If you ever have the chance to try the Lindt extra dark lindor truffles, do yourself a favor and DON'T. I just ate the last one from one of the gifts at my shower and I think I'm getting the shakes. I've got a serious problem.
Don't say I didn't warn you!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
If you ever have the chance to try the Lindt extra dark lindor truffles, do yourself a favor and DON'T. I just ate the last one from one of the gifts at my shower and I think I'm getting the shakes. I've got a serious problem.
Last night we wanted a simple dinner cooked by somebody else. We ventured for our second time to Pomodoro off of Hillandale drive. For those of you who haven't been, this isn't exquisite dining, but it is large portions of freshly prepared italian-american food. I had the lobster ravioli and M had the carbonara. Both were served hot and plentiful (oh and with plenty of oily goodness). The salads had tomatoes that were actually red and had a medley of iceburg and romaine lettuce. It's very much a family restaurant, complete with checkered vinyl tablecloths. I've always had tasty food and good service there. It's not Pop's but we were in and out in under an hour and it was under $30 for both of us!
We've eaten both at the Durham location and the one in Mebane. I find the pizza (had in Mebane) to be not good. Everything else I've had far exceeds Pulcinella in woodcroft (our old local italian eatery); a place that some people seem to rave about, but I never had a meal I enjoyed there...Anyhow, go try pomodoro on one of those nights after you've been working hard in the yard and don't want to change out of those jeans or cook and clean up a meal.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I recently purchased some arborio rice and am wanting to try my hand at making risotto. Anyone have any beloved recipes/flavor combinations they want to share or tips on cooking? Otherwise it's a-googling I shall go!
Yesterday I was blog surfing and came across a recipe for arugula pesto over at Delicious Durham. I had never heard of this and it looked quite good. I still had arugula left over from the market a week and a half ago and didn't want to do a salad so this was perfect. I was too lazy to go to the store for pine nuts and to blanch the arugula (LAZY I know). So a little google search brought me to another recipe.
I tossed some fingerling potatoes with olive oil, minced garlic, chili sauce, salt and pepper and threw in the oven for 40 minutes (45 would have been perfect). I thawed some striper filets, brushed with olive oil, a little salt and pepper and baked at 375 for the last 20 minutes. Also defrosted some frozen asparagus (last time I buy those) and baked with some mushrooms.
The pesto was awesome! I like it better then basil pesto because it's not so overpowering. Very tasty.
Threw together a little cucumber salad too for the side. We're trying to load up on veggies and lose a few pounds before the honeymoon.
2 cups of packed arugula leaves
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 garlic clove peeled and minced
1. Brown 6 garlic cloves with their peels on in a skillet over medium high heat until the garlic is lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan, cool, and remove the skins.
2. Toast the nuts in a pan over medium heat until lightly brown, or heat in a microwave on high heat for a minute or two until you get that roasted flavor. In our microwave it takes 2 minutes.
3. Food processor method (the fast way): Combine the arugula, walnuts, roasted and raw garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Our wedding day was absolute perfection for us. I'll elaborate later perhaps, but for now, my top 10 favorite things about our wedding day:
10. My hair was perfect and it didn't budge in the wind, not even a little. Thanks to Angeline at "A Beautiful New You".
9. The cake was not only beautiful, it was damn tasty and I even got to enjoy for breakfast the next day. Thank you Michelle!
8. Our very small wedding party. We had the perfect couple as our witnesses! Thanks Mel and Jed!!!
7. Location and weather - PERFECT!!!!
6. My homemade bouquet of free trade roses from Whole Foods. They smelled unlike any other rose I've ever smelled. Heavenly!!!! And at $20 bucks it felt like a steal!
5. The photos that Melanie took. Looking at them transports me. I am speechless.
4. Dancing with the ocean as our backdrop to "At Last" by Etta James.
3. His non-stop smile.
2. The kiss (and all the many that followed), the ceremony and finally getting to wear our rings!
1. Knowing that I'm going to spend the rest of my life with the man of my dreams.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
You know those plastic bags that cereal comes in when it's inside of boxes? It's really thick plastic and usually has a great seal. Well I've been saving mine, hoping I'd find a use for them. Last week I did! Worked great as a marinade bag with a rubber band (also reused from a veggie purchase). Also made me happy to not have to use one of those expensive zipper bags or wash a dish!
We are very much eating seasonally these days, or at least trying haha. Last night I made dinner with mom. She came by to deliver wedding gifts! We're tryign to use up the rest of my farmer's market buys from Saturday.We did a quick marinade of soy, chili sauce, ginger and hoisin and baked the striper for 20 minutes on 375. For the baby bok choy we used this recipe and followed it exactly (except we didn't have a full pound of bok choy). It turned out lovely.
Now on to the pea shoots...I've never had these before and we all agreed in hindsight that we should only use the leaves or perhaps steam it all for like 20 seconds. Even though we picked out the big stalks, the texture was a little tougher then what we're used to in a salad. Unique flavors, great use of the rest of a pea plant. Taste was yummy! I'll definitely attempt again with those modifications. We used regular honey and a little more bacon. I think I also used about 5 cups of the pea shoots instead of 3. Here's the recipe and photo.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I was taken by my coworkers for lunch today to congratulate me on my upcoming nuptials. When asked, I suggested Papa Mojo's. I recently read another durham blog about it and it's right down the road from work. It's relatively small, got blues pumping through the speakers and a nice lunch atmosphere. We were a group of 14 and they sat us pretty quickly. Everyone got a wide variety and everybody's food looked great (except the 1/4 chicken, it looked scrawny).
I got mesquite grilled jumbo shrimp with macque shou casserole (corn with peppers and onions). My food was perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked and I gobbled it up quickly. For dessert I had the chocolate pecan tart with ice cream and homemade caramel sauce. It was devine. I could have done without the caramel but wow it was all awesome.
Next time I'd like to try the etouffee or jambalaya.
I have been having big problems with my left hand since M came home in June and I thought it was because I was sleeping differently. Last week it occured to me that I also started a new job at the same time. I noticed that my set up at work had my keyboard on my desk, about 3 inches above my elbow height. No wonder my elbows hurt and I have strain on my tendons!!
A visit from the ergonomics person at work later... I have a keyboard tray installed about 3 inches lower and a chair that is much narrower so I can use the arm rests! No pain! WOOHOO!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
This looked like a lot of veggies to me, but knowing what spinach does, I wasn't surprised at the finished product.
Well, I made the swiss chard pretty much following the recipe directions. Except with seasoning haha. I used more salt and pepper and also a little more cream. Oh and I roasted a red pepper and sliced that up and tossed it in at the end. Cooking the stems separate seemed like a good idea. All was perfectly cooked and very well seasoned. I served underneath a quarter of roasted rosemary chicken with a side of sauteed mushrooms, green beans and shallots tossed with lemon juice, goat cheese, fresh thyme and slivered almonds. Oh and a salad. I'm really trying to pump us full of veggies these days. The big huge bunch of swiss chard only made about 3 half cup servings. I stretched it and we both get to enjoy a smaller version of last night's dinner for lunch. Yum!
Monday, April 21, 2008
After the farmer's market we went and did the early voting thing. There were no lines and it was really nice to just go do on a Saturday afternoon. The board of elections is on Corporation street (between duke and washington) and you can go register and vote early now through May 3rd, Monday-Saturday 8:30-5:30 (I think).
Next we went to Stone Brothers and Byrd off of Washington street. What an awesome place! They have pretty much anything for your garden/yard you could hope for. Really cute yard sculptures too and some yummy looking canned stuff like pickled artichokes and asparagus. We'll definitely be going back there when we start our front yard project. They're prices were very reasonable.
The earth day festival was in Durham central park. It was mostly booths filled with people giving out information on being "green". There was live music and a lot of families. I was hoping for some shameful carny food, but alas there was none. We bought a really cool hammock that's made out of nylon. It folds down to practically nothing, dries fast and is very portable. Managed to snap a photo of the wall at durham central park.
Lunch was had at toast. Finally I got to see what others have written so fondly about. I got the rapini, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic (big ass cloves too) and asiago fresco panino. It was a crusty cheesey plate of goodness, perfectly seasoned. M had the spicy tuna. We shared the garlicky mushroom crostini and the pesto mozzarella crostini. Everything was excellent. The lady at the register was very friendly and turns out is a neighbor! Yummy food served by friendly people at a fair price? We're big fans. We'll be back.
Wow was the weather on Saturday fantastic or what? I had a very full day but I felt truly productive and really enjoyed spending the time outside :) I ventured early to the farmer's market because I've read that the selection is best in the morning. I've learned that I do well if I budget myself to about $25 when I go so that is all the cash I ever take. If I take any more, I want to try EVERYTHING. And as the work week goes, with all the best intentions, food will go to waste because there's just not enough time to use it all. This week I got pea shoots (recipe I'm pondering here), swiss chard (making it this way tonight), strawberries, arugula, baby bok choy, shallots, baby turnips, asparagus and tomatoes. Greens are in abundance at the farmer's market.
Friday, April 18, 2008
After dinner last night at the mall, we went and saw Street Kings at the stadium 10 theaters at northgate. If I recall correctly, these theaters opened last year. The place was empty. Sadly so. The restroom, hell the entire place, was very clean. Everything is very new. The temperature in the theater was perfect, the sound was great, and the seats were the most comfortable I have ever experienced in a theater.
However, there was only one other person in our entire theater (huge and stadium seating) besides us. I hope this was due to being a Thursday night. I enjoyed being able to go to a movie only minutes away from home.
We noticed a strong police presence at the mall last night. Outside and inside. Not sure it there's a ton of crime at that mall, but it certainly created a feeling of comfort and discomfort at the same time, ya know?
I'll be returning tonight to redeem a lovely VS gift card I received at my shower and maybe do a little window shopping. If you have a chance to go by northgate, please do. They've actually got affordable shops (sorry kids no restoration hardware) and it's a lot cleaner then I remember from my teen years. There's some construction going on in what they're calling a "plaza" area, similar to that of southpoint on a much smaller scale. It seems southpoint has really drawn a lot of business away from this one. Heck the last time I was there it took me 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot. Fuck that.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
We're having date night tonight and this will include a movie. I've got no idea (well maybe a little) as to why I felt the need to look up the nutritional info on movie theater popcorn. Wow it's shocking! The amount of saturated fat is ridiculous. I can easily nuke a bag at home to take with us but damn it, I don't have a big enough purse to fit it in. Note to self: must obtain large purse!
Before leaving for work yesterday morning, I tossed some frozen chicken tenderloins in a crock pot with a couple of thick slices of onion, a couple of tablespoons of minced garlic, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of diced green chiles, some chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. When I came home, wonderful smells were wafting through the kitchen.
M turned on the grill for me while I pulled the chicken out of the crockpot with some of the chunky stuff and mashed it up in a bowl. I added a couple of ladles of the liquid and some more salt and this is what it looked like.
After a few minutes I ran them under a trickle of cold water and pulled off the charred skin, pulled out the seeds and the hot membrane and placed in a casserole dish. I then stuffed the peppers with the chicken mixture.
The rice was undercooked and I ended up adding another half cup (at least) of water and turning the heat up and cooking for another 10 minutes. I am still working out the quirks of my 20+ year old gas stove and it's really a smidgen of a difference between medium and low. It's not precision. I've only managed successful brown rice on it once haha. After the extra cooking this time though it was good!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Mel sent me photos from the shower today and I just have to share the one of the food spread. It was so good. My mouth waters just looking at the photos.Much champagne was had by many (well at least me I know for sure) haha. Mel got some great shots. Lots of smiles :) I have terrific friends!
This morning, as with every weekday morning, I'm eating my cereal and watching the news, and this comes on. Interestingly enough I threw out my nalgene bottle a few weeks ago and opted for on of the kleen kanteens for this very reason. This wasn't new news.
For those of you who might not know, I work here. I suppose what I find interesting is that there were studies reporting this finding in our journal in 2003.
Check out the abstract of this article too. Perhaps I'm a little paranoid since they aren't sure of the effects on human health, only that of mice, but reading that such a high percentage of people were found to have this substance in their blood stream was not encouraging to me. Nor was the fact that the younger the subject, the higher the concentration.
So for you new moms, and moms-to-be, you may find this article useful, but the bottom line is, just use glass. Better safe then sorry, right?
We had Los Comales again last night. We split chicken and pastor tacos and each had a pupusa. We went with our friends and brought home. I was already through 2 beers and one of my tacos when I remembered I had promised to take a photo this time. Pardon the quality, I was in a rush to keep eating!
The pupusa was excellent. It's made of cornmeal and was filled with some type of pork and melted cheese. It was much less greasier then the gordita had a few days ago. It appeared baked instead of fried, or perhaps just pan fried with less oil? I topped if off with some of their vinegary slaw, some salsa and sour cream. Delicious! We'll be going back soon. We're both enamoured that we've found a restaurant where we can get really good quality, fresh food for under $15 for both of us.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I bought M an introductory type thing to homebrewing at Christmas. It was pretty cheap and they do most of the measuring for you so it's really a kit. He finally used it on Sunday. I sat on the sidelines, documenting and drinking beer. Click the image for a larger version.
It should be ready to be bottled when we return from getting married. And ready to drink once we're back from the honeymoon.
Monday, April 14, 2008
So I've read so much about the local taquieras that I finally checked Los Comales out. I went and picked up take out for dinner on Saturday. Nice, clean, family oriented business that I will definitely be going back to soon (Tuesday in fact). I think I prefer to take-out just because the atmosphere is similar to that of a Subway or fast food chinese. I was happily greeted. The food took a little while, but everything was super fresh. They had a nice little salsa bar with some slaw, radishes, cucumbers and lime.
We got 4 tacos al pastor and 2 pollo gorditas to share. The tortillas had to be homemade and were very thin and very good. The meat was excellent. It was all filling and a great buy at only $12 for both of us. I'll take some photos of the next meal from there.
So I made the sauce and lasagna yesterday and it was a long process, but it turned out excellent. I don't know if the recipe I used for the sauce was authentic or not, but when I followed it, I didn't really care for it much. I'm used to a marinara I guess which has a lot more flavor to me. Now to it's own credit, I couldn't find the lamb or the veal at my local grocery so I stuck to beef and pork. I added more garlic, fresh rosemary, some dried basil and a little splenda to kill some of the acidity. What I ended up with was tasty. I took photos of most of the process. For the lasagna, I pretty much followed the recipe. I did saute some mushrooms and wilt some spinach to layer in with the bechamel though.
It's asparagus season! Or close right? I tossed some in spicy olive oil, fresh flat leaf parsley and sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and threw those babies on the grill!
Dinner was yummy. I was pleasantly surprised with the end product! Wining and dining with friends was even more enjoyable. I'm happy to have leftovers today too!
Friday night was a lovely night to sit out on the patio at Mez. We got there super early and only a few tables were occupied. Our waitress was fantastic. Very friendly and attentive, but knew when to leave us alone.
I suppose since Mez is doing the upscale Mexican thing, they might be able to get away without comping chips and salsa. However, paying $6.95 for chips and guacamole (I couldn't see paying almost the same for just salsa) kind of annoyed me. The presentation was superb, as were the chips and the guac. Huge chunks of avocado. Yummy stuff.
M and I both ordered off the lunch menu. We were there in between lunch and dinner and they told us we could order from either. Surprisingly we both got vegetarian dishes. I got the veggie tacos and he got the spinach enchiladas. Though the veggies (squash, onions, mushrooms) were perfectly cooked, I didn't really care for the dish. There was a green sauce that was oddly tart on top of the tacos that just took over and it just wasn't my thing. There were 3 tacos, each comprised of two soft corn tortillas, but the tortillas were stuck together, so you had to eat both. Hard to explain, but I'd prefer to cut my calories in half by only eating one tortilla at a time. Yes, I know this is stupid and nitpicky...
M's enchiladas came with black beans and rice. The spinach enchiladas are for spinach lovers. They are literally only spinach inside, no cheese. They were excellent. I loved the sauce on top. The rice was interesting. It had a spice I'm not used to tasting in mexican rice, maybe it was cinnamon? Not sure. I had 2 glasses of house wine and M had 2 glasses of beer. Total with tip was $55. A little steep for mexican, but it was good, the weather was beautiful, and it was date night! I'd go back, but next time I'd like to try a meat dish I think.
Friday, April 11, 2008
It's been one of those computer days here at work. You know the kind, where you're asked to leave your desk as IT man sits down, cracking his knuckles. You pray he doesn't delete EVERYTHING. Good news for me is that I only lost all my email. At least it's Friday and date night.
We are going to Mez for dinner, as alluded to in a previous post. I hear there's nice outdoor seating and it should be a good evening for sitting outside :) I'm going to attempt a bolognese sauce for sunday dinner. I usually make a vegetarian pasta sauce, but this one looks so good and so does her recipe for lasagna bolognese so I think I'll give them both a try. I'm sure I'll add some spinach and mushrooms to the lasagna cause damn that looks so rich that I have to throw in veggies to feel a little less guilty hahaha. Lasagna with bechamel, I'm intrigued...
Our new neighborhood is pretty quiet (which we love), except for the birds. Well, I was in the bathroom this morning getting ready for work and I hear a bird outside whistling, "Here comes the bride". Just the first four "duhhhhhh duh-duh-duh" over and over.
It's only 2 weeks away. I still need to manage getting my something old and a garter. Actually my something blue is something old, but is that acceptable? On a similar note, I called to confirm my hair appointment yesterday and they had no record of it. Good thing I called! Should be all set now.
I have no food photos to show from the evening. We grilled turkey burgers (a little dry, better off panfrying) and I made some homemade fries in the oven (recipes here and here). They were yummy. Not too crispy really, but good flavor and low cal. We drank beer on the back porch. It was lovely.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
So I pull the fish out to thaw last night and don't really like the smell emanating from the bag when I slice it open. I put the fish in water anyways. I mix up that marinade and go outside to de-pollen the back porch. When I return the fish still smells really, well...fishy. I've now learned that when seafood smells like that, it tastes even stronger. At this point M reminds me of the last time I attempted to make mahi mahi and how much I disliked it. I really wish I had remembered that before I mixed up all this marinade. God my memory is crap! Quick thinking led me to some frozen chicken tenderloins. I sauteed some of this cabbage in olive oil and soy sauce I got from the farmer's market (looks like the plant from little shop of horrors). It's sweeter then green cabbage, I'll have to find out the name. Boiled some frozen green beans, tossed with hoisin, red chili sauce, a little more soy and some sesame seeds and threw in the oven. Ended up with this:
M didn't love the sweetness of the chicken marinade (probably all that honey) but still really liked it. I thought it was great. The spicy green beans complimented the sweetness of the chicken and cabbage really well.
When I got home, I decided to snap some photos of the busy bees I have swarming my holly bushes.
It's weird to walk by the bushes and hear them buzzing hahaha. For now we'll use the back door I guess! I also wanted to share a lily photo I took a couple of weeks ago. I bought these at my local Kroger and they lived for 3 weeks! An unbelievable buy for $10 and they smell sooooo good. No wonder they're my favorite!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
For the shower ladies that were smitten, I got this off of Papa Mojo's website.
Beignets (Makes 2-3 dozen)
½ cup warm water
1 pkg. yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 egg beaten, at room temperature
1 can evaporated milk
3 cups flour, sifted
1 Tbsp. shortening
Put warm water in a bowl, sprinkle in yeast and stir until dissolved. Add all remaining ingredients except flour and shortening and mix well. Add 1/2 the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cut in shortening and then add the other 1/2 of the flour, about 1/3 cup at a time. If it gets stiff, add the rest with your fingers. Cover in a bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Roll the dough on a floured board to 1/8" thick. Cut into rectangles approx. 2"x3". Let pieces sit for 10-12 minutes before frying. Fry in 350º oil until puffed and golden, about 2-3 minutes per batch. Turn the beignets as they puff in the oil. Drain on lined paper plates and sprinkle heavily with confectioner's sugar.
Looks pretty simple. I hate waiting overnight for things because there's usually a sense of urgency when I decide to bake or cook, but it's usually worth the wait!
Last night for dinner I made a yummy parpadelle. I grilled some chicken breasts, some marinated portobellos and red onions on the grill (after wiping all the pollen off the grill of course hahaha). I chopped all that up, tossed it with some black olives, steamed broccoli, sundried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, some fresh basil and the pasta. Covered it all in a tomato cream sauce (courtesy of knorr). I made a quick cucumber salad to accompany. Turned out yummy!
I also made a repeat of my arugula salad from the other night with the remainder of my arugula from the farmer's market. The balsamic I made last night was much better with the addition of some water. It cut down on the acidity.
Tonight I think I'll be making some Mahi Mahi. I've never made it before, and truthfully didn't mean to buy it. I picked up the wrong package by mistake. I'll be searching for a recipe today to use as a starting point. I'll let you know what I come up with.
I started reading the Kite Runner last night. I'm told I'm reading it somewhat out of order with the companion book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Anyways the first one was great and I got about 35 pages into this one last night and it's very good so far. Reading on the couch last night made me think of getting a hammock.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I've been feeling very unfulfilled creatively lately. My hope is that this will serve as somewhat of a creative outlet for me and maybe even serve as a little entertainment for someone else.
We ate at The Federal last night. We shared the hummus and tabouli plate. I swear it's the best hummus plate in the world. The pita slices are perfectly seasoned and buttery and warm and just slightly crisp. M had the pork carnitas and I had the burger w/garlic fries. All the food I've had there has been awesome. God the burger was good. Mmm and it was $2.50 house wine night. Can't be beat.
We love living in central Durham. We're in the middle of everything. So many choices! There are so many restaurants we have left to try.
I went to the farmer's market this weekend for the first time. I can tell it will definitely be a Saturday tradition. It made me feel good to buy good food from local sources. I've been trying to get more inventive with my cooking. Trying to branch out by using ingredients I'm unfamiliar with. This week I think I'll buy some swiss chard. It's so pretty and I've never had it so I think that would be a fun experiment. I found what appears to be a good recipe online and I'm going to give it a try. It looks like a good starting point at least. The turnips were a new thing to me this past weekend. Saturday I made baked striper with a lemon-dill-white wine cream sauce, roasted root vegetables (baby carrots, baby turnips, onions, fingerling potatoes) with a red wine reduction and an arugula salad (with roasted garlic chevre, candied pecans and balsamic viniagrette). Most of the produce was from my Saturday trip and it was a truly yummy meal.
My fabulous friends threw me a bridal/lingerie shower this weekend. It was at 411 west. It was WONDERFUL. The food there is awesome. If you haven't been ever or in awhile, do yourself a favor and go. We had a wonderful brunch and lovely mimosas. There was lots and lots of laughing and smiling. So much so that my jaw was sore upon leaving. I got great gifts that I can't wait to wear!
I hear that the 411 group of restaurants is opening a new one out near RTP called Mez. The menu is online and it looks mighty tasty. We may have to take a trip out there for date night this week. Looks to be around the same price point as her sister restaurants.