Live Oak {lowcountry-inspired cuisine}

live oak

 “Live Oak is a fresh culinary experience showcasing Lowcountry-inspired cuisine and locally sourced produce and products. Completely redefining traditional clubhouse fare, the restaurant’s menu is infused with fresh, local offerings providing guests with an opportunity to eat healthy while enjoying the tastes and flavors of the Lowcountry.”

A few months back the Chef at the Country Club (him and his wife are also good friends of ours) decided it was time for a change.  While we were sad to see him leave we knew he was going to do amazing things in what ever kitchen he “stumbled” upon.  He left us for a new venture in Hilton Head at the Plantation Golf Club and last Thursday I had the opportunity to dine at his new restaurant, Live Oak.

Of course I had to start the meal (and spontaneous weekend) with a glass of bubbles.

champs live

The restaurant is absolutely beautiful.  I was obsessed with the wood floors and the expansive porch on the back of the restaurant.  From where I was seated, I had sunny views of the golf course and knew I was in for a treat.

Chef Ryan wished we could have come for dinner but honestly, I thought lunch was pretty fantastic.  So now I just have a reason to return.

Before ordering, we were presented with a taste of what was to come.


The pimiento cheese was perfectly spreadable and one of the best I’ve ever tasted.  It’s exactly what you want pimiento cheese to taste like.


As we chatted with Chef Ryan about the menu, I quickly decided that the Lunch on the Live Oak Porch was the way to go.  He himself claimed that the crab cake was the best crab cake he has ever tasted.

But first, he brought me something not on the menu.  A gorgeous heirloom tomato and pickled watermelon salad.


The pickling of the watermelon was very faint and I probably wouldn’t have detected it had I not known but the flavors married stunningly with the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes.  Watermelon and tomatoes were meant to be together.  The plate was studded with chunks of salty feta and made each bite pure heaven.

He also treated us to a little bite of another Southern treat – fried green tomatoes.


Perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft and delicate on the inside.  The sauce made this plate.  So good!  I had to have restraint because I knew there were more plates to come.

crab sam

Y’all!  This plate…  It was so good.  The crab cake was, in fact, the best crab cake I’ve ever had.  Hardly any filler and the pillow-like bun made this one of the best sandwiches I’ve tasted.  I devoured the sandwich without letting Big Guy get a bite.

I did share the gumbo though.  Unlike any gumbo I’ve had, it was topped with fried okra (yes, it was) and served over the perfectly cooked bed of rice.  I shared this dish with Big Guy and even then it was just too much to finish.  Incredible depth of flavor from a homemade stock.

Sadly, I ignored the fries.  There was just too much other stuff going on.

Chef Ryan, this meal made me miss you and your wife even more.  But it also makes me want to come back soon and dine with you for dinner.

Until next time…

Spontaneous Savannah

Y’all, I fell in love this past weekend.

But let’s rewind to last Tuesday.  July 1st.  I arrived home from work and Big Guy proclaims, “I think we need a plan B for the weekend.”

I knew that a hurricane was heading straight to our 4th of July destination but I really didn’t want to believe that it would ruin my plans.  So I avoided the conversation.

Come Wednesday morning I was bummed.  Really bummed.  I had seen the weather and heard everyone and anyone talking about Arthur that was sure to hit the Outer Banks.  I had taken vacation days around the 4th so that I could have a mini-vacation and now there was nothing to do but wait out the storm.

Or so I thought.

Around 9am on Wednesday morning, I got an email from Big Guy asking “Do you want to be spontaneous?”

My reply:  “I want to say ‘why’ but I’ll just say ‘yes.’

And that was that.  I wouldn’t find out until the next morning where we were going.  On Wednesday night, we packed – God bless my husband, he’s a patient, patient man – and I still had no clue what I was packing for.

I was like a kid on Christmas the next morning.  My early morning alarm didn’t even phase me, I was ready to get my workout done and over with so I could find out where I was going for the weekend.


When I arrived home from the gym I was greeted by Big Guy and an envelope.  (I would receive an envelope each morning with the plan for the day.)

Savannah was our final destination.  And at 8am, we hit the road.

Our first stop, Hilton Head, to visit a dear friends new restaurant, Live Oak. (I’ll do a full post on this meal tomorrow!)

With a full belly and a happy heart, we hit the road for the final leg to Savannah.

Of all the cities my brain wandered to in the 20 hours that I didn’t know where I was going, Savannah was not on the list.  I was shocked.  And thrilled.

Once we arrived to the Bohemian Hotel on the Riverfront, we headed up to the  rooftop bar for a cocktail.


Post-cocktails on the roof, we headed to our room to clean up for dinner at The Olde Pink House.  

the old pink

We were a little early for our reservation, so we headed down to the bar for a drink.  The bar was super cozy and I wish we could have spent our entirety down there.

Unfortunately, where we were sat wasn’t the best place in the restaurant.  We were in the middle of a huge room and it was really loud – not what I was expecting.  It simply didn’t live up to the hype.  Thankfully, the service was amazing but it’s not somewhere I would return.

Fast-forward to the next morning, Big Guy’s favorite holiday, the 4th of July.  I opened up another envelope and was giddy with excitement to learn that were taking a cooking class.  Before getting ready for the day, we walked to a local coffee shop, The Coffee Fox, for what would be the first of four trips.

I was in Heaven.  The views were breathtaking and I fell in love with the walkability of the town.  Oh, and The Coffee Fox, hands-down the best cold brew coffee I’ve ever had in my life.

Dressed and ready to go for the day, we headed out to our cooking class:  Summer Grilling at the 700 Cooking School at the sister hotel of the Bohemian, Mansion on Forsyth Park.  

Don’t worry, I’m saving a full post for that experience of a lifetime.

But can I just say that Big Guy is the best husband ever.  The fact that he found a way for me to cook on the 4th of July is beyond me and I was super impressed.

Post-cooking and eating, we set out to explore Savannah on foot.

We walked for hours and miles and I probably told Big Guy 18 times that I wanted to move to Savannah or somewhere like it.  Having the ability to walk places is high on my “want” list.

Big Guy made reservations at Local 11 ten for Friday night and I was so pumped once I saw the menu.  The restaurant has a rooftop bar, The Perch, so we arrived early to enjoy the outside air and the city.

While enjoying a champagne cocktail, we nibbled on par trois: pimento cheese, house pickles, rillette, crackers.

apps at local

The appetizer was absolutely delightful and I still couldn’t believe that I was in Savannah.

Post-cocktail hour, it was time to eat!  Unfortunately, the service in the restaurant was kind of spotty.  We asked a few questions and it took about 15 minutes for her to come back to our table.  But she didn’t come back with answers or drinks.

The food was delicious and I would return in a heartbeat, but I would ask for another server if she came towards my table.  Just sayin’.

I had one last envelope to open on Saturday morning and I was surprised to find that I would be getting a massage at the Mansion.  

We walked to get coffee (duh) and then continued on walking the streets of Savannah and exploring until it was time for my 2 hours of bliss.


To note – the Mansion is also full of amazing art pieces.  The above piece of art belongs in my home.

The massage was absolutely relaxing and perfect.  Once again, best husband award.

Post-massage I was quite the noodle and it took me awhile to snap out of my relaxed mode.  But soon enough I was hungry and ventured out for more walking and eating.  We stumbled upon The Public Kitchen and Bar and we made the most out of a 30 minute wait by having cocktails.  Hey, it was Saturday.  And vacation.

I must add that the bartender was super impressive.  I ordered a glass of sparkling rose and there was a glass or so left in the bottle.  He tried a sip and deemed it not good enough (not enough bubbles) and opened a fresh bottle for me.  That is how you get a good tip, folks.

the public

Lunch totally hit the spot.  Big Guy ordered the messiest burger and it was burger perfection.  Cooked medium-rare, as requested, and required multiple napkins – sign of a good burger.  I went with the kale and arugula salad with salmon, which was also cooked to a perfect medium, as requested.

My only complaint, the rooftop bar wasn’t open and I was bummed.  I would go back no questions asked for lunch or dinner!

After lunch, we went out in search of the Owens-Thomas House for a tour.  While I’m not a huge history bluff, I love tours of homes and this one was no exception.  It’s believed to be the first house to have indoor plumbing and I loved imaging how people lived “back in the day.”

After a little more walking, it was time to get ready for our last night out in Savannah.  As sad as I was to see our trip coming to an end, I was so excited to eat at Elizabeth on 37th.  We went with the Chef’s Tasting and it was the most incredible food of the entire trip.  Holy deliciousness.  And the wine pairings were perfect.  We ate and drank to our hearts content.

Some favorite courses:  Broiled clams; sea scallops on a bed of the most amazing corn I’ve ever tasted; a butterbean soup that was beyond words and totally made me rethink the butterbean.  I was also blown away by the goat cheese cheesecake.  oh.em.gee.

We ended on the highest of high notes.

Last week at this time I would have never guessed or imagined that I would spend the 4th of July weekend in Savannah.  Sometimes life is funny.  And while I am a “planner” and probably will always have those tendencies,  I savored every morsel of this spontaneous weekend.  And you know, I am welcoming, with open arms, a little more spontaneity in my life.

I enjoyed every moment.  Every beautiful home.  Every delicious bite.  Every perfect sip of bubbles.  Every step in a lovely town.  Every laugh.  Every quiet moment.

Savannah, I fell for you.



Chicken Drumettes {two ways} and a Corn and Peach Salsa

I have so much to share with y’all from my long 4th of July weekend.  But you’ll have to wait another day.

I know, so annoying.

But to keep you coming back for more, here’s THREE recipes.  Yep, three.

First up, chicken drumettes.  Grilled to perfection and then served with two different sauces.

A Singapore Sauce and a Sesame Glaze. 


The sesame glaze was salty and sweet with a little heat from red pepper flakes.


While the Singapore sauce was spicy with the perfect hint of ginger in every bite.


If I had to choose, I would say that the Sesame Glazed drumettes were my favorite of the two.


On the side, a Corn and Peach Salsa.  Last Tuesday, I started prepping for what should have been a trip to Hatteras for the holiday weekend.  On the list, corn and peaches.  I enjoy purchasing local, when possible.  And I purchased quite a bit.  I found myself with 12 large peaches and 24 ears of corn so I wanted to make use of some of the fresh produce.

Not your typical salsa since there’s no tomato in sight but it’s sweet and absolutely delicious.  If you’ve never had raw corn, you’re missing out.  So fresh and crunchy.  Also in the mix, cilantro and homegrown jalapenos.  Also, for the acid, white wine vinegar – a welcome addition to the salsa.  Perfect for dipping.

I promise I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of one of the best weekends I’ve ever had.

Fried Green Tomato BLT

There aren’t many things in this world that are more Southern than fried green tomatoes.

Especially when they’re homegrown.

I mean, I can’t even handle how excited I was as I sliced the not-so-tender flesh of the green tomato into perfect slices ready for “frying.”

And the smell of the bacon only fueled my excitement.

And as simple as a BLT is, adding the fried green tomato still keeps it simple but adds the perfect Southern twist.

The bacon sizzles and cooks first in a large skillet.  Once crisp (I’ll let you be the judge as to the perfect crispness), remove and set to the side on a paper towel lined plate.

Reserve about a teaspoon of the oil.

While the bacon pops away, prepare your dredge:  cornmeal, Parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper.

Once you’ve set the bacon to the side and discarded of extra bacon drippings, coat the tomatoes in the cornmeal mixture and place in the skillet.

Allow the tomatoes to cook about 2-3 minutes on each or until browned and softened.  Once mine were done cooking, I sprinkled with sea salt.  Because I’m such a rebel.

Then all you gotta do is assemble.

And I really hope you know how to assemble a BLT.

A smidge of mayo (only Duke’s around this household), a layer of crisp lettuce, two perfectly cooked bacon slices, and a fried green tomato are sandwiched between two toasted slices of bread.

And it’s perfection.

Absolute Southern perfection.


Grilled Watermelon and Zucchini Chips

Sunday night we used as much as we could from the garden while preparing dinner.



It was our first tomato from the garden and it was delicious.

I picked up the watermelon at a small Farmers Market on Thursday evening and my-oh-my, it was a sweet one.  Juicy and messy.  Just the way watermelon should be.

And whole some may disagree about grilling watermelon, you have to trust me.

It worked.

water and tom

The watermelon was brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper before being drizzled with honey and going straight onto the grill.

Cooked for about 2-3 minutes on each side and then plated with fresh tomato slices, feta crumbles, basil and a balsamic glaze.


And while I’ve seen lots of recipes for the combo of watermelon and tomato, I wasn’t a believer until last night.

So refreshing!

And alongside the watermelon salad, baked zucchini chips.


The breading was a combination of panko, crushed cornflakes (I didn’t have enough panko), basil, Parmesan cheese and salt.

The zucchini slices were tossed with olive oil and then dredged through the breading before baking.


I combined ketchup and Sriacha for a delicious dipping sauce.

A fun and fresh Sunday night dinner!

Have you ever grilled watermelon?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve thrown on the grill?

annnnnnnnnnd, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KAT!!!!!

july 2008

july 2008

Weekend Review {date night and celebrating Kat}

It’s a three-day work week for this girl and I am ready to take on the day.  This past weekend was full of fun and friends and I am so glad I got to visit my BFF in Greensboro.  Here’s a look at the weekend that was:


After a long week for both me and Big Guy, we were more than ready for cocktail hour on Friday night.  Using fresh-from-the-garden cucumber and mint, I muddled together a Cucumber and Ginger Mojito.  So refreshing.  It would be the perfect sipper on a hot day at the pool.

roasted caul

“Appy” hour was quite delicious.  I’ve been eyeing the recipe for Whole Roasted Cauliflower for some time now and it turned out way better than I ever expected.  I’m not a fan of cauliflower in the raw but roasted – it’s amazing.  The dip was a combination of cream cheese, goat cheese and feta and was the perfect compliment to the cauliflower.  I highly recommend this appetizer!



And for our main course, Garlic Brown Sugar Flank Steak with Chimichurri and a side of roasted homegrown zucchini.  The chimichurri so was herbaceous and fresh.

My post-workout treat on Saturday morning was an iced coffee.  I’ve been craving one all week and I finally gave in.

On Saturday mid-morning, we hit the road to go see my BFF and partner-in-crime, Kat to celebrate her birthday.

We had organized a dinner with some of her closest friends for that night at MJ’s.

So happy to spend the evening with these two.

And this guy can be my date any time.

fried green

Fried Green Tomatoes with MJ’S pimento cheese, peach coulis and truffle oil to start.


Amberjack served with jalapeno polenta cakes, asparagus and an arugula crab salad.

Such a fun night!

Sunday morning, we headed to Asheboro to have lunch with Granny and Pawpaw.  It was so nice to visit with them and enjoy a delicious lunch full of veggies and chicken salad.

On the way home, we stopped by the Millstone Creek Orchards to see what fresh produce we could find.  We walked away with some freshly picked blackberries and Big Guy couldn’t resist a peach slushie.  Such a kid!

Here’s to a short week and an exciting weekend with friends ahead!


{Virtual} Coffee Chat

Speaking of coffee…

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I’m really craving cold brew coffee some mornings over the hot stuff.  And I think I found the perfect recipe.

(image from gimme some oven)

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that our zucchini plant has officially bit the dust.  Big Guy broke the news to me a couple of weeks ago that it was sick but it would still produce produce until the disease took over.  The disease took over.  Thankfully we got quite a few meals from the plant this year and we can plant something else in it’s place.




If we were having coffee this morning…I would have brought you a cucumber.  While inspecting the garden last night, I came across three cucumbers.  One of them is enormous!  I had to take a picture with a wine bottle for comparison.



If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I am SO excited to see one of my best and dearest friends tomorrow to celebrate her big 3-0!  I did a little “Throw Back Thursday” yesterday on Instagram in honor of the celebration.  And just so you know, 30 is the new 22.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how tempting it was to stay in bed this morning.  It was monsooning from about 2am until 5am and I really wanted to sleep through the alarm.  But I didn’t.  I pulled through, ran through the rain to get into the gym and got my workout done.  A glass of wine tonight was my motivation.


If we were having coffee this morning…I would let you borrow the book “Ladies’ Night.”  I finished the book last night and now I just need to finish “Wild” before moving on to my next read.  “Ladies’ Night” was an easy read and the perfect “beach” book.  “Wild” is taking me a little longer to get through but I’m nearing the end and it’s picked up a bit.  Working on that bucket list!

If we were having coffee this morning…You would know how excited I am that it’s Friday.  It’s been a long week and I’m ready for some relaxing and fun.  So CHEERS to the weekend!

Nectarine, Proscuitto and Arugula Bundles

I menu plan because, well, I’m a planner.

But because I like balance in my meals.

I try not to serve cheese as an appetizer if there is going to be cheese in the main dish.

And if the main dish is on the heavy-side, I try to serve a lighter appetizer.

Get my drift?

This appetizer solved all my problems.  And it’s a no-cook, 3-ingredient “recipe.”

I don’t even think you can call it a recipe…it’s that easy.

Nectarine, Proscuitto and Arugula Bundles are the perfect addition to any “appy” hour.


Simply roll a wedge of nectarine, arugula and freshly cracked pepper with a slice of proscuitto.

I also did another variety (on the right) which is Black Forrest Ham with nectarine wedges and fresh basil leaves.  I actually preferred the basil to the arugula.

But both are fresh, light and perfect for a warm, summer evening.



Zucchini, Walnut and Feta Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

My life is pretty much complete now.

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I adore Cooking Light.  They use REAL ingredients and have REAL recipes for REAL food.  Just because it’s “light” doesn’t mean it’s tasteless.  I’ve been a subscriber for the magazine for about 6 years now and it’s one of the subscriptions that I just can’t part with.

Well, they finally noticed me.

Cooking Light “liked” my photo on instagram a couple of nights ago.

Zucchini, Walnut and Feta Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce are packed with zucchini straight from our garden.  If it wasn’t for awesome recipes like this, I would be sick and tired of eating zucchini already.  It’s growing like crazy!

To bind the cakes, quinoa is ground in a food processor along with walnuts and mixed in with the zucchini, eggs, feta, green onions and dill.  I loved the texture that the quinoa gave to the zucchini cakes.

Make sure to salt your zucchini after it’s grated and squeeze out all the water.  You don’t want to end up with a too-watery mixture and zucchini is full of water.

The zucchini cakes are pan “fried” in a  little olive oil until browned and cooked through.

Served over a bed of spicy arugula with a big dollop of a cucumber-yogurt sauce that is full of flavor thanks to garlic.

Full of flavor and even Cooking Light thought it looked yummy.


Pesto Pea Pizza

Pizza is the answer for a lot of things.

Pesto Pea Pizza was my answer to dealing with my parents leaving and being depressed.


And homemade pesto.


The pesto is the star of the show so the fresher, the better.

Our basil is looking amazing these days.

The pesto is made by whirling together a shallot, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt in a food processor (or high-power blender).

By the way, the leftover “pesto” is perfect tossed with salad greens.  So much flavor!

Once the pesto was made, it was time to make the crust!  Big Guy actually was in charge of this step and it was made a little easier with the Cup4Cup pizza dough mix (it’s the best!).

We cooked the crust for 8 minutes in the oven and finished it on the grill once the toppings were added.

The toppings are rather simple – though you might question the addition of peas on pizza.

But it works.

Trust me.

A layer of pesto is spread over the pizza crust followed by fresh mozzarella.  Then add about 1/2 a cup of peas to the top.  I used frozen peas since they’re more of a springtime veggie and simply defrosted them.  I wouldn’t use canned peas – those are no bueno.

And on top of the peas, a sprinkling of Parmesan.

The pizza was grilled until everything was warm and melty.  And then I added a good sprinkling of fresh cracked pepper and salt.

pesto pizza

Such a pretty pizza.

The crust was crispy on the edges but chewy with every bite.  And the pesto!  The best.

You must try pesto on your pizza.


If putting peas on pizza is wrong, I don’t want to be right.