10 Things to do in Charleston

My job takes me on the road several times a month and Charleston has been by far one of the coolest cities I have gotten to travel to three times. Each time I go back, I keep discovering more reason this could be one of my favorite places. Whether you are there for work, play or a little of both, here are 10 things I think you should do in Charleston, South Carolina.


Try an oyster shooter. If you like Bloody Mary’s and oysters, think of the two combined in shot form. It’s made with pepper vodka, cocktail sauce, lemon juice and a little horseradish if you like heat. Pearlz Oyster Bar has a great happy hour specials and while you’re there, try an oyster shooter.

Eat hushpuppies. I had never had the luxury of eating these delicious pillows of heaven. They are made with a cornmeal batter, fried into little bite-size pieces and are both sweet and savory. Every place makes them a bit different, so you’ll have to find your favorite.

Drink bourbon. Charleston lent itself to a lot of firsts for me. One of which was drinking real bourbon. The Husk Bar has an extensive list of options, but I chose to start with one of their punches, which is like a gourmet bourbon cocktail. Sip it upstairs in the lounge with exposed wood and a really cool vibe.

Try boiled peanuts. These were another first for me. While I wouldn’t necessarily try them again, I am glad to say I’ve at least given these Southern staple a shot.

Find your favorite biscuits. There are biscuits on the menu at almost every restaurant, and like hushpuppies, everyone makes them in their own style. I loved the warm basket from Poogan’s Porch, but for a cute little hole-in-the-wall experience try Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. It’s even open until 2 am on weekends.


Walk through the Battery. The homes on the waterfront are absolutely remarkable in their pastel colors with their grandiose porches. I want to know the story behind every single one of them and meet the families that still call them home!

Explore the local shops and bakeries. The streets in Charleston are ones that you could walk up and down hundreds of times and discover something new each time. I loved finding Sugar, this tiny little walk-in bakery with the best caramel cupcake I’ve ever tried.

Drive across the bridge to Shem Creek. Charleston’s charm extends beyond just King Street. If you have time, take the short drive over the bridge to Shem Creek and enjoy some afternoon cocktails and appetizers while watching dolphins swim in the water at Red’s Ice House.

Indulge in a Southern Brunch. The signature dish of the city is shrimp and grits, so indulge in that as a brunch dish or add a crab cake to your Eggs Benedict. Even the traditional eggs, bacon and potatoes taste better in the South. If you’re planning on weekend brunch, be ready for a wait as brunch is the thing to do on Saturday and Sunday.

Put pimento cheese on everything. Everywhere I go in Charleston, I love trying their pimento cheese. The spread can be put on crackers, bruschetta, veggies, fried green tomatoes, biscuits or in a grilled cheese sandwich. The options for this spread/dip are unlimited. My favorite was at the Husk Bar when it was served on toast as a bruschetta with a little bit of crumbled bacon on top.

I would love to hear what other things are a must-do in Charleston. I could make this list go on and on, so maybe I’ll have to do a part two! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Love food. Love self. Love life.


Vegan Pumpkin Soup


For some reason I thought all vegan food would be really challenging to make. I envisioned a recipe full of ingredients I’ve never heard of in an effort to replace flavors. Little did I realize that using natural, raw, plant-based ingredients in a soup would quickly and easily make it vegan. I stumbled upon this recipe from The Minimalist Baker and it sounded so good! Only seven ingredients (eight if you count my secret addition) and I was done.


Scanning the recipe, I was intrigued by the use of coconut milk versus cream – a lighter option that wouldn’t negate my efforts to be healthy. Because I happened to have a chunk of ginger sitting around, I decided to grate it up and add it for a secret touch. The combination of all these flavors was marvelous and nobody would have guessed it was vegan. It was the perfect item not only to make for a work potluck with soup served like little shooters in dixie cups, but also was delicious as my afternoon lunch topped with pumpkin seeds and a English muffin grilled cheese. *Note, this grilled cheese was not vegan. I just love a warm cheesy sandwich to dip into my soup.


This new soup recipe was an attempt to cross off more items on my fall bucket list. Just this week I made turkey chili and talked about it on Snapchat! Did you see? Watch more in the future by following me at gourmetgab. I would love to know what your favorite fall soups are. I’m looking forward to stretching this pumpkin variety through Thanksgiving.

Love food. Love self. Love life.


Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread


I bought my very own blender for the first time a few weeks ago and I went on a crazy smoothie kick. I was trying to eat up as much produce as possible after weeks of traveling for work when I ate out at a restaurant almost every meal. I impulse purchased a practically life-size bag of kale from Costco thinking I would make green smoothies everyday. I bought a whole cluster of bananas since they are such an inexpensive, yet rock star fruit. They help prevent muscle cramps — you know, if you’re hitting the gym pre-holiday season — and are a great source of potassium. Even after about five days of smoothies, not only did I have half a bag of leftover kale, but my bananas had ripened too quickly for me to eat them all.

When my bananas turn spotty brown and just a little too soft to eat, I toss them in the freezer and wait for the perfect day to make some banana bread. I love a traditional banana bread, but this week I was feeling like a sweeter banana bread would be the perfect treat for Halloween weekend. Cinnamon is one of my favorite fall flavors, so it felt appropriate to incorporate a little cinnamon swirl into the bread for the festive occasion. You can certainly swap out a few ingredients to make it healthier. You could also use any banana bread recipe and simply add the cinnamon sugar mixture in the middle of the batter like I did here. In any case, here’s my version of cinnamon swirl banana bread.


After I made the batter using the kitchn’s recipe for a traditional banana bread, I just mixed about 1/3 cup of sugar with a tablespoon or so of cinnamon to create a cinnamon sugar. Scoop half of your batter into the bread pan, then simply sprinkle half of the mixture over the first layer and repeat with the rest of the batter and cinnamon sugar.



How gorgeous does this look with the sugar dusted crust on top? The bread is perfectly sweet, fluffy and best warm out of the oven. Hope this bread puts any leftover bananas to good use! Or if not, you can always use it as an excuse to buy a couple extra bananas.


Love food. Love self. Love life.


My Fall Bucket List


After growing up in Arizona my whole life, saying that I’m excited for fall this year is an understatement. This is my first time experiencing the leaves changing, feeling cooler temperatures and having a real reason to bundle up, and actually living in a place where winter is around the corner. My friends in Indianapolis may think I am a little overly giddy, but I am taking advantage of everything fall. In order to accomplish all the ideal fall things, I’ve rounded up my bucket list for the season:

  • Go to a pumpkin patch.
  • Visit an apple orchard.
  • Try apple cider and apple donuts.
  • Make pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes.
  • Revamp my fall wardrobe.
  • Get back into dark plum lipstick.
  • Color my hair a shade darker.
  • Try a new soup recipe every week.
  • Go to a horse race in Kentucky.
  • Sample pumpkin and seasonal beer.

I am on my way to crossing off a few things from the list. As you may have seen on my Snapchat (GourmetGab) and Instagram, I made a delicious Mexican Chicken Posole soup that was so simple and perfect for the beginning of fall. Try this recipe from Gimme Some Oven. As for sampling seasonal beer, my roommate and I grabbed a drink after work last week and I ordered the Jack-O-Traveler Pumpkin Shady. The bartender described it as fall-in-a-glass and it tasted just like that with notes of spices, cinnamon, and a touch of pumpkin. I went to my first ever horse race on Sunday at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky and was in complete awe.

What is on your fall bucket list this season? I would love to hear about your favorite traditions and seasonal activities. If you have any suggestions, please comment below! Next up on my soup rundown is either this Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew or a Sausage and Kale Soup. Follow along my fall adventures with GourmetGab Snapchat and Instagram!

Love food. Love self. Love life.


Easy Lunch: Healthier Burrito Bowls

Whether it’s wrapped up in a warm tortilla or naked in a bowl, I love a good burrito. Growing up in Arizona, I think I was spoiled with the authentic Mexican food all around. It seems like Chipotle may be the closest thing I can get to fresh, flavorful Mexican food around here in the Midwest. Don’t quote me on that, though. I’m still on the hunt!

Lately, I have been making my own burrito bowls to bring to work for lunch. I make my version a little bit differently than the traditional combination by substituting brown rice and ground turkey for white rice and beef. This burrito bowl would be truly gourmet if I made my own fresh salsa, roasted the corn on the cob versus buying it frozen, and topped the bowl with bright green cilantro or creamy guacamole. These things wouldn’t necessarily be hard, but they just add a little bit of extra time. You choose where you want to fall on the scale when you’re making yours.

stage one

I love that this lunch can truly rotate with what you have in the fridge. Feel like using quinoa instead of rice? Go for it! Have leftover chicken from dinner? Swap that for your meat. Want to add onions, peppers or jalapeños? Spice it up! Also, make a few at once – it will save you time later and makes the most sense since you already have all the ingredients out. Once lunch rolls around, I just stick this in the microwave and stir it up. The cheese gets melty and the salsa is the perfect sauce to bind it all together.


What’s going in your burrito bowl this week?

Love food. Love self. Love life.