Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pasta Ponza

I met one of my longest Durham friends, Laura, for lunch today. This is my third lunch date at Revolution and it's funny that all three (different) lunch friends have gotten and raved about the Thai Shrimp Salad.

The natural lightening made this picture dark, I tried it with flash but it turned out even worse.

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I chose today’s special – a Fish Croquette with Red Pepper Aioli with a side Spinach Salad Grilled Vegetables combination. It was super good, I’ve loved every lunch dish so far.

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Dinner tonight was a new pasta dish, it was bursting with juicy tomatoes and fresh parsley.

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  • Butter for greasing
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ziti or other short tube-shaped pasta
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 ounces) Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

Place the tomatoes, capers, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Giadia at Home

Happy Birthday to ME tomorrow !!

(New hair cut from yesterday)

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Growing up birthday’s were always a big deal in my house and that’s why I still get so excited about mine every year. I’d much rather make a big deal out of it, as I have this week, then to let it go by as “just another day” – I’ve had a blast so far!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Superdy Awesome Monday

Today was so refreshing and uplifting...here's how my day went and the key to making every Monday one you'll be begging to start.

After a full work day...

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I headed just a couple streets over to a new salon called Posh for a mini-facial treatment, they were having a 1/2 off special this month on Monday's.

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The room was so warm and inviting, I loved the blanket that I zonked out under. This was the best facial I've ever had, so indulgent.

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Then it was off to Local Yogurt for "Double Punch Card Monday". I got a mango/plain frozen yogurt swirl that I topped with Dolly Mama pepita bark and crushed pineapple. I thought it turned out to be a fabulous combo. I also walked over to Wine Authorities beforehand to pick up a buttery chardonnay to have one night soon (thanks for the 20% off birthday coupon guys!).

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FroYo in hand, my next stop was to my favorite car wash. Here I had previously purchased a coupon for a full service car wash - outside, inside, and windows cleaned.

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My car was really sparkling today. I also keep tire spray in my trunk, so at my next stop I spritzed them so that they had a new shine too.

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I then drove over to a Greek Fiesta for a free birthday coupon for a meal of my choice. I went with the Chicken Pita wrap with a side of tabouli and a walnut baklava bite. So good!

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The conclusion to my evening was a 60 minute deep tissue massage. I specifically asked to have my head, feet, and back to be worked on. My masseuse was really fantastic tonight and I booked two more sessions with her over the next couple months. The next time I'm going to request a full hour on my back, which had several knots and tension spots.

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I came home in the best mood ever and couldn't wait to thank Andy for allowing me to have such an awesome, guilt-free evening. Tomorrow I’m getting a hair cut, can't wait to get it some of the weight taken off and restyled!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - My Birthday Week

It’s my birthday this week and I’m going to try and squeeze out every second of it.  So maybe a menu of the many ways I plan to celebrate is in order :D

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Monday: Grilled Chicken Pita @ Greek Fiesta

Celebration: mini-facial, hour deep tissue massage, & car washed/vacuumed

Tuesday: Roasted Sausages, Potatoes, & Figs

Celebration: new hair cut

Wednesday: Pasta Ponza

Celebration: Lunch @ Revolution

29th Birthday, April 29th: Lunch @ Revolution and leftovers

Celebration: Yoga session and Gift Opening

Weekend of Birthday Celebrating Fun

Friday: Birthday Celebration Dinner @ Revolution & WICKED: The Untold Story of the Witches Of Oz @ The DPAC!!!!

Derby Day w/ Kristin & Laurence: Asparagus-Parmesan Tart, Sarah's Mexi-Cali Salad, Gazpacho Andaluz and Mint Juleps

Sunday: Strawberry Picking @ Lyon Farms

Tex-Mex Burgers and Buttercrunch Lettuce

Before heading out to the farms yesterday we had hamburger patties topped with guacamole (lemon juice, jalapeno, garlic, s&p) and blue cheese crumbles.

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My sweet boy Finley is also a foodie, just like his mom. He wanted to help cook the burgers as you can see.

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I agree with him, they really did smell quite good with garlic, salt, and pepper seasonings.

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Today for lunch, I had a lot of beautiful butter crunchlettuce and use a few of the larger leafs for Asian Chicken & Shrimp Wraps. I sautéed a few chicken strips, bell peppers and shrimp in a soy, hoisin, and toasted sesame sauce.

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For dinner I went back to the buttercrunch as a base for a big bowl of salad. My favorite way to top a salad is with a combination of fruit, nut and cheese. This one had dried cranberries, chunked apples, bleu cheese, and pecans. The dressing was a poppy seed recipe from the cookbook “Clean Food”. A blend of EVOO, red wine vinegar, shallots, agave nectar, salt, and poppy seeds.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Piedmont Farm Tour

Today, Kelly and I ventured out to learn where our food was coming from…into farm territory!! The 15th Annual Piedmont Farm Tour is the nation's largest sustainable farm tour in the country, with 40 local farms participating. The tour features farms that are stainable/organic vegetable & fruit production, pasture-raised livestock (beef, poultry, pork, sheep, goats, bison), dairy, cut flowers, tobacco & other field crops, fiber production, greenhouses, wineries, and much more!

We visited two farms today:

Farmer, Richard Holcomb

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Coon Rock Farm - “A sustainable family farm providing garden crops and pasture raised antibiotic and hormone free chicken, eggs, pigs, lamb and goat on 55 acres nestled along a bend in the Eno River just outside of Hillsborough, NC. We concentrate on sustainably and bio-dynamically taking care of the land while letting it take care of us.  Our vegetables are mostly heirloom varieties and raised without chemicals of any kind.  Our animals are pastured raised and grass fed and never given antibiotics or hormones.  Our chickens are heritage breeds that provide both meat and eggs and are completely free range.”

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I was really impressed and enjoyed my tour with Richard Holcomb. I also can’t wait for his “farm-to-table” restaurant to open soon in Durham, where you can eat a meal grown by the farmer/owner and walk out that evening with a basket of fresh produce and meats to go.

Turkey’s and hens

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Day old baby ducks

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More hen houses (portable)

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Greens and spring onions

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Fickle Creek Farm - “In there 10th year as a growing small farm in the Piedmont of North Carolina on 74-acres. They strive to provide farm fresh, healthy products through careful environmental stewardship, sustainable practices, and humane animal treatment. Fruits and vegetables are naturally grown without inorganic chemical inputs. Eggs, chicken, and pork come from free-ranging flocks on pasture that never receive synthetic hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products. Steers and sheep are all raised on pasture without medicated feed or synthetic hormones.”

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We ended our evening with a birthday celebration group dinner at Chamas for Laurence. Happy Birthday, April 25th!! 

It was a really great day - nice to be out in nature, hearing the animals, walking the grounds, and chatting with (and making new) friends…it makes me very happy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Frenzy Friday

Friday is finally here! We’ve had quite the busy week and rounded it off with having our upstairs finally painted today – yipee! It involved us clearing out our loft/office which we did over several nights. We’ve gotten 80% of it back together now – photos back on the walls, furniture in place, rugs down, dvd's dusted and back on the shelf – shew! All that is left now is two shelves of books and a bunch of miscellaneous knickknacks and photos that go on top.

Before: Everything upstairs was still painted the plain builders cream color – boring…tired of it after three years.

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After: The color is from Behr, called Marina Isle. I think it really gives the room a much more warm, inviting look as well as a calm serenity.

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Dvd's back into place, two shelves with books to go.

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Stairwell

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This is at the top of the stairs (loft on the left) doors to laundry room and two bedrooms.

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To the left of the stairwell once your upstairs is a guest bathroom and bedroom (plus a linen closet).

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So what do you think of it?

Today for lunch I met one of my old co-workers at Revolution. (Get used to this restaurant being mentioned, I have plans to go three times next week!) We had lots to catch-up on and a great time with one another.

Mexican Style Seafood Soup – with avocado and cilantro. Really great, light and flavorful soup for a cloudy, breezy day.

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Brinkley Farms Springs CSA - Week 1

  • 2 heads of green buttercrunch lettuce - Salads & Lettuce Wraps

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Exhausted now, deciding whether or not to finish the office…

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blogger P-A-R-TAY

After a long day of work, including a 4hour meeting that I was dreading, yoga class, and our CSA pick-up we were thrilled to be headed out to meet blogger friends for dinner. Sarah and Josh hosted a MeXi-CaLi madness feast last night! Along with our hosts the blogger group was: Meg, Chris, Lacey, Craig, Kelly, Allie, Andy and Me

Craig won best dressed :p

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The food inspiration was "Mexican but with a fresh focus"!

There were: margaritas! (+ beer + wine), chips, guac, salsa, Gazpacho!!, Mexi-Cali salad, Quesadillas and………Alliebars!!!!!!

Homemade guac, cilantro hummus, and salasa - fun dippers!

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Really great gazpacho I loved the fresh test of the tomatoes and that the cucumber wasn't over powering. I can't wait to make it this summer when the tomatoes are falling of the vine with ripeness.

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Three quesadilla options - with sweet potatoes, pinto and black beans, and mushrooms.

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Lot's of laughter and conversation :) Andy, Josh, Kelly, and Craig

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Chris, Meg, and Allie...probably talking about how much we love the Alliebars!

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Mexi-Cali salad with bell peppers, mango, tomatoes and shrimp - so good!

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The quesadillas in the making, love that Sarah cut them with kitchen sheers.

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Handing over the goods...

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Original and Tropical flavors , it was impossible to choose a favorite.

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Perfect evening, check out Sarah's post for more details!