Nectarine, Proscuitto and Arugula Bundles

I menu plan because, well, I’m a planner.

But because I like balance in my meals.

I try not to serve cheese as an appetizer if there is going to be cheese in the main dish.

And if the main dish is on the heavy-side, I try to serve a lighter appetizer.

Get my drift?

This appetizer solved all my problems.  And it’s a no-cook, 3-ingredient “recipe.”

I don’t even think you can call it a recipe…it’s that easy.

Nectarine, Proscuitto and Arugula Bundles are the perfect addition to any “appy” hour.

bundle

Simply roll a wedge of nectarine, arugula and freshly cracked pepper with a slice of proscuitto.

I also did another variety (on the right) which is Black Forrest Ham with nectarine wedges and fresh basil leaves.  I actually preferred the basil to the arugula.

But both are fresh, light and perfect for a warm, summer evening.

bundles

 

Weekend Review. {double date and Lilly}

I literally shed a tear yesterday morning when my Momma and Dad drove away.

ugh.

It’s time to plan our next reunion, I suppose.

But this past weekend was just what I needed.

On Friday night, we took my parents to On The Square for dinner.

I ordered the Hold the Phone cocktail to start.  I had this same drink a few weeks back but it was so much better this time around.

Cardamaro, Fresh Basil, Lemon, Canton Ginger Liqueur, Bubbly

Momma took a sip of mine and then ordered her own – that means it was really good.

Refreshing and not overpowering at all.

To start, I tried the Picked Cabbage and Arugula Salad.  It was a “new” menu item this week.  The acidity was balanced out with the cheese and I enjoyed the brininess of the cabbage.

Artisanal Cheese, Micro Basil, Champagne Vinaigrette

The rest of the table ordered the grilled romaine salad which is always delicious.

For my main dish, the Grilled Escolar.

I am SO glad I ordered this plate.

Warm Tortilla Salad, Lime Crema, Blueberry Pico de Gallo

Though Momma and Dad had been with us to OTS before, I think they enjoyed themselves even more this time around.

With full bellies, we headed home.

On Saturday morning, the guys went to play a round of golf and Momma and I headed out for some errands.  We hit up the Farmers Market and I snagged some corn for dinner and some salad greens for the week.

We had all intentions of catching some rays at the pool but the weather was so weird.

So we showered up and headed to eat lunch with the guys.

Marlo and Garrett joined us for lunch.

We celebrated National Wear Your Lilly Day with a glass of prosecco!

The rest of the day was spent soaking up precious time with my parents.

I’ll share our delicious burger dinner later in the week.

And I think we can all agree on this:

Currently.

Eating / Sushi!  We’re obsessed.  This past Sunday we headed to Mura (again) and tried four new rolls.  I was in sushi heaven.

Drinking / Bubbles.  Always and forever.  But I’m trying to experiment with gin and make use of all our fresh herbs in cocktails this summer.

experimenting with gin

Practicing / My golf swing.  No, seriously!  Last night was the first GNO (girls night out) Golf Social at the Country Club.  I had an absolute blast and I can’t wait to hit a few more balls.

Mastering / Curling my hair!  Y’all, I’m getting good at it.

Learning / All about gardening.  In fact, we released 1,500 ladybugs into the garden on Tuesday night in hopes to save our okra.  Big Guy taught me all about the life cycle of ladybugs.  Fun fact:  Ladybugs live 1-3 years.  Way more than I ever imagined.

Trying / To live for the moment and cherish every moment of every day with the ones I love.

Playing / Country music all summer long!  It’s my favorite.

Finishing / Currently, my coffee.

Reading / Wild and Ladies’ Night.  I am almost finished with Ladies’ Night and it’s such a great read (and easy, too!).  Wild is taking me a little longer but I want to read it before the movie comes out.

Remembering / Everyone has their struggles and we all need grace.

Wearing / Lilly!  And it’s National Wear Your Lilly Day on Saturday – so you should wear some, too.  And sunscreen.  Always.

Cooking / Zucchini!  We’ve got zucchini coming out of our ears!  I can’t wait to cook with the rest of our homegrown produce.

lasagna 2

Working / On checking items off the Summer Bucket List!  In fact, it’s hanging on the refrigerator so that I can’t forget.

Traveling / No where this weekend!  But I have a few upcoming beach weekends in the works.  It’s my happy place.

Wanting / Exactly what I have.  I am so blessed and have more than I could ever want in life.  So I want to appreciate it all.  (but a glass of bubbles after work will be fantastic.)

i stole this idea from jessica because i like lists.  and this was a fun list.

Baked Brie with Jezebel Blueberries

There are few things in life more perfect than a Friday or Saturday evening spent on the back deck with a drink in hand.

Painted in Waterlogue

It’s one of my happy places.

Typically it’s more of an “appy” hour for us, with a delicious bite or two to accompany our conversation and drinks.

This past Saturday night I was craving cheese.  But I didn’t want to be boring with a cheese plate.

And we had some blueberries in the fridge that needed to be used.

And Big Guy was determined to use a jalapeno fresh from the garden.

Taking a lead from a recipe I saw in Southern Living, I came up with a baked brie and blueberry appetizer.

brie

In a small bowl, I tossed 1/2 to 1 cup (a huge handful) of blueberries with 2 tablespoons pepper jelly, a good squeeze of spicy mustard, 1/2 of a jalapeno (minced), salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cut the top rind off the brie round (I used an 8 ounce round, preferably one that comes in the wooden box).  Place the cheese back in the box and set on a baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Add the blueberry mixture to the top of the brie and bake for 5 more minutes or until the cheese is melting.

This appetizer is perfection!  Salty, sweet, a little spicy, cheesy and the blueberries pop in your mouth.

blueberry brie

Paired perfectly with Mumm Rose Champagne.

And a side of conversation.

Boiler Room {oysters, burgers, beer, hallelujah}

If you live in Eastern NC, I’m sure you’ve heard of Vivian Howard.  And if you haven’t, then you must live under a rock.

Vivian Howard became a household name thanks to her restaurant “Chef and the Farmer” located in Kinston, NC.  But her real fame came after a t.v. show aired on PBS titled “A Chef’s Life.”    Not only has Vivian been a James Beard Semi-finalist but she was also featured in the most current issue of “Southern Living.”

Yesterday, on the way home from a wedding, Big Guy and I finally got the chance to check out Vivian’s latest venture, Boiler Room.

boiler

We arrived right at 12pm to guarantee we would get a table.  Boiler Room does not take reservations (though Chef and the Farmer does) and is first come, first serve.

Once seated, we couldn’t help but fall in love with the decor and the vibe of Boiler Room.  It’s a small restaurant but the food is anything but small in flavor.

To start, we both ordered one of their seasonal cocktails.  I ordered the Putnam Punch which included gin and fresh strawberries.  It was delicious.

punch

After our drinks arrived, we ordered an appetizer of Southern Poutine.  Crisp, fresh-cut french fries were doused in a sauce with pulled pork along with cheese curds for an over-the-top french fry appetizer.

fries

There isn’t one thing healthy about the fries but they were worth every calorie.  On the side, a dipping sauce made with vinegar and BBQ sauce.

For lunch, I was torn between the #1 and the #2.  And then I pulled a fast one and ordered the #5.

Butterbean Burger, Caramelized Onion Mayo, Smoked Gouda, Tobacco Onions

If you’re scared of a “vegetarian” burger – this will change your mind.  The flavors were nothing like what I expected but everything that a burger should be.

One of the best parts was the fresh made, buttered bun that was perfectly soft on the inside but sturdy enough to stand up to any burger.

burger

I ate every.single.bite.

If you’re in the area, make plans to visit now.  I know I’m planning on a cold-weather trip so that I can enjoy oysters and pimiento cheese with crackers.

A fresh perspective on an oyster and burger bar.

Vivian Howard has done it again.

Bida Manda {Triangle Restaurant Week}

Triangle Restaurant Week is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence that includes restaurants in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and other surrounding areas.  For me, Restaurant Week is an opportunity to try a new-to-me restaurant.  Restaurant Week happens two times a year and I try to make it if all possible.  (If you recall, I tried out Battistella’s in January as a part of Restaurant Week.)

Before I get to the review, let me start with this:  Make a reservation now at Bida Manda.  It’s been on my list of places to try but for some reason we never made a point to dine at Bida Manda.  And we’ve been missing out.

Bida Manda is a Laotian restaurant and the term “Bida Manda” is a term for “mother” and “father.”  The food is a flavorful marriage of Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese cooking traditions with French sensitivity.

The restaurant space is beautiful.  The wood that you find on the walls was salvages from old barns and church walls.

First of all, the service was impeccable.  Our waiter was fantastic despite having a high-volume of customers and I would go back for the service alone.

Secondly, the drinks were seasonal and delicious.

I ordered the Jamaican 75.  It’s on their new bar menu which isn’t posted online yet but it was a mix of rum, hibiscus simple syrup, citrus and sparkling wine.

Perfectly sweet without being overwhelming.

While the regular menu was available for us to order from, we were there for Restaurant Week so we ordered off the 3-course menu.  

The waiter highly recommended the sausage appetizer and the lettuce wraps.  While Big Guy’s sausage was delicious, the lettuce wraps stole the show.

Crispy Rice Lettuce Wraps with herbs, peanuts and lime

wraps

Taste buds were blown away.  This was hands-down the favorite plate of the night.  The description gives this appetizer no justice what-so-ever.  I happily shared with Big Guy because this portion is huge.  Perfect for sharing with the whole table.  Though you might be tempted to order another plate of them.  The next time we return, we will no doubt order this dish.

The waiter also gave us recommendations for the entree selection.  He did not hesitate to recommend the Crisp Pork Belly Soup and the Green Papaya Salad.

Big Guy ordered the soup.  But soup isn’t a fair word for this dish.

Kaffir lime leaf coconut curry broth, julienned fresh vegetables, peanuts, local herbs, rice noodles, and house-made crispy pork belly 

Savory and succulent, this dish was a pleasure to taste.

As for me, I went with the salad.  But it’s not really a salad.  First of all, there’s no lettuce.  Secondly, the papaya is cut into noodle-like strips and served warm and tossed with a delicious sauce.  And finally, there’s really no green on the plate – expect for the lime and the dill.

Julienned green papaya, tomato, house-made tamarind and lime sauce, peanuts

crab

 

For the protein, I ordered the Crispy NC Soft Shell Crab.

I actually don’t typically like crabs because they are so.much.work to get a bite of meat.  But with soft shell crabs you can eat every.single.bite.  And since it’s seasonal and not often on the menu, I was glad that I went that route.

And then dessert was served.

The dessert is where I tasted the French inspiration of the Lao cuisine.

French Macaroons with a shot of Chocolate milk.  The macaroon was a lemon-lime flavor with a blueberry cream filling.

It reminded me of the most amazing lemon bar ever.

macaroon

And I couldn’t tell you the last time I had chocolate milk.

The perfect ending to the most amazing dinner.

I cannot wait to go back!

And after dinner, we stumbled upon a sandcastle.  In the middle of downtown.

And this is why I love date nights with Big Guy.

 

Weekend Review {supper club, Saturday and a perfect Sunday}

Good morning, friends!  Surprisingly I am finding myself feel very refreshed and ready to tackle the week ahead on this Monday morning.  I have a busy week but there’s a few fun things thrown in that I have to look forward to. Let’s get right to the weekend review and everything that was beautiful this past weekend.

Friday night we headed to the Club for Supper Club.  Our supper club group gets together four times a year for dinner and it’s always a good time.

The dinner was delicious but the dessert was by far my favorite.  It was a sour cream cake with the most delicious frosting ever.

On Saturday I decided not to set an alarm and wanted to truly savor the day.  No rushing around, no plans.  Just a day of relaxation and fun.

Of course we were still up and at ‘em.  We headed to the Farmers Market and browsed all the fresh and delicious produce.  I ended up bringing home (not pictured) some lettuce, potatoes, zucchini, strawberries, green onions and farm fresh eggs.  I adore the Farmers Market and plan to go every Saturday we’re in town, well, unless our garden is out of control with produce.

After running a few more errands, I headed to the pool.  Just me, a new book and four life guards.  I was the only one there for a good hour.  Pure bliss.

Saturday evening we had a double date with friends at our house.  It was an absolute perfect evening.

First of all, I’m obsessed with this tray that I snagged from Target.  Isn’t it adorable?  Like I promised, I experimented with gin on Saturday and made Strawberry Basil Gin and Tonics Sodas.  So refreshing!  The strawberries from the Farmers Market made the strawberry puree extra delicious.  I may just be a fan of gin after all.

Dinner was delicious but the company was even more amazing.  We snacked on an appetizer for Goat Pimiento Cheese while chatting away.  The pimiento cheese was an grown-up twist to the Southern favorite.  For dinner, Coffee-Crusted Strip Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce.  On the side, Grilled Endive and Roasted Potatoes (not pictured).  For the steak seasoning, I used a coffee rub that we had made a couple of months ago when we had some Kona coffee that was begging to be used in a rub.  The chimichurri sauce was out of this world.  I love having fresh herbs right out the back door.

S’mores!  As the sun went down, it got a little cool outside but it was perfect for a fire pit.  I haven’t had s’mores in forever and they were a huge hit.  There’s just something about s’mores that makes you feel like a big kid.  Along with the graham crackers, I made some cookies to use for the sweet sandwich - Flourless Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies.  I really didn’t want the evening to end.

On Sunday, we took it slow but eventually headed out to grab a light lunch at Milton and Miles.  We don’t have many lunch places around town so it’s nice to have this little sandwich and salad place.  This is one of the new additions to the menu for Spring:  The Spring Salad.  Loaded with fruit, jicama, candied pecans, feta and green onions.  So refreshing and light.

Sunday afternoon Big Guy smoked some chicken and we just enjoyed the sunshine.

More details on Sunday dinner tomorrow.

But I can’t not mention dessert.

Homemade Strawberry-Pretzel Ice Cream.  Seriously.

Cream cheese was a new-to-me homemade ice cream ingredient but the end result was perfection.  The pretzels added saltiness that was much appreciated while the hint of basil really made me feel fancy.  Make this ice cream now – strawberries are on their last weeks of being in season but they made this ice cream over the top.

I savored every last bite of this past weekend.  Literally.

 

{Virtual} Coffee Chat

Grab yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of OJ and let’s chat!

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that it’s my Momma’s birthday.  And while I hate that I can’t celebrate with her this weekend I am glad that I got to spend last weekend with her and the rest of the family.  I hope that her day is full of kisses from Haines!

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I’ve been battling some sort of warm-weather cold and it’s not fun.  Sore throat, sneezing, stuffed up nose.  It hasn’t been pretty.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I really haven’t cooked much this week.  Big Guy has been out of town all week and I just haven’t gotten creative on my own.  But I promise lots of deliciousness next week.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I am in the market for a new bathing suit.  I hate trying on bathing suits but I just need to bite the bullet and do it.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about how pumped I am to not have plans for the weekend.  Other than Supper Club on Friday night, the weekend is ours.  The next month or so is jammed back and it’s nice to have a day or two with no plans.  Perhaps I’ll make it to the Saturday morning farmers market.  And lay out at the pool.  And I’m really hoping to cook some amazing food, sip refreshing drinks and perhaps even have a fire pit night.

If we were having coffee this morning… I would tell you how fantastic the latest issue of Southern Living is. Seriously – it’s full of good stuff.  My favorite article is the “A to Z Guide to Southern Food.”  #southernfoodnow

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about the gin cocktail that I’m planning on making tomorrow.  I’ve never experimented with gin but it’s on the “Summer List” and I’m excited to taste a new drink.  But don’t worry – there’s a bottle of Prosecco chilled just in case it’s not my favorite.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that our garden is looking good!  I am so ready for homegrown produce.  But I do plan on using lots of fresh herbs this weekend.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you to have the most amazing weekend and…

(source)

Weekend Review {unofficial start of summer}

Happy Monday Tuesday!  After a long weekend, I’m ready to tackle the week.  But first, here’s a look at what I was up to all weekend.

Last Thursday evening we went on an impromptu double-date with our friends Marlo and Garrett to celebrate Garrett’s birthday.  On The Square is one of our favorite spots and it didn’t disappoint.

 I sipped on a Hold the Phone cocktail which was a combination of Cardamaro, Fresh Mint, Lemon, Canton Ginger Liqueur, and Bubbly.

And for dinner, Pan Seared NC Mahi-Mahi with Almond Crust, Strawberry and Asparagus.

After a couple of hours of work on Friday, we headed to Ocean Isle Beach for a long weekend.

On the way down, we stopped in Wilmington for a late lunch at Bento Box.  

The salmon was so fresh!

Once settled, we poured ourselves a drink and relaxed while we waited on the rest of the gang to arrive.

We were up bright and early on Saturday morning and went on a walk.  The walk included a coffee break in the middle.

There’s a new coffee shop on the island and I have been looking forward to trying it since Easter.

Drift is in a perfect location on the island and I see myself being a regular when I’m on the island.

All I wanted to do on Saturday and Sunday was relax.  And that’s just what I did.

I even had my own pool boy.

This little girl loves the pool and the beach.  Building sand castles is her favorite.  Along with turtles.

Don’t be fooled – she only laid in this position for a picture.  She is always on the go.

Saturday night was low-key.  I fixed dinner for the family along with my Momma.

Sunday was filled with the same as Saturday.

But on Sunday night we grilled out over at my PawPaw and MawMaw’s house.  Hamburgers and hotdogs are a must.

And we obviously had to take advantage of the scenery.

Unofficially the start of summer.

And this little girl made the weekend extra sweet.  So full of life.  I can still here her saying “I love you SO much, Emmy.”

And finally – Happy Birthday to my little brother, Taylor!  I am so glad we got to spend some time together this past weekend.  Let’s promise not too let too much time go by before I see you again, okay?

Summer Bucket List {2014}

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer in my world.  And summer lasts until the first ECU football game – that’s the unofficial start of fall (though it will continue to feel like summer for a month or more).

Summer is my favorite time of the year and I want to make sure that Summer 2014 is one of the best yet.  So I took the lead from How Sweet It Is and I’m creating a summer bucket list.  This list isn’t final, by any means.

 

from Lilly Pulitzer via Pinterest

Use fresh herbs from the garden as much as possible, especially in cocktails.

Read five books.  The One and Only by Emily Griffin is on the list.

Take a last minute weekend trip with Big Guy.  We’re not spontaneous enough in life.

Experiment with gin.  Because I can put cucumbers and mint in my drink with gin.

from Lilly Pulitzer via Pinterest

Make homemade ice cream.  Twice.

Plan our next BIG vacation.

Enjoy cookouts with friends.

Make a trashy and/or gourmet hot dog and call it dinner.

Plan a fun weekend with family at our house.

Enjoy your long weekend, friends!