Candied pecans

Nursing school has absorbed my entire life. Between class and clinicals and working full time I have negative hours left in the day to do anything, much less write blog posts. I really miss it and can’t wait for a break where I can relax and get back to doing things that make me happy. 

Speaking of things that make me happy…. these pecans top the list. They are simple, sweet, and make your house smell FANTASTIC while they are baking. All of the ingredients are readily available in most pantries which makes these a great snack to whip up on a moments notice. 

First, in a large bowl whisk one egg white until slightly foamy. Dump in one 6oz bag pecans and stir. 

In a separate bowl combine 

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg 
  • 1tsp salt

Stir the dry ingredients into the pecan bowl and combine well. Spread evenly over a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes. 
Once they come out of the oven, break them apart and place on a new piece of wax paper so that they won’t form a hard mass once they cool. 

I love candied pecans in salads, on sundaes, in granola, and as a stand alone sweet snack. They are so versatile to have around but expensive when bought pre made at the store. I hope you enjoy this easy recipe that can jazz up tons of holiday dishes. 

Pumpkin granola 

I have to start off by saying that I have truly missed writing on this blog. It has been far too long and nursing school is to blame. I have been studying with literally ALL of my free time. But when I made this granola I just had to share it with you!

Fall is my favorite and there is nothing more fall than pumpkin granola. And apple cider. But that’s a whole different story. I love this granola by itself, on top of yogurt, or as the crumble topping to a sundae.

To make this granola Simply combine together

  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I used bourbon smoked sugar but regular is fine)
  • 3/4 cups rough chopped pecans
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg


In a separate bowl mix together

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

Stir it all together using a wooden spoon and spread over baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 20-35 minutes (depending on how crunchy you like it) stirring half way through. Usually around 25 minutes in the granola is nice and golden. Allow to cool completely as it will get crispier as it sits.

This is absolutely wonderful by itself, but I love to mix in dried cranberries. Other mix ins that would work well are chocolate chips (white or dark, or both!), dried apples, pepitas, or anything that strikes your fancy.

Apple and goat cheese salad 

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This salad is SO GOOD. I really love the freshness of it and the dressing is out of this world delicious. I adore goat cheese and put it on probably too many things, but it is one of my favorite cheeses because it is so versatile. This dressing is creamy, light, sweet, and acidic. It really brightens up any greens and keeps well in the refrigerator.

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To make the dressing simply combine the following in a food processor or blender:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp water
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 oz plain goat cheese

After blending together, chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat. I used a bed of mixed baby greens for the base of this salad. It was really nice to have different flavors of lettuce, spinach, arugula, and raddichio compliment the dressing. I also chopped a granny smith apple into matchsticks and topped the whole thing with plain, unsalted pecans. If assembling the salad before you are ready to eat, squeeze a little of the lemon juice from the dressing on the apples to keep them from browning. This dressing recipe makes plenty for two large salads or four side salads. I enjoyed this tremendously for lunch. The fall flavors of pecans and apples topped with a creamy goat cheese dressing was just what I needed on this beautiful early fall weather.

St. Simons Island — beach vacation 

St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast is one of my new favorite places. It is covered in old oak trees that have fanned out because of the spanish moss dripping off of them. It screams old south and is accompanied by no less than the epitome of southern hospitality. Everywhere we went, people were overly kind. There was a peaceful air that just made you feel like you were welcome. People talked to you, let you out in traffic, and suggested places and other things to do.

BREAKFAST AND COFFEE 

The first place we had breakfast was at sandy bottom bagels. Their New York style bagels were non-GMO and made fresh daily. The place is small, but everything is fresh with a great variety. Besides bagels they had excellent muffins and breakfast sandwiches. It was so good we went twice during our stay. Check out their website.


If you are a smoothie lover like I am, the Island natural market has some great options which are perfect for breakfast. I tried the raw green juice and was absolutely in love. You can tell the freshness of the ingredients and the store has an awesome selection of eco-friendly, natural and organic products ranging from home supplies to groceries to wine. A definite must-stop if you love juices and smoothies.

The final breakfast spot we tried was on a whim, and I am SO GLAD we did. Del Sur bakery is a family owned south american style bakery and deli. There is a restaurant owned by the same family and I am really disappointed that we did not get to try the dinner options they have. What we did get, though, was a gloriously sweet and totally over the top caramel stuffed croissant. Everything in the shop looked fantastic, but this gem just was calling my name. It did not disappoint.

If you are in search of coffee, skip the chain (sorry starbucks) and go for this little hipster joint instead. The iced white mocha was fantastic, the turtle late was awesome, and the iced turtle mocha would make your day. The place has a small collection of artisan crafted goods and I purchased a small bound book from their store. I really enjoyed my entire experience here and would recommend getting coffee at wake up as often as possible.  Check out their website.

 

LUNCH

My number one favorite lunch spot on the island was coastal kitchen, hands down. Their lobster nachos are out of this world. Boats of varying sizes were docked right outside and the atmosphere was great. I really enjoyed the varying company from local fisherman as well as those dressed for a yacht excursion. Good food brings everyone to the table.

But really, back to these lobster nachos. There was a generous portion of lobster, fresh tomato, red onion, bell peppers, and guacamole. A delectable cheese sauce was drizzled all over the top. My only wish is that I ordered one of these for my entree. And that I could have eaten more of it. And that it would be made for me on a weekly basis. 

Traditional fish and chips were good here too. The fish was clearly fresh and the batter had an excellent flavor. The fries were good as well. 

I ordered curried asparagus soup with crab meat. I love asparagus, probably more than most people, and the thought of skipping out on a soup was not something I wanted to do. The curry flavor was mild and not what I was expecting, but that is the beauty of this soup. The crab would have been lost if the curry was more powerful. I really enjoyed this and would order it again, in a cup size, so I could still eat those lobster nachos. 

The crab cake BLT was also just delicious. The crab cakes were fresh and full of ample amounts of crab meat. This sandwich is the perfect beach-side bite and really embodies St. Simons vibe well with traditional southern recipes with a coastal flare. 

DINNER


Crab daddy’s  was the first place we went for dinner on the island. It was quaint with nice staff. The best thing I tried there was the Blackened Mahi with a bleu cheese sauce. The combination of flavors was something that was totally new to me. This is a dish I would completely recommend if you are in the area. I also really recommend the fried artichoke appetizer. It was packed with flavor and the accompanying sauce made the dish sing. Everyone seemed really happy with their selections from this restaurant. Check out their website.

 

 

It seems really interesting to me that one of my favorite dinners on this trip was a BBQ place. Southern Soul has been acclaimed by many food reviewers and magazines. We were really excited to get some smoked meats, and the non-seafood eaters in the group were pumped about this once gas station turned smoked meat paradise. 

The ambiance of the place was really quirky. Outdoor seating was at a premium with only a small bar top inside and a few tables. Lines quickly formed out the door while we were there and I can totally see why! We opted for the family style options just so we could all try everything. We got a rack of ribs, brisket, pulled pork, mac-n-cheese, and baked beans. 

The meats were all fantastic. The pork and brisket both had beautifully delicious smoke rings that packed flavor in every bite. The ribs were fall off the bone delicious. The baked beans, with bits of burnt ends and deliciousness throughout really made me smile. The best part of all were the sauces. There were four house made sauces that each were divine.  Low country soul was a mustard bbq sauce that paired really well with the pork. The sweet swine wine sauce was smack your momma delicious. But my favorite of all was a combination of the sweet and hot georgia soul. Oh my, the deliciousness of the two sauces put the meats over the top. Check out their website.

BEACHES 

Coast guard beach on St. Simons was extremely close to our beach house. The weather here was ridiculously perfect. Although it was in the mid 90’s most days, there was no rain, much less humidity than expected, and a beautiful breeze when near the water all combined for a lovely beach experience. The currents here were really powerful. I have never experienced such forceful tide changes as I did here. If you have small children, keep this in mind. There are lifeguards present on the beach for assistance. Low tide here is something fairy tales are written about. Also, it is a known loggerhead turtle nesting site so if you are lucky enough to be on the beach at the right time one evening, you may see baby turtles crawling by the moonlight to sea. After an especially hot day on the beach, don’t miss italian ice’s from the concession stand. 


Neptune beach at the pier is a really fun area. Specialty shops, places to eat, the pier, and lighthouse are all land attractions for this area.

During low tide, this beach is expansive and packed with wildlife. We saw jellyfish, crabs, birds, hermit crabs, and several types of fish. The boys decided to go seine net fishing and got their day pass georgia fishing license online. It was the cheapest fun they had all week. At $7.50 a person it was a great day. Blue crab were in abundance and we caught enough for a feast that night. A recipe is coming soon for crab cakes! YAY! When the tide comes in, it totally floods the beach. This happens rather quickly so keep an eye out for the tide and once it starts, get your stuff together and make your way back up to the land. 

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We also went to Fort Frederika to explore. I did not know what to expect from this historic landmark, but it was not at all anything I imagined. The grounds were lovely, but the monuments and historic artifacts were not as enticing. If you are a huge history buff it would probably be more entertainment for you. We did enjoy walking around the grounds and looking at the beautiful nature, but it would not be a prime destination to make a return trip to.

There is also an adorable farmers market stand that was open every day we were there. They sell seasonal fruits, veggies, honey, and other canned items like salsa and pickled okra. They were incredibly friendly and their produce was super fresh. I bought peach jam and honey to take back home and was very pleased with both products.

St. Simons also has a very interesting collection of ‘spirit trees’. These carved trees are dotted around the island, with the majority of them being on private property. The public ones are shown on a map in the welcome center. I thought they would be more centrally located in a park or something, but they were literally all over the place. Carved on trees in front of businesses, at the grocery store, on an unassuming tree in front of a restaurant, they are all over the place. If you are looking for them all, be ready to drive back and forth in order to find them, but they are really cool!

All in all, the Georgia Coast is exactly what I expected plus so much more. It is the best combination of the south and an island. Friendly people, delicious food, and southern charm make St. Simons Island a place not to miss.

Storm Rhum Bar and Bistro — Asheville, NC 

I absolutely love Asheville, NC. I went for a girls weekend there last fall and could not have fallen harder for this city. As with any great city, the food scene really pulls me in. Enter Storm Rhum Bar and Bistro.

This restaurant has a really fresh vibe. Edison light fixtures, mis-matched chairs, and lots of texture all aided in an old school ambiance that you can’t find everywhere. They played bluegrass music complete with banjos and it made you feel like you were back in a different time.  img_0984-1

We ordered two appetizers. As always, I got the cheese board. This was wonderful with walnuts, bruschetta toasts, honey, and a jam compote accompanying four cheeses. Each were absolutely fantastic and I would not miss ordering this again. We also ordered the pigs ears. This is something totally outside of my comfort zone. Something about it just did not sound appetizing, but I tried it and it was actually tasty. I liked the super crunchy bits the best.

I ordered the BBQ shrimp and polenta appetizer as my entree. It was the greatest polenta I have ever eaten. The shrimp were divine and perfectly cooked. The BBQ rub was a perfect spice level. Blistered tomatoes and corn were on top. I liked the flavor of each but the corn did stick to my teeth a lot. If I get to order this again I will request it without corn. 

The wreck fish entree was the best thing I ate there. It was salty and complex and served over that beautiful polenta. This dish was a total winner. I absolutely loved the salsa that was over top.

The chicken entree was juicy and packed with flavor. For a girl who generally dislikes potato salad, this one was surprisingly good and the greens were out of sight. Flavor was jam packed into this plate.

For the non-fish and seafood eater boyfriend of mine, there was a great burger that he enjoyed immensely. I did not personally try it but the fries were perfectly seasoned and crispy. I have been assured that this is a meat-and-potato-man’s ideal burger. 

If you find yourself in Asheville and need a place to eat, I highly suggest Storm Rhum Bar and Bistro for a laid back yet really delicious place to grab some awesome food. I can’t wait to go back and try out some more of their menu!

Frosé — wine slush

Celebrations often call for something special. When that something is a beverage, I have this recipe as my new go-to. SO delicious. I got the idea from bon appetite blog and adapted their recipe to be a little bit simpler. I absolutely love rosé and think it is the perfect summer cocktail.

First, you need to make some simple syrup. Simply combine 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat in a pot  until the sugar dissolves. This takes 3 minutes or less. I used organic sugar which is brown naturally so my syrup is pale brown, if you use white sugar it will be clear.  Allow to chill in refrigerator.

Next, the fun part, is popping the Rosé! Pop, fizz, clink! Next, in a blender simply combine

  • 1/4 cup simple syrup
  • 1/2 bag (roughly 2 cups frozen strawberries)
  • 1/2 bottle rose

Blend thoroughly for about 2 minutes. This makes two FULL glasses, I made a second batch using the other half of the ingredients and placed in the freezer until we were ready for them. A full bag of frozen strawberries (about 4 cups) all of the simple syrup, and a full bottle of Rosé provides four servings.

This wine slushy is the perfect summer beverage to share with the girls. It is so delicious, cool, and refreshing. I could drink these all summer long!

Cincinnati, OH — weekend adventure 

Nate and I recently went on a day trip to Cincinnati, OH. As a place that we are considering to move after we are both done with school, I was super excited to see what it had to offer. I have been to Cincinnati many times before but it has always been for a specific purpose, never to just hang out. I am SO glad that we went because I absolutely loved the vibe I got while in the city and can’t wait to go back and do things that we missed.

The first thing that I would love to do when I return for another visit is the Krohn Conservatory, an urban oasis of plant life and greenery. I would also love to go to the contemporary art museum, and to visit various neighborhoods to scout out a potential area where we could move!

On this trip, we went to the incredible Cincinnati Museum of Art. I love art and museums so it was a no-brainer. This museum is FREE….. yes, zero dollars …. with only $4.00 charge per vehicle to park. Obsessed is an understatement. The grounds were incredible with beautiful walking paths, a lake, and sculptures. My, oh, my, I could get lost in this place. 

The museum held every type of art from glass works, to classic artists like Vincent Van Gogh, to modern paintings, to sculptures and everything in between. I was amazed at the beautiful facility, in addition to the artwork the grounds and building were spectacular. Staff were helpful and very kind. The rotating exhibits on display were divine. They had a 30 Americans exhibit showcasing works of african-american artists. So many moving pieces were in this collection. The other exhibit was of ancient cats from Greece, Rome, and throughout the world. 

We stopped for a bite to eat at Nicholson’s, a gastropub. It had an ENORMOUS spirits selection and specialized in scotch and whiskeys. 

We went for lunch and ordered the spinach dip as an appetizer. It was SO GOOD with pub chips that totally made the dish.

I found tons of options on the menu but ended up trying the turkey burger with cranberry-apple compote and white cheddar. I paired it with a field green, Stilton, and dried cranberry salad topped with bee pollen vinaigrette. This was SO GOOD! I ate almost all of it, which was a feat because the portions were substantial. 

Nate ordered a BBQ banger and fries. These fries were out-of-sight. I’m ashamed to say  I did not try the sausage, but it smelled heavenly. I was too entrenched in my own dish that I literally could not muster one more bite of food. I would totally suggest Nicholson’s for lunch or apps and drinks, if you are into that. They are located so close to many things downtown, and right next door to the 21C hotel with a contemporary art museum in the lobby, which is definately worth a visit. 

I saved my very favorite thing we did for the last in this post. The city flea was so fantastic, and probably one of the best open-air markets I have been to in a long time. This monthly event happens in Washington Park. 

Tons of vendors come to sell their handcrafted or vintage wares. The coolest thing about the city flea was that there were no mass-produced booths selling things you can find anywhere or pyramid buisness products. Everything was hand-made, vintage, or home-grown. I love that! 

Nate, who was skeptical about the event, even ended up having a blast picking through old vintage tools and bits. There was live music, food trucks lining the streets, vendors, a splash pad for kids to play at, people mingling, and beautiful treasures everywhere. img_0775-1

I bought a piece of art that I can’t wait to get framed. You can visit the artist’s website to view more of her work. She was so friendly, lovely, and clearly talented. I am so excited to hang this up in my home.

I absolutely adored my day trip to Cincinnati. I can’t wait to return and continue my list of favorite things about the city. Are there any places that I must visit next; if so leave me a comment!