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I’ve built a fair amount of pillow/blanket forts in my day, some more recently than you’d think. Not to long ago, I built a fort for Andy and I using our dining room table, and we had dinner in it. Next time I’ll probably put the cats in another room, but all in all, it was a lot of fun. Forts are one of those great things about childhood that seems to fall away as we inevitably “grow up”, but I don’t think we ever really lose that joy. I mean, I know a lot of women who have canopy beds, which isn’t really that different. I was absolutely delighted when I saw that the blog A Pair & A Spare created a whole beautiful brunch concept around a decorative “canopy” (which is just another word for fort). Here are some of my favorite images:
It gets even better; if you check out the original post here, there is a DIY on how to create your own gorgeous canopy. Brunch is amazing enough on its own, but fort brunch? Does it get any cooler?
All images from A Pair & A Spare.
Since brunch is pretty much my favorite meal EVER, I knew I was going to have to try the one at Blu Halo a restaurant that opened practically five minutes from our front door. We’ve been twice now, once with a group and once just the two of us, and I have to say we were pretty pleased both times we went.
Now I am going to go ahead and throw out the small handful of negatives I have before we get to the much more plentiful “good stuff” . 1-price, the menu is on the higher side for brunch here in town, and many of the items are worth the investment, but there are a few things that I personally felt missed the mark a bit. 2- menu options. I am a pescetarian which is a bit odd when dining out anyway, but the menu options were very limited for someone like me. Now on to the good stuff. This place is by far the “fanciest” restaurant in the area, and the hostesses and wait staff go above and beyond to give you the best dining experience possible. Also, the place is spotless, and the staff is fantastic at keeping things cleared away and wiped down, a strange thing to note I know, but I always consider extra attention to cleanliness a plus. To the food!Apple Jacks French Toast – this was one of the meh, menu items for me. It was super sweet, and I ended up giving most of it to Andy in return for some of his waffle. Chicken & Waffles – Now obviously I didn’t try the chicken part of this, but Andy said it was some of the best fried chicken he’s had, and the waffles were crispy, fluffy, vanilla-y amazingness. Shrimp & Grits – a southern staple and one of the things I was most disappointed about not being able to eat (the sauce has ham & sausage in it), but my friend ordered it and she said it was good. A little bit of heat, the shrimp were well spiced, and the grits were creamy and perfect. Steak & Eggs – This is Andy’s favorite thing he has had there yet. Flavorful chimmichuri sauce, tender steak, crispy potatoes, and peppery micro greens. I stole a few of the potatoes, and I can honestly say that they were awesome and the sauce was herbaceous; I could see how it would help balance the richness of the steak and the fried egg.
So there you have it, a great local place, and for us, it is perfect for those weekend mornings where you don’t really want to stray too far from the house, but you don’t feel like cooking either.
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen these days. To be completely honest, I don’t usually put a whole lot of effort when it come to dinner during the week. A lot of open this bag and reheat this frozen entree type of thing. However, a couple friends of ours have recently become parents, and we’ve been taking meals to them a few times a week. Where I am unwilling to make the effort just for us, it’s a completely different story when it comes to someone else. Mostly I make dinner items that are easily microwaveable, but I’ve also been trying to throw in hand-sized baked goods that are easily consumed in between feedings and diaper changing. This weekend I decided to whip up some Cranberry Maple Muffins.
- After making the Apple Cider Muffins last month, I knew I’d have to overfill the cups to get the generously sized muffins (I think) most of us prefer. With that in mind, this recipe yielded 8 muffins instead of 12.
- I used real maple syrup (from Canada, no less), and if “maple” wasn’t in the title, no one would be able to tell it was an ingredient. It brought the needed sweetness, but if you want straight up awesome maple flavor? This is not the recipe for you.
- This is a personal preference, but without the maple flavor being noticeable, I thought these muffins needed something extra to round out the flavor. My vote would be for some sort of citrus.
Monkey bread is one of my favorite things to make for holiday guests. I have yet to find someone who isn’t drawn in by the gloriously rich sugary morsels. This year I decided to modify version of this recipe I posted a few years ago. Here’s how things turned out.
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 sticks of butter
- Bundt Cake Pan
- 4 Tablespoons of Cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cans of Southern Style or Buttermilk Biscuits (the non-flaky ones)
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
- 1 medium granny smith apple diced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove biscuits from their tubes, and cut each biscuit into four pieces. (I baked off the rest of the unused tube and gave them to the husband to munch on while I was baking)
- Combine the cinnamon and white sugar in a large ziplock bag, and shake to combine.
- Next drop the biscuit pieces 5 or 6 at a time, into the bag, seal and shake.
- Spray bundt pan with nonstick spray.
- Place all of the coated biscuit pieces into your bundt pan, sprinkling in pecans and apples as you go.
- In a medium sauce pan melt butter over medium heat, stir in brown sugar. Keep stirring until the two are completely combined.
- Pour the liquid over the biscuit pieces and place in the preheated oven.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until it looks like this. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes then turn out onto a plate. A few taps might be required to get everything to shake loose.
- I added the apples to this recipe because I like the bits of tart fruitiness that they impart to what can sometimes be a cloyingly sweet dish.
- If you have a deep bundt pan you can attempt to use three full cans of biscuits, just be wary of overfilling because you do not want that stuff to overflow into the bottom of your oven. I’d even recommend placing a cookie sheet on the rack underneath, just in case.
- Keep an eye on your bottom biscuits through out the baking time, if your oven is a little temperamental, as mine is, the exposed biscuits at the bottom may start to get excessively brown before the ones in the center are baked. If this happens, loosely wrap tin foil across the pan and shift the bundt pan to a lower rack in the oven.
Don’t forget to enter the holiday giveaway!!!!
Driving around a city you’ve never visited before can be a little daunting; throw in an out of date GPS map and an epic crap-ton of construction, and you have the makings for a truly frustrating adventure. Our journey to track down Gnome Cafe was probably the worst part of our time in Charleston. Finally, we broke down and called the cafe, and the owner, who is such a sweet person, helped us make sense of all of the detours and construction and guided us safely to their parking lot.
I felt so optimistic just standing outside of this place. Everything was clean and crisp, inviting, and a touch whimsical. I knew it was going to make all of the driving drama worth it. Something you have to understand about people with dietary restrictions is that we don’t often have more than two or three options to choose from when dining out. So when you find a place that has a menu where you can eat anything you want, your brain short circuits a bit. This was the glorious situation we found ourselves in at The Gnome.
Everything on the menu was vegan, and let me tell you it felt down right decadent to leisurely peruse and decide how we wanted to start our day. On our way to the table, we were distracted by the baked goods. After a very short discussion, we decided that we would in fact be getting dessert to go and quickly purchased a Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oreo Cookie and a piece of their Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. *Spoiler Alert* They were AMAZING!!!! While sipping my London Fog (Earl Grey Latte with Almond Milk), I took mental stock of the decor, loving the contrasting black and white theme that continued inside the restaurant and appreciating how they softened what could have been a very cold color combo with tons of green plants and bowls of fresh produce. When our food arrived… man, it was so difficult to remember that we needed to take picutres before diving in. We both went for an Everything Bagel Sandwich with scrambled tofu, shitake bacon, and the most delicious melty vegan cheese I have ever encountered. The potato hash was awesome, cheddar grits were some of the best I’ve ever had. We cleaned our plates and thanked God that we’d had the foresight to wear yoga pants. I didn’t want to over do it with the pictures, but we also went back the next morning just to try the Southern Grit Bowl and the house made Sausage Biscuit. Just as delicious as what we’d had the day before. The other thing I thought was cool was that the place wasn’t just full of vegans: the gentlemen behind us in line were discussing meat lover’s pizza, and the couple at the next table were talking about getting BarBQ later. It’s a true testament to the quality of the food. I would hit this place for breakfast every morning if I lived in Charleston.