Monday, April 27, 2015

The Weekend

My weekend consisted of brunch cocktails, a movie, a really tasty Saturday breakfast and some clean up duties. Sometimes I feel like 2 days just isn't enough to unwind from the crazy week and get stuff done. Shouldn't it be mandatory that weekends are 3 days? All day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Meaning the work week should be Monday - Thursday. I think I could get with that. Anyway, I have a pretty busy week next week and John and I are mentally preparing for vacation in about 4 weeks so, needless to say: I'm ready for a much-needed break.

We went to the movies on Friday night and saw True Story - a movie with James Franco and Jonah Hill. It's an actual true story and I thought it was sort of fascinating. Pretty cool to see those two in serious roles. Even though I'm sad the weekend is over, I'm happy to welcome another week. I'm making a promise to myself to look forward to Monday's just as much as I look forward to Friday's. That's going to be tough.

It was a great sunny weekend and even better news, we'll be getting our wedding pictures soon! Yay!

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers

The other day I shared a few lessons I gathered from The Kitchn Cookbook. I'm starting to share my knowledge and love for some of the cookbooks I own and I'm looking forward to it. I mentioned in this week's post that I would share a recipe from The Kitchn so here we are. The book has a ton of recipes so it wasn't easy picking just one to share this week. When I was choosing a recipe, I knew I wanted something for dinner but I wanted something quick, easy and somewhat familiar. So I chose a turkey burger. Turkey burgers are easy and a Middle Eastern turkey burger sounded delicious.

I don't know a lot about Middle Eastern cuisine; I've had a chance to taste certain items from it but it's not a cuisine that I eat a lot of...I'd love to though. What I do know about Middle Eastern food is that it usually has some interesting flavor combinations like cinnamon, mint, cumin and raisins. This burger was no different. The seasons were great though I did alter the recipe just a bit.

Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers adapted from The Kitchn Cookbook

1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix together really well (use your hands!). Form 4 patties.

Use your thumb to make a small indentation in the middle of the patty. This helps it cook evenly.

In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook; 6 minutes each side.

When the patties are done, use pita bread or naan to assemble your sandwiches. I used pita pockets...they're the cutest things. Naan would obviously be a fantastic choice.

You can use whatever toppings you like. The Kitchn included a recipe for tsatziki but I'm not a fan so I didn't bother. So, for assembling our burgers I used: pita bread, bibb lettuce, crumbled herb & garlic feta, regular mustard and curry ketchup (just ketchup and curry powder mixed together).

So good.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Around the Web

Ready for the weekend.

There's an upcoming Netflix series about some of the world's best chefs - via Food & Wine

Best new snacks of 2015? I'm on it - via PopSugar Food

We're all adults but in case you need it, here are 24 reasons to make your bed - via Buzzfeed

A funny video about having a work BFF - via Buzzfeed

Want to make better pancakes? Here are a few rules - via Purewow

Random facts about Ed Sheeran - via Gossip Girl

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

5 Lessons from The Kitchn Cookbook

I have quite a few cookbooks (shocker) but I have a habit of collecting cookbooks and not opening them or trying out any of the recipes.  They just collect dust and stare at me. Well, no more. A couple of weekends ago, I went through some of my cookbooks (and other random books for that matter) and got rid of the books that I knew I didn't want anymore and organized the ones that I had yet to open. This particular cookbook (The Kitchn) was not on my collecting dust list but there were several that were; it felt good to purge.

John actually gave me The Kitchn Cookbook one night and I'm sure I must have screamed when I saw it. I've always been a huge fan of The Kitchn's site so when I heard the folks behind it were creating a cookbook, I was ecstatic! In an effort to do more cookbook reading this year, I'll be sharing more and more reviews and recaps from various cookbooks that I collect over time - get ready! Anyway, here's what I learned from The Kitchn.

Size & opulence doesn't matter.

The glamorous images we see of large, sparkly kitchens on television and in the magazines aren't necessarily the perfect kitchen. Sure it looks nice and I definitely long for a big, beautiful (double oven) kitchen but what makes a perfect kitchen is more about where you're comfortable and how equipped your kitchen is with the tools needed to prepare your foods with ease. Sure, I wish I had my "dream" kitchen but until that happens, I'm surrounding myself with pretty kitchen tools and other knick-knacks to hold me over until I get that kitchen.

Stocking a pantry is easy when you have a few staple items.

There are few essentials you should always have in your pantry like chicken or vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, noodles and of course, rice. Keeping certain staple items around will make life much easier when you're too lazy to leave the house and need to whip up something really quickly.

Preparation techniques will save you time when you're cooking.

This is a no brainer. I can't stress enough how much time I've saved time simply because I've read a recipe (multiple times) before actually starting on it and because I've carefully prepped herbs and veggies prior to starting. This is something I'm still working on. Knowing the difference between measuring liquid ingredients versus dry ingredients, knowing how to hold a chef's knife and something as simple as stabilizing your cutting board can save you time in the end. You ever had those moments when your cutting board moves all around the counter - it's so annoying and it totally slows you down. Using a wet paper towel underneath the board can keep it from moving around and save you some time!

Entertaining guests does not have to be intimidating.

There are tons of easy ways to make entertaining (or gathering as The Kitchn likes to say) easy and stress free.  A common belief is that having a dinner party and entertaining guests has to be expensive...but it doesn't! Use old jars to hold silverware, use cloth napkins (buy some inexpensive fabric from Michael's or Hobby Lobby and DIY), butcher paper gives a rustic look and is very inexpensive...use it!

Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers.

I can't write about a cookbook without actually making a recipe from it, right? The Kitchn has lots of recipes from breakfast tacos to chocolate cake. When I saw the recipe for Middle Eastern turkey burgers, I knew I had to make them. Keep an eye out on Friday for the results.

Outcome: I'd definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in a little more than just a cookbook. The Kitchn offers recipes and valuable tips and suggestions on how to really build the kitchen of your dreams even if you're on a budget. It's really great for folks who are just beginning to get comfortable in the kitchen and for people who are pros at it. Buy it on Amazon

Have you read The Kitchn Cookbook? What did you think?

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Weekend

This weekend, John and I were definitely on the go. Friday night we decided to have a little date night at Easy Bistro and it did not disappoint. I'd only been there one other time for drinks so I was very excited when John mentioned that he'd made a reservation. The rest of the weekend was spent trying to do a little cleaning (which really didn't happen) then on the road to Atlanta to help my BFF and her husband get settled into their new place. It's been a crazy week for those two so we *tried* to alleviate some of the craziness. Once we got back last night, we ate dinner and watched a movie. We finally watched Foxcatcher. I remember this movie during award season and John and I wanted to go see but never got around to it. It's based on a true story and Steve Carell was great in it - definitely a different role from Michael Scott on The Office.

Anyway, looking forward to a sunnier week than last week, I hope. The rain was definitely a bummer over the last few days.

No weekend full of unpacking boxes is complete without a refueling breakfast at the Waffle House, right? Every time I go to the Waffle House though, they ALWAYS forget my waffle. No joke. Happened again this time. This is why I'm an IHOP fan. I've added a new record to my "collection". I feel silly even calling my records a collection but whatever. John brought it home on National Record Store Day, which was Saturday. And it's always nice to end a weekend with a rainbow.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Jalapeno Caipirinha

I like Caipirinhas. (kai-pee-reen-ya)

I don't drink them all of the time but on occasion when John and I frolic to The Boathouse, I'll treat myself to one because I enjoy their cocktails. A caipirinha reminds me of warm weather and beach lounging. There's just something about the citrusy and sweet flavor combination of this drink that make me dream of summer. I've never taken it upon myself to make my own caipirinha and I'm not too sure why - they're actually not difficult to make at all.

A while ago, I found a jalapeno caipirinha recipe on Mint Love Social blog and I was intrigued. I haven't always enjoyed spicy cocktails but over time, my taste buds are slowly warming up to the idea. I don't like them too spicy where I can't enjoy it but just a little heat makes for an interesting cocktail experience. Caipirinhas are typically made with Cachaca which is a liquor made from sugarcane; it's also a super popular liquor on Brazil. I went the less traditional route with my caipirinha and used rum instead of cachaca and that's ok. It's not totally authentic but it was definitely tasty. I've made this a couple of times so that I could adjust the heat - I think I found a good balance the second time around.

What you'll need:
2 oz of rum or Cachaca
1/2 of a lime, quartered
2 teaspoons of sugar (brown sugar is fine)
jalapeno slice (or two if you're feeling feisty)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle: limes, sugar and jalapeno

Add rum and ice.

Shake like crazy.

Pour all of the contents of the shaker into a glass.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Around the Web

Dreaming of summer travels.

11 movies to stream on Netflix this month - via Brit & Co.

How to make a meal with just $5 - via Food 52

Facts we didn't know about Cetaphil (my favorite moisturizer) - via Today

Tips for beginner bakers - via PopSugar Food

Ben & Jerry is getting in the beer biz - via Huffington Post Taste

Best hotels in the South - via Southern Living

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Weekend

You ever had one of those times where you get a little overzealous in making a to do list for yourself and not really completing the entire thing? That happened to me this weekend. I made a pretty comprehensive to do list and I tried to get through as much as I could but one project took longer than expected so my to do list went unfinished. I hate that. I try to be as productive as possible during the weekend especially since I usually don't have anywhere to really be like I do during the week. I will say, I really enjoyed this weekend. The weather was perfection on Saturday and John and I have this HBO Now thing so that may have had a little to do with my less-than-productive completion of my to do list. At any rate, I have a pretty busy week but definitely looking forward to going to a comedy show tomorrow night with John and some of our friends.

Do you watch Broad City? Well, we're seeing Hannibal Buress who's a character on the show - sooooo funny. Can't wait!

Friday I enjoyed a much needed manicure/pedicure after work and *tried* to finally read magazines that have been on my nightstand for what feels like weeks now. John and I took a leisurely stroll after brunch with friends and Saturday evening we went on a double date to a recently opened restaurant here, Two Ten Jack - so good. The cocktails were great and the ramen was ridiculous! Cannot wait to go back. I spent Sunday evening making some juice! This week's concoction:

green apple, spinach and jalapeno and a blueberry, basil, orange and lemon. Very interesting.

Happy Monday lovelies!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Around the Web

This week's post was organized while watching an HBO documentary on Scientology. Scary.

I'm trying to travel the world like this couple - via Bored Panda

Did you hear about the Burger-King wedding? - via PopSugar Food

Disney is serving a steak for $115 - via Huffington Post Taste

The NFL hired their first female official (hooray!) - via Yahoo Sports

10 booze infused vacations? Yes, please - via Huffington Post

Unhealthy marriage myths - via PopSugar

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

40 Days of Gratitude

During the beginning of every year, I always begin to contemplate how I will enhance my life during Lent or make some type of a sacrifice. One year I gave up meat; another year I tried to read five books in 40 days and most recently, I gave up alcohol, which wasn't that much fun. This year, I decided that instead of 'giving up' something, I would choose something that would enhance my life and cause me to think of all of the things I should be happy about in my life...thankful. So, I came up with the idea to keep a gratitude journal for 40 days. Everyday, I would write five things that I am grateful for and let it soak in and be really content with everything for which I have been blessed.


Life happened and I sort of didn't fulfill my promise to keep this said gratitude journal. In my defense, I was planning a wedding, got married, went out of town and had a huge fundraiser for work...blah blah blah. Even though I didn't quite complete my task, today, I'm sharing 5 things that I'm thankful for currently...

John. So happy to have married him and officially be a family.

Friends. I have the best friends ever. I'm pretty sure my friends are better than yours.

Food. Seems sort of silly but really I am grateful for food. Food fuels my blog, column and my life. I love it and I'm grateful to have the means to eat what I want. 

Job. It's not always sunshine and unicorns but I'm thankful for it and for the folks I've met because of it.

Family. I wouldn't be who I was without the love and help of my family. On top of that, I'm happy to have John's family, part of my family now too.

I may not have completed writing down what I'm thankful for but I definitely remember it and constantly think about it everyday. What about you...what are you grateful for?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Currently Snacking On...

New monthly series, documenting/highlighting snacks that I'm currently noshing on and loving (or not loving). Snack suggestions are always welcomed.

SkinnyPop - recommended by a friend, Skinny Pop is a gluten free, guilt free snack that I'm loving! I tried the original, which is very lightly salted. What I love is that there are just three ingredients in this popcorn: salt, sunflower oil and popcorn. That's it. There are other flavors too; I've got my eye on the black pepper flavor. (Learn more about SkinnyPop here)

Goldfish - these little bites of cheesy goodness are back in my life. In high school, Goldfish were one of my favorite snacks...ever! John recently bought some from the grocery store so now I'm on the Goldfish bandwagon again. I'm a simple girl though; the original flavor is just fine with me. I've started mixing the SkinnyPop and the Goldfish together for a very basic 'trail mix'...if I can even call it that.

Spicy Ginger Cookies by Salem Baking Co. - Gosh I love these cookies. I mentioned them in a recent post and I've gone and purchased more. I'm gearing up to use them for an easy recipe for my column...if I can stop myself from eating them all. They are so good! In my opinion, they're not exactly cheap...especially for the amount of cookies you get or maybe I'm just greedy. Who knows? But I do like to treat myself every now and then. I buy these from Publix and pay about $4 for them. (Learn more about the Salem Baking Company here)

What are you snacking on this month?

Monday, April 6, 2015

The [Easter] Weekend

I love a good long weekend! I wish they happened more often. This weekend was busy but fun. Friday we slept in and made breakfast together and had mimosas - wish we could do that everyday. We got an America's Test Kitchen cooking for two cookbook during our engagement so we decided to finally dive in and cook a couple of recipes from that book. We chose something simple since we were making breakfast and went with their way of cooking scrambled eggs and also homemade pancakes. I have to say, I think we made a pretty good team in the kitchen. The breakfast turned out fantastic and it was a reminder of why I love America's Test Kitchen so much.

We saw Fast & Furious 7 - full of action and sort of made me sad at the end. I got a [much needed] haircut Saturday and ended the weekend with a trip to Nashville with the in-laws for Easter and had a fantastic Easter brunch together. Oh! How could I forget, we saw Last Comic Standing winner, Rod Man, at a local comedy club. So. Funny. Until the most recent season, John and I had never watched Last Comic Standing...I'm actually not sure how we got into it but since the beginning we were huge fans of his. It was nice to see him win and see him live!

So let me explain these eggs: they're turkey eggs. We bought them at the farmer's market last week. They were tasty...a little larger than a normal chicken egg and the yolk is definitely larger. Now I can check that off of my bucket list.

I heart this purse; it says 'goodbye' on the other side. Shop it here.

Great weekend. We *finally* made a decision regarding a vacation we're taking next month. More details on that at a later date. Promise.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Citrus Zinger Juice

I made juice!

One of our wedding gifts was a lovely Breville juicer and I was ecstatic when we got it. I immediately started thinking of different juices I could experiment with: spicy juice, green juice, juice for cocktails...the list goes on. I just recently prepped some juice for the weekend and for some fresh juice mimosas with John. This weeks' juice prep was pretty simple; I made an orange and pineapple juice for our mimosas then I made a pear and apple juice. I wanted to add a little ginger but unfortunately, the ginger I had in the fridge didn't look so good so I threw it out...bummer.

I've only used the juicer twice but when I have used it, I make it count. I like to make more than one batch and/or flavor of juice and what I've learned so far is that I love this appliance so much but it's sort of a pain to clean. Most of it is dishwasher safe but I like to hand wash it to make sure it's all good. Anyway, I've gotten off on a random tangent..back to the subject at hand: I made juice!

For my first juice with the juicer, I kept it simple, citrusy and a little spicy hence the agave. I found a sumo orange in Whole Foods that I used instead of a regular orange. I've never had a sumo orange but found it to be very delicious. Sumo oranges are super-easy to peel, seedless and very juicy, which is perfect if you're juicing it, right?

For this citrus zinger, you'll need:

     1 or 2 sumo oranges (or any orange of your choice would be just fine)
     2 lemons
     A piece of ginger (about an inch or 1 1/2 inches)
     Agave, if needed
     Cayenne pepper, optional

Juice all ingredients, pour into a glass, add agave (only if needed) and sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on top. The agave comes in handy if you make your juice to citrusy or too spicy.

Definitely a juice I'll make a again and one that sort of 'wakes you up' in the morning. Try it!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Around the Web

So glad April Fool's Day is over. 

Career tips from female bosses - via Brit & Co.

Mastering the mint julep (Kentucky Derby is coming soon) - via Turntable Kitchen

10 characteristics of genuine people - via

Natural ways to get rid of spring allergies - via Hello Natural

A few culinary secrets us home cooks need to know - via The Everygirl

Choosing and achieving your goals - via Career Girl Daily

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Peach Balsamic Strawberries

Spring means strawberries and sunshine. I love it! I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate berries and now that we have a juicer (yay!), I'm sure I'll be making all kinds of random mixes of juices...more on my first juicing experience later this week.

After we returned from Charleston, I purchased some strawberries. Wait. Let me back up. While in Charleston, we stopped by a local olive oil and balsamic vinegar company. We sampled a vinegar that I just fell in love with: peach balsamic vinegar. It's sweet but not the kind of sweet that makes you forget that you're having a balsamic vinegar. It's sweet enough to pique your interest but tangy enough for you to still enjoy it on savory items. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, I decided that I wanted to do something I'd never done before: incorporate a balsamic vinegar into a dessert. I've read all about how olive oil and ice cream is all the rage so I figured, this lightly sweet balsamic vinegar would be too. Then I frolicked off to the store to purchase a pint of strawberries for my new and very random dessert.

Desserts like this are ridiculously easy. This is the types of dessert you serve when you're having a dinner party or a barbecue. They're easy to assemble and require almost no time to prep. In fact, you could actually have your guests assemble them if you really want to take a break from the kitchen.

The best part about this is that you don't have to use your oven. Now that the temps are rising, there's nothing worst than a hot kitchen while it's 100 degrees outside.

Ok. So all I did was macerate (soak) the strawberries in the peach balsamic vinegar for a couple of hours. You can certainly soak them overnight if you wish. If you're not really into the balsamic vinegar thing, you can macerate strawberries with:

sugar (just sprinkle sugar over the berries and let them sit)

wine of your choice - perhaps a dessert wine

liquor - Grand Marnier or St. Germain would be cool

After they've had to time to chill in the fridge (the longer the berries sit in the liquid, the more intense the flavors will be), I served them over ice cream and my favorite spicy ginger cookies.

These cookies are so good. They have other flavors ranging from meyer lemon to maple and brown sugar. I've tried the cinnamon and brown sugar ones and they're equally as addictive as the spicy ginger cookies. If your local grocer doesn't carry these, you can purchase them on their website. I usually find mine at Publix.

So simple, so quick and the cookies just make it look more "official" as if you've spent a lot of time on the dessert. Your secret is safe with me.

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