Long Time, No Blog

You guys!
(Side note – the word “guys” looks really funny when you stare at it for long time. I started typing “y’all” but felt weird since my family in Ohio thinks I’m just trying to be cute when I say it. But really it’s just a part of assimilating to life in the South after seven years. I can’t help it! So, “you guys” or “y’all”…whichever you prefer…)
Hello again! Long time, no blog, huh? 
While I’ve loved this teeny tiny little space on the internet called Counting My Cupcakes for the past 3+ years, letting it go and spending more quality time in the real world has been wonderful. I’ve said it a million times before, so I won’t elaborate on it again, but obviously I’ve let CMC take the backseat in my life. 
On Saturday, Hannah and I did Body Pump together, followed by a breakfast date at our go-to spot, Metto Coffee & Tea. She mentioned how she’s determined to finish writing a blog post about a medical mission trip she took recently, which reminded me how I’ve been wanting to check into my own blog as well. It’s been quite awhile and I (semi-jokingly) told Hannah I don’t want the first post people to see when they visit the site to forever be the one about Christian persecution. While it is such an important issue to pray about, I think something a little lighter-hearted up front and center when someone visits this site better portrays what this space is all about. 
In the time that’s past since my last post, Greg and I visited my oldest brother Ryan in D.C. (my mom and step dad were visiting as well so it was a “kill two birds with one stone” kind of trip). We ate lunch and homemade pop-tarts from Ted’s Bulletin, as seen above. 
Highlights include a tour inside the White House, strolling through Arlington Cemetery, and my new favorite attraction: the Newseum. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a museum all about the media and how some of history’s biggest stories have been told through the news. There are several videos and other multimedia components that sucked me in. The best part was probably the teleprompter station where I got to hold a microphone and be filmed reading a weather forecast off of the prompter. I was…awful. But! It was super entertaining, especially for Greg who stood there and laughed at me the whole time. 
Meteorologist Greg and News Anchor Brittany at your service!

In other news (no pun intended), after pinning this recipe months ago, I finally made Dorothy’s Small Batch Quick Cinnamon Rolls. Best. ever. I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of making homemade cinnamon rolls, but these were SO EASY. And more importantly, TO DIE FOR. I made them for Greg and I one weekend, fell in love, then made another batch in D.C. to enjoy with my family. 
My last update for today is about none other than the Zo Monster. She turned 2 years old! on September 11th. We had a birthday celebration for a co-worker the day before, so I brought the birthday hat home just for Zoey. She hated it, but I managed to get a few quick pictures before letting her have revenge and destroy it. 
I don’t know when I’ll be back here again, but feel free to connect on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Happy Fall!!!!
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Weekend Eats 7-28-14

The first half of this weekend was non-stop go-go-go at a work event. Everything went so well, but longs days made for one hungry girl. By the time I got home Saturday afternoon and had the rest of the weekend to completely relax with basically no plans, I couldn’t think of anything but getting food in my body. 
That’s not entirely true. As much as I wanted to feed myself, I first had to get Zoey out of the house and give her a little attention. I know being the parent to a human one day will teach me more selflessness than I can comprehend right now, but I like to think being the parent to a young pup has taught me some of that already. Zoey is a spoiled little girl and I had to take care of her first. It didn’t take but a quick half mile walk in the extreme humidity for Zo to be panting and ready to go back indoors. This was my cue to head straight for lunch. 
As much as I love Metto for breakfast and coffee, I’d never had it for lunch. Saturday was the day! 
The Chicken and Goat Cheese wrap – deli style chicken, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and goat cheese – was perrrrfect. Nothing fancy, just simple and delicious. It’s something you could easily replicate at home, but for only $6 and some change it was worth it in my state of hunger.
However. Let’s be real. The star of the show was that peanut butter cookie. They had just pulled them from the oven, there was no way in heck I was about to resist that cookie. I was handed the cookie while I waited for my wrap and had a bite of the pure goodness – warm, soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside. 
Metto Coffee@Tea on Urbanspoon
Dinner time rolled around and I opted to clean out the fridge with this…

A bed of spinach topped with roasted veggies (broccoli, corn, tomato, bell pepper) and an over easy egg + a drizzle of sriracha. Then I topped a piece of toast with layers of sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella. 
Remember the soft boiled egg from Prohibition’s shrimp and grits?! Ever since then I can’t stop with the drippy egg yolk. 
Anndddd just because I need to make use of the million pictures I take of Zoey, we’ll end this post with a picture of the princess herself. 

What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?

Zoey says lots and lots of peanut butter was her favorite. 

Charleston Culinary Tour – Upper King Street

I was recently contacted by Charleston Culinary Tours and invited to participate in one of their many tour options. Despite feeling like I’m relatively in-the-know when it comes to Charleston food and restaurants, I had never heard of these tours. I jumped at the opportunity and signed Greg and I up for the Upper King Street tour.

“The Upper King Street Culinary Tour visits 3-4 different restaurants and combines elements of a historical tour with a culinary adventure! The food on your tour will provide a broad range of samples which will provide insight into Lowcountry cuisine.”

Our tour visited HoM, Sugar Bakeshop, 39 Rue de Jean and Prohibition.

All of the spots were pretty new to me. I’d been to HoM once a year or two ago while bar hopping late at night and only spent time in the back with the ping pong tables. I’d had a cupcake from Sugar one day at work as an intern for a PR agency during college. I’ve eaten lunch at Rue de Jean once. And I had no prior experience with Prohibition.

We met our group at HoM. There were nine of us total, plus the tour guide Guilds. We were the only locals, which was to be expected since most tours are for…tourists. However I think any local wanting to test a few restaurants at once, like we were, would be happy.

At HoM we were given samples of the Calamari, the Dixie Flatbread, and the Green Gobble’n Burger.

Dixie Flatbread – pimento cheese, pork confit, caramelized onions, maple bacon greens
Green Gobble’n Burger – turkey, melted leeks & spinach, brie, green goddess aioli, green apple

Next, we walked a few blocks to Sugar Bake Shop, where we were each given a mini Lemon Curd Cupcake with sugared blueberries. The lemon was super refreshing on the hot Charleston summer day. Simply delicious. I will definitely be back to Sugar.

We had a bit of a longer walk back to King Street. We followed Guilds at a slow pace as he talked about some of the history of Charleston and the surrounding buildings. We even stopped to visit a Jewish cemetery. We probably strolled for at least 30 minutes and by this point I was losing interest. I’m not sure if the tourists appreciated it any more than I did, but I was more than ready to get back to the FOOD. I realize my prior knowledge and experiences living in the city gave me a different perspective than most in the group though.

We made it to Rue de Jean and were relieved to be back in the air conditioning with a glass of ice water. On the menu for us: Mussels and Pommes Frites. Only since this past spring have I grown to like oysters – oyster roasts being a very popular Charleston tradition. However I had still never tried mussels, which are very similar (at least to my untrained palate). Guilds told us Rue de Jean’s mussels are the best in the city, so I knew this would be the right place to try them first. Sure enough, they hit the spot.

Mussels in a white wine broth (although I can’t remember exactly which of their various broth options we were given)

I ate half of the pommes frites without one regret. It’s hard to go wrong with fries, and these were no exception.

Pomme Frites – if you’re not feeling fancy, just call them french fries, I won’t mind. Although the chef might. 

Next brings us to the last stop of the day. Prohibition is primarily a bar, so I wasn’t expecting to be overly impressed by the food. Boy was I wrong.

Moscow Mule

Chef Stephen Thompson came out from behind the kitchen to talk to us about the dishes – a cheese plate, but not just any old cheese plate, and a mini cast iron skillet of shrimp and grits, again, not just any old shrimp and grits.

Cheese and veggie plate (not on the menu) – assorted cheeses, candied onion, candied pecans, roasted cherry tomatoes, pickled cauliflower, berries and toast

Smokey Shrimp and Grits – smoked shrimp over local ‘adluh’ smoked gouda grits finished with a 
duck creole sauce, served with a sweet roll + crispy golden egg

That EGG!!! This was the most unique spin on traditional shrimp and grits I’ve ever had. I loved it so, so much.

Now that it’s all said and done, and I can honestly say I would go back to every one of those restaurants again for the full dining experience. Thanks so much to Charleston Culinary Tours and all of the restaurants for having us!

The tours aren’t cheap, ranging from about $40-75 per person, however you can expect to walk away full (depending on which tour you choose since some are more focused on meeting the chefs, learning about how the kitchen operates, etc.). There also isn’t another way I know of to be able to try so many different restaurants and foods in one day for a price like that. If you’re interested in the history of Charleston, this tour also gives you a good bit of that as well.

Locals – have you been to any of these restaurants? Which would you try first?
Everyone else – do they have culinary tours in your city? 

I love the concept and would be interested to try something similar in other places.

Check out Charleston Culinary Tours’ website here.
Like them on Facebook here.
Follow them on Twitter here.

*Disclaimer: While I received admission to the tour for free, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Weekend Eats 7-21-14

Today is double the fun with Weekend Eats from the past two weekends. Hey, it was too good not to share. First we’ll back up to two weeks ago.  
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, based out of Columbus, Ohio (my hometown if you didn’t already know), recently opened up shop in downtown Charleston. Yippee! With so many unique flavors, they not only will let you have as many samples as you want, they highly encourage it. 
I had to go with the taste of my hometown with The Buckeye State – peanut butter ice cream with an abundance of dark chocolate pieces throughout. I paired it with Salted Caramel. For a size small, you actually get to pick two flavors. How awesome is that? The ice cream isn’t cheap, but if you’re ever going to spend $5 for two small scoops of ice cream (sugar cone included), Jeni’s is the place to do it. 
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams on Urbanspoon
Also last weekend, Greg and I rekindled our love with grilled pizza. It had been a month or so since we took the dough to the grill, which was far too long. Greg wants nothing to do with goat cheese on a pizza, or anywhere for that matter, whereas I think goat cheese has never tasted better than on pizza. The pizza ended up being half pepperoni and half thinly sliced tomatoes (from our garden!), onion, goat cheese and a blend of seasonings including sage, thyme and crushed red pepper flakes. 
If you’ve never grilled a pizza, get on it! 
Side tracking from food for a second, Zoey Girl went on her first college campus tour. We have high hopes for her scholastic future and wanted to show her around our alma mater, the beautiful College of Charleston. 
Now onto this past weekend. I convinced Greg to try Collective Coffee Co. for lunch on Saturday, a place I have been several times but he had never been.
I sipped on a cappuccino, my new thing. Although, this one was very strong and I quickly realized I’m only used to the American-ized cappuccino, not the authentic, fancy Italian style cappuccino. I had to add a couple packets of stevia before I could sip it down without scrunching my face. I’m sure true espresso connoisseurs would have appreciated it much more though. It’s going to take me some time.
The food on the other hand, was fan. tas. tic. I ate the veggie wrap with bagel chips. This is seriously the best veggie wrap ever and it’s one you can feel good about too – romaine, tomato, corn, black beans, TONS of avocado and a brown butter sauce (okay, so you can feel pretty good about it), all rolled up in a soft and chewy spinach wrap. I have always known how much I love this wrap, but I swear it’s gotten even better. Greg had the pimento cheese biscuit sandwich – brown sugar & pepper bacon, eggs, and cheddar cheese. Also quite delicious and something I would for sure get again. 
Collective Coffee Co. on Urbanspoon
What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?

4th of July Weekend Recap

This 4th of July weekend was one of, if not the, best I can remember. From beginning to end, I can’t think of a single thing I would have changed. Okay, one thing. I would have (and should have) put sunscreen on my face. Whoops. Sorry, dermatologist and future self. 
The weekend ended with a 10 mile bike ride from our house to the Old Village, a historic waterfront neighborhood here in Mt. Pleasant. We somehow managed to avoid any rain, despite the gloomy skies. 
Backing things up to earlier in the weekend…
Zoey explored some marsh land and let her ears flop in the wind. 
We continued to harvest vegetables from our garden, this time picking our very first cucumbers. 
We ate out at my favorite Sullivan’s Island restaurant, Taco Mamacita. And we grilled out at home, three times. Ironically, the tacos shown below were from our cookout, not the restaurant. As much as I love a TM taco, our homemade grilled jerk chicken tacos were simply amazing. Topped with jalapeño pineapple/mango salsa, corn, guac, and chopped romaine for added crunch…WOAH. Speechless. 
We found our new favorite spot to watch fireworks, which happens to be the same place pictured above from our bike ride. The view over the water while watching the sunset, paired with the unseasonably mild temperatures outside made for the perfect night. 
What was the highlight of your 4th? How were the fireworks?

25 Ways to Have the Best 25th Birthday

My list of 25 Ways to Have the Best 25th Birthday really should read: 25 Things I Did (or will do) to Celebrate My 25th Birthday.

1. Declare that your birthday is really more like your birthday week. Take a trip to visit your beautiful sister and grandparents in Orlando to celebrate.

2. One day during your trip, bond with your sister through an exercise class, relaxing with a short nap, drinking some margaritas, going to an Orlando Magic game, and grabbing some drinks downtown.

3. Also be sure to use your “free birthday meal” coupons all week. I was looking forward to using my coupon from First Watch since we don’t have them in Charleston. Brooke and I shared two of our favorite dishes: Floridian French Toast (so appropriate) and the Cherry Chicken Quinoa Bowl. Perfection!

4. Continue the delicious food consumption with sushi. Ohmygosh, how I had been craving sushi! This Hot Lava Roll from Bento Cafe in downtown Orlando hit. the. spot.

5. Be blown away by your sister’s gift to you: a behind the scenes tour and interaction with the BELUGA WHALES! What?! I didn’t even know that existed as an activity. Despite the 50 degree water, it was #amazing.

6. Eat Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. My pictures didn’t do it justice so just use your imagination. Pure indulgence at its finest.

7. When your trip comes to an end, don’t say, “Goodbye” to your sister and grandparents. Instead say, “See ya later!” Goodbyes are no fun.

8. Claim your Starbucks birthday reward drink to for a little pick-me-up during the drive (one of my most anticipated gifts every year).

9. Spend quality time with yourself in the car on a long drive home. Contemplate life, listen to an audio book, pray, and sing your heart out to worship songs…and probably some Katy Perry too.

10. Give your husband a big hug and kiss when you arrive home.

11. Greet your dog with some puppy-talk and receive lots of slobbery kisses. Try not to get tackled.

12. Go to Chipotle for a birthday lunch date.

13. Eat said Chipotle, savoring every single bite.

14. Shop for a real winter coat and gloves in preparation for a trip to Colorado next week (not the typical lightweight stuff that is good enough for living in Charleston).

15. Relax on the couch with your husband and avoid unpacking as long as possible.

(This is where I currently am, so no more pictures to share…)


16. Deem control over the remote for once in your life and watch Glee on Netflix.

17. Take a nap, consider unpacking or doing laundry, but quickly talk yourself out of it and go on a family walk instead.

18. Put on a fun, festive birthday outfit and head out for dinner at Coleman Public House, which by the way will be free for me with yet another birthday coupon! (I’m a pro at getting all the deals if you haven’t noticed.)

19. Meet up with friends for a drink or two.

20. The next day, remind your husband that although your birthDAY is technically over, it’s still technically your birthday week (as previously mentioned in #1).

21. Cleanse your bod with lots of water, fruits and vegetables after a few days of splurging. After all, taking care of you and your body is the most important thing.

22. Anxiously await any final birthday surprises…

23. …but don’t be disappointed if/when nothing else comes 😉

24. Thank the good Lord for blessing you with family and friends who make your birthday so special.

25. Thank God some more for giving you the past 25 years on this earth. Pray for another wonderful 25 and many more to come.

A Lunch Date at Boone Hall Farms

One of the most popular plantations around Charleston (Mount Pleasant to be exact) is Boone Hall. The plantation draws crowds to its pumpkin patch during the fall and strawberry fields in the spring. They supply produce to local restaurants and have their own market/cafe as well. I drive by frequently and have always wanted to see what the market had to offer. Last week, when we didn’t have any groceries at home in preparation for the excessive Thanksgiving food coming our way, Greg and I met at Boone Hall Farms market for a lunch date.

photo 4
After we got our waters and placed our orders at the cute picnic style tables, we wandered around the store to explore. 
photo 3
So much fresh produce!
photo 2
I could have easily spent a lot of money stocking up on jams, dressings, baking mixes and other goodies. I resisted at the time, but am excited to go back for Christmas gifts for family and friends. 
photo 1
Oh, and did I mention the wine?! I wasn’t expecting this. 
photo 5
Finally, it was time to eat. Since I was in the mood to try a variety of things, the Vegetable Plate was the perfect choice. It comes with your choice of four side dishes plus a cornbread muffin. I chose butter beans, broccoli salad, sweet potato fries (sprinkled with cinnamon sugar!!!) and garden vegetables which included roasted carrots, onion, pepper and potatoes. I couldn’t get enough, jumping from one side dish to another, but ultimately those giant thick-cut sweet potato fries were the star of the show. 
I somehow managed to avoid the dessert counter full of cakes and ice cream. It’s a good thing I was in a hurry to get back to the office otherwise I would have likely walked out with a ice cream cone in one hand and a slice of cake “for later” in the other. 
The Boone Hall Farms cafe is my kind of place and I can’t wait to get back for more. 
Locals – Have you been to Boone Hall Farms? If you’re not from around here, do you have any place like this where you live?