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.


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

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




a little crunchy

perfect for breakfast

perfect for dessert

perfect for snack time


And they make your house smell incredible.


That’s what I call them.


{Virtual} Coffee Chat

If we were having coffee this morning…I would order the largest possible cup to help get me through the day.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how much I loved having my parents in town and that I hate saying “goodbye” to them.  Thankfully we’ll be reunited Easter weekend – so I have that to look forward to.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that our living room make-over is going strong.  We’ve had the walls painted, new floors installed and the entryway wallpapered.  Big Guy’s favorite part thus far is the look of the new floors.  My favorite is the wallpaper – I’m obsessed.



If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about the other little items I’ve picked up to help transform the space.  The entry way is almost complete – it needs a new rug but I’m waiting on some other things to come together before I do that.  Our furniture should arrive in 2-3 weeks and that’s the hardest part of this process – waiting!

If we were having coffee this morning…I tell you all about taking my parents to SoCo for dinner.  They loved the quaint vibes of the restaurant and can’t wait to come back and visit again.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you that my favorite course of the night was the second course.  The ginger puree was insane.

Seared Mid-Rare Verlasso Salmon with sea-salt and herbs, fried capers and sweet ginger purée

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d talk about our Saturday with my parents.  We headed to Raleigh and looked for some house accessories and grabbed lunch at Cantina 18.  I’m fairly certain Cantina was my Dad’s favorite part of the weekend (well, other than seeing me).  Seriously the best sangria E.V.E.R.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you that we celebrated PI day with pizza pies.  The crusts turned out perfectly and we had a savory pizza and a pizza with a little more sweetness.  On the right is the Bacon Brussels Leek Pizza and on the left is the Pear Goat Cheese and Italian Sausage Pizza.  My favorite was the pear and goat cheese pizza.  So good!

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d share all my plans for the week – it’s a good one!

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you to have a wonderful week and don’t forget to wear green tomorrow!

ginger steak + sesame rice + chili-basil slaw

Our first dinner al fresco for 2015!  And it was glorious.  My mood is about 87 times more pleasant than the past three weeks now that we have warmer temps and sunshine.  Not even the chance of rain can bring my spirits down.

All three components of this dinner come together in under 45 minutes (less if you use quick-cooking rice) and the flavors are fantastic.

ginger steak

The sirloin steak is marinated for about 15 minutes in a combination of soy sauce (I used gluten-free tamari), garlic, ginger and pepper.  I was pretty aggressive and made double the amount of marinade.  I highly recommend this and also using way more ginger and garlic than the recipe recommends.  I am all about the flavor.  Big Guy was pretty excited to fire up the grill for the first time in quite a while (the last time was for the Super Bowl).  The steak was incredibly tender and perfectly cooked to medium-rare.

chili basil slaw

The chili-basil slaw is what convinced me to put this on the dinner menu.  I had three/fourths of a head of napa cabbage and I wasn’t about to throw it away.  I also had some shredded carrot in the fridge and so it was as if it was meant to be.  A simple dressing of rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce (or tamari) was tossed with the veggies.  I allowed these to marinate until it was time to eat.

sesame rice

And to round out the plate, jazzed up brown rice.  I used brown jasmine rice and once it was cooked, fluffed in black sesame seeds and sesame oil and topped with a hefty sprinkling of green onions.  (The recipe doesn’t call for salt but I highly recommend added just a smidge – I ended up doing this post-plating).

All together now!  By the way, a trick I use to make me thinking I’m eating more – use a salad plate as your dinner plate.

Bright, vibrant slaw, nutty rice and super flavorful steak.

The first of many dinners eaten al fresco.


The Black House at Straw Valley {restaurant review}

SoCo is hands-down one of our favorites restaurants.  I’ve raved about the food and the atmosphere and the wine more than once and it’s a place we frequent quite regularly.  So regularly that we’ve become good friends with the owners/chef.  Being friends with restaurant owners can be a little tricky.  Our time away from the office is when their slaving away and when they have a few moments of down time, it’s a typical work day for Big Guy and me.  For months we’ve talked about trying their favorite restaurant together and we finally made time to go.  On Sunday evening we headed to dinner at The Black House at Straw Valley with Jeremy and Kimberly for an incredible night of wine and food.

black house

The Black House offers a truly unique fine dining experience in a mid century home comprised of several small, intimate rooms.  The space was originally the private residence of Robert Black and Ormond Sanderson, artisans who lived and worked here from the late 50s through the early 90s. Mid century style is evident throughout the dining room and artwork from both artists hangs on the walls.

Executive Chef and owner Adam Rose’s menu features New American cuisine using fresh, seasonal ingredients from nearby farms and providers.

We left the wine decisions up to Kimberly and Jeremy took the lead on the food.

The Black House is the perfect place to order lots of plates and share with the table.  We were able to try so much food without ever feeling too full.

To start, we ordered a couple of salads (the guys didn’t quite understand this – but it made us ladies feel better), a pasta dish and bone marrow.  The beet salad and the bone marrow were out of this world (and regrettably I don’t have pictures of our first round of food).

A bottle of wine later, it was time to share more food.  




a standout pasta dish with lots of fresh garlic, basil and pine nuts along with fresh, local sausage

fried fish

fried fish unlike any fried fish i’ve ever tasted.  the sauce was incredible.


wok fried spinach (with lots of garlic) and roasted mushrooms


chateaubriand – sliced foie gras torchon with sauternes reduction

Everything was delicious with flavors that I’m still thinking about.  Two of my favorite dishes were the mushrooms (I literally woke up on Monday morning thinking about them) and the beef with foie gras.  The beef was cooked to perfection and the foie gras was silky and rich.

We decided to share a couple of desserts to end on a sweet note.

cheese plate

cheese plate

key lime

key lime pie

I beg you to visit The Black House – it’s a food experience that will stay with you for awhile.

We are already planning our return for a warmer weekend so that we can sip wine in their outside seating area.


Cheers!  To good friends, juicy wines and unforgettable bites of food.

{Virtual} Coffee Chat


If we were having coffee this morning…We would not talk about the weather.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would prove that wallpaper is SO in right now by showing you this blog post.  

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how excited I am to have our entryway wallpapered in the next few weeks.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would show you the wallpaper we picked out because I can’t keep it to myself.  It’s bright and I’m obsessed.


If we were having coffee this morning…I would bring you a slice of cake.  Triple Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake to be exact.  It’s incredibly over the top but also incredibly delicious.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would want to show you the fabric I want to use for curtains but I wouldn’t be able to because it’s not a done deal yet.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that our new floors are a done deal and they’ll hopefully be installed next week.

If we were having coffee this morning…We would talk about how much I miss my niece and nephew.  My sister has been sending us pics and videos this week and while they make me smile, they also make my heart ache just a little.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would give you the recipe for my new favorite cocktail:  Blood Orange Gin and Tonic.  And with all this sn**, we might actually be having a cocktail date instead of a coffee date because icannottakeitanymore.  

If we were having coffee (or a cocktail) this morning…I would tell you about the most incredible Goat Cheese Gnocchi that Big Guy and I made last weekend.  It reminded me of one of our favorite appetizers – bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese.  It was totally delicious and worth the mess in the kitchen.  But I think Food Network got it wrong by saying this is an “easy” recipe – this is definitely for the intermediate home cook.  For the recipe, we ended up using a Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma and it worked perfectly.

If we were having coffee this morning…we’d talk about weekend plans.  My weekend is going to be a 3-day weekend including a double-date to a new-to-us restaurant.  I am SO excited I can’t wait to share the food and wine with you guys.

If we were having coffee this morning…we’d say goodbye but only after scheduling our next coffee chat.

Chicken and Basil Rice Bowl with Peanuts

Big Guy thinks he’s the King of rice making these days.

I’m not really sure who’s he’s King of but I’m guessing he’s trying to tell me that he makes better rice than I do.

I beg to differ.  But we’ll save that domestic dispute for another day.

I can say that Big Guy helped tremendously with getting our Chicken and Basil Rice Bowls on the table last Wednesday night.

I simply prepped all the ingredients possible (chopping the bell peppers, pulling out the ingredients from the pantry, etc.) and had the recipe sitting next to the cutting board.

And what do you know, I walked in the door that evening and he had prepped the remaining ingredients, prepared the rice perfect rice, and all we had to do was cook the chicken and bring the dish together.

I adore rice bowls and we simply don’t eat them enough.  Especially now that I’m married to the Rice King.

I loved how the basil perfumed the entire dish and my favorite bites included crunchy peanuts and the lime-scented rice.

I used chicken thighs which gave the dish so much more flavor than chicken breasts (I know there are some chicken thigh haters out there…and well, I’m sorry).

So good!  Carbs, check!  Veggies, check!  Protein, check!  Flavor and deliciousness, check!