What I’m Loving Wednesday (8-29-12)

It’s about that time for another WILW post, dontcha think?

1. Two nights in a row of cooking some of my favorite tried and true recipes.

Sloppy Joes, that I’m renaming Super Spicy Sloppy Joes. I used less spice and hot sauce than my recipe called for and my mouth was still on fire two bites into the sandwich.

Morning Star Copycat Black Bean Burgers with homemade guacamole and corn on the cob? Ohmuhgosh. I could eat this every single night.
2. This. This is what I call Heaven in a Cardboard Container. Have you tried any of Duff’s (aka the Cake Boss’s) Blue Bunny ice cream flavors yet? This Red Carpet Red Velvet Cake ice cream is to die for. I bought this on my dinner break while working a late shift last week and it’s safe to say this is only thing that kept me going at my desk until 10pm.

3. A coffee mug filled with hot oatmeal. Don’t forget the sliced bananas and chai seeds! This is how I’ve been starting my workday for the past two weeks. I’ve gotten in a poor habit of sleeping until the last minute and not having quite enough time to eat my breakfast at home. Solution? Bring my oatmeal to work in a mug! 
4. Oh look, it’s my Lost Dog Cafe mug again! I sure do put that thing to use. After cleaning the oatmeal out of it, I fill it with what it’s actually meant for- Coffee! These rainy days call for a warm and comforting afternoon snack like a hot cup of coffee and a chocolatey Good Greens bar (Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor). 

5. Out of all of this foodie goodness, the thing I am loving most about this Wednesday is that it’s my last full day here in Charleston before my trip HOME!! Tomorrow evening, Greg and I will be hopping on a plane to Columbus for a full weekend of cake tastings, meetings with the caterer, engagement pictures and some much needed family time. I. Can’t. Wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aren’t we precious? 😉

Childhood Lunch and Good Greens Bars

Good morning my lovely readers and friends. I have been trying to enjoy every moment of this weekend since I got off of work Friday afternoon. My company is in the midst of our busy season and work has been cray-to the-zee. I worked last Sunday, so used some of my comp time to take Friday afternoon off (hoarding saving the other half-day for later in the year!).

I made myself lunch a simple lunch at home consisting of a childhood favorite…
PB&J! These have been on my lunch menu regularly for the past week or two. Paired with a sweet, juicy apple and I am one happy five-I mean-23 year old!
A couple bites into my lunch and I heard a knock at the door. Good thing I just so happened to be home on a Friday afternoon, because the UPS man had a special delivery for me!
I was recently contacted by Good Greens, a company based in my home state of Ohio that makes nutritional bars and powder, about reviewing their products. I had never heard of the bars, but was excited to learn they have partnered with the Ohio State University in it’s effort to remove unhealthy snacks across the campus. Instead, the school will be replacing heavily processed snacks with nutrition bars like Good Greens’ among others. It’s so nice to see large institutions taking initiative to make a difference. We can all benefit from having less unhealthy snacks tempting us throughout the day. 
I was sent some bite-sized samples and some of their full bars in a variety of flavors. I couldn’t just try one, so I nibbled on a few different flavors after my main meal. 
So far I really like the Chocolate Peanut Butter. The Mixed Berry and Chocolate Raspberry were much better than I expected, since I usually don’t care much for the combination of chocolate and fruity flavors. 
The nutritional value of these bars is outrageous. In a good way! They are organic, vegan and gluten free so they fit just about any diet. They The best part of these bars is that a single regular size bar contains 100% of your daily dose of vitamins and minerals you need from fruits and veggies. 
Some other notable facts: 
-190-195 calories
-5 grams of fiber
-12 grams of protein
For now, these bars can only be found in select locations around Ohio, but you can order online too! Check them out if you’re interested in trying a new nutrion bar. 
Find them on Facebook here

Banana Bread Snack Cake with a Cinnamon Glaze

Last week I stuck a few brown bananas in the freezer knowing I could keep them there to wait until it was time I make one of the 100 banana recipes I have pinned. Then about two days later, I noticed a whole bunch of bananas in the snack basket (one of the best things about my work) at my office that had turned completely brown as well. I wasn’t about to let those babies get thrown away, so I made the executive decision to adopt them myself. I gave them a home in my freezer with the other browned bananas and suddenly I had just about enough to bake every single banana recipe I could want.

Since I would need to quit my real job to be able to bake as much as I wanted, I knew I needed to play favorites and only pick the recipes that looked exceptionally delicious…for now anyway.

First up: Banana Bread Snack Cake from the one and only Jessica at How Sweet It Is.

I subbed cake flour for whole wheat pastry flour simply because I didn’t have any. Otherwise, I would have loved to use whole wheat for the added health benefits. I am not sure how this switch might have changed the overall outcome of the snack cake in terms of density or any other qualities. For better or for worse, the cake flour version seemed to work quite well.
These turned out just the way I expected. Sweet enough to be a cake, but not so sweet that you feel guilty eating some for breakfast or a snack. It is called snack cake after all. Not that you really need an excuse to eat cake for breakfast or for a snack, but at least you can feel better doing it when it’s something like this. 
Another plus? The clean-up is extra easy because you can make these all in a single bowl. If you’re anything like me, you consider the mess baking is going to make and look for recipes that require less equipment. 
I still have a few banana recipes up my sleeve to put the other frozen fruits to use. The snack cake was a good start, but I’m thinking something with chocolate in the mix will need to happen for the next one. Stay tuned!

Banana Bread Snack Cake
(Slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is)

Makes 16 squares

For the cake-
1 egg
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the glaze-
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

To make the cake-
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8×8 baking pan and set aside.
2. In a medium/large bowl, whisk egg and brown sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and mashed bananas. Whisk until well combined. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir until just combined. Add butter and stir until evenly incorporated.
3. Pour batter into pan and bake 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
4. Remove from oven and cool about 5-10 minutes before cutting into squares. Drizzle glaze overtop and dig in!

To make the glaze-
1. Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with spoon until smooth.

Another Day, Another Lunch at Purée

Purée has clearly become one of my new favorite restaurants. For someone that doesn’t eat out more than a couple of times a week (mostly on the weekends), going to this café about five or six times already since it opened just a couple of months ago is pretty serious. 

I have pretty much ordered something different each time too. When I met up with Brittany at Purée last month, she ordered the Grilled Cheese. I knew it was a must for my next visit. 

The time had come yesterday, when Greg and I brought his mom and brother with us for lunch. 

It was everything I thought it would be and more. The wheat bread was perfectly toasted and the cheese was perfectly melted. The addition of white bean spread, tomatoes and kale kicked up your simple grilled cheese sandwich into something special. 
The sandwich was served with the side of the day, a black bean salad. It couldn’t have been more perfect either!…except maybe a little more would have been good. I would have eaten an entire bowl of that stuff!
If you haven’t been to Purée yet, I highly recommend getting yourself there. I am sometimes a bit hesitant bringing others that may not be into the whole vegan/organic thing, but everyone loved their meals and cleaned their plates down to the last crumb. It really does have something for everyone. 
Puree - Organic Cafe and Baby Goods on Urbanspoon

A Restaurant Review – 82 Queen (Take 2)

On Sunday I mentioned my family’s trip to 82 Queen to celebrate my mom’s birthday. We arrived right on time for our reservation. Despite the rain, my mom’s wishes were granted when the hostess told us we could still sit outside underneath the gazebo. 
We ordered a couple bottles of wine, one red and one white, then were served baskets of their amazing cheddar chive biscuits.
It took all I had not to dive in for more than just one. I knew I had a plenty more food and wine to keep me full for the rest of the night. 
It didn’t take me long to decide on my entree: Lump Crab Cakes. The cakes were served on top of ‘hashatash.’ I only had an idea of what this was because of some menu research I did before hand (duh), but our server described it as a mix of red peppers, lima beans, corn, and onion. The dish all came together with Tabasco beurre blanc. Don’t let the name fool you. Although it is made with Tabasco, it was not spicy in the least. 

Simply put, everything about this dish was incredible. I absolutely loved it. As good as the crab cakes were, the hashatash may have been even better!
One of the other entrees at the table were the Queen’s Barbeque Shrimp and Grits. Brooke and Greg both had this dish and raved about it just as much as I did with mine. 
Then came dessert. Ohhhhh dessert. My favorite part. We ordered three different ones and split them amongst the table. 
My choice was the Bourbon Pecan Pie. I had this the first time I went to the restaurant and it wasn’t a question that I needed it again.

We also ordered this banana split spin-off, served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate ganache (I don’t remember the actual name). 

Greg was all about the key lime pie. It was light and refreshing compared to the others, but not quite indulgent enough to be my favorite. 

Overall, I cannot put into words how much of a great night this was. The food was obviously to die for, but combined with the company, it made for an amazing time. I am so glad I got to spend a nice evening out with my family, especially my mom, even if it was a few days late from her actual birthday. 
82 Queen on Urbanspoon

Where Have I Been?

Eating mid-day frozen yogurt to brighten up my crazy workweek. 
Creating my own salad at Triangle by adding the over easy egg from Greg’s burger that he didn’t want to my Harvest Salad. I was overall unimpressed with the salad, but the addition of the egg made it so much better. 

Strolling the Farmers Market with my family! This is one of my favorite ways to spend Saturday afternoons in Charleston.
Eating lunch at Black Bean Co…another one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday afternoon. I love this place. The salad was perfect. Lots of toppings and lots of deliciousness. 

More eating (duh). This time it was a fancy dinner out to celebrate my mom’s recent birthday. She chose 82 Queen

I had been there before and remembered how good it was. But this time was even better. It was definitely the best dinner out I have had in a long time. Not just for the amazing food, but for the company as well. (review on the food to come later this week!)
After a long, busy, visitor-filled past week, I am saying goodbye to the company this morning and spending the day resting. It’s what Sundays are meant for after all!

Strawberry Shortcake

Has this week been crazy for anyone else, or is it just me? I feel like it needs to be the weekend already. I know, I’m dreaming. It’s only Wednesday for goodness sakes. It doesn’t help that my mom, sister and step-dad are coming in town this weekend. I am so excited that it feels like the week cannot end soon enough. 

If you need a mid-week treat like I do, I’ve got you covered. 
Strawberry Shortcake has all of the essentials:
1. Biscuits for my bread/carb cravings
2. Light, fluffy cream to sub in for my daily ice cream (or fro yo) fix
3. Berries to that are so sweet they actually somewhat satisfy my everlasting sweet tooth…and of course  they add enough nutritional value to make it all worth something!

Not to mention this dessert is pretty dang adorable.

Strawberry Shortcake
(Adapted from here)

Makes 8 servings

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups Cool Whip or whipped cream
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
2/3 cup milk

1. Combine sliced berries and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate while preparing the biscuits (can be prepared up to about 4-6 hours ahead of time).
2. For the biscuits, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Cut in chunks of butter until they are about pea-size. Stir in the milk until just combined.
4. Knead dough two or three times on a lightly floured surface. Pat until dough is about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into biscuits with round cutter and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
5. When biscuits have cooled about 5-10 minutes, slice each in half. Layer whipped cream and strawberries on the bottom half, and top with remaining half of the biscuit. Top it all off with more cream and strawberries if desired.