Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekend Beach Trip (and Lots of Good Food)

Last weekend, Will and I went to Destin, Florida, (one of the preferred Florida beaches if you aren't from the South) with some friends. It was a great "last chance" beach trip while I can still travel a little before our baby girl makes her debut. The weather was nice - not too hot yet. The ocean was cold but the pool at our resort was heated. We had a great time even though it was just a long weekend. We also had some great food, so here's all of that.
 
Friday night, we went to a tourist favorite that was close to where we were staying called The Back Porch. It's your general seafood restaurant and happens to be beach front so you get great views of the sand and surf. They have a nice deck, (and welcome customers walking up in swimsuits) but it was raining so we just sat inside by a window and watched the ocean. I chose not to do fish/seafood Friday night because I was being on the cautious side with my pregnancy and the allowed amount of fish each week. I also apparently chose not to take any pictures (sorry!) but I can tell you there were plenty of oysters, fish and hushpuppies. Apparently hushpuppies are a pregnancy craving for me - I ordered a side of them and ate way too many!
 
Saturday we spent some time on the beach in the morning and went to a local pizza place for lunch before hitting the beach again. It wasn't anything special but it was lunch. That night, we went and met some friends who happened to be in Seaside, a smaller beach town nearby, at Bud and Alley's, a popular bar and restaurant. Seaside is a picturesque beach where everything seems to be done just perfectly. Located right in the town square area of Seaside, Bud and Alley's is also beach front and full of beautiful views, and was packed. It was sunset time - check out the view from Bud and Alley's:
Bud and Alley's, Seaside, FL
And a selfie of Will and me at Bud and Alley's:
After a little bit there, we headed to Stinky's Fish Camp in nearby Santa Rosa Beach (All the beach towns run together, you know.) for dinner. It's a seafood restaurant that seemed to have a bit of a New Orleans twist. We had heard really good things about Stinky's and despite the name, we decided to give it a try. The good reviews we'd heard were right--the food was pretty amazing!
 
I'd saved up my "fish quota" (because of my pregnancy) for Saturday night so I indulged in everything from crawfish hushpuppies to crab cakes, seafood chowder to seafood stew. It was all delicious but my favorite by far was my entree, the seafood chowder. It was rich and creamy, full of shrimp and crab. It was completely satisfying and filling, and I just wanted to keep eating it. I would eat it right now again if I could!
Seafood Chowder at Stinky's Fish Camp
I also ordered the crab cake (appetizer) with my dinner. It was good, but the chowder was definitely the star.
Crab Cake at Stinky's Fish Camp
The crawfish hushpuppies were a favorite at the table and came with the perfect dipping sauce: 
Crawfish Hushpuppies at Stinky's Fish Camp
Will ordered Stinky's Stew, which is basically a seafood stew. He loved it! It was full of seafood - snow crab legs, shrimp, muscles, fish and oysters, along with corn, potatoes and tomatoes in a broth. As if that wasn't enough, it also came with a crab po-boy, which was barely touched because Will focused on the stew. Check out all that seafood:
Stinky's Stew at Stinky's Fish Camp
After all that food, I think we were all in a coma, but we were still up for a big brunch Sunday before heading back home. One of my friends we were with frequents Destin with her family and they have a tradition of going by The Donut Hole before leaving.
The Donut Hole, Destin, FL
They have donuts, hence the name, but also serve breakfast and brunch food. Drool over this bakery case with all their donuts in the back:
The Donut Hole, Destin, FL
and then drool over the pies:
The Donut Hole, Destin, FL
They are known for their key lime pies and even have a key lime pie filled donut. I wish I'd gotten that because I love key lime pie. Next time!
 
I think we all might have over-ordered based on the spread that arrived at our table, but it was really good. I went for breakfast food, Will went for brunch food and it looks like it was a mix from everyone else's food. Aerial views:
The Donut Hole, Destin, FL
 The Donut Hole, Destin, FL
There's something I just love about these aerial shots. Mabe the composition. Maybe just all the food!
 
We got donuts to go of course too--I got Blueberry Cake, which is my go-to donut favorite. I ate it on the way home. It didn't let me down!
 
This post turned out way long. Sorry about that--just too much yumminess to share! Do you vacation in Destin? Do you have Destin favorites that you go back to time after time?
 
 
 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Caprese Kabobs

Spring is here for sure in Birmingham and I'm loving the warmer weather and longer days. With the warm weather comes lots of good fresh produce options, including tomatoes, one of my more recent favorites. You've probably heard of the Caprese Salad. It's a popular Italian appetizer consisting of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, and usually some sort of sauce like a balsamic. Combining tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil creates the perfect combination of flavors and textures...not to mention the colors work together beautifully. This time of year is perfect for it with fresh tomatoes and basil leaves being so easy to find.

If you haven't tried it, I think you're about to; I tried a new recipe for Caprese Kabobs with the most delicious (and simple) Basil Vinaigrette dressing. I cannot wait to make it again! It's an impressive appetizer that takes a little time to assemble, but you'll be glad you did it.
Caprese Kabobs With Basil Vinaigrette
Here is the recipe:
Caprese Kabobs
Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
Ball of fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves
Wooden skewers
 
Basil Vinaigrette (from Southern Living)
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic gloves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
 
Trim skewers to desired length.  To make them appetizer friendly, keep them to about 6 inches or shorter. Cut tomatoes in half. Slice mozzarella into small, bite size chunks. Thread a tomato half, mozzarella and basil leaf on each skewer, repeating as many times as needed to fill skewer. Leave some space at each end. Repeat until you have created as many as you'd like. Create more than you think you'll need--people will love these and eat more than you expect!
Caprese Kabobs With Basil Vinaigrette
For the Basil Vinaigrette, process the first 6 ingredients in the blender until smooth. Turn blender to high and slowly add remaining 3/4 cup of olive oil. Taste and adjust if needed.  
Basil Vinaigrette - Perfect for Caprese Salad or Kabobs
Generously drizzle the Basil Vinaigrette over your kabobs. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving for best flavor - you want to give the flavors time to incorporate.
Caprese Kabobs With Basil Vinaigrette
Caprese Kabobs With Basil Vinaigrette
Caprese Kabobs With Basil Vinaigrette
It's perfect for this time or year as well as the summer when you can find beautiful tomatoes at your local farmers market or the grocery. If you try the recipe, let me know what you think. Enjoy!
 
 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Big Kitchen Reveal

I've been sharing the progress of our kitchen renovation week by week - see week 1, week 2 and week 3 for all the details and pictures along the way. Also make sure to see the before shots here so you get the full effect.  We've completed everything and our kitchen is back in one piece finally (thank goodness!), so I'm excited to share the finished product!
 
Disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer by any means. I do have a fancy camera and enjoy using it but that doesn't mean these are perfect images. Enjoy!
 
The whole kitchen:
Kitchen Renovation | Burlap With Lace
Each side:
Kitchen Renovation | Burlap With Lace
Kitchen Renovation | Burlap With Lace
Raised cabinet above the new above-the-range microwave and our fancy stove:
Kitchen Renovation | Burlap With Lace
The new built-in refrigerator:
Kitchen Renovation | Burlap With Lace
From the far end:
Kitchen Renovation | Burlap With Lace
And the eat-in kitchen. Love that light fixture:
Kitchen Renovation | Burlap With Lace 
Kitchen Renovation | Burlap With Lace
 Now that you've seen it, what do you think?
 
The herringbone tile pattern was one of my favorite touches. It was a simple treatment for a simple tile but the outcome was the perfect choice for us as far as style goes. And it's not one of those trendy finishes that we'll regret a few years down the road. We're not the let's-do-what's-trendy-this-very-minute people. This is a look you could easily create in your own kitchen.
 
We also loved how the simple moulding added to the cabinets really upped the sophistication factor and made the kitchen look a lot higher end. Adding the built-in cabinet around the new refrigerator also gave a very custom look. Those two things are smaller changes that you can apply to your own renovation pretty easily.
 
The lighting changes really made the whole kitchen shine, no pun intended. The fluorescent lights and poorly illuminating eat-in fixture were dated and weren't providing the light we were looking for. The recessed lighting that replaced the fluorescent fixtures along with the new eat-in fixture really make the kitchen feel a lot more modern.
 
Of course the granite and new appliances are nice too. The renovation wouldn't be where it ended up without them and we are really enjoying both. I can't say I miss the cream Formica counter tops that stained within seconds of spills!
 
I hope you've enjoyed the weekly updates and like the final product. We love it! Let us know what you like the most!