Dani in Chef Hat

In exactly one week from today, I will be attending my first day of culinary school!

HOLY COW, I am excited, nervous, and feel like I want to throw up all at the same time.

Since I’ve started this blog, I have come to realize that I have a small obsession with food.

  • I am constantly following new restaurants that are opening up in the city, and dragging Derika all over so that we can give them a try.
  • l research the heck out of all of the restaurants when we are traveling, and take an embarrassing amount of photos of our food while we are there so that I can blog about it.
  • I spend hours scrolling Pinterest looking at recipes and forever adding them to my Recipes I Want to Make list.
  • I love whipping up new and healthy dishes in the Glitter Spice test kitchen. Some make it to the recipes page and some are just things that should never be made again. Thank you Derika for being my guinea pig. 🙂

I have been blogging for over two years now; it is something that I do almost daily that I really truly love. It has also caused a fantasy of culinary school to slowly creep into my mind. The problem is that I don’t love school, I have no interest in going back to school for another 2 years to get another degree, and I was nervous about having to cook weird mystery meat. So I put my culinary school dream on the ‘it would be nice, but it is never going to happen‘ list, and never expected anything to come of it.

Then…in walks the Natural Gourmet Institute.

At the end of January I found myself up late one night scrolling through The FaceSpace, when I came across an ad for a culinary school in New York called the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI). I got sucked in and followed the link and spent the next hour speed-reading through the school’s website, all along getting more and more excited. So here’s the deal, if I were to create a culinary school this would be it. If I was living in another state and heard about NGI, I would wish that I lived in NYC so that I could attend this school! Basically, I was doing somersaults in the bed!

Here is the first thing that I read that got me ALL of the excited… NGI calls it their ‘MANIFESTO’ and I like it!


food that is: seasonal, local, whole, traditional, balanced, fresh and delicious.


that what we eat significantly affects our physical, mental and spiritual well being.


that each individual thrives on a diet unique to their specific needs.


exceptional, innovative and interdisciplinary education.


individuals and communities to take charge of their own health and well-being.


a professional and nurturing environment where students and employees are able to realize their full potential.


the creation and maintenance of a sustainable food system by building connections with suppliers and taking on broader advocacy initiatives.

All of this is like music to my ears and makes me so darn happy and excited!

Guess what else!?

The full-time programs is only six months (so I will be done by the end of summer…AWESOME!), it is mostly vegetarian and when we do cook meat it is local and sustainable (BRILLIANT!), and the values that are taught are very similar to the values that I use in my every day life (HAPPINESS!).

By the time that Derika got home from work the next day. I had already arranged for a meeting at the school, signed up for the open house, registered us for one of their Friday Night Dinners and started working on my application. Basically you can say that I was a tad bit excited! I just needed to tell Derika about my plan, which I did at dinner that night. Since she is awesome, it was super easy and she was super supportive and excited about my new adventure. #bestwifeever!

The next day I started securing letters of recommendation (Thank You Sarah and Shannon!!), applying for scholarships and finishing up my application. All of this was buttoned up and sent out in about 2 weeks time, and by that time we had already gone to our first Friday Night Dinner, which is BYOB by the way :)!

I was nervous and excited to go to this dinner. I was nervous, because I was already so excited about this school, and if it sucked then the air would be taken out of my sail a bit. I was excited, because I would get an opportunity to see what I would possibly be doing soon! I kept on telling myself to not get too excited, because I was not even accepted yet! Derika and I ended up having an amazing time at the Friday Night Dinner. She even made a comment during our meal that if all vegan food tasted this good then she could easily be vegan, and I totally agreed with her. Over the course of the evening we enjoyed an amazing salad with chickpea croquettes, a great vegan tempeh jambalaya and an awesome orange sorbet.

After all of the amazing food, we got to meet the chefs and ask them a few questions about the meal. I asked waaaaay to many questions and ended up leaving more excited than ever!

Now all I had to do was wait to see if I got accepted…which was the worst.

Thank goodness, exactly one month later, I found out that I got accepted into NGI and as I have already mentioned…I am super-duper excited!

The next day I headed to the uniform shop downtown and picked out my chef coat, chef hat, pants, funny looking clog shoes and apron and I have just been waiting anxiously to get started.

Chef Coat

So there you have it! This is the story of how culinary school has finally become a reality in my life. I have no idea on what I am about to get myself into, but my goal is to share as much as I can. I am not setting my expectations to high, but I am going to try my best to document it on my blog the best that I can. I think it will be good for myself to document this new adventure in my life, but I also think that it would be a great resource for anyone else that is thinking about taking the NGI leap. I hope you enjoy the ride!

Here’s to taking chances and following your dreams!



Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Does the bright yellow squash in the produce section make you wonder how you are going to turn something squash-like into something spaghetti-like? Well, you have found yourself in the right place.

Ok, so I have to be honest. Spaghetti squash does not taste completely like spaghetti noodles, but it does a little bit. The key to making it convincing is how you use the spaghetti squash after it is cooked. If you’ve never cooked with spaghetti squash and are looking for some ideas, you should check out my Baked Spaghetti Squash and my Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai recipe. I am constantly thinking up new and creative ways that I can use spaghetti squash. So I thought that since I plan on making more things with this amazing squash, it would be easier to have this recipe here for easy access. Spaghetti squash is a great substitute for noodles if you are looking to eat a little healthier, or if you are cooking for one of you gluten-free friends.



  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil


1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Be careful, go slow, and cautiously slice the squash in half.

2. Scoop out and set the seeds aside (bake them like pumpkin seeds…yum yum yum.  Check out my seed recipe here).

3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

4. Brush the inside with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You don’t have to be too careful here: just slather, sprinkle, and it’s ready!

5. Place squash halves cut side down on a heavy-bottomed roasting pan.

6. Roast the squash for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until a fork punctures the flesh of the squash easily.

7. Remove squash from the oven and allow it to cool just enough so you can handle it, about 5 minutes. Scrape the flesh from the squash into wonderful, stringy “noodles” with a sturdy fork and place in a small serving bowl. If some of the strands clump or gather together, simply separate them using your hands.

Scraped Squash

8. Set spaghetti squash “noodles” aside until you need them for your recipe.

Spaghetti Squash

I can’t wait to hear what you make with your spaghetti squash!

Happy Spaghetti Squashing!

What I Ate in Thailand

The food scene in Thailand is no joke! I literally ate my way through Thailand and I am not sad about it one bit, as a matter of fact I was constantly blown away by the food that I was chowing down on. As a result I decided to do a completely separate post on the amazing and random things that I ate while I was traveling through Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Krabi. This list is going to be a combination of some of my favorite food places and some of the unique and delicious things that we ate at those places. I hope you enjoy the adventure.

Taro Chips for Miles!

Chips for Miles!

Thailand Cooking Classes

I can’t take you on our culinary adventure without talking about the Thai cooking classes that we took while we were in Thailand. This is the first time that we have ever taken cooking classes on our travel adventures, and I have to say that I am a huge fan. I loved learning how to cook some of my favorite Thai dishes, because it gave me a better appreciation and understanding of the food that we were snacking on. It also made me realize how different the food could be from region to region within the country. All of the classes that we took were AMAZING and I would highly recommend any of the schools that we attended if you are planning a Thailand trip. Below is a quick recap of the cooking schools that we attended and the food that we got to make in each class. Stay tuned for recipes from our trip, such as this amazing and simple Chiang Mai Curry!

Bangkok – BaiPai Cooking School

The BaiPai Cooking School was located in an open air building in Bangkok…I basically wanted to live in the building that the school was in! The chefs were super friendly and offered a ton of veggie options for this vegetarian, so I was a happy camper. We grilled, mortared and pestaled, simmered and seasoned our hearts out! Over the course to the afternoon we learned how to make tom yum soup, chicken/tofu satay, red curry and mango sticky rice.

Chiang Mai – Four Seasons Cooking School

In Chiang Mai we stayed at the Four Seasons hotel just outside of the city. We took our cooking class inside of our hotel at the Four Season Cooking School. Similar to the BaiPai Cooking School in Bangkok, the Chef would demo all of the dishes first, which left room for questions and made learning and cooking the dish so much easier. Over the course of the afternoon we made a young green chili dipping sauce for veggies and pork, red curry paste (which was totally different from BaiPai’s red curry paste) and a Chiang Mai curry, which was my favorite!

Krabi – Rayavadee Cooking School

The cooking school that we went to in Krabi was actually located in the Rayavadee hotel that we were staying at. We were supposed to have the cooking class outside, but since it was raining they held it in the open-air part of the restaurant, which was perfect. They partnered us up, introduced us to the Thai chef who runs the restaurants at the resort and we started cooking. The cooking class was neat, because this was the first time that this chef has ever hosted a cooking class for a group. This class was also a bit different from the other Thai cooking classes that we had taken on this trip, because this class was structured like a Top Chef episode, which was a fun twist. We were given instructions on how to cook each dish, the Chef would float around and offer cooking suggestions and tips, and then she would come back and taste each group’s dish and pick a winner. At the Rayavadee Cooking School we made fried chrysanthemums, a prawn curry and fried soft shell crabs.

Now let’s move onto the amazing and bizarre food that we snacked on during our adventure.


Even if you are not staying at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, you should definitely plan to have at least one meal at their Verandah Restaurant in this hotel along the River of Kings. Some of our most memorable meals were enjoyed at this hotel. A few of our favorite things that we ate during our stay was a spicy basil fried rice, a shrimp pad Thai, the best green curry that I have ever had, a pad see ew and one of the most epic breakfast buffets that I have ever seen!


Ayutthaya Temple and Market

We saw a lot of temples on our Thailand adventure, but Ayutthaya was one of my favorites. You can read more about the temple in my Bangkok post. On our way back from the temple we strolled though an amazing Thai market that had a ton of interesting Thai foods that we got to try. Derika and I ended up trying some salty taro sticks, some peanut brittle and some banana chips. The salty taro sticks were so amazing, that I ate a whole bag after sharing some with the group I was with!

My favorite thing that we picked up at the market was the cotton candy! This is not your ordinary light and fluffy cotton candy. This cotton candy actually looks like Barbie Doll hair, and comes with a sweet kind of tortilla that you roll the cotton candy strands into!? I know it sounds so strange, but it was soooo awesome! It tasted amazing and was one of my most favorite and bizarre things that I ate the whole trip!

Chatuchak Market aka The JJ Market

We went to the JJ Market to check some of the 8000 booths that are at this market, and to try some unique Thai delicacies. We tried things that looked like cherries and miniature vegetables, but were actually not a fruit or a vegetable at all. These mysterious looking fruits and mini vegetables were made completely out of mung beans!? Look how cute they are!

You could also find these unique mung bean delicacies in the shape of pearls and were floating around in our coconut cream desserts.

Coconut Cream Dessert

Derika got brave and tried some Durian. Durian is (I pulled this right from Wikipedia) a fruit whose “edible flesh emits a distinctive odor that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odor has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia.”  I think it has a bad rap, but I think that you get the point. :)

Derika Eating DurianMy favorite thing that we tried at the market was a fruit called a rose apple. It is a bizarre zombie looking apple that tasted a little like a pear and a little like an apple, but was just a touch sweeter than an apple. They were sooo good even if they are creepy looking!

Apple Pears

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

At the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Bangkok, we sampled some grilled bananas on a stick that came with a sweet honey-like dipping sauce. You can also read more about the floating market in my Bangkok post.

Grilled Banana on a Stick

Also at the floating market we hopped off at the only shop you could walk around in and tried our hand at making and taste tested some palm sugar mounds. That little man in the photo made about 30 mounds to my one. He was super nice and so friendly; I wanted to hang out with him all day.

Inn Chan Restaurant and The Rose Garden

We had lunch at Inn Chan at the Rose Garden. The scenery was incredibly beautiful, but the neatest thing about this lunch spot is they featured all sorts of amazing carved fruit. I mean, look at the detail of the fruit carving below!

Thailand Fruit Carving

In addition to seeing some of the most beautifully carved fruit, we had some amazing traditional Thai food in a beautiful setting and some of the best coconut ice cream for dessert. You can get coconut ice cream all over Thailand. If you see it on the dessert menu at any of the restaurants that you are at, I highly highly recommend trying it.

Chiang Mai

In Chiang Mai at the Loi Krathong Lantern Festival we tried some sweet street tacos.  I could have eaten 10 of these! The exterior was a thin and crispy pancake that tasted like a fortune cookie. The insides consisted of marshmallow cream and shredded vegetable matter. Pumpkin? Squash? Googling “Thai Tacos” did not shed any light on the matter. You could get them sweet or savory. I loved all of them.

In Chiang Mai, I FINALLY got to try a REAL Thai iced tea. It tastes so different that what you get in the States. Most of the Thai dishes that you order come with all of the condiments on the side so that you can heat it and spice it to your own liking. I love this because then you can cater your food to your own spice preference, and it makes sharing so much easier. The Thai iced tea in Thailand is served the same way. They serve all of the tea condiments on the side so that you can make it as creamy and as sweet as you want it. So yummy!

Thai Iced Tea

One of my most favorite meal times in Thailand was breakfast, and I am not even that big of a breakfast person. Every place that we stayed at had an amazing breakfast buffet, but you could also just get a warm noodle soup packed with a bunch of veggies, a protein of your choice and this all came with an amazing side of condiments. I had soup every morning for breakfast even when it was in the 90s. I was a bit obsessed!

That about sums up our Thai culinary adventure and now all I can think about is Thai food! This was one of the few countries that I have ever been too that I was not sick of the food when it came time to leave. I actually think that this travel adventure made my Thai food cravings even worse. If I leave you with one thing, I want it to be this…Try the doll hair cotton candy on your Thailand adventure. I would not have tried it if someone hadn’t talked me into it. It seriously was something that I think that everyone should experience at least once.

Happy Travels!


Chiang Mai Curry

At the end of last year, Derika and I spent two weeks traveling through Thailand. During that time we spent a few days in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Krabi, taking cooking classes in each city. The food scene in Thailand really blew my mind and I was glad that we took the time to take a cooking class in each location. Out of all of the things that we learned to make, my favorite dish was a Chiang Mai Curry that we made at the Four Season Cooking School in Chiang Mai.

Dani and Chiang Mai Curry

Ok, so the open air atmosphere of the cooking school was amazing and I was a bit hungry, but lets just put all of that aside. This dish had everything that I could ever want in a Thai dish. It was a warm, spicy, thick flavorful curry soup with veggies, tofu, fresh noodles, and all of this magicness was garnished with crunchy noodles, cilantro and green onions. Soooooo AMAZING, I was basically in curry heaven. If I could be a Thai food dish I would be Chiang Mai Curry. That is how much I love this dish. Thankfully, the cooking school sent us home with their recipe so that I can make this amazing dish whenever my little heart desires.

Once we got home I was faced with the challenge of finding all of the ingredients locally in order to recreate this dish. Lucky for me I can easily head to Chinatown in NYC and find all types of fun ethnic oddities to cook with. However, I know that all of you don’t have an amazing ethnic market near by, so I headed to Whole Foods Market first to see what I could come up with. In the end I made a couple of compromises, but I was able to get everything to make this dish. WINNING!

Here are some of the things that I changed. I have yet to make my own red curry paste (that adventure will be happening soon), but I did find this amazing curry paste at Whole Foods Market for about five dollars and I love it. This curry definitely saved me some time and cut out having to search for all of the ingredients to make the curry paste. For the noodles I found some fresh ramen noodles in the refrigerated section that worked perfectly. For 3 people I picked up two packages and we had more than enough noodles. Fresh noodles really work best here, but if you are gluten-free or vegan, I am sure you could use store bought dried ramen noodles that are diet appropriate in the soup. You might just have to omit putting the fried noodles on top of this dish. Other than that I was able to follow the recipe. As a side note, I did end up making some changes based on my own preferences, but nothing major though. I hope you enjoy this mind-blowing soup as much as I do.

Chiang Mai Curry Ingredients


Serves 4

  • 1 Brick Extra Firm Tofu or Protein of Choice
  • Fresh Egg Noodles, the amount of noodles is based off your own personal preference. Just make sure you have enough to put in the soup and then enough to fry and put on top as a garnish.
  • 1/2 C Vegetable Oil
  • 2 TBS Red Curry Paste
  • 2 Tsp. Yellow Curry Powder, mild or medium
  • 2 Cans Coconut Milk, full fat
  • 2 C Vegetable Stock
  • 3 TBS Tamari or Fish Sauce
  • 2 TBS Palm Sugar Paste
  • 2 C Vegetables of Choice (I used a combo of broccoli, yellow onion, sweet potato and green beans)
  • Cilantro

Optional Toppings

  • Lime, wedged
  • Green Onion, thinly sliced
  • Shallots, thinly sliced
  • Chili Oil


  1. Prepare your tofu or protein of choice. Cut into bite size pieces and set aside.
  2. Heat the wok with the vegetable oil, and then deep-fry a handful of the fresh uncooked egg noodles for the garnish. Just fry them until they start to harden. They can go from ok to burnt in a hot second, so watch them closely. Set noodles aside on a paper towel to drain ( Sorry for the terrible picture below, it is hard to fry and photograph at the same time).
  3. Fried noodlesBlanch the remainder of the egg noodles in boiling water and place in individual soup bowls with some cilantro and cooked tofu.
  4. Remove the oil from the wok and wipe the wok clean. Lightly sauté the veggies in the lightly oiled wok for 2-3 minutes to take the crispness out of the veggies. Set aside.
  5. Wipe the wok clean with a paper towel. Heat the wok and add a ladle of coconut milk and stir until coconut milk boils.
  6. Add red curry paste and mix the red curry with the coconut milk, then add the yellow curry powder. Mix well.
  7. Add the lightly sautéed veggies, the rest of the coconut milk and the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil.
  8. Simmering curry soupAdd the tamari and the palm sugar paste. Stir and reduce the heat of the gas to a simmer. Keep cooking the soup for 7-10 minutes, so that the flavors have a moment to mingle.
  9. Ladle the curry soup on top of all of the goodies that are hanging out in the soup bowls.
  10. Garnish with crispy noodles, green onions and shallots. Serve with a side of chili oil and lime.

Chiang Mai Curry

Yum Yum Yum, it looks sooooo good!

Great, now I am craving Chiang Mai curry! It looks like I know what I will be making for dinner this weekend.


Happiness and Curry!

Is it summer yet

At this very moment I am daydreaming about twinkling my toes in the sand, while sipping on a tasty beverage and watching a sunset. This NYC winter has really given me a run for my money and spring can join the party at any time! I just realized that I have not done a single This and That Thursday post the whole month of March. I think that is because I was having way to much fun cooking up some new recipes and gathering all of the info for my Eat and Play Like a Local in San Diego post. I do have to say that even though I had a great time digging up all of the info for the San Diego post, it did not help my summer fever one bit.  I actually think that it made it worse.

To keep my spirits up and to push through the final days of chilly weather, I thought that I would take a moment to share with you some of the things that I am currently obsessing over.


  • Derika and I would eat the heck out of this when we lived in Michigan and I have been trying to recreate THIS at home. Instead of a thick spread, I now have vats of garlic oil hanging out in my fridge. It is not the worse case scenario, however I have vowed not to give up until I can successfully make it.


  • I invested in THIS Kickstarter campaign, and I finally got my fermentor. I am not so patiently waiting for my first batch of kimchi to be ready! Recipe coming soon.


  • I really need a new phone cover for my iphone and I have been obsessing over THIS one.


  • I have slowly been making the transition to natural beauty products and I am currently in love with THIS.


  • I just started to doodle again, so I decided to treat myself to THIS on my last shopping trip. Now all I want to do is draw unicorns on everything!


  • I could not believe that I found a six-pack of THIS in my local grocery store! I swooped it up and I have been sipping on this golden sunshine while I make dinner.


I hope that this list finds you some place warm or hopefully you are at least enjoying a warming beverage. I leave you with this lovely ditty. I witnessed this older man on my way to work the other day. Notice the amazing boom box he has hanging from his belt and I hope you enjoy his song of choice. 🙂




It is strange how it seems to be perfectly acceptable in NYC to play your music on the street or in the subway without headphones. You will also find that if the person is so kind enough to use their headphones, that more often than not this headphoned person will proceed to sing out loud so that you can also enjoy their music as well. Maybe these people wish that they had enough balls to listen to their music without their headphones!? I am still doing research on this topic. My full NYC street music study is still not complete, but I will report back once I have all of the data collected. I love the random things that I encounter in NYC!

Stay Warm!

San Diego Sunset

Dear sweet sweet San Diego, how I miss you!

Derika and I lived in San Diego for three years and after two terrible winters in NYC, I am constantly asking myself why we ever left. Ok, so I guess that is a little harsh. Don’t get me wrong I really like New York. The city is amazing, the restaurants are out of this world and there is always something magical to get into. However, I miss the San Diego sunsets, cocktails on patios, burritos, living on the beach, twinkling my toes in the sand and my cute bunny neighbor that would hang out on my balcony.

Tipsy the Bunny

I mean…. LOOK at that face!!!

Living in the Midwest most of my life and then living in Seattle for four years really did something to my need for sunshine. There is a sense of panic that sets in when the sun comes out, and I feel and incredible amount of pressure to go outside and enjoy it. When we first moved to San Diego, I felt the same sunshine pressure. I was panicking everyday if I didn’t manage to make it outside to love on the sun for a bit. I think it took us a few months to realize that the weather is amazing almost everyday, and that it is OK if we go to the movies when it is sunny out, because it will be sunny the next day as well. Even though we got use to the perpetual sunshine, I still got cranky if we did not make it home in time to catch a sunset on our balcony. How could you not want to enjoy a beverage and catch a magical sunset with a view like this!

Sunset from the Doulble D balcony.

Sunset from the Doulble D balcony.

Ok, enough about the sun. Sniff Sniff…

Since we’ve left San Diego, people are constantly asking us for recommendations on places to go and things to do in San Diego during their visit. Instead of typing up the same list time and time again, I decided to do a blog post for folks that want to have the ‘local’ experience while they are visiting. Hence the name of this post…”Eat and Play like a Local,” thank you Derika for the title. Derika and I love to eat out and be adventurous in whatever city we are living in, and we did a lot while we were in San Diego. This list is going to be an ever-growing list that I plan to add to as we discover new places on our visits back. I know that there are things that I might forget, so please send me your suggestions and I will add them to this list. I broke up the lists below by ‘Eat and Drink Like a Local’ and ‘Play Like a Local’. I then broke each list up by city so that you can find out our favorite places no matter where you are in San Diego.

Now let the Double D Adventure begin!

Mexican Donut Shop

Meet your tour guides…Derika and Dani aka The Double D’s!

Eat and Drink Like A Local


Cocktails at Leroys

Cocktails at Leroy’s Kitchen and Lounge



  • Barrio Star – One of my favorite places to get margaritas and vegetarian Mexican food in San Diego. You will find a creative spin on hearty Mexican eats & craft cocktails at this colorful cantina.
  • Hash House a Go Go – Known for large portions of awesome breakfast food. Be prepared to wait in line.
  • Hillcrest Brewing Company – Gay Friendly hangout offering pints, great local beer, plus stone-fired pizzas in an awesome atmosphere with a great patio. It is also really close to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market.
  • Snooze – This is an AM Eatery, know for their breakfast and lunch.


Little Italy

Punch Bowl from Craft and Commerce

Punch Bowl from Craft and Commerce

  • Divanti Enoteca – Creative Italian cuisine, plus wine & cocktails. The festive patio and the huge make your own bloody mary bar on the weekend is my favorite.
  • Craft and Commerce – Hip gastropub, serving seasonal eats & craft cocktails.
  • Isola – Awesome Neapolitan-style pies, small plates and wine bar in the heart of Little Italy.
  • The Kebab Shop – Awesome kebabs, hummus and falafel, they also offer a bunch of gluten-free options.


Mission Beach

Sara's Veggie Burrito

Sara’s Veggie Burrito

  • Sara’s Mexican Food – I am not sure why, but this hole in the wall is my favorite place to get a veggie burrito in the city.


Mission Hills

  • Brooklyn Girl – Creative and delicious food, craft cocktails and oyster bar in a really great atmosphere.
  • Lucha Libre Taco Shop – Authentic street-style Mexican dishes and burritos, plus a salsa bar. This place get’s packed on the weekend.


North Park

  • Carnitas Snack Shack – Counter-service spot revered and worshiped by the locals for its pork sandwiches and craft beer.
  • Mamas Bakery and Lebanese Deli – Counter-service deli offering quick, awesome and healthy Middle Eastern wraps, combo platters, appetizers.
  • Polite Provisions – Apothecary-esque bar offers craft cocktails & microbrews in a stylish, retro space with an atrium. If you are hungry order food from Soda & Swine next door.
  • Seven Grand – Stylish whiskey lounge offers an extensive bourbon menu, craft beers & dark wood-lined walls that will make you feel like you are hanging out in your grandparent’s basement.
  • Swami’s Cafe – Cafe fare such as sandwiches, salads, waffles acai bowls, amid a laid-back setting. Know for their epic breakfast.
  • URBN – Craft thin-crust pizza, beer and cocktails served in an open and modern warehouse like space.
  • Urban Solace – Amazing comfort food made from fresh, seasonal ingredients. They have amazing craft cocktails and macaroni and cheese. Check out their jazz brunch on their patio on the weekends.
  • Tiger! Tiger! – Craft brews and creative eats such as wood-fired sandwiches, and some of the best curry fries that I have ever had in a casual pub space with picnic tables.


 Ocean Beach (OB)

Derika and I lived in OB for three years, and we loved it! This is why you will find most of my recommendations are in this little town.
  • Bo Beau– My favorite place in OB. This is a French fusion place that is known for their mussels. Get the brussel sprouts and thank me later.
  • Hodad’s– Known for burgers the size of your face. There is usually an epic line out front that goes pretty fast.
  • Mike’s Taco Club– According to Derika this place has the best fish tacos in the city.
  • Newbreak Coffee & Cafe– A local favorite. Eggs, sandwiches & vegetarian options offered with coffee and tea in casual, surf-themed environment.
  • Newport Pizza – Great place for a slice or a whole pizza and a unique pint of beer.
  • OB Noodle House Bar 1502 – Pho-focused eatery from Food Network star Guy Fieri offers a host of Asian specialties. Their Veggie Pho is one of my favorites. They also have an awesome patio.
  • OB Smoothie Bar and Subs – A small hole-in-the-wall on Newport Ave. Get an Acai Bowl for breakfast and thank me later. 🙂
  • The Old Townhouse Restaurant – My favorite place for breakfast in OB. I love their omelettes and their homemade salsa. You will have to ask for the salsa, because it is not on the menu. This old school diner specializes in standard breakfast fare including south-of-the-border options. Mimosas and beer are available.
  • Pacific Shores – This place is an institution. An old-style, underwater-themed dive bar offering traditional cocktails in a dimly lit space. Cash only.
  • Raglan – A New Zealand Style Gastropub with a bunch of beers on tap, fresh and local g food, something on the menu for everyone, including the kiddos. Derika’s friend from high school owns this place. Get a cider sangria!
  • Roberto’s Taco Shop or Nico’s Mexican Food – Great take-out Mexican food. If you like meat get a California burrito.
  • The Third Corner – Up-scale restaurant with a huge wine menu. You would often find Derika and I here on a late night, because they serve food super late. I know this sounds weird, but also try their red sangria and thank me later.
  • Wonderland – Relaxed bar with lots of windows that open. Features great food, cocktails, and sunsets in the heart of OB. Go here to enjoy an awesome cocktail and sunset.


Pacific Beach (PB)

Sunset from California Kebab

Sunset from California Kebab

  • California Kebab and Beer Garden  Chill brewpub with an awesome patio offering ocean views, a Middle Eastern menu, a large beer selection and gluten-free options. Parking is tricky in this area. There is a parking lot underneath this building and the restaurant will validate your parking.
  • The Mission Cafe – Hip local hangout with awesome breakfast, be prepared to wait in line or get there early.
  • Pacific Beach Fish Shop – One of Derika’s favorite place to get fish tacos in San Diego. This place serves fresh fish & seafood in tacos, sandwiches & salads, with local microbrews.
  • PB Sushi – Inventive rolls, sizzling tapas and Japanese standards in a snug space with a hopping sushi bar. Make sure you go here with friends, because their rolls are huge and it is always better when you share.
  • Wave House – Your kids can learn how to ride the waves in their wave pool, while you hang out in the sunshine in a lifeguard chair sipping on cocktails. I loved bringing house guest here during the week when it is less crowded to hang out in the sunshine.


Point Loma

Point Loma Pho & Grill

Veggie Pho from Pho Point Loma & Grill

  • Pho Point Loma & Grill – Busy Vietnamese stop open late featuring pho, noodle & rice dishes as well as sandwiches. One of my favorite places to get veggie pho in the city.
  • Pomodoro Ristorante Italiano – This was our favorite Italian restaurant in San Diego. Homemade pasta and other Italian staples are offered by this unassuming eatery with outdoor seating.
  • Session Public – Casual gastropub offering an Aussie-inspired menu, great atmosphere, awesome food, and a killer beer selection. Make sure your try one of their amazing Moscow Mules and duck-fat fries.
  • Supannee House of Thai – This was our favorite Thai restaurant in San Diego.
  • Taste of Himalayas – This Indian restaurant is in a strip mall, but don’t let the location fool you. It is the home of some of the best Indian food that I have ever tasted.
  • To The Point Cafe – Great cafe for breakfast or lunch. Offers fresh, local and seasonal cuisine. They have a great patio and everything tastes super fresh.


Shelter Island

  • Bali Hai Restaurant – Huge Polynesian eatery known for its mai tai cocktails with an amazing view. Warning these mai tais do not have any juice in them, they are ALL alcohol…think the Manhattan of Mai Tais. They are really amazing and VERY dangerous. You have been warned! 😉
  • Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle – Cozy, dockside taproom offering a selection of craft brews and bar bites in a chill environment. If you blink you will miss this place.


South Park

Pizza from Buona Forchetta

Pizza from Buona Forchetta

  • Buona Forchetta – A great cozy Italian restaurant with one of the best pizzas I have ever had, carafes of wine and an outdoor patio.
  • Hamiltons Tavern – Great bar food, homemade sausages, a ton of vegetarian options and one of the best beer selections in the city.


University Heights

Gaslamp Quarter

  • The Blind Burro – Fancy Mexican food in the heart of the Gaslamp District.
  • Prohibition – Stylish speakeasy with a secret entrance, and a 1930s vibe that features live music and seasonally inspired handcrafted cocktails.


San Diego Breweries

Amplified Beer from Cali Kebab

San Diego is known for its breweries. Here are a few that are at the top of our list to check out when you are in town.

  • Amplied Ale Works – This brewery is located in the California Kebab & Beer Garden that I mentioned above. Chill brewpub with a patio offering ocean views, a Middle Eastern menu & a large beer selection.
  • Coronado Brewing Company – Kid-friendly brewpub that serves house beers & basic bar fare.
  • Green Flash Brewery – Green Flash Brewing Co. is a craft brewery headquartered in the Mira Mesa neighborhood of San Diego, California.
  • Karl Strauss Tasting Room – Chain brewpub located throughout the city. Go to their tasting room to enjoy a great patio and beer selections that you can’t get anywhere else.
  • The Lost Abbey – Bustling warehouse microbrewery features regular tours & a tasting room with a ton of craft brews on tap. This is a great place to stop on your way to Stone Brewery in Escondido.
  • Mission Brewery – A great brewery with shuffle board located in downtown San Diego.
  • Modern Times Brewery – Eclectic brewery with great beer. It has one of the largest sticky note art installations that I have ever see.
  • Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery – Low-key joint offers specialty craft brews along with comfort food such as amazing vegetarian Philly cheesesteaks.
  • Pizza Port – Local pizza chain known for its craft brews, it is popular with locals and beer fans.
  • Saint Archer Brewery – Handcrafted beers lure locals to this brewery’s industrial tasting room with weekend food trucks.
  • Stone Brewing Co. – A brewery headquartered in Escondido, California. They also have a location in Point Loma. It is literally the adult playground of breweries that also serves really great food.

Play Like A Local

Play like a local!


Coronado is known as an Island even though it is not. You get to drive cross an awesome bridge to get there. It is a fancier town that is fun to stroll around while snacking on ice cream.
  • Coronado Beaches – These beaches have some of the nicest sand in San Diego.
  • Coronado Silver Strand – A great place to go to the beach or rent a bike and ride along the bike path while enjoying both the ocean and bay shorelines.
  • Coronado Summer Concert Series – A great free concert in the park, where you can bring your own seating, picnic, and alcohol and enjoy some free outdoor music.
  • Hotel Del Coronado – Beautiful and fun hotel to just walk around. The Grand Floridian hotel in Disney World is modeled after this hotel.
  • Ice Skating by the Sea – The Hotel Del Coronado builds an outdoor ice skating rink on the beach in the winter.


Del Mar

Gettin' fancy at the Del Mar horse races

Gettin’ fancy at the Del Mar horse races

Del Mar is an affluent beach city in San Diego with great beaches, shopping and restaurants.


Gaslamp Quarter

The Gaslamp Quarter is San Diego’s dining, entertainment and urban shopping district.

Don’t go here on a Friday and Saturday night it gets super crowded and annoying. Otherwise it is great to check out.



Hillcrest is the gay-borhood of San Diego.


La Jolla

La Jolla is a hilly, beautiful seaside community with fancy shops and restaurants.
  • La Jolla Coves – Small, picturesque cove and beach that is surrounded by cliffs in La Jolla. Great place to watch the sea lions and also great for snorkeling and kayaking.
  • Torrey Pines State Reserve – Is a coastal state park and reserve that is great for hiking.
  • Surf Diva – Derika and I took surf lessons here and loved it; it is great for both guys and girls. This bright surf shop also carries boards, wetsuits & beachwear for women.


Little Italy 

Little Italy is a somewhat hilly downtown neighborhood and a great place for Italian food.

  • Saturday Farmers Market – This Farmer’s Market happens on Saturdays and is probably the largest farmer’s market in the city. It is great for food and shopping.


North Park

North Park is culturally diverse and it has a ton of cafes, diners, coffee shops, several microbreweries, and boutiques.


Ocean Beach (OB)

Ocean Beach is a beachfront neighborhood in San Diego, and it is also where Derika and I lived for three years.
  • Antique Row – If antiquing is your thing check out the group of antique shops on Newport Avenue in OB.
  • Fourth of July Fireworks – Hang out in OB for the day and then enjoy some fireworks off of the pier in the evening. Don’t forget your marshmallows for the epic marshmallow fight after the fireworks!
  • Massage – Get one of the best massages of your life from our friend Anjani! I still miss my bi-weekly massages that I would get when I lived here.
  • Newport Ave is where you will also find a bunch of cafes, bars, restaurants and beach shops.
  • OB Christmas Parade – Pack your hot toddies and head to downtown OB on the first Saturday in December for a huge holiday parade that starts at 5pm.
  • OB Farmer’s Market  – This farmer’s market happens on Wednesday nights on Newport Ave. Great for shopping and eating.
  • OB Pier – Take a walk on the OB Pier after the farmer’s market for a great sunset stroll and to walk off all of the food you just ate in OB. They also have a cafe on the pier that is great for breakfast.
  • Sunset Cliffs – Beautiful drive in OB and one of the best places to watch a sunset.


Old Town

Old Town is a cute town in San Diego that has a bunch of Mexican shops and restaurants. It is a great place to spend the afternoon.

  • Ghost Tours – Some of San Diego is said to be haunted especially places in Old Town.  If ghosts are your thing, check out this ghost tour.


Pacific Beach (PB)

Cocktails in the sunshine at Waves.

Cocktails in the sunshine at Waves.

Pacific Beach is another great beach town in San Diego; it will be more crowded during spring break.


  • San Diego Zoo – One of the largest and best zoo’s I have ever been too.
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park – I did not have a chance to check it out while I lived there, but it is supposed to be amazing.

Whew! I had no idea there was so much to do in San Diego and I am sure that I am missing something! Have fun on your next visit to San Diego, while you are at it eat a burrito and an acai bowl for me!

Happy Traveling!

Palak Chana

I will be the first to admit it; I have a little bit of an Indian food addiction, just an itty bitty teeny tiny one. Whenever I order carry out in NYC it is either Thai or Indian food, but most of the time it is Indian food. Thank you sweet baby Jesus, that Derika is a good sport about it and indulges my ridiculous need to eat Indian food all of the days.

I had Indian food for the first time when I was in my first year of college with a close friend of mine. My brain and my taste buds pretty much exploded after my first bite! I have never had anything, especially something that was vegetarian that had so many amazing layers of flavor. I would eat it everyday if I could. Maybe I just need to move to India. 🙂

One thing that NYC is not lacking is Indian food. Which is perfect for supporting my habit. The real problem is that it is too easy to order Indian food in NYC. With a quick click of the mouse on my computer, I can have amazing Indian food delivered to my house in less than 30 minutes…Let me tell you how DANGEROUS this is! With that type of service there is very little motivation to make Indian food at home. However, there is something really satisfying about cracking the code of one of your favorite dishes and making it a bit healthier. That is exactly what I did with my favorite Indian dish. I love Palak Paneer, but I know that all of that amazing cheese is probably not good for me. So by making this dish at home I was able to sub out the paneer for chickpeas, cut back on the oil and I served it over quinoa instead of rice. Voila, I now have a healthier version of my favorite Indian dish!

Don’t let me fool you, I have been playing around with this recipe for years and I have never gotten the consistency right. I am here to tell you that the secret to the perfect Palak Chana is to use frozen spinach instead of fresh. Fresh spinach is packed with to much water and you end up with a soupy mess. Also pulsing the spinach in your food processor instead of pureeing it will make you life so much better.

Here is a quick Palak Chana Tip:

Smooth Spinach = OK

Soupy Green Spinach Mush = Not OK.


  • 1 TBS Ghee or Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, minced
  • 1 17oz Bag Frozen Spinach
  • 1.5 C Cilantro, stems removed
  • 1 Jalapeno, minced (remove the seeds to reduce the heat)
  • 1 Tsp. Cumin Seeds
  • 2 Tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1 Tsp. Ground Coriander
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tsp. Fresh Ginger, grated
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 14oz Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes with garlic, drained
  • ½ C Coconut Milk
  • ½ C water
  • 2 Cans Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 C Quinoa



1. Heat the ghee in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Sauté the onion and jalapeno until soft.

2. Push the onion and jalapeno to the side of the pan and add the cumin seeds to the other side of the pan. Stir the cumin seeds around on one side of the pan for about a minute. Just enough time so they can crackle and pop and little bit on their own. Careful not to burn.

Toasted Cumin Seeds

3. Add the garam masala, ground coriander, bay leaves, fresh ginger, and minced garlic. Sauté everything together for 2-3 minutes to bring out the flavors.

Spices added

4. Add the fire roasted tomatoes and sauté until everything is well mixed and the flavors are playing together nicely, about 5-10 minutes.

5. Thaw the spinach in a large bowl in the microwave. Transfer to a colander and press ALL the excess liquid out. Add the spinach and fresh cilantro to the skillet. Sauté for 3-5 minutes.

Tomatoes and Spinach

6. Remove the bay leaves. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until you get the desired consistency (smooth, but not a green soupy mess).

Processed Spinach

7. Return the mixture to the skillet, and stir in the coconut milk.  Add the water if you need to thin it out a bit.

8. Add the salt and chickpeas and mix everything together.

Added Chickpeas

9. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes to encourage the flavors to continue to party with one another.

Finished Palak Chana

10. Serve with quinoa or basmati rice. If you have some naan available, it would be delicious with it as well. Top it with a little cilantro and eat the heck out of it.

Plated Palak Chana


Usually this dish is made with paneer, but I added chickpeas to increase the protein. Feel free to substitute paneer or tofu in place of the chickpeas. This recipe makes a decent amount, but it freezes perfectly.


Happiness and Samosas!


Spicy Basil Cauliflower Rice

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, Derika and I headed to Chinatown in NYC to check out the festivities and to snack on some Chinese food. We made it to Chinatown, but ended up just missing the huge Chinese New Year parade. FAIL! NYC is loaded with dumpling shops, and it has been on my list to check out some of the more popular dumpling places in the city. So we headed over to a super popular dumpling shop called Prosperity Dumpling. We were not that surprised to find a line in front of the teeny shop, Chinese New Years is probably one of the most popular dumpling days of the year. The weather was not super chilly, so we decided to hang out and wait for these epic dumplings.

The line moved fast and we were only in line for about 20 minutes, which was perfect, because it gave us time to strategize our order. I say strategize, because the little Chinese man behind the counter reminded me of the soup nazi in Seinfeld. He reminded me of the soup nazi, because we had to know exactly what we wanted to order when we got to the counter. Then we awkwardly waited around in the cramped shop bumping into people and getting our toes stepped on. All the while we waited for the little man to tell us when it was time to pay and pick up our order. Derika got yelled at for trying to pay at the wrong time, even though it was not clear when the right time to pay was. Thank you dear sweet baby Jesus that she did not anger the Chinese dumpling nazi and we still got our dumplings!

Prosperity Dumpling

Take a look at how small the kitchen was! The guy in the blue on the right is the one that was taking the orders.

Since this was our first NYC Chinese dumpling experience and since we waited in line, we decided to go BIG! We made a game time decision and ordered some dumplings to snack on immediately, and some frozen dumplings to take home. They sold frozen sacks of 50 dumplings for only $10 so of course we had to get a sack of veggie and a sack of meat dumplings.

Yes, you read that right. We ended up going home with 100 frozen dumplings! I just want to let you know that I am not sad about this one bit.

In addition to the 100 frozen dumplings, we got a sesame pancake like sandwich thingy stuffed with veggies, and 10 dumplings to sample immediately. All of this only cost $25. I think that we just found the cheapest food in the city! Our order was done in a flash. We grabbed some hot sauce, and stood out on the street corner devouring our little pockets of happiness.

Derika and Dumpling

Derika does not look sad about the 100 dumplings that we took home either…

Ok, so back the fried cauliflower ‘rice’.

After our dumpling adventure, we now had 100 dumplings hanging out at our house burning a hole in my freezer. I wanted to eat some of them, and I knew that we would need help, so I invited our friend Tori over for a little Asian night. My plan was to whip up some dumplings and to off set all of the dough from the dumplings; I would make a light veggie fried ‘rice’. I put ‘rice’ in quotes, because to lighten things up I used cauliflower in place of rice to go with the dumplings. This way we could eat more dumplings and fried rice without so much guilt.

You can find cauliflower fried ‘rice’ recipes all over Pinterest. I’ve made it once before, but it did not turn out very well. So this time I winged it and just put in all of my favorite things that I love in a good fried rice…A bucket of veggies, a little heat, lots of basil, egg, and some crispy tofu and BOOM! I just created my dream healthy fried rice!

Once I chopped everything up this ‘rice’ came together quickly, and it turned out to be a cross between a spicy basil Thai fried rice and a Chinese fried rice. It would be an easy healthy meal to whip up on a Sunday to enjoy the rest of the week.

Continue reading to learn how to make a magical fried ‘rice’ that will change your life!


  • 1 Medium Head Cauliflower (about 4-5 cups)
  • 1TBS Ghee or Olive Oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 TBS Ginger, minced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Carrot, diced
  • 1/2 C Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1/2 C Red Pepper, diced
  • 1/2 C Broccoli, diced
  • 3/4 C Peas, fresh or frozen
  • 4 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 C Protein of Choice (I used one brick of tofu)
  • 1 Tsp. Granulated Garlic
  • 1/2 Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper, more or less depending on your heat tolerance
  • 1 C Chopped Fresh Basil
  • 3-4 TBS Tamari sauce
  • Fresh Ground Pepper

*Note – Omit the egg to make this vegan.*


  1. Cut the cauliflower into florets, discarding the tough inner core. Working in batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor or VitaMix until it breaks down into rice-sized pieces.
  2. Cook protein of choice and set aside.
  3. Whisk the eggs and pour them into a skillet. Quickly scramble the eggs. Set aside.
  4. Warm 1 tablespoon of ghee or olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Careful not to burn.
  5. Stir in the yellow onion, red pepper, broccoli, and carrots and sauté about 2 minutes to take a little of the crispness out.
  6. Stir in the peas, protein of choice, the cauliflower ‘rice’, granulated garlic and crushed red pepper into the pan, mixing the ingredients thoroughly.
  7. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  8. Uncover and stir in eggs, basil, green onions, and 3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce.
  9. Taste and add more soy sauce and fresh ground pepper if necessary.
  10. Serve immediately and eat the heck out of it.

Spicy Basil Cauliflower Rice

Serve this ‘rice’ with lettuce cups and your favorite hot sauce to really wow your guests, it also adds a really nice crunchy-ness to the meal.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Charleston South Carolina has been on my list for years. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the food scene and how beautiful the city is. Over the holidays, Derika and I had a crazy idea to take a road trip from New York City to Clearwater, FL. If we were going to drive 19 hours to find a little bit of sunshine, I was going to make sure that we had enough time on the backend of the trip to pop into Charleston on our way home. There was no way that we were going to drive that distance, and not eat our way through one of the top foodie cities.

Since I did not know how much time we would have in Charleston, I did not plan anything for our quick trip. Instead I hit up Facebook and Twitter once we were about one hour outside of Charleston, to see what the community recommended we check out. I have to say that with very little planning and only about 15 actual hours spent zipping, sipping, and eating our way around the city, I think that we covered a lot of ground.

Now let’s see what we got into!


1. Visit the Historic Charleston City Market.

Inside the Charleston Market

I read about the Historic Charleston City Market while I was waiting for my pals to lead the way with recommendations on Facebook and Twitter. We were headed to Charleston at a leisurely pace, until I realized that this market closed at 5:30. Derika knew that this was the only thing that I really wanted to check out, because she likes me a lot she put the pedal to the metal and we made it there by 5:15. We made it there just in time to catch a couple of open booths and to watch everyone else pack up. It was kind of a bummer. We strolled through what was still open in the market, and just made a plan to get up a bit earlier the next day so that we could check out the rest before breakfast. It ended up being a win win situation, because then I got to check it out twice! I love local markets, even if I don’t buy anything. I would highly recommend a stroll through this market, so that you can work up an appetite for all of the amazing food that you are about to eat!


2. Grab Dinner at Minero.

Ok, so I know that Minero is a mexican restaurant. What weirdo goes to a Mexican restaurant in a city that is known for their southern food? I know it is weird, but a friend recommended it and I really really love Mexican food. Also the chef at this restaurant is kinda famous and a James Beard Award Winner, so I was curious. The food was awesome, and I have to say that my mouth is watering just thinking about this place.

Derika and I lived in San Diego for three years and we take our burritos VERY seriously… OK, so this burrito is huge, see photo above! Once you unwrap the foil wrapper of the burrito, you reveal a mouth-watering soft flour tortilla that is warm, chewy and buttery. To seal the tortilla, they put a thin later of cheese that is crisped to perfection to keep the burrito held together (you can kind of see the crispy cheese in my half eaten burrito above). This cheezy amazingness is what makes the burrito. Don’t doubt it, just try it and make sure you get it with a couple of margaritas and their amazing chips and guacamole. Soooo good!


3. Grab an After Dinner Cocktail at Husk.

We went to Husk based off another recommendation from a friend. Their menu changes every day, which intrigued the heck out of me. However, they did not have much for this vegetarian to eat so we decided to just swing by for a drink. I have to say that Husk did not disappoint. If you are not in the mood to go to the restaurant for food and drinks, you can head next door to their awesome bar and just grab a beverage. They had one of the biggest bourbon lists that I have ever seen and their bartenders really knew their stuff. You can basically tell them what you like and they do the rest. I had one of the best Manhattans of my life here.

We had a great seat at the bar, the lighting and service was perfect. We seriously could have hung out here all night. However, we did not want to spend our only night in Charleston in the same place. So I asked the bartender if he only had 24 hours in the city where would he go for a drink? I thought that he would just tell us to stay where we were, but he was super cool and actually recommended the next place on my list.


4. Grab One Last After Dinner Cocktail at The Gin Joint.

Gin Joint Menu

I loved The Gin Joint! I don’t know how it was even possible, but I was a bit snacky when we got there so I ordered up some pretzels with an amazing sriracha cheese sauce. Run, don’t walk and go try this cheese sauce, I wanted to bathe in it. In addition to having really great snacks, they had a killer craft cocktail menu. My favorite part about the menus was the Bartender’s Choice section. Basically you pick two words off their list to describe your perfect cocktail, the server asks you if you favor any alcohol and then the bartender concocts your dream cocktail. So fun, so good, and sooooo DANGEROUS!


5. Grab a Night Cap at Pavilion Bar.


Ok, so I know we have had a decent amount of cocktails at this point, but we only had one night in this amazing city and decided to make the most of it. We were walking back to our hotel and we noticed the Pavilion Bar, a rooftop bar that was open in December! We felt that  it was our duty to go check it out, so that I could report back to you. Let’s just call it research. We took an elevator to the top of the Market Pavilion Hotel. Once we got off the elevator, we noticed that the bar was enclosed in Plexiglas but the roof was still open. They also had a ton of heaters so you could comfortably hang out outside in December. I think that the Plexiglas comes down in the summer, and from the looks of it, this is probably the place to be in the summer. I just thought that it was neat that we could sit outside on a chilly evening and enjoy a cocktail. I have to say that the cocktails were not too shabby either.


6. Enjoy an Epic Brunch with Mind-Blowing Biscuits at Poogan’s Porch

We got up early on Sunday morning so that we could check out the Historic Charleston Market one last time, and then we headed over to Poogan’s Porch for a southern style brunch. We made reservations, which I would recommend. The word on the street is that this place gets slammed on the weekend. We really liked our breakfast, but the real stars of the show were the homemade biscuits and the fried green tomatoes. I’m not even a huge biscuit fan, but these were amazing! They were light and fluffy and the butter that was served with them was so so good! Of course I had to try the fried greed tomatoes; they are on my all time favorites list. I loved the aioli that came with them, and I could have had two plates of fried green tomatoes and nothing else.


7. Check out Rainbow Row on Your Way Out-of-Town.

We left Charleston right after brunch, and on our way out-of-town we zipped by Rainbow Row. Rainbow Row is basically a group of 13 colorful houses in downtown Charleston. There is nothing really happening here, it is just a really pretty part of town and an easy place to just drive by and check out on you way out. That is why you don’t see  a photo, because we literally just drove by the colorful houses. Check out my link above to see some pictures.


We had a long ride ahead of us, so we did not get to spend as much time in Charleston as I would have liked. There is still so much in Charleston and the surrounding area that I want to check out.  Bummer, I guess we will have to go back. Thanks to all of the Facebook and Twitter folks for your great recommendations, it was definitely a fun way to see a city. I am totally going to use social media again to find the local hotspots on our next travel adventure.


Happy Traveling!

Breakfast Pizza

One of my favorite things about the weekend is going out for a lazy Sunday morning brunch. New Yorkers take their brunching very seriously, and if you are not careful you can lose a whole day. At some of the more popular brunching spots in NYC, you have to make reservations at least two months in advance just to get a table!

We were in Las Vegas last weekend and had an amazing brunch at Border Grill in Mandalay Bay. It was perfect because, we were out in the sunshine on their lovely patio with a basket of chips, salsa, guacamole and pitcher of margaritas. How could we really go wrong? We are back in NYC this weekend and it is so flippin’ cold right now, who wants to leave the house to go out for brunch? Instead, I plan to just roll out of bed, pop open some bubbly, squeeze some fresh oranges for mimosas and whip up some of these delicious breakfast pizzas. I love a good breakfast, especially if it is paired with a boozy beverage. These pizzas are so easy to make, you will want to make them every weekend! When it is just Derika and I, we make two personal breakfast pizzas. However, if you have people coming over and your oven space is limited, you can just make one big pizza to share with your guests.

Here is what you need to do to ‘WIN’ your next brunch!


Makes 2 personal pizzas

  • 1 Package of Frozen Shredded Hash Browns, potato or sweet potato
  • 2 TBS Ghee or Butter, melted
  • 3 Eggs, scrambled
  • Field Roast Italian Sausage, or protein of choice, cooked and diced
  • 1 C Pepper Jack Cheese, Shredded
  • 5 C Veggies of Your Choice (I used kale, onion, and broccoli), diced and lightly sautéed
  • 2 Green Onions, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Tomato, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 C Cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning

*Note – Use sweet potato hash browns and no cheese to make this paleo. Omit the cheese, eggs and ghee to make it vegan.


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray a flat cookies sheet or the back of a cookie sheet with cooking spray or rub with a thin layer of ghee or butter. The flat sheet makes it easier to slide the pizza onto your plate.
  3. Dump two piles of shredded hash browns out onto the cookie sheet and press into two mini pizza shapes (If you are making two personal pizzas you will have left over hash browns). You can make these as big as you want or make one big pizza.Hash browns
  4. Drizzle each pizza with one tablespoon of melted ghee or butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake hash browns at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until hash browns are very lightly browned on the edges.
  6. While the hash brown crust is baking, sauté the veggies, cook up your protein of choice and scramble the three eggs. Set aside.
  7. Remove the hash brown crust from the oven and sprinkle with the scrambled eggs.
  8. Cut up your protein of choice and sprinkle it over the eggs.
  9. Cover the protein with the lightly sautéed veggies.
  10. Top it all with shredded cheese.
  11. Return the breakfast pizza to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown along the edges.
  12. Remove from the oven, and carefully transfer / slide your breakfast pizza to a plate.Finished Breakfast Pizza
  13. Garnish with green onions, tomatoes, and cilantro and serve with a side of hot sauce or enchilada sauce.

Happy Brunching!