Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Duplin Winery

A lot of you may not be familiar with Duplin Wine or the Duplin Winery.  Duplin Wine is made from muscadine grapes so the wines are sweeter than most wines on the shelf.  Luke isn't a big fan of wine but he loves the Duplin Wine.
 
The Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, NC is such a great place to visit.  They give free tours and free wine tastings Monday through Saturday.  I've been to the Duplin Winery three times now and every one of my experiences there have been wonderful.  
 
They also provide evening performances throughout the year. The shows aren't free but they are reasonably priced.  For this past weekend, I bought the Murder Mystery Dinner package which included a hotel room, transportation to and from the winery and the Murder Mystery performance and dinner.  The Murder Mystery package was a great deal!
 
When my mom and I arrived at the winery, we took the free tour and then participated in the free wine tasting.  After the tasting, we went into the gift shop and the actors were there waiting to interact with everyone and drop hints.  After about 20 minutes, everyone made their way into the dining room for dinner and the show.
 
The free tour
 
 
 
The free wine tasting
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Murder Mystery performance was great and so entertaining!  The actors interacted with the audience the entire time.  Unfortunately, our table didn't win (or even come close) but it was so much fun!!!
 
The murder mystery show
 
 
 
Did I mention the amazing peanut butter pie we ate for dessert?  Oh my goodness!  It was pure heaven on a plate!!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
My mom and I are hoping to attend another murder mystery dinner at the winery within the next year, and I highly recommend all of you attend something like this at some point.  It's even more fun than I thought it would be!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Our Weekend in Wilmington

My mom and I had a wonderful weekend in NC.  We spent most of the day Friday and Friday night in Wilmington, NC and on Saturday, we drove to Rose Hill, NC for an afternoon at the Duplin Winery.  I'll tell you more about our time at the Duplin Winery tomorrow.  Right now I want to fill you in on our Wilmington experience.  Get ready for picture overload! :)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 My mom and I absolutely love Wilmington!  We didn't want to leave.  There's something about it that makes you want to stay there.  There is so much history there and the Riverwalk is absolutely beautiful.  The downtown area is so quaint and the people are so friendly.  There are also many different kinds of tours you can take so there is plenty to do.  There are horsedrawn tours, water tours, ghost tours, Hollywood tours and history tours.
 
 
Horsedrawn Tour
 
 
Water Tour
 
We stayed at The Wilmingtonian which is where Luke and I stayed when we went to Wilmington several years ago.  The Wilmingtonian is a great place to stay.  It's so much better than staying in a hotel.  It has the feeling of a bed and breakfast.  If you've ever stayed at a bed and breakfast, you know the rooms are much cleaner and the staff is so friendly.  The staff genuinely cares about making you feel comfortable and they want you to have a great time. 
 
When we first arrived in Wilmington, we immediately walked to the Riverwalk and had lunch at The Pilot House.  They serve the most delicious and incredibly moist cornbread muffins!  The taste is a cross between cornbread and hushpuppies.  I could have just eaten a basket of those for lunch and been a happy girl! 
 
The Pilot House Restaurant
 
 
 
For lunch, my mom and I shared the Hot Crab Dip and we both ordered salads.  The Hot Crab Dip was amazing!  It had horseradish in it which made it so unique from any other crab dip I've had before.  Luke and I are definitely going to have to try to recreate this some time. 
 
 
 
The Hot Crab Dip
 
After lunch, we continued exploring downtown Wilmington, checked into The Wilmingtonian and then drove to Wrightsville Beach.  Once we got back from the beach, we started getting ready for dinner. 
 
 
Wrightsville Beach
 
We had dinner at the Riverboat Landing which is on the corner Market Street.  The food was beyond AMAZING!!!!  For our appetizer, we ordered the Crispy Pickles.  They were better than any fried pickle I've ever had!  For dinner, my mom ordered the Riverboat Crab Cakes and I ordered the Char Grilled Tuna.  My mom loved the crab cakes.  They were very lightly battered...it looked like they used Panko breadcrumbs.  I can honestly say the Char Grilled Tuna that I ordered was the best tuna I've ever eaten.  It was perfectly cooked and seasoned and the avocado salsa fresca on top was so delicious.
 
 
Riverboat Landing Restaurant
 
 
 
 
 
 
The sun setting behind the battleship.
 
After dinner, we walked to Hell's Kitchen for a drink.  For those of you who used to watch "Dawson's Creek", this is the bar where they filmed the college bar screens. 
 
 
 
They claim this is the boat they used on Dawson's Creek.
 
 
Before we left Wilmington on Saturday, we shopped a little and enjoyed the Saturday Market.  You wouldn't believe all of the tents that were set up.  We stopped and checked out at least 15 - 20 tents and we didn't even see half them. 
 
 
 
 We had lunch at Elijah's Restaurant which is on the Riverwalk.  Mom and I both ordered the fish and chips which we really yummy but surprisingly, the batter wasn't a beer batter which is what is usually used for fish and chips.
 
 
Elijah's Restaurant
 
 
 
My prayers were answered...the weather couldn't have been more perfect!  We heard there were tornadoes and flooding throughout the entire state of NC on Friday but in Wilmington, we only saw a few clouds and had a sprinkle of rain that lasted about 30 seconds.  I'm so thankful for the way things worked out for us.
 
Tomorrow I'll tell you about our visit to the Duplin Winery. :)
 
Friday, April 25, 2014

Mother-Daughter Weekend

I'm so excited to have a Mother Daughter weekend with my amazing Mom!  
 
 
Today we're spending the day walking around downtown Wilmington, NC (fingers crossed it doesn't rain) and then tomorrow we're going to the Duplin Winery for a tour and tasting and the Murder Mystery Dinner.  I can't wait!! 
 
Luke and I went to Wilmington for our one year wedding anniversary, and we loved it! When we checked out of our hotel, Luke noticed a brochure for the Duplin Winery.  He picked up the brochure and realized the winery was only about 45 minutes away from Wilmington so we decided to stop off at the winery instead of driving straight home.  By the time we got there, we'd missed the tour but we were just in time for the wine tasting. ;)
 
A few years later, we took my parents to the Duplin Winery for the day, and we did the tour and tasting.  We all had a blast! 
 
These are a couple of pictures from that day.
 
 
 
While we were there that day, we found out they have Murder Mystery Dinners a few times a year so my mom and I decided we'd have to go back for that one day. 
 
For years, my mom and I talked about going to a Murder Mystery at The House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, SC but it never worked out for us to go.  So we are long overdue for this!
 
My mom has never been to Wilmington so I hope the weather cooperates so she can get the full effect of Wilmington.  She has been so excited about this for months.  Wilmington is such a fun and beautiful city.  If you've never been, you're really missing out.
 

 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Luke's Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail

It's time for Thirsty Thursday!  This drink has very few ingredients, and if you like blueberry flavored drinks, you'll love this one.  This is Luke's Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail.
 
 
 5 oz. blueberry lemonade
3 oz. vodka
1 1/2 oz. peach schnapps
 
Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake to combine.  Pour into your glass of choice and enjoy! :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pineapple Casserole - Two Ways

Luke and I made a pineapple casserole to go with the ham on Easter Sunday.  While we were making it, my dad came into the kitchen and asked us what we were using for the topping.  I told him we were topping the casserole with shredded cheddar cheese and crushed Ritz crackers which is the way my Aunt Claire makes her pineapple casserole.  My dad said "you should top it with crushed Marshmallow Crispy Oreos".  Then he added "Now that would be good!"  I had to remind him the Oreos wouldn't go good with the ham but he just gave me a look that said I didn't know what I was talking about.  I didn't bother saying anything else so my dad left the room. 
 
When Luke and I were almost done with the casserole, my dad came back into the kitchen and said, "I still think you need to top it with crushed Marshmallow Crispy Oreos".  I just looked at him and then it occurred to me that we could make two small casseroles instead of one big casserole.  So I told my dad that we'd make one of each and his response was "the one with the Oreos will be the better one of the two".  I told him that if he was right, Luke would take all of the credit for it and say it was his idea because that's what Luke does. ;)
 
My dad was right, the Oreo topped pineapple casserole was delicious but it's definitely a dessert.  You don't want to eat that one with your ham!  
 
This is how you make the 2 pineapple casseroles...
 
2 20 oz. cans crushed pineapple, juice reserved
2 sticks butter/margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 egg whites
5 tbsp. all-purpose flour 
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray your 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Drain and reserve the pineapple juice.  Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Then add the eggs and egg whites.  Once combined, add the reserved pineapple juice and flour and continue mixing until combined.  Then stir in the crushed pineapple.  Next pour the pineapple mixture into your greased baking dish.
 
For the Ritz topping:
 
Crush 2 sleeves of Ritz Crackers (about 70 crackers).  Sprinkle 2/3 shredded cheddar cheese over the pineapple mixture and then pour the crushed Ritz Crackers over the cheese.  Bake for 35 - 40 minutes.
 
This is a picture of the Ritz topped pineapple casserole.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a picture of the Oreo topped casserole.
 
 
For the Oreo topping:
 
Crush 2 rows of Marshmallow Crispy Oreos (about 20 Oreos).  Then sprinkle over the pineapple mixture.  Bake for 35 - 40 minutes.
 
If you want to make both recipes, use two 8 x 8 baking dishes and divide the pineapple mixture between the two dishes and half each of the recipes for the toppings (for the Ritz topping, use one sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers and 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese and for the Oreo topping, use one row of crushed Marshmallow Crispy Oreos).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Springtime Sweet Potato Casserole

I don't think you can ever go wrong with sweet potato casserole.  It's one of my favorite things.  For spring, I added some lemon extract to the recipe which gave it that fresh flavor.  I got the idea from a sweet potato casserole in one of my mom's magazines.  When we have sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we've never added lemon extract but we do always add mini marshmallows to the top and brown the marshmallows in the oven.  I can't even begin to tell you how delicious it is.  Sometimes I eat that for dessert instead of my Memaw's pumpkin pie or her delicious pumpkin cake.  Oops, I got a little off track.  Okay, back to the Easter sweet potato casserole.  This is how you make it.
 
2 40oz. cans of yams or sweet potatoes, drained
2 eggs
2 tbsp. butter/margarine, softened
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
 
Topping:
 
 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. butter/margarine, melted
 
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray your 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  After draining the yams/sweet potatoes, pour them into a mixing bowl and mash with the sweet potatoes with a potato masher.  Then add the eggs, butter, milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract and lemon extract to the sweet potatoes and mix with the mixer until combined.  Then pour into your greased baking dish.
 
Next, start on the incredibly yummy topping.  Melt the butter (I melted it in the microwave for about 15 seconds).  While melting the butter, pour the brown sugar and all-purpose flour into a medium bowl.  Then pour the melted butter over the brown sugar and flour and combine with a fork.  Once combined, spread the brown sugar mixture over the sweet potatoes.  Bake in the 375 degree oven for 35 - 40 minutes.
 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Weekend

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend!!  The weather wasn't too great around here but we made the most of it.  It was rainy and only about 55 degrees on Saturday and about 65 degrees on Easter Sunday but the wind made it feel a lot colder! 
 
I have to warn you this post is going to be picture overload so be prepared. ;)  First, I have to share pictures of my parents' newly made-over kitchen.  It's absolutely beautiful!!
 
 

On Saturday my mom, Luke and I went to the movie theatre to watch "Heaven if for Real".  My mom and I read the book and it was such a sweet and amazing book.  The movie was really good but there were several things in the movie that were very different from the book.  I'm still really glad we went to see it though and I'll definitely watch it again.
 
This is my mom and me in the theatre before the previews started.
 
 
When we got back to my parents' house after the movie, my dad started cooking some delicious shrimp and hushpuppies for dinner.
 
 
 
 
 
After dinner, Luke and I took over my parents' kitchen and started preparing some of the food for Easter dinner.  We made a pineapple casserole to go with the ham and I also made a sweet potato casserole.  I'll share these recipes with you later this week. :)
 

The Easter Bunny always comes to my parents' house and these are the goodies he left for Luke and me and my brother and his wife and their children.
 
 
We had Easter dinner at my parents' cabin which is behind their house.
 
 
This was the spread for Easter dinner...ham, pineapple casserole, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans and my mom's wonderful homemade sourdough bread.  There's nothing like homemade bread!
 
 
 
My mom made strawberry and lemon cake pops.  Actually they're more like cake balls because they're not on a stick but they are super yummy!!!
 
 
My niece and nephew had a blast with their Easter egg hunt.  My brother and sister-in-law actually had to hide the eggs twice because once just wasn't enough for the kids. :)
 
 
My dad had to help my niece a little bit. ;)
 
 
 
 
We didn't take Izzy's Easter gift with us so she had to wait until we got back home to get it.  I also kind of teased her with it while we took pictures of her and the new toy but she forgave me.  She was about to have a fit to play with it. :)
 
 
 
 
I hope you all had a great weekend too!!!


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