Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Modern Mint Julep with Strawberry Sugared Rim


With the Kentucky Derby just around the corner, I thought I'd try my hand at a simple mint julep recipe in preparation for this weekend.  My sweet grandmother throws a Kentucky Derby party each year, and while I can't be there in Dallas to celebrate with her this time, I'll be watching along all the way from Georgia and sipping on this yummy cocktail.  To add a Southern touch, I picked up a few vintage floral handkerchiefs to use as cocktail napkins and a beautiful silver pitcher to hold a vibrant bouquet of pink carnations.  I omitted the traditional shaved ice for this recipe and also added a strawberry sugared rim, making this modern mint julep the perfect drink for a feminine Kentucky Derby viewing party. 






Modern Mint Julep with Strawberry Sugared Rim (makes 4 small servings):
  • 2 ounces mint simple syrup, chilled (see below)
  • 4 ounces bourbon, chilled
  • mint sprigs for garnish
  • 5 strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • granulated sugar for rim

Instructions:
Combine chilled mint simple syrup and bourbon together in a small pitcher - stir well until mixed.  For the strawberry sugared rim, I pureed 5 strawberries with about a teaspoon of agave nectar for added sweetness.  Prior to filling the glasses, dip the rims in strawberry puree and then into a shallow bowl of granulated sugar.  Pour your modern mint julep and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

Mint simple syrup:
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup chopped mint leaves

Instructions:
Mix water and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring regularly.  Once at boil (and sugar is dissolved), remove from heat.  Place chopped mint leaves in a separate heat resistant bowl.  Pour water and sugar mixture over mint leaves and cover.  Let steep until syrup is room temperature and then refrigerate to chill.


Hope you enjoy! What are your must-haves for Kentucky Derby weekend?

Love,
Aly

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Travel Diary: North Carolina



Hi, friends!  Over the recent Easter weekend, my husband and I took a spontaneous trip to North Carolina to celebrate our second wedding anniversary.  We knew we wanted to get away, but didn't decide on our final destination until the night before!  Thankfully, we live less than three hours away from the idyllic town of Highlands, NC.  It was so beautiful there and we had such a wonderful time - I wanted to share a few of my favorite things from our trip!


Where to Stay: Taylor and I stayed at The Park on Main in Highlands, NC and I cannot say enough good things about this place.  It's an adorable pet-friendly boutique hotel and we absolutely loved it! The decor was so fun - even the hand soap was shaped like a Scottish Terrier.


The lobby featured a beautiful chandelier and many doggy portraits to highlight the hotel's love for four-legged friends.  The whole town of Highlands was very pet friendly - there were dogs everywhere we went!


A look at our cozy bedroom - featuring Mr. Pickles, the hotel's mascot, on a throw pillow. We stayed in a Queen Suite - the perfect accommodations for a weekend getaway for two.



What to Do: The views in North Carolina are incredible - this photo was taken driving up the mountain on our way to Highlands.  The sky is beautiful at night too, as Highlands does not emit much light pollution, which makes it an ideal place to gaze up at stars.


In addition to its gorgeous views, Highlands is home to some stunning waterfalls.  On our last day in town, Taylor and I hiked down to Glen Falls - it was well worth it!


On Saturday, we made the hour and a half drive to Asheville, NC.  Since moving to Georgia two years ago, I have heard much about the Biltmore estate and could not wait to see it!  I mean, a gorgeous mansion built in 1895 with 65 fireplaces and gorgeous gardens?  What woman wouldn't want to visit?


A beautiful portion of the gardens at Biltmore.  I think I could live there.


Many of the flowers were not yet in bloom, but the tulips were gorgeous. 


I loved walking through the gardens with my favorite boy.  Although the house itself was quite busy, the garden was rather empty and peaceful.


We really enjoyed our time in North Carolina and would love to go back since it's not too far from home.  I'd love to hear if you have any recommendations for favorite restaurants or activities!

Where to Stay: 
The Park on Main - Highlands, NC.
Where to Eat: 
The Ugly Dog Pub - Highlands, NC.  The fried mac & cheese balls were delicious! So bad, but so so good.
Mountain Fresh Grocery - Highlands, NC.  We stopped in for breakfast here and loved it.
Buck's Coffee Cafe - Highlands, NC.  A great spot for coffee and breakfast sandwiches. 
Wicked Weed - Asheville, NC.  Before heading to Biltmore, we popped in for some appetizers and beer.  Wicked Weed is a restaurant and brewery - the Shoeless Joe Porter was amazing!
What to Do:
Glen Falls - Highlands, NC.
Biltmore - Asheville, NC.

Thanks for stopping by!

Love,
Aly