NOLA: a food lover’s getaway

image

When you are tasked to go to an event in New Orleans, say yes. Unless it’s flooding. Then donate the cost of your flight to the Red Cross and plan a teleconference instead.
If it’s not flooding, get ready to eat and drink way too much!

My trip to NOLA was very short. It was exactly 36 hours from the time I landed until the time I had to be back at the airport. I didn’t know I could fit so much into 36 hours. And now I’m thinking I can’t fit into my jeans after that 36 hours! But hey, it’s NOLA!

When you’re crunched for time, here are the things I did you might enjoy. Just remember, stay focused but have fun!
image
Stay: for such a short trip, pay a few extra bucks and stay on canal street! I stayed at the Astor Crowne Plaza in the French Quarter. This hotel was perfect. Central, safe, clean, and the bell desk was awesome. I couldn’t check into my room when my flight got in so I was able to drop my bags and also leave then there in the morning while I did a few other fun activities before the airport.  The staff were super nice and put up with my multiple trips to my bags and questions about the city.

Transportation: Uber. Parking is nuts. An Uber ride is $33 from the airport to canal street. Once there, you can walk to just about everything(I did!). Plus, most hotels will charge for parking so it’s worth the Uber fare to the hotel. Not using Uber yet?  Sign up here and get a sweet discount!

imagePlay: I highly recommend taking a trip (or two!) to Cafe du Monde. Be a tourist.  Don’t forget your cash because Cafe du Monde is a cash based shop. No cards accepted. Get some beignets and a coffee (or iced coffee) and enjoy the most delicious fried dough and sugar combo you may ever have. Then walk it off. And keep waking. You will likely want more beignets in the morning!  Or at 2am and then you will thank someone from denying you of it then. You can walk along the Mississippi and in and out of shops (tip- the shops have a/c!) NOLA has a lot of history all throughout the city.
Take some sort of history tour. I always go straight for the food tours. Other tours that might interest you could be the river ferry tour or a swamp tour. I would have loved to do a swap tour but time was not on my side for that. Next time!

imageTaste of Nawlins: a walking food and history tour
Do it. This tour is really great. You’ll go to multiple restaurants trying things like jambalaya, gumbo, muffelatas and po boys. I was able to find a groupon for this so it was only $40. Drinks are not included but the waiters are happy to bring you a drink at any of the stops. Not on groupon?  Sign up here.
Check out the raw bar at the Bourbon House.  This is a fun place to talk to other business people who are eating dinner solo. Sit at the raw bar and order ostyers. Ask for a pearl too! You may get one! I made a great friend and met a couple who was from Jacksonville too. Small world!

Pat O’Briens: stop by here for a drink. Specifically a hurricane. It’s super sweet but full of alcohol. A lot of alcohol. Take your pic with the iconic glass and listen to live piano music. It’s a fun time! I didn’t want to go here by myself so I asked a couple from the Taste of Nawlins tour if they wanted to join and they did. We had a lot of laughs that’s for sure!

The Gumbo Shop: The best gumbo in NOLA. imageHands down. I repeat, hands down.  I stopped here for lunch before heading to the airport. The food really was awesome. The service even better. I got a shrimp creole salad which was so delicious and some other yummy sides.

Even though this trip was super short and I was travelling solo, I made the most of it.  I actually had more fun than I thought I would! I have a new appreciation for people who travel for work.  Travel is tiring but opens up the doors to so many new opportunities.  I loved trying a ton of new food and meeting new people.  Next destination?

Advertisements

Chocolate Lovers: Mint Edition

Well hello, again!  With the new year in full swing, there are so many new possibilities that lay ahead!  Fortunately, some things will never change and my love for chocolate is definitely one of them.  During the holidays, my work had a cookie exchange and two of the recipes are definitely worth sharing!  Now there are a few criteria that a dessert must have in order to be worth sharing…

#1 – It has to be delicious. (defined by the taster)

#2 – The recipe has to be easy.  The easier the better.  A bonus if you can just use the microwave.  No-bakes are so fun! You know the saying “good things come in small packages”  ( <— so true, but that’s another story) well for recipes, “good things come in small grocery lists”

#3 – More than one opinion matters.  If other people like it, you’re probably on to something good.

These two are yummy, super easy and tested by many!  Both chocolate mint flavored and perfect for sharing and crowd pleasing.

Mint-chocolate-clusters-fudge

Dark Chocolate Mint Fudge

  • 1 cup mint chocolate chips  (coarsely chop 1/4 cup and set aside)
  • 10 oz dark chocolate morsels
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Andes-Nestlé-fudge-ingredientsLine an 8-inch square baking pan with foil. Combine the dark chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl.  Set the heat to a low or melt setting and microwave, stirring every 20-30 seconds until melted.  Add vanilla.  Stir in whole mint chocolate chips and then spread mixture in pan.  Sprinkle with chopped mint morsels and press gently.  Refrigerate until firm.  Wa-lah!  Done!

Mint-fudge-panYup, that easy.  One bowl wonder, plus the pan and you’re good to go!  Besides waiting a few hours for this to firm, the fudge is super duper quick to make, no fuss and really tastes pretty amazing if you like mint chocolate… and I love mint chocolate!  ❤

 

Andes-mint-fudge

When you thought fudge was the cat’s meow, let me introduce Oreos to the mix!!

Mint Chocolate Cookie Crunch

  • 1.5 – 12 oz packages of semisweet chocolate chips (18 oz total)Mint-cookie-crunch-ingredients
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Package of Oreos (about 10 oz)
  • 2 cups rice crispies

Lay out wax paper on a table.  This is a no-bake recipe so these will harden on the table. Coarsely chip the Oreos until they are pretty well crushed.  They can be a little clumpy but the more crushed the better.  Combine cereal and Oreos in a bowl. Set aside.

Mint-cookie-chocolate-ingredients

Melt chocolate chips on a low microwave heat setting, stirring every 20-30 seconds until melted.  Stir in vanilla and peppermint.  Pour chocolate over cereal/Oreo mixture and stir until combined.

drop by tablespoonful on the wax paper and cool.

Mint-chocolate-Oreo-clusters

I thought it would be fun sprinkle a little powdered sugar on these gems and it definitely made the baking a little messy <– messy in the kitchen can be fun in itself! Easy as that, these things are sure to please.  If you’ve ever had a chocolate covered Oreo, it’s like that… but minty and homemade!

Dark-chocolate-mint-clusters

I have to share another picture of what happens when I go to Sam’s Club…

4-pound- chocolate-nestle

Yup, that’s a 4 pound bag of chocolate.  In preparation for Holiday cooking, I bought this bag… Well it’s January 17th, and the bag is now 0 pounds.  #missionaccomplished #ineedveggiesnow #butitwassogood #andishared

{For now} I’ll put the desserts aside and get started on some healthy eating for the new year and training for the Gate River Run!

 

Good Friday, CPA Exam, Easter & Lactation Cookies

Three-layers-wall

After a few months of studying and way too many trips to Starbucks (embarrassed to admit how many grandes), I finally took the BEC section of the CPA exam on Good Friday.  It was by far, hands down, without a doubt, the hardest exam I have ever taken.  In.My.Life.Ever.  I felt the Audit section was a little easier, but everyone is different.  Now is the fun part… the waiting game.

Paleo-pancakes-berriesWhile I wait the 2-3 weeks for my results, I am taking a break from the CPA all together. (hallelujah!!) This way, I can catch up with life a little, hang out with friends and make some yummy meals!  This weekend was no exception!

Friday: Paleo Pancakes!  I added a berry mixture and this gave the pancakes a sweet kick that was so delicious!  I posted my recipe for paleo pancakes a few days ago, but it’s simple – eggs, bananas, cinnamon.  Done!

Saturday Work0ut: Tested out the new running swag!  I bought the Yurbuds Inspire Talk for Women and tested them out this week.  The problem with me and earphones is the same problem everyone has… they don’t fit right.  The ones that come with iPhones hurt my ears really bad and I’m sure the amount of sweat that gets in them and my ears when I workout isn’t good.  So I decided to give the Yurbuds a try and guess what, I LOVE LOVE them!!  They aren’t too big, fit perfectly and “lock” in place.  Also, I can hear my music but also hear outside sound too, which is helpful when I’m running outside.  The turquoise/light blue color is fun too!

Running-swag

After that early morning workout, I went to an Easter Egg Hunt with my friend and her awesome 20 month old… so much fun watching the little ones gather eggs!

Egg-hunt

Emmie had fun Saturday afternoon!  She got to play with her friend, Boomer, and run around (off-leash!!) until she couldn’t run anymore.  She slept the whole way home and was perfect the rest of the day (<— yeah, she’s not always perfect!)  I am so thankful for friends with dogs and backyards!

Puppy-play-date

Saturday night, I went to my church’s Easter Service.  The series we are in is called “The Way” and it’s a look back into the life, the land and the way Jesus took.  We got to see video footage from when my Pastor went to Israel and it was really awesome!

Three-layersSaturday later night, I went with some great friends to Three Layers, a coffee house, wine bar, hole-in-the-wall-middle-of-nowhere gem!  This place was really cool and had live music.  The best part was the venue for sure.  You could relax of a sofa and chairs, sit at high tops, play board games, watch tv, sit at the wine bar or even sit outside in the zen café!  We checked out all the areas (ok it’s small but they make great use of the space) and ended outside where we met a real Easter bunny!

Sunday morning came very early and I went to the 6am sunrise service at the beach.  There is nothing more amazing than watching the sunrise over the ocean while worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Resurrection Sunday!  Unfortunately, the weather was too yucky so they cancelled service.  Fortunately, Moosehaven had a 7am sunrise on the river, so over the bridge I went! (after stopping at Dunkin Donuts for more coffee!)  Here’s a picture I took from the service!

Sunday-service-on-river

The last part of my weekend I am very excited about was making Nutella Milkies!!  Milkies are my version of lactation cookies.  Before you get all weirded out, these cookies are just full of yummy goodness that helps lactating women produce more milk!  I’m visiting a friend tomorrow who is nursing her newborn and I’m so excited to introduce her to these.  A blog post to come soon about the cookies 🙂

Nutella-Milkies-cover

That about wrap it up for me.  What was the best part of your weekend?  What Easter traditions do you have?