to accommodate larger groups.  If you're looking to save a little money, making reservations for a late morning or early afternoon brunch and a dinner (instead of 3 meals) can help - all of these places do both brunch and dinner well (plus a suggestion for each)!
- Paw Paw - order some biscuits and hushpuppies for the table
- Prohibition - the cocktails here are award-winning
- Craftsman Kitchen & Tap House - the local and national beer selection is unmatched
5Church - they have a rotating mimosa flight for brunch
- 82 Queen - the She Crab Soup is my favorite in the city
Okay, and two that are not walkabout but definitely need to be mentioned: Edmund's Oast and Taco Boy!

3. Plan a daytime activity:
Yes, eating and drinking are definitely the main attractions, but here are some great ideas to do in-between meals, again, all within walking distance from any of the hotels.
- Make candles at Candlefish
- Hang out with kitties at Pounce Cat Cafe
- Drink around the city with a Charleston Brews Cruise bus tour
- Relax with a massage
- Charter your own private boat around the harbor

4. Go out on the town:
The reason I always tell people to stay near King Street or in the French Quarter for a girls' trip is for this reason.  The nightlife in these two areas is the best in the city!  I have three personal priorities: delicious drinks, beautiful views, and sweets!
- King Street:
     - Rooftop bars: The Cocktail Club, Stars, Uptown Social, and Pour Taproom
     - Clubs and Dancing: Prohibition, Mynt, and Republic
     - Sweets: Callie's Hot Little Biscuit, Jeni's ice cream, Glazed gourmet doughnuts, and Cupcake Down South
- East Bay:
     - Rooftop bars: The Vendue, Pavilion Bar, Burwell's, and The Watch
     - Relaxed bars: The Gin Joint, Pearlz, and 5Church
     - Sweets: Kaminsky's Dessert Cafe, Carmella's Dessert Bar, and The Ultimate Coconut Cake

5. Walk around:
Last, but not least, no trip to Charleston is complete without a walk around the city.  There's nothing like being on the cobblestone streets and seeing all the beautiful architecture up close.  Plus, a few of these walks come with some great shopping, too. 
- The Charleston City Market shopping
- King Street shopping (between Calhoun and Broad streets)
- Rainbow Row and Tradd Street architecture walk
- Harbor side walk along the Battery (Murray Boulevard and East Bay Street) up through Waterfront Park and the Pineapple Fountain
- A stroll through the College of Charleston (St. Philip, George, Coming streets and College and Green ways)

There you have it!  As always, if you ever have a questions about your Charleston trip, please email me!

Friday, July 6, 2018

June In Review

Happy Friday!  Who else is totally thrown off that today is Friday?  Don't get me wrong, having a day off in the middle of the week is phenomenal, but yesterday I thought it was Monday all. day.  Now it's already Friday - sweet!  It's already another new month, and I've enjoyed doing monthly round-ups through the beginning of this year.  While I love to share personal events on the blog, updating on "life" once per month allows for more time for recipes, DIYs, and Charleston favorites.  So, here's what I was up to throughout June:

We started the month in Boston for the wedding of one of Mike's closest friends.  They were the most beautiful couple, and oh my gosh, how cute was their cake?!  We also enjoyed beer, donuts, and lots of pretty spring flowers!
The following weekend was spent outside, at a new golf course and on the water.  That one was so good that it did get its own review, and you can read all about it here.

We went on a date night last month to one of our favorite breweries, Snafu (this is the place to go in Charleston, if you like sours!), and ate Mexican food and played mini golf afterwards.
We finished another regular season of kickball.  Our two competitive teams are in the playoffs, and our non-competitive team of new-to-kickball neighborhood friends (pictured below) finished with a winning record!
Speaking of the neighborhood, the storm-watching last month was awesome!  We sat up on the porch and enjoyed a ton of storms.  I even captured some lightning on photo!
Overall, June was as hot as ever, and in between thunderstorms, we absolutely made the most of it.  So far, July is off to a great start, too, and I can't wait to see what else is in store.  Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 2, 2018

An Afternoon at Wild Dunes

As many of y'all know, golf has always been my passion.  To be honest, it's what gave Mike and I the opportunity to move down to Charleston to continue my career in a place where I can play golf all 12 months of the year.  Blogging has brought a lot of fun opportunities into my life, and getting to play new courses is definitely one of them.  Wild Dunes Resort on Isle of Palms, one of Charleston's barrier islands, has beautiful accommodations, award-winning dining, and tons of outdoor activities including tennis, bike riding, paddle boarding, kayaking, and, of course, golf.  The resort offers two courses: the Harbor Course and the Links Course

Last weekend, Mike and I played the Links Course on a beautifully sunny (and hot!) day.  The Links Course hosts the practice facilities for both courses at the resort, including an irons-only driving range and practice green.
My look: hat (similar) ||| sunglasses ||| polo ||| skirt ||| golf shoes ||| socks 
I was impressed with the variety of views and different scenery on each hole.  Being in the Lowcountry, you expect the salt marshes, turtles, birds, and palmettos we saw on the front nine, but making the turn onto the tenth hole, there was a surprising elevation changes that created beautiful views of the island from all angles. 
The course is located on the northeast tip of Isle of Palms, so the seventeenth and eighteenth holes have amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean.
After we finished golf, we headed upstairs, through the clubhouse, into Huey's Southern Eats for a late lunch.  Named after an infamous goose on the island, Huey's cooks up delicious Southern staples and has a full bar.  Of course, we started with a couple of beers (they have a great local selection) and an order of hushpuppies.  Mike ordered a Huey's burger, and I tried the Huey's chopped salad with local fruit and a delicious Firefly Moonshine dressing.  Did I mention that they also have a full dessert menu?  After the couple next to us ordered the peanut butter pie, I obviously had to try it.  Not much of a peanut butter + chocolate fan, Mike finished his meal with a chocolate milkshake.  We were very happy with all of our food selections, and even if you're not golfing but find yourself at Wild Dunes, Huey's is definitely worth a stop!
Last summer, Mike and I played the other Wild Dunes course, the Harbor Course, and if you're a local, this is the place to be.  Wild Dunes offers a new “Friends of the Harbor” program to residents of Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley counties.  Friends of the Harbor is a VIP pass that offers golfers 18-hole rounds for just $44 each, all year long.  The annual membership is only $30 and also includes monthly offers and 50% off every fifth round!  The Harbor Course is definitely a challenging design with narrow fairways and water coming into play on almost every hole.  The back nine is even situated right along the Intracoastal Waterway.  Head over to my Instagram page to enter to win a free Friends of the Harbor membership!
I received goods and services in exchange for advertising. All opinions are my own. Thank you to Wild Dunes for sponsoring Borrowed Heaven!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Five on Friday: Cooking Up Red, White, and Blue

Happy Friday!  Who else is starting to celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend?  I saw the funniest meme about Independence Day falling on a Wednesday: how are we supposed to celebrate? That day? The weekend before? The weekend after? All month? All year? I agree.  I haven't decided what we will be bringing to a barbecue this weekend, but I can tell you that it will be red, white, and blue.  Here are five of our favorites for your own celebrations:

1. Strawberry Pretzel Salad: This is my mom's go-to summer recipe. With a pretzel crust and layers of whipped topping and berries, it's so refreshing and delicious!
2. M&M cookie bars: Using refrigerated dough, this recipe is so easy to make, and I love the festive M&Ms!
3. Watermelon pops: You can create this treat with any fruit of your choice and a star-shaped cookie cutter.
4. Fruit and granola kebobs: I made these for my participants at work one year when looking for a festive, healthy snack, and they were a hit; anything on a kebob skewer usually is!
5. Red, White, and Blue Berry Scones: I just shared this recipe earlier this week, but it definitely deserves to be in this list.  Scones might be my favorite pastry to make (here's a recipe for just strawberry and another for chocolate chip).

 
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