{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?!?


Chicken Verde Enchiladas

I know, I know.  It’s siete de mayo.  Enchiladas were so two dos days ago.

But they were so delicious and easy that you can eat them any day of the month, any month of the year.

Well, maybe not Christmas day.  But maybe.  I’ll leave that up to you.

Chicken Verde Enchiladas come together in no time thanks to a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  (Tip:  Go ahead and shred the chicken while it’s warm – it’s so much easier – and simply store in an airtight container until you’re ready to use.)  And the fact that they only need to broil for a few minutes instead of baking for many minutes.

The enchiladas start by bringing chopped onions, chicken stock, pre-made salsa verde, chopped cilantro stems, cornstarch (or flour), cumin, and garlic to a boil.  Simmer for a few minutes until thickened.  Add in the chicken and allow it to warm through.  The chicken mixture is then removed from the heat and the tomato, Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and avocado are added to the mixture.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave for a quick 30 seconds.  In the bottom of the baking dish, add about a cup of the chicken mixture and spread evenly.  Then fill each tortilla with 1/3 cup of the mixture, roll and place seam-side down in the baking dish.  Top with cheese and broil until browned and bubbly.  Finish the entire dish off with a sprinkle of cilantro.


I had never added avocado to the inside mixture of an enchilada but I loved this twist on the recipe.  Every bite had a little bit of everything.  I also loved the fresh pop of the tomatoes.  Since they didn’t cook for very long they were still juicy and sweet.  By broiling the enchiladas they got a little crunchy on the edges and that plus the cheese were my favorite bites.

Carbs + Cheese = Everything




Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese

Mac ‘n Cheese, please!!!

Ultra-cheesy, garlicky, luscious and creamy.  I present to you your new favorite mac ‘n cheese recipe.

I’m a lover of all garlic – raw or roasted.  But even if you’re not a fan of raw garlic, give roasted garlic a chance.  It’s extremely mellow and absolutely addictive.

The recipe gives you the option of roasting the garlic in the microwave (say what!?!?!) but I had the time to roast it in the oven so I went that route.

Simply slice the top portion off the garlic head, drizzle with EVOO, wrap in foil and baked at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Your house will smell amazing.

With the roasted garlic you’ll also need noodles (I used gluten free brown rice noodles), milk, cornstarch or flour, salt, and pepper.  Oh, and cheese.

You can’t have mac ‘n cheese without cheese.  For this recipe, you’ll need 2 ounces of mozzarella and 4 ounces of cheddar (I used white cheddar).

If you use fresh mozzarella, like I did, freeze it for about 15 minutes – it’ll make grating the cheese so much easier.

And I apologize, this recipes uses a few pots and pans – but it’s worth it.

I had to practice patience once this bubbling, hot casserole dish came out of the oven.

I could hardly wait to dive head fork first into this cheesy-noodle-garlicky goodness.



Pan-Seared Shrimp and Arugula Risotto

Risotto makes me feel a little fancy.  Risotto makes me want to uncork (or unscrew) a bottle of wine and pour a glass so that I have something to do while I stir.  And stir.  And stir.

On this particular evening, I selected a light and crisp 2013 Pinot Blanc from Elizabeth Spencer.  While we did visit Elizabeth Spencer during our visit to Sonoma this is not a bottle from the trip.  I actually saw this bottle at a wine shop here in Eastern NC and had to buy it after the lady in the wine shop highly recommended the bottle.  And I don’t regret the purchase.  Easy on the wallet but absolutely delicious.  After all the red wine we’ve been drinking, I had forgotten how much I love a light white wine – especially as the weather is becoming warmer and warmer.

And this white wine went perfectly with the risotto.  The Pan-Seared Shrimp and Arugula Risotto was full of flavors and insanely creamy.  I decided to pan-sear the shrimp in the Dutch oven that I planned to cook the risotto in – genius.  It only gave the risotto an even more intense flavor.  I used red onion instead of shallots (simply because my onion had gone bad).  The key to risotto is patience and warmed stock.

It’s so sad how un-photogenic risotto can be.


Buttery with a little earthiness from the arugula and basil, this dinner is totally worth opening a bottle of wine.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini

Strawberry season has arrived in Eastern North Carolina.  And that makes me so happy.

I haven’t been able to pick-my-own yet (perhaps this weekend?!?!) but a good friend at the gym brought my some strawberries from his sisters farm last Friday and I couldn’t wait to eat them.

Super sweet and absolutely delicious on their own but when I was trying to think of an appetizer I couldn’t help but want to use the succulent strawberries.


Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini is incredibly easy but so delicious.  Sweet strawberries are tossed with balsamic vinegar and allowed to marinate for about 10 minutes.  While the strawberries are soaking up acidic flavors, toast your crostini.  I sliced a ciabatta baguette, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before baking at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Once they were nice and crunchy, a slathered on the tangy goat cheese and topped with a couple of the balsamic strawberry slices.   The final touch with a sprinkling of spicy globe basil from the garden (by the way, it’s National Herb Week!) and flaky sea salt.

The sea salt takes it over the top.

Sweet, tangy, salty and crunchy.

Appetizer heaven.


I dare you to just eat one.

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

{image via}

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!