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Food from the Beach House

Food from the Beach House: Bruschetta

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Bruschetta B

The key to my husband’s heart = bruschetta. Preferably made from fresh, St. Helena Island grown, heirloom tomatoes. Preferably on toasted French bread from the Publix bakery. Preferably with a glass of crisp white wine. Seriously. See this picture above? It makes my heart sing. Because I’ve flooded his heart with bruschetta love.

This year, Braydon got a run for his money from his two sons. They’ve developed quite a love for bruschetta themselves. Next year I’m going to have to buy two baguettes.

I make this at least once each summer at the beach house. It is truly just so good. The recipe is from Ree Drummond/The Pioneer Woman, and can be found here:


Bruschetta A

Food from the Beach House: Blanchards “Big Bowls”

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bb 4Longtime readers who pay attention to my food posts know how much I love the cookbook, At Blanchard’s Table: A Trip to the Beach Cookbook. Twice my parents have taken us, and my sister’s family, to Anguilla with them. And both times it’s been such a thrill for me to eat at the Blanchards restaurants. The first trip, Braydon and I had the treat of a night out just the two of us at Blanchards Restaurant. By our second trip, the Blanchards had opened their “Blanchards Beach Shack” restaurant, and we got to eat there for lunch on the beach… twice! (Thank you MorMor & MorFar!) These Blanchards restaurant experiences have been so memorable for me — these are the kind of restaurants and food concepts I love.

At Blanchards Beach Shack Kyle had what is listed on the menu as the “Big Bowl.” It is a pile of rice, beans, pico de gallo, corn salsa, cheese, etc. served, literally, in a big bowl. You can choose your protein to go on top — grilled shrimp, jerk chicken, shredded pork (there’s a whole list of options) — and it is served with a “crema” drizzled over it all. For Kyle it was love at first bite. He ordered it again the second time we went. I did not order it, but tasted his, and knew I’d try to perfect it at home. The crema seemed to be a mixture of sour cream, cilantro, and lime, and it was — in my opinion — what made the whole dish. I’ve since discovered an awesome dressing — that is a great substitute for Blanchards’ crema — sold in the produce section of our grocery store at home and in South Carolina: Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avacado Yogurt dressing. For a quick easy dinner that replicates Blanchards Big Bowl, this does the trick.

At the beach house we don’t have big bowls to serve this in. (We are lacking serving dishes and glassware in a big way here.) So, we have to pile it on plates. But this is a super fun, casual dinner where everyone can choose their own mixture of goodness and make it the way they like it. Super duper easy and yummy for a summertime supper.

P.S. The night these photos were taken we had the “Big Bowls” with thinly sliced grilled marinated steak. You can use whatever you like or have (or nothing! Kyle likes his best vegetarian.)


  • white rice
  • 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained), 1/2 onion (chopped), 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • pico de gallo (store bought! …or… if you wanna make your own, go for it y’all!)
  • corn (at Blanchards they have a corn salsa, but I like to steam fresh corn on the cob then cut the corn kernels off just before serving)
  • shredded cheese — monterey jack, cheddar, or whatever you like
  • Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avacado Yogurt dressing
  • anything else you choose — shrimp, leftover blackened fish, grilled steak/pork/chicken, etc.


Cook the rice. For the beans– heat a saute pan over medium heat; add veggie oil and onion, stirring a few times and cooking until the onion is translucent; add a couple of spoonfuls of the pico de gallo to the pan and cook to just heat through; add black beans and cook until warm and combined. Steam fresh corn on the cob (10 minutes), then remove and let cool. Cut corn kernels off the cobs. If you’re using an additional protein, prepare that. To make the “big bowls”: place everything on the table and let people pile up their bowls/plates the way they like. Drizzle with the dressing. Yummo!IMG_9789big bowl 1 bb 2

Food from the Beach House: Coffee Cake

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DSC_0003This is an old recipe from my mom. She used to make it when I was little, and I always loved it. Now my littles love it. I make this year-round, but for some reason it tastes even better at the beach house! We’ve been making it about once a week; Owen will eat half of the whole cake in one sitting. It never lasts more than 24 hours before being entirely gone.

In looking online, sour cream coffee cakes like this one are often called “Vintage Coffee Cake” or “70s Style Coffee Cake.” The original recipe I have calls for including walnuts in the crumble layers. We’ve made it with walnuts and pecans (pecans = so Southern!). But, our favorite is to make it without any nuts at all. Also, the original recipe I have calls for blending the mixture in stages for over 20 minutes total. I have found that the cake is much lighter and fluffier (and takes way less time to make) if you simply blend to combine (mixing for less than a minute).


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt — I often use lowfat Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I’ve used light brown, or dark brown — either is good)


Preheat oven to 350. Blend together the sugar, butter, and eggs. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Blend until just combined. Add in the sour cream and vanilla and blend — again, until just combined. In small bowl mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar. Butter the inside of a loaf pan (I’ve made this with various shapes of loaf pan — it’s all good — use whatever you have). Pour half the batter into the pan. Sprinkle with half the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. Then pour the rest of the batter on top, and sprinkle the top with the rest of the cinnamon/brown sugar. Bake about 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes before digging in!

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Food from the Beach House: Pina Coladas!

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pina 1

The bambinos love pina coladas. Their pina-colada-loving has appeared many times on this blog. Click here for example. It is a special drink for vacations, or for special occasions, or for making occasions special. GREAT Drinks PoolReal pina coladas are so rich, you couldn’t drink more than one or two every once in a great while. But they are surprisingly easy to make. And time at the beach house is so special, that at least a couple times in July, an evening calls for coladas!

You can tweak these into lots of different flavors to suit your sweet tooth. Kyle is particularly fond of banana coladas (just replace the pineapple with a ripe fresh banana). Braydon and I love mango coladas (sub mango for the pineapple). Owen and Meera are purists and love the straight up pina coladas (“pina” = pineapple).

INREDIENTS (this makes 2 drinks):

  • 2/3 cup cream of coconut
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple (or whatever fruit you want to use: banana, mango, papaya, peach)
  • a dash or two of fresh lime juice
  • 3 cups crushed ice
  • and if you want to make it the real deal: 3 ounces rum


Blend it in a blender. That’s all folks! IMG_9787 pina 3

Food from the Beach House: Blackened Fish, Two Ways (Fillets & Sandwiches!)

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fish 2We eat a lot of fish while we’re in South Carolina. I buy fresh mahi mahi and grouper right from the dock here, and it is incredibly delicious blackened.

I started making blackened fish sandwiches to use up leftovers from blackened fish fillet dinners. But at this point I think it is safe to say that Braydon and Owen both actually would chose the sandwiches over the dinner fillets any night of the 5The recipes can be found here:


Food from the Beach House: A Lowcountry Feast

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IMG_9565This is not something we do often, and only something we could do while here in South Carolina, but at least a couple of times during our stay we like to put together a Lowcountry Feast. We did this last week for MorMor’s visit.

This is not really a recipe, per se, more like a pulling-together of some of the incredible bounties of the Lowcountry for one amazing supper. Every place mentioned here is within a 10-minute drive from the beach house. I hope that years from now the bambinos will remember meals like this. Here’s the HOW TO straight from Harbor Island:

1. Appetizer: Stop at “The Mainline,” the open-air bait and tackle market on the side of the road, right in the middle of Harbor Island, to buy a bag of boiled peanuts. Dump ’em in a bowl for snacking while everyone takes part in preparing the Lowcountry Feast. Watch out for Braydon and Meera — they’ll eat the whole bag themselves in one sitting.Boiled Peanuts2. Stop in at Gay Fish company for fresh shrimp and already-steamed stone crab claws. Get there early in the morning, to make sure they don’t sell out of the crab claws (they never sell out of shrimp!). They’ve come to know Owen (he’s become a regular during July), and they take special care of him — they let him pick out his own claws so that he can choose each of the dozen or two crab claws that he wants. Buy a pound of regular shrimp for the scampi, and a pound of large shrimp for peel-and-eat shrimp cocktail. To prepare the shrimp cocktail: these shrimp are too good and too fresh to do anything to them other than steam them. Throw them in a steamer tray over boiling water in a large pot. Let them steam with the top on the pot only for about 3 minutes. Pull them out, and they’re ready to go! Serve the shrimp and crab claws with fresh lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, and melted butter.Crabs and Shrimp3. See what you caught that day in the crab trap, and hope you have at least a few big blue crabs to bring home. To prepare the blue crabs: scrub them under cold running water to get them as clean as possible (but it will be tough, with them squirming snapping their claws at you and all). Using the same steamer that you just pulled the shrimp out from, drop the crabs in and douse them with a nice layer of Old Bay Seasoning. Cover and let steam for exactly 10 minutes. Pull them out, and they’re ready to eat!Crabs in the Bucket CrabsHowever… this is important: let Dash play with ’em a bit on the kitchen floor before cooking ’em.Dash Crabs 2Dash Crabs 3Dash Crabs4. Buy some tomatoes at Dempsey Farms. Some people claim that the Sea Island tomatoes are the best tomatoes in the world. I’m not sure about that, but they are so, so, so good. Pick them yourself (Dempsey Farms is a Pick Your Own Tomatoes place), or, if you don’t want to take the time, for a bit more per pound, buy the ones they picked for you. Cut them up, or slice them, and serve just as they are. I like some salad dressing on them, but the bambinos like ’em plain.Lowcountry Tomatoes5. Whip up a batch of Shrimp Scampi with that other pound of shrimp from Gay’s. Recipe is here.Scampi6. Dig in deliriously to this amazing Lowcountry treat-of-a-meal! (Peach Cobbler for dessert — if you’ve been good that day and Mama’s in a good mood — I’ll post about that recipe sometime soon!)Feast 3

Food from the Beach House: Shrimp Scampi

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scampi 2One of my favorite things about the Lowcountry is the SHRIMP! The Lowcountry of South Carolina is famous for its shrimp, caught right off the coast here. It is different than any other shrimp, I swear! (It is sort of like how store-bought strawberries are nothing like picked-from-the-field-in-May-strawberries, or how store-bought tomatoes are nothing like height-of-summer-plucked-from-the-plant-heirloom-tomatoes). Lowcountry shrimp are so sweet and tender. They almost melt in your mouth.

We see shrimp boats shrimping right off the beaches every day. And within 10 minutes of the beach house there are at least three shrimp-selling vendors (and within 20 minutes at least half a dozen roadside stands selling shrimp from trucks). Kyle and Owen love to catch shrimp net-casting right from the beach or in the marshes all around us (we always throw those back; they are babies).

The Lowcountry is also famous for Lowcountry cuisine. Shrimp scampi is definitely not a traditional Lowcountry dish. But while we’re at the beach house I make shrimp scampi at least once a week. It is Braydon’s favorite dinner at the beach house.

You can make this with any shrimp (and I often do at home, using store-bought shrimp — it is just such a treat in South Carolina because of our proximity to be able to buy incredible shrimp here). At this point in time, I never use a recipe. I wouldn’t dare try to give precise measurements, but here’s what I do to make the most incredible shrimp scampi.


  • about 1 pound of fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 packages (9 oz each) fresh pasta — linguine or fettuccine — or 1 box dry, cooked according to package directions, then drained. [We really like the Buitoni brand fresh linguine for this.]
  • about 6 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 stick butter
  • about 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of about 1.5-2 lemons
  • big handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • fresh ground pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan cheese


  1. Melt butter, with the olive oil, in a pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add garlic to pan. Cook only for a minute or two, until garlic is a soft, but not browned.
  3. Add shrimp.
  4. Working quickly, squeeze lemon juice into the pan over shrimp (you can just toss the lemon into the pan after squeezing for another subtle layer of flavor), then toss in parsley, and ground pepper to taste.
  5. Allow shrimp to cook for just a minute or two, tossing them carefully, until they just barely start to curl. You don’t want them to curl tightly or get too white (that means they are overcooked). They should be just barely curling, and still slightly translucent in the center.
  6. Quickly toss the pasta with the shrimp.
  7. Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top.

Amazingly yummy!!!
Scampi 2 scampi

Food from the Beach House: Peaches and Cream Muffins

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Peaches and CreamA longtime blog reader, Kate, left a recipe for “Peaches and Cream” muffins in the comments of my Strawberries and Cream Muffins post. It looked like a great recipe (thank you Kate!), and I’ll definitely try it someday. But, 1) doing a cream cheese center seemed like too much of a fuss for a beach house recipe, and 2) adding moisture to the muffins with sour cream and/or yogurt seems to be the key to Kyle’s muffin-loving-heart, and the recipe called only for oil. However, the Peaches&Cream idea was totally inspiring to me and I immediately thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?!?!” Why would I be using strawberries when I could be using our deliriously good South Carolina peaches in a beach house muffin?!?!!

Thus was born not Kyle’s favorite muffin, but Owen’s favorite muffin! Kyle still stands by the Strawberries and Cream, but Owen says these Peaches and Cream muffins are the very best he’s ever had in his whole entire 11-year-old life. I have to agree with Owen– I prefer the peach to the strawberry.

I used the exact same recipe for Strawberries and cream but subbed peeled and diced fresh peaches for the strawberries. I also sprinkled these with a little sugar before baking, which gives muffins a nice top crust.

The original recipe is here: STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM MUFFINS

NOTE: I often sub plain, low-fat, Greek yogurt for sour cream in this muffin recipe.



Food from the Beach House: Strawberries and Cream Muffins

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IMG_9384Kyle is pretty much the most serious muffin connoisseur I’ve ever known. Since he was a toddler we’ve called him “The Muffin Man” (you know that song? we’ve been singing it to/about him since he was about 3 years old). The muffins he loves most are fruit muffins — blueberry, or any berry. And he’s partial to the Starbuck’s “Blueberry Muffin with Yogurt and Honey.” Over the years I’ve made many different muffin recipes for him, always in search of a five-star muffin for Kyle, or at least one that will compete with that Starbucks muffin.IMG_9380This morning I resurrected the “Strawberries and Cream” muffins I had made for Meera’s third birthday party. I hadn’t made these in a long time. I doubled the recipe, and made them as full-sized muffins (not mini muffins). My boys (all three of them) went crazy for these. They are not too sweet, and moist, and the fresh strawberries baked into them are so delicious. But the big deal is this: Kyle has decided that these are the best muffins he’s ever had. Like, ever. Which. Is. Huge.

These have, immediately, become a big huge giant hit for us and I’ll put them right into our beach house (and probably at-home-too) rotation.

They are so good!

The recipe is here:


Keepin’ It Real: Food from the Beach House

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Lest anyone worries that we’re all Foodie food all the time, with mega meals every night, and family harmony on the deck of the beach house set to photo-worthy blazing sunsets…  No need to fret folks. We’re good and rooted here and July is not all glossy-photo all-the-time. There are nights — like tonight — when we feed the kids mac-n-cheese, get Meera to bed, the boys watch the Red Sox, and Braydon and I eat spaghetti while catching up on work at 10pm. Keepin’ it real.

Food from the Beach House: “Beach House Blueberry Muffins”

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These have actually become a staple for us year-round. I know it is crazy to buy the boxed mix when I could so easily make them from scratch. But when we’re juggling two careers and three school-aged kids (during the academic year), and/or when we’re chomping at the bit to get to the beach and not spend any-more-time-than-we-need-to in the kitchen (at the beach house), this cheater muffin is our go-to how-to.

I posted about my Beach House Blueberry Muffins two years ago (click here).

The only thing I do different now is that I double the batch (to make 24 muffins), using a full whole pint of fresh blueberries. And I also use a lot more cinnamon (including sprinkling lots of cinnamon on top of the muffins, with the sugar, before baking).

The bambinos, especially Kyle, love these for breakfast. They are great to bring for beach picnics too!muffins (1)

Food from the Beach House: Guacamole!

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guac 1We made this a couple of nights ago. Seriously? There are very few better ways to spend an evening after the beach than eating cool, fresh guacamole and sipping an icy cold beverage. Delish delight. I posted the recipe from the beach house two years ago. It is here:

Guacamole de Mocajete

Basically… grind up the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and salt…guac 3Add in the avacado…guac 4Admire your handiwork…guac 5And dig in!guac 6