Travel TBT: Weekend in Phoenix

Last week I went to Phoenix to visit my boyfriend. It was my first time in the city and I must say it looks exactly like Cars Land at Disneyland. Yes, that is the reference I am going with, deal with it. Having never truly been in the desert, I just could not get over how desert it really was: cactus, every building painted in a tan color scheme and not a yard with grass in sight. But, by the end of my time there, I found myself thinking it is actually pretty beautiful in it’s own way. The people are all very friendly. The food is solid. The bar scene is legit. There is a ton of nature to explore. We were a bit all over the place this weekend, so here is what we did separated by neighborhood:

Old Town Scottsdale

I could not believe how adorable Old Town Scottsdale is, it looks like some mayor years ago was bet that he couldn’t make the most Cowboy Western looking town by his worst enemy and had to win. The trash cans are barrels. The bus stops have wagon wheels. It is truly something you have to see to feel the full impact.

Food

Morning Squeeze: This spot is a chain and a local (and visitor) favorite for breakfast. I think I saw 3 separate bachelorette parties waiting for tables. The food was good and the staff was all super nice. I got huevos rancheros and added turkey sausage. The sausage was a bit overdone, but the huevos had two different salsas (chipotle and verde) were great!

Bars

Holy moly, bars in Old Town (also called the Entertainment District), I was not expecting you. Think Vegas, but the clubs are all outdoor patios, within a few blocks of each other. The bartenders are in lingerie. The bottle girls have sparklers and different outfits to bring out different bottles. They’re all pretty similar, this is where we went:

Bottled Blonde
Casa Amigos
The District
Bevvy
Maya Day & Nightclub
Mr Mesquite Tacos: This is actually a taco place we went to after the bars. Not authentic at all, but very good. 10/10 recommend eating as a drunken snack.

Downtown

Food

 Salted Caramel Pudding
Breakfast Club: If you haven’t already noticed, my favorite breakfast is huevos rancheros. If it is on a menu, I will almost always order it. This one was high on the list of most-white huevos I’ve ever had. I mean, the “bowl” was a cold red pepper tortilla. I said to my boyfriend, “These should probably just be called Ranch Eggs”… which I thought was a hilarious joke. However, they were still a solid breakfast and the portions here are ENORMOUS. We got a pancake to share and the maple syrup was amazing. Plus, this area of downtown is really cute. We went to get an amazing salted caramel pudding at Arrogant Butcher after. Yes, we had dessert after breakfast…

Squid Ink Sushi Bar: We went here after Happy Hour, so my judgement may not have been at it’s highest– but the sushi here was great. We sat at an open air bar by the patio, it was lovely.

Bars

Bitter & Twisted: This is a somewhat upscale cocktail bar. We only went in briefly because they serve a ramen burger (where the bun is made from ramen) that my boyfriend was fiercely craving and I had a vodka soda. I plan to go back, because the drinks are supposed to be great.

Valley Bar: This bar has several different vibes in one. There is a game room, a room for performances, a room with hanging mobiles, etc… basically something for everyone. It was fun.

Chico Malo: We went here for happy hour. Beer, wine, wells and shots are all $5 or $6. Like most places in Phoenix, the bar is essentially outdoors.

Cave Creek

Our original plan was to go out to Sedona and hike, but I twisted my ankle the week before the trip and was worried I wouldn’t make it. My lovely boyfriend has the idea of riding horses instead so we went about a 45 minutes outside of the main part of the city to Cave Creek.

Spur Cross Stable Spur Cross Stable: We were hunting on Groupon to find a good deal on horseback riding and Spur Cross was the only place with availability same day. The team was super nice in squeezing us in, even holding the ride a few minutes when we were delayed by traffic. For $68, we got an hour guided trail ride on horseback. I technically rode a horse when I was 3 years old, but don’t remember so this was really my first time. It was super fun and awesome to see the vast desert outside of the city.

 

Oregano's Pizza Oregano's Pizza
Oregano’s:
By this meal, I was already thinking I would need to do a major detox (next section) after this trip, so I figured YOLO LET’S EAT PIZZA. We passed by this place on the way out to Spur Cross Stable and it had a big sign outside that said “The only joint you don’t want to pass”. I mean, weed jokes AND pizza… does it get better? We had an amazing buffalo wings, the Italian salad, a deep dish pizza and cheesecake. Basically we ate enough for a family of 4. It was amazing.

Detox

Did I eat anything healthy in Phoenix? Hardly. Does it seem like I drank every night I was there? Yes. Did I feel absolutely gross by the time it was my last day there? Also yes. So I had to do something about it…

 Hot Yoga University: I saw this place driving one day and noticed the giant sign in the window that read $10 Drop-ins Daily. Having lived in two of the most expensive cities for fitness in the US (NYC and LA) this blew my mind so I made a mental note of it. Then, when the vacation diet grossness kicked in, I thought to myself, COME ON BITCH—LET’S SWEAT THIS SHIT OUT. I went to a noon hot yoga class with Veronica. The studio is very cute (I think they have every motivational quote painting on earth on the walls) and the yoga room is very large. I particularly liked the flooring, which is a sort of woven rubber that was not too harsh on your knees in certain poses. The class was called Cardio Flow and challenging, but in the way that could easily work for all levels. I looked like a smashed tomato by the end, but it was very worth it. I will definitely be back.

Nekter JuiceNekter: Are you even detoxing if you don’t do a juice cleanse? Now, I’m not a believer that a juice cleanse is going to make you lose weight or change your life. I do not believe in starving yourself (spoil alert: you will just gain all your weight back as soon as you start eating) but I do find that doing a 1-day cleanse with limited food added helps to reset my metabolism and get me back on track. I got the 1-day Advanced Cleanse at Nekter, which includes added probiotics, prebiotics and _____, which is a cool addition to the usual juices. I also ate a vegan greek salad around lunch and had some cashews as a snack in the afternoon. By the end of the day, I started to feel like a real fitness blogger again (haha)… but let’s not lie, a few weeks of cardio will be needed to reverse the impact of this trip.

Moisturizer: If you didn’t know, ARIZONA IS IN THE DESERT (lol)… 24 hours after getting there, my face starting falling off. Not joking. My spoiled California coastal skin didn’t know what to do without humidity. My usual moisturizer with sunscreen was NOT cutting it, so I took my frugal ass to Marshall’s and got an intense coconut moisturizer called CocoKind. I actually first heard about it from this IG account I am obsessed with called @ShutTheKaleUp, it is all natural, organic, lalala, you normally buy it at Whole Foods, if you fancy. Anyway, I bring this all up to say, PACK MOISTURIZER when you visit Phoenix. Your skin will thank me later.

I will definitely be back in Phoenix for the boy, so this is far from my last post about it. There is so much I want to go see across the entire West Coast in terms of National Parks, but Arizona has quite a few on my list. Please leave your suggestions!!

XOXO,
Truett

The Best Split Pea Soup Recipe

Now that it’s finally starting to feel like Fall around here, it’s time to pull out one of my favorite soup recipes of all time. Even if you’re not a very confident chef (like me), you can knock this recipe out of the park because it is THAT easy. I’m not even sure this technically qualifies as cooking, but no one but you needs to know and that’s all that matters! I recently had family from Croatia visiting and I made this soup and my cousin’s husband declared that I am now officially allowed to get married because I know how to cook like a real wife should. LOL. As long as my fiancé is fine with eating Split Pea Soup once a week I guess he’s right. 😉

What You’ll Need

Crockpot

Ingredients

1lb dried split peas – rinsed

2 ham shanks

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 stalks celery – chopped

2 cloves garlic – minced

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Pepper to taste

6 cups low sodium chicken broth

Method

Add ingredients to crockpot in order listed above and cook on high for 5 hours. Take out ham hocks to remove meat from the bone and cut into small pieces. Add meat back to soup, stir, and serve!

***The ham hocks are naturally high in sodium so I never add any extra salt to the recipe, but feel free to add to your taste. My fiancé loves to add red pepper flakes so that’s another idea!

 

Enjoy!

xo, Ashley

Travel TBT: Fiji

I traveled to Fiji at the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 with my (now ex)boyfriend, and I can honestly say I have never been more relaxed in my life. 2011 was a rough year for me so I was in desperate need of an escape…and Fiji ended up being just what the doctor ordered. I spent the entire two weeks I was there with absolutely no agenda or itinerary. I woke up when I wanted, ate what I wanted, and chose to spend my days how I wanted. It was incredible, but let me tell you…island fever is REAL. Two weeks is a little TOO much relaxation for even me, and that’s saying a lot because I’m probably one of the laziest people I’ve ever met. If I could have changed anything about the trip I would have probably cut it down to about 10 days, but complaining about being in paradise for too long is definitely a #firstworldproblem so I’ll shut up now.

Viti Levu

We started the trip with a week on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. We flew into Nadi and took an hour shuttle ride that passed through some of the country’s most substantial sugar cane plantations to my hotel located on Natadola Beach. Nadi is the main hub for travelers so this is where your trip will start and end whether you’re traveling to one of Fiji’s many islands or heading out to go home.

Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa – This resort is one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in, even to this day. It’s not particularly luxurious or anything, but everything from the grounds to the staff are all first class. Fijians in general are incredibly warm and hospitable people, but everyone at the Intercontinental went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed our stay. Which is pretty important considering this is the type of resort you don’t really leave. It has everything you could possibly want: multiple restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world, an incredible spa with every amenity imaginable, several different pools for all types of uses, a gym in case you’re the type of person that works out on vacation, and of course the beautiful beach the hotel is nestled on. This is the part of the trip we splurged on as it wasn’t exactly cheap, but it was definitely worth every penny.

Biausevu Waterfall – The concierge at the hotel set up an all day hike for us that led to the beautiful Biausevu Waterfall on the Coral Coast. Our amazing tour guide, Chimmy, picked us up from the hotel and took us to a small village to start the hike. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip as we were able to get away from the resort vibe and immerse ourselves into the culture (as best as we could with the short amount of time we had) and see what the real Fiji was all about. This hike is definitely a must if you ever find yourself on Viti Levu!

Tokoriki Island

We spent the second half of the trip on Tokoriki Island. To get there we shuttled back to Nadi from the Intercontinental and took a boat to to Tokoriki. Although Viti Levu is technically an island, Tokoriki gives you more of the island feel as it’s fairly small and is home to only two hotels.

Amunuca Island Resort – Luckily for everyone in the world, this hotel no longer exists. But this is where we stayed so I might as well mention it. Looking back it’s pretty hilarious how bad this place was. The room was a joke, the staff gave zero fucks, and I remember eating an inordinate amount of Pringles that week because the food was THAT BAD. The one redeeming quality Amunuca had was its location, which ended up making up for most of the negatives. Tokoriki Island is an absolute dream with the most beautiful white sand beaches and clear, blue water. We spent most of our time on the beach and in the ocean…tanning, jet skiing, kayaking, snorkeling, etc…so the fact that our hotel sucked didn’t really take away from our experience.

Monuriki Island – The watersport hut at the hotel hosted tours to different nearby islands every day so we chose to visit Monuriki, where the movie Castaway was filmed. The island itself is stunning and once we got there we had a few hours to ourselves to explore and swim. One of the things I couldn’t help but laugh at was the island’s proximity to its neighbors. Tom Hanks literally could have just swam to a hotel and called his wife. Ugh. 😉

Tokoriki Island Resort – On one of our kayak trips, we discovered Tokoriki Island Resort – the only other hotel on Tokoriki Island. The drastic difference between this resort and ours was comical and we immediately regretted not doing better research because Tokoriki Island Resort is AMAZING. I swear even the air felt different on its side of the island. The grounds were spectacular and the staff actually enjoyed being alive. We came here for dinner the night after our discovery and the food was just as delicious as expected. If I ever go back to Fiji this is where I will be staying and I recommend you do the same!

 

When I was initially planning my trip I juggled with the idea of possibly traveling to somewhere other than Fiji, like Bora Bora or the Maldives. You probably can’t go wrong with any of those options, but I am SO glad I chose Fiji. There is so much more to this beautiful place than just the beach and turquoise waters, and having the opportunity to see parts of the country Google doesn’t show and meeting the sweet locals that were beyond proud of their homeland was something I will cherish forever. If you ever have the chance to visit this amazing country you should absolutely take it.

 

xo, Ashley

Mealprep: Masala Turkey Bowls

Often when I’m thinking about mealprep, I like to start with a really good sauce. So, when I noticed Trader Joes had a Masala Simmer Sauce and I knew I had frozen ground turkey at home, I decided to go from there. I got the rest of my ingredients wandering around Trader Joes imagining what would go good with it. This ended up being one of my all-time favorites mealpreps. Not only was I not over eating it by day 3 (the below makes 3 servings), but I wished I had more. The Masala Sauce is excellent, I used the other half on tofu. I used my leftover beets and feta on salad.

I also thought it would be nice to show how I packed this up to bring to work (scroll right above). It required a little assembly at the office, but I like my ingredients to not get soggy, so I think it was fully worth it. I also keep a bowl in my desk, because it’s nice to not eat out of tupperware.

INGREDIENTS:

COOK:

Spray a pan with coconut oil spray and put on medium-high heat. Brown your ground turkey, stirring until mostly browned. Add Masala Simmer Sauce and turn to low, stirring until turkey is fully cooked, stir. Put in tupperware.

Rinse and re-pray your pan with coconut oil spray, put on medium heat. Add your broccoli and kale slaw until mostly cooked through (3-4 mins). Stir in dressing from the package until warmed. Put in tupperware. (NOTE: I did not use the cherries and sunflower seeds that come in the package. The combination didn’t sound good with what I was eating. I used them as snacks another day.)

Cook your quinoa to package instructions (I used a rice cooker), put in tupperware.

In a small tupperware, combine Miso Paste and water, stirring until dissolved. Stir in Garlic Chili Sauce. Pack these along with your packages of Feta and Baby Beets in baggies. I use a regular plastic grocery bag to carry them in my purse/avoid spillage.

When you’re ready to eat, combine 1/3 of each of the ground turkey, broccoli and kale slaw, and quinoa. Pour 1/3 of your dressing over all ingredients. Microwave for 1-2 minutes (or until warmed depending on your microwave).

Meanwhile, chop up 1/3 of your beets (you could also do this ahead but I was lazy and plastic knives at work did the job just fine).

When your warm ingredients are done, add chopped beets and a generous chunk of feta (I am a cheese freak, so I used quite a bit). Enjoy!!

xoxo,
Truett

NYC Day Trip: Dim Sum Brunch to Brooklyn Breweries

One of the best things about living in New York is wandering without a set agenda. A few Saturdays ago, I met some friends for brunch and then wandered before meeting a few other friends for beers. It ended up being a really great day, with tons of walking, here is everything we did!

Stop 1) Brunch at Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Nom Wah Tea Parlor is a dim sum restaurant in Chinatown that is an institution. We got there at noon and put our names down (no reservations). It took about half an hour for a 3 person table, which for brunch in NYC is not bad at all. To kill some time, we got Boba a few doors down on Bayard St. Once they seat you, service is extremely fast! We got a bunch of small dishes (House Special Roast Pork Bun, Shrimp Sui Mai, Scallion Pancakes, Shrimp Rice Rolls and Spare Ribs) and our total was still less than $45. Don’t forget it is cash or American Express only.

Wandering Through Manhattan

We were stuffed when we finished brunch and wanted to walk it off. We knew we eventually needed to get to Brooklyn, so we started walking downtown towards the bridges. Our general route is on the map in the gallery above (about 30 minutes, we were walking slow).

Stop 2) NY Ferry to Brooklyn

I had only ever used the NYC ferry to go to Staten Island, but it is also a great way to get to Brooklyn if you are downtown. It only costs $2.75 and you’ll get a view of the Statue of Liberty as you pass by the Governor’s Island stop! The staff is super helpful but know you have to buy a ticket at the kiosk, then get in line for your taxi. We left from the Wall St. stop in Manhattan and took the East River Route to the Dumbo stop.

Stop 3) Testing Circa: A New Brew Pub

A friend of mine works at Six Point, a really great brewery in Brooklyn. So when he told us to meet him at a new Brew Pub started by one of the main brewers from Six Point, we were sold. Circa is in downtown Brooklyn, which we walked to from Dumbo (about 25 minutes). The beer was great, the space is awesome (you see the brewing right in front of you!) and the food was absolutely delicious! We had the Meat & Cheese Board, The Choke Pizza (artichoke, pesto, sweet peppers blue cheese and mozarella) and Wood Fired Beets.

Stop 4) Beers at Other Half Brewery

Other Half is a paradise for a true beer nerd. I have friends who have waited 6 hours in line to buy one of their limited can releases. That is crazy to me, but you know what? The beer is really good. We walked there from Circa, (about 25 minutes). They recently opened a bigger bar area, it used to be a super tiny storefront. Plus, they sell half glasses so you can try a few things without being too sloshy which is awesome.

It was a great day! Let me know if you try any parts 🙂

xoxo,
Truett

NYC Day Trip: Ward Pound Ridge Hike

Sometimes living in a city as crazy as New York leaves you in dire need of escaping to nature. This weekend I took a great day trip to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation for a hike. A friend and I left the city about 9:45am to drive out, which took about 40 minutes. You could also take Metro North to the Katonah stop and cab the 6 miles from the station, you just may have issues getting a cab/Uber/Lyft back if you don’t have service at Ward Pound and would have to walk to the main road.

We got to the reservation, paid our $10 entry, parked at the lot on Michigan Road ($10 entry) and started off on the route the park ranger at the entrance suggested for us by 10:30am (highlighted above). It took about 4 hours and was relatively flat, with one area of steeper hills near the bottom of our hike after you pass Spy Rock and Stairs that gets your heart rate going and makes the whole hike feel like you got a workout in.

This hike was particularly great because it’s so close to the city, but at no point would you know it. You’re completely surrounded by nature, even when you get to the overlooks. Usually with hikes this close to the city, you end up with a view of the freeway or towns at some point. We got a little lost at one point (you’ll see we went off the map trail onto the BRLA trail by accident) and were helped by a super friendly local. Everyone says hello as you pass by, the hike has a great local community feel.

When we finished, we stopped at the first deli we saw (Fifth Division Market at the 35/121 junction) and scarfed down sandwiches. Then we headed back to the city (with a pit stop at the Scarsdale Trader Joes) and were back by 4pm! Perfect Saturday.

xoxo,
Truett

Travel TBT: Rome

I was 16 the first time I went to Rome, but it wasn’t until I went back at 23 (in 2012) that I was able to fully appreciate the Eternal City for all that it is and has been throughout history. Italy is one of my top three favorite countries for so many reasons, and Rome epitomizes each and every one of those reasons: the culture, beautiful people, history, gorgeous landscapes and architecture, and of course…the food. As a Croatian girl who loves herself some lamb and potatoes, I have no qualms about saying Italian food is my absolute favorite cuisine in the entire world. And where else to get your favorite food than where it all began?

Food

One of my favorite things about Rome is that you can walk into any random restaurant and have one of the best meals of your life without even planning it. I pride myself on eating healthy and taking good care of myself, but all bets are off when I’m in this magical city. The cheese, the bread, the prosciutto, and GELATO…it’s what dreams are made of. And if you’re the type that needs any sort of justification, just remember that the amount of walking you’ll be doing while exploring Rome practically requires you to carb load…so you might as well enjoy it!

Alfredo Alla Scrofa – World famous for their Fettuccine Alfredo. The first time I ate here was for dinner in 2006 while on a family vacation. We were at the restaurant in the middle of the World Cup final match between Italy and France, and the entire city erupted as soon as the Italians won. One of the coolest nights of my life. I returned to Alfredos on my most recent trip to Rome and it was just as good as I remembered. I can’t vouch for anything on the menu other than the Fettuccine Alfredo (and tiramisu!), but I imagine everything else is just as fantastic.

Roma Sparita – If you’re a No Reservations fan like me, you might be familiar with this little gem located in the heart of the city. Anthony Bourdain is pretty much always right, so if I were you I’d trust his advice and make this spot a must.

***More often than not I see people (especially Americans) complain about poor service in European restaurants. The service industry is not the same in Europe (and the rest of the world for that matter) because they don’t work for tips, so if you equate your entire experience to the service you receive you’re going to have a bad time. My advice is to enjoy the food and don’t take anything personally!

Hotel

Navona Palace – There’s nothing particularly special about this hotel, but the location is perfect, the rooms were super clean and fairly updated, and the included breakfast was pretty darn good. Most importantly, the price is hard to beat. I’m not into breaking the bank on hotels I’m hardly ever in while I travel, so if you’re the same you just might find Navona Palace perfect for you.

Sightseeing

Like I said earlier, you will be doing a LOT of walking, so get yourself a map and a good pair of shoes and get ready to rack up the mileage! You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the public transportation system in the city as not everything is within walking distance. If you’re a history nerd like me, you’ll definitely appreciate the following list of my favorite spots to hit:

Vatican City – You’ll want to give yourself AT LEAST a few hours, if not half a day, to explore both the Vatican and its museum. I took a guided tour on my first trip to the holy city, and I’m so glad I did because there is sooo much to learn and absorb. *Quick tip for the ladies: If you visit in summer you’ll want to bring along a scarf to cover up your shoulders and lower body. The heat is brutal so you can’t be expected to walk around Rome in long sleeves, but you won’t be allowed into the Vatican unless you’re covered. One last thing…if you’re petty like I am and are on a quest to visit as many countries as you can in your lifetime, you’ll be excited to know that the Holy See is technically its own country! Kinda feels like cheating, but whatever!

Colosseum – Audio tours recommended! Give yourself at least an hour or two here.

Piazza de Spagna – Great for shopping, especially for high end designers if you’re into that. If not, take a gelato break on the Spanish Steps instead.

Trevi Fountain – Especially beautiful at night. Bring some coins and make a wish!

Pantheon – Rome’s best preserved monument. Definitely worth a visit.

Piazza Navona – One of the most beautiful squares in the city. It’s the perfect place to stop for lunch (and gelato obviously) or people watch by the Fountain of Neptune.

Roman Forum – Home to a plethora of ancient ruins. Give yourself enough time to wander around and take it all in.

 

In all reality you probably need a month to experience all that the Città Eterna has to offer, but if you only have a few days you’ll have a solid itinerary with the above list. Some of the best advice I can give you is to make sure you don’t rush through your time here. At any given moment you could be standing in the same spot where some of the most significant events in our world’s history took place. We’re not talking hundreds of years ago…we’re talking thousands. Take a seat, order some prosciutto and mozzarella, and let that all soak in.

Ciao ciao!

xo, Ashley

Travel TBT: Austin, TX

I was in Austin for a bachelorette last weekend and had an absolute blast, even though we happened to be there the hottest weekend of the entire summer (105 degrees is no joke). Below is everything we ate, drank and saw!

Restaurants

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya: I found this fusion restaurant on a must-eat in Austin list (I think Thrillist) and it was very good. It is Asian crossed with BBQ and the flavors are insane. 10/10 recommend.

La Barbecue: I did quite a few searches looking for the “Best BBQ in Austin” and La Barbecue was consistently on the list. Plus, it is owned by a woman (rare in BBQ) so I had to try it. We made a giant order for pickup (must be done 5 days in advance) and ate it as leftovers for days. However, if you feel like eating there, they have a free keg of beer for anyone waiting in line.

Trace, W Hotel: $1 mimosas. Excellent food. Inside the W Hotel. Need I say more?

Torchy’s Tacos: If you haven’t heard, you HAVE to eat queso while in Austin (it’s a thing). This place not only has great queso, but excellent tacos. Plus, it is a chain, so there are many places to try.

Pho Please: Hungover pho is the go-to for my group of friends. We live in California where there are copious choices, so we consider ourselves somewhat connoisseurs. This place did the trick!

Bars

I separated out the bars we tried by neighborhood, most were recommended by friends in town or who had recently visited.

West 6th: a more laid-back and slightly upscale restaurant: Kung Fu, Parlor & Yard, Native Hostel

Rainey St: similar to West 6th: Container, Bungalow

Dirty 6th: This refers to the street. I honestly don’t remember much, because they close the streets here and the bars honestly are all very similar. I can say for sure we went to Cheers Shot Bar, then walked from there (they have a photobooth!).

Site-Seeing

Shopping on South Congress: There are a ton of shops on South Congress, with a mix of vintage and contemporary. All are super cute and fun to window shop (or shop!) in. We went into Maya (cute and fun), Uncommon Objects (insanely cool antiques), By George (very fancy), Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds (vintage and every costume you can think of), Little Barrel and Brown (we actually had brunch here), Allen’s Boots (hundreds of leather boots!), Flowers on the Fly (mini succulents sold outside of Guero’s Taco Bar).

Barton Springs: This is a an outdoor pool filled with natural spring water from nearby, for a small entry fee. It’s the perfect place to relax and cool off on a hot Texas day.

Where we stayed: We found a house on E 8th St. using Homeaway, which is similar to Airbnb. The house was great. One of our friends also stayed an extra day at the Driskill Hotel, which is a historic hotel and was absolutely gorgeous.

xoxo, Truett

Curry Chicken Quesadillas

Quesadillas are one of my go-to quick and easy weeknight meals, but I like to get creative and incorporate flavors outside of the typical Latin ones. I got inspired when I picked up pre-seasoned curry chicken fingers at Trader Joes and it turned out seriously good. I ate this several nights in a row.

The recipe below is for one serving, store your leftovers from each ingredient separately and make again! Or, use in a spinach salad!

INGREDIENTS:

COOK:

Cook the curry chicken fingers according to the package instructions, 3-4 mins per side over medium heat. Set aside and store leftovers!

In a small sauce pan, heat your black beans and season to taste (I add a little salt, pepper and red pepper flake).

Over medium-high heat, heat a tortilla for approximately 1 min. Flip the tortilla over and layer on beans, chicken and goat cheese to half the tortilla. Let it warm 2-3 mins (or to the level of crispy you like your tortilla).

Add spinach and scallions and fold the tortilla in half. Serve with hot sauce!

xoxo, Truett

Travel TBT: The Runaway, Jamaica

A few years ago, my former boss, Kalisa, left at my old job at TastingTable.com to open a bed and breakfast near her family in Jamaica, called The Runaway (life goals!). As soon she started a Kickstarter, promising a community-oriented luxury bed & breakfast on Jamaica’s north coast focused on amazing local food and curated cultural experiences, my co-worker and I booked a trip for three couples to go stay. Then we patiently waited 9 months for our trip.

A month before the trip, Kalisa sent over about 30 options for outings and food for our 4 day trip and we started to get insanely excited. We chose a few hikes, trips and outings. Kalisa and Jeff (her partner) booked our transportation to/from the airport and everywhere we went. The Runaway provides all your meals, including breakfast, packed lunch for trips, snacks, daily cocktail hours with custom cocktails, beer, dinner and dessert, but will also make reservations for you to go out to eat. Kalisa is a professionally trained chef and used ingredients local to Jamaica to make some of the best meals I’ve ever had. I experienced  flavors I don’t think I ever would have otherwise ever would have. I am not exaggerating when I say I gained 5 pounds in 4 days (see food in photo 2 in the gallery above).

We flew into Montego Bay and below is what we did. You can absolutely do these things yourself, but if you are able, try The Runaway!! Now, Kalisa and Jeff run global pop-up trips to places like Bali and Cuba and I must say, I am dying to go. 100% would recommend any trip you can fit in your schedule with The Runaway.

Scotchies: This is THE spot to go get local jerk chicken. The ribs were also fantastic. Do not miss it! There are also a few tourist shops next door if you need to bring anything home for people or enjoy funny tourist items.

Silver Sands Beach: This was one of the beaches closest to us. The water in Jamaica is warm and clear and you will never want to get out.

Cranbrook Flower Forest: This is a beautiful tropical garden preserve with some of the most amazing plants, flowers and trees you will ever get to see in person. You can wander here, but you should pay to get a guide to take you on the hike to the river head where you can swim and stay as long as you like.

Stush in the Bush: You will need a reservation to visit this insanely amazing, organic farm dining experience. Do not leave without buying hot sauce and passionfruit jam to take home!

Bamboo Blu: This is a simple beach front bar and lounge that is great for a night out.

Blue Hole: This is a hike to several pools and waterfalls. You will need tickets and a guide. I would suggest reserving ahead, but you can also get guides upon arrival. They have life vests if you are an unsure swimmer. You’ll get to jump off and propel down waterfalls, go to underwater lagoons and generally will see some insanely beautiful nature.

The Runaway: Again, this is the incredible full service, luxury bed and breakfast we stayed at. It books up really fast these days, but if you can manage to stay there, your heart, your stomach and your memories will thank you forever.