black bean cakes with greens + eggs {plus what I’m reading now}

Dinner doesn’t have to be elaborate to be healthy and delicious.

A can of beans is easily transformed in under 20 minutes into a lovely black bean cake.  Your food processor is a huge time savor for pulsing the black beans with an egg and a little canola oil.  To the bean mixture, add Panko (I used a gluten-free Panko), green onions, parsley (I didn’t have any cilantro), cumin, a little salt, a little red pepper and lots of garlic.

The bean mixture is then shaped into patties and dredged through a little more Panko before being pan fried in canola oil.

While the black bean cakes were cooking, I cooked an egg over medium heat, covered, for about 4 minutes for the most perfect runny yolk.  If you’re not a fan of runny yolks, cook the egg a little longer.  (p.s. I finally learned that you don’t have to flip the egg to cook the whites – covering the pan is such a brilliant – yet “duh” worthy – idea.)

Along with the black bean cake + egg, a simple salad of arugula and parsley that is dressed with an incredibly easy mixture of olive oil, lime juice, mustard, salt and pepper.

And since dinner took no time at all, you have more time to hang outside and read a good book.

I am so happy to be back on the reading train.  I’m not sure when I fell off the train but I just started reading Jodi Picoult’s new book Leaving Time and it’s a good one.

What book are you currently reading?

Creamy Blueberry Chicken Salad

This Friday marks the official start of Spring.  And while we still may be in a bit of transition from winter to spring (my NC friends know what I’m talking about – 50 degrees one day, 80 the next) I am completely ready to transition my meals from winter to spring.  Bring on the light dinners and fresh produce from the garden (or farmers market).

Creamy Blueberry Chicken Salad is as delicious as it sounds.  Shredded rotisserie chicken (one of my favorite ingredients during the week) is tossed with crispy celery and crunchy red onion before being coated in a creamy dressing involved absolutely no mayo.  The dressing is a dreamy combination of Greek yogurt, lemon juice and a little bit of honey – a little tangy and a little sweet.

The finishing touch is the addition of basil which adds fresh, herbaceous notes to this Southern picnic staple and the blueberries – the true star of the salad – bursting with sweetness and color.

blueberry chicken

The chicken salad is served on a bed of spinach that is tossed with a little bit of olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.

Light and bright and totally Spring-y.

{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!

Friday Favorites

Good morning and Happy Friday!  It’s been quite an exciting week around our house with our living room makeover and now I have to be patient and wait for the new furniture to be delivered.  (We still have our old furniture – so it’s not too bad – I’m just ready to see the final result.)  Per usual, I’m very excited that the weekend is here.  My parents will be arriving into town this evening and I can’t wait to spend a weekend with them.  I know what tonight entails but I still can’t decide what we should have for dinner on Saturday.  I know – the things that keep me up at night.  I also hope we’ll be able to find a coffee table and some end tables we like.  Despite the rainy forecast for Saturday, Sunday looks gorgeous – and as long as there is no sn**, I’m a happy girl.

And here are my favorites from the week!

Favorite Crave:  Italian Meatloaf.  I have no idea why but meatloaf has sounded so good to me the past couple of weeks.  Comfort food at it’s finest.

Favorite Fresh:  Smoky Romaine and Avocado Salad.  I love the combo of the smooth and buttery avocado paired with a smoky vinaigrette.

Favorite Creamy:  Roasted Jalapeno Hummus.  This dip only makes me yearn for our garden even more and our homegrown jalapenos.  I need to bring hummus back into my lunch rotation.

Favorite Brights:  Yellow + Pink.   I’m adoring this fun combination of colors.  It screams “Spring”!

Favorite Throw-Back:  Homemade French Onion Dip.  There’s a picture of my brother that was taken about 22 years ago of him with an entire bag of Ruffles potato chips and Dean’s French Onion Dip.  Every time I see French Onion Dip I think of Taylor.  I think we could both devour this bowl of French Onion Dip.

Favorite Layers:  Mint Chocolate Chip Ice-Cream Cake.  Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream (the green stuff) was what I would order anytime we went to an ice cream shop growing up.  It was hands-down my favorite.  And with St. Patty’s day next week, this cake is totally appropriate and necessary.

Favorite Slice:  Bacon Brussels Leek Pizza.  Yes, yes, yes.  That is all.

Favorite Whoa:  Roasted Carrots with Chile Yogurt and Cilantro Sauce.  Quite possibly the most beautiful carrots I’ve ever seen.  Salty, sweet, tangy and tender.

Favorite Bling:  Long Gold Necklace.  I’m on the hunt for a similar style.  I love how it can be worn with so many outfits.

Favorite Cocktail:  Bruleed Grapefruit and Gin Fizz.   Sweet.  Tart.  Bubbly.

Let’s get this weekend started!

 

White Cheddar Potato Soup

Let’s rewind to the week after I graduated from high school (2001) when my best friend and I went down to Ocean Isle Beach for the week.

We were well behaved ladies – didn’t drink or have boyfriends – and the only thing we had planned was sun and trips to the outlets in Myrtle Beach.

That week is so vivid in my mind.  We were two peas in a pod.  The clothes we packed were pretty much identical – and we dressed identical sometimes to get a laugh out of folks.

And you want to know what brings up this memory for me – potato soup.

I know – random.

One night during our first week out of high school, we headed to North Myrtle for dinner.  This was way before I knew about farm-to-table so we picked one of our favorite restaurants, Tripps.  

We loved Tripps because of their potato soup.  Loaded baked potato soup, to be exact.  We would order a salad and a huge bowl each of the soup.

It was loaded with chunks of potato, cheddar cheese, bacon and green onions – oh, and butter.  And cream.

We didn’t care that it was 90 degrees outside – we loved that soup.

Gone are the days of me going to Tripps for soup but I do love potato soup.  And since Big Guy and I aren’t fans of soup in warm weather, we managed to fit one more pot of soup in before Spring has 100% arrived.

White Cheddar Potato Soup is luscious, rich and creamy.  The soup is made in one pot (which is fantastic for clean-up) and has chunks of mashed potato in every bite.  The white cheddar is sharp and the Greek yogurt (or sour cream) gives the perfect amount of tang.  Dressed with green onions, it’s a throw-back bowl of soup for me.

p.s.  Tripps still has Baked Potato Soup on the menu for $4.69.

 

 

{Virtual} Coffee Chat

If we were having coffee this morning…I would be absolutely giddy that Spring is in the air.  In fact, I celebrated the sun on Sunday with a glass of champs.  Just because I can.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you all about the house updates.  Last weekend we hung my new favorite prints in the guest bedroom.

If we were having coffee this morning…I might seem a little stressed about the “state” of our home.  We currently have ALL the furniture in the living room in the kitchen or office. (The below peak is just the beginning….)  The living room and office were painted yesterday, floors are being put in today and we’re crossing our fingers that the wallpaper goes up on Thursday.

currently

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that ALL our glassware is clean and dust-free.  I had to empty out our bar which gave me the perfect opportunity for a little Spring cleaning.  The fact that our kitchen table is against the wall and full of the glasses…that’s another story.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would recommend the 2010 Belle Cousine from Hyde de Villaine (HdV).   Thankfully we were smart enough to buy two bottles and we have one “aging” as we speak.  We’ll see if it lasts two decades on the wine rack.

HdV is a venture between the Hyde Family of Napa Valley and the de Villaine Family of Burgundy. The families, related by marriage, share long histories in French and Californian winemaking. In HdV, we have brought together our knowledge and experience for the purpose of creating single vineyard wines from the slopes of Hyde Vineyards.

2010 Belle Cousine:  Dark red in color, the wine shows a very refined nose of fresh blueberry, lavender and cassis with a hint of cedar notes. The intense blue shaded fruit lifts from the glass with a clear but subtle minerality. While dense and concentrated, the fine tannins display elegance in harmony with the fresh acidity. Classic Hyde Vineyard Bordeaux varieties on display with intense fruit followed by a long, lingering mineral finish. Enjoy now and over the next two decades.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how excited I am that my parents are visiting this weekend and we’re taking them to our favorite little spot, SoCo.  I’ve made sure that the menu is shellfish-free (or at least one half) and carrot-free.  And they just happened to put a suggestion of mine on the menu.  Dadom, I hope you’re ready for some GNOCCHI.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would admit that we were at SoCo less than a week ago because we “had” to try the menu before it went away forever.

Sweet Kale with Peppercorn Ranch, Heirloom Beans, Roasted Carrot Puree and Free Range Pork Cracklins

Hot & Sour-Style Soup with Farmhouse Egg and Pork Belly

Curried Tilefish with Skillet Potatoes, Cabbage-Herb Salad and Miso Butter

Cheese Plate with Almond Shortbread, Dried Apricots and Truffle Honey

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you my thoughts on the menu:  Their dressings are one of my favorite aspects of every meal.  So fresh.  I’m kind of over kale.  Not because it wasn’t prepared perfectly (because it was!  thankfully they are not afraid of salt) but because I’m over winter and kale = winter.  The soup was different than what I expected!  The egg was hardboiled and chopped as a garnish – I was totally expecting a runny egg yolk.  The flavors of the soup were just as you expected:  hot and sour – but Kimberly had the BEST wine pairing with this course.  The tilefish was unbelievable cooked to perfection.  And the cheese plate.  Oh, cheese, How I love thee.  The goat cheese and shortbread were absolutely amazing.  And the truffle honey, shut up.

If we were having coffee this morning…We would talk a little bit more about cheese.  Big Guy and I tried a mushroom brie for “appy” hour one night and it was so good.  The cheese is from Trader Joe’s and if you love mushrooms like we do, you’ll adore this cheese.

cheese

If we were having coffee this morning…I would remind you that life is all about balance.  All the food and wine (20%) that you see on the blog and my instagram are balanced with healthy meals (80%) and my daily workouts.

{image source}

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that balance also means the return of the Green Smoothie.

green

Can’t wait to chat with you next week!

 

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.