Tea Party Bridal Shower

This past weekend, my sister (maid of honor) and mom hosted a bridal shower for me in Columbus. Growing up, the girls in my family often had tea parties with my mom and grandma. It only made sense to make this a tea party themed event as well. 
Everything was absolutely perfect. 
I feel unbelievably blessed to have so many loving people in my life who could join me for this party. We had a great time enjoying bellinis, scones, mini sandwiches and wraps, cheese, fruit, tea and of course…cupcakes! I can honestly say it was one of the best parties of my life. 
It was all too pretty not to share with you. Enjoy this extra long photo steam, starting….now:
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After popping several of these deliciously addicting mini cupcakes into our own mouths, we sent a plate over to the boys who were hanging out at the bar watching basketball. I thought it’d include a note just in case there was any question where they came from 😉
Thank you to my amazing family for such a great party and making me feel so loved! 

{Vegan} Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

Breakfast hasn’t tasted this good in a long time. 
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Yes, I’m baking with oats…again. Yes, I’m baking with bananas…again. But you know the saying. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” When it comes to oats and bananas, it’s hard to go wrong in my book. Combine the two, then add some chocolate chips and, well, we’ve got quite the delicious treat. 
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I instantly pinned these when I saw them on Jenna’s blog a while ago and have been dreaming about the day I would make them ever since. 
These are so perfect for breakfast. I’ve been eating them all week. I almost feel like I get to eat a cookie for breakfast. 
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Almost.

Don’t get me wrong. They are great for a mid-day snack or even dessert too. But something about them screams: BREAKFAST! I guess it’s probably the oats screaming that. 
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The bars are just the right amount of sweet without being too sweet for breakfast. You know me – I love a good sugary doughnut or sweet pancakes for breakfast. But especially during the week, I try to keep breakfast as healthy as possible. I don’t know about you, but I do (and feel) so much better throughout the day when I eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. Then, after a well-rounded dinner, I don’t have a problem treating myself to a bowl of fro yo or chocolate candy. If I start off with something like a doughnut, I only crave sugar that much more throughout the rest of the day.

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What I’m trying to say is that these bars are a great compromise. They’re satisfy my sweet tooth without bringing on more cravings, and still offer the healthful benefits I look for in my breakfasts. They’re hearty and filling and, and, and…
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I’m obsessed. So obsessed.

{Vegan} Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
(Adapted from Eat. Live. Run.)

Makes about 8-10 bars

Ingredients:
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chai seeds
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
6 tablespoons chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 baking sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.
2. Add mashed banana, oil and brown sugar to a large bowl. Whisk until well combined.
3. In a separate medium-sized bowl, add flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, chai seeds and oats. Stir to evenly distribute all ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in the large bowl. Stir until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour mixture into the pan and gently spread with a spatula or spoon in an even layer. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Weekend Eats 3-18-13

First things first – Wedding Day is two. months. away. Ah!!!!!! alkfjsdlfjsldfjsdlfjsd!!!!!

Okay, now that I got some excitement out of my system, here’s the tasty food I ate all weekend.

Saturday:

Greg and I met some friends on Sullivan’s Island for (pre) St. Patrick’s Day festivities. After standing around outside in the gorgeous weather for most of the afternoon, our appetites were raging…even more so than I realized. We grabbed dinner from Taco Mamacita, yet another new-to-me restaurant (third one in a week!).

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I had one black bean taco and one blackened mahi taco with Mexican Street Corn on the side. Ummmm….yeah. It was ah-maze-ing. I practically inhaled the tacos. 
Greg had sweet potato fries as his side dish. We ended up splitting our sides, because the fries were sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and I simply could not resist. 

Sunday:
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Brunch at Triangle. Duh. Blueberry pancakes for me!
Anndddd some coffee.
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I made sure to fit my veggies into the day with a big bowl of shredded brussel sprouts, onion, bell pepper, zucchini and broccoli sauteed in chicken broth for din din. I topped it all off with a little crumbed goat cheese. 
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What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?

Restaurant Review(s) – SNOB & Mi Xao

This has been a very eventful week when it comes to – my favorite thing – FOOD! Therefore, you can say it’s been a great week. To make things even better, work has continued to be busy making the days fly by. And not the “oh my gosh I’m so stressed I can’t even breath” kind of busy, but the good kind of busy. A couple Sugar Free Red Bulls may have helped too.

Let’s get back to my first thought though – the food!

Greg’s aunt was in town and invited us to dinner at S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad), which is a very well-known restaurant in Charleston. I had somehow never been there before and was so excited to finally check it off my Charleston restaurant bucket list.

We started with some appetizers to share – a delicious fruit and cheese plate and chilled shrimp. We were also given a bread basket for the table with both cornbread and a traditional white baguette.

When it came to my entree, I kept things simple with the Vegetable Plate.

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While this can seem like a boring choice, it was not boring in variety or flavor. My plate was filled with steamed spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, lima beans, green beans, mushrooms, broccoli, a few cuts of cheese, and a small scoop of grits. It could not have been more perfect. 
I had asked the waitress how the dish was prepared, because I wanted to avoid having a plate of super oily veggies. She told me some were steamed and others were sauteed in chicken broth. I loved that idea! I can’t be the only one that has never thought of that, right?? I’m so excited to implement that new-to-me cooking method. 
Slightly North of Broad on Urbanspoon
I finally made it to Mi Xao this week as well, thanks to Christina’s recommendations. It is a relatively new Vietnamese restaurant in Mount Pleasant with the cutest little dining area. 
Greg and I split an order of the spring rolls, which was a great decision. They were awesome on their own, but also came with the best little citrusy dipping sauce ever. Greg had a traditional chicken stir fry with brown rice as his main dish. I had the Tom Yum Kung Pho. Christina has raved about this pho and I knew I had to have it too.
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The menu describes this bowl of noodle soup as having: Shrimp, rice vermicelli, lime, chicken broth, cilantro and green onion. Oh my goodness, it was just as good as Christina made it out to be! It was one GIANT bowl, that’s pho-sho 😉 I probably didn’t even finish a third of it. The menu says it’s spicy and they’re not kidding. But as long as you like spicy, you will be happy. I can’t wait to finish it off for lunch tomorrow! 
Mi Xao on Urbanspoon

{Vegan} Whole Wheat Banana Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting

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Sometimes I bake things that I know are going to be good before I even start. If I’m following a tried and true recipe, or sticking with traditional flavors and ingredients, I don’t usually worry about the outcome. 
This was not one of those times. 
Yesterday I showed you my breakfast from the weekend – a bagel, spread with mashed avocado, and topped with sliced bananas. I was one bite into the bagel when I knew what I would bake later on that day. 
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In my head, it had potential. When I said it out loud, it just sounded weird. But I could not get the idea out of my head. I wanted to…needed to…combine the banana and avocado flavors into my most beloved dessert. I worked up the courage and decided to go for it. 
The only question was: banana cupcakes with avocado frosting? Or avocado cupcakes with banana frosting. Judging by the title of this post and the pictures, I think you know what the answer turned out to be. 
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Once I had the flavors figured out, I wanted to take these cupcakes one step further. I wanted to healthify them. 
Besides the fact they’re filled with all-natural fruits, I brought in whole wheat flour and cut back on the sugar. I even made them vegan by leaving out butter and eggs, instead only using vegetable oil. 
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The end result was better than I even imagined. I mean really, what’s better than a (somewhat) healthy cupcake? 
You want to make these soon. And because of the green frosting, I think you need to at least make them this week/weekend for St. Patrick’s Day, no?
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Yes.

{Vegan} Whole Wheat Banana Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting 

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the cupcakes-
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 very ripe medium bananas, mashed

For the frosting-
3/4 medium avocado
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon almond milk

Sprinkles, if desired

Directions:
For the cupcakes-
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake tin with liners and place aside.
2. In a medium/large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Whisk well and set aside. In the bowl of a stand-alone mixer, add vegetable oil, milk and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well combined, about 2-3 minutes. Add mashed banana and continue to beat another 2-3 minutes. Turn speed to low and slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat until just combined, be careful not to overmix. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and give the batter a couple stirs.
3. Fill cupcake wells with batter, about 3/4 full. Bake 15-18 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting-
1. Add the meat of the avocado to the bowl of a stand-alone mixer. Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
2. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 3-4 minutes.

Weekend Eats 3-11-13

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I kicked off the weekend with Mexican food and a margarita, on the rocks, with salt. The best way to do it.
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I ate a half bagel with jelly, apple slices and hot tea for breakfast one day.
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I snacked on mixed nuts during the day while working at my company’s conference (I mostly picked around the peanuts and went straight for the almonds and cashews, mmm). 
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On Sunday I ate the other half of the bagel, this time with avocado and sliced banana. You may think it’s weird, but I promise it’s delicious. (Hint: this may be foreshadowing a recipe coming your way later this week…)
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After church, I stopped at Whole Foods for a simple veggie and hummus wrap from the deli counter to fuel my grocery shopping.
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I also ate pralines. Sugary, melt-in-your-mouth pralines. If you aren’t familiar with these, they are a true Charleston/Southern staple and I highly recommend you get yourself some if you ever have the chance. We hand them out to guests at our conference and any leftovers? Yeah, they come home with me 🙂 Nice perk if you ask me. The combination of pecans, brown sugar and butter is a wonderful thing. 
What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?