minced beef with bok choy and fried egg

Other title options:  

“Drops instead of Drizzle”

“Drops of Sriracha”

“At least there were chopsticks.”

All of that to say that I wish I had drizzled the little extra sriracha on top instead of what actually occurred.

Regardless of the drop vs drizzle decision that will forever haunt me, eating a rice bowl for dinner is always a good idea.

And the chop sticks were a good idea until I got to the end of the bowl and I couldn’t use the “scoop” method.  Thankfully Big Guy was prepared for that and had a fork waiting for me.

This dinner comes together in a flash (most stir-fries do) so make sure to prep ALL your ingredients first.  Also, make sure you rice is always finished cooking before you even think to turn on the stove top to cook the beef.

Ground beef (aka minced beef – I hate that term) is sauteed with garlic and then flavored with a mixture of sugar, Thai chile paste, fish sauce and soy sauce (or tamari).  The ground beef is then removed from the skillet and the bok choy (I couldn’t find baby bok choy so I used Mama bok choy and simply cut it a little smaller) is added to the same skillet and sauteed until tender.  Remove the bok choy and cook up your eggs.  I think I’m finally getting the hang of this “fried egg” thing.  It’s all about a good fitting lid and timing.  Timing is key.

All the elements are served together in a rice bowl with a little extra drizzle of Sriracha for good measure.

Boom.

So whether you drizzle or drop, a beef rice bowl with an egg on top is delicious.  Spicy yet tame and tons of texture.

creamy asparagus and hearts of palm pasta

My food is screaming “It’s Spring” but the weather just can’t seem to make up it’s mind.  Today it’s going to be in the high 60s while the high for Saturday is 49.

And while I can’t seem to figure out what I am supposed to wear during this time of transition, I’m clearly comfortable with pretending it’s full-on-Springtime in the kitchen.

This pasta dish is ready in under 30 minutes and it creamy and rich while still being light.

I loved the texture and flavors from the asparagus and hearts of palm.  And if you have any favorite artichoke or hearts of palm recipes – send them my way – we’re currently obsessing.

The richness is from a milk-based sauce with cheesiness from Parmesan and mozzarella.  The mozzarella is stirred in at the very end and provides a decadent, almost-guilty feeling creaminess.

The only changes I made:  gluten-free pasta and instead of flour I used 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.  Oh, and I added more garlic. Because I just can’t have enough.

Perhaps if I eat more Spring-inspired meals the cold weather will leave for good.

Banana Streusel Muffins

After a night out with the girls, I was hoping to sleep in a little bit.  But no such luck.  I suppose I was just really excited that Big Guy was going to be home that afternoon after a week in Chile.

Either way, I was up earlier than expected and after piddling around the house I decided to roll up my sleeves and use up a few brown bananas that were staring at me in the kitchen.

After a quick search of my favorite blogs, I decided to make Banana Streusel Muffins.   

I didn’t change a thing with the recipe except for adding a handful of chopped pecans because I’m a good wife and know that Big Guy is obsessed with pecans.

Especially in banana bread.

These muffins are

fluffy

sweet

crumbly

a little crunchy

perfect for breakfast

perfect for dessert

perfect for snack time

muffins

And they make your house smell incredible.

Cinnamon-sweet-banana-goodness.

That’s what I call them.

 

GNO {girls night out}

When you’re with people you love, it’s hard not to have a good time.  Myself and three of my closest friends have had a GNO planned for several weeks now.  And as time progressed, the plans got more and more exciting.  What started as a dinner and drinks turned into quite the evening with just the girls.

First stop:  a little pampering at Parlor Dry Bar.  For $35 you get your hair washed, dried and styled.  Having someone else style my hair is one of my favorite things – in fact, if I could have one super power it would be able to style my hair like a professional.  Or have enough money to hire someone on a daily basis.

We all ended up getting a little curl added and we were ready for our next stop.

A couple of weeks ago Marlo stumbled across an event at the NC Art Museum – Art in Bloom.   In short, florists from across the state (and beyond) interpreted works of art though flowers.  We were amazed at the detail of all the works of art and flowers.  Simply amazing.

Having never been to the NC Museum of Art, it’s now on my radar and I plan to return very soon.  There’s even a restaurant in the museum, Iris, that was filled to the brim when we arrived on Friday evening.

After racing to finish seeing all the displays (over 45!), it was time for dinner.  We were not about to miss our 8:30pm reservation at Bida Manda.  I had to stalk the restaurant for two weeks to finally get a reservation for the four of us.  Big Guy and I dined at Bida Manda last summer during restaurant week and I was so excited to return.

And I’m going to make a bold statement:  Bida Manda is my favorite restaurant in Raleigh.  Impeccable service, craft cocktails that are incredible and a menu that is sure to please anyone.

To start, I ordered a cocktail from the bar.

Alpine ’76 – Potato Vodka, Fresh Lemon Juice, Elderflower Liqueur, Sugar, Sparkling Wine

The four of us split three appetizers (most of their appetizers are pretty small portions):

Crispy Rice Lettuce Wraps – with herbs, peanuts and vegetables

Panang Crab Cakes – dill, panang curry, picked radish

There was a special appetizer for the night, too, which was a housemade sausage full of fresh herbs.

The crispy rice lettuce wraps are by far the best appetizer on the menu.  Big Guy and I shared them when we visited and all the girls agreed they were phenomenal.

The texture and flavors are out of this world.

And for dinner, I ordered the Sweet Chili Salmon with ginger rice and lime vinaigrette salad.  The entree portions are large and there was no way I could finish it all.  There was a little hint of spiciness in the salad and the salmon was cooked to perfection.

For dessert, we all shared the Trio Plate – With apricot-tamarind cobbler, lao coffee creme brulee, and coconut custard crisp.

I was in love with the apricot-tamarind cobbler.

We ended the night at a new mezcal bar located above Centro called Gallo Pelon.  The drinks were strong and I loved the vibe of this super small but hip bar.  I cannot wait to take Big Guy back to this spot.

Such a fun night out – good food, delicious cocktails and even better company.

Friday Favorites

We made it another week!  I don’t know about you – but this week was a busy week and I’m glad to have a fun weekend ahead.  Come 5pm, I hope my biggest worries consist of whether the rain will ruin my blowout and what wine to open on Saturday night.  See you guys Monday!

Favorite Dinner:  Thai Beef with Basil.  The flavors in this weeknight dinner sound incredible.  And this recipe reminds me that we need to plant Thai Basil this summer.

Favorite Showstopper:  Candied Citrus Cake.  How gorgeous is this cake?  I cannot get enough citrus lately.

Favorite Devour:  Caramelized Pineapple, Bacon and Goat Cheese Guacamole.  Quite possibly the most trashed up guac ever.  And I love it.

Favorite Wake-Up:  Bodyweight Lower Body Workout.  I typically hit the gym on Saturday mornings fairly early.  But sometimes I enjoy sleeping in and this is a great at-home workout that requires no equipment.

Favorite Spring:  Lemon Almond Roast Chicken Salad.  I love all the things about this simple, southern chicken salad.  Especially the addition of crunchy almonds.

Favorite Sip:  Simple Coconut Green Smoothie.  Drinking one of these in the morning would transport you to a tropical island.  If only I could really transport myself right now.

Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Port-Cooked Mushroom Bruschetta with Brie. The most perfect little bite for entertaining with.  Or for eating at home with your husband.

Favorite Flavors:  Meyer Lemon and Honey Roasted Fennel. This is the kind of side dish that steals all the attention from the main dish.

Favorite Bite:  Dark Chocolate Key Lime Pie Truffles.  Key Lime Pie is a favorite of my Momma’s.  I might just need to make a batch of these Easter weekend.

Favorite “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere”:  Spicy Cucumber Margaritas.  A pitcher of these and a batch of the guac that I mentioned earlier and you’d have yourself one heck of a Saturday.

Have the best weekend ever.

Skillet Chicken and Mozzarella Bake

If you’re a fan of Italian food you will adore this chicken dinner.

If you’re a fan of “Parmesan Chicken” you will adore this chicken dinner.

If you’re a fan of chicken you will adore this chicken dinner.

If you’re a fan of easy, quick recipes you will adore this chicken dinner.

If you’re hungry you will adore this chicken dinner.

And while Italian food isn’t my go-to when I’m meal planning for the week, Skillet Chicken and Mozzarella Bake was better than I ever expected.  So good, I really wanted to uncork a bottle of wine.  (Why didn’t I?!?!)

Chicken is seasoned with salt and pepper before being seared in a skillet (I used my cast-iron for ease of sliding it into the oven).  Once browned on both sides, remove the chicken and begin working on the “sauce.”  Onion and garlic is sauteed before adding salt, pepper, fresh chopped tomato (so ready for tomato to be in season!), marinara sauce, stock and oregano (I used dried for the sauce).  Bring to a simmer and then nestle the chicken into the sauce.

The chicken is then topped with a mixture of panko (I used gluten-free), parmesan and a little butter.  This “parmesan” coating gives SO much texture to the chicken.  On top of the panko mixture goes the mozzarella.  Stringy, cheesy, delicious mozzarella.

The entire skillet is placed in the oven for about 10 minutes.  I broiled our skillet for about 3 minutes to get that gorgeous brown on the mozzarella.

Sprinkle with fresh oregano before serving.

On the side, a simple arugula salad with celery and parsley.

A little bit of crunch.

A lot of flavor.

Tender chicken

Garlic notes.

Rich sauce.

Perfection.

I promise you’ll adore this chicken dinner.

black bean cakes with greens + eggs {plus what I’m reading now}

Dinner doesn’t have to be elaborate to be healthy and delicious.

A can of beans is easily transformed in under 20 minutes into a lovely black bean cake.  Your food processor is a huge time savor for pulsing the black beans with an egg and a little canola oil.  To the bean mixture, add Panko (I used a gluten-free Panko), green onions, parsley (I didn’t have any cilantro), cumin, a little salt, a little red pepper and lots of garlic.

The bean mixture is then shaped into patties and dredged through a little more Panko before being pan fried in canola oil.

While the black bean cakes were cooking, I cooked an egg over medium heat, covered, for about 4 minutes for the most perfect runny yolk.  If you’re not a fan of runny yolks, cook the egg a little longer.  (p.s. I finally learned that you don’t have to flip the egg to cook the whites – covering the pan is such a brilliant – yet “duh” worthy – idea.)

Along with the black bean cake + egg, a simple salad of arugula and parsley that is dressed with an incredibly easy mixture of olive oil, lime juice, mustard, salt and pepper.

And since dinner took no time at all, you have more time to hang outside and read a good book.

I am so happy to be back on the reading train.  I’m not sure when I fell off the train but I just started reading Jodi Picoult’s new book Leaving Time and it’s a good one.

What book are you currently reading?