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Sparkling Old Fashioned

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Last week while we were all home in Durham for the holidays we threw a bridal shower for my sister, Lauren, who is getting married in May. The shower was held at A Southern Season in Chapel Hill and was a wonderful gathering of friends and family to celebrate Lauren. Not to mention a super fun shower followed by an awesome after party. We know how to entertain in this family, if I do say so myself.

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The theme of the shower was “Bourbon and Barbeque,” a play on the “Wine and Swine” theme that sounded delicious, appropriately Southern, and did not make people think the word “swine” at the same time they were thinking about a bride. We chose A Southern Season because it’s known for it’s impeccable taste, wonderful food, and atmosphere. Their restaurant, Weathervane, was incredibly accommodating and even agreed to make a signature bourbon cocktail for us- Sparkling Old Fashioneds.

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To be honest, this family has become old hats at the whole wedding game. Starting with my shower in May 2009 we’ve had at least one family wedding a year, if not two. We ya-ya’s went into planning Lauren’s shower knowing we wanted it to be something special, different from those we’ve thrown, but with all the flair and sophistication we could muster (and all the knowledge we’ve gained in the past few years). We settled on two activities, the first being a banner decorating station where guests wrote a note to Lauren and her fiance, Bradley, on the back and then decorated the front of letters that spelled out “Lauren & Bradley May 17, 2013.” It turned out beautifully and will hopefully be a momento that they can hang in their home (after we roll it out for a few more wedding events, of course).

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The second activity was a game that MaryCatherine came up with, a shopping game that took advantage of our location. Guests were split randomly into teams and each team had to shop for a present at A Southern Season that fit the theme they were assigned. The themes ranged from “something in the wedding colors” to “a food Bradley has never tried.” I shadowed my sister Genevieve and my Aunt Lori whose theme was “something for the honeymoon.” The above picture is one of my favorites, ever, where the women helping us in the shop realized why we were asking where the chocolate sauce was located. Then, after all the presents were gathered on a table, Lauren guessed which presents went with which theme. She was 10 for 10. It was, I have to say, a great game.

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The food was amazing. Going with the theme we had barbeque sliders on pretzel rolls with cole slaw. They provided three regional sauces- Eastern NC’s vinegar sauce, Western NC’s tomato and vinegar sauce, and SC’s mustard based sauce. We also had vegetarian eggrolls, stuffed tomatoes, fried pimento cheese balls (these were HEAVEN), and a fruit plate. Followed by the amazing chocolate cake and paired with the bourbon cocktails? Incredible. We couldn’t have asked for better food.

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In the end I think we pulled off something really special for Lauren, and I think she was happy and felt loved. I cannot wait for her wedding in May and I am so thrilled to call Bradley my brother.

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Lauren & Bradley’s engagement photos

Sparkling Old Fashioned
Source: Rachel Ray

makes 6 servings

1 cup bourbon

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon whole allspice berries

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 24 ounce bottle  nonalcoholic sparkling apple cider, chilled

6 thin strips lemon peel, plus 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

In a large glass measuring cup, combine the bourbon, cinnamon stick, allspice and nutmeg; let stand overnight or for up to 24 hours. Strain out the spices and discard. Stir in the cider and lemon juice. Garnish with the lemon peel.
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Grits Bowl

grits bowl 1

This past Sunday, on our way out of Durham, we stopped in to Watt’s Grocery for brunch with my friend Julia. I’d not been to Watt’s (cue long list of amazing Durham restaurants we can start trying now that we’re back in NC) but my Mom had given us some of their coffee for Christmas and it was delicious, so I felt confident about the decision. Good coffee is a staple of any brunch. Followed closely by good bloody marys and good breakfast meat.

grits bowl 5 Dan ordered their breakfast tacos and Julia and I each ordered the grits bowl. Basic premise- bowl of grits and a list of toppings to choose from. I ended up with salsa, cheese, avocado, sausage, and a fried egg. It was delicious. The frothy cheesy grits and all the toppings came together into a filling brunch that left nothing to be desired. I just kept thinking this would be great for a dinner party.

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My favorite kind of dinner party to throw is a make-your-own style party. Whether it’s personal pizzas, grilled cheese, or tacos this easy method of throwing together a base and then providing a ton of toppings makes for a fun AND simple party. And grits bowls definitely fit the mold.

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Last night (and again today for breakfast) Dan and I tried it for ourselves. I made a big pot of spicy cheese grits and then put out salsa (fresh from the market), chicken sausage, cheese, avocado, and fried eggs. Perfection. Grits are an awesome base but for some reason I always think of them as a dish- shrimp and grits, chicken and grits, grits squares, what have you. This got me thinking about all the possibilities for all the things you could put on top of grits- black beans, corn, barbeque, roasted sweet potatoes, anything! I see this becoming a regular dinner option as well as a party in the new kitchen. Once we make friends in Wilmington, of course.

grits bowl 3 Cheese Grits

3 parts milk

1 parts grits

1 parts cheddar cheese

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt

Red pepper flakes

White pepper

Heat milk. Stir in grits and spices, slowly. When the grits have thickened add in cheese and lemon juice. Continue to stir until they’ve reached your desired thickness.

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a year in review, 2012

2012 was, certainly, a doozy.

personally, we’ve:

– moved 408 miles south

– celebrated our third wedding anniversary

– changed states, homes, jobs

– watched my sister, lauren, get engaged LIVE on google hangout

– brought the sweetest most wonderful pup into our lives

– seen a second annual pie festival become wildly successful

– run, run, run

– painted a number of rooms

– spoken at my grandmother’s alma mater

– stuck our toes in the pacific ocean

– learned to love tofu and quinoa (okay, maybe that’s just me)

– created a space on the internet for thoughts about things other than southern cooking

– given a pie to one of my online heroes

this here blog has: 

– seen it’s 4th year

– survived a rocky 6 months of transition

– increased in size and scope

-rehabbed our first piece of cast iron

– experimented wildly in the field of “boozy pies”

– continued our education about how to best handle crabs

– continued to chug away, week in and week out

As always, thank you for visiting, your support, your interest, and your sweet words. Here’s to 2013!

2012 in review from elena rosemond-hoerr on Vimeo.

 

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