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Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Dining Around Lake Cumberland: A Lake Goer’s Guide to Russell County

Hey, y’all!

Heading to beautiful Lake Cumberland? If you aren’t, take my word for it: you should be! Lake Cumberland is a cultural oasis for our Commonwealth and the millions of visitors that it has attracted to the South-Central Kentucky region. Lake Cumberland provides visitors with water sports a’plenty, gorgeous docks and marinas, and a community unlike any other in the region. Oh, and some delicious food + libations!

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Join me in celebrating the delicious bites and sips along the shoreline of the Houseboat Capital of the World! Warning: come hungry, bring sunscreen, and be prepared to make lifelong memories!

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Did you know that the shoreline of Lake Cumberland is 1,255 miles, which is longer than the contiguous shoreline of Florida? It also just falls short of matching the total Pacific coastline of the United States (California, Oregon, Washington).  Let that sink in for a minute, y’all! As for water capacity, it is the 9th largest reservoir in the United States!

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Side note: I’m not going to downplay my excitement for this post, yet I promise to only get somewhat sentimental — today’s post features the eateries on Lake Cumberland in Russell County. Russell County, specifically Jamestown, is where I am from, y’all. I grew up on the family farm that was homesteaded in 1798, located in what is now the Esto Community of Jamestown. Russell County was officially founded in 1825; thus, it’s fair to say that my roots run pretty deep in this community.

This is my first time getting to work here asJCP Eats in a professional capacity. This opportunity means a lot to me – and I owe it all to you, my dear readers.

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A Culinary Tour of Russell County via Lake Cumberland

The Tiki Bar & Grill

I started my day at the Tiki Bar & Grill, which is located at the State Dock Marina.  Upon grabbing a chair at the Tiki Bar, and after hearing a Jimmy Buffett tune, you’ll forget about all of your worries and be thankful for the forthcoming time that you will have on Lake Cumberland.

On the water, the perfect meal starts with a “boat drink”, as we Parrotheads call them, right? With plenty of beers and a wide-ranging menu, there’s a libation to please all palates. As for me, I started with rum-based cocktails – one with blue curacao and one with pineapple juice!

The fun didn’t end there, though. Don’t miss out on the fried fish, as it was one of my favorite bites on Lake Cumberland. Perfectly breaded, crunchy, and delicious. It was finger lickin’ good.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

The calamari was also a favorite of mine – the portion size was incredible!

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

As for small bites + bar bites, I also tried the quesadilla, pulled pork sliders, chicken wings, fries, cole slaw, and pretzel + beer cheese.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Just take my word for it: you can’t go wrong. Especially if you end your meal in an authentic Kentucky fashion: with bourbon pecan pie + vanilla ice cream!

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Fishtales

Fishtales is, without hesitation, my favorite place on Lake Cumberland. The food is absolutely incredible! Upon boating up to the banks of Wolf Creek Marina and landing at Fishtales, one could easily think that they are in the Florida Keys. I’ve made my rounds around Kentucky, as y’all know – and I truly believe that there isn’t any place quite like Fishtales in our Commonwealth.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Start your meal with the mahi mahi bites, a healthier option that features perfectly-grilled fish in bite-size form. This is the perfect dish to share (or order your own, because, well, you’ll want it).

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

The fish tacos feature the same mahi mahi, so if tacos are more your speed, by all means – order these! So good, y’all.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Oh, and crab cakes! Get the crab cakes. Just trust me.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

If you would like another drink, look no further than “The Lake Cumberland” – a drink that was born at Wolf Creek Marina. I was so excited to be among the first to try it!

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Inspired by the gorgeous colors of the lake – blue and green – this cocktail is one that you won’t be able to get enough of. It was delicious!

Lake Cumberland Marina

Formerly known as Alligator II, Lake Cumberland Marina really impressed me. It had been several years since I had been on-site – and let me tell you: there have been so many updates! It was unrecognizable in the best way possible.

Lake Cumberland Marina is fixated in one of the best spots for boating and fishing in the Commonwealth. There’s also a nearby beach area, which is perfect for a day of relaxation. Apart from boat rentals, Lake Cumberland Marina has launched two new options: Floating Cabins and Harbor Cottages! This was my first time seeing either – and to say that I was impressed was an understatement. I left wanting one — an on-water office is sounding pretty good at the moment!

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

While at Lake Cumberland Marina, don’t miss out on a delicious meal — and in my opinion, the Philly Cheesesteak was a perfect mid-day treat! They use the same meat in their quesadillas, too. Yum!

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

The Cumberland Tap

I have so many childhood memories at Jamestown Marina (now known as Safe Harbor Jamestown Resort & Marina). Being a Jamestown boy, this is the part of the lake that I consider to be “mine” – however, I’m not alone in this sentiment. One of the busiest parts of Lake Cumberland, upon visiting the marina, you’ll be charmed, too.

The Cumberland Tap is the best-stocked bar on Lake Cumberland. This is not your typical drinking experience – they have everything from speciality cocktails to locally-sourced beers. I think that is what impressed me most — the devotion to our alcohol industry here in Kentucky behind the bar. From Jarfly in nearby Somerset to Country Boy & West Sixth in Lexington, one is sure to have a taste of the Commonwealth upon walking in at the Cumberland Tap.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

My favorite drink of the day was the Q-Cumberland Mojito, which featured Don Q Rum, fresh mint, fresh cucumber, simple syrup, and a splash of Sprite.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

I also enjoyed the Jam Marina Margarita, which featured Cuervo Traditional 1800 Silver Tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime + lemon juice, simple syrup, and a splash of orange juice. Oh, and it’s served with a shot of Grand Marnier on the side. Yes, you read that correctly. It made all of the difference.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

Apart from drinks, the Cumberland Tap is also known for live music + their bar bites. Their oversized, salted, fluffy pretzel is what they are known for – and it’s what dreams are made of. That is if you have carbohydrate-filled dreams (am I alone in this?). The pretzel was served with homemade beer cheese, which featured Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Beer. A little extra touch of Kentucky goes a long way in my book.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

The Mariner’s Cafe

Located next-door to the Cumberland Tap is the Mariner’s Cafe, which is a staple on Lake Cumberland. It’s truly a one-stop shop!

As for the menu at the Mariner’s Cafe, there are classics – burgers and other sandwiches perfect for a boater’s appetite – and special dishes, such as salmon + delicious southern sides.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

There are also plenty of appetizers to share with your crew + delicious salads if you are trying to live on the lighter side of life.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

However, the highlight was an off-menu dessert concoction that I am so proud to say will be available to y’all upon request: Loaded Funnel Cake Fries. No, I’m not kidding. Funnel Cake Fries, topped with cherry pie filling and whipped cream. Sinful? Potentially. Plate scrapin’ good? Absolutely.

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

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Adventure awaits in beautiful Russell County, Kentucky – especially on Lake Cumberland. I do hope that you’ll come hungry, as there are many delicious eateries located on the banks of Kentucky’s shining gem!

Dining on Lake Cumberland - Russell County

As I am from the area, if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to help you in planning a trip to God’s Country – my home!

Thank y’all for making this post possible. I’ll always remember this one.

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This post is sponsored by Lake Cumberland Tourist Commission (Russell County, KY); all opinions expressed, as always, are my own.

 

 

Shelbyville Horse Show Jubilee Breakfast - JCP Eats

A Kentucky Tradition: The 2019 Shelbyville Horse Show Jubilee Breakfast

Hey, y’all!

One of my favorite hobbies is the act of collecting experiences here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. And my, oh my, have I had a new one!

Last week I was invited to attend the 2019 Shelbyville Horse Show Jubilee Kickoff Breakfast. Located at stunning Undulata Farm, this was a celebration — one with food, with music, with community, and with Saddlebreds! It doesn’t get much more Kentucky than that.

It was a first-class event, though I wouldn’t expect anything less from the Saddlebred Capital of the World.

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The breakfast was chock-full of southern specialities: sausage, biscuits, gravy, and quiche; they were served alongside sweets, fresh fruit, and typical breakfast beverages.

My favorite part, however, was that we dined inside of a horse barn and had Saddlebreds going around our tables! It was a beautiful setting and an even more beautiful experience.

Among the crowd were senators, mayors, commissioners, and other dignitaries; however, the most important attendees, in my opinion, were the Shelby County farmers + those in the horse industry.

Those individuals are my kind of people — the hardworking Kentuckians that ensure that we perpetuate our agricultural legacy here in Kentucky.

Whether it’s a horse farm, corn, tobacco, cows, or hemp — we, myself included, are Kentucky Proud. That’s something to celebrate and honor, y’all.

This was my first time attending this breakfast and it certainly won’t be my last. I will also be attending the Shelbyville Horse Show for the first time this weekend – and I’m so excited!

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The Shelbyville Horse Show – located at the Shelbyville Fairgrounds – is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year.

That, my friends, is a legacy – a staple in the community – which is clear upon chatting with any local or industry professional.

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I value tradition; and if you do as well, please join me! Occurring from July 31st – August 3rd at the Shelby County Fairgrounds, from 7-9 PM, the Shelbyville Horse Show is a summer event not to be missed!

Note: I will be attending on Friday, August 2nd!

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Shelby County is a Kentucky treasure. While in town, don’t miss out on the plethora of local shops, boutiques, businesses, and restaurants. There are many guides located here on my website – just search for them.

I just know that y’all will love Shelby County as much as I do!

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As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

The Perfect Itinerary For A Visit To Hart County, KY

Hey, y’all!

It’s no secret that I adore Central Kentucky. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Call me biased, sure — but, I believe it with my entire being. One of the best places to visit? Well, with my friends in Hart County, of course!

I hope y’all enjoy this guide that I’ve crafted; from sunrise to sundown, there’s so much fun to be had on this Kentucky Getaway!

 

 

Doughnuts at R&S Salvage Grocery & Bakery

235 Irvin Cemetery Rd., Horse Cave, KY 42749

There’s no better place to start your day than at R&S Salvage Grocery and Bakery. First and foremost, a warning: this place is HUGE! You could spend a good chunk of your morning wandering up and down the aisles — and if you have time, I recommend it. Among the inventory, you’ll see familiar brands and items; however, without hesitation, I can say that you will find many items that you didn’t know you wanted to try, but you will be so glad that you did.

 

 

While the groceries are great, the highlight is the bakery. Owned and operated by the local Amish community, these sweets are the real deal, y’all. Steps away from the case, one can see the young women working hard to make each treat — and, if I do say so myself, the smell is intoxicating. Both the doughnuts and the fried pies are glorious, all while being extremely inexpensive. My best tip? Come early — they sell out fast!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Hart County (Horse Cave), KY

Side note: All small towns have a local watering hole where people hang out. In Horse Cave, that’s the bookstore — and I was lucky enough to take some doughnuts and fried pies to share with the morning crowd. These men, quite literally, solved the world’s problems around that wood table. That, to me, is Kentucky. Kind, genuine people — it was very reminiscent of my hometown. I am so appreciative that they allowed me to be their guest.

Explore Hidden River Cave

119 W. Main St., Horse Cave, KY 42749

Amazingly located in downtown Horse Cave (I couldn’t believe the location – it’s literally in the middle of town!), Hidden River Cave is a gem of our state. This was my first time visiting and I left in disbelief that I hadn’t been sooner! From the American Cave Museum, to an amazing zipline, to rappelling — adventure awaits at Hidden River Cave!

Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Oh, and it’s a fantastic photo opportunity!

Shop Locally

Downtown Horse Cave, KY 42749

After exploring Hidden River Cave, don’t miss out on the plethora of shops that downtown Horse Cave has to offer.

Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

From A Walk Through Time, to Geega’s, to Nana’s (love her!), to Caveland Antiques, to All Things By Mel, to Sims Studio and Art Shop — you’re sure to leave with a shopping bag or three (trust me on that one!).

Shopping in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Have Lunch At A Local Eatery

I couldn’t just choose one lunch in Horse Cave (and, if you’re like me, you’ll hit them both up!). That said, hear me out — they are two totally different experiences and I know you’ll be pleased by choosing either.

5 Broke Girls

904 E. Main St., Horse Cave, KY 42749

5 Broke Girls is self-described as homestyle cookin’ with a Texas twist — and with one bite, you might just be yee-hawin’!

From the southern hospitality, to the mason jars, to the chive biscuits, you’re in for a treat at 5 Broke Girls. But, don’t take your eyes off of the prize — the food. Chicken fried chicken (Praise the Lord, Hallelujah!), chicken fried steak, ham, fried okra… need I say more?

Food at 5 Broke Girls in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Food at 5 Broke Girls in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Food at 5 Broke Girls in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Oh, and don’t forget about dessert!

Food at 5 Broke Girls in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

WigWam General Store

7015 S Jackson Hwy., Horse Cave, KY 42749

This is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Kentucky cuisine. Fine dining is great — and as y’all know, I enjoy it regularly. That said, the culinary scene of Kentucky should be defined by what the people eat. The average Kentuckian. What I grew up eating. And what is that, you ask?

Fried bologna. Pimento Cheese. Country Ham. Soup Beans. Cornbread. Garden-fresh produce. Wilted Lettuce. Sweet Tea.

WigWam General Store, Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Upon opening the door to the WigWam General Store, I knew that I was in the right place. A place reminiscent of my childhood. Sweet tea out of a plastic pitcher (and it’s damn good, y’all). Seats at the counter, much like those at my favorite Main St. eatery growing up. Having lunch at the WigWam General Store should be on your Kentucky Bucket List — trust me, y’all.

 

 

Visit Dennison’s Roadside Market

5824 S. Jackson Hwy (US 31E), Horse Cave, KY 42749

Sweet strawberries, fresh produce, Kentucky Proud goods, a family-owned farm — need I say more?

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Hart County (Horse Cave), KY

I wrote an entire post about how much I love Dennison’s. You can read that post here.

 

 

The synopsis? If Dennison’s isn’t on your itinerary, brainstorm again, my sisters and brothers!

Pet a Kangaroo at Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo

3700 L&N Turnpike Rd., Horse Cave, KY 42749

Yes, we have kangaroos in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. And Sloths. And Lorries. And Camels. And a plethora of other beautiful, extremely fascinating creatures — all of which can be found at the Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo.

 

 

I can’t ignore a favorite childhood story of mine here. My grandmother, the late Linda Sullivan, was a very crafty woman. One Halloween, most likely to appease her animal-obsessed grandson, she made me a kangaroo costume. It was a full-body suit — complete with a pouch (in which I carried a Beanie Baby kangaroo!).

I’ve always had a fascination with kangaroos — and that costume was one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received. I wore it multiple times/week after Halloween (much to the chagrin of my family, I’m sure)… I only stopped wearing it when I outgrew the costume.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Hart County (Horse Cave), KY

Seeing live kangaroos for the first time at the Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo was, simply put, amazing. It took me straight back to that moment — to those precious memories with my Nanny — and for that, I will always be thankful. From petting a joey (with the guided assistance of the fabulous zookeeper), to feeding the ‘roos, to posing for photos… it was an unforgettable experience.

 

 

There’s so much to do at Kentucky Down Under — come ready to allocate appropriate time to see it all. You’ll be amazed, just as I was. Oh, and if you’re hungry for a snack (no judgement here!), their on-site eatery serves up some delicious, inexpensive comfort food. Sloppy joes, quesadillas, burgers, fresh fruit — it was all delicious.

There’s also a fudge counter in the gift shop!

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At this point, I know y’all will want to freshen up. If staying overnight, which I recommend, a convenient hotel is the Holiday Inn Express. I loved how close it was to downtown — and it’s right across the road from Kentucky Down Under!

Holiday Inn Express

750 Flint Ridge Rd., Horse Cave, KY 42749

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Another trip tip? If you need to stop at a rest stop, don’t miss out on the two in Horse Cave. As odd as it sounds, they are some of the nicest that I have ever visited. They see major foot traffic each year — seven digits — and upon stopping, you’ll see why.

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Enjoy Dinner At Turtlelini’s Pizza and Pasta

103 S Dixie St., Horse Cave, KY 42749

Turtlelini’s is a local favorite. The staff is friendly, the restaurant is homey, and dinner crowd was well-attended. While I don’t know this to be certain, I’d be willing to bet that the people that I saw inside were regulars. Always go where the locals go.

Turtlelini’s in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Pizza at Turtlelini’s is comprised of fresh, house-made dough + a seasoned sauce that is blended in the kitchen. It’s SO delicious — as are the cheese sticks! Don’t miss those. I’m drooling at the memory…

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As I always say, adventure awaits in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Even more true is that adventure awaits in beautiful Hart County!

Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

What are you waitin’ for? Go out and explore, y’all!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, as always, all opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

 

JC Phelps of JCP Eats

Five Tips To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Photographer

Hey, y’all!

I rarely show the work that goes in behind the scenes here on the blog; while I often get questions about it, I have left many topics unaddressed. It is my goal to be more transparent + to show y’all what, how, and why I do what I do – I mean, in all reality, y’all are the reason that I am here. For that, I am eternally grateful.

While you often see photos of my finished products in the kitchen, snaps of my international travels, and documentation of my life here in Kentucky, it is important to note that one aspect is much harder to capture: branding portraits of – you guessed it – me, myself, and I.

I can tell you so many horror stories from photoshoots that I have had.

I’ve stood on surfaces that were, at best, questionably able to hold my weight.

I’ve been put in positions that are uncomfortable at my height, a cornbread-fed 6’4″.

I’ve been asked to stand/pose in situations that make me feel claustrophobic due to my body size + my broad shoulders.

To understate, I’ve left many a shoot in tears (and I’m still traumatized from some of them, in all honesty).

This struggle led me to, quite literally, fearing photographers. I decided to start taking my own photos + entrusting my nearest and dearest friends with the task. While I am immensely grateful for those that have helped me (and continue to do so – it wouldn’t be possible without y’all!), it is not the same as having a true professional behind the camera – one that understands you, your vision, your perspective, and, in my case, your body.

Want to avoid the same trauma? Fear not — I can help.

My Five Tips To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Photographer: 

1. Choose a photographer that evaluates your needs before the shoot.

Not all shoots are the same. You might need just a couple of shots or you might need to shoot a multitude of outfits; your shoot could be 30 minutes or 3-4 hours. It’s important to discuss these points with your photographer beforehand to ensure that both parties are on the same page. Failure to do so can lead to financial discrepancies and situational pressure. When a photographer properly addresses and evaluates your needs, a mutualistic, symbiotic relationship forms.

2. Choose a photographer that understands why you hired them.

Maybe you need a photo to send your grandmother; maybe you need a headshot for your LinkedIn; maybe, if you’re like me, you need photos that capture you + your brand authentically. All of these can be easily accomplished; however, the photographer needs to be fully prepared to address your needs. If photographers don’t discuss this ahead of time with their clients – or if you don’t make your needs known – it is possible that they will be inappropriately prepared on the day of the shoot (equipment, backdrops, lighting, shoot location, props, etc).

3. Choose a photographer that asks you about your preferences; while they have the talent, you know yourself better than anyone else.

We all have preferences when it comes to our photos. I don’t take a lot of photos while sitting down; if I do, it has to be from the right angle. On the topic of angles, I definitely have a preferred one (from above). Since I am so tall, that sometimes requires the photographer to stand on an elevated surface; however, by having this conversation with your photographer, they will be fully aware of how to please you, the client. Similarly, you will be more comfortable during the shoot, which will lead to a better end product.

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4. Choose a photographer that hypes you up during the shoot.

I find it awkward to just smile, take directions, and – when needed – be told what to do. My awkwardness then reflects in my photos. Thus, for me, it’s important to be submerged in a warmer environment when in front of the camera. This can come from the photographer muttering, “Yasssss, queen!”, “You better work!”, “Slay!” while you strike a pose — or it can be, of course, more understated, depending on your personality. As silly as it sounds, having a photographer that hypes you up really enables you to bury your insecurities and focus on the task at hand.

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5. Choose a photographer that celebrates your body through photos; the shots are the art and you, my friend, are the muse.

This, to me, is my most important tip. Whether you are a size 2 or a 26, a size XS or 4X, you are beautiful. You are to be celebrated. You are worthy of a photoshoot — better yet, you are worthy of being the star of a photoshoot! As a plus-size blogger, I would be dishonest if I said that it’s always easy. My body – in and of itself – is a point of debate. That said, when hiring someone, that shouldn’t be a thought that even begins to cross their mind. You are a princess, a prince, a beautiful creature — and it’s so important to choose a photographer that catalyzes those feelings for you.

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With these tips in mind, I can assure you that your next experience with a photographer will be better. You’ll be more comfortable. You’ll have better communication. You’ll love the deliverables .

That said, if you are one of my Kentucky followers, I have one extra recommendation. If you do not know where to start, I cannot recommend working with Sarah Caton from Space, Place, and Southern Grace Photography enough. All of the photos that you see in this post are from my most recent branding session with Sarah & were shot in Corto Lima in Downtown Lexington, KY.

There are many words that come to mind when I think of Sarah; however, above all else, two resonate the most: genuine + professional. However, I am also proud to be her friend  of almost a decade.

Sarah and I met when we were Governor’s Scholars at my alma mater, Centre College. From there, she blossomed both academically and professionally at the University of Kentucky; she is a successful blogger, photographer, and published author. Casual, right?

While all of that is impressive, her character impresses me most. She is kind, thoughtful, and honest – all of which reflect in her photography sessions. In accordance to my tips, we talked about exactly what I needed prior to shooting, we discussed my branding needs, I mentioned my preferences to her, she made me feel incredibly comfortable throughout the shoot, and she honored and celebrated my plus-size body in the shots.

Some photographers see my body and try to hide me; Sarah, on the other hand, illuminated me. I have full confidence that she can – and will – do the same for you.

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If you are located in Kentucky and need any type of photography package – portraiture, branding, wedding, graduation, you name it – look no further than Sarah. I say that will full confidence.

You can find Sarah’s photography page here (slide into those DMs!), her website here, more info on her photo packages here,  and her blogger Instagram page here.

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As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is not a commissioned post; in exchange for photos, I provided an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

Honey Chicken Mac and Cheese from Back Home Restaurant in Elizabethtown, KY

A Culinary Exploration of Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Hey, y’all!

It’s no secret by now that I love to explore the food scene in every nook and cranny of our state. My most recent trip took me to nearby Elizabethtown, Kentucky — an area that I have visited several times, yet one that I wanted to learn more about.

Just a short drive from my home in Louisville, KY, Elizabethtown is a fantastic day-trip location just south of the city on I65. From a very charming downtown, to fabulous boutiques, to southern food, to delicious cocktails — Elizabethtown embodies all that I love about the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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There’s no better place to start off your morning than Vibe Coffee. Appropriately named, you’ll love the atmosphere as soon as you walk in. It’s cozy, welcoming, and the perfect meeting place for friends and colleagues.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at Vibe Coffee In Elizabethtown KY

After sharing some home-roasted coffee beans with a friend in 2011, the owners were inspired to grow the art of coffee in Elizabethtown. They knew that the community needed a gathering place that featured cutting edge brewing techniques and speciality coffee. Two years later, the opportunity presented itself to put in a shop in a historic building downtown; the building was previously the home of the Town and Country Dress Shop for almost half of a century. I love what the owners have done to the space, yet it was clear that a respect for the historical charm remains – which, in my eyes, is something to celebrate.

I had to try both an iced vanilla latte (my classic ordered) and an iced matcha; both were absolutely delicious!

Feel free to also come to Vibe with an appetite — they serve up waffles, homemade pastries, and delicious açaí bowls (my favorite – and my choice!), all while using as many local and organic ingredients as possible.

Acai Bowl at Vibe Coffee In Elizabethtown KY

Visit Vibe Coffee:

34 Public Square, Elizabethtown, KY 42701

After breakfast and coffee, be sure to check out the many boutiques and shops in downtown Elizabethtown. You’ll be delighted — I know that I was — at the vast selection. Needless to say, I came home with a few (read: several) shopping bags.

When you’re ready for lunch, head on over to visit the Back Home Restaurant. As the name suggests, the food is very reminiscent of back home in the south. Upon seeing the menu, you’ll find Kentucky favorites + a plethora of recipes that celebrate life south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Located in a gorgeous old home, Back Home Restaurant is a bipartite stop: it’s a full-service restaurant with an attached boutique. Their history spans back to almost 30 years ago to Linda and Tommy Fulkerson; the tradition is now being carried on by their daughter, Lori (along with her husband, Steve).

Back Home Restaurant In Elizabethtown, KY

I had to start my meal with the Sweet Onion Soufflé — a homemade Vidalia onion dip, served with tortilla chips. The dip was creamy and rich, quickly becoming a new favorite for me. I’ll definitely try to recreate it here on the blog for y’all!

As for my main course, I couldn’t resist the Honey Chicken Mac-and-Cheese. Chicken tenders tossed in honey, on top of baked mac-and-cheese, loaded with bacon. I mean — how can you go wrong with that, y’all?

Honey Chicken Mac and Cheese from Back Home Restaurant in Elizabethtown, KY

Visit Back Home Restaurant:

251 West Dixie Avenue, Elizabethtown KY, 42701

Post-lunch, feel free to check out many of the other attractions in town: the Brown Pusey House & Gardens, the State Theater, Denizen Plant Shop, the Herb & Olive Market, Freeman Lake Park, or the fabulous Elizabethtown Sports Park — to merely name a few destinations (more on that in a future post).

After exploring all that Hardin County has to offer, relax with a cold one from Flywheel Brewing. The team at Flywheel believes in the power of high-quality, local craft beers. Upon walking in, you’ll feel right at home in the bar, which is welcoming, open, and bright. You’ll also find a beer on tap that appeals to every palate. I was delighted to find a couple sour beers, which are my current favorites.

Whether you are looking for live music, beer yoga, or a place to relax after work, Flywheel Brewing is the place for you!

Visit Flywheel Brewing:

218 S Mulberry St. Suite 103, Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Looking for a unique dinner spot? Look no further than the Wicked Eye Woman! With a gastropub feel, the staff at the Wicked Eye Woman brings English Pub food with a southern twist. An oasis of comfort food, the menu is very large and has something for any diner. Come hungry — the food is quite heavy, though as I am sure y’all know by now, there are no complaints here on that end!

To start, I ventured into the lighter side of the menu with the Grilled Tomato, Basil, and Feta salad. Note: it’s quite large and could easy be a meal; that said, I enjoyed snacking on it and it was a great start to the meal.

For my main course, the Brisket Melt was calling my name. The sourdough sandwich has smoked brisket and cheddar, which is beautifully grilled and delightfully composed. The brisket was tender and oh-so-juicy; quite literally, this sandwich was a dream.

As for a side, look no further than the smothered wicked fries, which feature the restaurant’s rarebit cheese, bacon, and sour cream. I’m not going to understate, y’all — this was my favorite thing that I consumed all day. For those that are not familiar, rarebit cheese is a Welsh delicacy.

I also had to sample the shrimp and grits, which pack a slight spicy punch. They were divine!

Shrimp and Grits at The Wicked Eye Woman In Elizabethtown, KY

Visit the Wicked Eye Woman:

133 West Dixie Avenue, Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

After a fabulous day of food, it was time for a nightcap – thus, we headed over to the Bourbon Barrel Tavern, which is conveniently located downtown near the square. Featuring a huge selection of bourbon, there will be a libation to provide a Kentucky Hug that is sure to delight any palate. Not a bourbon drinker? They have a large selection of craft beer — and if you love live music, be sure to check them out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at Bourbon Barrel Tavern In Elizabethtown KY

I ended the night with a bourbon + Ale-8-One cocktail. It doesn’t get more Kentucky than that! If you are looking for a mixer for a bourbon cocktail, the ginger profile of Ale-8-One pairs perfectly. Trust me on that one, y’all.

Visit the Bourbon Barrel Tavern:

110 W Dixie Ave, Elizabethtown, KY 42701

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Elizabethtown, Kentucky is a gem of our state — and if you are looking for a perfect getaway in the Commonwealth, look no further!

Adventure awaits — what are you waiting for, y’all?

To keep up with all things in Elizabethtown, visit the website of the Tourism and Convention Bureau and follow them on Instagram!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

Kentucky Mint Julep by JCP Eats (JC Phelps)

How To Make The Iconic Mint Julep This Derby Season With Four Roses Bourbon

Hey, y’all!

I hope you are well — and that you getting some rest for the upcoming week! It’s going to be one for the books. There’s nothing quite like the Run for the Roses and I am, especially this time of year, immensely proud to be a Kentuckian.

The Derby, to me, signifies tradition.

If you’ve been to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, chances are you’ve indulged in one (or two!) Mint Juleps. The iconic bourbon cocktail is a celebrated piece of southern culture — and one that I take very seriously.

Kentucky Mint Julep by JCP Eats (JC Phelps)

The Mint Julep has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1938, though its history is much more expansive. It was first mentioned in print in 1803; It’s also said that KY Senator Henry Clay made the drink popular in Washington, D.C. at the Round Robin Bar around 1850.

The notoriety doesn’t end there, either — many presidents have fancied the Mint Julep and many writers have made them popular in their works, such as novelists Margaret Mitchell and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Clovers paid tribute to the drink in “One Mint Julep” and Ray Charles took the song to the top of the charts about a decade later. I also love to listen to “Julep” by the Punch Brothers.

Kentucky Mint Julep by JCP Eats (JC Phelps)

Kentucky Mint Julep by JCP Eats (JC Phelps)

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To quote the iconic song by the Clovers:

“A mint julep, a mint julep
One mint julep was the cause of it all…”

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It isn’t Derby season (or spring/summer) without a Mint Julep, y’all. You can have one at the track, or you can make it at home. If you opt to have it at home, please enjoy this recipe — it is SO easy and absolutely irresistible! Your next party will be a hit if you serve these, I promise you.

Kentucky Mint Julep by JCP Eats (JC Phelps)

Kentucky Mint Julep by JCP Eats (JC Phelps)

The Kentucky Mint Julep With Four Roses Bourbon

Ingredients:

2.5 oz. Four Roses Bourbon

4-5 Mint Leaves

3/4 oz. Simple Syrup

Crushed Ice

Directions:

  1. Pour simple syrup into a Derby glass.
  2. Add mint leaves and muddle to extract the flavor.
  3. Fill cup with crushed ice (almost to the top).
  4. Add Four Roses Bourbon.
  5. Stir and enjoy!

Now, won’t you sit down on the porch, stay awhile, and share a julep with me? You bring the conversation, I’ll bring the cocktails!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a sponsored post; however, as always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Blogger Dinner Party

Hey, y’all!

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a Blogger Dinner Party hosted by my friend Marie of Backroad Bluegrass Blog.

Blogging is fantastic — it allows us to connect with like-minded individuals. People that share our same interests, passions, and concerns. People that are equally as quirky, eccentric, and adventurous. While that is great, it’s even better when we get to get together IRL (am I right, y’all?). The Internet is fun, but it never parallels real, face-to-face experiences.

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The other attendees were Nicole of Share Lex KY, Reagan of Food Is My Thang , Karrie of Muse Marketing, and Brooks!

Marie was a gracious host – however, knowing her, I expected no less. She is a true Kentucky Woman!

The theme of the evening was locality in Kentucky — we dined using all local ingredients and dished about life in true blogger fashion! Everyone at the table, in their own way, uses their platform to better local business in Kentucky. It was a very powerful feeling to all come together — the symbiosis was palpable, y’all.

Though this was a March dinner party, it still snowed. If you know anything about Kentucky weather, you know that it is wildly unpredictable. One moment it is 60 degrees and sunny, the next it is sleeting. You get used to it – and a little bit of winter weather wasn’t keeping me from this event (I was the only Louisvillian).

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The ambiance of the evening was set by the aroma of Wixology candles, which are local to the Commonwealth; inspired by Kentucky bourbon-based cocktails, the scents are sure to please. From there, the pre-party included cheeses from Boone Creek Creamery, wine from Harkness Edwards Vineyards (out of customized, etched glasses via Forever Lasered Memories, no less!), and dipping oils from Stuarto’s.

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The main course? Fabulous pasta from Lexington Pasta, of course! As a group, we prepared the Caprese Gnocchi + the Four-Cheese Ravioli. They were both Write Your MeeMaw good!

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The pasta was finished by Triple J Farm; their pasta sauce + Italian sausage were both finger-lickin’ good.

Last, but in no shape, form, or fashion, least — dessert from Martine’s Pastries! Five words: Pistachio Cake, French Buttercream Icing. Need I say more?

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A special thank you Karrie of Muse Marketing for the photography. Also, shoutout to all of our sponsors for the fabulous goodies + to Marie and Brooks for being fabulous, gracious hosts.

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I am better because I know these people!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is not a commissioned post; all opinions are my own.

 

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