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Y’all, it’s JUNE already, and I can hardly believe how quickly this year is flying by.
How ’bout we check in on those semi-lofty food goals I set back at the beginning of the year to see how I’m doing?
1. Work on incorporating more whole foods in my diet. Status: Getting better.
It’s funny how our bodies react when we REALLY start fueling ourselves with good stuff instead of crap. While I still crave sweets and some junk foods, I’ve made a noticeable effort to eat more veggies and fruit in my day-to-day routine. … However, this is usually shot to pieces on the weekends and/or when I’m traveling, as I tend to consume all the things that I can’t get in my city during those times. (So this coming weekend in New Orleans? Watch out, y’all.)
2. Try 24 new recipes from the various cookbooks (and magazines) I own. Status: Probably already achieved, but I sadly have not been tracking this.
In my kitchen, I do a lot of riffing on recipes I’ve found, and because of this, I’m never 100% sure. Note to self: Keep better notes and records so I can actually say I’ve achieved this goal.
3. Make homemade ice cream. Status: Complete. Made Strawberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream while freelancing for Polka Dot Peacock. Wrote and photographed it… then figured, why the heck shouldn’t I try it out? That was sadly a bad idea because, umm, apparently, dairy and I don’t get along so well these days. And while that makes my heart really, REALLY sad, it makes me even sadder to know I was up all night one evening last week after having consumed the stuff due to an extremely upset stomach.
4. Figure out my taste when it comes to liquor. Status: Working on it.
Winston and I launched The Cocktail Chronicles in January, and we’ve been slowly drinking our way through the book, even though we’ve been a little lackadasical about trying recipes recently due to the craziness of our schedules and a ton of travel. I have no doubt we’ll get back in the swing of things as the summer heats up. (Side note: The Tom Collins is my ABSOLUTE favorite summer drink so far, and it makes me so happy, and I want to drink it on patios all summer long.)
5. Be brave. Status: Definitely doing this.
I’m trying different foods, I’m expirementing (sometimes successfully, other times, not so much), and most importantly, I’m having fun with it.
How are YOU doing on your goals for the new year?
Have you taken a chance to look back and reflect on your year so far?
While I don’t look forward to the sweltering days this Texas summer will no doubt bring, I’m thrilled that it’s the time of the year where I can step outside and be engulfed by the smell of a grill firing up and cooking all kinds of delightful meats and veggies. I’m also thrilled that it’s now acceptable to hang out outdoors for unspecified amounts of time, sipping your summer drink of choice as you hear the ice clinking against the side of your glass.
It’s a fabulous time of year, and this recipe fits right in for the summertime.
This recipe came into existence because I ran out of my favorite Memphis-style dry rub when I hosted Barbecue Week two summers ago.
Needless to say, it was a majorly unfortunate occurrence.
My sister was coming into town that September, and I was excited. This was her first time to stay with us in Baton Rouge, and she and I were planning to drive out to Colorado the following week with all her belongings in her car. (That’s another story all together, but it’s a part of the reason why she came to Louisiana in the first place.)
In celebration of Leigh coming to town, we whipped up some of my hometown favorites, including ribs, pulled pork, slaw and sauce… but I’d run out of the seasoning to pull all the meats together and make them taste good.
What’s a girl to do, living in a city nowhere near Memphis with no hope of finding her favorite dry rub?
She makes it herself.
… It took a LOT of tinkering, and at one point, I was fairly positive Leigh and I were going to clear out our entire spice cabinet, but we came up with this blend of spices to make a delicious and finger-licking good rub to go on all the barbecue that weekend.
Could we talk for just one second about how it’s already JUNE? Where the heck is this year going? What are y’all up to this summer?
After an absolutely bonkers month of May, we’re in town for most of the summer, and I’m really excited to spend this time in our new-ish town, exploring and seeing what’s fun to do here during the sweltering months. Also, I firmly believe I will be finding someone with a pool in the near future since it’s getting to be a bit toasty already!
That being said, here are my snippets for the week, highlighting images and randomness from our trip to Louisiana last weekend for a wedding, then spending the rest of the weekend in town seeing all our friends and family members. It was fabulous, in case you were wondering.
1. Winston and I drove down to Louisiana last weekend for a wedding of friends in his hometown. We had a blast.
2. Lucy came with us, and she thoroughly enjoyed the car ride.
3. I enjoyed the car ride a little less than our enthusiastic pup, so I took some goofy selfies, prettied them up in the A Beautiful Mess app and sent them to my mother and sister. Because that’s how I roll.
4. I spent last Sunday and Monday with my longtime friend and hot date, Em. She and I have been friends since my FRESHMAN year at LSU, which means we’re approaching the 10-year mark in our friendship, which is nuts.
5. We visited some of my favorite Baton Rouge establishments together that Sunday, ended up at the outlets for a 50% off sale at the J.Crew Outlet, then came home to watch baseball with Emily’s boyfriend and his brother. We drank Abita seasonal beer, and we grilled all the good things, including corn, all kinds of veggies, barbecue chicken and BOUDIN! (And lucky for us, Em’s boyfriend is a grillmaster, so the corn and the grill did NOT go up in flames like they have for me in the past.)
6. That evening, we went swimming in their neighbor’s pool after our dinner. We unsuccessfully tried to teach Lucy to swim. And I am convinced that we will one day get her in the water happily because she was SO curious when Dudley, Emily’s 6-month-old GIANT Golden Retriever, was paddling all around the pool. She kept putting her paws on the first step and watching him intently as he happily retrieved all kinds of toys thrown to him.
7. Needless to say, Lucy and Dudley were fast friends. The two of them got into all kinds of trouble together, including wading into the muddy, small pond behind the house and chasing two stray cats all around the yard while almost giving me a heart attack because they almost ran into the road more than once and got attacked by the more-than-a-little-angry kitties. … Clearly, they had a blast.
9. In continuing with the reading theme, could I just say how awesome the Dallas Public Library is? Because it’s fabulous, and I am so glad to have a membership there. It’s making my reading addiction a lot less expensive.
10. I’m finally recovered from all the travel of the month of May, and I am so excited about this summer, my new pair of shoes that were purchased with Swappy in Vegas and the fact that my dog’s hair is growing out from when we had her buzzed a few weeks ago. She looks a lot less goofy now.
That’s all I got for today.
What are YOUR snippets? What’s going on with you this beautiful June afternoon?
Y’all. It’s been an exciting (and exhausting) last month, and as I’m sure you can tell from the sparseness of my posting here, I’ve been a little, ahem, busy.
As a matter of fact, I have been out of town for the last THREE weekends… and some parts of the weeks… and I feel like I’m finally recovering from the craziness.
That being said, we’ve gone to Louisiana twice in the last four weeks for weddings, and then I went to Vegas for #BiSC. (I’ll eventually have a recap once I can wrap my brain around all the things and feelings.)
But today? Today, I’m sharing some snippets from our most recent New Orleans trip, which we took to celebrate the wedding of our friends, Jay and Ali.
Our trip got off to a stressful start, so we kicked things off with a beer and some chips at the airport once we were past security. After dealing with last minute household repairs and fearing that I wouldn’t be able to make the trip, it was fabulous to be on our way and good to go. (First aside: Household repairs of any kind are miserable, but fixing a backed up pipe after it floods your laundry room with dirty dish water? Not the most fun way to start a Friday morning. Thank goodness for our home warranty and them pushing the request through and the plumbers being on the spot and arriving five hours early to make it so I was able to go to New Orleans instead of staying in Dallas to complete house repairs.)
The weather was bad in Louisiana, so we were late leaving Dallas, and Winston actually missed the rehearsal. (Oops. Lucky for everyone, Winston knows the drill, as he’s been in about a MILLION weddings at this point.) When we finally arrived in New Orleans, we headed to our hotel, changed our clothes, and headed to the rehearsal dinner, where we drank cocktails, mingled with friends who we hadn’t seen in months, and then migrated into a fabulous dining room for dinner. I chose the steak, which was good, but the fish Winston ordered was better. And then when toasts began, we were offered the best bread pudding of my life. I don’t say that lightly, y’all. It was really that good and rich… and as a fervent dessert lover, I had trouble finishing the dish because it was just that decadent.
Muriel’s has it going on, even if they ARE haunted, and I randomly remembered walking into the restaurant a long time ago on a ghost tour of the city with my family. (SO random, I know, but the restaurant sets a table for the spirits nightly to welcome them, and we walked by that display on our way to the cocktail hour and rehearsal dinner.)
The next day, Winston headed out with the guys for a day of fun, and I met up with Katherine and Grant for breakfast. I hadn’t seem Katherine since our move to Texas, so we had a lot of catching up to do, and when she recommended Elizabeth’s, the birthplace of Praline Bacon, I knew we had to go there.
Katherine and I both ended up ordering the Crabby Eggs special, which was a riff on Eggs Benedict. Instead of an English Muffin, the poached eggs and hollandaise were placed atop crab cakes… and they were wonderful and something I would love to recreate at home, but I haven’t had much luck making crab cakes in the past. (Maybe this should be a goal for the summertime? Hmm. Any advice, y’all?)
The three of us split an order of Praline Bacon, and I cannot say enough about it, y’all. It was sweet and salty and delicious, though I cannot imagine eating the four slice side on my own. (Hi, sugar shock!)
Katherine and Grant dropped me back off at my hotel after a fabulous breakfast, and I was sad to see them go, as we’d had a lovely time chatting and hanging out and eating — three of my favorite things. However, while we had been dining, I heard from two Baton Rouge friends, saying they were headed to the Big Easy for the day since they didn’t have anything going on in BR, and we were to meet up for drinks once they arrived.
Our first stop was the Napoleon House, a charming little restaurant and bar I’d walked past multiple times, but never visited. After the initial squeeing, we sat down at a courtyard table and promptly ordered a round of Pimm’s Cups for the table. Because that’s what you do. And because they’re summery and light and tasty.
And then, we headed to Bourbon House, where Erica introduced me to Bourbon Milk Punch, which is basically a bourbon milkshake… so incredibly dangerous should you have multiple drinks, but so incredibly delicious at the same time.
We even managed to take some photos of ourselves during our outing at the Bourbon House. Win!
From there, we went our separate ways, sadly, as I needed to get ready for the wedding, but I cherished my time visiting with my Baton Rouge and New Orleans girls, so happy we were able to pull things together last minute.
An hour and a half later, I met up with my in-laws for a drink at Lüke. Shortly thereafter, we headed to the wedding, then the reception, and we danced the night away.
The next day was Mother’s Day, and we reserved a spot at Red Gravy for brunch with Winston’s parents. This is yet another place I’d walked by several times during my stays in the Big Easy, but I had never gone in, and I was excited to give it a shot, especially after the reviews Winston and I read.
Red Gravy offered both savory and sweet brunch items, and I decided upon the Shrimp and Grits, something I absolutely adore but cannot seem to find in Dallas, and though the shrimp were incredibly hard to peel in the grits, the meal was worth it. The shrimp were well-seasoned. The grits had great flavor. And we finished off our Mother’s Day brunch with desserts because WHY NOT?
We had a lovely time with Winston’s parents on Sunday morning, and they dropped us at the airport on their way out of town.
It was a crazy weekend, but I am so thankful it worked out for us, and I cannot wait to go back in the middle of June to celebrate another wedding of close friends. And y’all had better believe I’ll be documenting that trip, too!
What have you done this past month? Have you been as crazy as I have?
[Updated 5/29/13: Comments have been closed, and a winner has been e-mailed. Thanks to everyone for entering this giveaway!]
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that as a food blogger and constant baker, I really like sweet things. (Hi, check out the ‘Desserts’ section of my Recipe Box. GOODNESS.)
It also isn’t far off to say I might have a sugar problem.
And, more than that, I might have an emotional attachment to sugar because I tend to bake whenever I’m stressed. Or angry. Or happy. Or think I deserve something. (And let’s be real: I deserve ALL THE THINGS when I am stressed/angry/happy.)
After watching a few documentaries on sugar and the effect it has on our bodies, I’ve decided I want to reduce my sugar intake. I don’t want to stop eating sugar all out, but I want to be conscientious about it.
But the question is how do I do this effectively, and that’s stumped me for a while.
Enter Nicole, one of my beautiful and long-time blog friends. She’s incredible, she’s running all kinds of races, she’s shattering personal goals and helping others do the same, she’s changing her own story… and she quit sugar.
Yes, she quit sugar.
And during the month of June, she is helping others who want to cut back on (and/or QUIT) their sugar intake her new program called the 30-Day Sugar Detox. It begins June 1 and runs through the entire month.
In her own words: “In sum, I help real people detox from sugar – physically, yes, but more than anything this is an emotional detox – to ensure that you can change your relationship with sugar for good.”
… And I could not be more excited/scared to dive into this, y’all.
When I was out in L.A. for Ragnar last month, Nicole and I got to talking about sugar and this new program she was finalizing. And I told her that I’d love to contribute a sugar-free recipe to it because that would be fun for me. Because I love cooking, and because I like to think of fun new ways to make my favorite things.
I got a little out of control during my brainstorming and creating dishes for this program, and turns out, Nicole is sharing not one, but TWO of my recipe for the Sugar Detox, and I cannot wait for y’all to see them as a part of this month of positive change.
And I am thrilled to announce that, thanks to Nicole, I have one spot in this program to give away to a lucky reader!
How to Enter
Simply leave a comment on this post letting me know why you’re interested in this program. Are you interested on cutting back your intake? Are you like me, and do you suspect that you have a sugar problem? Do you want to experiment by consuming less sugar? Do you want to kick your sugar habit once and for all?
For an extra entry, tweet about this contest and link back to this post. You can say something like: “Visit @speckledpalate to enter to win a spot in @nicolelessBS’s 30-Day Sugar Detox! http://www.thespeckledpalate.com/2013/05/24/giveaway-nicole-antoinettes-30-day-sugar-detox/” (Just be sure to shrink the URL AND link to both Nicole and me so we can see your Tweet!)
The contest begins today and will be open through 11:59 p.m. CST on Tues., May 28, 2013 . At that time, comments will be closed and no more entries will be accepted.
Once the winner has been chosen, they will be contacted the following morning, Wed., May 29, 2013, by e-mail, and we will work together with Nicole to get you signed up for the program.
The Fine Print: I received a free spot in Nicole’s 30-Day Sugar Detox because I provided two recipes for the program. However, I was not paid for this post or paid to develop the recipes for Nicole. All opinions are my own. Nicole Antoinette is providing the free spot in the month-long program.
Not that I have to have cookies to live or anything… but I just really and thoroughly enjoy a good, home-baked (or small bakery-baked) cookie. They are certainly one of my favorite things, and we might have consumed the final cookies from this batch last night while watching our regular Sunday night television shows.
YOU GUYS. I hadn’t tried rainbow chard until, umm, a month ago, and I’m wondering where the heck it has been my ENTIRE life and why 2013 has been the year of me discovering new vegetables.
Yes, I like it that much.
Yes, I’m trying to eat all I can before it goes out of season in Texas. (Which should be soon-ish, assuming the cold front that came through yesterday and gave me a headache is the last one of the season… even though I’d like for the chillier weather to stick around for a bit longer.)
And yes, I realize I’m being a bit ridiculous.
But it’s just so good.
Our CSA bag has been full of leafy greens and scallions recently, so this recipe is my attempt to use some of the goodness we received this week.
This recipe isn’t a fancy one, by any means, but it’s fabulous, delicious and filling.
In fact, we ate a substantial portion of it last night for dinner… and we were beyond happy with the way this frittata turned out.
Last year, y’all might recall how I may (or may not) have purchased, umm, several flats of strawberries and basically gorgedmyself on the fruitlastspring.
In case you didn’t know it, newsflash: I freaking LOVE strawberries.
As evidenced by last year’s craziness, I enjoy them with most things. I like them by themselves. I like them in baking. I like them in salads. Heck, I eat them most mornings for breakfast in my daily smoothie.
The time has come again for strawberries this year, and I am so thrilled to finally share this recipe with y’all. It’s one that I adapted last year in Baton Rouge, and it is working like a charm on those locally grown berries we’ve been getting in our weekly baskets.
This syrup is sweet — but not so sweet — and it’s good on many things, including bread and ice cream and pretty much anything in between that needs a healthy dose of strawberry-ness in it.
Instead of focusing in on one meal in particular during my Southern California trip, I decided quickly that I needed to basically share everything I ate because it was ALL amazing.
I consider myself so lucky to have been able to take this trip in the first place… and all the incredible food I got to eat during my time out there was basically like a huge, delightful cherry on top of an already amazing sundae. (Y’all get what I’m saying, right?)
So let’s begin, shall we?
Once I arrived in town on Thursday morning, Nicole, Doni and I co-worked from Nicole’s kitchen table until it was lunchtime. And then she took us to her favorite restaurant, Cafe Gratitude in Venice.
We started off with the I Am Comforted (baked rosemary yams with a mint coconut dipping sauce). I ate the I Am Awesome as my meal, which was Eggplant Parmesan on grilled panni bread with marinara, cashew ricotta, heirloom tomatoes, arugula and basil… and hemp seed pesto (!!!). And then Nicole treated us to a sweet treat after — the I Am Kind Quinoa Crispy Treats… a wonderful sweet that I’m going to have to find a way to recreate in my own kitchen.
All in all, a delightful vegan meal to start the trip off right!
Then we all ran the Ragnar and ate nothing but apples, bananas, nut butter and trail mix for, umm, 37 hours straight.
But the morning after we crossed that finish line?
#smugbrunch happened at The Lobby. (It’s now officially a thing. And those sunny side up eggs with a whole freakin’ loaf of bread, homefries AND bacon were basically the best thing ever after Ragnar.)
We came back to L.A. that Sunday, and I headed on over to the center of the city to hang out and stay with one of Nashville friends, Sarah.
Sarah wanted to know if I was an adventurous eater… and I said I’d give anything a go. After discussing dinner options with her boyfriend, Cary, and their friend, Mike, a decision was made, and we headed out to Sugarfish in Beverly Hills. I ordered the Trust Me… and I will never look at sushi the same way again.
It was that good.
We ended our Beverly Hills culinary evening at The Ice Cream Lab, which is owned by some of Sarah and Cary’s friends from college.
… And if there were a way for me to eat ice cream from The Ice Cream Lab daily without having a horrible adverse affect on my health, I’d totally do it. This ice cream was phenominal, and my personal favorite flavor was The Salt Lick, which was a combination of caramel, pretzels and sea salt.
So delicious, y’all.
The next day, I went exploring by myself sans car. (This is apparently really challenging in L.A., but I lucked out and was staying within walking distance of so many incredible places that it wasn’t an issue for me.)
I ended up at The Original Farmers Market for lunch… and I had a Nutella Crepe from The French Crepe Co., realizing very quickly that I was the only person in the place who ordered something decadent, then shrugging it off, justifying my sugary lunch choice with the fact that I’d run about 20 miles in the previous two days.
I moseyed on over to The Grove after enjoying my meal, and there, I went window shopping and saw A.C. Slater, my first official celebrity sighting!
I also walked over to the LACMA and spent, oh, five hours in the museum. Three were spent in the Stanley Kubrick special exhibit, and if you live in the L.A. area, I insist that you go check it out if you haven’t already.
… Hi, I’m an art nerd.
You shouldn’t be surprised by this at all.
That evening, Cary, Sarah and I drove downtown to Botegga Louie, another one of their favorite restaurants, for some delightful Italian cuisine.
We started off by ordering a few sides: the Brussels Sprouts and Pistachios (OH SO GOOD!), the Burrata and Roasted Vine Tomatoes (which came with a delicious pesto sauce, too!), the Tomato Soup (delicious!) and the Mediterranean Mussels (I’m not much of a fan of these… so I didn’t try them, but Cary enjoyed the dish!)
Then for our meal, we had the Caesar Salad, the Tagliatelle Bolognese (reminiscent of my time in Italia!) and the Artichoke Pizza, topped with roasted artichokes, chèvre, mozzarella, tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, Italian parsley, fleur de sel and extra virgin olive oil.
I sipped on a Ward 8 specialty cocktail, which combined rye whiskey, lemon juice, orange juice, grenadine, club soda and mint leaves. I don’t know what my deal has been recently, but I’m into whiskey. A LOT. And this drink was a perfect balance with the whiskey and the other ingredients, none overwhelming the overall flavor, and I tried to savor it.
And then we stopped by the dessert counter on our way out, grabbing a few different treats that looked too good to pass up.
The next morning, I had a solo breakfast at Breadbar while I was waiting for the mall, then the Annenburg Space for Photography to open. Little did I know that the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays… and I disappointingly started walking back to Sarah’s place when she and I decided to have a lunch together.
(Sidenote: The next time I am in L.A., I am going to that museum, and I am going to geek out so hard it’s going to be incredible.)
Sarah directed me to Greenleaf Chop Shop near her office, and we both ordered the Antioxidant Orchard salads, which are chock full of fruit and leafy greens.
The salad was much needed after the heavier food we’d eaten during the previous two days, and I was inspired in that moment to make a funky salad dressing featuring a fruit (perhaps raspberry?) to go on top of some of my homemade salads this spring and summer.
My friend Laura came and picked me up on her way home from work, and we grabbed some drinks at the Culver Hotel in Culver City before my sunset running photoshoot with Nicole.
While we were sipping our chardonnay and enjoying some spinach-artichoke dip, Laura and I caught up… and she taught me the history of the hotel, which is apparently where the munchkins from The Wizard of Oz stayed while the movie was being filmed way back when.
And then after our shoot that evening, Nicole and I stopped by Tender Greens to grab dinner. She had the arugula salad and a side of their fabulous whipped mashed potatoes while I got the special of the evening — pork ragu with potato gnocchi and asparagus with a side salad.
We had a fabulous time. Fabulous. (And then I met up with Angela, visited a crazy/cool speakeasy that’s hidden behind a barber shop in her neighborhood, then headed back to L.A. to hang out with Nico and Patrick… and ended up at a 24-hour diner called Canter’s to cap off the trip.)
Needless to say, not only was the food I ate while visiting California pretty fantastic, but the company made it all the better. And I cannot wait to go back to try some different places and see more friends!
Hello! My name is Erin. I'm the head cook and baker around these parts. I enjoy a nice iced latte in the morning. I carry my camera around with me at all times. And I am fascinated with capturing life as it is.