Posts Tagged ‘food’

Gooey Grilled Green Goodness

Y’all know I don’t usually spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen, so working from home and being around the house more during lunch has forced me to come up with tasty, semi-healthy ways to feed myself. (If it takes more than about six minutes to put my mid-day meal together, I’m more likely to eat nearly half a bag of Chip’Ins and go on about my business. That’s not good for anyone involved.) Luckily, I’ve discovered a super simple, very tasty version of a grilled cheese that even I am capable of making. Allow me to introduce you to the Grilled Avocado, Spinach and Goat Cheese Sandwich. It takes no time to make and after a few short minutes I have a stack of grilled goodness overflowing with soft melty goat cheese, slightly wilted spinach and warm avocado. Honestly, it’s pretty amazing. In fact, you should probably stop what you’re doing now and whip one up. You can thank me later.

Chocolate Caramel Crack: So Easy to Eat & Relish

If you’ve been hanging around here for any time at all, you know I’m much more inclined to know which shoes are the best selection for a certain ensemble over which ingredients work together to make an edible meal. (1. Always opt for the higher heels 2. When do you use regular vs self-rising flour? I still don’t know.) 
With our office holiday lunch fast approaching, I was desperate for a fun and different and EASY recipe. I had to bring a dessert and I was not about to walk in with another straight-from-the-box boring cake. 

Through the magic of Facebook, I stumbled upon this super simple recipe over at Eat and Relish. I say it was social media magic because it really is remarkable how in touch you can feel with people after only a few clicks.
The most amazing thing – homemade caramel! Who knew?
I knew Cory, the fabulous girl in the kitchen, when we were Rho Gammas (or sorority recruitment guides, in plain English) at Florida State. She was a KD, I was a Gamma Phi and along with about 50 other Panhellenic veterans, we were shuffling the new recruits-to-be from house to house, passing out coffee filters (for blotting, naturally) and tic tacs like they were going out of style.
I can’t tell you how many times we reminded every girl to smile and relax, relax and SMILE. It seems like eons ago.
After FSU, I moved to the beach and Cory to New York.  I’ve been able to follow along her culinary adventures as she started posting links to her blog. One day, I clicked and got sucked in. I read every post to the very first one.
I was so impressed and inspired with her culinary skills and creativity. She writes beautifully, takes lovely photographs and could make a PB&J seem like a gourmet feast. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve even followed along as she got married and moved to Colorado. I love reading her posts and getting inspired by her recipes.
Let’s face it, though. I’m pretty hopeless. I need simple, easy-to-make recipes that satisfy both my hubby’s basic taste and my slightly more adventurous and more healthy preferences. (Sometimes healthy, anyway). In this case, we were bringing food for beach maintenance guys to visitor center staff to the marketing and pr teams. Enter the totally easy, totally addictive Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers). These little goodies are amazing and the perfect combination of salty and sweet. Yum YUM!
They were so easy to make, even I could do it AND at the same time watch this little nugget crawl around my parents’ kitchen saying “ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma.”
The recipe was enough for multiple batches (and a little snacking along the way). I left some at my parent’s, took some to work and took some home for later. Everyone at work was very impressed 1. that I didn’t bring something pre-made and 2. that they were so good. There was not even a scrap leftover.
You must must MUST make these. They are easy peasy and yes, pretty much like crack.
Here’s the recipe from Cory. You’ll thank me later.
Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers)
From Smitten Kitchen by way of David Lebovitz by way of Marcy Goldman by way of Eat and Relish

Approx 1 sleeve of Saltine crackers
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into Tbsp sized pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
A pinch of sea salt (
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped bitter- or semisweet chocolate)
Extra sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit in the bottom of the pan. The parchment is key, as it will prevent sticking.

Line the bottom of the baking sheet with the crackers, covering all parts. (If using matzo, you’ll need to break pieces to fit any extra spaces.)
In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well the entire time to prevent burning. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove it from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour the mixture over the crackers or matzo. Spread the mixture quickly over the crackers to cover the entire surface area of crackers. Do this quickly, as it will begin to set and harden quickly.
Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn — reduce the heat if you see this happening.
Remove from oven and immediately cover the baked caramel crackers with chocolate chips. Let it stand five minutes, and then spread the chips evenly across the caramel – they will be melted and it will be surprisingly easy to do so. Sprinkle the surface with a bit of sea salt.
Proceed to enjoy and reach for another until you realize you have devoured the entire jar. It’s okay. You’re not alone.

seaside saturday

It was one of those mornings when extra coffee is not an option, but a requirement. I desperately needed the caffeine boost and every time I saw this little Christmas tree pop up at the bottom of my mug, I went straight for a refill. It’s only Saturday, but I knew I would need to keep my energy up and let’s face it, it’s been a long week.
This festive mug helps perk up my morning.
You’ve heard the saying “Work to live; don’t live to work.” As much as I love what I do, I wouldn’t trade mommy time with Emery for anything. The two full days of chasing after her, changing diapers, tickle time, giving bottles and talking in every silly voice I can muster are priceless. She’s so inquisitive and wants to explore everything. She crookedly crawls all over the place (one leg bent, one leg straight) and grabs my leg to stand up and look around every moment she gets. She likes to be part of the action. Emery is a big fan of anything shiny or sparkly (naturally) and carefully inspects all my jewelry choices on a daily basis. 
She also likes to eat the shiny, sparkly things I wear. No big deal.
This morning, we made our way to the Farmer’s Market in Seaside and I’m fairly sure that it was the coldest day of the year we’ve had thus far. Even so, I decided to park and walk for a bit. I love walking around and seeing the sights. Lovely homes, cute signs and the beauty of scenic highway 30A.
It was f-f-f-freezing outside at the Farmer’s Market, but we made the rounds and picked up the essentials we needed. 
Had to pick these up for my hot chocolate-loving husband. 
A sweet little owl girl all bundled up.
While I was in the neighborhood, I took a peek into Pizitz Interiors. The color palette inside was decidedly white and neutral and the shop even included some nice budget-friendly items along with their high-end selections. I love these Seaside matches!
I want these stools!!
If you’re looking for a fun place to try in South Walton, check out Raw & Juicy for healthy goodies. It’s really the originator of the Farmers Market and helped it grow to the level it is now, impressive for our small beach town.
Raw & Juicy
Decked for the holidays!
I wanted to get a picture of Emery in front of the Seaside post office, but she was out and this was all I could steal.
Despite the unpleasantly chilly temps. the beach looked so nice and inviting. I, for one, am already counting down and looking forward to a warm early spring. For now, I’ll just settle for the pure views. 
 By this time, my sweet Emery was fast asleep and looking like an angel. 
 I packed her up, squeezed our FSU Fight Song- playing horse Renegade (or Ren Ren as we now refer to him) into Emery’s lap and headed home with our purchases in tow. I have to say I’m most excited about the Ocheessee Milk and the goat cheese made from their cream. Yum, yum, and double yum! I may or may not have popped open the cheese and sampled a healthy portion on the way home. 
And before I go, I had to share this. Emery is now holding her bottle up by herself, not just with two hands, but with a little added support – her feet!  That’s my girl! Growing up so fast, one Saturday at a time.

taste of south walton, part 1

I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. 

Weekends like these make it so easy to repeat this and who wouldn’t be proclaiming their affinity for work when it means spending three days wining and dining throughout South Walton, galavanting from one beach neighborhood to the next sipping fine wines and tasting creatively concocted dishes that are just as delicious as they are presented. Life. Is. Good.
Enough chatting and mouth-watering. Let’s get to the food!

First stop: Seagar’s at Hilton Sandestin 

Started with a brief tour of the Hilton Sandestin before arriving at the elegant Seagar’s Restaurant
First Course: Caesar Salad prepare table-side 
Sizzling steaks at the end of our table. Smelled delicious!
The flaming table-side prep of my favorite Bananas Foster.
Oh. My. Word. Now this is heaven in a bowl. 

Seagar’s was amazing. The tasting was a sort of tour of the menu, so the portions were perfect to ensure we made it all the way to the dessert. I should note: Not one person had an ounce of leftovers when the plates were collected.

After a full night of sleep to recover and make room for more goodness, we met at Watercolor‘s Fish Out of Water for breakfast the next day. Have you ever been? They have two fun swings in the lobby wait area that are hard to resist.  Rachelle Lucas of The Travel Bite was one of our visiting journalists and she and I hit it off. I loved hearing her travel stories and discussing our addiction passion for social media.  I have so much Twitter love for you, Rachelle! :) One thing we did not have in common: she is a fabulous cook and as you know, I’m…. culinarily challenged.

Rachelle & me at Fish Out of Water
A beautiful breakfast view from Fish!
I think everyone was inspired!

Crispy Rice-Crusted Bourbon Vanilla French Toast

Baked Eggs Florentine

Love this glass decor/art in the lounge

From Fish Out of Water, we went on to Mac Farms, a local grower that supplies some of the fresh produce used by many of South Walton’s restaurants. Check out this setup!


Loving Rachelle’s shoes!

 We even took a little souvenir on to our next stop: lunch at Viking Cooking School. This place was wonderful and fascinating and confusing all at the same time. I didn’t know what most of the kitchen gadgets were or how in the world to use them, but it made me want to learn! The instructors were so personable and informative that I actually felt like I could cook a gourmet meal when I left. Yes, they were that good.

I’ll take this Viking kitchen.

Delicious red snapper for lunch.

Our Mac Farms greens!

Fresh and tasty

 Definitely felt the need for a quick walk on the beach after that one. Wow, was it good!

Next on the agenda was a trip to the top of the Luau condo at Sandestin for a small taste of this picture perfect view. We sipped champagne, snapped pics and felt like we were on top of the world


From there we went on to the Village of Baytowne Wharf.

Had to put on flats for this segment.

Farmer D produce

Needless to say, I went home full and happy!

After Hours @ Chops 30A

This month’s After Hours event was at the fabulous Chops 30A, where I caught up with a couple friends and met several new faces. One of those was Giovanni Filipponi, the main man in the kitchen as well as Hell’s Kitchen current season cast member. Everyone sampled lots of his tasty apps (kobe beef! venison! tuna!) and sushi as we mingled around the amazing bar area (which is a little mesmerizing the way it changes colors the longer you stare at it). I asked if Gordon Ramsey was really like what we see on TV. He is and it was hellish. I guess the show even offers psychiatric help at the end for anyone that wants/needs it if the Chef’s comments are a bit too cruel. Very interesting! Overall … good food, good cocktails, and a little cocktail trivia.

Photo: FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen

Donut Hole Deliciousness

I made by way to the Donut Hole in Santa Rosa Beach yesterday for a little brunch. If you’ve never been there before, they have (obviously) a ridiculous number of homemade donuts and pastries, but also really great breakfast and lunch. I went with the seafood omelet, which was very tasty and big enough to feed two. Even though I was full and happy, I couldn’t resist taking a donut or two home for later. Believe me, there’s no shortage of choices – glazed, powdered, chocolate, jelly-filled, plain, cream cheese – the list goes on. No matter what you pick, it’s sure to be delicious!

Hot Stuff @ 96 Degrees

SoWal-ers know the familiar light blue VW Bug covered in bright smiley faces and flowers cruising around 30A belongs to the very cool 96 Degrees Surf Shop. The store used to be right next to the Wheelhouse but moved to an even better location by the Old Florida Fish House. Everyone loves the sushi bar there and the Grouper Fish House (sooo good!), but even better is doing a little shopping on your way in or out. The store is really small, but there’s plenty of room for cute tops, beachy dresses and fun tanks and accessories. Right now they have a totally cool leopard print dress and a bunch of cute Karlie tops. I even found a great tattoo print burn out tee to wear to yoga! Stop in on your next visit to the Fish House or make a trip just to shop. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time.

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