Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I’m feeling much more inspired by the internet this week.  I think it has something to do with the 70 degree weather here and it feeling like Spring.  Y’all know my aversion to winter. (shutter)  We’re having our usual low-key Friday night with dinner + DVR.  I teach on Saturday morning and then I’m hoping Big Guy will join me on a long walk.  I’m not quite sure what Saturday will hold but my sister, brother-in-law and the three kiddos will be here Saturday evening and I’m so excited to see them all.  It’ll be pizza for the kids and then a fun dinner for the adults.  Sunday is supposed to be a little cooler but I know we’ll enjoy our “day of rest” after having breakfast with our overnight guests (I’ve promised them cinnamon rolls and bacon!).  Have the best weekend ever and I’ll see you Monday!

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Favorite Bag Lady:  Hat Attack Embroidered Clutch in Cocktail.  Ummm, how adorable is this?

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Favorite From Scratch:  Peanut Butter Oreos.  I’m all about that peanut butter cream filling.  Whether it’s sandwiched between two chocolate cookies or eaten straight off the spoon.

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Favorite Lunch:  Brussels and Chickpea Salad in a Jar with Artichokes, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Asiago.  Totally happening next week.

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Favorite Shop:  Lulu & Georgia.  How am I just finding this online home decor store?  I’ll take this, and this, and this.

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Favorite Weeknight:  Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas with Avocado Lime Crema.  We haven’t had enchiladas in awhile…

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Favorite DIY:  2 Easy Anti-Anging Face Masks Made with Grapes.   All ages can benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties, lightening agents, and sun damage reversal provided by grapes. BRING.IT.ON.

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Favorite Remedy:  Cold Chasers.  Y’all.  There is so much sickness going around right now. I plan on keeping this recipe in my back pocket for the next time I feel a little icky.

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Favorite Brunchy Bite:  French Toast Shooters.  Who wants to have a brunch party??!?!!

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Favorite Fashion:  Painted Stripe Maxi Dress.  I’m so over winter clothes.  Bring on the dresses and shorts and sandals.

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Favorite Intrigued:  Avocado and Lime Margarita.  A guacamole inspired drink – sign me up! (p.s. did anyone celebrate National Margarita Day on Wednesday?)

Cheers!

Cauliflower Risotto Cakes

I had all intentions of getting this typed up this morning before I headed out for the day but that just didn’t happen.  It is an absolute gorgeous day.  I walked for about an hour and a half today and I was in a tank top.  Loving all the vitamin D I’ve been getting lately.

Last night’s dinner was the first (yes, there will be a third and final one) transformation of the risotto that I prepped on Monday night for dinner.  Creamy risotto is mixed with roasted cauliflower, breadcrumbs, parsley, an egg, S&P, plus some cheese before being shaped into cakes and sautéed in a little EVOO.  If you want to save yourself time (and I think it’s totally the right thing to do), purchase pre-“riced” cauliflower.  My local Walmart carries it where you’ll find the bagged salads and it’s a LIFE saver for this recipe.  The cauliflower is roasted (beware, there’s a bit of a “funky” smell during the beginning of the cooking process) for 40 minutes before being mixed with all the other ingredients.

Also take my advice here – don’t make the cake mixture in advance.  I was trying to be “wonder woman” and prep dinner so that when I got home at 6:15pm all I had to do was patty the cakes and cook ’em.  Well I think the mixture dried out a little big and the cakes fell apart in the pan.  Learn from my mistakes!

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The cauliflower cakes are served with a tangy dipping sauce that’s so simple to whisk together.  Duke’s mayo, lemon juice, chives, garlic and some S&P.  Despite the fact that they fell apart, they were delicious.  And if you don’t think you like cauliflower (I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite veggie raw), this may turn you into a believer.

I’m using the last of the risotto tomorrow nigh…

I can promise you, risotto will not be on the menu this weekend.

Sweet Onion Risotto with Sautéed Kale

Welcome to another edition of “cook once, eat 3 times.”  I prepared this dinner on Monday night and will be using the leftover risotto to make dinner tonight.  Risotto is not a “quick” dinner due to the time that’s needed to allow the rice to absorb the liquid but if you do this on a night or day when you have more time, you can easily prepare two more meals that week using the leftovers.

This risotto recipe is unlike any other risotto I’ve prepared in that you use brown rice instead of arborio rice and you precook the rice.  First you bring liquid (I used chicken stock) to a boil along with the rice and simmer for about 15 minutes.  You drain the rice, reserving the liquid.  The reserved liquid is combined with more chicken stock.  Lots of chopped onion is sautéed in olive oil with lots of garlic and then you add in the rice.  Add in the wine and once it’s cooked off, turn the heat down and begin adding the stock mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until it’s absorbed.  This whole adding liquid and stirring constantly game goes on for about 25 minutes.  Once all the liquid is absorbed, reserve some of the risotto for another night and then add in the salt, pepper and cheese (I used manchego because our store wasn’t hitting on much Monday).

And then you prepare the kale sauté that tops it all off.  Kale (I used baby kale) is sautéed in a  little bit of EVOO.  Once wilted, add in golden raisins and chopped pecans along with salt, pepper and a splash of vinegar (I used white wine vinegar).

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I was incredibly impressed by how creamy the rice was despite not using arborio rice and I adored the kale topping.  Especially the raisins (sweet) and pecans (nutty and salty).

Stay tuned for how I use the leftover risotto….

Flying Biscuit’s Creamy, Dreamy White Cheddar Grits

When we have overnight guests, I do my absolute best to plan menus that are made for the people that are visiting.  Like I mentioned yesterday, my parents still talk about the lamb chops that we had at one of our wedding parties years ago so I knew that lamb would be a winning dinner.  And a few weeks ago my dad commented on the homemade pasta we made that I featured on the blog so I really wanted to make homemade pasta while he was here.  My momma loves grits.  And crunchy bacon.  No matter where we go for breakfast or brunch, 99% of the time she orders grits, bacon and fruit.  So that’s just what we had on Sunday before they headed west.

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I decided to make some special grits and researched the recipe for the Flying Biscuit recipe.  It didn’t take my long to find a recipe that seemed legit.

Changes I made to the recipe:  I used whole milk instead of half and half and I used regular grits, not quick-cooking (only because those are items I had on hand).

The grits were amazing.  Super smooth, cheesy and perfect.  I really think using white pepper instead of black pepper makes a world of difference.

I served our grits with bacon (crunchy for Mom), sausage and some fruit.

Now my breakfast this morning seems really boring…

Weekend Review

Happy Monday!  I hope y’all had a wonderful weekend.  My parents came into town and we had a blast.  But honestly, time flew by and I feel like the weekend was over in a flash.  On Friday we met my parents in Raleigh for lunch at Tazza Kitchen. Big Guy and I have dined at Tazza Kitchen on a couple of occasions and we’re impressed each and every time.  We shared some guacamole to start and the chips were addictive.  They also brought some salsa to the table with the guacamole and it was fantastic.  A little sweet and not too spicy.  I ordered the arugula and goat cheese salad for lunch and added shrimp to the salad.  It was amazing.  Post-lunch we made a quick stop at Fresh Market to grab a few items we needed for the weekend.

One we all arrived back to our house we helped my parents unload the car and my Mom and I started crafting!  I’m helping host a baby shower for my sister-in-law in a couple of weeks and my Mom and I had several projects to get done while they were here. For dinner we cooked up a feast!  My parents enjoy lamb but they don’t cook it all that often (neither do we) so we thought it was the perfect meal for their visit.  On the menu:  pistachio crusted rack of lamb, mascarpone mashed potatoes, and roasted broccolini.

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Everything turned out delicious.  And I have to say, those mashed potatoes might be the best ever.  Definitely not a “light” recipe but they are amazing.

After dinner we all watched “Criminal Minds” before calling it a night and heading to bed. Saturday started with a quick workout for me before getting back to the house and crafting with my Mom.  The guys left to run some errands and just drive around and then we met them for lunch at the Country Club.  This is when time started flying.  When we got home we played dominos (I did not win) and then made homemade pasta and bolognese for dinner.

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The dough was a little more finicky this time around but the end result was nothing short of perfection.  We enjoyed this plate of pasta with an incredible 2010 Pride Sangiovese.

The rest of the evening was spent hanging out and watching t.v. before calling it quits for the day.

On Sunday I prepared one last meal before they hit the road back home.  (I’ll share breakfast tomorrow!)  I was sad to see them leave but I know I’ll see them in a couple of weeks when I head to Charlotte for the baby shower.

Such a treat to have them visit and I’m looking forward to planning another weekend soon!

Friday Favorites

Hey friends!  I hope you all had a great week.  I’m so excited that my parents are coming to visit us this weekend.  We have some fun meals planned for them and my mom and I will be doing a few “arts and crafts” for my sister-in-laws upcoming baby shower.  Being the oldest of four, it’s rare to get one-on-one time with your parents for more than a few hours so I really cherish the moments when they make the trip east to see us.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend and I’ll see you next week!

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Favorite Unexpected:   Creamy Polenta with Roasted Beets.  What a fun combination of flavors and colors!  I could totally see us having this for a low-key Friday night dinner.

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Favorite Snack Attack:  Healthy No-Bake Cookie Dough Bites.  I actually have all the ingredients for these little nuggets in the kitchen right this moment…

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Favorite Southern Sunday:  Buttermilk Fried Chicken.   It’s been over two years since we last made fried chicken and I’m starting to get the itch to fry up another batch of crispy, crunchy goodness.

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Favorite Non-Food Item:  Milo Bubble Vase.  Like I said last week, the WWW has been quite uninspiring this month.  BUT I do love this vase.  I find it hard to put just a few flowers into a large mouth vase and this one is perfect. (p.s. it’s really affordable, too)

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Favorite Girls Night:  Poke Bowls with Sesame-Soy Almonds.    I could not pay Big Guy to eat this meal with me.  However, I have a friend or two who would devour this deliciousness right alongside me.

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Favorite Small Bite:  Rosemary Pineapple Mozzarella Bites.  I feel like this appetizer would be perfect for so many occasions.  Cocktail hour…baby shower..a plate by yourself…

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Favorite Breakfast:  Banana Bread Smoothie.  I’m so ready for warmer weather so I can bring back my smoothie bowls!

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Favorite Side Dish:  Cucumbers in Garlic Sauce.  We are a pickle-obsessed household.  And these cucumbers look amazing!

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Favorite Slice:  Super Fudgy Mocha Layer Cake.  Oh my.  I might need to bake a cake soon.

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Favorite Brunch:  Pineapple Mint Prosecco Punch.  What a fun combination!  A little departure from the usual brunch drink.

Cheers!

Fluffiest Multigrain Pancakes with Almond Butter Drizzle

Oh man!  I wish we were devouring this breakfast right this moment.

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We enjoyed this plate of flapjacks and bacon on Sunday after a long, long walk.  And while the bacon isn’t the healthiest breakfast option, the pancakes are incredibly good for you.  The pancakes start with soaking rolled oats in buttermilk.  While the oats are soaking, mix together the remaining ingredients (the only change I made was using gluten-free flour instead of whole wheat) and making the drizzle.  I think the drizzle was my favorite part because well, I love nut butter.  The drizzle was made by thinning out the almond butter with some warm water and a little maple syrup for sweetness.

The pancakes were fluffy but didn’t make you feel stuffed.  I also loved the almond butter drizzle as I’m not really a “sweet” breakfast kind of gal.

Do you call them “pancakes” or “flapjacks”?

They’re definitely pancakes in my world.