Friday, July 24, 2015

Queen City Coffee Tour: Not Just Coffee

I have found the holy grail of Charlotte coffee. I fell head over heels in love with my iced latte yesterday and it's all I've ben able to think about since. 

After spending the morning at Imaginon, we ventured to the 7th Street Public Market for lunch where I enjoyed a delicious lunch from the Daily Loaf, followed by the best iced latte I've ever had in my life. The Vanilla Sugar Latte from Not Just Coffee blew me away and I'm already thinking about how I can recreate this heavenly concoction at home. The espresso to milk ratio is perfect and the latte is only slightly sweet, without being super sugary or syrupy like you often get from other coffee shops. I typically stick with coffee and cream or plain iced coffee but this latte was totally worth the splurge. 

Not Just Coffee has locations in both The 7th Street Public Market and Atherton Mill. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Party of Four!

This news is far from secret by now...

we are so excited to add another little lovie to our family this Fall! Baby sister will be here in October and we couldn't be more excited! Finding out the gender this time around was so much fun and was a special moment for Mark and I when we found out together during my 20 week ultrasound. I will never forget it. We wanted to experience both the hospital room surprise and finding out before and each way has been wonderful.

We can't wait for our little Princess to arrive!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I absolutely loved a chilled bowl of gazpacho in the Summer as a dinner starter or side. I always order it out when I see it on a menu but until this past weekend, I have never made it at home. After having a cup before dinner at a restaurant last week, I became obsessed with making it myself ASAP. 

This Gazpacho is everything and more. My friend Elizabeth said that this is one of the best gazpacho recipes and it did not disappoint. Alton Brown recipes are always so solidf! Many gazpacho recipes include bread and I really liked that this one doesn't. Prepping the vegetables takes a bit of time, but the end result is well worth it. The flavor is bold and just so fresh. I served ours in margarita glasses topped with a few shrimp and drizzle of olive oil. This soup is definitely better the next day. 

recipe from Alton Brown

1.5 lbs vine ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion 
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp toasted, ground cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Fill a stockpot halfway with water, set on high heat and bring to a boil. 

Make an x with a pairing knife on the bottom of each tomato. drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds. Quickly remove them and transfer to an ice bath immediately, allowing them to soak for at least a full minute. Remove them and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. Seed the tomatoes over a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl to catch the tomato juice. Press as much of the juice through as possible. If you have less than a cup, add some bottled tomato juice if needed to total one cup. 

Roughly chop the tomatoes and transfer them to a large bowl with the juice. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Transfer 1.5 cups of the mixture (I ended up adding about half of the entire mixture) to a blender or food processor and puree for 15-20 seconds on high until pureed. Return the mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. 

Cover and chill for two hours or overnight. Serve with basil, a drizzle of olive oil and a few shrimp if desired. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jamaican Holiday

Mark and I spent five glorious days on the island of Jamaica at the end of May. It was a much needed relaxing vacation for the two of us and was a little 30th birthday celebration that Mark planned for me back in March. 

The island was just beautiful and we could have asked for a more perfect getaway. Jamaica is a quick 3 hour flight from Charlotte, making it easy to travel to and from. Since we were gone for only 4 nights, this was key in planning our trip. We stayed at the Wild Orchid on Montego Bay and it was beautiful! We would definitely recommend this resort to anyone planning a Jamaican vacation or quick Caribbean getaway. 

We started each morning at the World Cafe with the most delicious breakfast spread. The custom omelette station was our favorite! After breakfast, we would park ourselves at the pool or the beach from about 9 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon when the storms would roll in- perfect napping conditions. Our resort had eight delicious restaurants to choose from when it came time for dinner. The food was great and each restaurant offered a different cuisine. 

On our first night, I had this Ackee and Salt Fish, which is the Jamaican national dish. The yellow portion of the plate is the Ackee and Salt Fish. Ackee is a fruit and cooked, it almost had the consistency of scrambled eggs. The salt fist was a salt cured cod. Going counter clockwise on the plate; greens, yams and a dough dumpling. It was definitely the most interesting thing I've ever eaten and differently delicious. 

My favorite bite on the resort though came from the Jamaican jerk chicken cart! Upon arrival at the airport, when asked where we were staying, several island natives told us that we had to eat the jerk chicken. By the time we got to our resort we had heard about this chicken no less than a dozen times and we proceeded to enjoy it every day for lunch. It was beyond delicious! 

This coconut water fresh from a coconut was divine! I never want to buy regular coconut water again. If only I could grow a coconut tree in Charlotte. 

Apparently peacocks run wild in Jamaica and there were several roaming our resort. A few mornings we heard them on our balcony squacking- thank goodness we are typically early risers!

The sunrises and sunsets were just beautiful. The sky was full of such intense color!

Our time away was the perfect vacation for the two of us and we had the very best time! Peace and Love, Jamaica. You were good to us.
P.S. I put together a quick little keepsake album of all of our pictures as soon as we got home from our trip. A few of my more recent photo albums have come from Artifact Uprising and I absolutely love them! The quality is top notch and the printed photos are vivid and sharp. Their designs are simple and classic with minimal "fluff", which I love. And since all of our pictures were taken with our iPhones, I used their mobile app to make my book. It couldn't have been easier. Next time you make a photo book, check out this great company! (not sponsored, I just love them and had to share).

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

{What Will Ate} Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

The world of two year old eating is extremely unpredictable and a little hard to navigate some days. I have found that a huge variety is key to getting Will to eat well rounded, healthy meals. One thing I can almost always count on, though, is that he almost always eats a great breakfast! I love that he starts his days with a nutritious breakfast and a nice full belly!

These whole wheat oatmeal pancakes have been on regular rotation in our house for the past couple of months. Greek yogurt is the secret ingredient in these cakes, keeping them nice and fluffy and not dry at all. Our favorite mix ins are blueberries, peaches and bananas. Chocolate chips are a nice treat on the weekends or special occasions. Will gobbles these up! The batter also cooks nicely in my Belgian waffle iron on level three. A batch of these pancakes usually lasts Will most of, it not the entire week. The waffles freeze beautifully, too- just defrost and reheat in the toaster!


Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
recipe adapted via Sally's Baking Addiction

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup organic old fashioned oats
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or regular milk
2 Tbsp. coconut sugar
1/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup add-ins (blueberries, peaches, chocolate chips, etc.)

Toss the flour, oats, salt, baking powder and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Whisk the coconut sugar and yogurt in and mix until smooth. Add in vanilla and whisk until well incorporated. 

Make a well in the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix gently until just combined. Toss in your add-ins.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Coat generously with coconut oil, cooking spray, butter- whatever you normally use. Once the surface is hot, scoop the batter out in 1/4 cup and drop onto the griddle. Cook until the edges begin to look dry and bubbles form in the center of the pancake, about 2-3 minutes. Flip to the other side and cook for an additional minute. Coat the surface as necessary while the you cook the remaining pancakes. 

Serve with syrup or honey and fresh fruit.