Category Archives: Trips and Travels

Last Day in Nantucket

Let’s just pretend it hasn’t taken me a couple months to finish blogging about our trip to Nantucket. Sound good?

Sunday was our last full day in Nantucket. I’m so glad we had used Saturday as our day to ride bikes and enjoy the beach since Sunday had such a rainy start. We didn’t want the weather to hold us back, so we thought we would go spend some time in a local coffee shop, Handlebar Cafe before our brunch later in the morning. It was only half a mile away from the Carlisle Inn, so I thought we would be fine walking there. About five minutes into our walk, I realized it was raining a lot harder than I had expected. We were some of the only fools out on the streets, but it seemed pointless to wait for a cab or Uber to pick us up for the last quarter mile so we kept walking. We soon got to Handlebar Cafe, where it was surprisingly full inside. Nothing says “spend some time in a coffee shop reading” like a rainy morning. Luckily by the time we had ordered our drinks a table cleared up, so we took our time enjoying our coffee and books.

At Handelbar Cafe

At Handelbar Cafe

The rain had slowed down by the time we left Handlebar Cafe, so we were able to walk to our brunch spot, the Boarding House. Chip had a delicious soft crab BLT. I ordered the chilaquiles plate inspired by the now-closed restaurant Corazon del Mar, which had been our favorite restaurant during our first trip to Nantucket.

Brunch at the Boarding House

Brunch at the Boarding House

We had originally planned to rent bikes again to ride out to Cisco Brewers across the island, but with the persistent rain, we decided to call an Uber. But first, we spent some time at the Carlisle Inn watching Son-in-Law. Yes, the Pauly Shore movie. It is such a good thing we don’t have cable anymore, we would get sucked into watching 90s movies all the time.

Cisco Brewers is unique in that it is a winery, brewery, and distillery in one place. It’s pretty small, but it’s a fun place to visit. After doing a walk around the grounds, we decided to do their tasting tour, which would give us two samples from each of these branches. While we waited for our tour to start, we ate clam chowder and a grilled cheese from a food truck, listened to live music, and met another sweet dog.

Clam chowder at Cisco Brewers

Clam chowder at Cisco Brewers

Cisco Brewers

Cisco Brewers

Nantucket Vineyard at Cisco Brewers

Nantucket Vineyard at Cisco Brewers

Wine sample during the tour

Wine sample during the tour

Still waiting for our shoes to dry off

Still waiting for our shoes to dry off

One of the beer samples during the tour

One of the beer samples during the tour

By the time the tour ended, the weather had finally cleared up. We got a ride back to the Carlisle Inn and started to get ready for dinner. With all that rain, you know it took a while to de-frizz my hair. #humidityproblems

On our way to dinner

On our way to dinner

Keeping it classy

Keeping it classy

For our last dinner in Nantucket, we went to Le Languedoc. After our somewhat disappointing dinner at Oran Mor, I was worried about going to another “traditional” Nantucket restaurant, but I’m so glad we went. We split the best lobster, it was the perfect way to end our time together on the island. According to the family sitting near us, you can’t find a better lobster anywhere else. The portions were pretty large, I’m glad we decided to split the meal.

Y'all, we ate every bite

Y’all, we ate every bite

When the waitress asked us if we wanted dessert, we told her we were going to the Juice Bar. Again. She jokingly asked us to bring some for her, no one can deny that ice cream.

Looking at this picture gives me Juice Bar withdrawals

Looking at this picture gives me Juice Bar withdrawals

Monday was my day to travel back to San Antonio while Chip stayed for the conference for the next couple of days. I was taking a ferry later in the morning, so we spent some time walking around downtown Nantucket for a bit after having breakfast at Black Eyed Susans again.

Downtown Nantucket

Downtown Nantucket

The best bookstore around

The best bookstore around

We always try to get an ornament whenever we travel somewhere together

We always try to get an ornament whenever we travel somewhere together

Walking around Nantucket

Walking around Nantucket

Yes, that's a helicopter on a yacht

Yes, that’s a helicopter on a yacht

We love Nantucket!

We love Nantucket!

Walking around Nantucket

Walking around Nantucket

Walking around Nantucket

Walking around Nantucket

On the ferry back to Hyannis from Nantucket

On the ferry back to Hyannis from Nantucket

I took the high-speed ferry from Nantucket to the port in Hyannis. By the time my luggage came off the ferry, all of the cabs had already left the dock. I waited for another 10 minutes before asking one of the girls that worked the parking lot area how far the bus station was in case there weren’t any other cabs coming. I only had about 30 minutes before my bus left for Boston. She assured me more cabs would come… and they never did. Now, if you’ll remember, we smashed my phone on Saturday. The only “smart” device I had was my Verizon tablet. Couldn’t exactly call an Uber from there. So I had her give me a map and dragged my luggage a little over a mile to the bus station. It was supposed to be pretty much a straight walk down from the port with one turn, but I somehow got a little lost and had to flag a couple of locals down to ask for directions. I made it to the bus station, silently willed the older gentleman at the ticket counter to please stop asking questions so I could buy my ticket, and got on to the bus with minutes to spare. The girls who came on the bus just two minutes after me were actually turned away. While I was fanning myself from that fun luggage walk, Chip was sending me pictures like the one below of his lunch time view from Something Natural. Thanks, Chippers. Luckily, the rest of my travels were smooth sailing and I came back home to a very happy Wrigley. Until next time, Nantucket! IMG_2030

Saturday in Nantucket

We had been looking forward to our Saturday in Nantucket for weeks. It was a perfect culmination of all of the things we love most about this little island. We started the day off with breakfast at Black Eyed Susans and got a seat at the counter pretty quickly. Let me tell you, the two cooks in the kitchen run that place like a well-tuned machine. It’s a small kitchen, but they use every inch so efficiently. We were slightly hypnotized watching them cook. After breakfast, we walked to our favorite little book store, Mitchell’s Book Corner. I would use my kindle a lot less if there was a book store like this in San Antonio. Mitchell’s Book Corner is a small, two-story store covered in more books than you could ever read. We took our time there, looking over different books while listening to other families in the store. Not surprisingly, I was drawn to a World War II historical fiction book called The Nightingale.

Found our future home on our way to breakfast

Found our future home on our way to breakfast

Eating at the counter at Black Eyed Susans

Eating at the counter at Black Eyed Susans

Mitchell's Book Corner

Mitchell’s Book Corner

Mitchell's Book Corner

Mitchell’s Book Corner

The cutest display of children's books at Mitchell's Book Corner

The cutest display of children’s books at Mitchell’s Book Corner

Just a couple minutes away from Mitchell’s Book Corner is Petticoat Row Bakery, so we picked up a few cookies for us to have later in the day. We quickly went back to The Carlisle Inn to get our picnic blanket before renting some bicycles for the afternoon. If you ask me, cars shouldn’t be allowed on Nantucket on sunny days. Everything is so close that you can easily walk or ride a bike to get anywhere, and with the perfect weather, you’d be wasting a beautiful 70 degree day in a car. We soon made our way out of the center of the town and rode to Something Natural to pick up some lunch to take with us to the beach. Y’all, these are so much more than just sandwiches. Maybe it’s the picnic tables, or maybe it’s their sandwich skills, but we love this spot. We loaded up our bikes with our food and rode the three miles over to Dionis Beach.

Petticoat Row Bakery

Petticoat Row Bakery

Riding to Something Natural

Riding to Something Natural

Something Natural

Something Natural

Something Natural

Something Natural

So glad I got this hat in Boston

So glad I got this hat in Boston

Ready to head to the beach

Ready to head to the beach

Our bikes at Something Natural

Our bikes at Something Natural

We were surprised that the beach was pretty empty by the time we got there around lunch time. There were just a few other families spread out, so we easily found a great spot for us to spend the rest of the afternoon. Once we started eating our lunch, a sweet lab from the next family over came and sat next to us. I may or may not have won Mason’s love with some bread. Sorry, Wrigs.

Walking up to the beach

Walking up to the beach

This lemonade tasted even better with this view

This lemonade tasted even better with this view

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

Our spot for the afternoon

Our spot for the afternoon

This guy is the best

This guy is the best

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

Our new friend, Mason

Our new friend, Mason

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

Afternoon at the beach

We were at the beach for a few hours, which was more than enough time for Chip to get a ridiculously intense sunburn. For some reason, he didn’t think to apply sunscreen to his legs, and I, for some reason, thought he did put on sunscreen even though he hates it. Here’s what he looked like when we got back to The Carlisle Inn that afternoon:

What happens when you don't wear sunscreen

What happens when you don’t wear sunscreen

We had a small accident on our way out of the beach. We were loading our bikes back up with our bags and blanket and getting ready to leave when my bike got stuck on the bike rack. Someone had locked their bike really close to mine so I was having to wrestle my bike free. Chip put the brake on his bike, which was holding our big bag full of cookies, camera, books, etc., to help me out. Turns out all that stuff weighs a lot and it brought his bike crashing down. The bag, of course, fell out but we didn’t think to check if everything was okay. We rode for a couple of miles and decided to take a break for a quick picture. That’s when we pulled out my phone and realized that it was on the wrong end of that bag tumble. So for the rest of the trip, I was phoneless (although still getting alert sounds). #firstworldproblem

When we realized we had shattered my phone

When we realized we had shattered my phone

Sorry, phone

Sorry, phone

Once we had returned our bikes, we went back to The Carlisle Inn to get ready for dinner. We had brunch plans at Boarding House for Sunday, but since we had heard great thing about the bar there, we decided to check them out for some pre-dinner drinks. We then went to dinner at Oran Mor. I have to say, for this being such a popular spot on TripAdvisor, we weren’t too crazy about it. I think part of it is that we aren’t their target audience, we were definitely the youngest guests there, but I also wasn’t super impressed with their menu. Don’t get me wrong, the food was still good, but for the reputation they had, we were really expecting more. If we had known what the meal and experience would have been like, we would have gone to Cru instead. Chip actually went there during his conference and said it was amazing. Next time!

Pre-dinner drinks

Pre-dinner drinks

Dessert was, of course, at the Juice Bar. And don’t worry, we took our ice cream duties very seriously and tried different flavors each time.

The Juice Bar

The Juice Bar

Nantucket, Part One

After our calorie-filled day in Boston, Friday was dedicated to getting to Nantucket. We started the day by having a great breakfast with Jeff and Megan over at the Thinking Cup before going back to our hotel and taking an uber to the airport. From there, we caught a bus through Plymouth & Brockton to Hyannis. It’s normally about a two hour bus ride, but we hit a lot of traffic during the drive (I wouldn’t know, I was reading The Vacationers the whole time, wasn’t that great of a book). We had planned on walking from the bus station in Hyannis to the ferry dock and grabbing a quick lunch at a nearby restaurant, but by the time we got in, all we had time for was catching a quick cab to the ferry and checking in. We did the one-hour Steamship Authority  ferry to Nantucket and arrived around 3:00.

Breakfast at the Thinking Cup

Breakfast at the Thinking Cup

Sailing into Nantucket was even better than I remembered. We enjoyed seeing all of the dogs on board and got a great spot out on the deck as we approached the island to check out all of the adorable (and very large) gray homes and boats sailing by.

One of the golden doodles on board

One of the golden doodles on board

Sailing into Nantucket

Sailing into Nantucket

Sailing into Nantucket

Sailing into Nantucket

Sailing into Nantucket

Sailing into Nantucket

Sailing past Brant Point Lighthouse

Sailing past Brant Point Lighthouse

Ready for our weekend in Nantucket

Ready for our weekend in Nantucket

Once we got off the ferry and picked up our luggage, we walked over to The Carlisle House Inn, where we would be staying. We had hoped to stay at The Century House again, but they were booked by the time we started planning the trip. We ended up being really happy with The Carlisle House Inn, the room was a great size compared to our small spot at The Century House, but we did miss their freshly baked cookies every afternoon! We quickly dropped off our bags and then made our way over to the Whaling Museum. The last time we were in Nantucket, we really didn’t get much time in the museum before they closed and were looking forward to being there for a little over an hour this time around. Even that wasn’t long enough, we probably could have been there for at least a couple of hours. We spent a lot of time reading more about the history of Nantucket as well as the different signs surrounding the sperm whale skeleton in the main room that explained the history of whaling, which was so much more gruesome and disgusting than I had realized. Y’all, the whale below wasn’t even full grown when it washed up to shore back in the 90s. These are such large animals.

Learning about Nantucket's history

Learning about Nantucket’s history

The Whaling Museum

The Whaling Museum

See that missing tooth on the left side? It's believed that this sperm whale died from some dental disease.

See that missing tooth on the left side? It’s believed that this sperm whale died from some dental disease.

Some of the tools involved in whaling

Some of the tools involved in whaling

Looking in the whaling boat

Looking in the whaling boat

That would have been a huge whale

That would have been a huge whale

The Whaling Museum

The Whaling Museum

There was a special exhibit at the museum on the new movie In the Heart of the Sea, which is about the story of the Essex. The Essex was a whaling ship that inspired the story of Moby Dick. Here‘s a link to the movie; not going to lie, it’s pretty heavy stuff.

In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea

Costumes from the movie

Costumes from the movie

In the Heart of the Sea exhibit

In the Heart of the Sea exhibit

In the Heart of the Sea exhibit

In the Heart of the Sea exhibit

After The Whaling Museum closed, we walked around town for a little bit before making our way to Fifty-Six Union for dinner. This was one of our favorite meals of the weekend thanks to the awesome patio. The restaurant is pretty dark inside, but out on the patio with the string lights and nice breeze… it was perfect.

Walking to dinner

Walking to dinner

Walking to dinner

Walking to dinner

At a small pop-up concert in one of the small parks

At a small pop-up concert in one of the small parks

At a small pop-up concert in one of the small parks

At a small pop-up concert in one of the small parks

Fifty-Six Union

Fifty-Six Union

Fifty-Six Union

Fifty-Six Union

Fifty-Six Union

Fifty-Six Union

Clams with bacon. Yes, please.

Clams with bacon. Yes, please.

Fifty-Six Union

Fifty-Six Union

Once we finished dinner, we walked over to the Juice Bar for some ice cream. Pretty sure it tasted even better than we remembered.

The Juice Bar

The Juice Bar

Ice cream from The Juice Bar: the best way to end a day in Nantucket

Ice cream from The Juice Bar: the best way to end a day in Nantucket

We decided to stop by the Club Car‘s piano bar for a little bit before calling it a night. We left before all the popular sing-alongs started, but we really enjoyed the jazzy songs the pianist played while we were there.

A Day in Boston

Two years ago, Chip and I went to Nantucket so he could attend a finance conference. A few weeks ago, we made the trek back to Massachusetts for him to attend once more. I had always hoped we would get to go another time, so I was so excited when Chip was able to sign up for this conference again. The last time we went to Nantucket, we spent a quick night in Boston before leaving for the island in the morning. This time, we knew we wanted more time in Boston since we had so much fun there during our family trip for Alex’s college graduation a couple of years ago. So after an early morning flight out of San Antonio, we got into Boston in the afternoon.

Ready for our flights!

Ready for our flights!

Looking for a place to eat in the Chicago airport... Chip didn't want to eat at a place called Manny's. Ha!

Looking for a place to eat in the Chicago airport… Chip didn’t want to eat at a place called Manny’s. Ha!

Flying into Boston

Flying into Boston

Flying into Boston

Flying into Boston

We took an uber to the Boxer Hotel, dropped off our stuff, and walked to the North End. Y’all. The North End is my waist line’s BFF and worst enemy all at the same time. You can pick any street and find half a dozen delicious Italian restaurants. We knew we wanted to have dinner at Regina Pizzeria, but as we were walking around we decided to try to go to Neptune Oyster for appetizers. We had tried to get into Neptune Oyster the last time we were in Boston, but each time there was a solid three-hour wait. We thought that by showing up at 4:00 on a Thursday afternoon, it would be easier to get a table. Even then, we had a 45-minute wait but we didn’t mind at all.

We decided to walk around while we waited for our table and realized there was an adorable hat store just next door called Salmagundi. Lesson to all other retailers: this is how you do customer service. The staff was incredibly friendly and not pushy at all. We had been in the store for just a couple of minutes, slightly overwhelmed by the amount of hats they had, when one of the girls offered to try a hat out on me (bless her heart, she thought my Lopez melon head was a small. Ha!). After another seven or eight hats, I found a great floppy hat at an awesome price. We walked to a few other stores before making our way back to Neptune Oyster where we were seated shortly thereafter. I can see why people wait for hours for a table here. We each had a great drink, Chip ordered the best lobster roll we’ve ever had, and I ordered some mussels. So. Good.

The view from the North End

The view from the North End

At Salmagundi

At Salmagundi

At Salmagundi

At Salmagundi

So glad we finally got to try Neptune Oyster

So glad we finally got to try Neptune Oyster

They take their seafood seriously at Neptune Oyster

They take their seafood seriously at Neptune Oyster

Dinner, Round 1

Dinner, Round 1

We then walked a couple of blocks over to Regina Pizzeria. After reading some great TripAdvisor reviews (particularly this one), we were really looking forward to some authentic pizza. There was a short line outside the restaurant, which gave us enough time to check Facebook and see that our good friends Jeff and Megan were also in Boston. Talk about an awesome coincidence! We gave them a quick call and made plans to meet up for drinks after dinner. We were soon seated inside and couldn’t get over how authentically Boston this place was. It’s been around since 1926 and I doubt many changes have been made at all inside the restaurant. There were families everywhere, lots of shouting, and a group of retired firefighters just behind us. It was the best! And the pizza was totally worth the hype. Yum.

The original Regina Pizzeria

The original Regina Pizzeria

Dinner, Round Two

Dinner, Round Two

On our walk back to our hotel, we stopped by Mike’s Pastry. It should be illegal to be in Boston and not go to Mike’s Pastry for some cannolis. Be ready though, they only accept cash. Chip and I each picked out a couple of cannolis and ate them at the hotel while we waited for our uber to pick us up and take us to meet up with Jeff and Megan. We had such a great time catching up with them over drinks at City Bar!

So many options...

So many options…

Can someone send us more cannolis?

Can someone send us more cannolis?

Really. Please send us cannolis.

Really. Please send us cannolis.

On the walk back to our hotel

On the walk back to our hotel

Such a fun night with Jeff and Megan!

Such a fun night with Jeff and Megan!

Friday morning, we went to the Thinking Cup for breakfast. It was a different location from the one we went to last time and they seemed to have a larger breakfast menu. Chip had some super fancy oatmeal and I had their version of a breakfast burrito, which was more of a wrap but incredibly delicious. After breakfast, we checked out of our hotel and got a ride to the airport. From there, we caught a bus to Hyannis where we would be taking the ferry to Nantucket. More to come!

Breakfast at the Thinking Cup

Breakfast at the Thinking Cup

Nances in Nashville

Oh, hey there, little ol’ blog! Sorry you’ve been so neglected lately. I promise I’ll try to come check up on you more often.

Waaaaay back in February, Chip and I went to visit our friends Riley and Becca in Nashville. We had been to Nashville once before two years ago for their wedding, and wanted to see more of this fun city. Winter was still in full force when we visited in February, so we didn’t get to see as much of Nashville as we had hoped thanks to snow and rain (concealed re-freeze is a problem, y’all), but we had such a great time hanging out with Riley and Becca at their sweet home, checking out different coffee shops, and getting a tour of the city from their car.

We started the trip off with some yummy Mexican food at Taco Mamacita Thursday night. Talking with friends over tacos and margaritas? Yes, please.

True dat.

True dat.

Both Riley and Becca had to work Friday, so Chip and I took an Uber over to Sky Blue Cafe for breakfast. So so good. It was around this point that I realized three things: 1-there are a lot of hipsters in Nashville, 2-hipster restaurants have some really great food, and 3-if I lived in Nashville, I would have to ride a bike everywhere to make up for eating so much at all these great places. The staff at Sky Blue was incredibly nice and walked us through their favorite menu items. We had three breakfast entrees between the two of us and took our time eating while watching Wrigley on the webcam at Lucy’s (helicopter parents? maybe) and answering the Trivia Pursuit questions on the table.

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

Oh, hey, Wrigs!

Oh, hey, Wrigs!

After breakfast, we took an Uber back to Casa de Curry. Once Riley got off work, the three of us went to The Red Bicycle, a new coffee shop near their home, for a little bit to read and hang out. This place was awesome. We actually went there twice during our three days in Nashville. While I haven’t been able to drink caffeine for years, I’ve learned that I really enjoy a decaf nonfat latte with a lot little bit of caramel. I branched out while we were at The Red Bicycle and had the Tuxedo drink. De-lish-ous. If you’re in Nashville, please order this drink and toast my thanks. After hanging out at The Red Bicycle for a bit, we made our way back home to wait for Becca to get off from work. It actually started snowing a little bit at this point, so we had to rethink our dinner plans. We had talked about going to Acme for dinner, but with the snow and icy road conditions, we decided to do dinner at home. Looking back, Friday evening was my favorite part of the weekend. It was so fun hanging out in their kitchen, preparing a meal together, playing some Pass the Pig, and ending the night with some cookies and half of the movie Chef (after having bedtime tea, we were all too tired to finish the movie).

Checking out the icy driveway

Checking out the icy driveway

Enjoying the snow for a few minutes before I ran back inside

Enjoying the snow for a few minutes before I ran back inside

Looking up recipes on Pinterest

Looking up recipes on Pinterest

Love this picture of you, Becca!

Love this picture of you, Becca!

Riley, weren't you trying to give us all mints?

Riley, weren’t you trying to give us all mints?

Thanks for the super cute pic, Chip...

Thanks for the super cute pic, Chip…

Dinner!

Dinner!

Pass the pig

Pass the pig

Quite possible the greatest invention on earth

Quite possibly the greatest invention on earth

Saturday, we all went to The Red Bicycle for breakfast to have some of their awesome crepes. I mean come on, look at the one I ordered:

Miraculously I did not need a nap after this meal. After breakfast, we drove around for a tour of the city and checked out an indoor farmer’s market. We went back to Riley and Becca’s house for the afternoon where we spent a few hours hanging out in their living room. We finished watching Chef, put on a couple of episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and watched some hilarious SNL clips (Kristen Wiig’s were some of our favorites). Once we had spent enough time on YouTube, we decided to head out again and went to have some drinks at Pinewood Social. Inspired by Jerry Seinfeld, we starting an unofficial hipster wait-o-meter while our drinks were being made. My little decaf coffee drink won at about a 10 minute wait. It probably wouldn’t have been longer if Chip hadn’t gone up to get the drink himself from the bar. All waiting aside, this place had a really cool vibe. There were lots of couches and small tables that would be perfect for a happy hour with friends, and there was even a bowling alley at the back of the restaurant. We put our name on the list to try to get a bowling lane, but didn’t get a text from the restaurant that our lane was available until a few hours later. Either there were some intense bowlers there, or the hipster wait-o-meter carried over. After our drinks, we went to Acme for dinner. This place was a lot of fun and we spent our time on the second floor for dinner and then went up to the roof level afterwards (there was live music on the first floor).

Having drinks at Pinewood

Having drinks at Pinewood

Dinner at Acme

Dinner at Acme

Haven't had ribs this good in so long!

Haven’t had ribs this good in so long!

Quick selfie while the guys got the car

Quick selfie while the guys got the car

After dinner, we came back home and baked a delicious chocolate cake. Oh, yum.

Sunday, we went to church at Ethos together. It was great getting to see the community Riley and Becca are a part of. After church, we went and had another great meal, this time at Puckett’s, before heading off to the airport.

Riley and Becca, thanks so much for having us!!

Dinner a la Ina Garten

While I get most of my dinner recipes from Pinterest, I still love making my way through a cookbook and having it propped up in the kitchen, with small stains of olive oil and melted chocolate. I’ve shared before that my mom and I are (slowly) going through Julia Child’s cookbook (have a few more recipes I need to post!), but another favorite chef of ours is Ina Garten. I first got her Foolproof book as a Christmas gift last year and I have to say, it has some of my favorite recipes (here, here, and here). Her new book Make It Ahead came out about a month ago, and I’ve already been able to try out a couple of dishes from this book. My mom is also an Ina Garten fan (she’s the one who got me these books in the first place) so while we were in Tucson for Thanksgiving, I convinced her to do an Ina themed dinner together, complete with a class white button down and red scarf to match the cover of Make It Ahead. We had a blast and Chip and my dad definitely enjoyed the food. For now, I think Foolproof is my favorite of these two cookbooks, but I know I’ll be using plenty from Make It Ahead.

We chose an appetizer and main dish from Foolproof and our dessert from Make It Ahead. Recipes are posted at the end, along with some pictures from Thanksgiving!

Inspired by Ina

Inspired by Ina

My favorite cooking rules: have wine and start with dessert

My favorite cooking rules: drink wine and start with dessert

Ready for the apple spice cake

Ready for the apple spice cake

Ina has Jeffrey. We have these two studs.

Ina has Jeffrey. We have these two studs.

Working on our entree of Lobster Mac and Cheese

Working on our entree of Lobster Mac and Cheese

With our completed appetizer (minus the basil)

With our completed appetizer (minus the wilty basil we bought)

My dad, camera shy? Nope.

My dad, camera shy? Nope.

Love these two.

Love these two.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Lobster Mac and Cheese

We didn't like it at all...

We didn’t like it at all…

Warning: you cannot eat this dessert without a nice scoop of ice cream

Warning: you cannot eat this dessert without a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream

And now for some Thanksgiving pictures!

Driving to Tucson... Wrigs is such a good passenger

Driving to Tucson… Wrigs is such a good passenger

Penny, Molly, and Wrigley loved keeping me company at home

Penny, Molly, and Wrigley loved keeping me company at home

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Best wine of the weekend: wine from Del Dotto

Best wine of the weekend: wine from Del Dotto

Alex found the old chess set I bought for him in Chile. Hooray for family chess games with llamas and conquistadors.

Alex found the old chess set I bought for him in Chile. Hooray for family chess games with llamas and conquistadors.

Penny begging for some turkey

Penny begging for some turkey

Family picture, round one

Family picture, round one

That's better

That’s better

The pups were left to my room during dinner. Penny likes hanging out under the bed.

The pups were left to my room during dinner. Penny likes hanging out under the bed.

Making another Ina Garten dessert

Making another Ina Garten dessert Thursday night

Yum.

Yum.

Walking with the dogs to Le Buzz. We were moderately successful.

Walking with the dogs to Le Buzz Friday morning. We were moderately successful.

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta – From Foolproof

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces good feta, crumbled
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black epper
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine venigar
  • 2 pounds ripe heirlooms or cherry tomatoes, 1/2 inch diced
  • 3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving (we unfortunately bought some bad basil, so we had to skip this part)
  • 20 to 25 (1/2 inch thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons tasted pine nuts

Directions:

  • For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
  • For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you’re serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and venigar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir inthe basil and taste for seasnonings.
  • To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.

Lobster Mac and Cheese – From Foolproof

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, dividied
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups grated Gruyere cheese (12 ounces)
  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar (8 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat, 1/2 inch diced
  • 1 1 /2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (we used wheat bread) (5 slices, crusts removed)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Add the oil to a large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta, and cook al dente according the directions on the package. Drain well.
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan, but don’t allow it to boil. In the large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tabelspoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg and stir until the cheese melts. Stir in the cooked pasta and lobster. Pile the mixture into 6 to 8 (2-cup) gratin dsihes (we didn’t have these, so we just split it into two dishes).
  • Melt the remaining 2 tabelspoons of butter, combine with the bread crumbsm and sprinkle on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on top.

Fresh Apple Spice Cake – From Make It Ahead

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest  (2 oranges)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and 1/2-inch-diced (3 to 4 apples)
  • Vanilla ice ceram
  • Caramel sauce

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan.
  • Place the pecans on a sheet pan and toast them for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Set aside. Combine the rum and rasinins in a mslal bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 60 seconds. set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, and orange zest on medium speed for 3 minutes. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves into a medium bolw. With the mixer on lowl, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, just until combined. Drain the raisins, discarding the liquid. With a rubber spatula, fold the rasins, pecans, and apples into the batter. Spread in thte prepared pan and msooth the top.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool, cut into squares, and serve warm or at room temperature with a scooop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of warm caramel sauce.

Fiestas Patrias

Please forgive that this post is a day late. Oops.

September 18th always brings two words to mind: Fiestas Patrias, the Chilean holiday. Now, this wasn’t always the case. Growing up, I really didn’t know anything about Chile. I think I dressed up like a “typical” Chilean for some school culture project in fourth grade… or wait. I’m pretty sure I was a gaucho from Argentina, not Chile, but I’m not sure (a little help, Mom? Bonus points if you have pictures of awkward Jessica with those awesome huge glasses and buck teeth). I even pronounced Chile like the comfort-food soup chili. Ah, the shame.

Thankfully this all turned around while I was in college and decided to study abroad and eventually chose to go to Vina del Mar in Chile. For any college students out there: please please please consider studying abroad. I know I’m not alone when I say that studying abroad was the best experience from my college career (apart from meeting my husband, of course). I learned how to get around a new country all on my own while speaking Spanish filled with “cachai”, “poh”, and “bakan.” I was able to see a different part of the world and be part of a beautiful culture. I made my faith my own and found a wonderful church to go to for my five months in Chile. I learned how to do a long distance relationship with Chip. I made some truly wonderful friends with other students in my program. These friendships run deep and I am so thankful for them. I had one friend surprise me for my 21st birthday my senior year at Trinity and had a couple of super awesome girls come to our wedding three years ago.

I was lucky to study abroad in Chile during Fiestas Patrias, which meant several days off from school. My friend Caitlin and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to travel to the Atacama Desert in the northern area of Chile, the driest non-polar desert in the world. After looking at travel options, we decided to take a 24-hour bus ride instead of fork over a little extra money for a flight. That’s right, 24 hours. Thankfully we had some movies on our bus (with no audio, but were accompanied by our own commentary) to watch and some wonderful 90s sing alongs to keep us entertained (a favorite was I’ll Stand By You). We were meeting a couple of other friends up in the Atacama Desert and had a great time exploring the driest desert in the world.

Naively excited for our 24 hour bus rides

Naively excited for our 24 hour bus rides

Traveling light? Maybe.

Traveling light? Maybe.

This seemed like an adequate amount of space at first

This seemed like an adequate amount of space at first

A little tired the next morning on the bus... I totally forgot about my old red glasses.

A little tired the next morning on the bus… I totally forgot about my old red glasses.

Soooo ready to be done with the bus

Soooo ready to be done with the bus

In San Pedro de Atacama for Fiestas Patrias

In San Pedro de Atacama for Fiestas Patrias

San Pedro de Atacamas

San Pedro de Atacamas

San Pedro de Atacamas

San Pedro de Atacamas

Freezing our bums off at El Tatio Geysers

Freezing our bums off at El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio

El Tatio

Leaving El Tatio

Leaving El Tatio

On the tour later in the afternoon

On the tour later in the afternoon

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna. The landscape was so stunning.

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna. The landscape was so stunning.

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Further north in Iquique, Caitlin and I went paragliding. I'll spare you the pictures where we look a little less confident...

Further north in Iquique, Caitlin and I went paragliding. I’ll spare you the pictures where we look a little less confident…

Paragliding in Iquique

Paragliding in Iquique

And now prepare for more Chile photos because now I’ve become plenty nostalgic on this wonderful and at times challenging semester abroad. Here are a couple of other more luxurious blog posts on Chile that I’ve loved reading from Lesley Murphy and Ker & Downey. Please let me know if/where you studied abroad or if you’ve ever visited Chile before! Viva Chile!

Part of our orientation in Olmue

Part of our orientation in Olmue

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Out in the bay of Valparaiso

Out in the bay of Valparaiso

My dog friend at the botanical gardens in Vina del Mar

My dog friend at the botanical gardens in Vina del Mar

Taxi ride after arriving in Cajon del Maipo

Taxi ride after arriving in Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo... CBuck and I always ate well together

Cajon del Maipo… CBuck and I always ate well together

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

One of the highlights to my semester abroad was when my mom came to visit and we traveled to Peru together

One of the highlights to my semester abroad was when my mom came to visit and we traveled to Peru together

The ruins of Ollantaytambo

The ruins of Ollantaytambo

Machu PIcchu with mom

Machu PIcchu with mom

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

I loved the llamas of Machu PIcchu

I loved the llamas of Machu PIcchu

Machu Picchu, day two

Machu Picchu, day two

Machu Picchu, day two

Machu Picchu, day two

Celebrating my 20th birthday

Celebrating my 20th birthday

The entire COPA Program

The entire COPA Program

Our great Spanish class with Jorge

Our great Spanish class with Jorge

With Elsie's fabulous host mom, Angelica

With Elsie’s fabulous host mom, Angelica

End of the semester with Katie and Caitlin

End of the semester with Katie and Caitlin

End of the semester with Vivi, Claudio, Katie, Pame, and Caitlin

End of the semester with Vivi, Claudio, Katie, Pame, and Caitlin

Love these girls

Love these girls

My fellow gringos at Union Church

My fellow gringos at Union Church

With our Chilean friends at Union Church

With our Chilean friends at Union Church

With Pastor Richard at Union Church

With Pastor Richard at Union Church

At the end of the semester, Katie and I traveled south together

At the end of the semester, Katie and I traveled south together

Getting cold in Puyehue

Getting cold in Puyehue

In Puyehue

In Puyehue

Reading outside our cabin in Puyehue

Reading outside our cabin in Puyehue

Puyehue

Puyehue

Ziplining in Puyehue

Ziplining in Puyehue

Another stray dog friend in Pucon

Another stray dog friend in Pucon

River rafting in Pucon

River rafting in Pucon

It got a little intense... we all ended up outside of the raft (except for the guide)

It got a little intense… we all ended up outside of the raft (except for the guide)

Being lifted back into the raft

Being lifted back into the raft

Post rafting experience with a nice ankle injury

Post rafting experience with a nice ankle injury

Caitlin and I in the Dallas airport after our flight from Chile

Caitlin and I in the Dallas airport after our flight from Chile

With Kam and Caitlin at our wedding. Kam caught the bouquet!

With Kam and Caitlin at our wedding. Kam caught the bouquet!