Molten Lava Cakes

Molten Lava Cakes

An irresistible fluffy cake filled with oozing chocolatey goodness on the inside

The only difficult part about making molten lava cakes is having a bit of PATIENCE while melting the chocolate & butter! Other than that, this dessert is a decadent treat you can whip up in minutes, guaranteed to impress any chocolate lover! Recipe courtesy of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (try sticking to a bar of chocolate, not morsels as it will melt easier and more efficiently than the morsels)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450° and butter ramekins (this recipe fills four 6 oz. ramekins, but if you have a different size accommodate accordingly)
  2. Melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate over low simmer on the stovetop until smooth – you can try the double boiler method, but this is not necessary if you can keep your eye on the chocolate and make sure not to burn!
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar on high speed until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow in color
  4. After giving the chocolate one last whisk to smoothen out, add the chocolate and flour, folding into the egg mixture
  5. Pour batter into ramekins and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cake are firm but the center is soft – TIP: Just keep your eye on the cakes after 8 minutes, everyone’s ovens can be different so best to take out before the center becomes overcooked
  6. Remove ramekins from oven and cool cakes for a few minutes
  7. Carefully flip each ramekin over onto individual serving plates
  8. Serve immediately!

I like to serve mine with a dusting of powdered sugar and drizzle of caramel on top! But ice cream, whipped cream, and berries are all great additions to compliment the ooey gooey goodness of the molten lava cakes.

Where to Eat in Old Town Alexandria

Where to Eat in Old Town Alexandria

Old Town Alexandria, a place that I’ve been lucky enough to call home for the past year, has a certain magic in the air that you just can’t find anywhere else. This little historic town boasts the perfect marriage between the old and the new. The cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks juxtaposed with the hustle and bustle of the town creates the perfect dichotomy between history and progress. All nestled along the Potomac River, it’s no surprise Old Town ALX has won countless awards from Southern Living, Condé Nast, Apartment Therapy, and many more. Living here (and working at a job a few blocks away) almost feels like a 24/7 staycation.

While the main attraction in Old Town is King Street and the Waterfront, there is so much more to immerse yourself in here. Between the eclectic food scene, boutique shops, and public art + museums, it is easy to get lost in everything Old Town has to offer.

So, first things first…

Where to Eat in Old Town Alexandria

I’m going to do a thing and separate this in two: Restaurants on King Street/Waterfront and restaurants a bit off the beaten path. While you will definitely want to spend most of your time on King, I encourage you to venture out! You’ll be glad you did.

Where to Eat in Old Town: King Street Edition

King Street is lined with amazing cuisine from all over the world. Irish pubs, Greek patios, and fresh seafood joints line this street for miles.

Misha’s Coffee

Start your day here with a cup o’ Joe and side of dough! Any Portlandia fans out there..? Anyways, this cafe is a coffee lovers dream. Right as you enter the shop, the most delicious aroma in the world immediately fills your nostrils. It’s pretty much the equivalent to a warm hug. This is because in the back of the cafe they are literally roasting batches of beans. Large jugs of fresh coffee beans (available for purchase!) line the bar as you order your morning beverage. It’s a delightful experience and great way to start your day.

Fish Market

If fresh seafood and draft beer served in a 32 ounce Schooner mug sounds like a dream, this place is for you! This really is the quintessential seafood bar and restaurant on King Street. I highly recommend ordering the peel & eat shrimp as it is to die for – there’s something incredible about the way they season their shrimp! Want oysters, crabcakes, or lobster? They got it. Go here.

Chadwick’s

Chadwick’s menu consists of your classic American cuisine in a cute historic building located right on the Waterfront. This is one of my favorite brunch/lunch spots in Old Town. And there’s a reason why… It has the best fried chicken sandwich in all of Old Town! Trust me, I’ve done my research. I’m usually one to try different things on the menu, but I literally have only ordered this sandwich and I’m not ever going to regret it.

Taverna Cretekou

Owned by an extremely friendly Greek family, this restaurant is about as close as it gets to actually being in Greece. After visiting Mykonos, I came to this restaurant in search of authentic Greek food. I was wowed by not only the food, but the atmosphere of this restaurant. Inside the restaurant, they replicated the beautiful cobbled streets of Greece & outside is a charming patio filled with greenery and blooming flowers during the warmer seasons.

Landini Brothers Restaurant

For a special occasion or if you’re just feeling fancy, this is your spot for traditional Tuscan style Italian eats. Fun fact: Noe Landini also owns the Fish Market, Pop’s Ice Cream, and popular rooftop Bar Deco in D.C. Clearly, I like his style! The inside of the restaurant oozes in romance with it’s dimly lit ambiance and exposed brick walls making it the perfect place to celebrate Lady & the Tramp style. Bon Appétit!

Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream

This ice cream parlor boasts that the founder used to cater ice cream to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Order some delicious ice cream and take a stroll by the Waterfront for a perfect end to your day in Old Town.

Where to Eat in Old Town: Off the Beaten Path Edition

It’s always more fun to go off the beaten path. It makes you feel like you really stumbled upon something great. Also these places lack that touristy feel and the prices highlight that fact. Your belly and wallet will be happy you ventured out.

Swing’s Coffee

Located in an industrial art-deco building, this coffee spot has the look and feel that makes you think, ” wow, they must really know what they’re doing here.” Enjoy a delicious iced coffee and chocolate croissant, and you’ll be sure to have a great day.

Blue & White Carry Out

This is my favorite hidden gem in all of Old Town. It’s like if you know, you know…you know? But when you know, YOU KNOW. As a fried chicken connoisseur, I absolutely died when I found out that this shack that I drove by nearly every day was offering up some of the best fried chicken in all of Alexandria. This is a no-frills, cash-only joint + everything on the menu is like $5. The menu is meat heavy including made-to-order breakfast sandwiches (get there before they run out), fried chicken sandwiches (bone-in, so watch your teeth!), grilled pork chops, half-smokes…Food for the soul. Be wary though, the Blue & White sells out of food fast + they’re only open weekdays from 5:30 AM – 3 PM.

Caphe Banh Mi

Here’s your one stop shop for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and pho soup. This teeny restaurant serves up pho soup that is so rich and meaty, it’s not even necessary to add any condiments (sriracha, plum sauce, etc.). The banh mi sub is equally as amazing – we usually get one to share for the table. Another plus is that they offer a chicken/vegetarian (same thing to me, sorry 😬) version of everything for your non-meat friendly friends. This is the perfect place to go to warm your belly up on a cold winter day.

Oak Steakhouse

Right across from my apartment building are two places I love to go when I’m feeling like living lavish. The first is the biggest furniture tease in the world: West Elm (seriously who can actually afford buying $1,000 decorative objects from here). The second is a very delicious, upscale restaurant called Oak Steakhouse. This is my favorite place to go to celebrate birthday’s, anniversaries, *cough* restaurant week that turned out not to be restaurant week *cough*. Did I mention I dragged my boyfriend here because it was allegedly restaurant week & we’d be getting restaurant week prices? As it turns out, it was in fact not restaurant week. All that matters is that we ended up loving it so much, we came back for our anniversary. Fun hack: mention that it’s your anniversary & they’ll bring you like two free appetizers & a cute little anniversary ice cream. Also, highly recommend ordering the bone marrow. Absolutely divine.

Where to Drink in Old Town Alexandria

The People’s Drug

When you’re wanting a fancy cocktail in an Instagram-worthy location, head over to The People’s Drug. This place really nailed the whole “Instagram influencer” vibe right on the head. Right as you walk in a large, illuminated sign reads, “DRUGS” welcoming you to the bar. Don’t be embarrassed and snap that pic, you know you’ll want to! The prices are a bit hefty here, but lets be real – you came here in all actuality to snap a cute pic for the ‘gram.

Vola’s Dockside Grill

For the best outdoor patio experience in Old Town, go to Vola’s Dockside Grill. This is the perfect place for a dinner pre-game, if you’re into that kind of thing. Have a frozen orange crush, some fresh oysters + shrimp & enjoy people watching as close as you’ll get to the Waterfront.

Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant & Bar

When in Old Town… Go to an Irish pub! Located in a historic building built in the 1800s, O’Connell’s is a restaurant you could very well get lost in. Warm fireplaces and Irish antiques fill the walls, nooks, and cranny’s of this bustling restaurant. Order a Guinness and some fish and chips & you’ll feel right at home…That is, if you’re from Ireland.

Augie’s Mussel House

Let’s hear it for Alexandria’s only open air beer garden! This is the perfect place to come to when you’re feeling like enjoying a nice patio with a bench full of friends. Not into beer? Don’t worry, they also have wine and cocktails on the menu. The outdoor patio is open all year long, thanks to some amazing heaters that keep you warm in the cold winter months. Their menu is pretty on point too, offering an extensive menu dedicated to mussels. They also have great bar food with a wide selection of appetizers and sandwiches to share. Another plus, the patio (like many others in Old Town) is dog-friendly!

Hope you enjoyed this food & beverage edition of my personal Old Town Alexandria recommendation list. I feel like this list will be constantly updated as I explore Old Town myself, so feel free to return to this living document at any time. Coming soon is an activities & shopping blog post for Old Town ALX! In the meantime, please drop a comment below for any tips, suggestions, or personal perspectives.

  • Molten Lava Cakes
    An irresistible fluffy cake filled with oozing chocolatey goodness on the inside.
  • Where to Eat in Old Town Alexandria
    Old Town Alexandria, a place that I’ve been lucky enough to call home for the past year, has a certain magic in the air that you just can’t find anywhere else. This little historic town boasts the perfect marriage between the old and the new. The cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks juxtaposed with the hustle […]
  • Nashville City Guide
    Nashville, Tennessee, a place that I believe I will come back to time and time again. To be frank, I don’t think that my three day trip to Nashville was enough. I hear a lot of people say that you can do Nashville in just two days. I cannot disagree with this more! There’s so […]
  • 5 Reasons Why I Love the Cowhide Aesthetic
    I am a huge fan of the cowhide aesthetic. It all started when I stumbled upon the cutest foot stool at The Old Lucketts antique shop in Lucketts, Virginia also known as antiquing heaven. I had just come back from Sedona, Arizona and was still riding the all-natural outdoor vibes wave and this little footstool […]
  • Shakshuka
    This flavor-filled one skillet egg dish is delicious any time of day! My love for Shakshuka began when I ordered a version of this dish for brunch at a restaurant in D.C. Poached eggs on a bed of spicy tomato sauce topped with fresh cilantro – does it get any better? I couldn’t remember the […]

Nashville City Guide

Nashville City Guide

Nashville, Tennessee, a place that I believe I will come back to time and time again. To be frank, I don’t think that my three day trip to Nashville was enough. I hear a lot of people say that you can do Nashville in just two days. I cannot disagree with this more! There’s so much more to Music City than the honkytonks on Broadway (but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with hanging out downtown). This is a city that has so much beauty and character, you just need to do a little research and plan out your trip before going! I guarantee you will find yourself wanting to come back to explore more of what this evolving city has to offer.

What are the Neighborhoods in Nashville?

As I am not a local, I’m just going to lay out the neighborhoods that I explored during my trip. We stayed at an Airbnb near Vanderbilt University, which was only a 5 minute Uber ride to each of these places. Below are the neighborhoods that I visited and will refer to throughout this guide:

  • Downtown/Broadway: Obviously a must to walk the Broadway strip and drink your way through the honkytonks, neon signs, and amazing live music.
  • 12 South: A cute little neighborhood home to many restaurants, boutique shops, and a few of the famous Nashville murals.
  • Music Row: Home to many record label offices, radio stations and recording studios, Music Row is at the heart of Nashville’s country music industry. 
  • Marathon Village: Features over 20 local shops, distilleries, and eateries, all housed in an old car factory. Also home to the famous I Believe in Nashville mural!

What to Eat in Nashville

Nashville Hot Chicken

Going to have to just lead with this.. You gotta eat the Nashville Hot Chicken. After my trip, I learned that Nashville hot chicken was born at a mom & pop called Prince’s. We ended up going to the more touristy spot for hot chicken, Hattie B’s, which is known for having a line out the door pretty much all the time. Not to say that I regret going to Hattie B’s, but I am upset I didn’t go to the original spot for hot chicken. Clearly I should have done more research! When I go back to Nashville I am immediately going to Prince’s, and then I’ll update you on which is better. Oh and by the way, the hot chicken was f***ing hot. So if you don’t want to poop fire later in the day, I suggest being a wimp and ordering the hot chicken for the table + the mild version for yourself. Unless you enjoy the spicy high from a slap of cayenne pepper to the face, you’ll end up having one bite and being glad you ordered the easier chicken to eat.

Fried Baloney Sandwich at Robert’s Western World

OK so I know fried baloney sandwiches aren’t typically high up on anyone’s “must eat” list, but this one should be. Maybe it’s the atmosphere of Robert’s Western World, or the generic beer that you can’t quite recall how many you’ve had, or the live music getting to your head – but this baloney sandwich (served with a bag of Lay’s potato chips) will rock your world.

Brunch at Acme Feed & Seed

Acme Feed & Seed is a three level building (plus two levels of rooftop) jam packed with everything you could ever want from a honkytonk/restaurant. You could easily spend three hours getting lost in this building. Each floor has a different menu & vibe, but we stuck to having brunch on the first floor and a cocktail on the rooftop. The rooftop offers great scenic views of both the Broadway strip and the Cumberland River. Not attaching a picture, because the view is something that you must see on your own for the first time 😉. We ate here right before leaving for our flight home, and I feel like it was the perfect way to wrap up our trip.

Where to Drink in Nashville

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge had a hold over me, because somehow at the end of each night I dragged the beau back to this honkytonk. This multi-level honkytonk turned out to be my favorite, I just really enjoyed the vibe at this spot! Plus we got to watch a few famous musicians perform here (which could likely be the case at any honkytonk in Nashville) but it just so happened to be at Tootsie’s. Plus, I think that the name and the purple building just had a gravitational pull on me. You’ll find your favorite honkytonk, if it happens to be Tootsie’s let me know!

Winners & Losers Bar & Grill

Winners & Losers are two separate entities, but they are side by side iconic dive bars. Walking distance from Hattie B’s, we washed down our hot chicken with a few cold beers and listened to some live music while people watching. Keep your eye out for celebrity sightings, because chances are you’re sitting next to a famous songwriter/producer/musician. This goes for pretty much any honkytonk in Nashville.

Marathon Village

The name of this place is right on. This building is a drinking marathon loaded with distilleries, moon-shine, and wine. We started our Marathon Village journey at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, which was one of the greatest tastings I have ever done. Even if you’re not into whiskey, take your beau and tag along for the history of whiskey & Nashville. Things got a little blurry after the whiskey tasting, but walking through the building we were offered free tastings of moonshine and wine. Not one to say no to free alcohol, we tried it all & a marathon it sure was! You are sure to make a ton of memories (a little blurry) in this building. Plan accordingly!

Where to Shop in Nashville

Uncommon James

If you’re like me and you’re a Kristin Cavallari fanatic you know that Kristin A.) lives in Nashville and shoots her reality TV show, Very Cavallari here (RIP) and B.) Kristin is the bad b**** CEO of jewelry store, Uncommon James! Yes I went, and yes it looked exactly like it does on the TV show. If you’re a fan, or if you like the simplicity of her jewelry, I recommend stopping by.

Amelia’s Flower Truck

Amelia’s Flower Truck is a cute mobile flower truck that sells beautiful bouquets of flowers. The one that I stopped by was at the 12 South Farmer’s Market, but there are a few other mobile trucks. You can follow the truck schedule here. You could spend an entire afternoon shopping at the boutiques (Reese Witherspoon’s flagship Draper James shop is in here!) and eclectic shops specializing in vintage finds scattered throughout the 12 South neighborhood.

Amelia’s Flower Truck at the 12 South Farmer’s Market

What Activities to Do in Nashville

Centennial Park

Nestled across from Vanderbilt University is Centennial Park, a sprawling urban park which is oddly home to a full-scale replica of the ancient Greek temple, the Parthenon. Having visited the actual Parthenon in Athens, seeing it in Nashville was definitely an experience. Go here to tour the park and learn why this replica is placed here.

Go to a Show at The Grand Ole Opry

One of my favorite activities that we did was seeing a show at The Grand Ole Opry. What began as a simple radio broadcast in 1925 is today an entertainment phenomenon showcasing a mix of country music greats featuring rising stars, superstars, and legends. Known as “the show that made country music famous,” you can count on seeing performances at the Opry that you just can’t see anywhere else.

Off The Wagon Tours

Like Jason Aldean’s big green tractor? Take a ride on one with Off The Wagon Tours! If you’re not a fan of pedaling while touring, this tractor ride is for you. It’s BYOB and you get a 1 hour and 45 minute tour all over Nashville. As we all know, Nashville is a huge destination for Bachelorette parties, but no – you don’t have to be a bachelorette party to participate in one of these rides. I went with just my boyfriend and we did the tour with a bachelorette party and ended up having a mutual friend and a great time.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that Nashville is more than just a destination for bachelorette parties. While the honkytonks are amazing, take your time to go through each of the unique neighborhoods nestled inside this city. I think you will be surprised by the diverse scene Nashville has to offer. And if you see a famous person, let me know who and where!

5 Reasons Why I Love the Cowhide Aesthetic

5 Reasons Why I Love the Cowhide Aesthetic

I am a huge fan of the cowhide aesthetic. It all started when I stumbled upon the cutest foot stool at The Old Lucketts antique shop in Lucketts, Virginia also known as antiquing heaven. I had just come back from Sedona, Arizona and was still riding the all-natural outdoor vibes wave and this little footstool just brought back a wave of memories from that trip. I have this weird shopping ability to pick out one thing in a store that I just couldn’t imagine living without and taking it home, and once I laid my eyes on this foot stool I found myself unable to part ways with it. Also, this baby was on sale due to a little wear and tear (which I think gives it even more character). And who can say no to a sale?

I’ve moved this foot stool from the living room to the bedroom and back to the living room depending on the day. I just really needed to add the cowhide aesthetic into the bedroom. Which led me to buy… ….Cowhide print pillows!

My Margarida Cowhide Print pillows from Wayfair are everything. They give the perfect amount of pop to our neutral-colored bedroom. Layered on top of the white bedding and tan headboard these pillows are definitely the focal point in our bedroom.

If you’re considering incorporating the cowhide aesthetic to your home decor, let me steer point you in the right direction 😏

Cowhide Aesthetic Adds Texture to a Room

The biggest struggle I’ve had with decorating my apartment is making a room feel actually finished. Somehow this cowhide stool really just tied together the entire living room. When I first started decorating I read about the 60-30-10 rule, which is essentially picking the color palette for your decor and sticking to those ratios. 60% is your primary color, 30% is the secondary color, and 10% is the area where you can have some fun and add some color pop to your space. For me personally, my 60% is white/ tan, 30% gold/brown, and 10% mostly pink (sorry Haiden). So long story short, the brown and white of the cowhide add a bit more texture to our space. And juxtaposed to the white walls and tan furniture, it just really catches your eye.

Cowhide Aesthetic is Extremely Adaptable

No matter what your 60-30-10 palette looks like, I’m 100% sure a cowhide addition of some sort could fit in somewhere. Although, some weirdos people don’t have a taste for it. With that I say, acquire some taste! The cowhide aesthetic being able to fit in any space also ties in with my next reason, which is…

Cowhide is Very Versatile

I can’t quite put my finger on when the cowhide aesthetic hit the big time, but it’s everywhere. This pattern’s most popular seller is probably the cowhide rug, but you can get this pattern as literally anything. Someone out there probably has cowhide curtains. Let’s hope not, but I’m just sayin’ it’s definitely out there! Growing up in the country across from cow pastures kind of made the cow aesthetic pretty normal for me, but recently I’ve started seeing designers from all over putting cowhide rugs under their coffee tables and now here we are. Cowhide aesthetic is for everyone!

Cowhide is Pretty Affordable

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a cowhide rug. Like I said, it’s everywhere and there are a ton of places that offer vegan versions and not actual animal hide. While you could spend over $500 on an authentic rug, you don’t have to. I just Googled cowhide rug and found a myriad of options. Even Home Depot is selling these babies. Are you ready for the last but the BEST reason to incorporate this pattern into your home?

Cowhide is Durable AF

If you live with an animal whether it is a dog or human, you know that scratches, wear, and *shudders* tear happen. Maybe more often than we’d like them to. BUT even if a little W&T happens to your precious cowhide – it still fits the “rugged” look. And maybe – just maybe – if you’re lucky, you may even find a cute little cowhide foot stool on sale at an antique shop in Loudoun County.

Shakshuka

Shakshuka

This flavor-filled one skillet egg dish is delicious any time of day!

My love for Shakshuka began when I ordered a version of this dish for brunch at a restaurant in D.C. Poached eggs on a bed of spicy tomato sauce topped with fresh cilantro – does it get any better? I couldn’t remember the name of the entrée I ordered, so naturally I Googled “Italian poached eggs dish”. After doing some research, I found out that this was not an Italian dish but a Middle Eastern/North African staple breakfast called Shakshuka. First of all, love the name. Second, this dish is incredibly easy to whip up & you probably have all of the ingredients already stocked in your pantry. Third, this dish is the “phone eats first” kind if you know what I’m saying – it’s very Instagram worthy.

What you’ll need:

  • 5-6 eggs (or however many fit in your skillet)
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can crushed tomato (28 ounce)
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • Dash of Red Pepper (if you want it spicy)
  • Feta Cheese
  • Handful of freshly chopped cilantro & green onion

Instructions

  1. Heat your skillet to medium-high heat and coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil (or your oil of choice)
  2. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent
  3. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes
  4. Add cumin, paprika, and red pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes
  5. Add chopped bell pepper and cook until tender
  6. Pour in can of chopped tomato and cover until the mixture comes to a boil – then lower the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes
  7. Crack eggs into the skillet and cover with lid until egg whites are firmed up, about 5 minutes for runny yolk (cook longer depending on how runny you like the yolk)
  8. Add a handful of feta cheese
  9. Garnish with fresh cilantro and green onion
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Chargrilled Romaine Lettuce

Chargrilled Romaine Lettuce

This grilled romaine lettuce is the perfect addition to any summer cookout! The smoky flavor from the grill takes any romaine-based summer salad up a few notches.

‘Tis the season of summer cookouts! Food this time of year always tastes so delicious hot and fresh off the grill. That’s why I wasn’t opposed to the idea of grilling my romaine lettuce. It seems odd at first to grill lettuce – but romaine just has that perfect thickness and crunch to it that won’t wilt. So, I decided to give it a try. And as it turns out, grilled lettuce is awesome! I like to think of this recipe as a concept, not a formula with a fixed set of ingredients. I say that because once grilled, the options on how you want to serve it and dress it up are endless. You can pretty much add your own spin to the smoky flavor of the lettuce.

What you’ll need:

  • Full heads of Romaine lettuce
  • Olive oil
  • Wedge of lemon
  • Salt + Pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut the lettuce in half, lengthwise
  2. Drizzle olive oil, lemon juice, and season with salt + pepper
  3. Place romaine on preheated grill for 2 minutes (or until charred)
  4. Flip & repeat for other side
  5. Once off the grill, dress up with your favorite summer salad fixins’

I decided to dress mine up with ranch dressing, chopped tomatoes, and parmesan cheese.

I hope if you have yet to try grilled romaine lettuce, that you give it a shot! I’d love to know how you served this tasty lettuce.