French Broad Chocolate Lounge & Homegrown {Asheville, NC}

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The weekend seemed to go by too quickly. I wished I’d had a whole week to spend there like we did last time.

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Nevertheless, Sunday night was for revisiting some faves from our last trip – French Broad Chocolate Lounge and Homegrown.

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But first, I enjoyed a massage at Spa Theology – a recommendation from our B&B. I first checked into the Grove Park Inn, but it was over $200 for an 80 minute massage, and they didn’t have anything shorter. The price just seemed so high. Has anyone been? Is it worth it? I was really intimidated by most of the prices at the Grove Park Inn. $90 for a non-resort guest to visit the spa area pools? Maybe it’s worth it, and I just don’t know since I haven’t been.

Either way, I had a great massage at Spa Theology. Their setup is really nice (and really close to French Broad Chocolates). I felt really comfortable and relaxed at their facility. I liked how they offered massage upgrades (scalp treatment, foot scrub, hot stones). I opted for the foot scrub, though I’m not sure that particular one was worth it. It didn’t add any additional time to the massage, just the treatment. Anywho, the lounge area was small but cozy. Oh, and did you see the photo above? A post-massage chocolate waited for me in my locker. Pretty sweet, right? I also really liked the goodies for sale in the shop area of Spa Theology. I took home a candle and linen spray to enjoy later.

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Since it was nearby, I walked on over to French Broad after my massage. Last time we were here, we waited in a line out the door. This time, there was almost no line. Score!

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I had a tough choice selecting from all the delicious options, though they were narrowed down since I was getting everything to go. I got a couple things for dinner and then a brownie and pecan tart to take home the next day.

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Hubby picked me up from downtown, and we headed to Homegrown for dinner.

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We started with pimento cheese with pita wedges and fresh veggies.

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Hubby had some tomato soup as a starter.

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For my entrée, I had the fried chicken I loved so much last time with mushroom gravy. I got the sesame kale and mashed potatoes for my side. It was comfort food goodness. I still can’t believe you can get such good food for such a low price!

In case you didn’t see my last post on Homegrown, the decorations are sparse, but what they lack there they make up with delicious food and amazing prices. I wouldn’t go here for a romantic dinner, but I definitely recommend stopping by some time if you’re ever in Asheville.

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We headed back to the B&B to enjoy our French Broad take-out with a glass of vino (picked up from the local Green Life/Whole Foods)

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We had super tasty macaron…

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…and a slice of the quintessential chocolate cake. Yum! Both were just as delicious as I expected them to be based on our last trip. I almost got the olive oil chocolate cake this time, but I guess I’ll have to safe that for trying next time!

Thanks for reading!

Christmas Eve Filipino Feast 2012

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Merry Christmas from my parents’ house!

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Bailey’s been getting plenty of attention from my family, which he loves.

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My mom and sister decided to whip up a huge, Filipino feast for our Christmas Eve dinner this year.

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Mom made a dish she said we haven’t had in almost twenty years – morcon. Morcon is a dish made with flank steak that is rolled up with ham, kielbasa, hard-boiled eggs, and olives and then cooked in a tomato-based sauce. It sounds and looks kind of weird, but it tastes great!

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Here’s the spread.

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And here’s the finished morcon. We’re definitely not waiting another twenty years to make this one again. It was a winner.

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Sis is a dim sum fan, too, and she made a Filipino-Chinese fusion with steamed buns filled with pork adobo.

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These were so good that I had two more for an after-dinner snack! (dinner was really early)

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Lumpia is always welcome at a Filipino feast.

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They made this version with chicken and a wide mixture of vegetables, including cabbage, carrots, and zucchini. Yum!

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Here’s my plate – don’t forget about the pancit.

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{chowing down}

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Flan – a dessert we often had at holiday meals growing up. We haven’t had this one in awhile, either.

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{my piece – I’d forgotten how good this was}

Everything on the table was a winner tonight. I can’t imagine a better Christmas Eve dinner for our family.

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After eats, we moved on to open some presents for our guests – hubby and Matt.

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Bailey helped open presents.

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And after some gift-opening fun, mom, Sis, and I got started on a new food project – suman. We’ve never made suman before. Well, mom said she used to make it growing up. Suman is a Filipino dessert made with sweet rice, coconut milk, and salt.

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It was quite the process, but we did it. We ended up with twenty finished suman.

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The finished suman is then topped with sugar or served with sugar on the side. This stuff is good, and it really takes on the flavor from the bamboo leaf it’s cooked in, but I still prefer my Sweet Rice (the one made with brown sugar). Either way, it was a fun project to do with my family.

***

I’m seriously geeking out on my Christmas vacation. I majored in Computer Science in college, but I’ve never really worked as a developer. But, I’ve been feeling the itch to code lately, so I’m trying to teach myself Python. I’d also like to take a look at some HTML5 tutorials since I’m only self-taught on HTML from several years ago. Who knows? I’m having fun, so I guess it’s all good. What have you been up to?

***

Reader question: If you celebrated, what did you eat for Christmas Eve dinner? Do you have any traditional Christmas Eve eats?

Pumpkins & A Doughnut Fail

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Is anyone else decorating for Halloween? Halloween is quite possibly my favorite holiday of the year, so we always like to put a couple things up. We don’t go crazy or anything. I mean, if money weren’t a question, I’d probably do something ridiculous, but for now, we have a couple simple decorations.

We went out this past weekend to get a pumpkin…or two.

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We knew we wanted to get a regular pumpkin, but we also got a…

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…scary (heirloom) pumpkin to go with our scary decorations. (Check out that one above that looks like a brain!)

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Here are the two we brought home.

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And here’s my doughnut fail from tonight. I’m working on creating a healthier version of the apple cider doughnuts we had at the apple orchard. The batch from tonight morphed into something not-so-doughnut-looking.

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Though, they were at least delicious! I think I’ll cut the ingredients back a bit and try this again tomorrow night. I’ll tell you one person who isn’t complaining about that, though I bet you can guess!

Reader question: Do you prefer funny/happy or scary/creepy Halloween decorations?

Easy Apples Foster {Recipe}

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Check out this apple deliciousness…

I call it Apples Foster.

I wanted to make a no-fuss dessert that used apples but didn’t require baking. Bananas foster is a favorite dessert of mine, so I thought I’d do a play on it with apples instead. The result was so good, hubby requested it the next day. And by requested, I mean insisted I make it even though I really wanted an apple crisp. Luckily, both are so easy to make, I made one of each, despite being super tired after working all day and teaching Zumba. I love an easy dessert (or two!).

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Apples Foster

This recipe is a play on the classic bananas foster, with a apple twist. I used Cortland apples, but any cooking apple should work.These apples cook up quickly and make for a great dessert. I didn’t do the flame trick most people think of when they think bananas foster, but I suppose that could be entertaining if you had guests over. Perhaps google some bananas foster recipes to find out a safe way to do that. Enjoy on its own or serve over ice cream.

*Vegetarian, Vegan options listed*

Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter (or sub vegan substitute, like Earth Balance)
  • 1 apple, cored, chopped small (peel optional)
  • 1 tablespoon rum, optional (but definitely gives that unique taste to the dish)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • dash cinnamon
  • ice cream, optional (use ice cream of choice – I went with a vanilla dairy-based ice cream, but there are delicious vegan ice creams out there made with coconut milk that would be wonderful)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter over medium low heat in a large pan.
  2. Add apples and cook until softened, about 6-8 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from heat, add rum, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Return to heat, turn heat up a little (I turned mine to between medium-low and medium). Cook until most liquid absorbed, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Enjoy plain or serve over ice cream.

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Thanks so much for reading!

Greek with the Fam {Eats}

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After our day in the sun, followed by relaxing at the house (click for a post with a Bailey photo!), we headed out for another great meal.

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We went to Greek Isles, even though we just went to the Greek festival last weekend. Guess we didn’t get enough last weekend? ;)

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We all enjoyed our fill at lunch, so we opted to share a few plates at dinner, starting with a large Greek salad.

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We also ordered the hot appetizer sampler, which was a winner. I loved all the items: meatballs, dolmades (delish!), sausage (also delish!), plus…

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…spanakopita and grilled veggies. The tomato (hidden in the bottom center) was the surprise star. It was juicy and so flavorful.

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We also ordered a Greek entrée sampler, which came with dolmades, spanakopita, moussaka, pastichio, and gyro. The gyro was amazing and tasted great with the…

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…pita and tzatziki sauce. I want to come back and get this gyro again asap!

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The grilled chicken skewers were really good, too.

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And the boys shared some calamari, which I didn’t try because I was so full from everything else.

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Surprisingly, I was able to save enough room to have a bite of this baklava. Mmm…it was really good, and had an almost creamy (even though there is obviously not cream in baklava) texture to the bottom layers that I really enjoyed. It was also the biggest baklava I’ve ever seen at about 4-5″ long on one side!

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We definitely ate well all weekend, and it was great spending so much QT with my fam.

***

Coming soon on TCL: I know you’re probably appled-out, but with all the apple orchards in full swing, I want to get a couple more apple recipes out. I have an easy apple dessert, plus my sis and I created a new apple muffin recipe! Recipes for the tropical oats I mentioned the other day coming soon!

***

Reader question: What’s your favorite Greek entrée? I’d have to say I’d pick either Greek chicken or gyro….or maybe pastichio. Too many good choices!

Individual Apple Cinnamon Crisp for Dessert or Breakfast {Recipe}

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That’s right…you can eat this Individual Apple Cinnamon Crisp for dessert…or breakfast!

I based this recipe off of my other Individual Breakfast Crisp recipes (like this one). For those not familiar, basically, I created a crisp recipe that’s lighter than the traditional crisp with a higher oats to fruit proportion for more whole grains…and because I like the topping part of crisps.

I was inspired by our recent trip to the apple orchard to re-create the breakfast crisp with fresh-picked apples. The result was perfection. I’ve eaten this three times this week already, and I’m thinking this will be a breakfast/dessert that I enjoy year round since apples are so easy to find in the grocery store, even when they’re not in season locally.

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Did I mention that this only takes one bowl to mix up?

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Comes together in about 5 minutes?

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And is ready in about 20-25 minutes?

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Individual Apple Cinnamon Crisp for Dessert or Breakfast

This lightened up apple crisp can be enjoyed for dessert and breakfast. One very small apple will yield just enough apple pieces for a single serving. If you have a large apple, then you should be able to make two. I usually stuff my baking dishes pretty full since they’ll shrink a little. If you’re feeling lazy, this is a great dessert because it’s so easy and you can use just one bowl to mix everything up. This really is an easy, instant-gratification type of dessert that you can feel pretty awesome about enjoying.

*Vegetarian, Vegan*

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 25-30 minutes
Yields: 1 (you can easily multiply to make additional single serve crisps, but I don’t recommend multiplying ingredients to make one large crisp since the topping to apple proportions are so high.  

Ingredients:

  • non-stick spray
  • 1 small or 1/2 large apple, chopped small (about 1/4″ chunks) – Note: I left the peels on my apples because I kind of like the texture and it’s just faster and easier…but feel free to peel yours
  • 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2-3 pecans, chopped (about 1-2 tablespoons), or sub your favorite nut
  • 1 tablespoon flour of choice (I like spelt or whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon sucanat or sugar, optional (personally, I think apples are really sweet, so I usually leave the sugar out here)
  • small pinch salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil (or oil of choice)
  • butter (or vegan butter substitute), optional – Note: I usually skip the butter because I want my dessert fast! and this adds a bit of flavor, but sometimes not enough to slow me down.

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking dish (I use a 4″ round ramekin) with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine chopped apples and cornstarch and mix until cornstarch is evenly distributed. Pour apple mixture into prepared ramekin.
  3. In same bowl (if you’re feeling lazy, but feel free to use a new one), add oats, pecans, flour, sucanat/sugar if using, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Mix in canola oil until evenly distributed. Pour topping over apple mixture in ramekin. If using butter, put a couple tiny bits of butter on top of the oat mixture.
  4. Bake 22-26 minutes, until apples are tender to your liking.
  5. Remove from oven and let rest until safe to eat. Enjoy!

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Happy baking!

Reader question: Would you rather eat this Individual Apple Cinnamon Crisp for breakfast or dessert?

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