Mom & Dad Come to The Ham

This past weekend my sweet mom and dad came to visit me here in the ‘ham and they brought my best friend Hannah with them! What a treat. When most people’s parents come to town, they’re spoiled with new clothes or a grocery trip, but when my parents come to town, we eat at the most delicious places. I’m not sure what it is about my family, but cuisine is something we all are passionate about. We’re the kind of family that gathers around the TV just to see the next dive bar Guy Fieri discovers so we can go try it out for ourselves. I’m telling you, we’re food junkies.

On this occasion, my parents we only in town for a night. But boy did we make the best of it. We started the night by going to FIVE in Lakeview. That place is actually really neat. If you haven’t been, go. For me. It’s atmosphere is eclectic and modern, yet comfortable. There are crystal chandeliers lining the ceiling, chalkboards containing the five items featured on the menu that day, and amazing art work. (If I were more educated on art I would have more to comment on this, but really there’s some cool stuff). My dad and I ordered the BORDEAUX BOURBON cocktail. For being a bourbon drink, it was sweetened to perfection with Makers Mark, bordeaux cherries, St. Germain and Ginger Ale. Mmmm, mmmm it was so refreshing. We then moved on the order the BAKED AVOCADO, SZECHUAN CALAMARI and UPTOWN SHRIMP to snack on. (Disclaimer: I took the photo after I had already stolen a bite of the avocado… the suspense was killing me, what can I say??) We then moved on to entrees. Hannah and I split the PANÉED CHICKEN, literally the best chicken I have ever had. It’s flavored with an amazing lemon sauce, which is perfectly complimented by the tart/salty flavor of the capers….. so good. My mom ordered the STUFFED SHRIMP, while my dad decided on the catch of the day, which was an amazing red fish. Y’all, go to FIVE. Do me a favor. You won’t regret it.

{Pictured: Bourbon Bordeaux cocktail and Baked Avocado with one bite missing.   🙂 }

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Next, we scooted over to Avondale for a cold beer and some live music. That combination is what my dad lives for. So naturally I took him by. Between all of us, we got the Peach Saison and a Miss Fancy’s, both amazing summer selections. They’re both sweet and refreshing. Avondale is seriously one of the coolest venues too. Patrick Sweany was playing that night and added a perfect tune to our summer night.

{Pictured: a very humid stricken Shelby and Hannah enjoying the very nice night of music and beer at Avondale. Pardon the picture… we tried.}

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What a special friday night in the ham with my sweet fam! I loved having them here. (ALSO, I’m sorry it took me a week to post… whoops!!)

Is it time to eat again?

Post Office Pies

Sometimes pizza is the answer… ha! Who am I kidding? Pizza is always the answer!

On this Sunday evening, after a slow day in the store, my friend and I decided we NEEDED the all-american, potentially life-threatening combination of beer and pizza. One of the fun things about living in Birmingham is always having the option to enjoy locally brewed beer. (Off the radar, I’m a nutrition fanatic that loves a good beer.. sue me). The restaurant and brewing worlds do a great job of joining forces and making it nearly impossible to stick to our miserable, low-calorie diets.

So today, my friend Beomjy and I went all out. We ordered a 14 inch margarita pizza, that was baked in a real life brick oven (yes those do still exist). You know that crisp, almost burnt taste with a dust of leftover flour from when the chef rolled the dough?… yeah that. That’s just the pizza dough. Once your teeth sink into the dough and your palate reaches the good stuff, it’s a whole new ballgame. The mozzarella cheese, the baby tomatoes, the basil leaves straight from the herb garden outside… I think I might be in Italy right now! To top of this mouth watering pizza experience, add Avondale Brewery’s Peach Saison to the mix. It’s the perfect summer brew for a girl and her pizza. Mmmm what a sunday. Good food, good beer and great company.

Much to my surprise, Post Office Pies in located right next door to Avondale Brewery, right outside of downtown Birmingham. It provides a laid back environment with large tables for a family-style dining experience. With the daily specials graffiti’d on the chalkboard walls, bistro lights hung for a cozier atmosphere and post cards sporadically placed, Post Office Pies won my heart and my tummy!

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Pepper Place {Farmers Market}

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Beginning during the early heat waves of Spring, Birmingham folks flock together on Saturday mornings to enjoy fresh, locally grown produce and celebrate the growing sustainability factor Birmingham has to offer. I cannot explain to you the feeling of knowing there are so many people that love our planet and cherish the nutrients it provides! I sound like such a tree-hugging hippie, but my heart swells with pride when I see other people taking ownership in our ability to be sustainable, even in a city like Birmingham! Located in Pepper Place, the quaint streets are lined with white-topped tents that shield the pride and joy the locals put on display.

This past weekend I took two of my best friends, Kelsey and Sydnee, to show them how precious this Saturday morning tradition is! Needless to say, it was 92 degrees and PACKED, but we still had a blast. I obviously brought back my jar for a $5 tea from Piper & Leaf. This time I decided on a delicious honey-suckle flavor. It was unreal. The heat was way too much to handle, but the tea saved my life… and my mood. Syd opted for a cup of freshly squeezed lemonade… and boy was it fresh. There is just something so comforting and charming about seeing the lemons squeezed directly into your drink! We also treated ourselves to a $3 sausage biscuit from Monroe Sausage. The sausage was smoked to perfection and strategically placed between two fluffy biscuit halves to compliment my honeysuckle tea for an amazing breakfast experience.

If you have yet to make your way to this old-fashioned, southern attraction, be sure to stop by one Saturday! Pets and children are welcome 🙂

Gluten Free Oatmeal

Good Morning friends! This morning I discovered a quick and lovely new gluten free breakfast idea.. emphasis on the quick. I simply poured the gluten free oatmeal packet into a bowl, added about 3/4 of a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, stirred, and popped the mixture into the microwave for 1 minute and 11 seconds…. (I like being difficult with my microwaving times, plus it’s easier to just press the ‘1’ button three times… goodness I’m lazy).

ANYWAY, this box is a variety pack, but I like to stick to either the ‘Homestyle’ or ‘Maple Brown Sugar’ flavors, as they are much lower in sugar. The one I had this morning had a total of 3 grams of sugar. I was willing to let myself splurge a little. If you need a bit more sweetness, go ahead and add Stevia! To top of this guiltless day-starter, I added some organic blueberries…. and coffee, obviously. Happy Hump Day!

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Hot Off the French Press

Sometimes, when people ask me what my favorite food is, I briefly forget that my liquid obsession with a hot cup of joe doesn’t count. I swear I wake up in the morning feeling excited to sip on a cup of hot coffee. This week I have been at the beach in Florida and have taken my morning coffee to the extreme. Whether it be on the porch watching the glassy morning ocean water or walking along the beach, my morning ritual has been incredible this week.

{I could probably write a complete blog, entirely focused on coffee… is that embarrassing?}

This morning, I wanted to spotlight french press coffee. Why in the world does it taste SO MUCH BETTER than regular dip-brewed coffee?!

Some say french press is much more flavorful because the coffee grounds have the chance to steep directly into the water. I might just have to agree. Delicious. {I tend to drink french press coffee black.} Even though it takes an extra couple of minutes to brew, it is 100% worth it. Try it!

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The Ritz at Lake Oconee

Happy 4th of July… I’m exactly 4 days late. How terrible?! My apologies, readers. I went on a weekend getaway with my boyfriend and his family and well, quite frankly, I enjoyed the time away from electronics. Anyway, as you can see from the title of this blog post, we shared a lovely meal at the Ritz on the lake! {FYI, Carrie Underwood was married here, which means I will be too. Obviously.} We pulled the boat up and docked right in front of the restaurant and walked right up! It was superb and I loved it!

The restaurant on the water is called Gaby’s and its incredible. You get the fine dining feel, but can eat in your boat clothes! It’s the perfect combo, if you ask me.

I ordered a glass of the house Chardonnay and paired it with a light melon and goat cheese spinach salad, topped with grilled salmon… and I ate the whole thing 🙂

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Sausalito, Ca

The Trident, located across the Golden Gate Bridge in a town called Sausalito, California had the most remarkable view of the city, especially at sunset, which is when we {my family and me} were there. Perfect timing!

To start the meal, we ordered an appetizer. The Tomato and Watermelon Salad, to be exact. WHAT. These things just do NOT go together… exactly what I was thinking. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The sweet of the watermelon complimented the slight sweet and salty flavor of the tomato just right!

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For my main course, since I filled up on this incredible masterpiece above, I ordered the Grilled Artichokes, topped with crab meat and served with a Truffle Aioli. Mmmm! Delicious.

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Well, there’s my trip to the San Francisco area in a nutshell!

Pier 23

Last night, after arriving in San Francisco, my family decided to try a restaurant featured on the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives. Guy Fieri would be so proud! Anyway, this place was situated right on San Francisco Bay. We watched the sun set, while sipping wine from juice glasses and keeping warm by the outdoor heaters. I loved the feel of Pier 23. It was simplistic, romantic and… DELICIOUS. I ordered the Thai Prawn with Rice Noodles. What the heck is a prawn, you may ask?! You read my mind…. Apparently its another name for a gigantic shrimp. {I guess that makes the name of the meal read a little more smoothly. }It was prepared in a coconut and curry sauce and garnished with peanuts and cilantro. Because of the rice noodles, the fish was gluten free, and due to the coconut milk, it was low in sugar. If you’re headed to San Fran anytime soon, head to Pier 23. You won’t be disappointed.

Keep reading for more yummy San Francisco eats!

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Picture Perfect Pancakes

I’ve only tried a few gluten free pancakes so far, and the ones I have tried, well, I could live without. This morning I woke up feeling the urge to use the gluten free flour I was given by the family I babysit for. I got on Pinterest {the best search engine ever} and searched for recipes that use gluten free flour. Come to find out, there are SO MANY different kinds of gluten free flours: coconut, almond, tapioca, brown rice.. etc. This list goes on and on. Maybe one of these days I’ll dive in and find out what exactly sets them all apart! Today, I used a recipe that had a pumpkin and cinnamon twist! Mmmm, these would be perfect for the Fall.

Here’s the link to this incredible recipe:

http://alldayidreamaboutfood.com/2013/11/pumpkin-coconut-flour-pancakes-low-carb-and-gluten-free.html }

I made a couple of changes:

Brown Rice Flour for Coconut Flour

3 packets of Stevia for 1/4 c Swerve Sweetener

I completely left out the ginger and cloves… simply because I didn’t have them on hand! I would recommend trying them!

I even topped them with some sugar free syrup.

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