Friday Favorites

Happy {almost} Valentine’s Day!  We don’t have any crazy plans for this weekend as we keep our Valentine’s Day celebration pretty simple and low-key.  But as usual, I’m very glad to see Friday has arrived.  I hope that you all have a weekend full of love and laughter!

Favorite Stuffed:  Thai Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Red Curry Peanut Sauce.  How beautiful are these purple sweet potatoes?  I’m thinking that’s what we need to plant this year.  And the peanut sauce sounds incredible.

Favorite Project:  Preserved Meyer Lemons.  This will require patience, seeing as though it takes 30 days to enjoy, but I’m intrigued.  And I already know what recipe I’d use them in.

Favorite Twist:  Messy but put-together.  If only I was talented enough to make this happen.

Favorite Drool:  Coconut Oil Brownies. These might just be little bites of Heaven.  And after thinking about brownies for more than a month, they’re happening this weekend.  My favorite brownie is fudgy and rich.  No cake-like brownies for me.

Favorite Meatless Monday:  Panko Baked Avocado Tacos.   Creamy on the inside, crunchy on the outside.  Yes.  Just yes.

Favorite Adorable:  Valentine’s Day Pepperoni Pizza.  Let’s be honest, food is way more romantic than flowers.

Favorite Flavors:  Coconut-Curry Mussels.  We’ve never cooked with mussels in our kitchen but something about this recipe makes me want to change that.  That broth is just begging for a hunk of crispy bread.

  Favorite Upgrade:  After seeing this, our front door seems so boring.

Favorite Brunch:  Mini Cream Cheese and Green Onions Biscuits with Spicy Sausage Gravy.  I love all things tiny and I think a Bloody Mary would complete this meal for Sunday Brunch.

Favorite Bubbly:  Blueberry Bellini.  Berry beautiful and berry delicious.


{Virtual} Coffee Chat

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you tell you about our cheese plate last weekend.  I’m still thinking about the cheese plate.  The manchego was my favorite and I adored the Spicy Fennel, Orange and Garlic Marinated Olives that we made to go along with the cheese.  p.s. The olives only get better the longer they sit.  Need help putting together a cheese plate?  Take notes from Jessica.

If we were having coffee this morningI would tell you about the bottle of wine that we enjoyed with the above cheese plate.  We shipped this bottle home from Sonoma and the wine was so much better than I remember.  Perhaps it’s because after a week of red wine it all starts to run together.  But I’m not complaining.  The bottle was from Papapietro Perry, one of the first vineyards we visited on our trip.

Papapietro Perry Winery specializes in small lots of handcrafted, single-vineyard designate Pinot Noir and Zinfandel produced from the finest grapes the Russian River, Anderson and Dry Creek Valleys have to offer.  In addition, we are now producing a limited amount of Chardonnay.

Along with our continuing passion for Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, our mission is to assist you in enjoying one of life’s pleasures—the union of good food, good wine and good friends.

This particular bottle is a 2012 Pinot Noir from Peters Vineyard in the Russian River Valley.  This beautiful wine is juicy with notes of cherry and spice and paired perfectly with the smorgasbord of food.  We actually brought home two bottles of this particular wine and we are going to age the other bottle.  This bottle will age well until 2022.


pinot noir


If we were having coffee this morning…I will tell you that I plan on featuring more about the wine that we enjoy.  Trust me – it won’t be a daily thing, probably not even weekly.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would suggest you visit Ilios Noche if you’re ever in Charlotte and in need of a lunch or dinner spot.  I took my sister and my brother’s girlfriend to lunch on Saturday and we all loved our meal.  To start, we all ordered a drink.  A Pinot Noir (from the Russian River Valley!) for Maggie, a glass of Reisling for Jamie J and a Late Summer cocktail for me.

LATE SUMMER (smooth, fresh vanilla and juniper notes, full body) Bombay Sapphire, fresh cucumber, St. Germain elderflower,cucumber bitters

Oh, and we shared an order of the Baked Goat Cheese with Herbs.  It was served with the most delicious buttered bread ever. And for lunch, I ordered the Fennel and Grape Salad with Salmon.  Maggie ordered the Fig Pizza and it was ahhh-mazing.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about the delicious Brussels Sprouts Gratin that we had last Saturday.  These were served alongside a juicy steak (wrapped in bacon!) and roasted potatoes.

brussels gratin

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how much I miss my family and how happy my heart was last weekend for all of us to be reunited for Deacon’s baptism.  (my sister-in-law is not pictured but it’s not because I don’t love her.)  Any one that knows me knows how much I adore my family.  It makes me want to live closer.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would point out my annoying hair.  I have a few pieces of hair that can’t seem to decide which side of the part they want to be on and so they just stick out straight.  Not a good look.  I feel like the awkward Emily that I was in middle school.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would remind you that God’s got it.  Whatever it is for you, He’s got it under control.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that one of my tricks to getting through a cold winter is BRIGHT nails.  I am currently rocking “Dutch Tulips” from OPI on both my fingers and my toes and it just makes me smile.  Oh, and a stack of bangles never hurt either.

dutch tulips


Black Bean Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Remember our homegrown sweet potatoes?

Well, some of them are still up in the attic and ready to be cooked.  (p.s. I had NO idea sweet potatoes could hang out for that long.)

Black Bean Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are the perfect way to use up sweet potatoes.  And if you don’t have any hanging out in your attic, it’s the perfect excuse to grab a few at the store.

Though the potatoes need a little time in the oven – the rest of the recipe is easy-peasy and takes no time at all.

First, rinse your potatoes.  Ours were extra dirty.  Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with foil and spraying with cooking spray (I used a coconut oil spray – but any will work).  Pierce the potatoes a few times with a fork or knife and place on the baking sheet.  (I am not missing a step here – I did not wrap the potatoes.)  Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your potatoes.

When the potatoes are almost finished baking, prepare the chili.  Diced onion and bell pepper along with garlic are sauteed in a small about of oil until soft.  Add in the spices:  cumin, chili powder, oregano and cayenne pepper.  Finally the tomato sauce and undrained black beans are added.  The chili is brought to a boil and then simmered until thickened.

The potatoes are split (and fluffed) before adding a generous portion of chili along with any topping you desire.  We topped ours with white cheddar cheese, green onions, Greek yogurt and cilantro.

I love how the skin was a little crispy from the direct heat of the oven but the inside of the potato was soft and sweet.  The cheese melted from the heat of the potato and the chili while the Greek yogurt cooled it all down.  A little freshness from the cilantro and green onions rounded out this incredibly filling vegetarian (and gluten-free) dinner.

What your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?

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!


Mexican Chorizo Hash

What do the following four foods have in common?

Sweet potatoes.
Brussels sprouts.

Stumped?  They’re foods that Big Guy didn’t really eat until we started dating.  It wasn’t that he didn’t like sweet potatoes, asparagus or Brussels, he claims he just wasn’t exposed to them (Terri and Carolyn – correct me if he’s wrong.)

Now what do these have in common?


If you guessed these are foods that Big Guy doesn’t like, you would be correct.  These have always been on my list of “things not to prepare for dinner.”  But I must note that he’s a great eater – if he were to be served any of the above items (which he has been), he will eat them.  It’s not that he doesn’t like the taste of eggs and fish – he doesn’t like the texture.

But something happened in Sonoma.  Not only did we eat an egg at least once a day in some form or fashion but Big Guy started to enjoy the eggs.  Even the runny yolk eggs.

This is a game-changer.  I didn’t waste any time whipping up a dinner that incorporated a runny yolk egg.


Not only are eggs a great source of protein but they’re fairly inexpensive (though for our household I purchase cage-free, organic eggs since I do eat the yolks not cooked through).  The cholesterol in eggs gets a bad rap but unless you have high cholesterol, two eggs a day (including the yolk) is perfectly healthy.

Mexican Chorizo Hash is an incredibly simple dish that comes together in no time thanks to the limited list of ingredients and needing only one cooking pan.

Mexican chorizo is crumbled and browned in a skillet before adding in the chopped onion, roasted red pepper, salt and pepper.  A bag of fresh spinach is stirred in and cooked until wilted.

Once wilted, the chorizo mixture is removed from the pan and refrigerated pre-shredded hash brown potatoes (found near the eggs, if you’re curious) are added to the pan and cooked until crisp.

Stir in the sausage mixture and crack four eggs on top.  Cover and cook until the eggs are set.

Dinner’s ready!

The chorizo and roasted red pepper add just the right amount of flavor to the dish while the spinach amps up the nutritional value.  I loved the silkiness of the egg once the yolk cracked and smoothered the hash.  Runny eggs for the win.

So what food have you started eating because of a significant other?

I definitely did not drink red wine before Big Guy and I have to say I’ve started eating things from the backyard since we didn’t garden growing up.


Friday Favorites.

This past week snapped me back into reality fast and I think I’ve finally “recovered” from our trip to Sonoma.  After a long and busy week, I’m looking forward to opening a bottle of wine and relaxing this evening before a busy, busy Saturday and Sunday.  I’m sending warm thoughts to you all (and an early Spring!).

Favorite Belly Laugh:  Sushi Sandwiches.   We watched this YouTube video about 73 times in Sonoma.  And I still laugh every.single.time.

Favorite Glazed:  Old Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts.  The other night we were watching Best. Ever. on the Food Network and it was all about Best. Breakfast. Ever.  Some time during the episode Big Guy revealed that he has never had a sour cream doughnut.  Gasp.  Now if he’s telling the truth I need to show him the light.  The light to my most favorite doughnut.  Perhaps I need to recreate this soon so that he doesn’t shock anyone else with this confession.

Favorite Healthy:  Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad.  Between the roasted carrots, the cilantro vinaigrette and the creamy avocado this plate is simply gorgeous.  I love the contrast of cooked carrots and fresh avocado.  Texture heaven.

Favorite Inspiration:  You guys, I can’t stop thinking about updating our living room.  (Stop rolling your eyes, Big Guy.)  I’m just ready for something new.  And blues are on my mind.

Favorite Refreshing:  Coconut Clementine Green Smoothie.  There is a half-empty can of coconut milk in my fridge that is begging to be added to my smoothie mix.

Favorite Sweet ‘n Spicy:  Thai Pineapple Fried Rice.  I forget how much I love rice bowls until I have one.  And then I want another one.  I think Big Guy agrees with me on this.

Favorite Dip:  Butternut Squash Goat Cheese Dip.  I am totally on board with any dip that involves goat cheese.

Favorite Bite:  French Onion and Prosciutto Stuffed Mushrooms.  I don’t know how anyone could not like mushrooms.  But hey, whatever, more for me.

Favorite Space:  Oh look, here’s a blue and black living room.  Hint, hint.  Nudge, nudge.

Favorite Date Night:  The Montanara Pizza (Classic Fried Italian Pizza).  Pizza and a bottle of red wine from Sonoma sounds heavenly.

Favorite Sip:  Ginger Rosemary Zinger.  I’ve been eyeing the candied ginger in my pantry for quite some time and I knew I wanted to incorporate it into a cocktail.  This is the cocktail.


Picadillo Sloppy Joes

When most people think of Sloppy Joes, they think of Manwich.  You know, “the taste that makes everyone smile.”

And while I have most certainly eaten a Manwich before, I don’t think it’s been since middle school.

Picadillo Sloppy Joes require a little more work than just opening up a can and mixing with cooked ground beef but the result is insane.

I literally have never tasted a Sloppy Joe this delicious in my life.  But I’m not really sure I’ve ever had a gourmet Sloppy Joe.

If a gourmet Sloppy Joe exists, this is it.

Since I keep a fairly well stocked kitchen, I had almost all of the pantry ingredients on hand.

Ground beef is browned in a sauteed mixture of onions and garlic.  Then comes the flavor.  A spice mixture of cinnamon, cumin and oregano is added to the mixture and the aroma fills the room.  Once the spices wake-up (cook for a minute or so), crushed tomatoes, raisins (instead of currants), capers and olives are added.  The capers and olives add a wonderful briny flavor.  After that simmers for 20 minutes, cilantro, pickled jalapeno and red wine vinegar finishes the Sloppy Joe mixture.

The mixture is served on a bun with Bibb lettuce, complete with grilled red onions.  A sandwich fit for a king.

Not only was this sandwich delicious but it was incredibly sloppy.  Be prepared – you’ll need two napkins.  And perhaps a fork.

I’m sorry, Manwich.  It’s not you, it’s me.