Friday, July 27, 2018

Peach Crumble Bars

Did you know that South Carolina is the real peach state?!  We actually produce more peaches each year than Georgia - sorry, neighbors to the South!  The peaches at the farmer's market and even at the grocery store have been amazing recently (so amazing that I've bought too many!).  I had a few that were on their way out, so I decided to make these delicious bars last weekend for a friend's brunch.  They tasted just as good as they look, and they were so easy to make!
For the crumble  - 
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- one stick of unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling - 
- 3 fresh peaches, sliced
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, oats, sugars, and salt for the crumble.
3. Pour the dry mixture into the butter, egg, and vanilla, and stir to combine.  This mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
4. Press half of the crumble into the bottom of the parchment-lined pan.
5. Make the filling by mixing all 4 ingredients together and pouring on top of the crust layer.
6. Sprinkle the remaining crumble on top of the filling.
7. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top crumble is golden brown.
8. Allow to cool fully before cutting into 9 squares.
I could seriously photograph delicious food all day!  I had fun getting out my 50mm prime lens for this one (it's been too long!!).  These bars are photogenic for sure!  They were the perfect combination of soft without falling apart when I cut them.  I think the secret is making sure you press the crust firmly into the bottom of the pan before piling on the other layers.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Guide to Charleston Breweries (Part 5)

Summertime for us in Charleston is all about sitting outside, drinking a delicious beer, and enjoying the warm weather.  Recently, we've had even more new places to do that with a couple of new favorite spots, including a brand new brewery.  Whether you like IPAs or sours, dark beer or lagers, this installment of my Charleston brewery round up definitely has something for everyone!  If you're looking to see what breweries I've already visited in the Charleston area, you can find a full list at the bottom of this post!

The Hold by Revelry (Romney Street, Charleston): Revelry was one of the first breweries I visited in Charleston, and over the last couple of years, they've added a rooftop, and now opened up part of their barrel-aging facility as a sour and wild ale taproom!  They have a different selection than the original Revelry (only a block away).  While the indoor space is small, I love the long outdoor garden, benches, and picnic tables alongside the facility.
What to try: Achtung (pomegranate and blackberry Berliner Weisse) or Ouroboros (sour ale)
Oak Road Brewery (Summerville): Oak Road is definitely in a spot in the Greater Charleston area that's lacking breweries.  There aren't too many in Summerville, and my friends who live up in Summerville LOVE this place.  They focus a lot of Belgian beers, but have an overall good selection.  Most of the people there were definitely "regulars" and happy to share with us their favorites.  Head out to Oak Road to watch soccer, play games, and enjoy some delicious beer!
What to try: Bipolar Belgian Dubbel or Ausfahrt German Pilsner
Edmund's Oast Brewing Co. (King Street Extension, Charleston): There is definitely an Edmund's Oast empire now in Charleston's neck.  I shared last year here about Edmund's Oast, which has had some of my favorite beer and happy hour specials since we moved here, but last year, they opened two more arms of their operation: EO Exchange (which has my favorite selection of craft beer from all over the country) and EO Brewing, in the same courtyard as Workshop.  They have all of their fan favorite beers there as well as can, bottle, and keg operations.  They have pop-up kitchens throughout the week as well as a pizza shop in-house.
What to try: Sour Passionfruit or Bound By Time (citrus IPA)
Two Blokes Brewing (Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant): This is the newest addition to the Mount Pleasant commerce brewery area (the other two nearby are Westbrook and Ghost Monkey), and it makes for the perfect night of East Cooper brewery hopping.  They offer flights, which we love, and they have a wide range of beer styles.
What to try: First Blood Hefeweizen or Spilt Milk Nitro Milk Stout
Charleston brewery adventures:
  • Part 1: Holy City Brewing, Palmetto Brewing, Revelry Brewing, Coast Brewing, and Westbrook Brewing
  • Part 2: Ghost Monkey Brewery, Cooper River Brewing, Frothy Beard Brewing, Edmund's Oast (restaurant and brewpub), and Fatty's Beer Works
  • Part 3: Charles Towne Fermentory, Freehouse Brewery, Tradesman Brewing, Twisted Cyress Brewing, Rusty Bull Brewing
  • Part 4: Snafu Brewing, Pawley's Island Brewery, Lo-Fi Brewing, Munkle Brewing, Commonhouse Aleworks
Hard to believe that there are still three more breweries in Charleston that I need to document.  Plus, there are 3 more opening around the area within the next year.  This will bring our city's grand total up to 30 breweries and tap rooms - we are coming for ya, Asheville!

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.  
- 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
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!

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