N.C. One Bite at a Time (Part 17)

Time has really flown around here. It’s been almost 6 months since I’ve posted an N.C. One Bite at a Time! Although I have been traveling here and there and there are still plenty of Triangle spots on my list, I have had the chance to try a few new places.

Carroll’s Kitchencarroll's kitchen

Finally, I was downtown during breakfast so I could try some tasty bites from this awesome little deli that supports homeless women in Raleigh. The food is so good, too! I got an amazing cinnamon sugar pop tart and a spinach feta kolache.

Bond Brothers Beer Companybond brothers beer

Bond Brothers is relatively new to the beer scene in the area, but it has certainly made a name for itself. The IPAs are on point, and the sours are super tasty, too. They also have a nice patio section.

Loafloaf durham

Recently when in Durham, I stopped by Loaf to grab some baked goods. The thin, crispy chocolate chip cookies were a treat and made the perfect sandwich for these.

Jessica’s Handmade Donutsjessica's handmade donuts

I tried out this little donut shop in Garner and was impressed with the range of flavors and prices. This would be a great weekend morning stop for families nearby.

Chanticleer Cafechanticleer cafe cookie

Speaking of more bakeries, it was fun to explore this cafe in Cary for a lunch date. They have a nice selection of sandwiches and salads, as well as a range of baked goods. This massive tiger cookie was full of flavor!

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Impress with Scallion Pancakes

scallion pancakes

I’ve said it before on the blog, but I’m no good at making bread…unless it doesn’t contain yeast.

I haven’t got the hang of working with yeast yet (and I mostly stay away from it), BUT I can do wonders in yeastless breads like chapati, cheese bread and these scallion pancakes.

scallion pancakes

If you’ve never had a scallion pancake, they’re a popular item at Chinese restaurants. They are flat yet layered crispy, sesame and scallion-flavored little triangles. Oh my goodness, they are so good!

And now that you can learn how to make them at home, you can impress everyone you’re feeding AND not have to deal with soggy scallion pancakes when you get take-out.

scallion pancakes

Trust me, if I can make this dough and the pancakes, then you definitely can!

If you want to make a tasty sauce to along with it, then combine equal parts soy sauce with black vinegar and add in some scallions if you have extra.

All it takes is a little bit of time and some rolling pin action, then fry ’em up and you’re good to dip and eat.

Enjoy!

Recipe Card

scallion-pancakes-recipe-card

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Creative S’mores

s'mores dip

There’s no wrong way to make a s’mores.

I know, that’s a pretty bold statement. And after polling you guys on Facebook last week, I know that there are folks on both sides of the issue. Do you have to stick to the classic graham cracker, Hershey’s chocolate, just toasted marshmallow equation or can you get a little creative and crazy with your s’more? Is s’more individuality allowed?

Well, I say yes!

As long as you’re enjoying the wonderful combination of chocolate, cracker (or cookie) with toasty mallow, then you’re doing right and enjoying summer (or whatever season, I suppose).

I got so much good feedback from what creative things you do with s’mores, so I thought I would share some inspiration, along with a recipe for S’mores Dip!

The Mallow

There are many more debates about how to get the perfectly cooked marshmallow, but I really feel that there are two main camps:

  1. You like your marshmallow browned (not burnt) evenly across and gooey inside. This is achieved by cooking your marshmallow rotisserie-style over the coals or by not getting too close to the coals.
  2. You either like your marshmallow evenly browned or burnt, but you burn it either way (I’m in this camp).

The Cracker/Cookie

You guys had so many ideas around this, so here are a few of my favorites:

The Chocolate

The varieties ranged a lot here, too, so here are some ideas:

  • Reese’s cup
  • A Rolo in the marshmallow
  • Dark chocolate
  • Slightly warmed by the fire
  • Nutella
  • Sub for strawberries or a nut butter
  • Hershey’s cookies and cream chocolate
  • Symphony bar

s'mores dip

And if you really want to go off the rails, make this simple, shareable S’mores Dip. You basically add your chocolate topped with mini marshmallows in a cast iron skillet and stick it in the grill for a few minutes. Then, you can all hover over the dip with crackers or cookies in hand and dip away.

What could be more summer-worthy?!

Recipe Card
s'mores dip recipe card

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Ingredient of the Month: Dijon

Dijon mustard

I don’t know if it was my France trip last year or because of this cute jar from Trader Joe’s, but Dijon has been on my mind lately.

And I think Dijon mustard deserves some space in all of our minds and menus. I used to dislike the sharp flavor of Dijon, but I’ve found that it adds some nice flavor to a lot of recipes!

I’m more a fan of the straight Dijon vs. the grainy mustard, but a little goes a long way with both.

Tell me more:

Dijon is a type of mustard originally made on Dijon in Burgundy, France. It is usually made with white wine and brown mustard seeds.

Dijon mustard

Where do I buy Dijon?

You can find Dijon at most grocery stores near the other mustards and condiments. I really like this Dijon from Trader Joe’s. You may even have someone locally who makes mustard like this!

How do I store Dijon?

Like most condiments, Dijon can be kept in the pantry until you open it then into the fridge for freshness. Some can be kept for a year or more.

How do I cook with Dijon?

Mustard can add a ton of flavor to sandwiches, salad dressings, meat and more! It’s got a vinegary kick, but it’s so worth it.

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Happy Things

I know, I know. Things don’t make us happy. True happiness comes from our relationships and living in close community, and lots of other things.

But…sometimes you find things and experiences that add to your happiness and interest in life. And these are a few of the things that have been adding to my summer vibes lately.

Finding a v-neck that is inexpensive and comfortable

I feel like for years I’ve been on the hunt for the most comfortable, wearable and cute v-neck tees to dress up or dress down. I love a good v-neck, but they can be tricky to find. I have a few from Everlane that I like, but I just discovered these wonders from Target. On sale, comfy and a range of colors. Score!

Spending cool evenings reading on the porch

I’ve been finding a great way to relax and enjoy the back porch is by spending 30 minutes to an hour outside right before the sun sets to enjoy the surroundings. I grab my current library read and enjoy the cool night breeze.

Discovering new sparkling waters to try

Like many others, I’ve really got into sparkling waters in the past year. What’s really fun is finding various types of tasty waters to try. I just discovered that my grocery store carries Mout Valley’s sparkling water, so I’ve been enjoying a bit of this bubbly water in the afternoon at work. Also, it’s from my hometown, so that’s pretty neat.

A fresh, new computer background

You know that feeling when you find a new desktop background that fits you perfectly?! I just re-discovered some really great ones on Design Love Fest. Check out the lemon one!

New landscaping projects!

I know this is super #adulting, but my husband and I have really enjoyed spending weekend time landscaping. We just extended our patio, so last weekend we trekked to a local landscaping place and farmers market to gather plants, shrubs and herbs to make our yard our own.

What has been making you happy lately?

Strawberry Bourbon Smash

Happy Friyay!

I know it’s not a proper word, but it sure is fun to write/say. It’s the perfect day for a simple summery cocktail, don’t you think?

Pick up your favorite bourbon and some sweet and juicy strawberries and get to muddling.

strawberry bourbon smash

I really like to top this one off with tonic water as opposed to club soda because it adds just the right amount of sweetness without having to use simple syrup. Also, if you have a few mint leaves, feel free to throw some in while muddling or on top to make it look pretty.

Sure, you could strain the strawberries for the juice, but I kind of like the pulpy texture. But, it’s up to you.

Happy weekend, ya’ll!

strawberry-bourbon-smash-recipe-card

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6 Summer Fruit Desserts

6-summer-fruit-desserts

Happy Memorial Day!

I really do love this time of year. Not only is it nice to get a long weekend here and there, but summer produce is becoming available (and my tomatoes and peppers are growing up slowly). And the fruit!

I love how summer moves from sweet strawberries to tart blueberries and blackberries to cool melons and juicy peaches. There’s always some new fruit to savor just as is or cooked in a tasty dessert.

Maybe you’re thinking about what fruit dessert you want to make today or for the next few months. Well, if that’s you, I’ve got a few ideas to get you started on your way!

6 Summer Fruit Desserts

Strawberry Biscuit Cobbler

This dessert is really good with any summer fruit: strawberries, other berries, peaches. Anything fruity is great under this pillowy biscuit topping.

Strawberry Lemon Ice Cream

This ice cream takes a little bit of extra effort, but it is so worth it. The strawberry is sweet and creamy, and the addition of lemon adds a nice tartness.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Crisp

Calling all gluten-freers (and those who like almonds), this is the perfect summer dessert to enjoy with friends and your favorite fresh blueberries.

Blackberry Galette

This French dessert is the perfect “crust envelope” (if you will) to wrap your favorite summer fruits in.

Peach Blueberry Buckle

The name is odd, but the taste of this almond-infused treat with blueberries and peaches is amazing! Trust me, after one bite, you will totally be on board.

Coconut Lime Bars

Grab some zesty limes, macadamia nuts and coconut to whip up these indulgent bars. They are the epitome of summer flavors!

Lemon Thyme Shortbread

lemon thyme shortbread

I can’t believe that I forgot about shortbread for the last few years.

How could I keep baking cookies and sweets and forget about one of the easiest and tastiest treats? How could I forget about this beloved British baked good while watching seasons of Father Brown? (Btw: It’s amazing!) How could I have not posted a new shortbread recipe since 2012?

lemon thyme shortbread

Well, while I figure out the answer to those questions, you can start gathering the ingredients for these incredible Lemon Thyme Shortbreads!

They’re not too sweet, full of zesty lemon and herbal thyme with a perfect balance.

P.S. If you live in Raleigh and need some free thyme, then come on by. I’ve got plenty to share. These shortbreads just wouldn’t be as scrumptious without our herbal Ingredient of the Month.

lemon thyme shortbread

This might be just the treat that you need this wet and rainy week or Memorial Day weekend.

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Fruitful Travels: Washington, D.C.

Fruitful Travels: Washington, D.C.

One big plus of living on the East Coast/in North Carolina, is that we’re only a 4-hour drive away from D.C.!

I have fond memories of going on a trip to the capitol with my family while in high school (we even stayed in the National Cathedral) and visiting with my sister during the Cherry Blossom Festival a few years ago. My husband and I have visited twice in the past three years of living in NC.

We always both fall in love with the weather (we usually luck out with 70-degree sunny skies), unique architecture and walking-friendly vibe of the city. Oh, and the food was also fabulous.

Here were some of our favorite hot spots:

Dupont Circle

Washington, D.C.

This is the area that we stayed in and we really loved it! So easy to walk to restaurants and fun spots nearby (like Georgetown). I would definitely stay in Dupont Circle again!

Le Diplomate

Le Diplomate

We have now been to Le Diplomate twice, and it just keeps getting better. This restaurant is set up in an old French style with an offering of dishes that honor the French cooking tradition with a few nuances. The oysters are amazing, the main dishes and sides are rich and tasty (and creative) and the desserts (creme brulee) are to die for. Finish your meal off with an aperitif, and you’re good to go.

le diplomate dc

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Tea IQ: Herbal Tea

tea iq

As I’ve may have mentioned before, I’m a proud tea drinker.

My mom is a big tea drinker, and although I thought it tasted like weird water up until I was a teenager, a trip to Ireland and then a semester in England opened my eyes to the beauty that is a cup of tea.

Why I drink tea:

  • It’s healthy
  • It’s relaxing
  • It can be caffeine-free
  • It comes in so many types and flavors
  • It’s great to drink by yourself or with others
  • It goes great with cookies, cake and other treats

I think Americans sometimes give hot tea (I’m not talking sweet iced tea here) a bad rap. But, I have hope that we’re all coming around.

Although, I do think that Americans, on the whole, need a bit of a re-education about tea.

Since I’m a huge herbal tea fan (I don’t often drink caffeine), I thought I would start this Tea IQ series of posts with one on tisane or herbal tea.

What is tisane/herbal tea?

Although herbal tea (also called tisane) isn’t technically tea, it’s a quite tasty and refreshing drink (that most people still consider to be tea). It’s a beverage made from an infusion of dried herbs, spices, fruits or other plant material.

All herbal teas are caffeine free.

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