Chasing Flavor in…Jamaica!

There is so much great food to try in Jamaica and this girl was definitely not sad about being there for 10 delicious days! I knew there would be plenty of jerk chicken, but there were some surprises in store for me in Jamaica. Let’s start with the drinks.

jamaica drinks

 

I first tried a “Yellowbird” which was a pineapple fruity drink made with Jamaican rum, of course. I’m not such a huge pineapple fan, but this was pretty good. Wine seemed a little hard to come by in the restaurants, especially in Negril. One restaurant actually had to go to the store to get us a bottle! Red Stripe is brewed in Jamaica and is a great lighter beer. I prefer Red Stripe Light but the regular is okay too. We ordered it when we got home and it just wasn’t the same taste. Maybe it tastes better when you have an awesome view. Last but not least, is my absolute new favorite drink, the “Dirty Banana.” Like I said in an earlier post, this was my drink of choice in Jamaica and I had to have one every day!

Mystic India

photos taken from Mystic India’s Facebook page

While I was in Jamaica, I tried two different Indian Restaurants. Both times, the friends I was eating with ordered a ton of food for the table to share. This is such a great way to order when you are trying something new. In Ocho Rios, we went to Passage to India and had Butter Chicken, a delicious vegetarian dish- Karahi Vegetables, and Tandoori Chicken. It was so good, I couldn’t stop eating. This was the first time I had ever been to an Indian Restaurant and I was surprised at how much I loved it! After talking about this experience, another friend took Ben and I to Mystic India in Montego Bay and it was just as good! At Mystic, we tried Saag Chicken (cooked in a spinach gravy), some sort of Mutton- one bite was enough for me, and a few other awesome appetizers. I will be seeking out Indian restaurants here in Charleston now. If you have any rec’s, let me know!

Lobster

Each day we were on the beach in Negril, a Jamaican would kayak up to the beach with stingrays following him. Turns out, he was out fishing each morning and would clean the fish right in front of our hotel. The stingrays were harmless, they just wanted some breakfast! He was selling the fresh lobsters for $7/each. We had to try it! He was so nice, he took the lobster home and cooked it for us then brought it back. When he brought it back, it was still too hot to touch. This lobster was the most delicious lobster we have ever tasted. It was very sweet and we loved being able to crack it open on the beach.

patties

There was another lady on the beach selling fresh fruit and patties. Patties are the thing in Jamaica, you may have seen something similar to this in the freezer section of the grocery store. It’s a sort of savory pastry dough filled with chicken, veggies, or beef then flash fried. We tried the chicken patties and noticed some Jamaican and Indian spices in the chicken mixture. The more flavor the better! The fruit; pineapples, Jamaican apples, and bananas, were so much sweeter than we are used to. It was like dessert. Can you believe our lunch was $8?! Add two red stripes and call it perfect!

Jerk

Jamaican Jerk is something to write home about. I am still looking up recipes and methods of cooking jerk chicken and as soon as I get it right, I will share the recipe with you! If you’ve never had jerk, you can taste the smoke on the meat from the grill but also all of the spices they use for the rub. Each place has their own spin on Jerk sauce- some more sweet like Sweet Baby Rays BBQ and some very spicy! It’s all pretty spicy though. And delicious! Outside of bacon, I’m not a huge pork eater and I think I may have preferred Jerk Pork to Jerk Chicken. My favorite jerk sauce was at Scotchies at Discovery Bay- the sauce was sooooo spicy! In Negril, right at the Treehouse where we were staying, there was a little beach restaurant/shack where the Singing Chef would cook jerk chicken and pork each day. He calls himself the Singing Chef because he sings as he cooks. He was super nice and makes a great jerk sauce!

Negril Beach

Thanks, Jamaica! We will be back!

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Dirty Banana

I found a new summer drink while vacationing in Jamaica, the Dirty Banana. I became obsessed, I had to have one every single day. And then, in the airport while waiting on our flight I was overcome with the urge to buy Rum Cream at the Duty Free shop. You see, I was reading recipes online and found out that Rum Cream isn’t easily available in the States. While our flight was boarding, I ran over to the shop and scooped up a bottle. Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m addicted to Dirty Bananas.

Dirty Banana

Michelle at Coco La Palm made my favorite version of this delightful drink. She eyeballed all the measurements, so I’m still trying to play with the ratios to get the perfect Dirty Banana. I think I will make another one tonight.

Dirty Banana- makes enough for 1-2 people

Ingredients
1 frozen banana
1 shot Jamaica rum cream
1/2 shot Kahlua or another coffee liqueur
1/2 shot Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/2 shot creme de cacao (I use Godiva dark chocolate liqueur)
ice

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until completely smooth. The longer you blend, the better. The consistency will be similar to a milkshake. Garnish with a slice of banana if you wish.

Tips for making this recipe:

  • Add more or less of any ingredient if you desire a stronger/different flavor
  • Take the frozen banana out of the freezer about an hour or so before making your drink, it’ll be easier to peel
  • When freezing bananas, make sure they are ripe. Stick a few in there, you will want to make this drink again and again and again…
  • If you can’t find Jamaican Rum Cream, add a little milk

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Traveling in Jamaica!

Ben and I love to travel! We each made lists of 10 places (5 stateside and 5 abroad) we want to go then compared them. We’re trying to hit as many places on our lists as we can. After our sightseeing trip to Paris, we both wanted a relaxing vacation. We found a Groupon for Negril, Jamaica and after some research (online and through friends, thanks Meghan!) we booked it!

Negril Jamaica

This was the second trip (Cozumel  was first) I’ve taken using Groupon or Living Social and again, we were not disappointed. Negril Treehouse was so easy to work with while booking our dates. The Groupon even included transportation to and from the airport which was nice since it’s about one hour and a half away.

Ben and I- Negril

While in Negril, we relaxed on the beach every day, it was so nice to just be lazy for a few days. After our two trips this year, we’ve decided we will alternate sightseeing vacations with relaxing ones, it’s a perfect combo.

Negril sunset

After we planned this trip, my regional manager mentioned that she needed help in our accounts in Jamaica so of course I volunteered. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Jamaica five days early for work. While working, I stayed in Montego Bay at Half Moon Bay. It was an absolutely beautiful resort.

Half Moon Bay beach

From here, I traveled to Runaway Bay and Ocho Rios so I got to see a lot of the island (still a lot left however). The food was phenomenal (more on that later this week) and everyone I worked with couldn’t have been nicer. I learned so much about Jamaica while I was there. Ben and I can’t wait to go back!

Ben and I- Montego Bay

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Tequila Shrimp

Wow! Have I been busy this summer! I think this is the first weekend I’ve been home since the beginning of June, at least that’s what it feels like. Since I have been traveling a ton, I haven’t been cooking as much. I was able to make this awesome Tequila Shrimp dish a couple of times last month. It’s always delicious and an easy go to for a quick-to-put-together meal. Serve it with rice or as tacos, it’s up to you!

ingredients

Tequila Shrimp- serves 4, original recipe

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
3/4-1lb shrimp, peeled, deveined
1/4 cup tequila
1 heirloom tomato, diced
2 ears of corn, cooked and cut off the cob
2 limes, juiced
1 handful chopped cilantro
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, diced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

In a medium cast iron or saute pan with the olive oil, saute the onions, garlic, and jalapeño. When the onions are translucent, add the shrimp and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes. Then add the tequila and flame off the alcohol. Then add the tomatoes and corn and saute for another 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lime juice and cilantro at the end. Serve over rice or with taco shells with avocado.

finished product

Tequila Shrimp Tacos

Tips for making this recipe:

  • You could also use lobster tails in addition to or in place of the shrimp. Cook the lobster first (pull out of water just before completely cooked, it will finish cooking in the sauce) and add it after adding the tomatoes and corn.
  • Save your leftovers (if you have any) this is great the next day for lunch.

If you try this recipe, leave a note in the comments to tell me how it turned out! I’d love to hear from you!

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Summer Flavor- Peach Pie

I have noticed that slowly but surely the peach stands on the sides of the road in Georgia are back in business! While I didn’t get any peaches this time, I will pick some up the next time I’m in Georgia. Peach season runs from June until September. Depending on where you live, you may not find local peaches for a few more weeks. Check out my post from last year on picking the best peaches in the supermarket or at your local farmer’s market.

millions of peaches

Last weekend, one of my best friends and her husband opened a new doggie day care in Charlotte and Ben and I decided to drive up for the grand opening. Of course, I had this great idea to take a pie. I love baking, especially when I get to bake for other people and this was a perfect occasion to test out my pie skills on my friends and their families.

Cheers!

Cheers to Amy and Billy for the opening of their awesome business, Social Pet! If you’re in Charlotte and need a place for your doggies to stay for the day or while you’re on vacation, check out the Social Pet Hotel!

Everyone absolutely loved my pie, which happens to go perfectly with champagne, and Amy’s dad even told me it was better that his mom’s peach pie (not sure if I’m supposed to share that detail however it helps convincing you to try this recipe)! I’m telling you, this recipe was very easy to follow and it turned out perfect- not soupy at all which can sometimes happen with peach pies.

basil

I ended up using white peaches, they smelled great in the grocery store, and at the last minute decided to add in some fresh basil that I planted a few weeks ago. The original recipe came from Southern Living, however I altered it a little. You can make you’re own pie crusts, but really it’s a lot easier and less messy to just use Pillsbury or another brand you like in your supermarket of choice.

lattice

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Peach Pie with Basil

Ingredients
1 package Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts (2 crusts)
8 large fresh, firm, ripe peaches
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1tbsp honey (optional, I used Sourwood Honey from Savannah Bee)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
8-10 fresh basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, beaten 
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 425º. Press one of the pie doughs into pie plate. Peel peaches, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; cut slices in half. Stir together brown sugar, sugar, honey, cinnamon, salt, and 1/4 cup flour in a bowl. Drain peaches then add them to sugar mixture, stirring to coat. Immediately spoon peach mixture into piecrust in pie plate. Sprinkle the top of the mixture with basil then dot with butter pieces.

Carefully place remaining piecrust over filling; press edges of crusts together to seal. Cut off excess crust, and reserve. Crimp edges of pie. If desired, reroll excess crust to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch leaves using a knife. Brush top of pie with beaten egg; top with leaves. Brush leaves with egg; sprinkle with 1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar. Cut 4 to 5 slits in top of pie for steam to escape. Or, if you would like to make a lattice for the top of your pie, here’s a great video tutorial which makes it super simple:

Freeze pie 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a jelly-roll pan in oven 10 minutes. Place pie on hot jelly-roll pan. Bake at 425° on lower oven rack 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°; bake 40 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning, and bake 25 more minutes or until juices are thick and bubbly (juices will bubble through top). Transfer to a wire rack; cool 2 hours before serving.

Peach Pie

Enjoy!

If you try this recipe, leave a note in the comments to tell me how it turned out! I’d love to hear from you!

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Filed under Basics, Dessert

Chasing Flavor in…Savannah

I travel almost every week with my job around South Carolina and parts of Georgia. Savannah is my favorite when it comes to eating out, there are just so many great restaurants. Last week, I got to try local 11ten and let me tell you, it was phenomenal from pre dinner drinks to dessert!

Perch

My work friend, Joseph, and I decided to have pre-dinner drinks and a cheese plate at “perch” which is the rooftop bar and lounge at local 11ten. This rooftop bar has a very natural feel to it, almost spa-like. It’s soothing and comfortable and has an amazing drink and appetizer menu. We started out with a pimm’s cup and the rosemary lemon martini.

cocktails

The cheese plate was delicious with five types of cheeses and a few accoutrements. I wish I could remember the chef’s selections for our cheese plate, but I didn’t take notes. I do know that if you ever come across a mild cow’s milk blue cheese, try it! From a girl who doesn’t like blue cheese, this blue rocks!

cheese plate

We moved inside for dinner where we found another fantastic menu. It was a little difficult to choose but I talked Joseph into trying the duck and I went with the scallops. Both dishes were delicious and items I’d order again.

duck

seared duck breast, leg confit, mushrooms, preserved rhubarb, thyme-almond puree, burnt strawberry jus

scallops

seared sea scallops, baby apple, fingerling potatoes, black garlic bisque, buttermilk cream, sorrel

We tried a burnt strawberry tart with strawberry sorbet for dessert and finished it before I could even think about taking a photo. Burnt strawberries were intriguing to us so we had to try them. They were pretty sweet and had an interesting flavor from the char- interesting good though.

local11ten

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Summer Flavor- Corn Salsa

salsa

Sweet corn is one of my favorite things to eat. Each year, I look forward to going home (to Ohio) in the late summer for sweet corn! I’ve already been noticing corn in the grocery stores here in Charleston so a few weeks ago, I decided to try some. I was pleasantly surprised, it was actually pretty sweet! Since that ear, I’ve been craving more so I decided to make some corn salsa last week while puppy sitting Sylvie Doodlebug.

Sylvie

Corn Salsa- original recipe

Ingredients
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups of sweet corn, cut off the cob (about 3 ears)
1 small heirloom tomato, diced
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon hot sauce 
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate at least 10-15 minutes before serving with tortilla chips.

chopped salsa

Enjoy!

If you try this recipe, leave a note in the comments to tell me how it turned out! I’d love to hear from you!

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Filed under Mexican, Snack Foods