Paloma with Salty Habanero Sugar {thirsty thursday}


So let’s have a cocktail.  But not just any cocktail.  I deem this the best paloma I’ve ever had.

Yes, yes I do.

The difference between a paloma and a margarita is the lack of Grand Marnier in a paloma.  Which is probably why I’m voting paloma > margarita.

The key to the best paloma ever is a.) fresh grapefruit juice and b.) grapefruit-lime syrup.  Oh, and a side of the best guacamole ever doesn’t hurt either.

I mixed some of the habanero sugar we brought back from a spice shop in Asheville with a little salt for my glass rim.  But you can totally follow Jessica’s lead with the salty chili sugar and it will be equally delicious.


These are dangerous.  AKA – you can’t taste the tequila.




Clementine French 75

Bright and sunny.

Two words that describe not only the GORGEOUS weather we’re having right now (it’s a tease…I have a bad feeling) but also describe this twist on a classic.

I had my first French 75 probably about two years ago and it was love at first sight.  It’s by far my favorite bubbles cocktail and I couldn’t resist trying clementines instead of lemons.


To make one cocktail, place 1 ounce simple syrup (equal amount sugar and water), 1/2 ounce Hendrick’s gin and 1 ounce clementine juice with ice in a cocktail shaker.  Shake, shake, shake. Pour into a champagne flute or white wine glass and top with bubbles!

I used 1/2 an ounce of gin versus 1 ounce because it can sneak up on you!  Not that I know from experience.

Happy March (which means Spring is juuuust around the corner)!

Friday Favorites

After a long week without Big Guy, I’m more than excited to get to Friday.  We don’t have anything crazy on the agenda – good food, lots of laugh, delicious wine and a lunch dates on Saturday and Sunday.  This weekend is truly about rest and relaxation.  The best way to spend our last weekend in February.  Here are my favorites from the week…


Favorite Combo:  Peanut Butter & Jelly Brownies.   We all know PB and J were went for each other.  But PB & J & brownies?  Yes, just yes.


Favorite Morning:  Homemade Roasted Veggie Cream Cheese.  I adore bagels and cream cheese.  And I rarely eat them.  So now I want one.  With this cream cheese and smoked salmon.


Favorite Real Estate:  A Hudson Valley Farmhouse to Die For.  I can’t tell you how long it took me to pick the picture I was going to use.  The views from this house are amazing.  But I’m most obsessed with the above backyard and the front porch.

HyperFocal: 0

Favorite Remix:  Chicken Parmesan Meatballs. Three words:  stuffed. with. mozzarella.


Favorite Totally Happening:  Chocolate Chip Banana Scones.  Like today.  And I may add in some nuts, too.


Favorite Day Dream:  New Orleans.  The plane tickets have been purchased, the hotel is booked and I’ve made reservations at some amazing restaurants.


Favorite Slice of Comfort:  Chicken Pot Pie Pizza.  This pizza combines one of my childhood favorites (chicken pot pie) with one of my current favorites (pizza – especially on Sunday).


Favorite Mix and Match:  I love this room.  So much character and I love the mix of modern and traditional.  Oh, and I adore all the natural sunlight.


Favorite Sauce:  Chicken Sandwiches with Dill and Garlic Aioli.  I’ve been craving a seriously amazing sandwich lately.  Especially one with a sauce filled with dill and chives.  The bacon and avocado only increase my craving.


Favorite With a Twist:  Clementine French 75. Extra boozy, extra bright.  And since I have all the ingredients on-hand, these are happening tomorrow.



Friday Favorites

The weekend of “love” is here.  I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.  In fact, I used to call it “gag” day.  But now that I’m in love, I’m not quite as negative.  But in reality, I’d rather be shown love all year round.  I also feel bad for some guys – expectations are set so high on Valentine’s Day.  My only expectation is to pop open a bottle of bubbly and eat some delicious food.  (Big Guy, you’re such a lucky guy.)

Now that I work in the “restaurant world,” Valentine’s Day weekend has a whole new meaning.  We’ve been booked for two weeks solid so I’m actually having to work on Saturday night.  But like I said yesterday, Sunday is going to be MY day.

I hope that you have a lovely weekend full of all things love.  But let’s not set our expectations too high, ummmkay?


Favorite At-Home Date:  Spicy Walnut Pasta. If you don’t have plans this weekend, why not whip up this pasta dish?  The flavors sound amazing and all that’s missing is a bottle of wine.


Favorite Entertaining:  Slow Cooker Carnitas Taco Bites.  I love entertaining with Mexican food.  And these little hand-held bites of deliciousness would be perfect with a pitcher of margaritas.


Favorite Obsession:  Lemon Truffle Cookies.  Lemons.  They’re so versatile.  And I love them.  And now I want to use lemons to make cookies and them dip them in chocolate.


Favorite Southern:  Pecan Fried Chicken Sandwich with Collard Green Slaw.  So this has my husband written all over it.  $10 says he’ll mention this tonight when he gets home from Texas.


Favorite Break the Fast:  Fluffy Coconut Flour Waffles with a Simple Berry Compote.  Now I’m torn on what we should have for breakfast on Sunday.


Favorite Crispy:  Honey Garlic Beef. I need this in my life.  Or at least on my plate.


Favorite Chocolate: Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies.  About 99% of the population will be eating chocolate this weekend and I’m fairly certain about 99% of women would adore these brownies.


Favorite Comfort:  Citrus-Braised Lamb Shanks.   Like a warm, cozy blanket.


Favorite Flavor and Texture:  Classic Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk and Ginger Cookies.  There is nothing better than a chewy cookie (or a fudgy brownie).  And I love, love, love the added texture with the oats.  And ginger.  Oh-em-gee.  Ginger!  And chocolate.


Favorite Everything:  Rosé Champagne Mojitos. I was so close to having one Friday Favorite this week.  And this is it.  This cocktail is everything.  And this cocktail will be happening as soon as it gets warmer outside.  The champagne simple syrup may be happening a lot sooner than that.


Cheers to LOVE!

Friday Favorites

Well, well, well…Our first Friday in February.  The shortest month of the year.  And if it goes by as fast as January did, we’ll be entering into Spring in no time (heck yes).  I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend.  My weekend is a mix of work and play – date night tonight, working a wedding on Saturday and then there’s a bottle of bubbles with my name on it for Super Bowl Sunday.  #sundayfunday  And no, I still have no idea what our menu is – thanks for asking!

Here are my favorites from around the WWW for the week:


Favorite Crunch:  Cheddar Chive Crackers.  Cheesy carbs are my love language.  How fun would these be on a cheese plate?


Favorite Stuffed:  Peanut Butter Pretzels with Peanut Butter Ganache Filling.  I had not even considered making something sweet for Sunday.  Until now.  Because peanut butter + chocolate + pretzels equals the best idea ever.


Favorite Update:  The Dreaded “Boob” Light.  LOL.  We totally have a few of those.  And it didn’t bother me until now.  Erin featured some “affordable” options but I totally would rather have “fancy.”  I’m obsessing over #2, #8, #18.


Favorite Mini:  Baby Blooming Onions.  Bite-sized deliciously crispy onions. Aren’t they adorable?


Favorite DIY:  How to Make an Edible Football Stadium.  I couldn’t help myself.


Favorite Comfort:  Creamy Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese.  What is it with carbs and cheese? I want to dive in fork-first.


Favorite Dip:  Hot Bacon Cherry Pepper Hummus with Pizza Pita Chips.  Trashed up hummus?  I’m in.


Favorite Inspiration:  Artist Karin Olah.  So there is a funky little place in Raleigh called Furbish.  I get their e-blasts and this week she had a pop-up shot with this artist.  She had sold out by early afternoon but the coolest part of the painting is that she incurorates vintage fabrics into the works of art.


Favorite Simple Dinner:  Orange Marmalade Skillet Roasted Chicken Breasts.  I adore citrus and this would be a fantastic weeknight dinner.


Favorite Super Bowl Sunday:  Carolina Panther Blue Cocktail.  No explanation needed.


Go Panthers!

p.s. I will be watching – my Dad and brothers are in the stands!!!



Friday Favorites

Hello, Friday!  I actually have the day off (well, minus a few texts and minor things I’ll need to handle throughout the day) so I’m kicking off the weekend with a workout, lots of coffee and a massage (um, there is a knot in my back that is literally about to make me cry) before having lunch with a friend.  I’m also looking forward to Big Guy coming home after another long week in Cali.  I’m not sure what’s on the agenda for the weekend except for this:  a car wash.  Holy moly.  Between the snow and the salt and everything in between, my car is straight up nasty.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend (the weather here is going to be amazeballs) and I’ll see ya Monday!


Favorite Brunch:  Cheesy French Toast.  Cheese.  Cheese.  And more cheese.  That little cheese “crisp” on the right side is killing me right now.



Favorite Comfort Food:  Baked Short Rib Manicotti.  Cheese + Carbs = Life.  Apparently I’m really craving cheese.



Favorite Lunch:  Asian Chopped Salad with Sesame Soy Vinaigrette (in a jar).  The perfect packable lunch.



Favorite Unexpected:  Black and White Nursery.  And no, I’m not expecting.  But I’ve never considered a black and white nursery.  Until now.



Favorite Craving:  BBQ Havarti Burgers with Sweet Potato Curly Fries.   I forgot to mention we’re planning to have burgers on Sunday for dinner.  With a side of Grease LIVE!  Oh, and probably a side of curly fries.



Favorite HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAGGIE:  Everybody’s Birthday Cake.  My sister’s birthday is on Sunday and I really, really wish we could spend the weekend together.  But we can’t.  But if we were together, I would totally make her this cake.


Photo by Amy Bartlam

Favorite Day Dream:  What’s Gaby Cooking Home Office.  Now that I work from home a day or two a week, I’m dreaming of having my own little space.  It’s simple yet fresh and bright.



Favorite Super Bowl Sunday:  Best Beef Chili.  The Panthers are in the Super Bowl, so there’s no way I won’t be watching.  At least until halftime.  Because, let’s be real – 4:17am isn’t fun on Monday if I stay up for the whole game.  So now I need to make the Super Bowl fun…with FOOD.



Favorite Handheld:  BBQ Pulled Pork Pop Tarts.  I can’t help myself.  So many decisions to make before Super Bowl Sunday.



Favorite Cheers:  Mambo Taxi.  A margarita hugged in a sangria swirl.  I want that kind of hug.


Friday Favorites

Guess what?  I finally finished that book I’ve been reading for months.  The book could have been about 100 pages shorter – the end was fantastic but a lot of the middle was unnecessary (in my opinion).  Just thought y’all might like that update.

Back to the whole “Friday” thing.  This weekend has been a long time coming.  Oh, there’s nothing special planned – except a lot of time with Big Guy and wine and cooking and if it really does snow, more wine.  This weekend is all about relaxing.  We’re running on fumes after a crazy busy start to 2016 but hopefully this weekend will recharge us and get us ready to tackle the rest of January.  Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope you make this a wonderful weekend.


Favorite Cozy:  White Bean Soup with Crumbled Bacon and Spiced Brown Butter.   I want to dive head first into that bowl of yumminess.


Favorite Flavors:  Salt and Vinegar Chocolate Tart. I’m obsessed with salt and vinegar chips and I am even more intrigued by this sweet, tart and salty dessert.


Favorite DIY:  25+ Creative Ways to Repurpose Old Kitchen Stuff.  Some of the ideas are super fun while others would probably turn into a “pinterest fail.”


Favorite Slice:  Kale Pesto Pizza.  Obviously basil isn’t growing in our yard currently.  I love the kale + pecan combo for the pesto.


Favorite Inspiration:  Toast 12 Ways.    The cinnamon roll toast is totally happening.


Favorite Read:  Saving Grace by Jane Green.  I think I’ll purchase this for my Nook today.  It’s weird, I hate my Nook in the summer but love it in the winter for reading in bed.


Favorite Crave:  Jerusalem Hummus.    Yesterday morning while I was at the grocery store, I wheeled past the hummus but none of the flavors caught my eye.  Now I want hummus and I don’t have any.


Favorite Simple:  Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Chicken.    The perfect weeknight dinner.


Favorite Superbowl:  Crispy Baked Hot Wings with Mustard Dipping Sauce.   Let’s be honest, the game is more about the food than the game for me so I’m already brainstorming a menu.


Favorite High Maintenance:  Boozy Clementine Lemonade with Brûléed Citrus and Mint.  My kind of cocktail.