Thursday, May 25, 2017

Grilled Artichokes with Garlic and Lemon Aioli

Grilling season is upon us and I couldn’t be more thrilled. And with Memorial day right around the corner, I thought this recipe seemed fitting. (For more Memorial Day recipes ideas, check out a previous post here.) Dinner around our house if often prepared on the grill year-round, but it always seems more enticing when Spring is in the air and meals can be enjoyed outdoors. Whit and I decided to have a dinner date at the house a few weekends ago and although we planned a meat and potatoes kind of meal, we decided to mix things up with grilled artichokes. Let me start by saying — I love artichokes! But to be completely honest, I've only ever purchased the marinated ones in the jar to add to my salads. Neither Whit nor I had ever prepared fresh ones, but we welcomed the cooking challenge and were pleasantly surprised with the results. Not only were they pretty, but they also tasted great. The only disappointment was the small portion of what is actually edible. 

We thought buying the biggest ones in the store was a good idea, but in actuality, it just took a little longer to cook them. So keep cooking time in mind when selecting your produce.
Here's what they look like after a little hot water bath.
Cut them open length wise and discard of the fuzzy insides. Sounds gross, I know.
Generously coat them with the olive oil mixture and then they are ready for the grill!
Cook them just long enough to get grill marks on each side and serve!
Grilled Artichokes + Lemon Garlic Aioli
Ingredients
2 large artichokes
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
2 lemons
¼ cup of olive oil
4 cloves of minced garlic
Teaspoon of dry white wine
1/3 cup of mayonnaise (can substitute greek yogurt)

Instructions
1.     Preparing the artichokes by pulling off a few of the tough outer leaves. Snip any pointy tops and discard.
2.     Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding a dash of salt.
3.     Zest one of the lemons and set the zest aside. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze into the pot of boiling water, adding in the halves along with the artichokes. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid.
4.     In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper. Reserve 1 Tbs.
5.     After about 15 minutes, check for doneness by pulling on one of the artichoke’s outer leaves–if it comes off easily, they are done. Remove artichokes to a cutting board and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, cut artichokes in half lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scoop out the fuzzy insides and discard.
6.     Preheat grill to high heat.
7.     Brush the artichoke halves with the olive oil mixture
8.     Place the artichokes on the grill or grill pan and cook until grill marks appear, flipping them to cook on both sides.
9.     While the artichokes are cooking, in a small dish, combine the reserved olive oil mixture with the mayonnaise, juice of the second lemon and white wine to make the aioli. Add more mayo if it's too watery. 
10. Once grill marks are on both sides of the artichokes, remove from the grill, place on a platter and serve with aioli dipping sauce on the side.
·        Only the white tender ends of the leaves are meant to be eaten.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Life Lately | April: Get Over It

The month of April not only brought warmer weather, but also several fun activities. I started the month off by taking part in the Cooper River Bridge Run. My goal was to run as far as I could without stopping, knowing that I would most likely have to walk up the incline. I'm pleased to say that I ended up running the entire race without stopping, finishing in 61 minutes and 40 seconds. This may not sound great, but it was a huge accomplishment for someone like me who doesn't run much.
We rewarded ourselves at the Bay Street Biergarten after party.
My in-laws came in town for a short visit  one weekend. We enjoyed a delicious brunch at Lokal Seabar — a scenic spot located at Bohicket Marina. The crab cake benedict is definitely the way to go! The combination of fried green tomatoes and lemon hollandaise sauce are great additions to this savory brunch favorite.
Wine always tastes better when it's for a good cause. My girlfriends and I attended a fundraiser in support of Darkness to Light. Avondale Wine & Cheese donated a portion of their wine sales for the evening and we were happy to support the cause!
Whit and I took a quick road trip to Jacksonville, Florida for our friend's wedding. The venue was absolutely stunning, as was the bride.
It was just a tad bit windy.
Easter celebrations began early with our annual brunch and egg hunt at the office. 
I had bagels from Blondies for the first time and now I can't stop thinking about them. Their homemade sun-dried tomato cream cheese is a game changer.
Easter Sunday was spent at home with my family. Poor Whit was hit hard with a stomach bug and missed out on most of the day.
My sweet, adorable little nephew turned one (in March) and I couldn't wait to see his sweet little face dig into his first smash cake! Megan did such an awesome job putting together all the little details of his Peter Rabbit themed party. 
I went to dinner with coworkers at The Grocery, which never disappoints. We're all very much into sharing, so it's no surprise that we tried what seemed like almost one of everything. My favorites, the beef short rib and their house-made toffee shortbread ice cream. Wow!
Escapada Living hosted the Charleston Blog Society for a beautiful private shopping event. They have the most vibrant and colorful resort wear. The store's atmosphere screams tropical vacation. I left with a few pretty new things that I will be sharing soon.
I traveled to the King of Prussia mall in Philadelphia for work and could hardly contain myself. Featuring a diverse mix of over 400 stores, I was in retail heaven. I manged to find a little bit of time to do some shopping and left with some cute things. But the main reason I was there was to assist with the grand opening of our newest Boutique! It turned out to be such a beautiful store.
 I had the pleasure of meeting the blogger behind Baking a Moment.
 I also had my first sushi burrito from Hai Street Kitchen while I was there. 
And I obviously had to take advantage of the fact there was a Shake Shack. What do we have to do to get one of these in Charleston? After a quick trip, I was back in South Carolina in less than 48 hours. 
My mom and I have a annual tradition of planting Spring flowers at my house. She comes because I have no clue what I'm doing. It's so nice to spend quality time together and my yard also looks great- a win win! How pretty are these hydrangeas?!
I was so happy to spend the last weekend of April in Charleston. It seems weekends at home are few and far between, so I enjoy every minute of them when I get the chance. You can read more about how I spent my time enjoying this beautiful city that I'm lucky enough to call home, here



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mother's Day Dessert | Strawberry Cheesecake Bars with Golden Oreos

I shared the recipe for these strawberry cheesecake bars two years ago, and they were too good not to make a reappearance, and just in time for Mother's Day. A crowd pleaser and easy to make, these sweet treats are perfect bite sized dessert. Dessert is typically not a high priority for me, however there are a few exceptions. Cheesecake is one of them. So if you're looking for something simple and delicious to add to your table for Mother's Day, or any day really, I highly recommend these little squares of cheesecake heaven. 
If strawberries aren't your thing, I'm sure these would be just as good with a substitute fruit such as blueberries or raspberries. Personally I'm a huge fan of strawberries and love to incorporate them in desserts any chance I get.


What are some of your favorite desserts to make for Mother's Day?


Strawberry Cheesecake Bars with Golden Oreos
INGREDIENTS  (Makes 24 Bars)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 package of golden Oreos, divided
1 ¼ cup strawberries, diced
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of water
2 teaspoons of lime juice
½ teaspoon cornstarch
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg 
INSTRUCTIONS
1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.       Place approximately 20 of the golden Oreos in a food processor and blend until crumbs form.
3.       Slowly pour the melted butter in with the Oreo crumbs and pulse until mixed well.
4.       Remove crumbs from the food processor and press into an 11 inch square baking pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and let cool.
5.       Place diced strawberries in saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water and one tablespoon of sugar.
6.       Bring the strawberries to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until soft, stirring frequently.
7.       Combine lime juice and cornstarch into a mixture. Add to the strawberries, simmering for another minute until thickened.
8.       Pour strawberry mixture into the food processor and pulse until smooth. Place into a bowl and set aside.
9.       Place softened cream cheese, yogurt, 1/3 cup of sugar, vanilla, and egg into the food processor and pulse until combined.
10.   Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the Oreo crust.
11.   Next, carefully spread the strawberry mixture on top of the cream cheese layer.
12.   Bake at 325 for 35 minutes or until done.
13.   Remove from oven and let cool.
14.   Crush remaining Oreos into pieces and lightly press into the bars.
15.   Refrigerate for at least  3 hours before slicing and serving.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

10 Guacamole Recipes Perfect for Cinco de Mayo

What’s a Cinco de Mayo celebration without guacamole?! Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite celebrations because it’s so colorful and festive and it’s also an excuse to indulge in Mexican food. Give me all the chips, salsa, queso and guac!

Today I’ve rounded up ten guacamole recipes that are sure to wow a crowd. The good news, you don’t have to wait until May 5th just to make them! These recipes would make perfect appetizers for any party. So step your guacamole up a notch with some of these unique spins on the class dip! For more of my favorite Cinco de Mayo inspired recipes, check out my post from last year, here. What are some of your favorite Mexican inspired recipes?

Loaded Guacamole 
Roasted Chili Pepper Guacamole  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Weekends in Charleston

It was so nice to enjoy some time in Charleston this past weekend. The weekend before last I was in Philadelphia for work so there was no downtime when I got back. Needless to say, I was ready for the weekend well before it arrived. It was nice to stay put and enjoy some time outside. We had such beautiful weather!

I ventured out of the office for lunch on Friday with a group of co-workers. The views at Ellis Creek Fish Camp + a side of shrimp tacos was the perfect segue into the weekend. I’m looking forward to another visit after work hours so I can enjoy a class of their frosé.
Sweet friends of ours came in town for the evening on Friday. We enjoyed a nice little backyard happy hour and a casual dinner with lots of catching up. 
A day of peace and quiet and lounging by the pool was the perfect way to decompress on Saturday.
Whit and I enjoyed a long overdue date night at Indaco. The chef’s table is the way to go when it comes to seating. I love watching all the different dishes coming out of the kitchen. It’s the best to way to help you decide what to order, however I couldn’t resist getting the same thing I get every time we eat there. The black pepper tagliatelle is so good!
We saved just enough room for dessert at Jeni’s Ice-cream
We ended the weekend with a little Sunday Funday boat cruise to Capers Island. The views of Charleston never get old, especially the ones by water. 
Now if I can just make it through the rest of the work week!

Outfit Details

Photo 3: pink tassel earrings, navy top- similar here, here and here