A Restaurant Review – Crave Kitchen & Cocktails

You guys. Ohhhh my goodness. I’m dying over my dinner from Crave last night. You want to know how good it was? So good that I, Brittany “Dessert-Obsessed-As-in-I-Have-to-Have-it-Every-Night” Dahn, passed up dessert in turn for finishing off my leftovers later at night.

That never. ever. ever. happens. Taylor Swift style. So let me tell you about it.

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A friend and I (Hi, Kaitlyn!) were supposed to grab sushi before our painting class. I looked up a place that was supposed to be in the same shopping center as the art studio, but after driving around for a few minutes, we didn’t see it and didn’t have much time to keep looking. Crave was right there and since I’ve read such good things about it from Christina, I was excited to give it a try.

I had to make a quick choice, which can be really difficult for me when I haven’t planned ahead and researched the menu. (I had already narrowed down the sushi rolls I wanted, but obviously that was no help now).

I was torn between the Cobb Salad and the Spinach and Tomato Grilled Cheese. Our waitress said both were very good, but said the grilled cheese in particular was really amazing. From my picture above, you already know which I picked. I figured you can get a good salad at a lot of places, but it’s not everywhere you see a grilled cheese on the menu made with goat cheese (!!!!!), provolone, spinach and tomato. If I see goat cheese listed in the menu description, I can’t get my mind off of it.

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The sandwich was everything I hoped it would be and more. And then there were the sweet potato chips – which are really thick-cut round crinkle fries. I could not stop eating those, they were seriously addicting. 
This morning I did the longest run that I’ve done in probably two years. I’m attributing that accomplishment to my meal last night. It must have magically powers.
Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back to Crave. I would love to have this sandwich again, but there are many other things I’m looking forward to trying too. They even have weekend brunch including pancakes, which are apparently the “biggest pancakes you will ever see” according to the menu. Count me in.

Oh yeah, and after I tweeted to Executive Chef Landen Ganstrom about my fabulous meal, he said:
Chef Landen, you’ve got yourself a deal! 
Crave Kitchen & Cocktails on Urbanspoon
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Roasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

There are officially less than three months until my wedding. WHAT?! That is insane. Most of the planning is done, just some little things here and there to finalize. But you know what is super annoying right now? Postage.

I really want and need to get the invites out like, yesterday. I sent Greg to the post office to get postcard stamps for the RSVP cards but they only had apples. I do love apples, but not on my wedding postage. On the bright side, at least Greg was smart enough to know this was not okay and didn’t buy them. So I’ve been looking online and I don’t think wedding postcard stamps exist. At least not for face value. I don’t want to spend $1 for each customized one. That is insane.

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Now that the wedding countdown begins with, “two months and ___ days,” it’s time to get serious about wedding body shape! More importantly, honeymoon shape. Did I mention we’re going to Maui?! Well, we are. We just about have everything booked for our Hawaiian getaway.

I like to think I do a pretty good job of eating a balanced diet on a regular basis, with the occasional weekend indulgences. But it’s easy to get a little too comfortable with the comfort foods during cold winter days.

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A hot, filling, and somewhat spicy soup like this does the trick of satisfying my belly, while keeping me on track and ready for Hawaii!

I’ll just be daydreaming about another cup of this soup and maybe the postcard stamps I need will magically appear.

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Because that makes sense.

Roasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
(Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, Jan/Feb 2013)

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about half of a medium squash)
1 sweet potato, diced
1/2 pound carrots, sliced (about 25 baby carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese for topping, if desired (about 1 tablespoon per cup of soup)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay squash, sweet potato and carrots on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil and gently toss everything to evenly coat with oil. Roast about 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables begin to brown.
2. Add roasted vegetables to a large saucepan over high heat. Add water and vegetable broth. Bring to boil then turn heat to low. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes.
3. Pour contents of saucepan into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add to a clean saucepan over low heat. Stir in sage, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with a tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese immediately before serving.

*Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.

~About 65 calories per cup~

Instagraming.

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Lunch date with my most favoritest sister at Charleston’s Cafe. I’m a little late here – we went over the holidays – but definitely still worth sharing. Best salad I’ve had in a long time, hands down. Salmon, strawberries, sundried tomatoes, cheese (normally served with parmesan, but I subbed goat cheese. They forgot to make the switch originally. No worries. I scooped the parm right off, and threw the goat right on).
Charleston's Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Homemade latte made via one of Greg’s (our) Christmas gifts – a Krups expresso and coffee maker. Served in my new favorite mug, which was a Christmas gift to myself. After using Greg’s ‘G’ all the time, I figured it was time I get my own.
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I think you know what this is. 
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And this. Puppy Wuppy. Excuse me, Princess Puppy Wuppy. 
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I officially declare stuffed baked sweet potatoes one of the best dinners ever. This one was topped with roasted peppers and onions, peas, corn, and salsa. Want another idea? Try this
Pencils! Had to hunt down a sharpener in the office but it was worth it. #nerd
Nerd. No further explanation necessary. 
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Chipotle for life. 
Happy Friday!

Southwestern Style Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Hi friends! 
I hope you haven’t been missing me too much this week. Just bear with me awhile longer as I continue to adjust to my new life with the puppy. Whew! Early mornings, constant potty breaks and playtime sure do make it difficult to spend time on my computer while I’m at home. Especially since Zoey thinks she’s a blogger too and inevitably paws at my keyboard whenever I have my computer open. 
I have a whole new respect for mommy bloggers!

I have been with you in spirit though, thinking about all I would have to tell you about when I finally had some time to write again. 
I did a much better job this week of cooking real meals at home, rather than eating out or throwing together hodgepodge dinners that I was doing a little too frequently the past couple of weeks. 
This is one dinner in particular I have been very excited to share with you. 

This is just about as simple as you can get and it combines literally almost all of my favorite foods into one. The wide variety of flavors and nutritious ingredients make for one satisfying meal.
Southwestern Style Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
(Adapted from Peas and Crayons)
Makes 1 serving (easily multiplied as needed!)
Ingredients:
1 whole medium sweet potato
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cooked black beans
2 tablespoons guacamole
1-2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons crumbled cheese (I used goat cheese)
1 cup lettuce or other greens of choice (optional for serving)
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a fork to poke holes all over the potato. Place potato in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Roll potato around in the bowl to evenly coat. Add salt to bowl and roll again to coat. Once oven is heated, place potato directly on the rack. Bake 45-55 minutes. Remove from oven and slice lengthwise. Use tongs to gently squeeze ends of potato to open it up.
2. Spread lettuce evenly across a plate. Add potato on top of lettuce and top with remaining ingredients. 

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

It’s no secret that I was one of the pickiest eaters ever as a child. I’ve said it many times before, but that’s only because it’s true.
Of all of the foods I didn’t like (or just refused to try), my relationship with baked beans became the joke in my family. I distinctly remember being at a babysitter’s house when I was about five years old and being served baked beans with my lunch. I wasn’t about to give those mushy, brown, smelly beans a taste. Instead, I pushed them around my plate to make it look as if I ate some. Guess what? She fell for it! I got off the hook that day. 

The same thing happened a few years later when my friend’s mom served mashed sweet potatoes for dinner. I had never seen sweet potatoes before then and didn’t know why my usually white potatoes were orange. Ew. Again, I pushed the mush around on my plate so it looked like I ate a few bites.
When I was a little older, my picky tendencies led to a Christmas “gift” that everyone seemed to get a laugh out of: a giant can of baked beans. I mean, GIANT. 
Ha. Ha. Very funny, Family. 

Little did I know, one day I would actually like baked beans. And not just baked beans, but all kinds of beans. I can’t get enough black beans actually. And those sweet potatoes I once stared at in skepticism have become one of my favorite foods. 
Who would’ve thought?!
I have been obsessed with both black beans and sweet potatoes recently. Besides Sweet Potato Quesadillas, I have been enjoying the two foods separately – different meals at different times. I knew what a great combination they make together, so I set out to create a modified version of my favorite Black Bean Burger recipe (which, by the way, has become a weekly staple in my household). 
Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers
(Inspired by How Sweet It Is
Makes 4-6 medium-sized burgers
Ingredients:
1 medium sweet potato
1 cup black beans, cooked
1 egg
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4-6 English muffins, buns, or rolls
Directions:
1. Follow Jessica’s instructions to cook the sweet potato: “Pierce potato all over with a fork and place on a paper towel, setting in the microwave. Microwave for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove, slice in half and let cool until you can scoop out the flesh.”
2. In a medium bowl, add about half of the black beans. Mash well with a fork. Add remaining beans, sweet potato, garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir vigorously to combine. 
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg. Add breadcrumbs and whisk to combine. 
4. Pour egg and breadcrumb mixture into bean and sweet potato mixture. Stir all ingredients together until well combined. 
5. Divide into equal parts to make patties of whatever size you desire (Since I was using English muffins, I made the patties about the same size as the muffins). 
6. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Coat with non-stick spray. Once hot, add patties to skillet. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook another 3 minutes, or until patties are browned. 
7. Place cooked patties on muffins. Top with cheese, sliced avocado or salsa as desired.

Buttermilk Pancakes and Meeting Jenna!

Last night was a breakfast for dinner kind of night. I bought buttermilk from the grocery store a few days ago knowing I just had to make my Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes this week. I have been craving them for a while now and it was time to give in! They were just as perfect as I remember. This time I added cinnamon chips to the batter after pouring it on the pan for my cakes. For Greg’s, I added chopped strawberries. 
On the side, Greg created a little sweet potato hash with onions and peppers. He spiced it up with cayenne peper and some other top secret ingredients. It was delicious!
The only thing missing was a glass of red wine.
Let’s rewind to Tuesday night, shall we? The one and only Jenna Weber of Eat.Live.Run is on a tour promoting her new book, White Jacket Required. Jenna graduated from the College of Charleston, just like me! She came to Barnes and Noble in Charleston for a reading and book signing. We also got to ask her some questions, which was a lot of fun. I was so excited to meet Jenna is person. Her blog has been one of my favorites from the beginning of my blog-reading days and she is such an inspiration. 
Some of my favorite recipes are from her: Spicy Chicken Chili and Jalapeno-Cheddar Hummus.
Here’s a picture of me meeting Jenna, courtesy of Greg who somehow snuck this in from the back where he was standing (yes, I drug him along with me!). I also got to meet Kerr who has a blog of her own, Say Cheese. Be sure to check it out! 

Goat Cheese Vegetable Medley

I have a thing for cupcakes and all sweets in general. But I also have a thing for vegetables, especially vegetable medleys as I like to call them. Some people may have a hard time calling a plateful of vegetables “dinner,” but this particular recipes makes one filling meal with such a variety of flavors that I don’t miss a thing. It proved itself to my three times last week and it’s safe to say I’ll be eating it a couple more times this week too. Hey, that’s what local farmers markets will do to you! 

Top it off with a Morning Star Spicy Black Bean Burger drizzled with ketchup (salsa would be ideal, but I didn’t have any) for a little more substance if you need it. Tortilla chips and salsa would also pair well with this (very similar to my Veggie Nachos). 
Recently I have been struggling to be satisfied trying to keep a semi-vegetarian diet, but this dinner reassured me that I don’t need meat in my life to enjoy a flavorful meal. 

Goat Cheese Vegetable Medley
Makes 1 serving 
Ingredients:
1-2 tablespoon butter or margarine 
1/2 cup diced sweet potato
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup spring mix greens
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
Directions:
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter/margarine in large skillet over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add sweet potato chunks. Let sit for about a minute, then flip with spatula. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover skillet with lid. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes. Remove lid and stir around sweet potato chunks. 
2. Add pepper, onion and zucchini to skillet. Stir all veggies together and add second tablespoon of butter. Toss all veggies to coat with butter as it melts. Let cook about 1-2 more minutes.
3. Add mixed greens and continue to gently toss all veggies. Add seasonings and about half of the goat cheese while stirring. 
4. Remove from heat and pour onto plate. Top with remaining goat cheese.