Tapas Date Night

Big Guy and I take date nights very seriously.  Knowing that Big Guy has been wanting to make sangria for a while I thought that having a Spanish-style date night would be fun.  So in addition to our dueling sangrias we also had four different tapas (aka appetizers) instead of an appetizer, main dish and sides.


But first – dueling sangria!  Red Wine Sangria vs. Pineapple Sangria.  Surprisingly I enjoyed the red wine sangria better.  I know – I was shocked, too.  I think if I made the pineapple sangria again, I would use rum instead of brandy as well as using a pinot grigio instead of chardonnay.  For the red sangria, we used a blackberry brandy (totally recommend) and instead of Pomegranate juice, we used a blueberry-pomegranate juice.

Eating the fruit is always the best most dangerous part.

We had a super light lunch on Saturday so we decided to make the more labor-intensive tapas first and serve it by itself with the white sangria.

goat cheese poppers

Goat Cheese Poppers with Honey were by-far the favorite tapas of the night.  Crunchy, creamy, salty, sweet and a little spicy – these little poppers are appetizer perfection.  I literally cannot wait to have guests over so I can make these again.  Goat cheese is “breaded” lightly with flour and panko before being lightly fried.  The poppers are then drizzled with honey and a dusting of crushed red pepper flakes.  Incredibly addictive.  These would also pair fantastically with a sparkling wine or champagne.

The poppers held us over for awhile and when it came time for dinner, we pulled together the other three tapas and enjoyed the rest of the evening outside.  We literally spent all afternoon and evening outside – I don’t even think we turned the t.v. on once.  We chatted, listened to music and just enjoyed the wonderful weather and each other’s company.

Cucumber Canapes with Whipped Feta.

Lamb Skewers with Salsa Verde.

Chorizo-Stuffed Dates with Lemon-Basil Crema.

The cucumber canapes were our least favorite.

The lamb skewers were awesome!  For the salsa verde, I used cilantro instead of mint and I highly recommend that switch.  Such bright, bold flavors.  This was our second favorite tapas of the night.

I loved the dates – but I actually loved the lemon-basil the most out of this tapas.  The chorizo wasn’t spicy enough and the sweetness of the dates kind of overpowered the rest of the small bite.  I was craving that sweet-savoring combo and it ended up being more sweet than anything else.

I can’t even tell you how much fun we had Saturday night.

The food, the drink, the company – it was a perfect date night in.



{virtual} Coffee Chat

Good morning!  Grab a cup a coffee.

No, really.  I’ll wait.

Let’s chat.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about the beauty of Springtime.  Our garden is planted and our flowers have already started to show-off.  And I love it.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d have a good laugh.  The Today Show featured this “How old do I look?” website last week and I obviously had to try it out.  It said I was 26.  Well Big Guy also tried it out with a picture of us two and I was once again 26.  He, on the other hand, 59.  Oh, Big Old Guy.   

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about the hard boiled egg that wasn’t hard boiled at all.  Last week I asked Big Guy to talk out eggs so they could be “room temperature” for a cake I was baking.  He put one of the raw eggs in my hard boiled egg crate (on accident) and the joke was on me at lunch a couple of days later.  #lunchfail

If we were having coffee this morning…I would go on and on and on about One Hope wine.  The wine was incredibly tasty and the fact that half of their profits go towards giving back made me love the wine even more.

If we were having coffee this morning….I would tell you all about the One Hope Dinner.  The food was fantastic and we had a great time with our Friends of the Vine wine club.  Such a fun night.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about my newest beauty obsession – Beauty Counter.   It’s kind of hard to not want to get behind a company that simply wants to provide consumers with the safest products possible.  I was blown away with the fact that the European Union has banned/restricted 1,300 ingredients over the past 2 years while the U.S. has only banned 11.  Say what?  We deserve better than that.  One of my friends has recently become a Beauty Counter consultant and I hosted a party on Saturday morning.  We sampled, chatted and sipped mimosas (or lemonade) and it was glorious.  I can’t wait for the products I ordered to arrive!

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about sangria.  After hearing Big Guy request sangria for weeks, we decided to have dueling sangrias on Saturday evening.  The red totally won.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d take a cereal personality quiz together.  I’d have to pick Honey Bunches of Oats.

You strive for balance in all aspects of your life. You’re trying to be healthy, but don’t want to deny yourself something sweet from time to time. Often it’s hard to decide what you want and what you actually need. You work in a creative environment, and occasionally enjoy going to yoga in order to relieve some of your anxiety.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d say that is pretty spot-on.

So tell me – what does your cereal preference say about you?!?


Friday Favorites

May Day!  Can you believe it’s here?  It is and it’s a busy month.  But I love May.  The warmer days, cooler nights, flowers and gardens.  And when we don’t have plans (which we kind of have too many right now) we are planning to enjoy those lovely aspects of May.  Big Guy is really looking forward to a Saturday afternoon on the back deck.

To kick off May, here are some of my favorites from the week:

Favorite Wake-Up:  Vietnamese Iced Coffee.  When we were in San Fran I had a Vietnamese coffee at The Slanted Door and I immediately was hooked.  But make it iced?  How perfect for the warmer days of May.

Favorite Read:  Why Everyone Should Chill Red Wine Wines for Outdoor Drinking.  I know there are some people cringing right now.  But I can get on board with the reasoning.

Favorite Bundt:  Banana Pineapple Cake.  I plan on baking this very soon so that I can display it in my cake stand.  It drives me crazy when it’s empty.

Favorite Twist:  Tomato and Egg Breakfast Pizza.  Pizza for breakfast?  Yes, please.  Especially now that Big Guy is on board with the whole “runny yolk” thang.  Would it be too much to add a mimosa on the side?

Favorite Comfort:  Chicken and Dumplings.  Chicken Dumplings vs.  Chicken Pastry.  Which side are you on?  Big Guy and I are on different teams.

Favorite From Scratch:  Homemade Bagels.  I used to adore bagels (hello, I still adore bagels) but I just don’t find myself eating them very often.  Making them at home would give me the perfect excuse to indulge in #allthecarbs .

Favorite Light:  Brown Rice Shrimp Summer Rolls with Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce.  The textures!  The color!  The freshness!  Yes. Yes. Yes.  And we can’t overlook that sauce.

Favorite Truth:  

Favorite Crave:  Pineapple Sangria.  Big Guy has been talking about sangria for weeks so I think it’s high-time I make that sangria happen.  Though I wish I had a pineapple from Miami…

Happy May Day!




{virtual} Coffee Chat

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If we were having coffee this morning…I would want to transport us to Miami where the sun is shining and the air is warm.  We would order iced coffees because it’s so hot.  And The Ritz-Carlton did their iced coffees up right:  iced coffee plus coffee ice cubes means no watered down coffee.  It was even more delicious because I splurged and added cream.  Oh, and the fact that I had a 75 minute massage before the iced coffee made it even better.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would confess that there hasn’t been a lot of cooking going on this week.  I got home on Monday night and the rest of my week nights were full of social commitments.  And the fact that Big Guy hasn’t been home since last Wednesday doesn’t make me want to cook any more.  But don’t worry – I’ll be back in action next week.

If we were having coffee this morning…I might try to recreate my favorite breakfast in Miami.  On Saturday morning we were up bright and early (literally before the rest of Miami) and went on a walk.  My request:  fresh-pressed juice.  The fruit is unreal in Miami and I had been dreaming about green juice for weeks.  We stumbled across Sunset Juice Bar and were the first customers of the day (it was still before 8am).  I ordered a cold-pressed spinach, kale, collards, cucumber, apple and lime juice along with a yogurt bowl that was studded with the most gorgeous berries and crunchy nuts.  What I would do to be able to walk to breakfast every Saturday morning.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would recommend that you read The Husband’s Secret.  It was the perfect beach read – with a mojito on the side.

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that is not meant to be read…

My darling Cecilia,
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you have built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…


If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how much I adore Big Guy.  Don’t get me wrong – our life isn’t all mojitos and trips to Miami – there’s real life in the middle of all that but I couldn’t imagine going through this wild ride with anyone else.  And as demanding as his work life can be, we were both able to relax and enjoy this past weekend.  Oh, and he was that guy that went to Miami, realized that he forgot a hat and then proceeded to buy a camo hat.  I had nothing to do with that purchase – I was getting a massage. Camo, the preppiest bathing suit at the pool and a frozen drink – that’s my guy.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about one of the “hottest places to drink” this summer.  And “hottest” is used both figuratively and literally here.  Bar Centro at The Bazaar  at the SLS boutique hotel was not only the place to be but it was quite warm.  Don’t worry – I cooled off quickly with a gin and tonic.  We also didn’t have dinner reservations until later that evening so we also grabbed a few nibbles while we were there.  Most notable:  Foie Gras PB&J – foie gras torchon, peanut butter, raspberry jam.  The fanciest peanut butter and jelly I’ve ever had.  But oh.em.gee.  It was unreal.  Melt-in-your-mouth with the most true PB&J flavors.  I’m drooling just thinking about these little sandwiches.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that our weekend in Miami may be over but it won’t be soon forgotten.  #cottoninmiami was the perfect way to celebrate 2 years of marriage along with many, many years we have ahead of us.  Cheers!

{2 years}


Life’s a long and winding ride
Better have the right one by your side
Happiness don’t drag its feet
And time moves faster than you think

(Kip Moore, Hey Pretty Girl)

Happy Anniversary, Big Guy.

The past two years have been nothing less than amazing.

I love you.

Friday Favorites

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Hello Friday!  OH, and hello to all you guys.  Can you believe that this weekend marks our 2 year anniversary?  Craziness.  Some day’s if feels as if it happened yesterday and other day’s it feels like decades ago.  But every day it feels pretty amazing to be married to someone that makes you laugh every.single.day.  Anyways, we’re celebrating our anniversary all weekend long with sunshine and sand but we did follow the “cotton” tradition when it came to gifts.  I got amazing new curtains for our living room makeover and he got new bath towels (hah!).

I hope you guys have a wonderful weekend and I think I’m going to go find a mojito.  See ya next week!

Favorite Lust:  I’m dying (in a good and bad way) over the print.  I simply can’t justify that amount for a piece of cloth that is going to get sandy and ultimately end up at the bottom of my beach bag.  Hey, Tory, why don’t you make a line just for Target.  (If you know me, you know I’m being incredibly sarcastic.)

Favorite Lessons:  5 Things I Learned from Working in  at Test Kitchen.  My dream job.

Favorite Wake-Up:  Havarti Breakfast Biscuits with Jalapeno, Bacon and Arugula.   This is SO happening in my house.  Preferably with a mimosa on the side.

Favorite Indulge:  Crispy Avocado Fries with Melty Cheese Dip.  Avocados are so healthy, why not trash ’em up?

Favorite Travel:  Spain is slowing inching it’s way up my list of “Travel the World” – especially after reading this article.  

Favorite Slice:  “Hot and Honey” Buffalo Chicken Pizza.  I know I’ve made pizza similar to this before but I just love pizza so much.

Favorite Flavors:  Sliders with Jalapeno Burger Sauce.  With homemade potato buns?  Stop it.

Favorite Fashion:  I’m kind of obsessing over this tank.

Favorite Sweet:  Banoffee Pie.  Just don’t tell Big Guy it’s vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free.

Favorite Buzz:  Champagne Mojito.  Weekends are meant to be celebrated and mojitos are meant for warmer weather.


Dijon-Herb Chicken Thighs

You have no idea how happy this plate of food made me and Big Guy.

Not only is it a fuss-free dinner but Big Guy got to fire up the grill and I was able to use herbs from the garden.

Soon enough I’ll be able to whip up salads like this with veggies from our backyard.

The Dijon-Herb Chicken Thighs start with a quick marinade of olive oil, parsley, chives, Dijon mustard (I used a sweet balsamic dijon mustard that I brought home from Sonoma), and garlic.  And while the chicken doesn’t require any marinade time – I decided to put it all in a large zip-lock bag about an hour before it was time to throw them on the grill.  A little infusion of flavors is always a good thing.

And for the salad, I simply sliced up a handful or two of grape tomatoes and quartered cucumber slices before dressing them with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Before serving, I chopped up some of our purple basil and sweet basil to complete the salad.





The marinade would be great on any cut of chicken, pork chops or fish.  But you know I love a good chicken thigh.

And while the chicken could totally be cooked in the kitchen, it’s grilling season.

And if Big Guy grills outside, my kitchen stays a lot cleaner.