South Carolina Getaway [Part 2]

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The beach is always such a meditative place. There is a reason those sound machines have waves as an option; that repetitive and constant noise is therapeutic. Add some sunshine and its restorative.

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While in South Carolina, I went for my first ever beach run. I’ve walked on the beach and I’ve run while on vacation, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to run on the beach. Three times while at Mister’s parent’s house in Surfside, I was able to get a run in.

I’m terrible at running, and with the snow and cold in NY I havn’t really ran in a while. I would love to be one of those people that runs 10 miles a day with a marathon on Saturday, but three miles whoops my lungs and my knees. But when I run its like I forget everything that I had on my mind just minutes ago. Sunshine, breathing, my feet hitting the sand. Just focus on moving and breathing.  Keep moving. Keep breathing.

I don’t know if anyone reads this blog for my running advice. I don’t know if anyone reads this blog at all, but I’ll move on.

Litchfield Restaurant   [Pawleys Island, SC]

Since 1968, Pawleys Island locals and visitors alike have considered the Litchfield Restaurant the “Best Breakfast in Town”. That is as true today as it was back then. More than forty years later, we still serve hearty home-style Southern cooking for both breakfast and lunch. Our full menu is available all day, so sleep in and have a late breakfast if you like.

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I’m genuinely surprised this place even has a website, I mean they aren’t even open past lunch time. I spent a day with my Mother-in-law while Mister and his dad went out to play golf one morning. We started off with a stop for breakfast and this place was definitely worth writing home about.

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We were lucky enough to squeeze in at the counter and I saw the food coming out from the kitchen. That meant I knew I had to order grits and biscuits, the eggs and sausage were kind of an after thought. That biscuit was exactly like I imagined it would be, and yes I slathered it with butter and orange marmalade.

Also, why is food still so regionally divided? Grits in the south, oatmeal in the north. I’m still not sure I fully understand grits, but I can certainly tell you that about a third of that serving kept me feeling stuffed until almost dinner time.

If I get a chance to go back, I’m definitely going to try some sausage gravy.  Now you see why I have to run while I’m on vacation?

The Claw House [Murrells Inlet, SC]

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This was my first time having hot peel and eat shrimp (at least that I can remember?). Crazy good. Like seriously yum. Mister went with crab cakes, which we both think were overpriced for the serving but still good. This place is expensive for the atmosphere, but I think that’s because its located on the Marsh Walk. When the weather is nice, this is a great little section of restaurants and bars linked by a boardwalk. It wasn’t super busy on either of our two visits, but I imagine in the summer season it can get crowded.

Drunken Jack’s [Murrells Inlet, SC]

If you want to feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to the swanky club of another era, check out the lower bar area of Drunken Jacks. Just a few steps down the Marsh Walk from the Claw House, Drunken Jacks has a completely different vibe. This is a great example of something being just old enough to go from dated to retro.

If you keep moving towards the deck area, you’ll have a great view of the Marsh while you sip your drinks. 219.JPG

 

Weekly Meal Prep

I have no idea if anyone reads this.  Or if the people that do read this even care what I cook every week.  But if you do, this is what I “meal prepped” for this week.

  • 1 lb ground turkey cooked with chili powder, tomatoes, jalapeno
  • 1 lb ground turkey cooked with italian seasoning, onions, garlic, and diced tomatoes
  • half dozen baked egg muffins (liquid egg whites, diced canadian bacon, baby spinach, shredded cheese)
  • used veggie pasta shredder thing to make zucchini noodles

On the menu for this week:

  1. egg muffins for breakfast with either Puffin cereal, some berries, or oatmeal.
  2. Lunch/Dinner options: taco salad (ground turkey, romaine, Trader Joes super 8 chop, guacamole, pico de gallo), or zucchini noodles with turkey tomato sauce.

I’ve got a few bags of frozen veggies or burgers in the freezer to mix into the rotation too, just in case. I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s (frozen) grilled, marinated eggplant and zucchini slices.  They’re an easy meal base, or addition to simple sandwich. I also try to always keep some Trader Joe’s frozen, sliced, fire roasted peppers on hand; they are way more flavorful then plain frozen peppers, and are perfect for omelettes, salads, stir fry etc.

Heather Ridge Farm: Tour & Brunch

After seeing the Heather Ridge Farm brunch advertised on All Over Albany, I immediately put it on my calendar.  Animals and a hearty brunch? Yes, please!

Mister and I didn’t anticipate how cold it would be, but were glad we bundled up as much as we did.  The drive out from Albany was beautiful, about an hour of windy roads and historic houses.   We were surprised when we pulled up to the address, since the cafe and shop area isn’t directly adjacent to any obvious farm.

After checking in inside, we were told that the tour would start as soon as the owner was done with his coffee.  It was a warm group, and I was happy to have some time to build up my appetite.

There were only five of us, including Mister and I, joining the owner for a tour of his farm.  Since it was winter, we had quite the adventure of jumping right in his truck and driving over to the barns.

We started with the chicken coop/barn, which looked quite cozy compared to the windy field we were standing in.  I can’t emphasize enough that the folks running Heather Ridge Farm really love what their doing and it shows.  They have names for most of their animals, constantly stopping to pet and sweet talk goats and llamas.

There was story for every animal, where it was rescued from or the day it was born.  There was just so much love bursting out of each interaction.  After the first field/chicken area, we hopped back in the truck to drive a little further down the road to the larger barn and field area.

These two adorable donkeys were my favorite of the day, they were just so sweet and mellow, unphased by anything other than some treats.

We even had a chance to see the upstairs of the barn, where the hay was stored.  It was amazing to see how with so many generations of farming, the processes haven’t changed all that much.  The barn was designed for certain functions (i.e. taking hay in through the top to be stored for later) and was standing the test of time.

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All of this excitement, love, and enthusiasm definitely had me ready for brunch.  We were all pretty cold at this point, and I’m sure eager for some hot food.  I was impressed that some eggs we picked up from the chickens earlier, were carried right into the kitchen on our way back through.

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This past weekend was a brunch buffet, and the space felt like family.  It was warm and cozy, and everyone was happy to share a seat and introduce themselves.

Weekend Menu

Jan 2 & 3  New Year’s Brunch Buffet
$24/adult, kids pay their age

We appreciate you letting us know if you plan to come. Reservations are not necessary, but we need a head count!

Serving 11am-3pm
Farm Tour each day at 11

Caramelized French Toast
Thick cut challah bread baked in caramel sauce

Maple Chipotle Breakfast Sausage

Nitrate Free Corned Beef Hash

Eggs to Order

Irish Brown Bread
The everyday hearty bread of Ireland

Dublin Coddle
Our own nitrate free bacon and Irish banger sausages slow cooked
with potatoes, carrots, onions, and local cider

Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad

Lentil and Herb Salad

Lemon Tart

Baked Apples

Mocktails
Coffee, Tea, Orange Juice, Water

Mister and I certainly weren’t shy to try just about everything that was offered, starting with coffee (Mister) and chai tea (me). It seemed that by starting with the tour we hit brunch just right; the first wave of diners was just clearing out and the food was just being replenished with plenty more.

There were eggs cooked to order and we both requested two over easy, and they were brought right over to us with perfectly runny yolks.  The french toast was amazing, with crunchy caramelized bits and a ton of complex, sugary goodness.

Surprising, my favorite thing was the bread slathered in some butter that was readily available on our table (in a very cute little dish)

145.JPGIt looked like it would be too dry, but it was like a mix between a good whole grain bread and a moist muffin.  Even better, it was lighter than I anticipated.

There were baked apples and a lemon tart for dessert, and while I normally love sweetness after a meal, it was the perfectly sour tart that helped cut the richness of all that we had just ingested.

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I would highly recommend this experience, and am already planning on going back in the spring to enjoy the farm in another season.

 

Weekend Indulgence

Its all about finding the balance.  The vegetables with your cheese plate; don’t torture yourself eating what you don’t like.  Its not worth it.

Just for fun: here’s a bit of what I ate this weekend. This weekend was an unusual case for me, because I wasn’t with the Mister and didn’t have any big plans.  It was a great opportunity to just snuggle up with the dog, and enjoy a relaxing time to de-stress.

Breakfast on Saturday was two fried eggs over some leftover mashed cauliflower.  I crisped up some fresh sage leaves in olive oil, and then sprinkled parmesan over the whole thing.  It looks fancy, and I think that’s all the more reason why I liked it.  If you plopped eggs and cauliflower mash on a paper plate, it would be a blob of boring white.  Make food you want to eat and bonus points for making it pretty.

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Saturday afternoon I enjoyed this fruit bowl [apples, grapes, and banana] topped with apple pie spice and some cashew butter.  I put half of what I made in the bowl to be eaten, and the other half was saved for Sunday.

I had cheese, tea, some more fruit, and then a lot more cheese.  Between the two days I definitely ate a lot of cheese and crackers.  Hey I wasn’t cooking for anyone else, and I like cheese.  My solution to preventing myself from eating way too much was to cut a few pieces, put it on a plate and then pack up the rest.  Its just like the old trick of portioning out chips or pretzels, don’t let yourself have the whole bag sitting open in front of you.

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This weekend I finally got to enjoy a few beers I had picked up a week or so ago from the Fresh Market.  This Bells Christmas Ale was really good, so was the Sierra Nevada Coffee Stout.  Beer and cheese, cheese and beer.  I mostly just snacked for dinner.

Sunday morning I made this Pumpkin Spice quick bread that had been gifted to me for Chanukah.  I added some crushed walnuts and ginger, mostly because I was afraid the batter was too sweet.  It came out so moist and perfectly spice balanced.  We enjoyed it warm with cream cheese, and scrambled eggs for some healthy balance.

103.JPGNow this beauty I’m pretty proud of.  A used a whole wheat tortilla and some shredded cheese left over from my casserole, combined with leftover brisket and carrots from a weeknight dinner.  Brisket quesadilla, with sour cream on top.  I really liked this one.

082I followed all that up with a super fantastic trip to Trader Joes, and prepped breakfasts and lunch for this entire week.  Its okay to eat cheese all weekend if you follow it up with some whole, nutritious foods and protein power muffins.

Weekend Indulgence

As I said a few times now, I’m usually in Albany on the weekends visiting Mister.  This makes every weekend a sort of mini-holiday.  For a while, this wasn’t so great for my wallet or waistline, but over time we’ve refined this vacation attitude to be a subdued indulgence.

We consistently find at least one activity or destination to get us out of the house, and give the weekend some structure.  (Mister and I aren’t great at sitting around in the house, which is part of why I’m in like with him for sure)

On Saturday, we did the Schenectady Wing Walk, which was a lot more fun than I was anticipating to be honest.  I was originally skeptical of the participating restaurants, and didn’t really think much of Schenectady as a destination beyond pastries, Proctors, and Perecca’s.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Wing Walk: for $10 you get a ballot, and one chicken wing at each of the participating restaurants.  There were 18 restaurants, and most gladly obliged in giving more than one wing if you asked politely.  When we started at 12 noon, there were no lines but by around 1:30/2pm, the lines started growing at each stop.  It had a fun, scavenger-hunt type vibe to the affair and I appreciated the opportunity to try some places that have been on my list.  Some were great (Bier Abbey, Cafe Nola, Mexican Radio, Taj Mahal Restaurant), some were really bad (Thai Thai Bistro, Aperitivo, The Grog Shoppe)  I get it, its hard to have hot, crispy, and flavorful wings for a crowd stretched over a few hours; but some were rubbery and without flavor, or in the case of Aperitivo, it was a “pork wing”, which I didn’t even realize until after I had bitten into it (don’t like surprise pork).  Total cost for the event for the two of us, $20.

We did stop at Cafe Italia for coffee and a cannoli, to break up the wing exhaustion, $6.

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Sunday, we had recovered from too many wings and indulged in some Manory’s for brunch.  I love sitting at the counter here, but be warned that your clothes might take on an eau de fryer if you stay for more than a cup of coffee.

I got the Power House Quesadilla (or something intimidatingly named like that, can’t really remember and the menu isn’t online).  Their pancakes always look/sound so insanely good, but remember that waistline people.  I’ve got dresses to fit into.

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When this showed up I almost forgot I had ordered what looked like the “sensible option.”  It was described as 3 egg whites, one yolk, ham, swiss cheese, peppers, onions, mushrooms grilled in a quesadilla.  Oh man.  This was seriously so good.  I ate half before calling it quits and taking the rest home (which I ate for dinner).  For two coffees, and two of the bigger entrees, we spent about $35 at Manorys.  You can easily get breakfast for two for $20 or under if you’re sticking to a budget.

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This tasted great reheated later, which I was actually surprised by.  I put each section in a hot pan, let it crisp for a moment before putting a lid over it to let everything reheat.  Then , when the cheese looked sufficiently melty, I removed the lid and flipped it over for some further crisping.

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Sunday night, I’ve made it a habit to prepare something to last both myself and Mister for the week.  For Mister I made slow cooker stroganoff, for myself I made a bean free, bison and butternut squash chili.  Everything was set and on the stove by 5pm, which was later than I would have liked, but c’est la vie.

This morning, I packed up my cooler tote (great investment) with four quarts of chili, and some other food and snack items, to be kept in the office for the week.  On Friday, the empty containers go back in the tote to be refilled on Sunday.  Routines are great.

Healthy Hearts

Valentine’s Day is a holiday of chocolate, decadence, and indulgences. But romance doesn’t have to make you feel sluggish.

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This morning I sliced red potatoes into hearts. Tossed in olive oil and Mrs. Dash salt free garlic mix, baked at 350° for roughly 30 mins.

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Crispy, satisfying little crunchy bites.

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Eggs scrambled with some honey-maple ham and red peppers. Sliced strawberry hearts.

I’ve got red, sweet, salty, crunchy, and hearts. What more does Valentine’s Day breakfast need?

Dinner for Breakfast

I love breakfast. I even eat breakfast for dinner more often than I should admit. It’s without a doubt my favorite meal.

Yesterday, however, I had dinner for breakfast. And I don’t regret it.

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The night before I made chicken Parmesan with spaghetti, and some grilled, marinated eggplant and zucchini (the veggies came frozen from Trader Joes).
In the morning, that dinner still sounded good.

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I poured leftover marinara sauce into a sauté pan, and cracked two eggs directly into the bubbling liquid. Covered to steam for a few minutes.

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Once the whites were set, and the yolks still semi-soft, the whole pan was poured over spaghetti. And then all smushed together in a very un photogenic way. Seriously good breakfast.

Meals for 12.12.14

What do you actually eat everyday? I know we don’t have grandiose Pinterest worth meals every three hours 365 days a year. That’s not real life.

I watch what I eat, most of the time. I track my food in the App, MyFitnessPal; keeping tabs on carbs/fat/protein per day. Some weeks I’m great about planning ahead, others I just barely manage to fill my lunch bag with a haphazard collection of things in an attempt to meet my goals.

Today is one of those days. Sort of.
For breakfast all week we had those baked eggs. But Mister got the last portion packed for his breakfast. So I mixed some strawberry flavored protein powder with Greek yogurt and a splash of almond milk.

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I do some form of exercise daily. Sometimes it’s yoga and running, other days it’s weights at the gym. (Sadly, lately it’s been a lot of at home quick routines to avoid the snow and darkness. )The point is, I like to keep my protein high for building new muscle as part of my weight-loss and health goals. Everyone has different goals. I don’t recommend chugging protein if you’re hanging out on the couch all week.

About 2-3 hours after that mini meal, I’ll have a clementine with my morning coffee.

And just about 3 hours after that I’ll have lunch. Sometimes this is leftovers from dinner. Today is is a multigrain tortilla from Trader Joes filled with one slice of Swiss cheese, 3oz of low sodium turkey, and a handful of baby spinach. (I have a food scale)

My fourth mini meal of the day is half a cup of cottage cheese mixed with cinnamon, vanilla, and raisins.

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Yes I eat seriously unphotogenic meals. I know. But this mixture is so great in this weather, it’s texturally similar to rice pudding and the flavor profile is a nice break from plain dairy.

I brought a banana in case I feel hungry, or decide to run an errand right after work. And yes, I pack a ton of food for work most days. I like feeling prepared and I love being in the habit of five to six mini meals a day.

Dinner is undecided yet. It’s Friday so it might be a splurge in terms of calories and content, but not necessarily.

What do you eat every day, honestly?

Conceptualize

Kale sauteed with garlic and fresh lemon juice.

Artichokes dipped in warm butter.

Spicy, stir fried beef cooked just a little past rare.

There are some flavors, ideas, recipes, bites that just pop into my brain. I can’t shake them. They appear, usually out of nowhere and I start my grocery list. Oddly, most items I’ve never even tried before. I’m sure a specialist somewhere would tell me to quit reading cook books and food blogs and leave my poor subconscious alone.

This week I wanted to bake shredded potatoes into eggs. I’ve never done this. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had this. Its so simple, logical, yet unchartered- for -me territory.

I grabbed a hefty bag of frozen hashbrown potatoes from Trader Joes. These were browned and added to a casserole dish of browned chicken breakfast sausage removed from casing, baby spinach, and eggs beaten with cottage cheese. Baked at about 350 degrees for roughly 30 minutes.

It was great. Will be reheated throughout the week. A hefty breakfast in seconds. Topped with cheese, maybe some sriracha for the groggy mornings.

Do you ever crave something you’ve never eaten? Or suddenly strike inspiration to cook one specific recipe for no reason at all?
I’ve landed on pot roast, artichokes, kale, and a handful of other things; having either never made them, never tasted them (or both) and had a strong desire to cook them specific ways.

Like is a mystery, but cooking makes it fun.

Roadtrip and Repeats

On Sunday, Mister and I went on a mini road trip to just north of Lake George.  We had booked an hour trail ride at the Circle B Ranch, and were luckily blessed with the most amazing end of summer weather for the day.  It was perfectly warm and breezy as we wandered through the woods on horseback, guided by Joe and his son, Joey.

All that sitting around and nature-enjoying made us hungry.  So when we drove past Oscar’s Adirondack Smoke House afterwards, we had to stop for a quick bite.

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Seriously drool worthy. We split a cheddar cheese stuffed Bratwurst, which I liberally topped with some of their beer mustard and extra sauerkraut. Thankfully Mister appreciates sauerkraut too. The Brat had a perfect snap to the casing, making it a hearty bite versus a mushy chew.

We reluctantly got back in the car, sad that we were far from home with an uncertain afternoon which made us reluctant to load up on anything perishable from the store. We headed towards Lake George and walked around for just a bit.

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I was EXTREMELY disappointed by what was available for a quick bite; everything was closed, overpriced, or just unappealing (like an ice cream shop right on the water that reeked of bleach, or the dreary generic upstate pizza that was nearly $10 for two slices. I settled on two scoops of fancy ice cream to curb my crankiness until we got home. I’m not sure I see the appeal to Lake George? Did we miss some gem?

Some things are more reliably good. Like the baked eggs I’ve been making all week. I’m on my third…maybe fourth batch in just over a week. The recipe started as a crust-less quiche courtesy of my friend Erika. Out of laziness, and forgetfulness, I altered the recipe a bit based on what I remembered to buy at the store, and what had to get used up from the fridge. The basic is a scoop of cottage cheese, a cup or so of egg whites, and three-six eggs depending on how much you want to make. This gets whisked together and put in a baking dish that has already been coated with baking spray. I’ve played around with fillings, the most popular so far being baby spinach, onions, peppers, and honey turkey. My most successful tactic seems to be layering half the egg mixture, then filling, then the rest of the egg, all topped with a generous coating of shredded cheese.
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Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick/knife/cake tester comes out clean. Its light and fluffy, while being hearty enough to power through morning. I’ve paired it with toast, a muffin, or some fruit and yogurt on the side. Hot or cold, its a consistently delicious dish.