{virtual} coffee chat

Let’s grab a cup of coffee and pretend that the weekend isn’t over.

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If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you all about our 4th of July weekend.  And I’d want to hear about yours, too.  This 4th of July was different than most but it was relaxed and enjoyable.  I really didn’t know what to do with myself on Saturday when I had no one to cook for.  Our 4th of July dinner included a few “trashed” up appetizers,  delicious ribs, sausage and a beautiful salad.  Oh, and bubbles.  (Thank you again, Kimberly and Jeremy for having us over!)

trashed apps

dinner

rose

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I picked up the longest sparklers I’ve ever seen for our 4th of July celebration.  Sparklers = 4th of July.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that our zucchini is out of control.  I see a zucchini lasagna in our future.  But I used one of the zucchinis to make Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread.  

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about the book I finished this weekend, Life from Scratch.  It was so good.  I’ve always loved memoirs and this one takes you on a journey involving food, family and forgiveness.  It’s brilliant.  And it includes recipes.  And she has a blog.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about how we made bacon.  (!!!!!)  Last Sunday we began the process and we finally got to smoke it yesterday and fry up a few slices.  More on what we did with the bacon later.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I’m already looking forward to the weekend.  Big Guy is taking me out on a date and mojitos are on the menu for Saturday (National Mojito Day!).  Gosh, I love this guy.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would leave you with these two words:

Friday Favorites {4th of July menu}

With 4th of July being TOMORROW, I thought I’d switch things up a bit.  Instead of my weekly favorites, I’ve put together some of my favorite 4th of July food that I’ve stumbled across recently.  From burgers to ice cream to cocktails, you’ll be drooling.  If you don’t have your menu set, you might even get an idea or two.  Let’s do this.

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Favorite Sip:  The Firecracker.  I couldn’t think of a cocktail more appropriate (because Budweiser is not a cocktail) for the 4th.

Favorite Refreshing:  Homemade Lemonade.  Yes, that is a mocktail.  You see, I have so.many. friends that are expecting and well, not everyone wants to drink alcohol.  Sweet and tart.  Yes, please.

Favorite Starter:  Killer Summer Cheeseboard (with pickled strawberries and herb roasted cherry tomatoes).  This is quite possibly the most epic cheeseboard.  Ever.

Favorite Messy:  Baby Back Ricks with Blueberry Balsamic Barbecue Sauce.  Just add a roll of paper towels.

Favorite Tradition:  Brie Stuffed Burgers with Sweet Chili Corn Salsa.  Burgers = 4th of July.  And this burger looks insane.

Favorite Twist on a Classic:  Pickle-Brined (Oven) Fried Chicken with Spicy Sesame Honey.  You guys, I’ve never had fried chicken for the 4th but now I kind of want to.

Favorite On the Side:  Bacon Blue Potato Salad with Soft-Boiled Eggs.  No 4th of July is complete without potato salad.  The end.

Favorite On the Cob:  Grilled Sweet Corn with Chili-Lime Honey Butter.   Good summer corn doesn’t need a lot of help in the flavor department – but the addition of chili-lime honey butter makes me smile.

Favorite Light:  Dill Cucumber Salad.  With heavier entrees, a lighter side dish is more than welcome.  And I’m obsessed with dill and cucumbers.

Favorite Layers:  Red, White and Blueberry Trifle.  It’s simply perfect.  And easy to make.

Favorite Kid-Friendly:  Fancy S’mores.  Who doesn’t love a dessert you can assemble yourself.  And there’s three different options!  Lemon Meringue Pie S’mores, Peanut Butter and Jelly S’mores, and the Double S’more.

Favorite Indulge:  Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies.  Oh, man.  These just look incredible.

Happy 4th of July, friends and family!

Wishing you a weekend full of fun, laughter, sun, and good eats.

Sparkling Elderflower Lemonade

Happy Birthday, Kat!!!!!!!!!

Kat and I go way back – over 10 years.  We were in the same sorority in college and just haven’t stopped being friends since.

In a lot of ways we’re complete opposites (like her love for music and concerts and my hatred for anything related to Bonnaroo – totally had to look up how to spell that) but we’re also similar (we both adore our families more than anything).

She’s the kind of friend that I know will always be there for me – through thick or thin.  She’s seen me at worst and still loves me.  That’s what true friendship is all about.

And in honor of Kat’s birthday – I’m sharing a sparkling cocktail with you.

This would be fabulous drink to sip on this weekend as we celebrate July 4th, too.

First, make a simple syrup by microwaving 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar for 2 minutes.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  (This can be done in advance).  Allow the syrup to cool for about 15 minutes.

In a pitcher, combine the simple syrup, 1/2 cup St. Germain, 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice and ice.

Allow this to stand for 20 minutes.

Top with 3 cups of sparkling wine (I used Prosecco) and serve.

Light and floral, sweet and a little tart – it’s the perfect afternoon drink.

It reminded me a lot of a French 75 but with St. Germain instead of gin.

Happy Wednesday (and birthday), Y’all!!!!

Friday Favorites

How is June almost over?  Summer weekends are my absolute favorite and I hate how fast they’re flying by.  I didn’t make a summer bucket list this year  (I do have a Summer Reading List, though!) but I am still trying to soak up as much of summer as possible.  This weekend my in-laws are visiting and I’m so excited for them to see the living room/entryway renovation.  We have plans on Friday evening but Saturday is all about relaxation!  Oh, and good food – but that’s a given.  So before we start our last weekend in June, here are my favorites of the week.

Favorite Red, White and Blue:  4th of July Pineapple Sparkler Centerpieces.  How fun are these!?!

 

Favorite Frozen:  Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.  I’m not quite sure what’s on the menu for Saturday but I can almost guarantee this will be dessert.

 

Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Golden Beet Chips with Spicy Goat Cheese Dip.  Yesssss.  And the vegetable chips totally balance out the goat cheese dip.

 

Favorite Daydream:  Greece.  The pictures take my breath away so I can only imagine what it’s like to actually be there.  #bucketlist

 

Favorite “Drink This Now”:  4 Under-the-Radar French Rosé Regions.  Rosé is the perfect summertime wine.  (And I think a glass bottle would go great with those appetizers above.)

 

Favorite Wake-up:  Overnight Oats Banana Split.  I love overnight oats.  And who wouldn’t want a breakfast that looks like dessert?

 

Favorite Grilled:  Smoky Beer Burgers with Gouda and Mustard-Horseradish Aioli.  It isn’t really summer until you’ll grilled a burger.

 

Favorite Slice:  Four Cheese Pizza.  Mozzarella, Parmesan, Brie, Ricotta.  Need I say more?

 

Favorite Real Estate Game:  Nantucket vs. Martha’s Vineyard.  The Nantucket house is my pick (that kitchen!) but I can’t help but lust over the Martha’s Vineyard backyard.

 

Favorite Spiked:  Fresh Raspberry and Gin Slushies.  These would be the perfect way to get a party started…

 

Cheers!

 

Friday Favorites

 

Favorite Toppings:  Tex-Mex Hot Dogs.  I crave a hot dog about once a year and that’s usually in the summertime.  But let’s be honest – it’s more about what’s on the dog and less about the dog itself (except I won’t get close to a boiled hot dog).

 

Favorite Basic:  Ruffled-Hem Cami.  You can’t go wrong with a simple yet perfect black cami during the summer.  Whether dressed up or dressed down, this top can take you just about anywhere on a summer Saturday.

 

Favorite Wake Up:  Cream Cheese and Macerated Strawberry Toast.  So simple yet so beautiful.

 

Favorite Meatless Monday:  Spanish Quinoa Stuffed Peppers.  One word:  YUM.

 

Favorite Obsessed:  East Hampton Beach Retreat.  I would never, ever want to leave home if this was my back patio.

 

Favorite Appetizer:  Easy Shrimp Salad Bites.  These five ingredients small bites would be perfect for any summer occasion – from baby showers to back yard parties.

 

Favorite Southern:  Country Ham and Pickle Sliders.  If I served this as an appetizer, I’d probably earn “best wife of the year” award.  {But I would do it without earning an award because I can’t get over the homemade peach mustard and pickled green tomatoes.}

 

Favorite Upgrade:  Elvis Ice Cream Snackwiches.  Stop.  I can’t even handle this right now.

 

Favorite Flavors:  Lemon Blueberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.  I’ve been obsessing over lemons lately and the addition of blueberries sounds heavenly.

 

Favorite Devour:  Slow-Cooked Baby Back Ribs + Mac and Cheese Waffles.  Yes, you just read that correctly.  Mac.And.Cheese.WAFFLES.

Favorite Cocktail:  Grapefruit-Fennel Fizz.  We have so many fennel fronds in the garden.  What better excuse to have a cocktail!

Cheers!

{virtual} iced coffee chat

If we were having coffee this morning…It would be iced coffee because it is blazing hot this week.  And I know, we won’t be the first people to talk about how hot it is.  Welcome to Summer in the South.

If we were having coffee this morning…We would also talk about another news-worthy happening:  Shark attacks off the coast of NC.  This really hits close to home since I’ve grown up at Ocean Isle Beach.  But I don’t want people to be scared of the beach/ocean.  You just need to be cautious.  Here’s a great article my Dad sent to us all this week.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would talk about what I’ve been reading.  Oh, and how I might need to add another book to my list.  Elin Hilderbrand (LOVE HER) came out with a new book and I must read it.  Now.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that more any anything in the world, I want a 4-day weekend with Big Guy.  I honestly don’t know what happened to our schedule this summer but we have no free weekends left.  Seriously.  I could cry.

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If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you to go find a bottle of 2012 Iron Horse Native Yeast Chardonnay.  And don’t turn your nose up.  It’s unlike any Chardonnay you’ve ever had.  No buttery wine here – crisp and complex with hints of herbs and citrus.

If we were having coffee this morning…Speaking of wine – here’s the best way to chill your wine this summer.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you to mark your calendar (like any of us have room for one.more.thing.) – July 11th is National Mojito Day.  And I’m celebrating.  I don’t care where I am or who I’m with.

{champagne mojito}

If we were having coffee this morning…You’d notice my white nails.  And I’m kind of obsessed.  I went back and forth or what color to go with and well, I just couldn’t get white out of my mind.  So I did it.  Life is way too short to be scared of trying a new nail trend.  Oh, and just so you know – I have Big Apple Red on my toes – totally ready for the 4th of July.

If we were having coffee this morning… I would remind you of one thing before we hugged and said “good bye”…

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Vietnamese Braised Beef Tacos {plus spicy cucumber margaritas}

This past Saturday was one of those days that I didn’t want to end.  The perfect mix of productivity and relaxation.  After a morning workout and massage, we spent the better part of the day soaking up the hot sunshine and staying cool in the pool.  Once home and showered, our day date officially started.

We kicked off the evening by preparing the ingredients for Spicy Cucumber Margaritas.  (I used a combo of recipes/techniques, but this was the inspiration.)

(On Friday night, we infused tequila with cucumber:  slice a cucumber and place in a mason jar; fill the mason jar with white tequila and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.)

First, prepare the cucumber puree:  peel and chop an English cucumber and add it to a blender with 1/2 cup fresh orange juice.  Once blended, strain.

On a shallow plate, combine 1 tablespoon each of coarse salt, sugar and chili powder.

Rub the edge of a glass with a lime wedge and then dip into the salt/sugar mix.  Add ice to the glass.

In a cocktail shaker, muddle a slice of jalapeno then add ice, 2 ounces cucumber infused tequila, 2 ounces of the cucumber puree, 1 ounce simple sugar and the juice of one lime.

Shake, shake, shake!  Strain into the rimmed glass.

Sip with smile on your face.

These go on the list of one of my top 5 margarita experiences.  Sweet, a little spicy and totally refreshing.  The infused tequila is the secret to this margarita.

But you can’t have a margarita without guacamole.  At least not around our house.

We really trashed up the guacamole with bacon (!!!!), caramelized pineapple, and feta.

I’m going to be honest – I think I’m a guacamole purist.  While I can’t deny I ate quite a few chips with this trashed up guac, I adore simple guacamole.  The simplest of recipes includes avocados, lime juice, salt (lots of salt), a little red onion, jalapeno and cilantro.

The star of the evening was dinner, though.

Without hesitation, I deem these the best tacos I’ve ever had.

The flavor profile of Vietnamese Braised Beef Tacos is like nothing I’ve ever tasted.

The tacos take a little time in the oven but it’s totally worth the wait.  Chunks of boneless chuck roast are seared before sauteeing diced onion, shallot and garlic.  Along with the beef, carrots, crushed tomatoes and beef broth are added to the Dutch oven.  And for the flavor, star anise, a cinnamon stick, Chinese five spice, brown sugar, a bay leave and fish sauce.

These are not your typical Tuesday night tacos.

After 3 hours, the meat is so tender is falls apart.  Taco assembly is simple:  charred corn tortillas (I used a cast iron skillet), green onion, jalapeno slices and chopped cilantro.

The tacos are sweet yet spicy bursting with flavor from the star anise, cinnamon and Chinese five spice.

And these recipe would feed a crowd – though I’m betting the leftovers are just as incredible as they were on Saturday.

Cucumber in my margarita, bacon in my guacamole and cinnamon studded tacos.

Could taco night get any weirder?