Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bedding Worth A Bundle

I'll be moving to a townhouse soon, which means my creative side has already begun to nest. Even though I haven't offically signed the lease, I have been coveting various 'looks'. I am most excited about the bedroom and I think I want to replicate this type of texture. Color scheme will be a whole 'nother issue. What do you think? Comfy? Cozy? Sexy? Chic? What's your bedroom style?

All of these are from Anthropologie and all are over-priced. Oh well.

Cirrus Bedding

Rivulets Bedding

Tuxedo Bedding

Rosette Bedding

Wishful Thinking

In rummaging through my cupboards yesterday to appropriately plate the olives, grapes, and cheese before my fellow Prince go-ers arrived for cocktail hour, I came across every serving plate and platter of every shape and size imaginable. I will admit that part of this is because I have my own set of china, and part of it is because I love to entertain; however, I would like to let it be known that I am still quite selfishly without. If I had a kitchen fairy godmother, and she would grant me 5 wishes, I would beg her to bring me the following items:

A Silicon Mat from SilPat, a must-have baking mat for every need from chocolate chip cookies to French pastry.

A Mandolin from NorPro V Slice because I didn’t go to culinary school and my slicing skills would have me Chopped in no time.

A double timer for those times I can't keep two things straight.

A Tart Pan from Crate & Barrel because spring has finally and officially ‘sprung’ and I love fruit tarts.

And finally, Kid's Posable Silicone Kitchen Utensils from Shop Foster for the sole purpose of keeping me entertained.

That is all. Thanks for reading.


As my father will tell you, my favorite place to eat when I was in College was TacoDog, though he never once was brave enough to join me in my weekly trek across town.

An American Taqueria would be the best way to describe this culinary joy. I was originally attracted to the spot because they made all the food fresh and without pre-processed gunk. Depending on your mood, you could enjoy a chicken chipotle quesadilla with queso covered fries, OR an all-the-way chili dog with a side of jalapeno cheddar nachos. Their website boasts of flavors from all over the country. “California style stuffed Burrito, Mexican steak, Southwestern Chicken, Southwestern style salsa, Texas corn dogs, Southeastern style hot dog chili”, just to name a few! As you see—the possibilities are endless. Much to my graduate chagrin though, I would not have a franchise to support here in Columbia. How was I ever going to survive without my special brand of Tex-Mex?

*Ta-Dah* Enter Meggie.

Having always struggled with a case of the Monday’s, I look to get by with a little help from my friends. Though I was rudely on a conference call most of the time, Meggie introduced me to my next Columbia gem: TakoSushi.

Much like my beloved TacoDog, Takosushi combines an unusual mix of fresh hand-rolled sushi and rustic Southwestern cuisine. I was in heaven! If you’re up for a fabulously fresh bento box with a side of chips and dip—this is your spot!

Overwhelmed with the options, I broke down and asked the waitress what the most popular roll was—The Crazy Roll. (Shrimp tempura, fresh shrimp, crab, cucumber & avocado topped with a teriyaki glaze and Takosushi sauce.) And I now know why it was the most popular—it had a little bit of all sushi goodness wrapped into one.

So whether you’re in the upstate or the midlands, fear not, there appears to be a Tex-Mex-Shi combo lurking just around the bend.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Catch the Rainbow

The luck of the Irish is in the air today and I cannot wait for this weekend to celebrate a little of the leprechaun in me! With green beer blood pumping through my veins, it’s sure to be a good time at St. Pat’s in 5 Pts!

Events and my respective participation:

8:30 Get to the Green 5k Race (I will be monitoring from my back porch…)

The race begins at 8:30 a.m. on March 19, 2011 and consists of a 5k Run and a 1-mile walk through the tree-lined streets of Shandon. Participants will chase the rainbows through the course to the pot of gold at the Finish Line. The start line is located at the intersection of Blossom and Santee Streets, and the finish line is on Devine Street at the festival entrance. Awards will be given for runners and walkers as well as the Best Dressed Leprechaun!

10:00 St. Pat’s Parade (I might begin to find my way down the musical mile…)

The St. Pat’s Parade will assemble at Dreher High School and travel the Musical Mile down Devine Street into Five Points offering blocks of public viewing. After entering Five Points, the parade will wind its way down Devine Street and up Saluda Avenue, returning to Harden Street at the Five Points Fountain and concluding near Food Lion.Be sure to wear your green and get your Sham-Rock On at the Chik-fil-A St. Pat's Parade!

Noon-6:00pm Live Music (This is where my day begins and you are most likely to find me!)

My main attraction? Whiskey Tango Review

WTR is performing on the Miller Lite Stage (Blossom/Harden) at 12pm. Followed by an extended encore performance at the Harper's Stage (2pm). They've got green WTR t-shirts and CDs for sale! See yall there!

Miller Lite Stage lineup:
12:00 p.m. Whiskey Tango Revue
12:40 p.m. Moving Mercury
1:30 p.m. Carbon Leaf
3:30 p.m. John Wesley Satterfield
2:20 p.m. The Movement
4:45 p.m. Corey Smith

Things to get me in a pinch o' green spirit?

Old Navy Stretch Top $15

Etsy Headband $5

Sauteed Squash & Leeks

1 1/2 pounds assorted baby squash, halved
1 cup sliced baby leeks
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

SAUTE squash and leeks in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender.
SEASON with salt and pepper to taste; SPRINKLE with cheese and basil.

Total: 10 minutes
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Southern Living, MARCH 2011

I Would Die 4 U

If I had to pinpoint it exactly, I would say that I fall somewhere on the fanatic scale between the ‘standard college freshman’ and a one ‘Becky’, who happens to be the disco diva mother of a dear friend. As far as my love for His Purpleness goes, Prince Rogers Nelson and I solidified our relationship when I trekked my sunny southern something to MPLS in January to visit Fifth Avenue. For those who gained all of your knowledge of Prince through his semi-autobiographical movie Purple Rain, I bet you missed the part where one of his most famous songs, When Dove’s Cry, was written specifically for the family history montage scene.

Did I mention the Disco Diva, her daughter, and I are seated in the 12th row for his surprise concert through Columbia? That’s right folks, I would die 4 U too.

For Rich or For Poor

Between all the spring flutters of wedding planning out there I have been privy to conversations involving two new bridal collections to hit the narthex. Vera Wang now has a simple line, and much more affordable that her personal collection, entitled “White”, because everyone deserves to wear white, which is now being featured at David’s Bridal.

Also, the very popular Anthropologie has launched BHLDN (Beholden), which flaunts exotic curves and ethereal flow.

A J.Crew enthusiast myself, I am glad to see that popular stores and designers are branching out to the public—because even though I fancy myself to be a girly-girly I cannot fathom spending the majority of the wedding budget on a dress that will only be worn once. Call me a rebel or what have you – but sometimes the size of the pricetag really does matter.

Just a smattering of designs that have caught my eye:

BHLDN $3,600

Vera Wang White $1,400

J. Crew $1,800

She's A Brick House

As many of you know, I was a bridesmaid to my bathroom sharing college roommate this past weekend; and in case any of you had doubts, she was perhaps the most stunning bride ever! Okay, I know everyone says that about their best friend, sister, or daughter—but what set Tia apart was her incredibly calm nature. I think I only heard her second guess two things throughout the festivities: The first being that perhaps our toenail polish was too dark and the second being the placement of her side bun. (Neither of which she fretted over for more than 30-45 seconds…)

I can only hope that when I am a real bride, and not just playing one on stage, I will have everything so well organized and neatly laid out that I too can worry about what some might deem to be trivial things. My darling, you are an inspiration to all women and future brides out there to remain calm and carry on… and to maybe eat a Philly Cheese Steak.

Monday, March 14, 2011

And now for a Message from my Sponsor:

In celebration of their anniversary, Starbucks is honoring the past 40 years by reclaiming what they do best: elevating the coffeehouse experience. While I am a diehard fan of the Tall Skinny Hazelnut Latte—I often branch out if I am feeling a bit spunky!

The new sin to hit the scene? Starbucks Petites: A perfect way to complement a warm cup of their delicious coffee! Appropriately sized for a well-deserved afternoon treat, these little guys are even waistline friendly. Each of their Petites is under 200 calories, which means you can still feel good about treating yourself.
There are eight different Petites in all, including Cake Pops, Whoopie Pies, Cupcakes and Sweet Squares. But the best news to foam over? They're free of artificial flavors, artificial dyes, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Well done Starbucks. Well done.

Cauliflower Penne

As I have previously noted, I have several vegetarians in my family; but most recently my Mother was put on a no animal fat diet as well. Whenever she comes into town I try to stock up on a few extra versatile veggies. I found this Chef’s Jenkins recipe on Tasting Table and immediately knew it was going to be added to my repertoire—just like the title boasted!

Take this lush penne pasta, partnered caramelized cauliflower with briny black olives and capers-- a dish that's quick enough to make on a weeknight, yet is still capable of captivating a crowd.

Cauliflower Penne
2 medium heads cauliflower, cored and trimmed into florets (about 7 cups)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ cup pitted mild black olives, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
1 medium dried mild chili, seeded and thinly sliced
2 anchovy fillets
1 cup bread crumbs, toasted
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
⅓ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

PREHEAT the oven to 400˚ and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

TOSS the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the cauliflower to the prepared baking sheet and roast, stirring twice, until crisp-tender and golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes.

WHEN the cauliflower is nearly done roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. COOK the pasta according to package directions until al dente.

MEANWHILE, in a large saucepan, warm the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil with the butter over medium heat until the butter melts. ADD the garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. ADD the olives, capers and chili and cook, stirring, until just warm, about 1 minute. ADD the anchovies and continue cooking, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve, about 2 minutes. Gently STIR in the cauliflower and remove the saucepan from the heat.

DRAIN the pasta and toss immediately with the cauliflower mixture. Add the bread crumbs, cheese and parsley and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and serve.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hair Crack

I’m not one to try out new hair salons. Much like a devoted marriage, I will follow my stylist wherever she moves (which I’ve done twice now). However, just short of having to take a half day off of work to get a blow-out in Pawley’s Island before the epic wedding weekend, I was forced to try a new experience.

Several people in my office go to the Tillman Aveda Salon on Gervais and while I do love some name recognition, I should have known from the required consultation that this was going to be a good cut! Did I mention you also get a head and neck massage while you’re by the sink? Having been in a couple car wrecks recently, I was sold! Wesley could have escorted me out with a wet towel and I would have been perfectly pleased to pay the fairly steep rate. Below are the products that were prescribed for me. Literally, I have the RX sheet on my bathroom mirror, how cute!

The Pure Abundance team is of a volumizing nature. While the shampoo and conditioner work about as well as can be expected on my fine hair, this new secret potion was ingenious! I’ve described it to friends as a resign powder that liquefies. That’s about all I got—Insert website info now.

Pure Abundance Hair Potion (Hair Crack) $24

Our innovative formula transforms in your hands—from a powder to a light, absorbent lotion*—then makes magic in your hair, increasing its diameter and creating an abundance of texture and volume.
• instantly thickens hair by 17%
• relies on natural bulking agents acacia gum and kaolin clay
• creates matte texture
• great for creating a gritty, “second-day hair” look

*DO NOT shake the bottle. While it implies that the powder is meant to liquefy, It’s much more effective in powder form.

Bottom line: Tap powder into roots on various layers and scrunch upward. Hair looks fuller, feels thicker, stays more abundant. It can also be re-molded as needed throughout the day! Is there anything better?

Jalapeno Cornbread

In honor of Lent, and my giving up bread AND bread-like items, I wanted to feature a recipe that I will be doing without these next forty days. I have not always liked cornbread. In fact, I really had to grow to even tolerate it; but I finally figured out what my problem was with the southern staple-- lack of texture! I mean sure, you could call dry and brittle a texture, but so is winter skin… not so appealing. Here’s a zesty variation on cornbread that even I enjoy!

2 Boxes Jiffy Cornbread Mix, prepared
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels

PREHEAT oven to 375. Place liners in your muffin cups, or brush with some extra butter. Set aside.

WHISK together your Jiffy cornbread batter with the jalapenos and corn until evenly combined.

SCOOP the batter into your muffin tins and bake for about 25 minutes (or until your cake tester comes out clean).

LET the muffins cool, then turn out into a basket to keep warm. Serve right away with butter, salsa, and sour cream. Yee-haw!

NOTE: Makes 12 Muffins

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hot Brunch

Do you ever wonder what it is that you’re missing out there? I have officially lived in Columbia for about 5 months now though it feels a bit longer some days because I refuse to believe that I am so far from the coast. Isak Dinesen wrote that “The cure for everything is saltwater. Sweat, tears, or the sea”—I might amend that quotation to include salt itself, since it is clearly the spice of life.

If you will, the spice of my weekend was discovering a hidden gem! Well, I didn’t discover it, a friend did. In fact, I think he might be a regular judging by the prompt service when he spilled his coffee across the table and onto my lap, but I digress. By now I’m sure you’ve guessed this nugget of a post to be about another neighborhood jaunt—and you’d be right.

I’ve been to DiPrato's more times than I can count. I adore the deli case and am always tempted by the lunch offerings for under $10! However, I suppose somewhere between the Vermont white cheddar pimento cheese and the Thanksgiving on a bun, I lost sight of the Brunch menus. I don’t know how this catastrophic error slipped by a breakfast foodie like myself!

If you’re up for a big bite, and I mean really filling, try the Breakfast Panini! Homemade onion sausage patty, scrambled eggs, peppers, onions and American cheese on a multigrain ciabatta roll served with a divine potato cheese casserole. I could only eat half of the Panini and was kept full until around 4:00 (and I have a huge appetite!)

But as good as my meal was, and remember, I’m sitting in a pool of freshly brewed at this point, I was envious of the Pancakes across from me. My friend enjoyed the Jack Johnson special--Banana Pecan Pancakes. I think he pitied me for forgetting my sunglasses and then felt guilty for spilling hot liquid in my direction, because I got to enjoy a bite or two! Originally afraid the banana’s were merely sliced and strewn across the top, I was pleasantly surprised to find warm gooey chunks within the batter. Yumm.

Though I rarely let myself eat like that, I would highly recommend diving head first into this brunch menu!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Are you Kidding?

Ever have one of those days where you just can’t make up your mind? Or in my case, just can’t seem to get it to work properly? I think my brain has left early for the weekend, leaving my body behind at its desk…

Here are some items and ideas that I haven’t quite formed opinions on. What do you think?
I love gladiator sandals, don’t get me wrong—but do they need to go that far up? These are only the mid-calf length too. They get higher folks!

Romper. Who doesn’t love to lounge in a romper? This has a lot going on BUT, it sold out quickly on RueLaLa so someone out there is rockin’ it.  

I know we all come to the point where we need a good dye job, but these poor animals! I will admit that on many occasion I have thought about dipping Dutch’s ears in kool-aid… but then what?
Where does it end?! Will I shave the cat next?

What about when you combine America’s two favorite things? Bacon and Icecream. I love a salty & sweet combo so I am more intrigued by this than perplexed. Anyone actually tried it yet?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mini Turkey Burgers

I may have over-indulged this past weekend. Okay fine—the truth hurts. I ate three cheeseburgers… at three different meals. I’m mildly ashamed of myself. But while I was enjoying every sinful bite from Rush’s, Sam’s Corner, and even Waffle House (Yes, I know.) My fellow blogger, Vivan from Life in the Land of Crape Myrtles, was concocting her own version of an equally flavorful but healthier recipe. Hope you enjoy the art behind a turkey burger!

Mini Ranch Turkey Burgers
1½ pound lean ground turkey breast (Jennie-O)
1 Packet Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 egg yolk
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tube of Crescent Rolls
1 Ripe Avacado

Roasted Red Pepper Mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped roasted red pepper* (be sure to drain any excess juice)
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ Teaspoon grated lemon peel

PREHEAT the grill or broiler. (I use a grill pan)

COMBINE ground turkey, salad dressing, bread crumbs, egg yolk, onions, salt and pepper and mix with hands until well incorporated.

SHAPE the meat mixture into 12 mini patties about 1/2-inch thick.

GRILL the burgers for about 3 minutes on each side for medium doness. Be careful not to overcook or burgers will be dry!

MEANWHILE, Unroll the crescent roll dough and form into a new ball.

ROLL the dough flat and use a small round cookie cutter to form buns.

BAKE the crescent circles until lightly brown.

SERVE the burgers on the crescent buns, topped with sliced avocado and roasted red pepper mayo!

Stop-- It's Market Time!

It is the first weekend in March and more produce is slowly making its way to the market! The All-Local Farmers' Market operates every Saturday, 8:00am - 12:00pm at 711 Whaley St. in the Olympia neighborhood. Come by for the season's best produce, meat, dairy, flowers, baked items, art, and crafts from all-local producers.
The move raises one important question for me: What about breakfast?

Rotating between Rosewood Market and the restaurant Gervais & Vine, the market has for the past few years featured affordable breakfasts prepared with local food by excellent chefs. Breakfast always helps to build the social dimension of any market!

In the meantime, customers can buy bread, pastries, and quiche from market vendors such as Rachel’s Wild Flour Confections, Heather’s Artisan Bakery and It Bites. Also, Petite Crepe will continue to serve made-to-order crepes at the market. Those gooey ham-and-cheese or apple-cinnamon crepes are affordable and delicious...Most importantly, there will be coffee.

Rosso will be providing breakfast this Saturday as well as having live music on the scene!

This Saturday at the Market:
Dairy, Meat, & Seafood
Caw Caw Creek Pastured Pork
Sea Eagle Seafood
Trail Ridge Dairy & Farm (also selling hydroponically-grown tomatoes & lettuce)
Wil-Moore Farms
Grains & Produce
Anson Mills
Aysa's Organics
Burch's Produce
City Roots Farm
Eleazer Farm
Ryan's Veg House

Bread, Drinks, Sweets, & Other Foods
Beautiful Briny Sea
Bell Honey
Breakfast by Rosso
Gifts to Go
Heather's Artisan Bakery
Indah Coffee
Paolo's Gelato (available in pints)
Perry's Peanuts - raw, roasted, & boiled
Rachel's Wildflour Confections
Tasty Treats Bakery - key lime, coconut, & caramel pie, chocolate cream cheese cookies!

Crafts, Flowers, Soaps & More
Backcountry Skin Care
Floral & Hardy
Gene's Jewelry
Jessica's Jacket
Mise En Place Sharpening
Sammie's Snacks - homemade dog treats
Wisteria Baskets

So grab a friend and reusable grocery bag and meet me down there!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ruth's Chris

My mother passed this email special on to me because the little girl bore a striking resemblance to my younger days. Although I am sure my hair wouldn’t have been so neatly quaffed and my face might have already had a bit of béarnaise across it… But that’s neither here nor there.

Though the special flaunts what appears to be a fabulous Sunday Dinner-Ruth’s Chris Steak House is serving up more than beef! I often hear the reason for not dining there is the over priced steaks. Well, have you considered ordering something other than red meat?

My very reasonable favorites include:

Crabtini of Colossal lump crabmeat tossed in house vinaigrette and served with a classic Creole remoulade sauce in a chilled martini glass.

The Chopped Salad is a Ruth's Chris original. Julienne iceberg lettuce, baby spinach and radicchio are tossed with red onions, mushrooms, green olives, bacon, eggs, hearts of palm, croutons, bleu cheese, lemon basil dressing and then topped with crispy onions.

The Ahi Tuna is perfectly complemented by a spirited sauce with hints of ginger, mustard and beer.

And don’t forget the incredible sides!
Potatoes Lyonnaise, Sautéed with onions
Asparagus with béarnaise
And over sized onion rings!

But then again, I eat a la carte almost everywhere I go and often create a vegetarian farmers market plate just because.

If you are willing to indulge, try the Orange Citrus Mojito made with Bacardi O Rum, Triple Sec orange liqueur, fresh squeezed orange and lime juices with just a splash of seltzer.
And finally, finish the meal with a celebration of natural flavors. Simple and simply sensational. Seasonal Berries with Sweet Cream Sauce.

Never Fully Dressed

The countdown has begun! My own type of March madness has erupted. This weekend I am going home for a wedding and next weekend I’m in one!

Chicken broth diet [check]

Running 5 miles a day [check]

Tan [check]

Right. Who am I kidding? One step at a time. How about starting small self, like eating SmartOnes for lunch instead of going out—and making sure Dutch gets his tri-pod walk, regardless of the weather.

Well, if that fails, how about a new outfit to cover the old winter fluff?

I have been struggling to find the right outfit for the rehearsal dinner. It doesn’t have to be perfect or glitzy—I am not the bride. It does need to be conservative though-- but with the right amount of fun. I am a “safe” dresser but I do try to add flair where I can. Color, texture, pattern & shine make for an interesting outfit.

Humility might not be a substitute for a good personality, but you’re never fully dressed without a smile! (So don’t forget it at home.)

Champagne glasses $24.99 by Favor Affair
As sparkling blue waves kiss the shore just beyond, you can toast to each other with flutes that beautifully symbolize the romance of the sea…. Yeah yeah yeah. CHEERS!

Banana Republic Erin textured Sheath in Dutch Blue $130

Amrita Singh Gold-Plated Resin Charm Necklace on RueLaLa $70.90

J.Crew Quorra peep-toe booties $275