Thursday, July 31, 2008

Photo of the Day - Homegrown

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Food Bible Rule #13

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Any food eaten on February 29th has zero calories because that's an imaginary day.

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Chicken a la chianti

3 words to the wise

Melanie came over last night and we cooked together. She brought wonderful whole wheat penne and fresh cherry tomatoes from her garden. While I was working on the chicken, she made a tomato salad with basil, parsley, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. We tossed the whole wheat penne with a little reserved pasta water, low fat ricotta, chopped cooked bacon, steamed peas, a little salt, pepper and garlic powder. We ate this with my improvisational chicken which I am calling Chicken a la Chianti.

Chicken a la chianti
Makes 6 small servings
Ingredients:
3 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
3 slices bacon
2 large shallots sliced
8 oz baby bella or crimini mushrooms
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary chopped (or use 1 1/2 tsp dried)
5 basil leaves chiffonade
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken broth (I used 1 cup of water heated and broke up a bouillion cube in it)
1 tbsp crushed or minced garlic
1 cup chianti
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water (OPTIONAL)

Instructions:
Place breasts in a large ziploc and pound to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut each breast in half and toss in olive oil to coat. Stir in 1/2 of the rosemary and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill chicken 5 minutes per side over medium high heat in a grill pan or on the grill and set aside.

In large saute pan, cook bacon. Remove bacon and reserve for another use (we mixed it into the pasta we had on the side). Over medium heat, add mushrooms and shallots. Sprinkle with pepper and mix in remaining rosemary. Saute for about 4 minutes. Add in crushed garlic and stir well.
Turn heat up to med-high and slowly add the wine, stirring constantly to de-glaze the pan. Next add chicken stock and bring just to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and stir. Add chicken back to the pan, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.Flip chicken breasts and simmer another 6 minutes. Add cream, salt and pepper to taste, and continue to cook over med-low heat another 5 minutes. Mix in basil just before serving.Depending on how thick you'd like the sauce, it can be done now, or you can add in the dissolved corn starch, stir, and cook another 3 minutes over medium heat to make extra creamy (more like gravy). That's what we did.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Need help from my Durham people!

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This is bad. I haven't had my hair cut in almost a year. I had been growing it out for the wedding and then I was just pulling it into a ponytail each day because of the heat. Now I want it cut. I just called to make an appointment and my stylist is no longer at the salon I went to. Help! I don't trust the $10 haircut places. I want someone that wants to give me the best cut they can. Got any suggestions? I'd like to stay in Durham or maybe even Chapel Hill.

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Photo of the Day - Missing my mark

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I promise to have food photos and recipes tomorrow. Melanie and I will be cooking an Italian dinner together tonight and it should be really yummy.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Photo of the Day - Flutter by

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Ode to the silver camry

5 words to the wise

I honestly try hard not to speak of driving on this blog. I spare you because, well, I hate to drive, and if I wrote about all the things that pissed me off on the road, this blog would be called road rage and not I found happy. While I think I'm a relatively good driver, I feel like I'm constantly dodging being hit by other idiots on the road. I prefer to teleport, but technology hasn't quite gotten there yet. This leads me to this post. Ode to the silver camry.

About half of my drive to work consists of driving through downtown, on a 35mph, two lane, one way road. It's the leisurely part of the drive normally and I don't usually encounter the real numbnuts until I merge onto the highway. This morning was different.

About halfway through town I approach a red light. The left lane has 2 cars, the right lane has 6 stopped. I signal and change lanes to the left lane because the lights are pretty short. This turned out to be a bad mistake.

The silver camry I was behind crawled at about 25 mph until we reached the next light. When we were about 20 feet from the light, it turned yellow. Silly me, I thought yellow meant caution and you better hurry your ass up if you want to make it and you're close enough.

Not to the lady (and I use lady very loosely) in the silver camry. Ohhhhhh no, yellow means STAND ON YOUR BRAKES! And then watch as 4 more cars in the lane next to you go through the yellow light safely and legally before it turns red.

When the light turns green, she admires it for awhile before applying the gas pedal. Again 3 more cars go through the light before we get our turn. All this time, I cannot get over to get around her, trust me, I would have if I could have without cutting someone off.

Next we're approaching the turn for the on ramp to the freeway and god help me I know this bitch is turning. I just know it. This is quickly confirmed because about 500 feet before the turn (still going 25 mph) she signals and starts to brake.

You have got to be kidding me. Oh god, smoke is coming out of my ears — I swear it. We turn onto the on ramp. I think you all know what is going to happen next. I certainly did. Let me tell you that the freeway at this point is 55mph and that the on ramp is a very long one that turns into an exit ramp for the next exit. There is plenty of time to merge.

As we near 30 mph on the ramp (about 100 feet down), I see what I knew was coming.

Brake lights.

Some background on my car: I drive the least intimidating car on the road. A little Hyundai Elantra. It is a four door hatchback and it weighs exactly 50 pounds. Well maybe a little more, but if you wanted to, you could pick up. My husband can. That being said, this car very much has the horn to go along with it's road presence. It's a high pitched squeak like clowns have on their little blow horns at the circus. I avoid using it at all possible costs because it just makes people laugh if they can even hear it over what's going on in their vehicle.

I worked that horn like nobody's business. I laid on it until it was whining for mercy. And you know what? That stupid bitch in the camry looked in her rear mirror, looked in her side mirrors, saw nobody was even on the highway, and she merged in at a whopping 40mph. The following is what she saw in her rearview mirror.

Smoke was not only billowing out my ears, it was coming from ever orifice and furthermore, I am barking profanity in a language that is completely foreign to me. Miffer faff fiffer fuff frugign AHHHHHH GO GO GO GO GO GO.

Needless to say, I blow past her (still in my 4 cylinder tiny hyundai) at 55 mph and immediately feel my blood pressure go down. Thank you readers for listening to my rant and if you've gotten this far, I want you to take the following lesson from this story:

When one lane is filled with cars and the other is empty, there IS a reason.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Photo of the Day - Got crosses?

1 words to the wise

St. Peter and Paul church at Washington square, San Francisco.

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Food Bible Rule #12

3 words to the wise

When multiple courses are consumed, only the calories from the first course count.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Food Bible Rule #11

2 words to the wise

Anything with spinach in it is healthy regardless of any other ingredients.

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Photo of the day - I'm a fan

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Across from Pop's, well actually all of Peabody place, the railings along decks and sidewalks are made of welded machine parts and the like. I love the thought and detail that went into the construction.

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Pop's Backdoor - Peabody Street, Durham

6 words to the wise

A month (or a few) ago Pop's (one of our most frequently visited local eateries) opened their backdoor. Pop's Backdoor began selling pies and calzones in a new business venture. I finally picked up a couple of their pies last night to take home, and this morning I am still wondering why I waited so long to try them out! They are located behind the brightleaf square main parking lot, adjacent to Parker and Otis. And from what I can tell, you can basically get a pizza from 11:30am–10:00pm.
On to the pizza. For myself I got the 10inch version of the #2. This beautifully golden (not too thick and not too thin) crust was topped with a wonderful pomodoro sauce. It had the perfect amount too. It was just enough for a coating, not too runny and perfectly balanced flavor. Next there was a layer of wonderful crispy pancetta (think Italian bacon), followed by a tender-crisp layer of thinly-cut potato slices. This was topped off with mounds of garlicky spinach and very good quality mozzarella cheese.

Yummy thinly sliced potatoes!
The mild acidity of the sauce was beautifully balanced by the saltiness of the pancetta. The firm, mild potatoes were balanced by the garlicky spinach. Every element in this pizza complimented and balanced the others. My personal pizza was eaten in two rounds over the course of the evening because I couldn't bare to save my leftovers.Layers of crispy pancetta
This is a combination I never would have imagined myself, but quite unmistakenly is the best pizza I have EVER had. It was just everything I love about pizza.
Garlicky spinach mounds amongst piles of gooey mozzarella
Mark had the pepperoni and mushroom (button and portobello), which he seemed to really enjoy (I didn't try it or photograph it because I was too busy devouring mine). It's a little pricey for pizza but you really do get what you're paying for. The specialty pizzas run $10 for a 10 inch and you can also build your own starting at $7.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Am I the only one?

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Am I the only self-proclaimed-pseudo-foodie that just doesn't like figs or capers? I think they're both nasty. Not only for texture, but flavor and aesthetic appeal. Figs gross me out. Just look at them. They look like a part of anatomy and have no business being on my plate. Ewwwwww.

I can actually stomach a fig newton once in awhile just because it's wonderfully disguised by an enourmous cakey cookie substance and they're mysteriously brown.

Maybe capers will grow on me.

I doubt it.

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Photo of the Day - June bride

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Spinach fettuccine with sundried tomatoes

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Awhile back I bought this spinach and chive fettuccine at Trader Joe's. I finally cooked it up last night and it was fantastic! I made a simple side salad as the pasta cooked of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrots and celery. Another dinner done in around 20 minutes!Spinach Fettuccine with Sundried Tomatoes
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
8 oz spinach and chive fettuccine cooked al dente
1/4 cup reserved pasta water
1 tbsp olive oil
3 large shallots sliced
5 sundried tomatoes chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2 cups raw washed baby spinach
1 tsp crushed garlic (or 2 garlic cloves minced)
1/4 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 tsp chopped fresh herbs ( I used a combo of basil and italian parsley)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large saute pan, saute the shallots in the olive oil for 2 minutes on medium heat. Add in chopped sundried tomatoes, crushed garlic, and about 2 cups of raw washed spinach and stir continuosly until spinach is wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Add in ricotta and pasta water and continue stirring gently until the ricotta has broken down and is no longer chunky.

Add in pasta and toss to coat evenly. Continue cooking another 2 minutes or so until pasta is heated through. Check seasoning and salt and pepper as needed. Dinner is done!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Zucchini ribbons

3 words to the wise

The other night I tried something a little different then my normal stir-fried zucchini and I really liked it. I took two zucchini, using a vegetable peeler, I peeled length wise 1/8 inch thick strips. It gets challenging towards the end, but you end up with all these beautiful thin zucchini ribbons.

I sliced up 3 large shallots and stir fried them in a tbsp of olive oil until translucent over medium heat. I threw in 1 tsp of crushed garlic, the zucchini ribbons, about a tsp of chopped italian parsley and salt and pepper to taste. I added another tbsp of olive oil and continued stir frying another 3–5 minutes until the zucchini was soft but not mushy. I plated it and topped it off with some grated parmesan cheese. The texture and flavor were a great change.

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Photo of the Day - Wet

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You make my day award!

4 words to the wise


I was delighted to receive this cute little blog award from Julie over at Peanut Butter and Julie. She is a fellow featured publisher over at foodbuzz and I always enjoy her recipes. Her cooking style is right in line with my own personal tastes. Go check her blog out when you get a chance!

I am supposed to pass this on to 5-10 other bloggers that make my day. If you all choose to pass it on, then go for it, but I just wanted to make sure to let you know your blogs are part of my daily reading that keeps me sane! Without further delay, here's my list of daily blogs that I always look forward to reading:

1. Ashlee at A Year in the Kitchen. She's a fellow newlywed blogger and doesn't seem scared to try any food. I also like that she cooks practical, real food.

2. Steve over at brokenhattrick. He's an old friend and while I know he'd never participate in something like this, I still look forward to reading his blog!

3. Melanie at On My Pole. Also a great friend and a wonderful writer. She has vivid photography and writes comedically.

4. Michelle at Thursday Night Smackdown. She likes to cuss and cook (her words) and her informal writing style makes you feel like you're sitting in the kitchen watching her swear. Always a riot!

5. Lenore at Eclectic Glob. She's a fellow local food blogger and I have tried so many new places I wouldn't have even known about had I not read about them at her place.

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Photo of the Day - Crooked

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The beach seems to be on my mind a lot these days...

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Food Bible Rule #10

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When dining buffet-style, only the first trip to the buffet calories' count.

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PW's spicy mac and cheese - an adaptation

2 words to the wise

Last night, while the brown rice was cooking for my big bowl of black beans, I decided to give Pioneer Woman's Spicy Mac and Cheese a try. I really liked the addition of all the veggies. I modified it quite a bit to make it a little healthier and to accomodate what I had on hand. Here's my adaptation of her recipe.PW's spicy mac and cheese gone healthy
Ingredients:
1/2 lb cooked whole wheat fusilli or cavatappi
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced vidalia onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 finely diced small pablano
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 cup heavy cream + 1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large skillet, add olive oil and saute garlic and vegetables over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add in canned chilies and stir around. Drain pasta and add it to skillet. Pour on cream and milk, add cheese, then add salt and pepper to taste and stir over medium heat until desired thickness. At the end, add butter and stir more.

I put this in a plastic storage container and allowed to cool before covering. We'll be eating it tonight, probably with some chicken, but I did do a lot of taste-testing last night and I was quite pleased.

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Homemade pot o' black beans

1 words to the wise

Sunday I finally cooked up the bag of dried black beans I had. I used what I had available to compliment them. Last night we finally ate them and they were the best black beans I've made yet. This recipe makes enough to feed probably 6-8 people as a main dish so bring on that appetite.

Black bean pot
Ingredients:
16 oz. bag dried black beans
1 medium onion diced
3 small poblano chiles (or 2 large) seeded and chopped
3 slices thick bacon cut into 1 inch chunks
5 cloves of garlic peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Soak beans in enough water to cover overnight. Drain and return to pot with 6 cups of water. Add bay leaves and garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover, leaving just a little gap with the lid for 1.5 hours.
In another pot or pan over medium heat, brown bacon until cooked but not crispy. Add onion and chiles and cook for approximately 4 minutes.Add veggies and bacon (not the grease though), along with the spices, to the pot of black beans. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue simmering, uncovered another 30 minutes. Add more or drain water as you desire. We ate these last night in a big bowl with some leftover grilled corn and some brown rice. Talk about comfort food!

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Photo of the Day - Reflections

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Stepping outside of Piedmont after lunch on Saturday, I was treated to a nice reflections of clouds on the windows of the Renaissance.

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Raspberry crepes - the easiest way possible

1 words to the wise

Yes I cheated. I bought pre-made crepes (from Melissa's). I used about 1/4 cup of raspberry preserves, and simmered with about 2 tbsp or orange juice and1/2 tsp of vanilla extract until smooth. Then I removed from the heat and stirred in a small container of fresh raspberries. I did use real heavy whipping cream (though the kitchenaid did all the work). And our fancy looking breakfast was on the table in 5 minutes. Oh and a sprinkling of powdered sugar topped it all off.

I will say that making your own crepes can not be substituted with these by a long shot, but for a super-fast meal, this beat the heck out of a bowl of cereal.

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Piedmont - Foster Street, Durham

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Saturday we ventured downtown for lunch to Piedmont. We had been there one other time with friend of ours. Though I loved what I had, the hubby was less enthusiastic. I thought I could persuade him to try it again during lunch. Especially since lunch is a much more budget-friendly option.

From what I've heard of Piedmont, they try to utilize, as much as possible, local ingredients and meats and they produce most of their own sausage and the like inhouse. I have great appreciation for this, and for these reasons, their menu changes nightly.

On the weekends we discovered, lunch is not available, but brunch is. I ordered a local greens salad with smoked chicken and avocado in a shallot vinaigrette. The chicken is a smoke-lover's dream. Moist and smokey and it paired well with the creamy avocado and mild, but slightly tangy vinaigrette. My salad was $8.Hubby ordered the shrimp and grits. These were the best I've ever tasted. Huge and plentiful shrimp with nice coarse cut grits. It was flooded with thick cut bacon (the thickest I've ever seen), hearty mushrooms and green scallions. The grits were cheesy and it was perfectly seasoned. The portion size was great too. At $14, it was the priciest item on the brunch menu, but it was well worth every bit of that.
We were both very pleased with our brunch and I am sure we'll be returning to Piedmont again soon!

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Tabbouleh - repost for the Healthy Cooking Event

3 words to the wise

I have been encouraged to enter the Healthy Cooking event with my tabbouleh recipe so I am reposting it. This recipe is tremendously healthy. It uses whole grain bulgur, olive oil (that's a good fat), fresh local tomatoes and cucumbers, and a small amount of salt. If you've yet to discover the goodness of whole grains, give this a try. It's high in fiber, which keeps your blood sugar steady and keeps you full. Tomatoes also have lots of vitamins and nutrients, including lycopene which has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This recipe has around 180 calories per serving and keeps very well in the refrigerator. I ate all of mine within a week though!

I made a platter that included the tabbouleh and some hummus and my husband and I shared it for lunch (hummus recipe here). It was really tasty!


My first tabbouleh
Makes an ungodly amount (we're talking party size)
Ingredients:
2 cups bulgur wheat
3 cups of curly parsley
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup minced onion
2 medium tomatoes seeded and diced
3 tbsp lemon juice (again the plastic lemon is what I had on hand)
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

Instructions:
Presoak the bulgur for 60 minutes in 2 cups of HOT water. Pulse parsley and mint in food processer until finely chopped. Drain out any excess water from bulgur and combine all ingredients in large bowl. Chill at least 20 minutes prior to serving.I ate this for lunch the next day and it was fabulous. It gets tastier with age!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Photo of the Day - Wish I were there

1 words to the wise

Topsail beach, April 28, 2007.

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Off-the-cuff-use-up-what-I-need-to-improvisational dinner

4 words to the wise

I love these off-the-cuff-use-up-what-I-need-to-improvisational dinners. They're always fun for experimenting.

Last night I pounded out two chicken breasts, and sprinkled with salt, pepper and garlic powder. I placed 3 small slices each of light havarti and 3 small sage leaves on half of the breast. I then folded over and secured with three toothpicks. I seasoned the outside of the chicken with more salt and pepper. Next I browned in a grill pan over med-high heat for four minutes on each side. I transferred to a baking dish and popped in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. I allowed to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

While the chicken was baking, the hubby grilled some corn on the cob (method here). I chopped up some orange bell pepper, sauteed it in a little olive oil in a pot until soft and added about 3/4 lb of baby spinach and about a teaspoon of crushed garlic. I stirred over medium heat until the spinach was wilted. Then I added about 1/4 cup of heavy cream and bumped the heat up and continued stirring until it reduced by half.
When the corn was done I let it cool for about 5 minutes and then I scraped it off the cobs. I tossed in a bowl with some rosemary-garlic-parsley herb butter I had made from last week and added a little salt to taste.I piled the creamed spinach on the plate, topped with a chicken breast, poured a little of the cream over the breast and accompanied with the corn. Dinner was done!

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Photo of the Day - Family

1 words to the wise

We don't get to pick our family. Sometimes I'm sure a lot us wish we could. I love my grandma. She's one of my favorite people. And if I actually got to choose my family, she'd be in.

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Serena Restaurant & Bar - Miami Blvd., Durham

1 words to the wise

Last night I met two former co-worker gal friends for dinner at Serena Restaurant and Bar in RTP. I suggested it due to it's proximity to all of our current work locations and I was interested by their menu after reading a review online over at eclectic glob.

The ambiance seems a little undecided. There's mod lighting, soft electronic music, the makings of something very pleasant – but then there's a big sports bar style tv in the corner, bare walls and a soda fountain. It's cafeteria meets hotel restaurant and bar. Kind of an odd mix. It was relatively empty, a few people dining and having after work drinks outside.

In the 3 hours we were there, I don't think we managed to get a smile out of our server even once. I hate that. You know the type, when you come in, it's like you ruined their night by sitting in their section. He was semi-attentive, unhelpful with menu questions and not friendly in the slightest. He actually reminded me of most of the waiters I encountered in San Francisco. Except we're not in a big city on the west coast. This is the south y'all and hospitality goes a long way. Or at least it does in my book. I'm rambling. Anyways on to the food...
I ordered the pan seared scallops with an orzo & vegetable griddle cake and smoked seasonal fruit salsa. The presentation was lovely. The scallops were delightfully seasoned, perfectly cooked and large. The griddle cakes were tasty as well. Although, I did expect them to be more robust with vegetables. From what I could tell there were just random diced carrots interspersed. I devoured them nonetheless! The fruit salsa just plain didn't go. I don't know if I didn't like the fruit, or I'm not a sweet salsa person, or it just wasn't a good compliment, but it was the only thing left on my plate. This was all plated on a fan of cold blanched sugar snap peas. They were also an odd compliment. It would have been overall better if they had been warm. For $15, I was pleased with my big fat scallops.
One of my friends had the pesto pasta with chicken. It was just that. She described it as bland and it was served at room temperature. I thought for $13.50 that the portion was rather small too.

My other friend had the Paella which features Spanish chorizo, grilled shrimp, chicken, garlic, mushrooms, onions, peppers, peas and saffron rice. They allow you to order this extra spicy if you like. She ordered it just as it comes and had a little difficulty with the heat. I didn't try it so I can't vouch for how hot it was. She did take her leftovers home so it must have been pretty tasty. At $16 I feel that 3 shrimp (which were by no means tiger prawns or similar) was pretty stingy.
With all the excellent dining options in Durham these days, I don't see this place hanging around long. It's good for the after work crowd because of location, but I feel overall the menu is overpriced, the service is lacking and the ambiance is just plain strange. You're better off meeting at Mez. Perhaps Serena is a better lunch place?

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Light bite - Trader Joe's strawberry yogurt

1 words to the wise

I recently bought this and was thrilled to find a yogurt that was a normal sized container, sweetened naturally, fat free and only 120 calories! I'm not sure what happened, but this was AWFUL. Despite me stirring for minutes and trying to cream out all the lumps, this yogurt had a horrible texture and an even worse muddy brown color to top it off. I could have gotten past the color if it tasted okay, but mediocre flavor and awful texture. Yuck. Trader Joe's - You hurt me today. I actually threw it away after forcing down a couple of spoonfuls.

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Downtown Durham - Gregson street detour

0 words to the wise

For those of you who may not know, Gregson is closed between Main Street and Chapel Hill. This sent me and all the other sorry asses that took Gregson this morning on a 10 minute detour. Anyone know when this might be over? I'm not too keen on wasting gas these days...

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Photo of the Day - Gros Piton, St. Lucia

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Another from our honeymoon...

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Is it just me?

5 words to the wise

Is it just me or do you see the resemblance too? God it amazes me sometimes that my husband still loves me not only despite the silly things I say, but because of them. I was honestly convinced that hellboy was played by Ted Danson when I saw the preview.Photos borrowed from salon.com and cbsnews.com.

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Food Bible Rule #9

1 words to the wise

Ice cream is good for you because it has calcium and everyone knows calcium builds strong bones.

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Photo of the Day - Fruit man

2 words to the wise

When we were at one of the public beaches on our honeymoon, fruit man paid us a visit.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Tabbouleh

4 words to the wise

This weekend I finally attempted tabbouleh! I adapted from Bob's Red Mill package instructions. This is the finished platter we shared for lunch (hummus recipe here). It was really tasty!

My first tabbouleh
Makes an ungodly amount (we're talking party size)
Ingredients:
2 cups bulgur wheat
3 cups of curly parsley
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup minced onion
2 medium tomatoes seeded and diced
1 medium cucumber peeled and chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice (again the plastic lemon is what I had on hand)
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

Instructions:
Presoak the bulgur for 60 minutes in 2 cups of HOT water. Pulse parsley and mint in food processer until finely chopped. Drain out any excess water from bulgur and combine all ingredients in large bowl. Chill at least 20 minutes prior to serving.I ate this for lunch the next day and it was fabulous. It gets tastier with age!

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Spicy hummus

10 words to the wise

I've been told by a few people that they really love my hummus. I made a spicy version yesterday that was really tasty. I thought I'd share the recipe.

Jeni's spicy hummus
Makes a lot
Ingredients:
2 cans chickpeas (or garbanzo beans)
3 small cloves of garlic (outer skins and woody ends removed)
4 tbsp tahini (sesame seed puree)
4 tbsp lemon juice (I used the dreaded plastic squeezy guy cause that's what I had)
1/2 cup olive oil (you could split half this liquid with water if you wanted)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp hot chili sauce

Directions:
Place first 4 ingredients in food processor and puree until things are pretty chopped up. Slowly pour in olive oil while continuing to process. Once hummus is smooth and creamy, add the salt, pepper and chili sauce. I like to serve with a little pool of olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika.We had this on a platter with tabbouleh, carrots and pita bread for lunch and it was very yummy.

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I've been tagged!

2 words to the wise

Vanessa over at vanilla lavender has tagged me (a first for me) and says I should tell you all six unimportant things about myself.

1. I insist on being barefoot whenever possible.
2. I am scared of opening refrigerated biscuit dough because of the pop it makes.
3. I have a tattoo of my favorite flower on the top of my foot.
4. I can recite the alphabet backwards impressively fast.
5. My favorite thing to photograph is plant life (in case you hadn't noticed).
6. I wish I read more then I do.

Here are the Rules to the Game:
1. Link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post these rules to your Blog.
3. Share 6 unimportant things about yourself.
4. Tag people at the end of your entry.

The people I'd like to tag are:
Melanie at on my pole.
Meg at megrnc.
Triplet mama at loving my triplets.

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Duck Ragu

4 words to the wise

As the dinner poll from last week ended, I found myself standing at the poultry counter at whole foods in search of duck legs. Alas, the best they could do was frozen duck breasts. Mark doesn't like duck but I convinced him this would be good. I decided to make Duck Ragu from Mario Batali's, Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home. I really doctored this recipe a lot but he gave me a great base. So here it is. This recipe took a long time (but not that much work) and was well worth the wait. We both loved it. Mark said it was the best pasta sauce he'd ever had and he's been to Italy so that was quite the compliment!

Duck Ragu

Makes 4 generous servings
Ingredients:

2
duck breasts
1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup chopped onion (I used vidalia)
1 chopped carrot (peeled)

4 ounces of chopped white mushrooms
5-6 whole fresh sage leaves
3 thinly sliced cloves of garlic

1 cup of chicken broth

2 cups red wine

6 basil leaves chopped

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp garlic powder ( I ended up adding this because I wanted more garlic at the end)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat oil over medium high heat in a large sauce pan (I used an 8 qt) until almost smoking. Season duck breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Add to pan and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 12-14 minutes.

Remove duck and drain about 3 tbsp of the oil from the pot. Add all veggies, sliced garlic and sage and reduce heat to low. Cook 7-9 minutes until soft.
Add wine, broth and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Add duck, lower heat again and simmer covered for one hour. Remove duck and cool. Continue simmering sauce.

Once duck is cool enough to handle, pull apart meat into bite sized pieces. Add meat back to sauce, along with sugar, red pepper, garlic powder, sliced basil. Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes until reduced and thickened. Serve on top of your favorite pasta! We had it over angel hair with a side of my summer squash toss. Yum!

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