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My goodness, what an absolutely gorgeous weekend we enjoyed here in the Lowcountry! Everywhere you look the azaleas are bursting with color, the sunshine and blue skies were out, and the trees are this beautiful vibrant green. It’s just so good for the soul after what feels like quite a long winter.

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On Saturday, I got up and did my 5k as promised, and I did beat my time by a little over a minute. Again, no speed records here, but I finished and did a little better than last time, so I’ll take it! Either way, it was actually a really awesome way to start such a beautiful weekend – a run on the beach with 700 other adults, kids, and completely thrilled dogs.

Another thing we did since it’s a special family member’s birthday this week was visit Sweet Radish Bakeshop.

We discovered them accidentally towards the end of last year, and they are Charleston’s only gluten free bakeshop. There is literally no flour in the building.

The bakery opened in September 2013 (according to the Post & Courier) and is located on the corner of Spring Street and St. Philip. We have stopped by a few times needing gluten free treats for some of our family members, and they never disappoint.

It has a great cheerful atmosphere and they always have interesting and different foods to choose from. This time, we ordered cupcakes ahead of time for a birthday celebration. We enjoyed them yesterday after cooking out on the grill and they were delicious – for gluten free and non-gluten free alike :-)

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Did you discover anywhere new this weekend or do anything special? Happy Monday!

{photo credits: street photo is mine; the rest borrowed from the sweet radish bakeshop website}

One of my favorite things to do is explore new places – whether it’s a new city or just a new restaurant down the road. When we heard that our favorite restaurant – Wild Olive – was going to have a sister restaurant much closer to our side of town, we were so excited to try it out.

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The Obstinate Daughter opened on Sullivan’s Island only a couple weeks ago and we were so happy to be “done” renovating (ha! like that ever ends) and moving enough that we got to try it out. I completely fell for the beautiful interior decor they created – nautical but not too literal, with a modern coastal vibe that was perfect for the delicious but not too fussy cuisine.

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Of course, even a gorgeously designed restaurant has to back it up with the food, and The Obstinate Daughter definitely did. Pictured below – the “Old Danger” pizza – was out of this world delicious, as were the Geechie Frites and pasta dish I had. Dessert was phenomenal. We were stuffed & happy!

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Have you tried any new restaurants lately? Happy Monday!

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Saturday brought an end to January and the start to the much-anticipated month of February for us. Of course, the reasons for that anticipation were twofold: first, it’s the month we get to start our renovations, and secondly, we successfully completed our month of eating only at home. So as you can guess, we had a few delicious meals out this weekend ;-)

I hope to continue to be conscientious about not eating out too much and to keep being creative in the kitchen. Sheer boredom with the same-old-same-old definitely aided in the culinary experimentation this past month.

Like most women, I spend copious amounts of time on Pinterest, pinning recipes and thinking how easy and delicious they look. This month, I actually tried a fair amount of them, so I thought it was fitting to re-cap and see how it went. I never remember to go back and update my pins so we’ll just knock this out in one fell swoop!

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smoothie addiction.

In the last few months I started trying smoothies out as a way to add more veggies and nutrients to my diet, especially in the morning. Breakfast pastries are my favorite but they just don’t do much for you nutritionally. I liked this recipe from She Knows but truthfully I’ve tried all sorts of concoctions.

I think my favorite are strawberry banana versions, but that just makes such an awful color when you add spinach. The lovely bright green ones don’t bother me at all but I’m not into the brown color you get from red (strawberries) + green (spinach). I know that shouldn’t matter but it seems to!

chicken potpie empanadas

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I really liked this recipe, mostly because I am a carb-a-holic though. It definitely was not as much of a meaty chicken pot pie – it was all about the crust. Not sure that the hubs liked that has much but I thought it was good, and it heated up excellently for lunch the next day. Definitely not low calorie though! Recipe from Real Simple.

frozen strawberry treat

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I already blogged this one and I really loved how it turned out. Low-cal dessert? Yes please!

quinoa + spinach patties

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These were a surprise win, and super healthy. I had never really made anything like it so I was surprised they were at all successful. I think they could have used some more spices or seasoning, but they weren’t bad at all. I ended up eating them on a hamburger bun with lettuce and a little low-fat mayo and they were really good. Something different than the usual deli meat, which is nice. The recipe came from Skinny Taste.

tomato + fried egg + garlic toast

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This recipe from Martha Stewart was a win in my book. I made it with wheat toast and no butter for the fried eggs (just a little non-stick cooking spray works) so it was an excellent low calorie lunch / dinner. Plus I just love tomatoes & garlic!

cinnamon quinoa bake

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This one was slightly less successful for me, mostly because I think I just didn’t have time to cook it as long as I maybe needed to. The recipe said 20 to 25 minutes, and even though it was definitely set in that long, it wasn’t really cooked all the way through. I cooked it 35 minutes and ran out of time (had to leave) so I thought maybe it would set up better when it cooled, but not quite. We’ll have to try this one again! It came from FitSugar.

Tried any new recipes lately? Do share!

photo credits: smoothie | pot pies | quinoa patties | cinnamon quinoa bake

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mike from Amelia’s Spicing Pecans for several years now after he gave me a ring for help with a Facebook page. From there, we’ve worked together on reinventing the Amelia’s Spicing Pecans brand and carrying it through to a website, collateral, and packaging. It is one of the coolest part of my jobs to get to see a project become real, and on Friday I got a chance to finally meet Mike in person when he came to visit our local Whole Foods.

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Amelia’s Spicing Pecans is based in Birmingham, so it was great to see them expanding all over the south and into the Charleston market. Mike brought the whole setup and it was awesome to see the logo we designed together take center stage on a banner, business cards, shirts, and labels. Even cooler to see them all lined up on the shelf, working together with their colors & bold type just like I had imagined!

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I also got to try them in some of the recipes that he’d brought for samples, and they were AMAZING. Herb pecans in a parmesan, cream cheese, and lemon juice spread. Cinnamon pecan brownies. Pimento cheese and coffee pecans. Really yummy.

I took a jar of cinnamon pecans home over the weekend and topped my zucchini bread with them. I’m also going to try them out on a salad for lunch, which can’t get here too soon!

Check out their website at www.spicingpecans.com if you want to get some…I highly recommend it!

It makes me laugh at this time of year because it’s sort of like pumpkins are rockstars. They are in every recipe (pumpkin bread, anyone?), craft project, color palette, drink – you name it. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of pumpkins and love a good Fall day at the pumpkin patch, but it’s just funny to watch the trends and see pumpkins as the main event on every blog I read.

So, without further ado, here is my pumpkin post.

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Hehe.

Now onto real pumpkins. Over the weekend the grocery store had samples of pumpkin pie out and that little taste got the hankering started. It’s hard to get in the spirit around here because Fall doesn’t show up in a consistent way until December, and even then you’re liable to have days in the 70’s. We’ve had a few nice Fall days though so that + the taste of Fall in the form of pie got it started.

I picked up a can of pumpkin puree and decided to try something with it as I’ve never made a single thing with pumpkin before.

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I love zucchini bread so much that pumpkin bread seemed like a great place to start, and I found a nice healthy recipe on 100 Days of Real Food. I am quite sure she would not approve of my canned pumpkin but you can’t win ’em all.

Here is the recipe, with a few notes / modifications I made…

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup chopped tree nuts (if desired)

*I replaced the oil with Trader Joe’s applesauce, which research indicates is a cup for cup substitution. I also did not have cloves or ginger, which I’m sure make it even yummier, but it was still good without it. I did not have nuts either and opted out of those.

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients (from the flour down to the salt).
3. Make a well in the center and throw in the eggs, oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir together but don’t overmix.
4. Fold in the pumpkin puree and nuts if you are using them.
5. Grease a loaf pan or put muffin liners in a muffin tin and pour in the batter.
6. Bake a loaf approximately 30 to 40 minutes and for muffins bake approximately 18 – 22 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick comes out clean. *Mine baked for 35 minutes and was ready to go.

It made a great breakfast component for the first part of the week, but I think with the applesauce and other organic ingredients it didn’t keep all that long. Or maybe I did a bad job covering it – also entirely possible :-) Check out the original recipe + all the great comments on 100 Days of Real Food.

Oh, and while we’re on blogs to read, you should definitely check out my friend and client Kate Neale Cooper’s blog Fits and Starts – she posted about an amazing Pay it Forward kind of movement taking place to honor a young girl who tragically died of epilepsy. It’s an inspiring read and an important subject.

Here’s to a productive + happy Monday!

For my dad’s birthday, I decided to make one of his favorites desserts: banana pudding. We’ve done strawberry shortcake, which is his other favorite (and mine too!) for the last few years, so I thought we’d change it up a bit.

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When I was little I would “make” banana pudding for him that involved a packet of vanilla pudding poured over bananas and Nilla wafers. Since then, I’ve had real banana pudding in a few different restaurants and realized there could definitely be more to it than that ;-)

I did some searching while R drove home from Athens on Sunday (what did we used to do when you couldn’t browse the internet in the car?) and came up with Paula Deen’s “Not Yo Mama’s Banana Pudding Recipe.” It had some interesting ingredients so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Seriously, this was so good. Delicious banana pudding.

And really really easy, you’re pretty much throwing together cream cheese, whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk, a packet of pudding, and milk, and letting the mixer go to town on it. Check out the recipe here. I didn’t do the Pepperidge Farm cookies, preferring Nilla Wafers instead, but I’m sure it’s good either way.

I have these two little vintage dessert serving pieces – I honestly can’t tell you what they’re called – that I inherited from my grandmother. While making the pudding and realizing that it was pretty tasty, I pulled those out and made “night before” servings for R and me. And plus it makes me happy to use those – kind of like I’m carrying on the life and traditions or something. Do you have any sentimental pieces like that? I wish I had more of them, but they’re perfect for now with just the two of us!

Enjoy!

We kicked off our Athens weekend off with a late lunch at a local favorite: Mama’s Boy. It opened while we were still in school, but somehow I’d never gotten there. Since we left and only really get back on gamedays, we’ve never been because it’s so popular the lines are always huge – which means it’s really good!

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Since we drove up Friday, we took the opportunity to get in there and it didn’t disappoint. I am a big fan of biscuits and they have HUGE ones.

I’ve also always loved their clean and fun logo.

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It’s not very big and on the east side of town, but you could still walk there from downtown if you wanted to. Probably better to drive although there isn’t a huge amount of parking.

Besides the biscuits as big as your head, I had a delicious BLT and they had great fries too. Good tea as well. One of the things they’re famous for is “chocolate cake for breakfast,” which is probably a big part of why they were voted the Best Breakfast in Athens by Flagpole :-)

To sum it up, I love any place with kind of quirky style and delicious Southern food. Highly recommend!

How was your weekend?

As R pointed out over the weekend, I am on a bit of a muffin baking kick. I think it’s mostly because of my new health conscious lifestyle and the fact that pretty much all of my favorite foods involve bread. It’s really hard to eat a muffin or a pastry out and about because you just don’t know what you’re looking at health wise. So, I have been working on getting better at making my own.

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These Banana Blueberry Muffins turned out really well. I had some blueberries in the fridge so I decided to put them to good use and make muffins for this week’s breakfast. In my search for health conscious options, I turned up a recipe from Martha Stewart. Because I can never let well enough alone, though, I modified it a fair amount so I’ll share it here.

Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup Quaker Oats oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup Splenda
1/3 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas (about 1 pound)
1/3 cup Skim milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup frozen blueberries (or fresh)

Makes 12 muffins.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together flours, oatmeal, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter, applesauce, and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, mash bananas with a fork (you should have 3/4 cup); stir in milk and vanilla.

With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in blueberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, around 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; transfer muffins to a rack to cool 10 minutes more.

*You could also make these with chocolate chips or other berries. I really like the way the muffin part itself turned out – moist and a little sweet.

Enjoy!

I also used SparkRecipe’s nifty nutrition calculator to figure that part out if you’re interested in that sort of thing – it’s a very handy feature! You can find it here.

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OH, and don’t forget the part where you hold a mini muffin photo shoot. :-)

Have you cooked up anything interesting lately? How was your weekend?

A few weeks ago I finished up a project for a friend and fellow blogger Carly Totten. Through the magic of social media and blogging, I met Carly about a year and a half ago when she came down to visit Charleston, and we have remained friends ever since.

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Recently we created a new home-on-the-internet for her called “Carly is Inspired” and I had the honor of helping her design it and make it a reality. Definitely go visit her as she has a wonderful writing style and great content!

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By the way, total fluke that she had me on her blog when I took this snapshot. Did not do that on purpose ;-)

When we finished the project, Carly very kindly sent me a baking cookbook by Cooking Light. Since we were lucky enough to have a three day weekend this past weekend, I took the opportunity to crack that open and try out a recipe…

Double Apple Bran Muffins

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I just had one for breakfast this morning and they turned out so well. I really like the apple taste and they really are much better for you than muffins you get from other places. I am becoming one of those annoying people that would rather make everything from scratch so I know what’s in it ;-)

Check out the recipe here. I pretty much made it as written except that I used Whole Wheat Flour, oatmeal for oat bran (who has oat bran around?!), and Splenda brown sugar. They came out great though, so I will be enjoying my breakfast this week!

Did you do anything fun over the weekend? Back to the grind today though, hope it’s an easy day for you!

This weekend we attended the Food Film Fest, and I have to say, I had had no idea what to expect and I was thrilled with what I got.

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The whole concept is very clever — you know how when you see a commercial about doughnuts, and you think to yourself, “oh man I could eat a doughnut right now” — well, that’s kind of the idea. You watch a short film (less than 5 minutes) about a food, and while you watch it, they bring you that exact food.

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…which is how I met my new favorite thing — Top Pot Doughnuts from Seattle, Washington. I mean truly, they were the best doughnut I have ever come across, maybe even one of the best pastries in general. Sadly it doesn’t look like mail order is an option, so a trip to Seattle may be in order.

That was what was so neat about it though – right here in Charleston, I got to experience food from lots of different places, over-nighted in just for that event. Canadian maple syrup, treats from Dirt Candy…all sorts of goodies.

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Look at what a good little film patron I am! I kid. I was quite surprised when I came across that one of me when scrolling through the event photos!

Obviously, I did not take any of these photos, they are all courtesy of Food Film Fest’s Facebook Page and copyright Adam Chandler.

And just so you don’t miss out on the fun, here is my favorite film from the event: Dirt Candy’s “Vegetable: Friend or Foe?”

If you have a few minutes, it’s pretty hilarious. Good way to start the week!