Visit South Walton, Florida

View of the bay in Miami at South Walton Party

I've been very fortunate lately to have quite a few opportunities to pack my bags and hop on a plane ALL. BY. MYSELF. I've spent the weekend in North Carolina with girlfriends, three days in Manhattan, and visited BlogHer Food 2014 in Miami. We had a long, cold, hard winter here in Western New York and an unseasonably chilly and lengthy spring, and I spent the whole thing in yoga pants and tatty t-shirts. I was more than ready for some sun and sand and food and swank. I was thrilled to be one of the bloggers who received an invitation to the South Walton Culinary Showcase on May 16 at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Can we just take a moment to admire the view at the PAMM? There were fifty of us indulging ourselves in award winning culinary dishes during an interactive chef showcase featuring Chef Michael Guerra of The Pearl and Chef Kevin Korman of Caliza Restaurant. We got to watch the 2005 South Walton Artist of Year, Justin Gaffrey, wow us with his unique painting style while preparing a new collaborative piece during the event with attendees. He even let us 'help.' While my usual artistic skill is in the slightly enhanced stick figure realm, I was game for giving it a hand. He was a gentleman and didn't scream or pull his own hair out when I took the trowel, so I'm assuming I didn't embarrass myself too terribly. His work was just beautiful. It was so impressive to see the way he captured the beautiful white sugar sand beaches of South Walton. We were treated to a … {Read on...}

Father’s Day Gift Guide: How and What to Choose

Father's Day Gift Buying Guide. How to choose creatively and what to choose for the Dad in your life. #JCP #Sponsored #jcpambassador

I don't know what it is about Father's Day, but I used to find myself stumped on things to help our boys get for my husband. He's not an easy man to buy for because he really doesn't want much more than he has. Well, aside from that little miniature backhoe that he drools over every time we drive past the equipment dealer, but that isn't happening any time soon... It goes against every fiber of my being to buy a gift just because 'you're supposed to,' because those gifts seem like afterthoughts that would get socked into a closet or used once for form's sake then discarded. I make it my mission to get creative and find something he'll love and use often. I've developed a method over the years that may help take some of the angst out of buying a gift for your husband or dad on Father's Day so you can avoid breaking the bank or the dreaded Tacky Tie Syndrome. How to Choose a Great Gift for Dads: Assess your budget. I'm a firm believer in using creativity -not mega bucks- to find the perfect gift. Not every gift needs a blockbuster price tag to be fabulous. When you have a dollar range in mind, write it down to keep yourself in line. Think about how he spends his free time. Does he watch television? Run? Golf? Go boating? Walk? Read books? Grill? Travel a lot? Whatever he likes to do best with the time he has to himself, that's a great place to start. Fill a need. Keeping his favourite thing in mind, look at something that would help him with it. Is his favourite show … {Read on...}

Carnival Black Bean and Shrimp Puff Pastry Cups

Carnival Black Bean and Shrimp Puff Pastry Cups from #WorldCup

The World Cup is about to start in Brazil. Are you looking for a Brazilian influenced light dish or appetizer to pass at a World Cup party? I have just the thing for you; Carnival Black Bean and Shrimp Puff Pastry Cups will fill you up without weighing you down. These tender, flaky puff pastry shells filled with a mixture of black beans and roasted sweet potatoes simmered with garlic and fresh squeezed orange juice are topped with a tangy, slightly spicy Greek yogurt sauce and shrimp. So. I'm not a soccer fan. Let's just get that right out there. I AM, however, a major fan of Brazilian cuisine, and with the World Cup less than three weeks away, I'm pleased as can be to see all the attention Brazilian food is getting. It's so fresh, vibrant, flavourful and it's really pretty healthy overall. What really draws me in is the combination of bright flavours influenced by, well, THE WORLD. Colonists from Portugal settled in Brazil bringing their language and food with them. Settlers from Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland brought more European influences with them. Japanese immigrants brought THEIR food. African slaves brought their influence to bear on the food, too, using local crops to forge a cuisine that was unique and robust in flavour. Root vegetables, fruit, beans, and herbs are widely used in Brazilian dishes, and the dish I'm sharing today -Carnival Black Bean and Shrimp Puff Pastry Cups- pulls them all together in one fabulous appetizer that is … {Read on...}

Lemon Pepper Grilled Zucchini

Lemon Pepper Grilled Zucchini. Simple summer side dish that knocks your socks off.

Simple side dishes that knock your socks off are as easy as 1-2-3 in the warmer months when fresh produce is abundant. This Lemon Pepper Grilled Zucchini is as wonderful and fast as it gets and makes use of a corner of the grill while you're cooking burgers, chicken, fish, or other goodies. Over and over again I'm reminded that my favourite foods are the ones I don't have to fuss over much. I'm not saying that foodstuffs that require effort aren't wonderful, but I'm saying that the ones that surprise me with their perfection are the ones that took five ingredients or less and just a couple of minutes. Case in point, today's recipe for Lemon Pepper Grilled Zucchini. You start with baby zucchini, a halved lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill it all up, pop it on a plate, and VOILÀ! Side dish bliss. It's perfect in its simplicity. Tossing the whole baby zucchini in olive oil, salt, and pepper leaves a little of each of those items in a bowl. A halved lemon is slid around in what remains then placed on the hottest part of the grill alongside the zucchini. Turn the zucchini a few times. Even the largest baby zucchini won't take more than a total of five or six minutes. Transfer the works to a serving plate and -while serving- squeeze the charred lemon over the zucchini and prepare to have your mind blown. WHOA. There's an alchemy that occurs when you grill lemons. The acidity abandons it leaving only a concentrated lemon sweetness that gives incomparable flavour … {Read on...}

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies from

There's no cookie that can compare to the perfection of crisp edged, chewy, gooey caramel bit, melted dark chocolate chunk cookies with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt flakes on top; Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies are simply sublime. They please the kids and the gourmets! Who's ready for some cookies? I am ALWAYS ready for some cookies. My KIDS are always ready for some cookies. My husband BEGS me NOT to make cookies because he has no self-control around them. He argues- not entirely convincingly- that they leap into his mouth when he walks through the room where they're stored. I don't know about all that, dear... What I DO know is that when I make these particular cookies, I'd better hide a stash of them in a really excellent place or they will be gone baby GONE if I so much as dare to set one foot outside the door for more than five minutes. The last time I made a batch, I sat them on the cooling rack to -ya know- cool, walked down our five hundred foot driveway to get the mail, walked back up, and found two lonely cookies remaining. Not one of them looked like they felt even the tiniest bit guilty, either. I think the thing that makes these cookies so special is that they are the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Chewy chocolate chip cookies with crispy edges with melted, gooey caramel bits and dark chocolate chunks and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt flakes. Hello. In my book, that's everything a cookie ought to be plus a little thrown in for good … {Read on...}