Travel: Portland Eats & Drinks

It’s no secret one of my favorite things about traveling is all the good food involved.  Normally I’m researching months and weeks in advance of a trip, but I admittedly was a bit more relaxed with this trip, knowing we were visiting two new locals who love good food — while also knowing D is an amazing hostess and chef. This trip also had no shortage of champagne and local beers.

Ambonnay Champagne Bar: This cozy and quaint champagne bar was a bit off the beaten path (at least it seemed to be for me), but ended up being the perfect little spot for pre-dinner drinks, conversation and yummy champagne of course! With a rotating menu of different, hand sourced champagnes you can’t go wrong especially if you are a champagne connoisseur – we simply described our preferred bubbly finish and the lovely owner recommended a delicious glass… or two!
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Travel: Chicago Eats

We squeezed a lot in during our quick trip to Chicago – but there was definitely a lot more on the list of recommendations that we need to get back to try! We pretty much focused on brunch, dinner and dessert of course.

Chicago Style Pizza at Lou Malnati’s – This was B’s pick, since he’d seen the restaurant on Triple D – and it was also conveniently located near our hotel.  The vibe of the restaurant was low-key and because we were seated in the bar area – we had prime seating to watch a few of the March Madness games that were on.  We split a salad and a small classic Chicago deep dish pizza and it was more than enough for the two of us! From Lou’s we ventured over to Sprinkles, a cupcake place each picking out our own treat to enjoy as a night cap – which were absolutely delicious, btw.
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3 Art’s Club Cafe at Restoration Hardware – Through some tricky instagram research I found this spot which ended up also being right near our hotel, this place looked like a dream and with a brand like Restoration Hardware to back it up we knew this would be a top notch spot to enjoy brunch.  Luckily for us, we took advantage of being in town on a week day and beat weekend traffic and waits – and were seated right away next to the focal point fountain and chandelier. The brunch scramble with avocado and texas  toast and side of Canadian bacon did not disappoint, nor did the wedding cake fry cake doughnut or Bellini.  We could’ve stayed here all day… more to come on RH in my next recap!
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The Hampton Social – Another spot found through some tricky instagram research, this place looked trendy and seemed to have a menu to back it up with a decent variety of options to pick from.  Admittedly, B and I were both underwhelmed with not only the restaurant atmosphere/experience but with the food as well.  This would’ve maybe been a better spot for pre-dinner drinks and an appetizer, as everyone pretty much just wanted to get a photo with the ‘Rose all day’ neon sign, including the 12-year olds seated next to us and the food was good enough.
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Brunch, for brunch – This brunch spot had a huge menu to pick from with all your breakfast standards with some fun twists – making it a win-win for everyone.  B had the perfect scramble “Morning Wrecker” that was pretty much made for him, and I went against my better judgement and ordered on the more healthy train with a standard eggs/meat/toast combo instead of the doughnut french toast that I had my eye on.
Brunching Pro-tip: When you’re on vacay, just order the damn french toast – especially if it’s made from doughnuts!
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One reason we love to travel and something we always plan for when we do travel is finding good spots to eat – unfortunately with a short trip there are only so many meals to consume and only so much our stomachs can handle!  So, as I mentioned when we venture back to CHI next time we will definitely be returning to a few of these, while also exploring for some more yummy eats!

What’s your favorite CHI-town eats?
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Travel: Palm Springs Eats

We celebrated our one year anniversary with a little trip back to Palm Springs/Palm Desert California.  What better time to head out west when the temperatures are dipping below 30-degrees and snow flurries are becoming a regular occurrence?  After getting our feet wet a little last year on our honeymoon – we definitely knew of a few spots we wanted to go back too and then a handful of spots yet to explore – and a few we had on our list from watching Desert Flippers on HGTV.

Our Brunch Spot.  From meatloaf with an egg on top, biscuits and gravy, french toast or a tradition eggs with bacon, everything is beyond delicious at Wilma & Frieda’s.  A MUST-HAVE is their biscuits, they fall apart and melt in your mouth, plus are served with a fruit jam that just puts it over the top.

Because It’s Just So Good.  I could’ve had In & Out burgers everyday, the double cheeseburger is the only way to go.  Plus the first bite needs to be documented at all accounts – plus with a side of animal style fries, yum, yum, yum! Whether you’re getting this go to or dining in the experience of an old-school diner topped with a delicious meal is a west-coast must.

The Perfect Drink + Dinner Combo.  One of our favorite nights was spent with family friends who live in the desert year round.  We told them to pick the spots and we would come along for the ride!  We started with drinks at the bar at Lulu Bistro (which we also brunched at) to get the evening started with a fun atmosphere and music.  From there we popped over to Tropicale and had the perfect seats out on their patio, which is a must when you dine in there! We ordered a number of small plates, continued to drink, laugh and just sampled a variety of dishes – the calamari was by far one of the best things we had!

A few other honorable mentions that are must visits throughout the greater Palm Springs and Palm Desert area are AC3 at Hotel Paseo – the service, food and atmosphere was incredible it was a good pick.  Spencers was another brunch spot, but came highly recommended as a favorite dinner spot from our desert dwelling friends – the patio again was magical with trees growing up right up into the sky.

We had a great time eating our way through our trip -one night we even grabbed sushi at a Japanese Steakhouse because we were craving it for our actual anniversary dinner!  It was so good, although we didn’t put the Steakhouse name and idea together until we sat down. Every spot we went had a fun yet welcoming atmosphere with bright colors and warm faces – not to mention most of the patios had heaters too, so it was perfect for morning breakfast or late night dinners!

The sad part and good part is there are so many other, trendy, delicious spots that we haven’t even visited yet! The good news is we’ll also have new places to try while still being able to head back to our favorites.  What’s your favorite desert dining spot?

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Travel: Asheville Eats (but really drinks)

In case you missed it, we ventured down to Asheville, NC this past Memorial Day weekend and it was full of delicious food and lots of beers (bubbles, too!).  There were a number of breweries downtown that were all walkable and perfect for creating your own mini brewery tour even with your furry friends.   Asheville is also home to some more known breweries like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, both different but awesome in their own ways!
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Curate: This was our first dinner and true introduction to Asheville, NC and boy was it a fun introduction with lots of tapas!  Curate offered a diverse array of options not only for your food choices, but the way you dine and enjoy your meal.  You could order from cold to hot, but they also had a option where they would bring you options based off your taste preferences.  We enjoyed and casually ordered different dishes, sharing amongst the table – it was a fun and delicious dining experience, be sure to make a reservation ahead of time!
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Over Easy Cafe: This cozy spot is definitely worth the wait, and since it’s fairly central downtown there are plenty of places to keep you occupied while you wait (we waited just over an hour!)  The menu is fairly standard for your normal brunch and caters to those who may be a bit more traditional with their picks or a little more adventurous.  All of our dishes were beyond delicious and the mason jar mimosa was the perfect way to kick off another fun day of vacation!
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Burial Beer Co. Although we didn’t eat here, we grabbed a drink, as this spot was collectively loved by the group for their tasty brews and low-key atmosphere. I especially loved this place, because while ordering the Donut Stout, I said; “Boy, would I love to eat a donut with this.” And the next thing I know, B is coming out with my beer and a donut hole skewered on top! *mindblown* it was SOOOO perfect, plus another pup friendly place!

New Belgium. This was B’s favorite spot we visited, he loved the atmosphere, the buildings, and of course the beers (it was a little bubble of fun!).  We also had an insider hook up and got a private tour of the facilities, from the employee lounge and indoor slide (which B rode, twice!), to the yeast laboratory, employee beer fridge, to B being able to pull some freshly canned beers right off the line.  It was pretty cool and such an impressive facility.  Oh and you guessed it, dog friendly!
14Food + Beer - Asheville - the bee lifeA few other honorable mentions;
Farm Burger. This was a late night dinner for us, that we took back to the house. With pre-made options to choose from, you can also create your own burger, plus the sesame seed topped buns hit the spot.  Not to mention the staff was super friendly and welcoming!
The Montford. With awesome views of the mountains, this is a perfect spot for a drink and snack.  The tater tots were seriously life changing, the whole group collectively was swooning over these!
Sierra Nevada. This place was a fricken compound – and I mean it was massive, ridiculous and just overall impressive.  With an extensive outdoor area, with a full concert venue (inside and out), corn hole (inside and out), and then their beautifully organized garden this place was stunning.  Whether you dine, grab a flight of beers, or just hang out with some friends and listen to music you’ll enjoy the offerings of this establishment!

If you’re planning your trip to Asheville, definitely get your taste buds and uber ready because you won’t be short of breweries to visit, beers to try and food to eat!  Our afternoon of brewery hopping was perfect because we just had a beer or two at each of the places and it was a nice way to enjoy a lot of different places throughout the day!  Have you been to Asheville recently? What was your favorite spot?

Travel: Myrtle Beach Eats

So one of the fun parts of traveling is trying new food spots! Although, Myrtle Beach is filled with chains, we tried to find some spots that weren’t native to our area, or were a one off, I think we did a pretty good job!

Sam Snead’s Oak Grill & Tavern
A golfer’s paradise, full of memorabilia and achievements by Sam Snead. The menu is cleverly named with golfing terms like; “Tee Off” for the appetizers, “Water Hazard” for the fish selections, and “In The Fairway” just to name a few. Since it was our first dinner out, the theme and selections were based around the idea of YOLO so I went with a Peach Lemonade Cocktail, Salad and Baby Back Ribs, B ordered the fish and chips.

Famous Toastery
This was a random find for a late brunch one afternoon, and it was an awesome pick! The menu was impressive, serving breakfast and lunch all day from 7AM – 3PM. Everything is made to order for easy customization for any dietary needs. Not to mention they have all your brunch beverage necessities from mimosas, to bloody mary’s and even beermosa’s. We stopped here twice for brunch and each time left impressed and wanting more!

Brother Shuckers Fish House
We ended up here for dinner, again looking for a place a bit off the beaten path with a nice atmosphere and yummy eats.  They did not disappoint, from the drinks to the entrees, everything was absolutely delicious. I ordered the speciality cocktail, a Raspberry Cosmo, I could’ve drank those all night. Then for my entree I ordered the Pecan Encrusted Salmon with green beans, perfection. B ordered the Peppertini (yum!) and Stuffed Tilapia, all the other dishes around the table looked amazing.  It also sounded like their cocktails changed often and the bartender made his own mixers and concoctions, so it was definitely a great spot for a good drink on top of good food!

We definitely ate and drank well over our trip to the beach! Have you been to Myrtle Beach recently? What’re your favorite spots for brunch, lunch or dinner? Comment below!

Cheers!

Chocolate Mug Cake – The Recipe

Happy Friday! Ever craving an after dinner sweet, but don’t have anything baked or sweets to pull from? I’ve got a recipe that pulls from ingredients that are easy to store and have around the house, and perfect for those sweets cravings! Plus it has a low ‘bake’ time – since it’s all done in the microwave, yeap, it’s that easy… not to mention mouth-watering and delicious!Chocolate Cake Mug Recipe - the bee lifeWhat You’ll Need:
– 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
– 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
– 3 tablespoons of almond milk
– 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
– 12 oz. microwave safe mug
– Splash of vanilla extract <optional>
– Pinch of salt <optional>
– 3 tablespoons of chocolate chips <optional>

Step-by-Step:
1.  First measure out the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into your mug, and blend together with a fork.
2. Next add the milk, vegetable oil and vanilla, blend together until smooth finish.  If you’re using chocolate chips, stir these in last!
3. Microwave on high for 90-seconds – let cool for 2-3 minutes before eating! Your cake should be moist and delicious!
4. Enjoy!
Chocolate Cake RecipeThis is a great option for a dinner party, for individual serving sizes for your guests, or even splitting one to share!  This would be great paired with raspberries, ice cream or whip cream as additional toppings, enjoy!

Breakfast Casserole – The Recipe

I’ve got the perfect recipe for an upcoming work week or a weekend brunch.  This breakfast casserole is super easy to make, low prep and super tasty!
breakfast-casserole

What You’ll Need:
– 12 oz. reduced-fat bulk pork sausage
– 1 medium sized onion, chopped
– 2 eggs
– 4 egg whites
– 2 cups fat-free milk (I used almond milk)
– 1.5 teaspoons of ground mustard
– 1 teaspoon salt & pepper
– 8 slices of white bread, cubed
– 2 cups (8oz) of shredded cheddar

Step-by-Step:
1. Cook the sausage and chopped onion in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Cook until sausage is no longer pink, drain and cool.
2. In large bowl, beat the eggs, egg whites, milk, mustard, salt and pepper together.  Stir in the cubed bread, cheese, sausage and onion mixture. Pour into 13 x 9-inch baking dish (coated with baking spray).
3. Cool and refrigerator (okay over night).
4. Remove from fridge for 30-minutes before baking.
5. Bake, uncovered at 350-degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes clean from the center.  Let stand for 5-minutes before cutting and enjoying.

If you want to make a veggie option; switch out the meat and add in some of your favorite veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach.  Just be careful to drain appropriately as it will get watered down a bit more so may want to bake a bit longer than the recommended pork version.  Whip up a Bloody Mary or mimosas and enjoy!

Enjoy!

Avocado Eggs – The Recipe

I’ve always seen the pictures on Pinterest of eggs cooked in avocados, and thought two things:

1. YUM
2. That looks like too much work

Well I was right about only one of those statements, YUM.  These guys are super easy to make so follow along and prepare to be amazed and so happy you tried something new.

What You’ll Need:
– Ripe Avocados (a little squishy)
– Eggs
– Muffin Pan
– Any other toppings; sriracha sauce, bacon bits, tomatoes,  onion… the options are endless.

Step-by-Step:

  1. Cut your avocado in half and remove the pit.  Next scope out more of the center to create a little nook for your egg.
  2. Place your eggs in the muffin pan so they rest and are secure, then crack an egg into each of your avocado halves. The egg will probably overflow a little bit, that’s OK.
  3. Add any seasonings or extra toppings, carefully, and then place carefully into the oven. You’ll want it at 450 and you’ll cook for at least 15 minutes.  Once 15-minutes is up check to see if it’s still gooey, if so, throw in for another 2-minutes, you might have to repeat this a few times – at least we have too.
  4. Let cool and then scoop out of the skin or eat from the skin and enjoy! It’s great by itself or enjoy on a salad like we often do for dinner.

We usually make these for dinner but these would be awesome with a side of bacon and some toast on a weekend morning and a warm cup of joe!

Enjoy!

Travel: Denver Recap – Part 1

This past week, B and I traveled out west to Denver, Colorado!  It was our first time out there (well being anywhere besides passing through DEN) so we were really excited to go explore a new place and get out of town for a long weekend. We were able to explore and see a lot of Denver, at least I think for the short time we were there, but still felt like there was so much more we could’ve experienced and saw.  Since we did cover off on a lot, a recap on the important stuff… food and beer.

Historians Ale House – Broadway St.We visited Historians our first night in Denver, and met up with my cousins there – otherwise would have never found this spot.  They had a rooftop patio that we were able to enjoy, it was a beautiful night.  We snacked on chips, salsa and queso – the waiter said the queso was to die for.  And then since it was dollar taco night, decided to have a mixing of fish, beef and chicken tacos! They were almost bite size, so it was good that we all ordered a bunch. It was a fun spot, and great atmosphere but definitely in line for a bar atmosphere and menu offering. FullSizeRender (4)

The French Press – Lakewood, COAlthough we were only able to have breakfast here once, this small little cafe across from our hotel was the perfect spot for breakfast, a great cup of coffee and a fun homey atmosphere.  There were so many good sounding items on the menu that it was hard to choose.  We had high hopes and intentions on returning the next day for a different menu item, but unfortunately had poor planning and time management to enjoy it again!  They also had lunch and happy hour specials for people to take advantage of beyond the morning breakfast offerings. For our breakfast; I opted for the French toast, which came with eggs and bacon and I added some fresh strawberries on top, it was served with graham cracker syrup, yum!  B went with “Sterling’s Sweet Biscuits” – toasted chipotle butter biscuits, topped with chorizo gravy, cheese and eggs with a side of potatoes. YUM!! FullSizeRender (1)FullSizeRender (3)IMG_4125IMG_4128

Bruz Brewery – DenverWe visited the recently opened (we were there for their grand opening), Bruz Brewery since it’s close to my aunt and uncles place. Rested in a new development this spot is prime real estate for this up and coming area. Not to mention; dog friendly both inside and out!  They had about 12-beers on tap. Since we only visited for a quick drink I went for the Summerfield Saison and B had the Dawg Daze IPA. I can’t wait to see how that brewery grows and expands, especially in their spot. The best part about visiting Bruz is that we were able to do so with my aunt and uncle and two cousins, while trying out a new spot (that we would’ve never known about).  IMG_4143IMG_4144

Tivoli Brewing Co. – Downtown DenverWe were introduced to Tivoli Brewing Co., for the welcome reception Friday night before the wedding (the reason we traveled to Denver).  We were welcomed by a lavish spread of beers and bite-size treats; everything was to die for. Our spread included the; High Five Chicken Potstickers, Parmobello Mushrooms, What the Buck Bavarian Pretzels, Sweet Hot Brussel Love, and mini 2 Pigs in a Sleeping Bag. Seriously everything was SO good, we were snacking and sipping all night. The beer selection was impressive (and overwhelming – at least to me!), I stuck to their Tivoli Helles, it was a golden hued lager. Their atmosphere was fun and underground-esq.  They also had amazing city views from their large outdoor patio space – also a prime spot for baseball fireworks viewing.  IMG_4154IMG_4157IMG_4159DSCN2520We enjoyed Tivoli so much (and it was super close to the hotel everyone else was staying at) that we killed some time for a light lunch pre-wedding on Saturday and enjoyed some more beers. I opted for something new and tried the Seasoned Skirt Steak and Chargrilled Chicken Vindaloo tacos – they were both topped with gucamole, fresh cilantro, red onion and queso fresco.  B went ahead and ordered the fullsize; 2 Pigs in a Sleeping Bag and a side of fries. IMG_4238IMG_4236

We would’ve ate more and explored a few other spots if we’d had more time between wedding festivities and trying to be tourists and see some sights. But we had a good mix and spreading of foods.  Next time we’re in Denver we will definitely spend more time downtown on “brewery row” – at least that is what I am calling it, a few people had described it as such and sounded like a must!

Any favorites spots or recommendations for our next trip out to DEN?