Sunday, May 19, 2013
Ingredients (serves 4 as a side):
* 1 c. orzo pasta
* 3 lemon slices
* 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
* 1/2 of medium red onion, chopped
* 3/4 c. cherry tomatoes
* 3/4 c. snow peas
* Salt, pepper
Prepare pasta according to package directions. When the pasta is done cooking, drain, toss with one tablespoon of olive oil and set it aside until the veggies are done. Meanwhile, toss veggies with one tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the veggies and lemon slices in grill basket and cook on medium heat until the onions are soft. When the vegetables are done cooking, add to the pasta and stir well to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
6:00 on a Saturday evening and here I am, laid up on the couch in a Greek food coma! Oh well, it was worth every bite.
The annual Greek Festival at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church is such an amazing event. The food is absolutely incredible, and i'm not just saying that because my handsome Greek fiance mans the souvlaki station. If you didn't go today, not to worry! It is still going on tomorrow so swing by for your Gyro fix and if you can't spare the time, you're in luck because this year there is even a drive thru!
We arrived just in time for the Greek dancing (I'm taking notes before I marry the Greek guy!).
First stop, Calamari! It was super fresh, crispy, and perfectly seasoned.
We washed it down with a few of these Greek beers. Refreshing and de-lish. They also have a Greek beer on draft, as well as some American favorites and even wine.
My charming fiance made me this amazing Souvlaki. The meat was tender and super flavorful. Why he never makes it at home is beyond me! I'll get the recipe out of him soon though.
Despite this being quite a hearty afternoon snack, I couldn't leave with out my loukoumades fix! Loukoumades are delicious, warm donuts drizzled with honey and cinnamon sugar.
I thought I might burst after the loukoumades, but since the Greek Festival only comes once a year... there's always room for a little to-go treat! Any pastry you can think of can be purchased individually, or in this pre-packaged variety box.
I'm feeling full again just seeing these pictures. Kali spera (that's Greek for good evening!).
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
My weekend was indulgent to say the least! I of course headed to Greensboro to celebrate Mother's Day with the one and only Debs. If you know my mom, you know she's a special lady. Everything I know about cooking I learned from her (well, the Food Network did help a little) and everything she has ever made has been from scratch. I'm famously known for requesting "shiny top" (re: box mix) brownies from my mom like my friends moms made, but fortunately for me, she never obliged! My mom is excellent with classic recipes, but also makes up many of her own so it's of course impossible to replicate, but I do try!
Sunday morning, my sister Sara whipped up my mom's favorite brunch: classic eggs benedict. Sadly I didn't get a picture - Sara is famous for a great presentation (and a great dish!).
After my sisters went home Sunday, my mom and I ventured to P.F. Changs for a quick bowl of soup before we went to the movies. Unfortunately, we didn't anticipate the 2 hour wait! Darn P.F. Changs... We opted to cross the street for a quick bite in the bar at Fleming's and we were so glad we did.
Mom and I obviously split our all-time favorite, the onion ring tower. I adore a good, thick homemade onion ring. Yum!
We also split a filet mignon flatbread (is it obvious the Ficken's love some filet?!) It was topped with ooey-gooey monterey jack cheese, a sprinkle of bleu cheese and a caramelized onion sauce.
The waitress recommended the Salt & Pepper Shrimp and having no idea what to expect, I was very pleasantly surprised. The shrimp, along with green beans, was lightly fried in a crispy breading and perfectly seasoned. I also found myself biting into a fried lemon slice (surprise!) and it was so delicious! Somehow the lemon lost its bitterness in the batter and the contrast of sour lemon with the salty breading was divine.
Were three hearty meals in a row enough for this girl? Obviously not. Monday my mom and I went to Maxie-B's to taste test cakes for my wedding cake. What a tough job we had!
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Now, I know I live in the south, and I know I shouldn't admit this, but I've never really thought sausage or ham has a place in my shrimp and grits. In lieu of spicy sausage that you often see, I used crispy bacon. Sautéing the shrimp in the bacon fat really enhances the smokey-bacon flavor through out the dish. Just trust me, you can't beat it!
* 1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
* 1 1/2 c. grits
* 1 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
* 4 slices applewood smoked bacon
* 1 tbsp. butter
* 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
Prepare the grits as directed and once they are finished cooking, whisk in the cheddar cheese off the heat. Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium high heat. Chop bacon and add it to the pan, cooking until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and set aside on a paper towel to drain. If the fat in the pan is excessive, drain some off, or if there is not much, swirl in the tablespoon of butter (you need about 2 tbsp. of liquid in the pan). Add the shrimp and sauté until pink; 2-3 minutes. To serve, place grits in a shallow bowl, top with shrimp, sprinkle with bacon and parsley, and drizzle any remaining pan drippings over the dish. Enjoy!
Thursday, May 2, 2013
These pork tenderloin kebobs were made for the grill. Despite the fact that it's a lean cut of meat, pork tenderloin stays very moist and flavorful when it's cooked. The ponzu sauce helps the meat caramelize on the grill and locks in the tangy, sweet flavor.
Ingredients (serves 4):
* 1 (2.5 lb.) pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
* 1/2 c. soy sauce
* 1/4 c. mirin
* juice of 1 lemon
* 1 tbsp. honey
* 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
* 2 green onions, chopped
Combine soy sauce, mirin, lemon juice, honey, red pepper flakes, and green onions in a bowl. Whisk until well combined. Add pork tenderloin to the bowl and marinate at least 30 minutes. Skewer the meat onto metal or wooden kebob skewers. Add the remaining marinade to a small pot. Heat the grill over medium high add the kebobs. Set the pot with the reserved marinade on a side burner and bring to a boil, whisking often. As the meat cooks, brush it with the boiled marinade. Cook the meat 10 minutes or so, turning often, until it has reached the desired temperature. I served mine with grilled asparagus and brown rice. Enjoy!
Monday, April 29, 2013
I've got weddings on the mind, and not even my own!
The past three weekends have been filled with wedded bliss and I'm loving every second of it.
The Rambo's had a simple and lovely courthouse wedding - my first time witnessing! The newly married couple hosted close friends and family at their home after and had Middle of the Island cater. Does anyone else crave squash casserole as soon as you read those three words?!
Now I know you're probably asking yourself, "Could those possibly be the very Manolos Carrie wore in Sex and the City?" The answer is yes. I cried a little wedding tear for those beauties. Now i'm counting down until Stephanie wears them again at her bigger wedding in July. Can't wait!
Mike's cousin Samantha and her husband Hess were married in a stunning outdoor ceremony on the intracoastal. After a Friday downpour, everyone was counting their blessings when the sun came out on Saturday!
|Mike, myself, and two of my three future brothers!|
I had an absolute blast this weekend at the wedding of one of my first friends in college. Brandon and Courtney hosted their reception at 128 South and we had the time of our lives. It was so great celebrating with so many friends from college!
Despite our exhaustion from all the festivities, Mike and I rallied last night to celebrate this handsome fella's birthday with a cookout. You only turn 4 once right?!
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
This cake is actually a signature sweet of my Mom's. She's been making it for as long as I can remember and it is nothing short of rich, decadent, chocolaty perfection. Ice cold milk required.
* 2 sticks butter
* 1 c. water
* 6 tbsp. cocoa powder
* 2 c. sugar
* 2 c. flour
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 2 eggs
* 1/2 c. sour cream
* 1 tsp. baking powder
* 1 tsp. vanilla
* 1 stick butter
* 6 tbsp. cocoa powder
* 6 tbsp. milk
* 1 tsp. vanilla
* 1 box powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350; grease a 13x9 baking dish. Sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and mix well with a fork. In a medium sauce pan, combine butter, water and cocoa, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and slowly add flour mixture, whisking until well combined. Once dry ingredients have been incorporated, whisk in egg mixture. Transfer to a pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.
To prepare the frosting, bring butter, cocoa and milk to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 the powdered sugar and vanilla. Taste the frosting and add more powdered sugar as needed (I typically just use half the box). Pour frosting on the warm cake. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 21, 2013
If you aren't addicted to Pinterest like me and maybe don't know, a hasselback potato is usually similar to a baked potato, however it's first thinly sliced almost all the way through, which results in crispy layers. I opted to fill mine with a rich, cheesy, sour cream filling, so they turned out almost like a hybrid between a classic baked potato and scalloped potato. Yum!
Ingredients (for each potato, multiply as needed!)
* 1 medium baking potato
* 1 tbsp. butter, melted
* 3 tbsp. grated cheddar cheese
* 2 tbsp. sour cream
* kosher salt, to taste
* green onion, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400. Thinly slice the potato down to about 1/4 inch, being careful not to slice all the way through. Gently fan the potato slices out and transfer to a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle the potatoes with melted butter, season with kosher salt, and transfer to the oven. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until center of potatoes is cooked through. Once the potato is done, spoon sour cream on top and work some of it into each slice. Top with cheddar cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Garnish with green onion. Enjoy!
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I initially planned to make shrimp tacos only, but I'm glad I decided to grill some chicken as well because it was equally as delicious. The avocado-corn salsa was so scrumptious, you won't even miss the cheese and sour cream on these bad boys! The salsa would also be great served as dip.
Ingredients (serves 4):
* 2 large boneless chicken breasts, sliced cross wise (to be thinner)
* 1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
* flour or corn tortillas, for serving
* juice of 1 lime
* 1 tbsp. honey
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 1/4 tsp. each of cumin, chili powder, paprika
* 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
* 2 avocados, roughly chopped
* 2 plum tomatos, diced
* Juice of 1/2 lime
* 3/4 c. kernel corn, canned or fresh
* 3 tbsp. red onion, diced
* dash of cumin and garlic powder
First, combine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Add the chicken and shrimp and return to the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the avocado-corn salsa by combining all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Grill chicken and shrimp until cooked through. Assemble the tacos with salsa on the bottom, topped with chicken, shrimp, or both! Enjoy!
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
This weekend, I threw a bridal shower for one of my best friends, Stephanie. My fellow bridesmaids co-hosted the soiree and with everyone's help, it could not have been easier!
We found this great invite on weddingpaperdivas.com, which matches her wedding theme perfectly. Stephanie is all about color and her wedding will be full of bright pinks, oranges, and gerber daisies galore. I can't wait!
Are you ready for a surprise? My contribution for the day was quiche! I feel like i'm turning into a quiche making machine, but it's just a happy coincidence i've been hosting a lot of brunches lately.
I focused most of my energy on the shower decor. I found these colorful paper fans to coordinate with the invite at Target and hung them from the chandelier and around the fireplace. I like to set out a variety of plates as well - both because I like the different colors and sizes, but also because I don't have more than 8 of any one kind!
Lindsey made these adorable tea sandwiches for the buffet. She used spring cookie cutters for the tulip and heart shapes and filled them with either pimento cheese or chicken salad. Yum!
Tara supplied the cupcakes and I accessorized them with these great cupcake toppers I found at Target. It's all in the details afterall!
My sister made the most amazing party favors so everyone had a sweet parting gift. She used cupcake wrapper containers from the Container Store and filled them with handmade soaps, monogrammed lip balm with Stephanie's wedding date, hair ties, and jordan almonds. She wrapped them up like cupcakes and we used them for decoration and balloon weights.
The beautiful bride was even kind enough to coordinate her outfit with the decor!
All in all, I'd say it was a successful celebration of Ms. Soon-to-be-Rambo!
Time to start the wedding countdown!
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Biscuits (store bought)
with Deli Ham, Swiss Cheese, Honey Mustard
Fresh Fruit with Vanilla Yogurt
* 6 eggs
* 2/3 c. heavy cream
* 1 prepared pie dough
* 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
* 1 lb. fresh spinach
* 1 tbsp. olive oil
* 2 plum tomatos, seeded and chopped
Preheat the oven to 375. Arrange the pie shell in a 12 inch pan. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the dough and weight down with rice, beans or pie weights (this is called blind baking - it's a way to pre-bake the crust so it stays crisp; if you use beans or rice, just save them to reuse for this purpose, not to eat), and bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. While the shell is cooking, saute spinach in olive oil over medium low until it cooks down; set aside to cool. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs and heavy cream until well combined. Stir in spinach, tomatoes, and feta. Pour egg mixture into pie shell and return to the oven, cooking for 40 minutes or until just set. If you are making the quiche ahead of time, let it cool, then refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 325 for 20 minutes. Enjoy!
* 1 box Uncle Ben's original wild rice
* 1 naval orange, juiced
* 1 tbs. olive oil
* 1/4 c. dried cranberries
* 1/4 c. chopped pecans
* 1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
* salt, pepper
Prepare the rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, prepare the orange vinaigrette by whisking together the juice of one orange, olive oil, salt and pepper. When the rice is done cooking, fluff it up with a fork and add the orange vinaigrette a bit at a time (just be careful not to overdress the rice). Add the pecans, cranberries, and crumbled feta. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!
* 6 eggs
* 2/3 c. heavy cream
* 1 prepared pie dough
* 4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated (half of a block)
* 1.5 c. cooked broccoli and cooled
Preheat the oven to 375. Arrange the pie shell in a 12 inch pan. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the dough and weight down with rice, beans or pie weights (this is called blind baking - it's a way to pre-bake the crust so it stays crisp; if you use beans or rice, just save them to reuse for this purpose, not to eat), and bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs and heavy cream until well combined. Stir in broccoli and cheddar cheese with a spoon. Pour egg mixture into pie shell and return to the oven, cooking for 40 minutes or until just set. If you are making the quiche ahead of time, let it cool, then refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 325 for 20 minutes. Enjoy!
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients; many of these things you probably have on hand. I used a fairly small amount of carrots and celery so I grabbed those from the salad bar.
Ingredients (serves 4):
* 1.3 lb. ground turkey or beef (the turkey I buy comes in this prepackaged size, but 1 lb. will work as well)
* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* 1/4 c. celery, minced
* 1/8 c. carrots, minced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
* 1 1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped
* 1/4 c. red wine
* 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 tsp. dried oregano
Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot or skillet. Add turkey or beef and brown, stirring often. When it is cooked through, remove it from the pan and set aside. If there is any excess liquid in the pan, drain it off. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and add carrots, onion and celery to the pan. Saute until the vegetables are soft, then add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant (1 minute or so). Add the wine to deglaze the pan, then add all remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often. Serve over whole wheat rigatoni. Enjoy!
Monday, March 25, 2013
My case of the Monday's is a bit worse than usual today, but fortunately it couldn't be more worth it after a fantastic (if quick) trip to New Orleans for my lifelong friend Honor's bachelorette party. Just to be clear, her name was Honor even before Jessica Alba had a baby.
What an amazing weekend we had! Luckily, we had a local, Honor's friend Erica, with us to show us the ropes and help us steer clear of the tourist traps.
Friday night Erica's grandmother (who she calls "Peach" buy the way, so cute) brought us dinner. Delicious seafood pasta! The rest of Friday I'm going to keep to myself, but just to give you an idea, this happened:
|I've always thought glow sticks add a little something special to any get together..|
Saturday we had the MOST amazing day. Erica put together a gorgeous brunch before we headed out in the city. A little rain wasn't going to stop us!
|The beautiful bride!|
I discovered the local beer - Abita Light, is quite tasty. The fried Calamari didn't hurt either. If you decide to stop in a bar, just be sure to observe the signs on the wall before ordering (especially if it says "We have no Miller Light or anything like it"). The bartender was less than impressed with my request for a Michelob Ultra. Abita Light it is!
|Snug Harbor, in the French Quarter|
That evening, Erica took us to this amazing bar in the bayou. It's a wine store and you can buy a bottle, then take it to your table and order from a variety of tapas plates.
|Gotta love the ice bucket!|
|Jazz of course.|
|Champagne Cocktails for everyone - it's a celebration after all!|
|Honor & Me!|
Sunday morning was a little less exciting when I had to get up at 6 am for a flight. Fortunately my day turned around in ATL when I ran into a few castmembers from Duck Dynasty at the airport! I'm super bummed I didn't ask for a pic, but they looked like they were in a hurry.
Happy Monday! Here's to a quick recovery!
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Well, it's official. After skirting by on the occasional diet for the last 4 years, I finally had to break down and join a gym. Let me just be clear on the fact that I loathe the gym. Really excersise in general just isn't for me. The fact that this new 'hobby' is cutting into my cooking time and energy is just the cherry on the debbie-downer sundae.
Needles to say, this week i've been all about the one pot wonders that I can make the fastest. This is just barely a recipe, but even if I cheated on most of the ingredients, I wanted to share because it turned out delicious and the leftovers also made a great lunch. You can always grill your own chicken for this, but Trader Joe's BBQ Chicken Teriyaki (microwaveable!) became a favorite of mine while I was moving and I haven't grown tired of it just yet!
* 1/4 c. lo mein or spaghetti noodles
* 1 package Trader Joe's BBQ Chicken Teriyaki
* 3 tbsp. sesame oil
* 1/2 c. shredded carrots (from the salad bar)
* 1 (10 oz) bag angel hair shredded cole slaw mix
* 1 bag (steam fresh) snow peas
* 1 tbsp. soy sauce
Prepare the noodles, chicken, and snow peas as directed on the package. Meanwhile, heat sesame oil in a large wok or skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and saute until slightly soft. Add the cabbage to the pan, stirring often, and saute until wilted. When the rest of the ingredients are done, add them to the pan with soy sauce. Stir well to combine. Enjoy!