6 Years of Dating

I believe in celebrating the small things.

The ones that everyone else doesn’t celebrate.

our first pic on FB as a “couple”

Most people know they’re supposed to celebrate February 14.

Not everyone celebrates March 1.

For us, that’s our date-iversary.

And I never want to stop dating this guy.

Ever.

So this weekend, we’re going on a fancy date.

I’m going to drink champagne and thank the good Lord that for whatever reason we started dating 6 years ago.

Because we’ve got something special.

And I like it.

Smoooothies {reader request}

In the past two weeks, I’ve had multiple people ask me for smoothie recipes.  I regularly post my smoothies on Instagram and so I thought I’d share the recipes for two of my favorites.

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie 

1 cup almond milk (or your favorite milk)

1/2 to 1 whole banana

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (currently using a plant-based protein powder)

1 tablespoon peanut butter (or almond butter)

shake of cinnamon

Couple handfuls spinach (optional)

ice

Simply place all the ingredients into a blender.  Blend until smooth.

Bernardo’s Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
(recipe from It’s All Good cookbook)

almond milk

roasted sweet potato flesh

pitted date

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

pumpkin pie spice

ice

Simply blend and enjoy.

(p.s. this is Big Guy’s favorite smoothie)

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe that I’ve just GOT to try?

So Pin-teresting.

It’s a busy week.  But busy weeks aren’t all that bad.

a.)  I’ll appreciate the weekend more once it gets here.

b.)  When the work days are busy days, they seem to go by a little faster.

c.)  I promise I’m not wishing my life away.  But seriously, can’t we add another day to weekends?

And even though it’s Wednesday, I thought I’d share with you a few of my latest and greatest pins on Pinterest. 

This tomato salad and a glass of rose.  Summer, please hurry.

Speaking of rose, I would love to have a glass on this front porch.

I’ve been bit by the travel bug.

If only I could perfect the imperfect bun.

Summertime shoes are the best.  I can’t wait to wear sandals all day, every day.  And these kicks are fantastic for all summer outfits.

I want to bake something this weekend.  It’s been awhile.  How about Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes?

I’m in love with this kitchen.  The perfect mix of black and white.  And don’t think I didn’t see the extra island sink.

Thinking about summer makes me think about burgers.  And a Turkey Burger with Gorgonzola and Chili Garlic Slaw sounds amazing.  I even suggested having a “summer of burgers” to Big Guy where we would cook a different burger every Sunday (or one a week).  How fun would that be?

And someone needs to have a birthday because I need these Cake Batter Martinis in my life.  Like now.

And just because it’s Wednesday…

Weekend via Instagram {plus Meyer Lemon Pizza}

Can you believe it’s the last week of February?  I’m ready for Spring.  Especially after such a gorgeous weekend (what a tease).  Bring on the warmer weather and sunshine.

Come March, our weekends are slammed pack with plans.  So this past weekend we enjoyed a slow-paced Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday night we headed up to the country club for dinner.  I love eating there on Friday and Saturday nights because there are Chef’s Specials.  This weekends specials included monkfish.  A super ugly bottom feeder.  Despite being an ugly fish, it tastes delicious.  Especially when wrapped in bacon.  Big Guy even snagged a bite (or three) from my plate.  The monkfish was served over collards along with roasted tomatoes.  The collards were awesome.  Chef Ryan – here’s your shout out…Thanks for such a fantastic dinner.

We started Saturday being super productive.  But once the afternoon hour struck, it was time for a cocktail.  I saw some Meyer Lemons at the store earlier in the week and I couldn’t resist grabbing a handful.  I used the Meyer Lemons to make a sparkling cocktail that includes rosemary simple syrup, vodka, Meyer lemon juice and sparkling wine.  So refreshing!

Saturday evening we had an arrangement of cheeses as an appetizer.  We picked up this bottle of cava when we were at the Raleigh Wine Shop and it was suggested to enjoy with a cheese plate.  It’s also cheap enough you won’t regret using it for sangria, or in my case, the Meyer Lemon cocktail.  The cheeses included a balsamic parmesan, a buttermilk blue, champagne cheddar and a goats milk cheese.  I love a cheese plate.

And on Sunday evening it was all about the pizza.  Meyer Lemon Pizza to be exact.  I know, lemons on a pizza seems rather bizarre.  The flavor combinations were incredible.  The pizza also has sauteed spinach, prosciutto and honey goat cheese.  Every bite was amazing.  I used a stand-by gluten-free pizza recipe and instead of cooking it in the oven during the second phase of cooking, we fired up the grill.  This just might be one of our favorite crusts to date.  Chewy with crispy edges.  Just the way I like it.  And yes, you can eat the lemon peel.

Such a beautiful weekend that came to an end far to quickly.

Insta-Lately

Here’s the details behind a few of my ‘grams this past week:

With all the snow last week, I had to find a way to get in a workout without leaving the house.  Thankfully I have some at-home-workouts “pinned” on Pinterest.  This one had me sweating up a storm.

Last Saturday, during our adventure in Raleigh, we dined at Platesa fairly new restaurant on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh.  The menu changes weekly, so I have a feeling we’ll be going to this lunch and dinner spot more than once.  To start, we shared the  Charcuterie Plate.  I was pleasantly surprised with the plate.

Assorted pâtés, terrines, cured meats, turkey
and rabbit rillettes, cheese, toast, pickles.

Since we had an appetizer, I kept my meal simple with the Roasted Beet Salad.  The colors on the plate were incredible.

Red roasted beets, chèvre, beetroot puree,
beetroot reduction, croutons, herb jus

 Along with the beets, some heirloom tomatoes.  Big Guy ordered a panini and it was amazing.  Super crunchy on the outside with ooey-gooey cheese on the inside.  Sandwich perfection.  To be honest, I was a little nervous about going to Plates after a not-so-pleasant encounter at plates about a month ago.  But the service was impeccable and the food was local, fresh and delicious.  I can’t wait to go back for dinner or to just snag a specialty cocktail.

My Valentine flowers are still looking gorgeous on the kitchen table.  I’m thinking these may be my new favorite flower (sorry, tulips).

On Tuesday night, I had dinner plans with some gal pals.  Not only was this wine necessary but it was appropriate.  Tuesday was National Drink Wine Day.

Sushi is always a good idea.  Especially with wine and gal pals.

Check out the color of this smoothie that I had Wednesday morning.  So vibrant.  Whole Foods had purple sweet potatoes and I just couldn’t pass up buying one on Saturday.  It made it’s way into my smoothie on Sunday morning, too.

TGIalmostF!

Four Citrus-Herb Chicken

This may be one of my top chicken recipes to date.

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The recipe starts with a whole chicken (I purchased the chicken at whole foods and asked the butcher to “break it down’ for me) and four pieces of citrus.

Ruby Red Grapefruit.

Lemon.

Cara Cara Orange.

Navel Orange.

The chicken marinates in the citrus zest, a little lime juice, a swirl of olive oil, garlic and minced jalapeno for several hours.

Might I mention, zesting and segmenting citrus makes your kitchen smell amazing.

After marinating, the chicken is seasoned with salt and pepper and broiled for 30-40 minutes (turning after 20 minutes) until cooked through and delicious.

To prep the citrus salsa, the citrus segments are mixed with lime juice, mint, red onion, salt and pepper and olive oil.

I wish I would have doubled this mix.

It’s incredible.

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Mouth-watering.

chicken 022Perfectly cooked.

chicken 023A pop of color and flavor.

chicken 024Perfect chicken dinner.

 

 

 

Rewind {the weekend}

It’s Tuesday.  The weekend is far behind us.  In fact, I’m already counting down the hours until Friday, 5pm.  But this past weekend was a good weekend.

Valentine’s Day isn’t the most important day in the world to me.  In fact, I never really liked it until Big Guy came around.  But I do like a card.  Not only did I get a card but he also came home with gorgeous flowers (I’m not a rose kind of girl) and a bottle of Dom.

I drank my fancy champs with homemade spring rolls.  This dinner was so much fun to make!

chicken 004

Ready to roll!  Inside the spring rolls, sauteed shrimp, avocado, cucumbers, bibb lettuce and cilantro.

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We had a lot of fun putting together the rolls.

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chicken 007

The best part of the rolls was the dipping sauce!  That’s where the flavor came from.

But I mean, pretty much anything would taste good dipped in a peanut butter sauce with ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce and sriracha.

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We enjoyed this dinner picnic-style.  Making it even more fun and different than a typical night at home.

Saturday was a fun day from beginning to end.  Lunch in Raleigh, visiting a new-to-me wine shop, grabbing a drink with friends and we finished with a shopping trip at Whole Foods.

I had a wine dinner planned for Saturday night that was inspired by a wine club dinner I attended back in January.

The dinner started with a Four-Herb Green Goddess Salad.  The flavor of the tarragon was really prominent.

For dinner, Kona Coffee Crusted Steak served over a Cauliflower Mash.  To drink, one of my absolute favorite red wines of all time: 2011 Terra d’Oro Deaver Zinfandel

And for dessert, candied bacon, blue cheese and poached vanilla apricots with a glass of the Terra d’Oro Port.

The dinner was full of conversation and laughs and was one of the most perfect Saturday night’s at home that I could imagine.

Back to day dreaming about this weekend…

Amazing Flour-less Brownies

Valentine’s Day is really just an excuse to eat chocolate, right?

Oh, and say “I love you” a few more times than usual to your loved ones.

(p.s. – I love you, Big Guy.)

With all the wintery weather we’ve had the past few days I had to find some things to keep me busy.  Thankfully I had all the ingredients I needed to make Amazing Flour-less Brownies.

I’ve made flour-less brownies before but these are by far the best ones yet.

And the secret ingredient – black beans.  You heard me right, black beans.

These are divine.

Super fudgey (not a word but they are) and intensely delicious.

And the best part, the food processor does most of the work for you.  (I bet a high-power blender would work just as well, too.)

Full of chocolate from the cocoa powder and chocolate chips (and coffee grounds which bring out the chocolate flavor).

Insane, y’all.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

 

Chef’s Counter at Beach Tree

The essence of “barefoot elegance,” Beach Tree restaurant has the feel of a Hawaiian beach house.

hawaii 164

Our dinner at the Chef’s Counter at Beach Tree is one of the top five meals I’ve had in my lifetime.  It was more than dinner – it was an experience.  I didn’t know anything about the Chef’s Counter until I arrived to Hawaii and was flipping through a magazine in the hotel room.  They had me at “start the night by sabering a champagne bottle.”

And that I did.  On the first try.

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This is a dinner I will never forget.  Not only was Chef Nick one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, but he ran the most organized kitchen I’ve ever seen.  All of his staff knew their purpose and had respect for the kitchen and the Chef.

There was no menu.  That’s right – I had no idea what we were going to eat when I made the reservation.  I knew that the restaurant’s cuisine is Californian with Italian influence.  Chef Nick got to know us and made the menu from there.  After our first glass of champagne, we all decided to take a trip of Southern Italy.  I knew I was in for a treat.

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One of the great things about Beach Tree is that they can open any and every bottle because they sell all wine (over 50 bottles) by the glass, carafe or bottle.  I guarantee we tasted 12 bottles of wine before the evening was over.

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The first dish was a house-made cheese over a parsley-walnut pesto with grilled house-made bread.  I die.  The pesto rocked my taste buds.  And grilled bread might have stolen my heart at first bite.

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This was one of my favorite bottles of white wine (other than the champagne) that we sipped.

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The wine never stopped.

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Pork belly!!!  And probably the best pork belly I’ve ever had.  It was so different than all the pork belly plates I’ve had in the past.  The heirloom tomatoes in Hawaii make me jealous!  Heirlooms year round?  The sauce was briny and delicious and I couldn’t get over the perfect texture of the pork.

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This dish worried me for Big Guy’s sake.  He does not like runny yolks.  (I adore runny yolks and there was nothing the Chef could put in front of me that would make me cringe.)  But we both ended up loving the dish.  The egg was slightly breaded and fried to perfection with a perfect runny yolk that paired perfectly with the grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.

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After watching pizza after pizza being tossed, sauced and topped, I was praying to get a bite.  And I did.  Wild boar pizza.  Big Guy died and went to heaven with the first bite.  Undeniably fresh dough with the perfect crust bubbles.

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I am so becoming a red wine drinker.  But only with food.  And the Chef assured me that Italians only drink red wine while eating.  It’s not something they sit around and sip.  Red wine is beginning to make sense to me.  And I like it.

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I couldn’t keep up with all the drinking!

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I don’t eat a lot of pasta but my word…  This!  This ravioli was out of this world.  House-made, insanely delicious, incredibly rich but perfectly balanced.

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A fish dish that Big Guy enjoyed.  Or perhaps his taste buds were just drunk.  What we thought was a sweet potato puree was actually carrots.  And there were caper berries that made every bite briny and delicious.

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More wine.  The Chef is a huge fan of the Tignanello.  Big Guy loved the Le Volte and I swayed more towards the Peppoli.

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After all the wine and food I didn’t know how I was going to make room for the main dish.  But I did.  (Thankfully the dinner spans over a 4 hour period.)

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The main dish was simple while the presentation was quite the opposite.  Grilled steak and pork were topped with grilled scallions and a side of the best potatoes I’ve ever tasted.  I need to know what was sprinkled on top of the potatoes.

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After the main course, the Chef rolled walked us out to a beach side table overlooking the ocean.  It was perfect.

There we sipped on house made limoncello and then were served personalized desserts.  Mine was chocolate heaven (cake filled with chocolate alongside home made cherry ice cream) and Big Guy was served the most amazing banana split you’ve ever seen.

By far one of the most amazing dinners and experiences of my life.

I can’t thank Chef Nick and his staff enough for making our evening so enjoyable and fun.

 

 

Insta-Lately {the last 10 days}

Back to the real world!  I have so much to share about our trip to Hawaii including some fantastic dinners, amazing views and a picture-perfect wedding.  Hawaii was everything and nothing that I expected, both at the same time.  Here’s what I’ve been up to lately on Instagram…

The week we were to leave for Hawaii, a “snow storm” hit eastern NC.  Let’s just say I was more than ready to pack up my Lilly clothes and sun screen and get the heck outta here!

By the time we made it to LAX last Thursday, I was more than ready for a drink.  Vacation had only just begun.

After 20 hours of traveling, we arrived in Hawaii.  I was so tired I didn’t even have the energy to pop open the champagne.

But the long day of travel was totally worth this view on Friday morning.

Any trip to Hawaii must involve a frozen drink or two.  ‘Da Lime in da Coconut was one of my favorite drinks for pool side sippin’.  I was obsessed with the real flakes of coconut with every sip.

The Chef’s Table at the Canoe House was one of the highlights of the trip.  I promise I’ll have a whole post dedicated to this dinner.  Two words though, Mexican melons.

After a day of exploring, nothing tasted better than a Cocojito.  Basically a mojito that was made for me.

No trip to Hawaii is complete without a luau.  “The more your hips move, the better the story.”  Might I add that Big Guy went up on stage at one point.  And there’s video to prove it.

Bright and early on Sunday morning we arrived for our helicopter tour.  Words cannot even describe this experience.

Once-in-a-lifetime-views.

Seriously.  Breath-taking views.

While the boys fished, the ladies went on a Kona coffee plantation tour.  Let’s just say I know why Kona coffee is so expensive now.  One tree produces one pound of a coffee a year!

Sushi!!!!!  Everything I wanted and more.

The first time I’ve ever had my feet in the Pacific Ocean.  I’m such an East Coast gal.

The lady of the week at her rehearsal dinner.

Only my favorite animal ever.  I really wanted to bring one home.

The wedding day finally arrived!  And a beautiful wedding it was.

Another day, another adventure.  This time to the black sand beaches where sea turtles own the coast line.

And of course we had to stop here and have a drink.  The southern-most bar in the US.

Our last dinner was epic.  Such a gorgeous location.

Can every date-night include waves crashing?

Big Guy wanted his picture taken in the lava tunnel.  The amount of lava on the island was insane.

Our final stop (well, not counting Target) was the Kona Brewing Company.  Loved sampling all the local brewed beers.  And the pizza was incredible.

And here we are today.  Back to regular programming.  Coffee and a green smoothie were more than necessary to get this Monday started.