Friday Favorites.

I must have jinxed myself last Friday by sharing my plans for poolside fun on Saturday.  My plans included absolutely no sunshine and it’s starting to look like another weekend of rain is almost here.  Why, oh why, is it sunny and beautiful when I’m stuck inside the office and on the days that all I want to do is be outside it’s gross?  Riddle me that.  So I’m not going to tell you my plans for the weekend in hopes that I’ll have lots of sunshine to report on Monday.  But seriously, my weekend is going to include a lot of hanging out with Big Guy.  The guy has been gone since Sunday and I cannot wait to see his face this evening post-cocktails with a friend.  And to be honest, I don’t care if it rains because we still have fun together, no matter the weather (take that, Weather Channel – you’re not raining on my parade even if there are rain drops falling).

 

Favorite Upgrade:  Grilled Romaine Salad with Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp.  While grilling romaine is nothing new in my kitchen, the toppings on this salad are insane.  If you think salads are boring, you’re wrong.

Favorite Twist:  Italian Guacamole.  A twist on a classic by using basil instead of cilantro.  And by the looks of our basil plant, I think I could afford to make a batch (or ten) of this guacamole.  Pass the chips!

Favorite Woah.  I have a strong desire to plan a dinner party after seeing this tablescape.  I’m obsessed with pineapples (and flamingos) which means I’m obsessed with this table decor.

Favorite Stuffed:  Cheesy Summer Stuffed Poblanos.  I want this and I want it now.  But honestly, can you go wrong with anything covered in melted cheese?

Favorite Truth:  No explanation needed.

 Favorite Sweat:  Because sometimes you just don’t want to go to the gym.

Favorite Date Night:  Balsamic Fig Glazed Pork with Blistered Tomatoes and Creamy Gorgonzola Polenta.  There’s a bottle of wine at home just waiting to be paired with this dinner.

Favorite Style:  Maybe I’m stuck in the 90s, but I’m still in love with the chambray look.

Favorite Slurp:  Peach Mule.  Ever since a taste of a peach cocktail on Wednesday night, I’m craving one of my own.

And on that note – Happy Friday!

Stanbury {restaurant review}

I checked another restaurant off my Restaurant “Bucket List” last night!  This restaurant first made it to my list thanks to Big Guy…and I didn’t even take him to dinner with me.  (But that’s just an excuse to go again.)  And then it got a star by it’s name on my list when it was featured in Southern Living a month or so ago.  Last night I went with two girlfriends to celebrate a birthday.  And it totally lived up to the hype.  If you want to go – make reservations up to two weeks in advance – the place is a hot spot right now.

Of course we started with a round of drinks.  I typically go for a glass for bubbles when I first arrive at a restaurant but I had heard rumors that their cocktails were amazing.  And amazing they were.

We all ordered a different drink and it was so fun to taste all the libations.

Flower of Pomona – vodka, lemon, basil, moscato d’asti, orange blossom water  

Incredibly refreshing and the orange blossom water was the unexpected flavor that really made me love the drink.  And obviously I love herbs in any drink.

Nilsson’s Cure – coconut infused rum, lime, coconut water, egg white

I love anything coconut-flavored and the birthday girl really enjoyed this cocktail.  Super light but the flavor held on to your tongue thanks to the frothy egg white.

Sandhills Smach - bourbon, peach, lemon, mint

Oh, bourbon.  I finally found a bourbon drink that didn’t make me want to run and find a bottle of water.  While I would never order this drink, I can totally see why a bourbon-lover would be a fan of this cocktail.

Stanbury is a small plates restaurant (so don’t go with friends you don’t share well with) but we all started with our own salad.

salad

Bibb Lettuce … radish, fine herbs, sherry vinaigrette

Such a fresh salad!  I loved the light and bright the flavors of the vinaigrette.  I have to be honest, I had a little salad-envy at first but ultimately, this lighter salad was all I really needed.

The other ladies ordered the Grilled Romaine … caesar dressing, nicoise olive, crouton, white anchovy and it was delicious.  The dressing was incredible and had so much flavor.

For three ladies, we ordered five small plates per the advice from our server.  (p.s. The service was fantastic!)  The kitchen was really on top of things and sent the food out in shifts – we would have been so overwhelmed had all five arrived at the same time.  With dinner, we all shared a bottle of red wine that was new to their wine list.

wine

This bottle of red is a Cabernet Sauvignon Blend from the Bonny Doon Vineyard.  I would highly recommend this wine – it was very food-friendly.

crostini

Crostini … grilled zucchini, basil, whipped ricotta, lemon, Boulted baguette

Carbs and cheese, you can’t really go wrong.  I adore zucchini but this was unlike any zucchini I had ever tasted.  And the whipped ricotta was smooth and perfectly balanced by the fresh herbs.  One of my favorite bites of the night.

green beans

Green Beans… smoked blue fish, green goddess, tomato, crispy shallot

I was hesitant about this dish.  I mean, who orders green beans at a restaurant?  It just seems boring to me.  But these were not boring.  They were unlike any green beans I had ever had.  Think green bean casserole at Thanksgiving but super fancied up.  The flavor of the smoked blue fish was intense but perfect and I loved the crispy onion bits that were hiding in every bite.

Fried Oysters … cucumber, daikon, carrot, cilantro, sriracha mayo

Talk about a perfect flavor combination.  And the textures were perfect – crunchy fried oysters with a tender, succulent inside paired with slightly wilted veggies and a smooth yet spicy sauce.

Roasted Marrow … parsley, shallot, caper, Boulted bread

You read that right, roasted bone marrow.  I’m fairly certain the other two ladies questioned my decision to order this plate but I knew I was onto something.  When you slather the bone marrow on the bread it’s basically the same as spreading on a butter – but it’s ten times better and more flavorful.  The herb salad served on the side added a pop of freshness if the marrow was a little rich for your taste buds.

sirloin

Grilled Sirloin … charred eggplant, roasted pepper, sheep feta, crispy shallot

This was probably the least memorable of all the dishes – but I’m fairly certain that is because it was plate number six and we were rather full at this point.  The beef was cooked to perfection, however, and I really enjoyed tasting the sheep feta.

 

Now I have to give you some of the downfalls – the restaurant was warm.  Like really warm.  And stuffy.  It has a garage door that opens making it open air.  I would typically love this but it was in the 90s yesterday and it just didn’t make the temperature very comfortable – I really think it was cooler outside.  And there were gnats.  But I blame that on the open-air, warm atmosphere.

 

Back to the good stuff – I would go back tomorrow despite the two negatives.  The food was fantastic, the service was perfect and the drinks were amazing.

You can make reservations up to 2 weeks in advance, and I highly recommend making reservations.  Or getting there super early.

Stanbury is truly a place for coming together and sharing.

 

Louisville Hot Brown

Sometimes in life you aren’t willing to accept knock-offs.

Windex
Lilly Pulitzer prints
Bacon
Charmin toilet paper

But sometimes the “knock-off” is just as good as the original.

Like a Louisville Hot Brown.  (if you’re from Louisville, and you are a die-hard fan of hot browns, I mean no harm.  simply stop reading this now.)

The original hot brown was first created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville in 1926 and was created to serve as an alternative to ham and egg late-night suppers.

A hot brown is an oven-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon, that is covered in a Mornay sauce and broiled until the bread is crisped and the sauce is browned.

My version is very much the same.  Except for the Mornay sauce.

Typically a Mornay sauce is made with lots and lots of cheese.  But not this one.

This sauce is actually made with cauliflower that is steamed and then pureed with milk, butter and cheese.

The cauliflower has the consistency of a rich, decadent sauce but without all the calories.

Winner.

Especially on a week night.

hot brown2

No flavor was sacrificed for this lightened-up version.  I used pre-sliced turkey from the deli (an added short-cut from the recipe) and real bacon.

Yes, real bacon.  I don’t believe in turkey bacon.

Piled high, and topped with tomatoes and herbs for freshness, this sandwich won’t make you feel guilty.

hot brown

I can handle this knock-off.

 

 

 

Onion Rings with Homemade Roasted Tomato Ketchup

It’s Tuesday and we’re still talking about Saturday night’s dinner.

That, my friends, is a sign of an excellent dinner.

It all started with an overabundance of tomatoes.  Not wanting to waste tomatoes, we started brainstorming ways to use them.

Tomato sauce.  Salsa.  Ketchup.

While brainstorming ways to use tomatoes, we were also thinking of what we wanted for dinner that night.  The weather wasn’t all that great and we were craving some comforting eats.

Hmmm.

What goes well with ketchup?

Hamburgers.  Fries.  Onion rings.

Yes.  Onion rings.  And yes, they are gluten-free.

We found a recipe for Roasted Tomato Ketchup in one of Big Guy’s cook books, Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey.  

The ketchup starts by roasting your tomatoes, low and slow, at 250 degrees for about 2 hours.  The tomatoes were tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.

The house smelled amazing.

Once cooled, the tomatoes are blended with an array of spices as well as a little brown sugar and white wine vinegar.  The ketchup was a little thick but was easily thinned out a bit with water.  We kept the ketchup on the thick side – not wanting to lose the rich flavor.

It seriously was the best ketchup I’ve ever tasted.

To go with the ketchup – because we obviously planned this meal around condiments – onion rings.

We have never deep fried anything in our house, and I have to admit I felt like a seasoned cook as we breaded and fried the onion rings.

As soon as the brown, crispy onion rings were removed from the hot oil, we sprinkled them with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

So good!

I was really impressed with the onion rings and the flavor of the ketchup.

And if that wasn’t decadent enough, they were served next to a Bacon Burger with a Basil-Yogurt Sauce.  

I know.

We were out of control.

And so was the flavor of the food.

 

Herbaceous Grilled Pork Tenderloin {plus a tomato salad with avocado and onion}

This dinner couldn’t be any easier.  Especially if you have an herb garden.  And a husband to do the grilling.

Knowing that I had a pork tenderloin in the freezer and lots of herbs growing right outside my back door, when I saw Herbaceous Grilled Pork Tenderloin I knew it would be a mistake not to make this easy dinner.

Simply marinate the pork in a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil along with your herbs.

Chives
Thyme
Rosemary

If you don’t have those herbs, use what you have.  Oregano would be great with this dish.

Let the flavors really deepen by allowing it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before grilling.

Once it’s ready to hit the grill, remove from the marinade (discard the remaining marinade) and season liberally with salt.

Grill until it’s cooked to your liking.

herb pork

 

Once the pork was removed from the grill, I prepared the salad.  Make sure to let your pork rest – that let’s all the juices redistribute so that you don’t lose them when you slice the tenderloin.

I was inspired by this salad but I deviated from the recipe a little.

In a bowl, I tossed together halved tomatoes from the garden, thinly sliced red onion and avocado chunks.

To season, I used salt and pepper plus a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and basil leaves.

tom and avo

The end result was nothing less than perfection.  Like, if summer could taste like something – this is it.

my plate

Seriously, please don’t let summer be winding down.

I don’t want to say farewell to the produce.

Or eating outside.

Friday Favorites.

Can you believe it’s August?  I can’t.  That means there is only one more month left of summer before the unofficial start of fall (college football).  While I love all things fall, I love all things summer way more.  I’ve been working hard to check off all the items on my “Summer Bucket List.”  Over the next few weeks I must finish another book, make a “trashy” hot dog, and finalize a BIG vacation plan.  I would also love to squeeze as much summer as possible out of my weekends by spending time with friends and in the sunshine.  This weekend we have a double-date with friends planned on Friday with no plans on Saturday.  I would like to hope that Saturday is full of sunshine, a good book and laughs.  That would be pretty perfect.  Here are some favorites of the week – perhaps they’ll inspire some weekend plans for you.

Favorite Bite:  Strawberry and Brie Waffle Bites.  Waffles are one of my favorite breakfast items.  And I’m never one to turn down cheese.  These would be perfect for a brunch with friends.

Favorite Indulge:  Grilled Pear Burger with Blue Cheese and Candied Walnut Bacon.    Umm, yes please.   Ain’t nothing lady-like about this burger.

 

Favorite Decadence:  Pecan Brownie Brittle.  My favorite brownie is one that is fudgy.  But I’m probably going to ask for the corner piece so I can have a little crunchy crust, too.  This recipe is the best of both worlds.

Favorite DIY:  Am I right, or am I right?  There never seems to be a good place for a blanket.

 

 

Favorite Crunch:  Coconut Shrimp with Maui Mustard Sauce.  I’m starting to see a trend.

Favorite Short-Cut:  Easiest One-Hour Roast Beef.  Is this a Sunday dinner or what?

Favorite Spot:  Salt air, a breeze and the splashing of the water.

Favorite Hack:  Am I the only one that didn’t know you can “ripen” bananas in the oven for baking?

Favorite Bling:  The perfect earring for anything and everything.

Favorite Booze:  The Trusty Bay Breeze.  Because it’s Friday.  And I need a cocktail.

Salad in a Jar {quinoa-arugula layered salad}

If you typically pack your lunch for work – you’re going to love this recipe.

salad in a jar

 

I actually made the salad for dinner on Tuesday night but the remaining two jars were perfect to pack for lunch the rest of the week.

This would also be a great salad to pack on a picnic because you simply shake and eat out of the jar.

To start, prep your quinoa.  Simply heat up a little olive oil and then toast your quinoa before adding chicken broth.  You can use water but chicken broth (or any broth) adds so much flavor to the quinoa.

Once cooked, allow the quinoa to cool.  If you assemble the jars while the quinoa is hot, the heat from the quinoa will wilt your veggies.

While the quinoa cools, make your dressing.  The dressing is a simple combination of olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, garlic and salt.  Whisk together and then add about a tablespoon to the bottom of each jar.

Then simply layer in the ingredients:

Spicy arugula
Nutty quinoa
Cool cucumber
Bright red onion
Garden fresh tomatoes
Herbaceous 
parsley

salad

Portable, healthy and full of flavor.

Totally lunchbox worthy.