Avocado Brownies


Last week I read a meme that said something to the effect of “Why do recipe posts include a 5 paragraph story about strolling along a tree-lined path in the fall smelling the scent of cinnamon apples and crisp leaves?? Just give me the damn pie recipe!” I laughed, seeing how true that was. And now I’m about to do it.

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

I’m not a good baker. I can’t even call myself a bad baker. I’m literally not a baker. At all.

A brief history of my baking attempts include the hits: Singed Sweet Potato Pie and don’t forget Extra Extra Extra Crispy Crunchidoodle Cookies.

My trash has eaten more of my baking than I have. My kitchen walls have heard more curse words than a prison cell. In fact, most of my Christmas presents this year involved some kind of device lovingly meant to help me in my quest, including cookie cutters and an oven thermometer. The “whipped cream on top”, if you will, was as I got cozy on the couch to write this post, Worst Bakers in America came blaring on to the TV. Was the Universe trying to tell me something?! As my Aunt Cathy says, “you just have to laugh.”

All of these struggles only made me more determined to succeed. So, I started with Pinterest. With the new year upon us, I decided to organize my recipe board. As I was going through pins and pins and pins of crockpot dinners, protein shakes, and cocktail concoctions, I came across a few brownie recipes. Now, if you know me, you’ll know that brownies are my weakness. If you really know me, you know that I tend to say that about everything, but I mean it this time. I love me some fudgey, chocolate-y, from-the-box brownies. I love these so much, that, in order to gain my affections, a smart gentleman recently made me an incredible 4 course meal, with the dessert being Betty Crocker’s from-the-box Fudge Brownies. Told ya he was smart…

Anyway, I thought 2019 might be my year of an Adventure…in Baking. So, I thought I’d start by making The Shirley Journey’s Avocado Brownies. If I’m going to eat horribly, there might as well be a healthy avocado or two in there, right? Right.

CHRISTINA SHIRLEY’S AVOCADO BROWNIES
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 
Total time: 
INGREDIENTS
    • 2 ripe avocados, mashed
    • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted
    • ½ cup light brown sugar
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • ¾ cup flour
    • ¼ cup cocoa powder
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • ¼ tsp salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

  2. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper.

  3. In a large bowl (or I used our food processor), mix avocados and melted chocolate until smooth and creamy.

  4. Add in sugar and eggs. Mix until well combined.

  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

  6. Stir into chocolate avocado mixture until just combined.

  7. Spread batter into prepared pan.

  8. Bake about 30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Umm, OK, these are incredible and will SERIOUSLY make you feel like a Baker Extraordinaire. They are extra-fugdey, super-gooey, and totally-chocolatey. And I’ve already eaten 3 squares…in the past 20 minutes.

Now that I know this is a recipe I can’t “fudge up”, I think I’d like to experiment by adding a little more brown sugar. Maybe some vanilla extract. Maybe a sweeter cocoa powder. The possibilities are endless 🙂

Thanks for listening.

Enjoy!

 

 

Food and Friends and Festive Drinks

Hi!

I had the pleasure of attending the baby shower for one of my oldest friends, Aisling, today. It was wonderful catching up with some old high school friends AND their adorable little ones 🙂
img_1647We got talking about food (obviously), and I promised I would link to my post about my Chik-Fil-A Nuggets Copycat Recipe from January. So when you get the craving on a Sunday, you’re covered!

And, just for you, Mary, the perfect Holiday Sangria 🙂

Caramel Apple Sangria

2 apples (I like Honeycrisp)

6 cups apple cider ( I like Red Jacket brand)

1 bottle white wine (I like Barefoot Moscato)

1 cup caramel vodka

1/4 cup caramel sauce

Mix and drink…liberally

 

Whirlwind

I’ve really been off the radar, haven’t I??

My beautiful mother came to visit me last weekend, and we had the most wonderful time! I can’t believe this was the ONLY photo I have of us together!

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I picked her up from the airport on Friday morning and I had her traipsing all over Charleston in 86* heat. We went to lunch at Rue de Jean for a repeat meal of what I had before 🙂 And we talked, laughed, and talked some more, and then strolled King Street.img_0703 Before we knew it, we were both so exhausted we had to come home and take a nap! I guess from all of the walking and soaring temperatures, it didn’t give us much of an appetite for dinner, but she did request a Southern treat. So, after much research about the best place for macaroni and cheese, we ended up at Cru Cafe. And they did not disappoint. Not only were we seated at the sweetest table in the corner of the outdoor patio, but the mac n cheese was so buttery and a little bit crispy and amazing. That will be a place I’m hitting up again before the end of this month!

Saturday, we were up early and headed to the Farmer’s Market where we got brunch. Then it was off to see Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, the Batteryimg_0709White Point Gardens, and meander down cobblestone streets to marvel at the window boxes and other cute homes, like The Pink House at 17 Chalmers Street (which happens to be for sale right now!)

img_0704img_0708img_0706 img_0707img_0711 img_0712 Look at this tiny door! img_0713 img_0715Then we took a late trip out to Middleton Place where we  walked the incredible grounds. The last time I was there, my Dad and I spotted an alligator sunning itself on the lawn. I had a quick thought that I should mention this to my mom as we were walking the narrow path past the Butterfly Lakes. Well, as soon as I opened my mouth, my Mom grabs my arm and says, “Sarah, walk, walk quickly!” So, we held on to each other while laughing and running past the same alligator only a few feet away!img_0726 img_0729 img_0731img_0721 img_0722img_0724This is the stuff dreams are made of. I mean, look at this wedding that was being set up…incredible.img_0718 img_0717img_0723

Afterwards, we went to Blossom and ordered the Crab and Avocado Toast, Blue Crab Ravioli and Steak Oscar. All of which were incredible.img_0733 img_0732And for desert? Kaminsky’s Toll House Cookie Pie and Lemon Pie. Yum!img_0702 img_0701

Sunday, we stayed home and just talked for hours before finally venturing out for a late lunch at Hominy Grill. I wanted to come here specifically as a belated birthday brunch for my Mom, because one of her favorite breakfasts is Huevos Rancheros, and I knew they had that on their menu 🙂img_0735

Then, we went to Boone Hall Plantation and absorbed that beautifulness…img_0755 img_0751 img_0748img_0736img_0745 img_0740img_0762 img_0761

On the way back, we quickly stopped on the Sullivan’s Island beach and drove past the Old Village Post House Inn, which you may remember from this post. We weren’t too hungry, but the weather was perfect for eating outside, so we decided to stay, and it was a great decision. We were the ONLY people eating outside, the hostess, Amanda, was super-sweet, and our waiter, Andy, was the absolute best. So calming and laid back, he didn’t mind that we lounged for 3 hours just chatting and enjoying our food, which was the Burrata Salad, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Lemon Berry Torte, Chocolate Pie, and Cheesecake to go. Yes. 3 desserts were ordered.img_0766 img_0765It was truly bittersweet when I dropped her back off at the airport on Monday morning. But we really did have a wonderful time talking and enjoying being friends. I missed her so much as soon as she left!

The weather was incredibly beautiful while she visited-as evident in the photos. We really lucked out, because on Tuesday at 3:45, Emily texted me telling me that Charleston was being evacuated for Hurricane Matthew. I quickly showered, not knowing when I might be able to do it again, threw my most valuable things into a bag, and tried to figure out what to do next.hurricane-matthew

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Luckily, I have some wonderful relatives (who I haven’t seen in 30 years) that live near Charlotte, NC and were willing to host me (for however many days I needed!) I left my apartment at 7pm and drove around for 45 minutes trying to find a gas station that had gas and didn’t have a line into the next street. I caved and went to the next closest one, and anxiously waited for an hour, hoping that they wouldn’t run out, then FINALLY started my 3 1/2 hour journey, which turned into 4 1/2 hours, and arrived in Charlotte at 2:30am. Not fun.

My relatives are so, so accommodating and are making me feel so welcome. They are Italian after all 🙂 Interestingly, in June, I went to visit the same family of relatives that live in New York, which we rarely get to see. But the NC part of the family couldn’t make it to the gathering. I had no idea that I’d be seeing the NC family now. I’ve been here since Tuesday, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back to Charleston, so their kindness is so incredible AND reaffirms that I come from good stock! Again, so many blessings.

It has really been a wonderful family gathering right in the middle of my trip!

Hanging out At…Page’s Okra Grill

Right before I left, I met with a long-time family friend, Joanne, to give her some design suggestions for her home. She just sent me a beautiful card as a thank you and added the sweetest encouraging message for my journey. She always has the perfect words to make you feel safe and that everything will be OK. Do you know anyone like that? It doesn’t matter what is happening, she always brings peace wherever she goes. It’s really a remarkable quality. How lucky am I to have her in my corner? 🙂 The card also contained a generous gift card and a recommendation to try Page’s Okra Grill (in Mt. Pleasant).

So, this Saturday, I made a little trip out to some design stores in the area (more to come!) and then stopped for lunch! What a DELICIOUS outing!img_0269The place was so crazy packed with people, but I quickly snagged a seat at the bar, which gave me a front row seat to all of the action. That place was running like a well-oiled machine. They literally had my food out to me within 5 minutes. The waitress was super nice and offered her honest opinion when I was torn between the Chicken & Waffle vs. Southern Fried Chicken Biscuit. I got the Southern Fried Chicken Biscuit, because it was a smaller portion size:img_0270
It also left more room for dessert, obviously. My first ever (but DEFINITELY not last) taste of Banana Pudding. Oh.My.God. Seriously, why has this not been popularized in the Northeast?? It was so incredible, I even wrote a review on Tripadvisor about it…img_0271I also shared my love of dessert with a nice couple sitting next to me. They were from Charlotte, NC and were down for the day. They originally ordered the Peanut Butter Pie, but when I ordered my Banana Pudding, they changed their order to the same thing, and we all agreed that it was the right choice 🙂coupleOK, I admit, this isn’t them, but it captures the joy we all felt while devouring our dessert 🙂

Thanks, Joanne!

 

 

 

 

Hanging Out At…Whisk, Theodora Park, Candlefish, and Sugar Bakeshop

It’s been rainy for days here and I’ve been cooped up in the apartment going insane. So when I woke up yesterday morning and saw that it was sunny, I knew I had to take advantage. This meant that I actually dried my hair, straightened it, and put on a full face. img_0202Top: Gaze USA via TJ Maxx. I got 4 compliments on this top! Woo Hoo!!

Denim Shorts: Target (This are SO cute, but unfortunately, they ride up showing everyone your sweet cheeks…They’re only good if you’re standing still) Maybe “appropriate length denim shorts” should be in an On The Hunt post…

First up: Early lunch at Whiskwhisk-2source

The interiors of this place are just so cute! It was too weird for me to take a photos, so Please enjoy the blurry photo I found online 🙂 It was the only one that looked the most accurate to what it looks like now!whisk-1I tried the Power Bowl Salad (spinach, romaine, chicken, bacon, cheddar, tomato, avocado, flax seed, Whisk vinaigrette) and the Tropical Verde Juice (pineapple, kale, oranges, ginger). The guy at the counter was super nice and really helpful. He gave me some samples of juice to help me figure out what I wanted. The verdict is that it was just alright. Their Whisk Vinaigrette is similar to a Green Goddess-type dressing, but it wasn’t as flavorful as I had hoped. I don’t know what I was really expecting from a salad and juice. It was definitely edible (and I definitely ate) but maybe I’d try a smoothie the next time…At least I went and tried it!img_0208Note the Dreams of Joy book in the background…lol

Second Stop: Reading in Theodora Parkimg_0077This whole city is so quiet, but in the residential Ansonborough neighborhood, there is a quiet little park with a reflection pool and small tables. It’s so peaceful here. Not too many tourists, so it makes a perfect spot for afternoon reading. I have to admit, these photos were taken a few days ago when I walked by there at sunset, but the #currentmood was still the same…img_0076 img_0079

Third Stop: Perusing Candlefishcandlefishsource

This boutique candle shop is a sensory dream come true. It smelled like heaven, the visual displays were phenomenal, and the music was chill.

img_0211 img_0214This is their scent bar, where you choose which scents you want mix together, if you make your own candle! They have several workshop dates, and I definitely plan on attending one!img_0217Love those branch candles! And the candles on this display…I can’t even…Illlume’s Pumpkin Peppercorn candle for $22 was like an autumnal paradise! Apothecary’s Tobacco and Patchouli was also reminiscent of a sweet pipe smoking lounge 🙂img_0218

And these flowers were absolute perfection to me:img_0212img_0210These lovely block prints are also available through Perla Anne Press on Etsy or at the Charleston Farmers Market!

And I couldn’t help but chuckle at these cheeky dishes:img_0216 img_0215

Speaking of portion control, onto the sweetest stop on the tour!

Fourth Stop: Indulging in mini cupcakes at Sugar Bakeshopimg_0219Like, really, this is the cutest shop ever. It looks like a bakery out of a dream! I walked by here the other day, but it was already closed, so I decided to take advantage of my day and take the 20 minute trek to the other side of town to snag me some sweets. I quickly picked out my 3 mini guys: Vanilla, Almond, and Coconut. Truth be told, I think I should have arrived earlier when the cupcakes were freshly baked. I’m afraid Dia Doce’s are still the winner, even after sitting for a week…fullsizerenderAs soon as I walked out, the clouds started rolling in and it was dark. I booked it out of there, just in time to be caught in the most extreme downpour I’ve ever experienced without an umbrella. I was slipping out of my shoes, the cardboard carrying box was disintegrating in my hands, a raindrop fell into my mascara’d eye, completely removing any and all traces of makeup, my straightened hair was completely drenched, and my top was so sopping wet that I could actually wring it out. This is me as soon as I got home…img_0221

And as soon as I dried off, the rain stopped completely. That’s what I get for eating cupcakes…

 

 

Hanging Out At…Brown Dog Deli

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My high-school friend, Liz, texted me the other day (even though she just had the sweetest baby girl, Delaney!) to tell me about Brown Dog Deli, a restaurant she tried when she was here a few years ago.

She recommended the “Apple Butter Jeans” sandwich…img_0128

So that’s just what I got!img_0131It was really, really good. The brie was all melty, and the apples were all tangy, and the bread was perfectly crisp.

Here was my view as I enjoyed my late lunch at Waterfront Park:img_0130

She also suggested Kilwins for the Salted Caramel Apple. Although I didn’t try one that day, I promised her (and myself) that I wouldn’t leave Charleston without snagging one at some point 🙂

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Thank you Liz for the suggestion!

As for what I wore, this lunch occurred on the same day as my Acquisitions escapade 🙂

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Hanging Out At…Hyman’s Seafood

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The other night, I went out to Hyman’s Seafood for Restaurant Week. It wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had. I got the Wadmalaw Delight as an appetizer and the Carolina Delight as an entree.

Wadmalaw Delight
Local fried green tomatoes served on creamy grits and topped with Carolina cream sauce, cheese and cajun seasoning.
Carolina Delight
Shrimp and Grits taken up a notch. Our #1 Appetizer! Lightly fried grit cake topped with your choice of shrimp, Salmon croquette or salmon. Covered with a creamy, rich garlic alfredo sauce then sprinkled with a hint of Cajun seasoning. Decadent and delicious!
I should have known that because they were both some kind of “delight”, that they would taste identical. It was just too much of the same flavor and so heavy, I was just over it within the first few bites. The Key Lime Pie for dessert was the best part, which you would know, if you follow me on Insta 🙂
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The service was really good though. The waiter was friendly and the owner came over and said if we had any suggestions about how to make things better, then they wanted to know. I did appreciate that, but it was difficult to describe what could have made it better.  After talking to more locals, I was told it was a touristy spot. But whatever, what you REALLY cared about was what I was wearing, right?
Well, I don’t want to disappoint!
img_0099This cute chevron maxi dress was a gift. I think it was purchased from a shop found from Pinterest (similar). Speaking of Pinterest, a few years ago, I uploaded a photo of me in this dress the first time I wore it, and it ended up being my “Most Pinned Pin” ever, at over 1,000 re-pins! Earrings are from Charming Charlie (similar)

Hanging Out At…Poogan’s Smokehouse

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It’s Restaurant Week in Charleston (hooray!!) So, tonight, I decided to try out Poogan’s Smokehouse. It’s sister restaurant, Poogan’s Porch was a place I visited in April and also happened to undergo a renovation by my Charleston Interior Designer cyber-friend, Deidre at Leaf Interior Design.

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There was a 30 minute wait, so I decided to try this bar down the street. And who should pass by me as I walked in? Southern Charm’s infamous Shep Rose

I sat outside in the most beautiful weather ever and enjoyed the scenery of several drunk Bachelor Parties stumbling down the street…

Let’s start my review with the service. My waiter, Mike, was great! He was super nice and really helped me figure out what to get. He recommended the Smoked Pork Belly and Hash and Rice. I’m not really a fatty meat girl, so I went for the Mac and Cheese, Tennessee Hot Chicken Sandwich (hot sauce on the side) with Hash and Rice, and Chocolate Bread Pudding for dessert. Oh, and just so you know, as I’m writing this, I’m still feeling the effects of my Spiced Banshee 🙂

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img_0172img_0173Unfortunately, I had 2 bites of my entree and already needed to box everything up. The beer before dinner really filled me up 😦

But the few bites that I did have were really good. The Mac and Cheese was really flavorful. The chicken sandwich was juicy with just enough spice. The Hash and Rice was really decadent and kind of melted in your mouth. And I didn’t even see my Chocolate Bread Pudding! It’s in the fridge waiting to be devoured tomorrow.

For about 50ish dollars I now have meals for 2 days!

img_0174Definitely worth it!

And as always, here’s what I wore. I call this look Beach Chic, since I took a shower after working out earlier this morning and then ended up at the beach later this afternoon. I quickly rinsed off, but didn’t feel like doing my hair…img_0170Denim Ruffle Dress: Target

Necklace: Francesca’s

 

 

 

Hanging Out At…The Old Village Post House Inn

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Like I mentioned in my post last night, I really wanted to try the Old Village Post House. I saw it featured somewhere and I felt like it was the kind of place I would want to try. IMG_9936

Here’s the menu:IMG_0049

I ordered the Burrata Salad and added Grilled Shrimp. I know it doesn’t really go together, but I really wanted the salad and I really wanted grilled shrimp. I also ordered the Reisling. Everything was absolutely incredible. I mean, how good can a salad and shrimp be? Well, the salad dressing was already mixed into the arugula. Typically, I don’t love arugula and I also ways like my dressing on the side, but I can help it-this was good! And the prosciutto was all crispy, like bacon. Oh yeah, my bill, including tip was $41.76. Eeeeeeeek! The most expensive salad and wine. Ever. But worth it. YES!!! This is one of those meals that I might need to go back for. IMG_0056

And here is the lovely patio where I sat. The breeze was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. 
IMG_0048And the waitress was SUPER nice and let me walk around AND photograph as much as I wanted! Now you get to reap the benefits 🙂
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IMG_0057 IMG_0058This looks exactly like what I imagine South Carolina to look like before anything was built.IMG_0059

And since the restaurant didn’t open until later, I had some time to walk around first! Count on me to be the Camera Creeper. People must think I’m crazy, or a restaurant reviewer…

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This one looks like it wants to be loved!IMG_9954 IMG_9955 IMG_9956 IMG_9957 IMG_9958 IMG_9959

Hanging Out At…McCrady’s Tavern

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I have a list of several restaurants I want to hit up while I’m here. On the list was McCrady’s. The original McCrady’s is moving to a new location and undergoing a renovation, so it’s new sister restaurant, McCrady’s Tavern opened in the original location (got all that?)

Anyway, I was really craving a burger, and McCrady’s Tavern had one on their dinner menu. S0, I wore The Charleston Dress and some Nine West Outlet wedges (similar) and went to get my feast on.

First, it’s located in the sweetest of alleys, 2 Unity Alley to be exact. Stupidly, I didn’t take any photos of the outside. I was a girl on a mission, OK??

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Since I was alone and didn’t have a reservation, I did have to sit at a communal table. It felt slightly awkward, since you’re sitting with other couples. But the uncomfortableness faded once I started drinking the McCrady’s Cobbler. It was OK, maybe I’m just not a fan of bitters. The shaved ice was delicious (yes, much to my friends’ annoyance, I always choose “crushed ice” when using their automatic ice makers in the fridge door…) But the real treat was the handleless copper mug. Divine.

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Interestingly, I’m reading Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner right now. And just this afternoon, I was reading about one of the characters eating Parker House rolls at a fancy restaurant and I wondered what that meant. So, imagine my smirk when the waitress made it a point to explain that the bread that evening would be Parker House rolls. Well, I quickly realized why they are so notable. They are freakin’ amazing!! They are so soft and light *dream* The butter had a weird bite to it, which was probably for the better, so I enjoyed half the loaf a few pieces plain.

And I did order my burger:

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As soon as I cut it in half, bernaise sauce came overflowing out of the melted cheese! Heaven! And the fries…Oh.My.God. They rival my favorite at Seasons in Williamsburg 🙂

Just as I was finishing up my burger, the alcohol kicked in, with a loud, “It’s time to start making bad decisions…”

For me, this doesn’t mean making out with strangers, this means making out with a fork smothered in lemon lime curd with torched meringue. And it was totally worth it. The portion was so big, I had enough to bring home with me and indulge tomorrow.

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On my way home, I took a different route and passed by this sweet gift shop called C’est La Vie. It had the typical things you see in all boutique-y stores like this, but, in true Huntress fashion, I did some digging and rummaged through the clothing racks. I found this little beauty for $32, which I’m positive would have sold for 4x the price at boutiques down the street:

IMG_9933It’s kind of hard to see, but the top layers are all tiered lace, and the bottom is a linen peplum. Nothing like an unexpected bargain!