#AdultSpringBreak

The weekend of April 11, a few friends and I went to Jessica’s beach house in Carolina Beach. It was the perfect weekend to just get away. As busy as I had been and knew the month of April was going to be, the timing was excellent. We appropriately named our weekend trip Adult Spring Break. Here are a few photos from the weekend.

Road Trip

Kseniya & I hit the road after an epic lunch at Bistro La Bon

Pancakes

Kseniya made all of us her famous Pancake Diary pancakes on Saturday morning. Even made them GF for me!

Basking in the sun

Nothing better than spending Saturday in the sun with sand between your toes.

Pick your own poison in the beer cooler at the Fat Pelican

Pick your own poison in the beer cooler at the Fat Pelican

Why not sit on a half-naked mermaid?

Why not sit on a half-naked mermaid?

Mel & Jess

Melanie & Jessica at the Fat Pelican

 

Thanks for opening up your beach house to us, Jessica! It is a beautiful place. Looking forward to another weekend there.

 

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Crawfish in Charlotte

Growing up in Florida and moving to Charlotte from the gulf, I have been spoiled with not just good seafood but great seafood. That has always been one of the things I miss since moving to North Carolina and not living in a beach town, fresh seafood. The folks in the these parts have what they call fish camps which is basically a restaurant built upon grease and then everything that enters the door becomes fried. And, yes, they serve seafood fried in Florida…but I’ve never been a fan and I think it is a disservice to high quality ingredients to just batter ’em and fry ’em until you can’t appreciate their real flavor. With all that said, I was excited to hear that E2 Emeril’s Eatery was bringing back the crawfish boil, but this time for a longer period of time. Not only is it now every Friday in April & May but it is also much more organized than last year. I was very pleased when I arrived to see how much seating their was and that each table would receive their own all-you-can-eat bowl of the boil. If you are wondering what a crawfish boil entails, basically it is potatoes, corn on the cob, onions, E2 includes mushrooms in their boil, sausage and of course crawfish with cajun seasoning. Basically it is a low country boil without shrimp or crab legs.

E2 Emeril's Eatery

I went to the boil last week with my friend, JP. I arrived at about 5:15 and the restaurant had already posted that the boil had been delayed because the mud bugs had yet to arrive from the gulf. Yes, these guys are fresh. Since there was a delay in dinner the restaurant bought anyone there for the crawfish their next drink. I won’t complain that dinner is late with a drink in my hand. The seating for the boil is community, which was great because I got the chance to meet the most interesting group of people. We could not have been seated with a better group. Once the crawfish arrived it didn’t take too long for everyone to be served! It was a perfect evening to have a drink and eat crawfish out on the patio while enjoying good company. If you like a lil bit of kick then you will be in luck! The spice level for the boil is right on, not too spicy but definitely not bland either.

 

e2 crawfish boil

 

If you’ve every wanted to try crawfish this is the best way. It is $15 for all you can eat and I am sure there will be someone at your table who can teach you how to get the most of your mud bug and break them open. Or you can just invite me to go with you! I highly recommend taking advantage of  the community seating and talk to those sitting at your table. I am going to go check out a new band thanks to the group that was sitting next to me, they are in it! You never know who you will meat while you are sharing at boil of crawfish at E2!

Enjoy a piece of the gulf in Charlotte while it lasts!

Chuy’s Charlotte

Last night I was invited to a Taste & Talk Media Night at the local Chuy’s in the SouthPark neighborhood of Charlotte (located next door to Cowfish). We got to explore the menu, take a sauce tour (which was probably my favorite part, being the Sauce Boss and all), a taste of some of their signature drinks. Per usual, I ate too much…but to be fair it was to balance out the tequila I was drinking. However, I am pretty sure I rolled out of bed this morning. Must workout.

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Chuy’s Sauce Tour

Entrees (steak burrito, Boom Boom Chicken, and tortilla soup). I went with the Boom Boom Chicken for the corn tortillas.

These are not all the drinks.

Overall it was an excellent night. I applaud the event coordinator of taking advantage of the beautiful Charlotte spring weather and having us out on the patio. Plus we all know it makes for excellent picture taking. I always enjoy seeing some of my favorite faces in Charlotte, especially when it is surrounded by excellent food and drink. I highly recommend having the chips with spicy ranchero sauce, ordering the Boom Boom Chicken (the sauce it was smothered in made my night), and any of the drinks.

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Why I Cook

Food Post 2

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram there is no denying that I love to eat. It is not just the act of satisfying my need to be feed, though I will get hangry if I get to hungry. I enjoy the act of eating, especially when out with friends at a restaurant. Whether it be having a classic favorite at one of my go-to places in Charlotte or trying the newest hot spot in town (that is an entirely different post). There is something ritualistic about the art of eating and sharing that experience with other.

Through that love for eating and food, I have found a love for cooking. I have not always been a good cook and even now I sometimes question my abilities. I did not honestly start really cooking until I bought my home in 2009. I was working at a non-profit organization not making a lot of money and just bought a house. Needless to say that my budget to eat out, which was already practically non-existent, dwindled down. And to be quite honest, my eating habits had not really developed into what they are now. I like to consider my eating habits now as Healthy with a Side of Indulgence. It forced me to learn to cook and through practice cook well.

I remember the first time I had my family over for dinner after buying my house and how much they liked what I had cooked. Granted I had followed a recipe and used one of those seasoning flavor packets. Their enthusiasm about my cooking skills gave me the confidence to try new things. As I continued to cook more my confidence continued to grow enough to where most of the time I don’t even use a recipe. Not to say there haven’t been failures, most of those failures have been in the baking realm. There was the chocolate pumpkin pie, which I made for dinner at my friend’s house with her husband and their neighbor who I found to be incredibly cute at the time. Another baking failure was for a pineapple upside-down cake for my mom’s birthday, I decided it was a good idea to experiment with baking in the cast iron skillet. It took me almost 2 years before using the cast iron skillet again. And I will say with no shame, that I probably set off the fire alarm at least once a week…not because I burnt anything but because things get sauteed too hot and being in a townhouse a little smoke goes a long way.

Cooking to me is therapeutic. Even as messy of a cook as I am. No matter how prepared I am to create something in the kitchen, there is no doubt going to look like a tornado came through. In the end though it doesn’t matter as long as I sat down and enjoyed a good meal…I can deal with the mess. I can also control how much I want of one thing versus another.  Or maybe I am in the mood for a lot of greens or something spicy. I don’t have to ask for extra or hope the dish I am ordering is going to satisfy my craving. Ultimately it puts me in control of what I put into my body. Since trying to eat healthier and going about 80% gluten free in my diet, cooking at home is just easier.

When I cook I try to reduce as much waste as possible. Recently, I cooked several back to back big meals that not only left me with leftovers to eat but also leftover ingredients. After getting tired of eating sauteed squash, I decided to make soup with the leftover acorn squash and roasted eggplant. I did it on the fly. No real recipe, just trusting my gut and knowing the flavors. It was probably one of the best things I have made in the kitchen recently. Someone asked me on Facebook after posting a picture of my dinner, “where do you get your recipes?” I had to respond that a lot of the time, especially during the week I don’t use a recipe. I know I should start writing things down and taking notes, especially after the Thai Squash and Eggplant Soup I made, that way I can recreate it.

In the end, I cook for me. I cook to create something I (or the people I am feeding) will love. I do it because I love it. I enjoy the time I spend in the kitchen cooking with music on dancing around and ultimately making a mess.

Finally, just because I love to cook doesn’t mean there are not nights I don’t eat something random for dinner. Like Tuesday when I had just frozen yogurt from TCBY.

TCBY

Start Fresh.

Taken by David G.

Taken by David G.

I use to blog about me, it was my early 20’s and very emo-like. I am sure they are still archived if you looked hard enough.

Then I blogged about fashion and me. Things changed, I lost my creative edge. I kept trying to fit everything into my old blog.

I made the change on Twitter from FashionableJen to JenLeighCLT, with that a new blog and inspiration was born.

Enjoy, this new ride with me.