Sunday, February 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

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Monday: Dinner w/ Sarah and David at Elmo’s Diner

Tuesday: Pasta w/ Pancetta & Tomato Sauce

Wednesday: Yoga@Duke, leftover pasta

Thursday: Tempeh Reuben’s

Friday: leftovers

“Friendly” Saturday

The morning started with Andy reviewing his Society of Toxicology presentation with the three of us.

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We were all friendly and patiently sat through his talk…

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You can see that we also got geared up in our University of Kentucky gear (and we put out our collegiate flag). Soon enough our friends arrived for the big rivalry game…we even allowed wild horses indoors ;p I actually made this rocking horse in college in one of my elementary education classes, I’m really pleased with how it turned out and love it when it's put to good use; no one has enjoyed it more than Ellie.

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Wilson decided to relax during the game with a friend…there isn’t anything better than a good ear rub.

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Later in the evening, I met up with my local blogger friends for dinner at Guglhupf Bakery & Patisserie and we were thrilled to be joined by Diana from Charlotte.

Gorgeous loft atmosphere upstairs…

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Margaret (blog reader) and Diana

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Caroline and Seth

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Kelly, me, and Allie

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The whole group

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Our waiter was great and so informative on all the dishes. They were also very kind in working around food allergies and gluten free requests.

This was so good, slice of Parmesan Black Pepper Loaf

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I chose the house-cured duck confit salad with roasted new potatoes, walnuts, watercress, frisee and a warm huckleberry vinaigrette.

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side dish of buttered brussel sprout leaves

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Desserts…apple tart with cinnamon ice cream, challah bread pudding, chocolate stout mousse, cardamom caramel banana tart

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and my choice…a chocolate caramel tart with cinnamon spiced kumquat & almonds, topped with housemade marshmallows…

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I had a such a nice “friendly” afternoon and evening with friends.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black Bean Taco Salad with Chunky Tomato Dressing

Diana, from Charlotte, is coming back into town this weekend and we’ve planned another Food  Blogger Gathering to celebrate. Our Durham group of food bloggers will be meeting at Guglhupf Saturday evening, if you’re interested in attending let me know asap.

Now onto a delicious dinner…

This was really quick to pull together and you could even use salsa in place of the chopped fresh tomatoes. I loved taco salad, load up on the lettuce and top it off with your favorite Mexican toppings. I went sans cheese but added Greek yogurt. 

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For the Beans:
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup water
For the dressing:
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
  • 2 hearts romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheddar
  • 2 ounces baked corn tortilla chips (about 32 chips)

To prepare the beans, heat a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the beans and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chili powder, cayenne and water and stir until well combined and some but not all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

To make the tomato dressing, in a medium bowl, combine tomatoes (with their juices), oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Dressing may be prepared up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Place 2 cups of lettuce on each plate or in a lunch container. Top each serving with bean mixture then sprinkle with cheese. Serve with chips.

Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Baked Tofu with Hoisin Sauce

I’m glad we’ve gotten two work days over with and that I’m now home in my pj’s ready to relax for the evening. Last night I didn’t get home until 7:30 PM, but that’s only because I was out enjoying my monthly treat for myself. I headed to Cary, NC for a stop at Great Harvest, Trader Joe’s, and lastly a 60-minute massage…ahhhhh!! It was a good solid massage, but not spectacular…there’s always hope for the next time.

Tonight’s dinner was a fun one. I love this method for baked tofu…made it the same way a few months ago. This time I went with a dark, sweet sauce that perfectly coated the whole dish, reminding me of an Asian rice bowl. So good! Tomorrow night is yoga so I will be packing leftovers of this to enjoy for dinner tomorrow night as well.

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  • 1-pound block of extra-firm tofu
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1-inch chunk of fresh ginger
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Rinse the tofu, then cut crosswise into 6 slices, halved each slice again. Put slices between several layers of paper towels and let drain while making the sauce. (You’ll likely have to replace the paper towels at least once.)

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Generously film the bottom of a baking sheet with oil. Toss the tofu with half of the sauce mixture. Place on the greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, turning once.

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Serve with rice and broccoli, pouring sauce over all.

My sweet treat for today was a Local Yogurt small plain frozen yogurt. I went fruit crazy too, this was topped with bananas, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and…pepitas!!

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

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Monday: Trader Joe's trip & 60-minute massage, leftover stew

Tuesday: Panfried Tofu with Chinese Black Bean Sauce

Wednesday: Yoga@Duke, leftover tofu

Thursday: So Easy: Black Bean Taco Salad

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Fish Sandwiches & UK Basketball game with Kristin, Laurence & Ellie

Sunday: leftovers

Slow Cooker Spicy African Peanut Stew

While I was out playing and having an awesome time with Kate and her super cute 3 yr old twin boys…this flavorful stew was slow cooking away. It was such a fun afternoon, that couldn’t have gone more perfectly. I even got to run into our good friend Kristin with sweet, little Ellie.

I meant to top the stew with a dollop of Greek yogurt, splash of hot sauce, and a few crunchy peanuts...but it was super delicious regardless. After walking around for several hours, I was quite hungry when I came home and this was just the thing to hit the spot. So glad I was able to walk right into a ready made meal.

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  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed (about 1 c. total)
  • 1 1/2 t. curry powder
  • 1/2-3/4 t. garam masala
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1 T. honey
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes, in juice
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 c. vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 T. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. red lentils, drained and rinsed (can substitute quinoa, if desired)
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, chopped peanuts, sour cream or plain yogurt

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and turn to high for about an hour. This gets your crock pot good and going, then switch it to low for the next several hours.

Recipe courtesy of Peas and Thank You

After lunch on the patio at Parker & Otis, the four of us headed to the Museum of Life + Science for a beautiful 65 degree afternoon outdoors. I just can't get over how lovely the weather was.

Dino Exhibit

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Butterfly Conservatory

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Farmyard (w/ the cutest little piglet)

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Earlier this afternoon, back at the ranch…I found a beagle (Finley) growing in my vegetable garden.

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They loved being outdoors this afternoon and taking a short walk to catch-up on all the new smells. I agree with Wilson, bring on spring!!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Coconut, Shrimp, and Corn Chowder

Such an easy and delicious chowder, definitely keeping this recipe on my rotation. Plus all the ingredients are pantry/freezer staples.

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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (peeled, if desired), cut into a 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 cups corn (from 6 ears fresh or 16 ounces frozen)
  • 1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the potatoes, garlic, and corn and stir to coat, approx 3 minutes.
  2. Add the coconut milk, broth, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the shrimp and simmer until pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into individual bowls.

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

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Monday: leftovers

Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday: Slow Cooker Red Beans, Sausage, and Rice & King Cake

Ash Wednesday: Yoga@Duke, leftovers

Thursday: Coconut, Shrimp, and Corn Chowder

Friday: Piedmont w/ Lacey & Craig

Saturday: Taqueria La Vaquita & UK Basketball game with Kristin, Laurence & Ellie

Sunday: Slow Cooker Spicy African Peanut Stew & Museum of Life + Science w/ Kate

King Cake

I love the week leading up to Mardi Gras…so many reasons to celebrate: Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day, Red Beans & Rice, Jambalaya, and King Cakes our some of my absolute favorites. A few years ago I tried my hand at making my own King Cake and I found it to be quite easy to master and so much better than anything store bought. So I planned ahead this year, since for me this is a weekend project, and made to take into work and share with my coworkers.

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Here’s a photo recap of the process:

Dough made and after the 1st knead, ready for the 1 hour rise

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After the dough has doubled

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Kneaded a bit more, cut into thirds, and rolled into 24in long strips

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Braided and ready for the 2nd rise

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2nd rise

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Baked and cooling – gorgeous, you wouldn’t believe how good this made the house smell.

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Coated with glaze (made a cream cheese frosting)

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Sprinkled with sugars

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Packaged up for delivery…this was very satisfying to make and produced a sweet, tender, almost flakey dough.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Homemade Heart Shaped Pizza and Tortellini-Spinach Soup

I’ve always smiled at the idea of making a heart shaped pizza for Valentine’s Day. Friday’s are typically pizza night in our house, so I was excited to try my hand at shaping the dough into a heart.

Once it was all rolled out, I decided to cute the shape with a pizza cutter so that I would have nice clean edges.

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  • ready to use pizza dough, shaped
  • toppings of choice
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Bake at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

This afternoon for lunch I had a leftover slice along with Ellie Krieger’s Tortellini-Spinach Soup. I’ve been lacking in the vegetable department a bit this week so I was happy to have a vegetable hearty soup to enjoy. This is full of CSA tomatoes (frozen from summer), onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and spinach (not to mention my homemade chicken stock).

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Watts Grocery: Valentine’s Day Dinner

The last couple of years we’ve held our Valentine’s Day dinner at home, as we were both tired of the crowds and especially the pre-fixed menus. So this year, instead of skipping out on dining out all together, we headed out Thursday night and were able to enjoy a quiet evening out with no crowds and a full menu!! Score! Plus, on the 14th we get to celebrate again at home ;)

Our dinner started off with cocktails – Andy with a Gin & Tonic and me with the House Sangria. After our meal was over, we both agreed this was the one part of our meal we could have skipped and would have been just as happy with the evening.

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But then came along warm, tender rolls…I had 1 1/2 of these…

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I had checked out the online menu ahead of time and knew I wanted this appetizer…and it was the best dish of the night for me.

Shrimp and Grit Cake—sautéed shrimp, mushrooms, bacon, and scallions in a lemon Tabasco sauce over a fried grit cake

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I also wasn’t leaving without these…

Hush puppies with basil mayo (Andy mentioned again how good these were today, two days later.)

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Andy chose the Hand-cut Ribeye, with buttermilk smashed potatoes, Bourbon brown sauce, and seasonal vegetables. I had a delicious bite of this and was impressed.

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I went with the Roast Poulet Rouge de Fermier with Lee Brothers pimento cheese potato gratin, seasonal vegetables and pecan pan sauce. I loved the vegetables, to me they seemed to be sautéed in a brown butter sauce and what really drew me to this dish were the potatoes…they even had a crispy topping!

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The shocker of the evening, even after Andy stated he didn’t want to stick around for dessert…(I think he forgot who he was married to for a moment…the Dessert Queen)…he ordered dessert himself!! I usually have to beg him to even taste a bite of mine. The Ruby Red Grapefruit Sorbet with pomegranate granita and lime meltaway cookies, was quite refreshing.

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I was torn between several of the desserts, but in the end went with the Caramel Layer Cake with cranberry compote. It was the perfect way to finish off such a nice dinner out.

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