Culinary Adventures: A Food Tour!

My photo story of an incredible food tour through Columbia, SC!Greetings!

Have I mentioned that I have a new obsession? Big surprise, its food related.

FOOD TOURS! Not long after I moved into the Columbia area, I heard about the famous food tour here. I have had the opportunity to do it TWICE, at two different times of the year, and I cannot recommend it enough!

Columbia Food Tours is exactly what it sounds like! A tour of local restaurants in the city that perfectly represent the culinary atmosphere here in the South Carolina Midlands. We visited places big and small, fancy and simple. But ALL of them were wonderfully delicious. The food tour follows downtown Main Street, a gorgeous walking tour that spans several blocks, starting at the historical South Carolina State House. Our guide Brian, was great and touched on local architecture and history as we strolled through the city. Regardless of the time of year you book a tour, the walk is mostly shaded and absolutely beautiful! This IS South Carolina after all, and the year round mild weather make it a comfortable outing no matter when you go. Leisurely and relaxed, it is a pretty fantastic way to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. I did the tour with my husband and we both highly recommend it as a date idea. That said, I have also been planning future tours when out of town friends and family come to visit! What better way to show them our awesome city than with a FOOD tour?! Ducking in and out of establishments, we worked our way up and down Main St, stopping here and there. Food and drink samples were JUST enough to give you a great idea about what each restaurant was all about, and definitely left us wanting to come back again! At each location we got to chat with the proprietors and ask questions about everything from the history of the building, to how they acquire their ingredients. It is true Southern hospitality at its finest and I have already returned to several of the restaurants because I just couldn’t stay away!
The places on the tour vary, but you can expect 5-7 different locations. The great thing is that many of the menu offerings change with the seasonal times of the year and it never seems to be the same thing twice! A great variety and definitely a great value for the price of the tour. Not only was it a fun way to learn about this new area my family and I now live, but we love to recommend it to anyone who loves to support local businesses. And loves food.
My photo story of an incredible food tour through Columbia, SC!You can check the Columbia Food Tours website to learn about the different restaurant options! The site makes it incredibly easy to book a tour and the fantastic owners are prompt about any questions you may have. Another great way to see what they are all about is to check them out on social media! They have a Facebook page, Instagram account, and they are also on Twitter!

Have YOU ever been on a local food tour?

Disclaimer: The author received a free food tour in preparation for this post. As always, all words and opinions are strictly my own. 

Slowcooker Meatball Subs

Messaging below is intended for ages 21+ and is intended to be enjoyed responsibly, in moderation: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BeersAndBuns #CollectiveBiasMsg4 21+ These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerIt is officially that time of year when sports are at the top of everyone’s list. I have partnered with Pepperidge Farm® and Kroger to bring you a great new recipe that is perfect for those game day get togethers with family and friends!

Meatball subs are definitely a crowd pleaser and as much as I love them, I wanted to avoid the overly sauced, too salty and too sweet versions that seem to be everywhere. So I created these simple meatballs that are virtually hands free! A few ingredients and a few hours in the slow cooker and voila! Done! These are wonderfully saucy without being a mess and the flavor is definitely family friendly; not too spicy or too strong. Served on Pepperidge Farm Sweet & Soft buns, they are positively irresistible. Msg4 21+ These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerI shopped for all my ingredients at Kroger and everything was easy to find. The bread aisle carries all kinds of Pepperidge Farm® products, including Bakery Classics Sweet & Soft Slider Buns. I can think of a million different uses for them, whether I’m tailgating or headed on a picnic. But for this recipe, I used the Top Sliced Sweet & Soft Hot Dog Buns. They come already sliced (lifesaver!) and are absolutely perfect for holding meatballs and a layer of melted cheese! The buns are prepared by bakers, done the right way, and you can taste the difference!Msg4 21+ These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerMsg4 21+ These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerMsg4 21+ These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerDid you know that Kroger carries an extensive selection of import beers? True story! I grabbed a pack of Warsteiner to go with my subs and you can be sure you’ll find whatever suits your taste.  In addition Kroger has a website full of Game Day Greats, a collection of tips and ideas to pair up food and drinks with sports fans. It also carries coupons for the products mentioned here so be sure to click on the link and check it out!Msg4 21+ These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerMsg4 21+ These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerMsg4 21+ These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerMsg4 21+These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerMsg4 21+ These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerMsg4 21+ These meatball subs are super easy, thanks to the crockpot. Perfect for gameday! {Brittany's Pantry} #ad #BeersAndBuns @PeppridgeFarms @KrogerSlowcooker Meatball Subs
Fans of all ages will be asking for these year round!

2 bags (14 oz each) plain or Italian frozen meatballs
1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
sliced provolone cheese
Pepperidge Farm Bakery Classics Sweet & Soft Top Sliced Hot Dog Buns

In the bowl of your slow cooker, combine all ingredients except cheese and buns. Cover and heat on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2 hours. The heating time will vary depending on your brand of meatballs. Stir them occasionally and they are done when hot and bubbly! Carefully spoon meatballs onto the buns (four meatballs fit perfectly!) and place on a lined sheet pan. Top with sliced cheese to your preference and if desired, broil in the oven to melt and toast! This isn’t necessary, but it IS really good! Watch so it doesn’t burn! Remove and enjoy

Chicken Bog

A Southern classic! Easy Chicken Bog will become a year round favorite! {Brittany's Pantry}This is my absolute favorite southern dish!

Although pimento cheese runs a close second and shrimp and grits is definitely near the top, chicken bog takes the #1 spot of  the ‘Southern Food I Discovered After Moving To South Carolina And I Don’t Know How I Ever Lived Without It’ category. If you are reading this post and wondering what the heck I am talking about, I will offer a bit of background.

A low country favorite, chicken bog is named for its texture. It is more wet and ‘boggy’ than many other similar dishes and sometimes it is even called chicken stew. Although, if the historian at the Lexington County Museum in Columbia, SC can be trusted, chicken stew doesn’t contain sausage. Regardless, the ingredient list is minimal and straightforward. A whole chicken is simmered in water and onions until it falls apart, then the chicken is removed and the bones and skin discarded. Sausage and rice is added to the shredded meat, onions, and liquid, and the whole shebang is cooked until all the stock is absorbed. Occasionally I come across a version that contains green peppers or even corn, but purists agree. Rice, chicken, sausage, onions, broth and maaaaaaaaaybe a splash of hot sauce. Thats it.

And let me tell ya, folks. That is all it needs. A Southern classic! Easy Chicken Bog will become a year round favorite! {Brittany's Pantry}I realize it doesn’t sound like much. When a good family friend first introduced me to chicken bog, I tried to politely decline. The name didn’t sound like something even remotely delicious, and whilst I trust this friend, I was skeptical. When he ignored my protests and made me eat a few bites, my life was forever changed. It was so simple! So easy! So goooooooood.

When you start to talk to people about chicken bog, you quickly came to realize that very few people are privy to this dish. Outside of South Carolina, it is virtually unheard of. But here in the sunny palmetto state, we bring it to potluck dinners, serve it at the historical society, and even honor it with a yearly festival. Much the way Tator-Tot Hotdish is a treasured childhood dish of mine, so will chicken bog be for my own children.

The traditional method is easy, yes, but I streamlined the process a bit to make it even faster, thus making it possible to have it more often. I confess this was my only goal when finalizing the recipe. Must. Eat this. More. Often. 🙂 Over time I have blended various ingredients and flavors that I have picked up from different native South Carolinians, due to the fact that, like most regional recipes, everyone has their own version. The result is still pretty traditional and especially tasty. So tasty that these photos are incredibly distracting and are making me hungry.

Haver YOU ever had chicken bog?

A Southern classic! Easy Chicken Bog will become a year round favorite! {Brittany's Pantry}Chicken Bog
This freezes quite well. Just defrost and reheat in the microwave. Be conservative when salting this dish as the sausage will add to the overall flavor.

3 c white rice
2 onions, diced
1 stick of butter, salted or unsalted
2-48 oz containers good quality chicken broth, or about 12 c homemade chicken broth or stock
4 c cooked chicken, shredded into bitesized pieces (or the meat of 1 rotisserie chicken)
1-14 oz package, beef smoked sausage or kielbasa, cut lengthwise then cut crosswise into half-moons
1 T Old Bay Seasoning
2 tsp season salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

In a very large, heavy bottomed stockpot, combine the first three ingredients over medium, med-low heat. Stir it often for the next three or four minutes, letting the onions soften a bit and the rice get a little toasty. Add the Old Bay, season salt, and pepper. Add all of the broth and set your heat to medium. You want the pot to bubble just a tiny bit, but not boil, so adjust your burner accordingly. Let the rice cook, stirring often to prevent sticking, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. The time will vary based on your rice, but plan on a good half hour or so. Occasionally, for whatever reason, my pot goes dry and my rice isn’t done. I just add a bit more broth. The texture of the dish should be very thick, but very moist. Stir in the chicken and sausage and let come up to serving temp. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. We serve this with green beans and we put out hot sauce, red pepper flakes, and cajun seasoning as options to top it off.