Aug 31, 2012

The Friday Five 8.31.12

1. What I’m Reading: Back up to last week when I started reading The Weight of Silence. I read it in 48 hours because it is so good. It’s very emotional and moving, gripping you from the very first chapter. Each chapter switches back and forth through a few different narrators,  and I enjoyed reading the story from each perspective. To give you a brief summary, the book is about two little girls who go missing and their family’s quest to bring them home safely. Reading the chapters through the older brother’s eyes was my favorite. As the oldest of 3 brothers, I got so emotional imagining what it would be like to have one of my siblings missing. For someone who doesn’t cry often, I’ll admit, I teared up several times and cried a couple. I insist you read this!

After being so pleased with Heather Gudenkauf’s writing style, I immediately checked out a second book of hers: These Things Hidden. Oh, and guess what. I read that in 2 days too. It was good – the last few chapters were the best – but the other book was better. 2 books in a week? Nerd alert.

2. What I’m Eating: Well, we talked about my new Sriracha obsession on Monday. I’ve been putting it on everything. I even put it on a pickle at work. It was actually really good.

Clearly on the road to Spicytown, USA, I also picked up a bag of Chipotle Cheddar Pretzel Crisps.  I have no idea how my intestines survived this week.

3. What I’m Listening to:  We are a little over two months away from the release of Breaking Dawn Part 2. Yes, I’m having a countdown until Amanda and I can do this again:

That said, I’ve been listening to some of the Twilight stations on Spotify and discovered “Turning Page” by Sleeping at Last. You’re welcome for the song and the queer video.

4. Recipes I’m Bookmarking:  Blackened Salmon with Crunchy Coconut Couscous.

5. GIFs I’m Loving:




One more thing before I bid you adieu for the weekend. A sweetheart reader of mine, Raheen, is running in the Tower of Terror 10 Miler Run with the Autism Speaks team. She needs to raise $750 by September 15th. This money can help with research and hopefully one day a cure. If you’re able to donate, please check out the link to her donation page here. Every bit helps!

I hope you all have a wonderful, blessed weekend! 

Aug 29, 2012

CLIF Mojo Bar Giveaway For National Trail Mix Day!

Last week I posted a list of my favorite healthy snacks. Luna bars, in particular, are made by CLIF, the maker of Mojo bars. CLIF Mojo bars are sweet and salty trail mix bars that come in six different flavors:

  • Chocolate Almond Coconut
  • Honey Roasted Peanut
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Mountain Mix
  • Peanut Butter Pretzel
  • White Chocolate Macadamia

CLIF MOJO 6 flavor fan - 080310

Mojo bars are 70% organic and contain 8g of protein with no trans fats or processed sugars. They’re a great on the go snack, and are sweet enough to satisfy your dessert craving!

In celebration of National Trail Mix Day, August 31st, I’m hosting a giveaway! Five of you will each win FIVE Mojo bars!

  • Honey roasted Peanut
  • Mixed Nut
  • Mountain Mix
  • Peanut Butter Pretzel
  • Chocolate Almond Coconut

CLIF MOJO Honey Roasted Peanut - 080310CLIF MOJO Mixed Nuts - 080310CLIF MOJO Mountain Mix - 080310CLIF MOJO Peanut Butter Pretzel - 080310MOJO Choc Almond Coconut - 020311

To enter, all you have to do is…

Tell me something nice.

Yep, that’s it. Giveaway ends Friday, September 7th, when I’ll randomly pick a winner. Good luck!

Aug 28, 2012

Next Door–A Neighborhood Bistro

Have you been to Next Door in Mt. Pleasant yet? I hope you say yes, and if not, you should say you’re going very soon! Last week I connected with the social media reps behind Next Door who graciously invited me in for a dinner review. I had been to Next Door twice for pizza and wine – their fig and and goat cheese pizza is amazing – but never for an actual dinner. On Friday, Amanda and I started our weekend with a phenomenal meal.

In the space that Samos once was, Ben Berryhill and his partner from Red Drum opened up Next Door late last Summer. The restaurant is very open and inviting, but with low lighting that gives it somewhat romantic vibe. Our waitress epitomized what I look for in a perfect server. She was friendly, attentive, very patient, and offered her opinion of the menu items with emotion. When asking her thoughts on specific items, she spoke of them as if recalling fond memories, and not just repeating what we had read on the menu. 

While glancing over the menu, Amanda and I each ordered a glass of wine – Malbec for her and a Cabernet/Merlot blend for me. I’ve had several different wines here and they are all fabulous. Each glass is only $6, which I love; you don’t consider the price when choosing and your decision is more focused on a varietal you’ll enjoy. 

Chef Ben Berryhill suggested we start with a summery appetizer: Chilled Cucumber Melon Soup with Dill Cream and Radish. This cool soup was refreshing and silky smooth from the dill cream. Amanda and I thought the baby spoons were the cutest thing!

I immediately knew I wanted to try the Arancini with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, and Braised Beef. I first discovered arancini in Rome and fell in love with the fried balls of rice, cheese, and meat. Next Door’s version is just as delicious – they were warm, crispy, and cheese poured out with each bite. The tomato sauce on the side was sweet and rich – a nice addition to the salty arancini.

The chef also suggested we try a new menu item that was very similar to the only entrée I tried at Samos: Shrimp Saganaki, Heirloom Tomatoes, Feta, Lemon. We loved this!

Next, we moved onto pasta. The Raviolo with House Ricotta, Prosciutto, Farm egg, and Sage is the largest piece of pasta I’ve ever seen. It took up the entire plate! The very delicate raviolo was filled with the perfect amount of ricotta and prosciutto and sat in a rich, buttery sauce.

Finally, it was time to try some main courses. First was the Wild Sockeye Salmon with Corn, Bacon, Charred Okra, Mushrooms, and Heirloom Tomatoes. The salmon was extremely moist and the corn and okra it sat upon gave the entrée a nice crunch.

Amanda had the Scamp Grouper with Jasmine Rice Pilaf, Peas, Asparagus, and a Fine Herb Vin. Her grouper, cooked perfectly, was buttery and sweet.

Don’t ask me how we made room for dessert and coffee, but we did. See, we’re still smiling.

Smiling about this! Dessert was an Almond Tart with Blueberry Compote and candied Almonds.

We were just as excited when our server brought out French press coffee. Silly excited.

Cheers! It was so good, we both drank our entire press full of coffee . No wonder why we were so bouncy the rest of the evening. French press coffee from Next Door + Trio could make for a very interesting evening.

Next time you’re in Mt. Pleasant, be sure to check out Next Door! It’s a fabulous place with incredible food. Don’t forget to check out their dinner menu beforehand!

Connect with them on:

**Thank you to Jennifer, Chef Ben, Chef Nathan, Lauren, and the rest of the team! It was a pleasure meeting you all and we can’t wait to see you soon!**

Next Door on Urbanspoon

Aug 27, 2012

Spicy White Bean and Chicken Chili with Sriracha

This may sound ridiculous, but last week in Charleston, the weather was really cool. When I say cool, I mean mid 80s with no humidity. It was amazing! We enjoyed every bit of it knowing that just around the corner came nasty weather. Look at this week:

Gross, right? But it’s perfect weather for soup, chili, and cookies, so let me share a chili with you. Amanda and I made this last Thursday after work and it was excellent. I hope you like spicy food…

Spicy White Bean and Chicken Chili


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 2 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed, and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 (32 oz.) container fat-free, low-sodium chicken stock
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
  • Sriracha, for extra heat!


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the ground chicken, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and salt.  Stirring frequently, cook until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the beans, kale, corn, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Top with Parmesan cheese and Sriracha!

Can we talk about Sriracha for a minute? I’ve tried it a couple times in the past and liked it, but while Amanda and I were housesitting, I become obsessed. I think we went through half a bottle in the 5 days we were at her parents’. We put it on everything: this chili, breakfast sandwiches, avocado dip, and veggie burgers. There were several times this weekend that we were at the table eating with tears popping out of our eyes, wiping our noses from the burn. It’s so hot, but so good you can’t stop!

I even put this book on hold at the library, so don’t be surprised if you see a lot of Sriracha recipes in the near future.

Are you a fan of Sriracha hot sauce?

What’s your favorite thing to put it on?

Aug 26, 2012

The Weekend.

Since Thursday, Amanda and I were housesitting at her parents’ house. We cooked a ton of good food (lots of recipes coming!), ate a bunch of desserts, went out with friends, and enjoyed the glorious 80-degree weather.

Friday - Dinner at Next Door in Mt. Pleasant, then drinks downtown at The Macintosh and Hall’s.

Saturday - Healthy cookie baking…which ended up being our dinner. Twice.DSC_0178

More upper King bar hopping with friends.


Tree hugging. Kaye and I doing our usual tree pose in which she’s always in disco ball attire and I’m embracing the pastels. NYC fashion vs. CHS fashion. It’s quite different!photo-6

Sunday - Breakfast sandwiches: English  muffins, fried egg, pepper jack cheese, avocado, sriracha. Our mouths were on fire!image

Tutti Frutti froyo! Cookies & Cream, White Chocolate, and Peanut Butter with M&Ms, Heath bar, and cookie dough bits.IMAG3287

Sunshine and sunset on the water.IMAG3291

Coming up this week:

  • a Spicy White Bean & Chicken Chili recipe
  • a  healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe (using chickpeas!)
  • review of Next Door
  • Clif MOJO bar giveaway!  

Aug 24, 2012

The Friday Five 8.24.12

1. What I’m Reading: After the flop that was Dare Me, I knew I needed a more thrilling mystery to read. Jenna recently posted about two great books she read, the first of which I read a couple years ago. The second, The Weight of Silence, really intrigued me. I started it last night; 100 pages in, I’m hooked!

2. What I’m Eating: Amanda and I are housesitting this weekend, so breakfast was provided by her parents. (Thanks Martha and John!) This was a delicious combo:

3. What I’m Listening to:  How about a change-up from the recent hipster tunes? This Top 40 hit has been stuck in my head lately. I usually can’t stand Taylor Swift, so I just don’t watch the video, ha!

4. Recipes I’m Bookmarking: I want to make this Sweet Raspberry Dip for our next Book Club meeting. It’s only 3 ingredients, one of which is Greek yogurt.

5. GIFs I’m Loving:



I think this next one might be my favorite…


I hope you all have a wonderful, blessed weekend!  Red heart

Aug 22, 2012

My Favorite Healthy Snacks

I’ve mentioned it before – I really love snacks. Lots of little meals > 3 big meals. Here are the snacks I most often eat.

1. Greek yogurt. It’s packed with protein, is rich and creamy, and full of flavor. My favorite brands, by far, are Fage and Chobani.. My absolute favorite is Fage’s Cherry 0%. I don’t typically like cherry-flavored foods, but this is the jam.

I also really like their Blueberry 0%.

Of all of the Chobani flavors, Pineapple 2% is the one I buy the most. Just like their Passion fruit flavor, it’s very tropical.

Surprisingly, I love their Lemon 0%. It’s really refreshing!

2. Luna bars. Let’s be honest, these things are “healthier” candy bars. They’re made with 70% organic ingredients and contain many essential vitamins and nutrients. Iced Oatmeal Raisin is ridiculously good.

I’ve noticed that people either love the Iced Oatmeal Raisin or the S’mores flavor, but not both. Weird, right? My other top flavors are Peanut Honey Pretzel, Chocolate Dipped Coconut, and Blueberry Bliss.

3. Nuts! I prefer almonds and walnuts, but put me in front of a can of cashews or peanuts and I won’t deny them. First and foremost, I like plain ol’ nuts in their natural state. I buy them in bulk from either Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

4. Fruit. I love almost all fruit in its natural state. Bananas, blueberries, and strawberries are my favorite. I’ll also never say no to pineapple. Have I ever told you I briefly lived in Hawaii with my mom when I was 3? Yep. Check this out. Someone was eating a lot of pineapple in 1987.

5. Back to the food. In high school, chips were my weakness. Nowadays, I reach for popchips. They’re not baked or fried, but instead air-popped. They have the best flavors and are so crunchy. I have little to no self control around a bag of Barbecue or Salt & Pepper popchips.

Their newest flavor, Sweet Potato, is quite different because it’s sweet, but is absolutely delicious.

Have you guys seen the new tortilla popchips? I’m dying to try them!

6. String cheese. I hadn’t had string cheese in years until very recently when I visited my grandparents. I forgot how convenient of a snack this is. And it’s cheese. Come on. We all love it. These bad boys are only 50 calories a pop (stick?) and, well, they’re fun to play with.

Embrace your inner 10-year-old and buy a bag of these.

7. Cottage cheese + jam. Sorry if you just threw up after reading that. It’s a great combo, I swear! Cottage cheese packs a punch of protein, and if you buy a lower sodium or low-fat kind, is a great post-workout snack. Top it with some jam for extra flavor. Just try it! +

8. Carrots + hummus. Sabra’s Roasted Garlic hummus is the best! +

9. Avocado + toast. It’s one of the most simple, yet delicious, snacks I eat. Just top a piece of toast with a couple avocado slices, drizzle with honey, top with salt & pepper, eat munch away.

10. COOKIES! Of course! Can’t stop, won’t stop. These aren’t healthy, but I could never leave them off my list of favorite snacks. ;)

What’s your favorite snack?

Are you team Fage or Chobani?

Favorite Luna bar flavor?