Friday Favorites

The weekend is here, the weekend is here!  Yes, it was another short work week for me and I couldn’t be more excited for the weekend ahead.  Big Guy and I have never been able to participate in Member-Guest weekend (only the biggest weekend of the year at the country club) because of other obligations.  But this year we’re taking part in all the festivities and the best part is that one of our favorite couples (our wine/food/travel buddies) is coming into town to be our guests!  Eeeeeek!!!  And while I’m not sure how well the guys will do in the golf tournament – I can assure you that it’s going to be a weekend full of fun with all of our friends.

But before I go convince the sun to come out so we can go to the pool, here’s my favorites from the week:

Favorite Flavors:  Skillet Strawberry Cobbler with Cream Cheese Swirled Biscuits.  I can’t even handle this dessert.

Favorite Crispy:  Hash Brown Waffles.  There’s never been a better reason to have breakfast for dinner.  Or breakfast for lunch.  Or breakfast for breakfast.

 

Favorite Summer:  Marcel Romper.  If being 31 and wearing a romper is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Favorite Up-Grade:  Roasted Potato Salad with Mustardy Old Bay Dressing.  Now I’m just waiting to get invited to a summer cookout…

Favorite Travel:  The Bespoke Scandi Houseboat.  I can’t even imagine.  There’s a few of the water in every single room!

Favorite Dinner:  Chicken and Goat Cheese Enchiladas.  We love enchiladas.  And goat cheese makes everything better.

Favorite Wake-up:  Homemade Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk {for iced coffee}.  Last Saturday morning in Nashville, three of us set out on foot to find iced coffee.  And once we did, it was the best thing ever.  Now I just need to start making it at home.

Favorite Dinner Party:  Vietnamese Braised Beef Tacos.  Can a party of two be considered a dinner party?

Favorite Indulge:  Mini Ricotta + Parmesan Cheesecake.  These must happen A to the SAP (aka immediately).

Favorite Tropical:  Toasted Coconut Pineapple Cocktail.  This reminds me of our honeymoon and our trip to St. Thomas.  Oh, what I would do to be on an island right now drinking out of a pineapple…

Cheers!

Friday Favorites

Summer is unofficially here! My absolute favorite time of the year.  Here are some of my favorites from the week that are definitely inspired by the warm weather and sunshine!

Favorite Devour:  Shortbread Strawberry Crumble.  Why is strawberry season so short?  The flavors and textures in this dessert are insane.

Favorite Dip:  Blended Red Salsa.  Pass the chips!

Favorite Vegetarian:  Sesame-Orange Ginger Chickpea Stir-Fry.  Who needs take-out when you can make this at home?

Favorite Book:  The Knockoff.  This past weekend I finished “Still Alice” in less than 36 hours.  (so so so so good)  This is on my “to read” list for the summer!

Favorite Classic:  Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I want to have a go-to cookie recipe that I always have the ingredients for at home and can whip up at a moments notice.  This could be a contender.

Favorite Bite:  Bacon Ciabatta Crostini with Pimiento Cheese and Candied Jalapenos.  Yes, yes, and yes.  These are happening as soon as our jalapenos start producing.

Favorite French-inspired:  Butter Dipped Radishes.  I would feel so dainty and fancy if I made a batch.

Favorite Twist:  White Chocolate and Blackberry S’mores.  How fun are these?

Favorite Summer:  Watermelon Salad with Basil-Ginger Dressing.  My Momma cut up one of the sweetest, juiciest watermelons this past weekend and now I want more.  More, more, more!

Favorite Cocktail:  Kiwi Mint Mojitos.  I need to arrange a day when I can have a batch of these and Big Guy on the back porch.  And it needs to be arranged soon.

Happy Friday!  And Summer!

Roasted Garlic and Bacon Spinach Dip {plus two more small bites}

Good morning!  It’s a two day work week for me so I’m a happy girl.  I have lots to accomplish in the next 48 hours but I have faith in myself.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a full recap of my lovely long weekend but today I want to share with you three, yes, three appetizers that are sure to make any “appy” hour a “happy” hour.  My Momma and I had a girls night on Friday night before the guys arrived and we decided to snack on several things instead of deciding on one dinner option.  I was quite impressed with our spread.

**To note – after I took the picture and posted it on Instagram, I realized that there’s a major blooper in the picture.  Do you see it?  See the fish dish with the edamame – my soy sauce bowl is stuck in his tail.  I got a good laugh.**

Speaking of the edamame, we simply steamed the pods and then tossed them with course salt and orange zest.  I loved the brightness of the orange zest especially with the salty soy sauce.  So simple but a little special from the addition of the zest.

To the left of the edamame, are crackers topped with honey goat cheese and a blackberry.  This might have been my favorite bite of the night.  Tangy but smooth goat cheese, crunchy cracker and a sweet yet tart berry on top.  Simple is sometimes the best.

And for our hot appetizer of the night, Roasted Garlic and Bacon Spinach Dip.  Honestly, how can you go wrong with roasted garlic, bacon and cheese?

You can’t.

The roasted garlic is the most time consuming part of the recipe but it’s a hands-off kind of task.  Simply cut off the top of the garlic, drizzle with EVOO and a sprinkle of salt then wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Roasted garlic is one of my favorite things ever.

While the garlic is roasted, crisp up the bacon and then wilt the spinach in the bacon fat.  Just do it.  Don’t question yourself.

The base of the dip is cream cheese, a little Greek yogurt and a little mayo which is then mixed with mashed roasted garlic (the whole darn head), chopped bacon and the spinach along with shredded Parmesan cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

The top of the dip is finished with one of the bacon slices, crumbled, and a little more cheese – because you can’t have enough cheese.

Baked until bubbly and hot.  We served the dip with crackers and some baby bell pepper.

And to complete the spread, a glass of Vouvray – which is a French white wine.  Tart and sweet and incredibly light.

Appy hour is my favorite hour.

Friday Favorites

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I’m currently en route to my happy place and I am so excited for a long weekend with my family.  I’m bummed that the whole family won’t be able to make it for an epic weekend “reunion” but it’s still destined to be an incredibly relaxing weekend.  All I know is that I’m planning on popping some bubbles and hopefully making some delicious food to share.  I hope you all enjoy your weekend – but take a little time to remember what the three-day weekend is all about:  the ultimate sacrifice of service men and women.

Favorite OhEmGee:  Fried Mozzarella and Caramelized Peach Caprese Burger.    I’m speechless.  This is what a summertime burger is all about.

Favorite Must-Have:  Grilled Kale BLT Dip.  Cocktail hours require appetizers.  And appetizers are better when when they include bacon.  And if I can’t convince the family that it’s necessary, you’ll find me with alone on the back deck with a bowl of this and a bottle of wine.

Favorite Decadence:  Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake.  Between the cookies and the frosting and the in-season strawberries, I just can’t stop thinking about this combination.  And if you’re not interested in this cake, I’m not sure we can be friends.

Favorite Statement:  Picnic Days Tee.  I want, I want!

Favorite Crave:  Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars.  Bright and sunny flavors of citrus with a buttery rich crust.

Favorite Luxury:  Lustro Face Oil 2.  I’ve been adding a couple of drops of this oil to my face cream in the morning and at night.  It’s incredibly nourishing and smell divine.

Favorite Grilled:  Proscuitto Wrapped Lamb Burgers with Bruschetta.  A twist on the traditional burger and the weather is perfect for firing up the grill.

Favorite Uniform:  White jeans + a tunic + wedges.  I could live in this outfit.  Comfortable and chic.

Favorite Refreshing:  Blackberry Ginger Smash with Thyme.  You can find me with this cocktail (add gin or vodka) and a book for the next three days.

Cheers!

 

{virtual} coffee chat

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If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about how excited I am for Spring/Summer produce!  Last week our friends came over and brought all the ingredients for a salad – and all the ingredients were from their garden except for the cheese and almonds.  Duh.  But I can’t wait for our garden to start producing veggies.

{lettuce, strawberries, beets, feta, marcona almonds, lemon-herb vinaigrette}

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d let you know that our garden growing!  It’s amazing how much it’s grown in the past 10 days.  I cannot wait for homegrown corn, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, leeks, onions, zucchini and jalapeno.  Big Guy is most excited about the zucchini because he wants me to make another batch of this lasagna.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about how delicious strawberries are right now.  They’re at their peak and I can’t get enough.  Hopefully I’ll grab some local ones this weekend and whip up something delicious to share with the family.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d share my new favorite margarita recipe.  Because they were incredible.  My sister-in-laws (hey hey, Sarah and Stephens) visited last Friday and we enjoyed fresh Strawberry-Coconut Margaritas, guacamole and caramelized pineapple quesadillas.  We had an absolute blast and I was so thankful to spend some quality time with the college graduates.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about how my Iron Horse wine shipment finally arrived.  Big Guy The Easter Bunny signed-me up for Two Bottle Club and so now I have something to look forward to every month.  Iron Horse bubbles are my new favorite “fancy” bubbles and I can’t wait to try the limited release Summit Cuvee but I was also excited to see a bottle of Chardonnay in the box.  I enjoy trying new wine so much.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about more than drinking.  Wink Wink.  I’d tell you about the baby shower that we hosted for our friend Kristen last weekend.  The past few years have been wedding heavy but it looks like the times are ‘a changing and we’re on to the years of baby showers.  Baby Max is a lucky guy to have Kristen and Adam as parents.  But I can also say that we’re all so lucky to have a great group of ladies to experience the twists and turns of life with.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d let you in on a secret.  I was “in charge” of the food for the shower on Sunday.  And while I made most of the food myself, pimiento cheese is one thing I have no problem buying pre-made.  But only if it’s Palmetto brand.  It’s seriously the best.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about another grocery store find.  But this is a new-to-me product.  While grocery shopping last week, I stumbled across Hope Hummus.  Holy hummus!  The Thai Coconut Curry is amazing.  A little spicy, a little sweet – kind of exotic tasting.  Go find some!

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d leave you with this truth:

Tapas Date Night

Big Guy and I take date nights very seriously.  Knowing that Big Guy has been wanting to make sangria for a while I thought that having a Spanish-style date night would be fun.  So in addition to our dueling sangrias we also had four different tapas (aka appetizers) instead of an appetizer, main dish and sides.

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But first – dueling sangria!  Red Wine Sangria vs. Pineapple Sangria.  Surprisingly I enjoyed the red wine sangria better.  I know – I was shocked, too.  I think if I made the pineapple sangria again, I would use rum instead of brandy as well as using a pinot grigio instead of chardonnay.  For the red sangria, we used a blackberry brandy (totally recommend) and instead of Pomegranate juice, we used a blueberry-pomegranate juice.

Eating the fruit is always the best most dangerous part.

We had a super light lunch on Saturday so we decided to make the more labor-intensive tapas first and serve it by itself with the white sangria.

goat cheese poppers

Goat Cheese Poppers with Honey were by-far the favorite tapas of the night.  Crunchy, creamy, salty, sweet and a little spicy – these little poppers are appetizer perfection.  I literally cannot wait to have guests over so I can make these again.  Goat cheese is “breaded” lightly with flour and panko before being lightly fried.  The poppers are then drizzled with honey and a dusting of crushed red pepper flakes.  Incredibly addictive.  These would also pair fantastically with a sparkling wine or champagne.

The poppers held us over for awhile and when it came time for dinner, we pulled together the other three tapas and enjoyed the rest of the evening outside.  We literally spent all afternoon and evening outside – I don’t even think we turned the t.v. on once.  We chatted, listened to music and just enjoyed the wonderful weather and each other’s company.

Cucumber Canapes with Whipped Feta.

Lamb Skewers with Salsa Verde.

Chorizo-Stuffed Dates with Lemon-Basil Crema.

The cucumber canapes were our least favorite.

The lamb skewers were awesome!  For the salsa verde, I used cilantro instead of mint and I highly recommend that switch.  Such bright, bold flavors.  This was our second favorite tapas of the night.

I loved the dates – but I actually loved the lemon-basil the most out of this tapas.  The chorizo wasn’t spicy enough and the sweetness of the dates kind of overpowered the rest of the small bite.  I was craving that sweet-savoring combo and it ended up being more sweet than anything else.

I can’t even tell you how much fun we had Saturday night.

The food, the drink, the company – it was a perfect date night in.

 

 

{virtual} Coffee Chat

Good morning!  Grab a cup a coffee.

No, really.  I’ll wait.

Let’s chat.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about the beauty of Springtime.  Our garden is planted and our flowers have already started to show-off.  And I love it.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d have a good laugh.  The Today Show featured this “How old do I look?” website last week and I obviously had to try it out.  It said I was 26.  Well Big Guy also tried it out with a picture of us two and I was once again 26.  He, on the other hand, 59.  Oh, Big Old Guy.   

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about the hard boiled egg that wasn’t hard boiled at all.  Last week I asked Big Guy to talk out eggs so they could be “room temperature” for a cake I was baking.  He put one of the raw eggs in my hard boiled egg crate (on accident) and the joke was on me at lunch a couple of days later.  #lunchfail

If we were having coffee this morning…I would go on and on and on about One Hope wine.  The wine was incredibly tasty and the fact that half of their profits go towards giving back made me love the wine even more.

If we were having coffee this morning….I would tell you all about the One Hope Dinner.  The food was fantastic and we had a great time with our Friends of the Vine wine club.  Such a fun night.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about my newest beauty obsession – Beauty Counter.   It’s kind of hard to not want to get behind a company that simply wants to provide consumers with the safest products possible.  I was blown away with the fact that the European Union has banned/restricted 1,300 ingredients over the past 2 years while the U.S. has only banned 11.  Say what?  We deserve better than that.  One of my friends has recently become a Beauty Counter consultant and I hosted a party on Saturday morning.  We sampled, chatted and sipped mimosas (or lemonade) and it was glorious.  I can’t wait for the products I ordered to arrive!

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about sangria.  After hearing Big Guy request sangria for weeks, we decided to have dueling sangrias on Saturday evening.  The red totally won.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d take a cereal personality quiz together.  I’d have to pick Honey Bunches of Oats.

You strive for balance in all aspects of your life. You’re trying to be healthy, but don’t want to deny yourself something sweet from time to time. Often it’s hard to decide what you want and what you actually need. You work in a creative environment, and occasionally enjoy going to yoga in order to relieve some of your anxiety.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d say that is pretty spot-on.

So tell me – what does your cereal preference say about you?!?