Food, Recipes

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

I know it’s basic Betty territory, but I really do love it when pumpkin spice latte season rolls around each year. I think for me, it signifies the turn of the seasons and signals the official end to summer. Nothing against summer, but fall, and the months leading into the holidays, equal my wheelhouse for joy.

In my defense, I have always loved the coffee portion of this craze the most for this seasonal treat. I will admit it has gotten a bit out of hand with pumpkin spice eeeeverything, but if you are like me and go cuckoo for that creamy flavor mixed with your morning java, you have to give this a whirl.

It is super easy to make your own pumpkin spice creamer at home. You can mix this with your own choice of coffee, and nowadays, you can get a fairly priced espresso maker and get down to the business of making your very own legit lattes.

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Food, Recipes

Autumn Apple Bundt Cake

Ahhh the beginning of fall. That magical time of year when the air feels crisper, giving us that first little shiver in the morning to tell us that the end of summer is drawing near. The leaves begin to turn and shimmy from the trees to the ground and we have that first inkling to reach for an extra sweater to ease the chill in our bones.

It brings me a thrilling sensation. I am a lover of baking. This is the time of year when all things come to life in this realm of my life. Warm, hearty pies, spongy cakes to accompany an evening tea. There is something that is so lovely and comforting about it all.

The stars of the autumn show when it comes to the baking game are obvi pumpkin and apple, accompanied by their spicy cousins, cinnamon and nutmeg. Naturally, as soon as the first cool breeze hits me, I am off and running to the store for my first batch of fresh, seasonal apples. This is their prime time to shine.

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The Healing Power of a Sound Bath

I recently had the opportunity to partake in a sound bath, a meditative exercise that I have been wanting to try for some time now. I would dare to say that the sound bath has become trendy, as it has appeared recently on many television shows and in yoga studios around the country, but it is actually an ancient art, dating back over 40,000 years.

Ancient Greeks used flutes and lyres to treat digestion and mental health, Tibetans used singing bowls for over 2,000 years for meditation purposes, and Australian aboriginal tribes played the didgeridoo to heal the sick.

I admittedly discovered the experience through one of my guilty pleasure shows on Bravo Network that I frequently view (don’t judge me too harshly!). A group of ladies on the show ventured on a retreat to a desert resort, where they relaxed and took in the sounds and vibes of this healing art.

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Food, Recipes

Ham Delight Bites

If you live in the south, the chances are high that you have had these mini bites of delight at any given party or get together. They are an absolute staple, and if you have tried them, you know why. If you haven’t, then you must add these to your list to whip up for a holiday nibble or gathering.

Growing up in NY, I don’t remember ever coming across these mini sammies. We moved south during my junior year of college, and I remember coming home for the first holiday season and attending get togethers at the homes of my parents’ friends. These little gems were everywhere! Each time I mentioned how delicious they were, as if I had unearthed some sort of ancient treasure, I was generally met with a giggle.

I understand now that the humor in it all was that these have been a must in the south for ages, almost a given, at any get together. There are actually catering companies throughout the south, rated and revered based on this one finger food…I am looking at you Ladyfingers of Raleigh, NC.

They were new to me and I was forever changed for the better for finding them. So now I will share them with you. This recipe is straight from the Southern Living cookbooks, to give credit where it is due. I am simply repeating their genius here with a few small tweaks. Make these once and you will be asked to make them for every occasion, I guarantee you.

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Food, History

My Ode to the Bagel

Picture it: Saturday morning of 1986, one hour ’til Pee Wee’s Playhouse airs on the television. These were the days before DVR, so timing was of the essence. My Mom would awaken me and my brother from a deep slumber with one of the only phrases she knew would entice us out of the nest of our warm, blanketed beds. “Wanna go get bagels?!,” she would shout, as she opened the door to my bedroom, closing it as quickly as it opened. She knew I was a sucker for a good bagel.

I would hurriedly pull on the closest pile of clothing I could find and dive into the minivan with my Mom, making the short trip to the adjacent town of Babylon in Long Island, NY. We could have even walked or ridden our bikes to this place. The waterfront town was idyllic and stunningly beautiful. It was one of my favorite places to roam and explore, but we didn’t have time to meander on Saturday mornings. I had and important viewing schedule to stick to.

As we pulled up and parallel parked in the center of town – there it stood. On early Saturday mornings, the only two shops in the bustling town that appeared opened were the bagel shop and the bakery located directly (and conveniently) across the street from one another.

I will never forget it. The bright orange glow of the Hot Bagels sign fixed in the window, the words slightly blurred by the steam from the molten heat of the bagel ovens colliding with the cool, crisp air on the street side of the thick glass.

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Food, Recipes

Fried Goat Cheese Balls

After years of threatening to try the recipe for goat cheese balls, I finally did it. Now, I am completely unsure of what I was waiting for and how I could have missed out on these tasty morsels for so long.

If you are a fan of the show Vanderpump Rules on Bravo (which I will abashedly admit I am glued to regularly) you will be familiar with these little treats. The show, which follows a group of servers at a SUR Restaurant, a popular West Hollywood eatery, has had this appetizer on rotation and as a topic of conversation since the start of the series, roughly 11 years ago.

I never considered myself a goat cheese fan years back, but I have since developed my palate and come to my senses. I bit the bullet and tried making these mostly out of necessity. We have been trying to lean into eating vegetarian more regularly during the week in an effort to be healthy, but at times, finding recipes that excite us gets cumbersome.

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Food, Recipes

Cherry Berry Protein Ice Pops

Like most of the globe, the southeast is simply blazing more than usual in the dog days of this August heat. By this time in the summer, I am seeking any kind of relief I can find from the hot sun and humidity to keep things light and fun in that last stretch of warm weather.

Judging from my previous posts (and as is evident to anyone who knows me), it is no surprise that I absolutely love to eat. Hands down my favorite past time. I indulge as well as the next person, but during the week, I try to balance things out by exercising and keeping it healthy for my mind, body and energy levels.

That said, anytime I can find a fun, new, healthy way to get my nutrients and actually enjoy my food, I am all for it. This recipe qualifies.

I am not sure if you have seen these little gems, but a few years back, I purchased my own set of ice pop molds…and I mean good, sturdy ones that you can wash and reuse with reckless abandon.

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Summer Nostalgia

A friend of my Dad’s recently shared this photo of his lifeguarding crew from around 1962, the summer he and his group of friends worked together at the Babylon public pool in Long Island, New York. Though this was before my time, it made me feel a certain way just looking at the picture. Thinking of what it was like back then, seeing the happiness on their faces and youthfulness in their appearance.

The folks in this photo were friends, some dated each other, they all hung out together and shared laughs. It was a moment in time that they all fondly remember and share collectively.

Eventually, summer faded and they all went on to pursue their own version of life. Most went to college, got married, had kids, built careers. This was just a fleeting moment in time, but the memory of their summer together lives on through this photo. It is captured bliss. The feeling it brings me is one of nostalgia, though I wasn’t even alive at the time this picture was snapped, it is a sense that we all have within us.

Living on Hilton Head Island, the feeling of summer nostalgia is all around. Driving down the beach roads, clusters of families vacationing together can be seen riding bikes, building sandcastles, sharing meals and making lifetime memories. It is a special thing to have the opportunity to witness on a regular basis.

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Food, Recipes

Easy Fresh Fig Jam

South Carolina is ripe with fresh local figs in the month of July and August. If you haven’t tried a fig, or you just aren’t quite sure of what to do with them, there are recipes galore for cookies, breads, oatmeal bars…the sky is the limit for this tart, sweet fruit in terms of preparation.

One of my very favorite uses for figs when they are in season is, hands down, FIG JAM. If you haven’t had it, I will venture to say you are just plain missing out. Pairing fresh fig jam with a freshly baked baguette, good creamy goat cheese and a drizzle of fresh local honey on top is a can’t miss combo.

And, if you are a fan of the latest charcuterie board craze and find yourself assembling your own decorative platters, fig jam is a must have. It pairs well with a variety of cheeses, breads and crackers and offsets the sharpness of your stronger cheeses beautifully by providing just the perfect hint of sweetness.

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Food, History

Carolina Gold Rice – History of a Heritage Grain

Carolina Gold tops the list as one of my favorites of the traditional southern foods I have learned about since moving to the Lowcountry in 2016.

For years after first arriving to Hilton Head Island, I worked as a server in Hudson’s restaurant on HHI, which is known to many as the oldest dining establishment on the Island. The restaurant has its own storied history to tell. It was originally an oyster packing plant, and many of the long time employees will attest that they have had more than one run in with paranormal experiences there in the quiet hours.

That is a story for another time. Originally, I thought of Hilton Head as a touristy area in the full swing of the summer, which it undoubtedly is, but as I began to ingrain myself into the community and soak up my surroundings, I became absolutely fascinated by the amount of history that is wrapped up in this tiny bit of square mileage.

Much of the history of anything in this area is tied to the roots of the Civil War, and the food is no exception. I find it amazing that everything, even the food we choose for our plates, ties back to a greater story.

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