Thursday, July 10, 2014

RECIPE: Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese Bacon Vinaigrette

I used to think that the grilling lettuce trend was weird. Why would you want a warm salad? Still, I decided to give this recipe a try primarily because of its hefty amount of blue cheese and bacon. Wouldn't that sell you? It turns out that grilled salad is absolutely delicious and I'm boohooing over here because since I made this recipe we moved to a place where we don't have a grill and it will probably be quite a while before I can make grilled salad again.


GRILLED ROMAINE WITH BLUE CHEESE BACON VINAIGRETTE (serves 6)
4 T extra virgin olive oil
3/4 c finely diced red onion
1/2 lb bacon
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
3 romaine lettuce heads, cores removed and trimmed in half lengthwise
1/2 c crumbled blue cheese
grape tomatoes
freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat your grill to high heat. In a large skillet, heat 1 T of the olive oil over high heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook until bacon is crispy. Remove from pan and crumble bacon. Add the balsamic vinegar and 1 T of the olive oil to the skillet and reduce for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Thread grape tomatoes on a skewer.

Brush the romaine with remaining 2 T olive oil and place on the grill, cut side down. Place grape tomato skewer on the grill. Quickly sear until grill marks are visible and tomatoes begin to pop. Set aside.

For each serving, place a half head of romaine cut side up on a plate and drizzle with balsamic dressing. Sprinkle with blue cheese, bacon, and onions. Add a few tomatoes and season with freshly cracked black pepper.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014 Goal Update

Today marks the beginning of the second half of 2014 and I'm thinking that time needs to s l o w down! The first half of my year was busy and stressful at times, and I'm looking forward to enjoying the rest of the year. I decided to do a check in with my 2014 goals and I'm almost ashamed to write this post, because I'm not doing a great job! Luckily I still have 6 months left to finish them up.

My view this week (below) is from the North Carolina coast, where I'm on vacation with my family. It's a perfect time to relax, reflect, and plan for the rest of the year.


Here's where my 2014 goals stand so far...

Goal: Visit at least 10 new towns
Progress: I've visited ONE. Womp womp. I took a day trip to Clinton, NC with two of my friends at the beginning of June.

Goal: Personal website + freelance work
Progress: Though I haven't finished up a personal website yet, I've been working really hard on something of a similar nature. More details to come in two weeks!

Goal: Make healthier choices
Progress: I plead the fifth.

Goal: Dedicate more time to things I love
Progress: I think I'm doing an okay job in this department, although at the beginning of the year I specifically mentioned blogging more and I've already taken a two month hiatus this year!

Goal: Finish my graduate thesis
Progress: Le sigh.

Goal: Get to know our new town
Progress: We've only lived in Winston-Salem for a month, but I'm looking forward to getting downtown this summer and exploring some areas of the city that are unfamiliar to me.

Goal: Take a fun vacation
Progress: We spent a weekend in Wilmington, NC, in May and will be heading to St. Louis for my best friend's wedding in October! Aside from those two trips, we're saving all of our money for next year's vacation already!

Goal: Be a good friend
Progress: I feel confident that I'm doing well in this category so far, but I guess my friends would have to say if it's true. ;)

Goal: Be a better wife
Progress: The beginning of the year was rough, but I think I'm on track to exceeding this goal.

Goal: Read at least 10 books
Progress: Surprisingly, I've read two books so far - and that's really saying something, because I'm pretty sure the last book I read was in 2012. I'm not sure if I'll make it to 10, but I'll give it my best shot! I finished this book yesterday in only a couple of hours.

Overall, my goals are coming along, but I'm not where I want to be yet. I can't wait to see what the second half of the year holds for me!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

RECIPE: Brie Grilled Cheese

I cannot stress this enough: This is one of the best things I've ever eaten in my entire life.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me tell you all about the perfect grilled cheese. I saw the recipe on another blog I follow and thought it might be a good opportunity to try out an "adult" grilled cheese. Don't get me wrong - I can devour Kraft singles between two slices of white bread just like the hungriest 6 year old - but this brie grilled cheese is on a whole new level. For real.



BRIE GRILLED CHEESE (makes 1)
1/2 c fresh peaches, cut into slices
creamy brie cheese, around 6 slices
2-3 pieces cooked, crispy bacon
fresh basil leaves, around 6
2 slices sourdough bread
fresh ground pepper
margarine or butter

On a piece of sourdough bread, layer basil, a layer of brie, bacon, a layer of brie, and peaches. Crack fresh ground pepper on top before adding second piece of bread. Either butter both sides of sandwich or melt butter in a skillet on medium-low heat.

Place sandwich in the skillet and allow brie to begin to melt. Once the cheese is melted, turn up the heat to brown both sides of the sandwich (good luck flipping it!). Allow sandwich to sit for a few minutes before digging in.

Funny side note: I tried to make this during the winter when the grocery store didn't have fresh peaches. I had the bright idea to buy frozen slices and thaw them. Nope, don't do that. Make this sandwich during the summer while you can still buy fresh peaches!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer 2014 Bucket List

Yesterday was the first official day of summer, though in my brain "summer" begins around the beginning of May. I work full-time and don't enjoy a summer vacation anymore, but I still think it's fun to create a bucket list of activities to do before autumn approaches. What's on your list?

(Summer 2013 in Freeport, Bahamas)

SUMMER 2014 BUCKET LIST
  • Grab dinner at Shatley Springs, a place I loved visiting as a child
  • Visit Wilmington (already did this for our anniversary, but I'd love to go back!)
  • Use the ice cream maker we received as a wedding gift two years ago for the very first time
  • Enjoy at least one fun summer festival (Our State has a great list!)
  • Continue downsizing and getting rid of unnecessary things I own
  • Re-watch Lost
  • Convince a friend to go roller skating with me
  • Spend time at the beach (This will happen in one short week!)
  • Start walking with Schmidt in the evenings/check out the park near our apartment
  • Begin planning a monthly content calendar for my blog
  • Go to hear live music downtown at least once

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

RECIPE: Black Bean Cakes with Corn Relish

Several months ago, Goya black beans were on sale at my local grocery store with a ridiculous price: 25 cents a can! I stocked up with eight cans, because I had ample space in our garage to store them. Before our move back to an apartment last month, I still had six cans left to cram into a much smaller space. To use some of them up, Brandon suggested that I find a good recipe for black bean cakes- one of his favorite foods! This recipe only uses two cans, but it was so good that I'm sure I'll be making it again soon and our extra supply of beans will soon be depleted.


BLACK BEAN CAKES WITH CORN RELISH (serves 4-5)
2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained + divided
2 roasted red bell peppers, divided
2 eggs
1 t oregano
1 t cumin
2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
3/4 c breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
salt + pepper
canola oil

Place one can of black beans, one roasted pepper, one egg, oregano, cumin, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Finely dice the second roasted pepper. In a large bowl, lightly mash the second can of black beans. Add the diced roasted pepper, onion, and mixture from the food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in the breadcrumbs a little at a time, adding more if necessary to create a thick mixture. Place the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow to firm. Form the mixture into patties. (I prefer smaller ones, but you could make larger ones to put on a hamburger bun if you wanted.)

Heat a skillet with a little oil over medium heat. Add the patties in batches and cook until done, flipping halfway through, for about 6-8 minutes. Serve warm with corn relish (recipe below) on top.

For the corn relish:
canola oil
2 c yellow corn
1 clove minced garlic
1 jalapeno, minced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 avocado, diced
juice of 1 lime
1 T chopped cilantro
salt + pepper

Heat canola oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Stir in corn and saute until lightly browned. Stir in garlic and jalapeno until fragrant, about a minute. Place the mixture in a bowl. Add tomato, avocado, lime juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve over black bean cakes with a drizzle of sour cream on top.

Credit: I tweaked this recipe from Elly Says Opa!

Monday, June 16, 2014

On Repeat: NEEDTOBREATHE

My laptop was stolen when we were robbed last month and, along with it, my iTunes library. It's completely backed up and replaceable, but we've been slow to set up my new laptop because I have a great work computer that I can bring home and use. As a result, I've been listening to a lot of Spotify for the last few weeks, and I've been playing the latest NEEDTOBREATHE album on repeat!

"Slow to anger, quick to laugh. Be more heart, and less attack."

I tend to play albums on repeat, iTunes library or not. (Anyone remember my obsession with Macklemore?) Rivers in the Wasteland, the fifth studio album from NEEDTOBREATHE, has a different feel from some of their earlier stuff, but I love it! Brandon and I saw them in concert two years ago and I'd love to catch them on their current tour later this summer. Here's the complete album list, with my favorite tracks marked with an asterisk (*). Check it out and let me know what you think!

NEEDTOBREATHE, Rivers in the Wasteland
*1. Wasteland
2. State I'm In
3. Feet, Don't Fail Me Now
4. Oh, Carolina
*5. Difference Maker
6. Rise Again
7. The Heart
8. Where The Money Is
9. Multiplied
*10. Brother
*11. More Heart, Less Attack

What have you been listening to on repeat lately?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Things Missed

In fairly obvious news... I took an unexpected break from Flamingos in Raincoats for the last two months. I'm finally back because a) I missed blogging and b) my mom won't stop asking me when she's going to see a post about something besides fried ravioli.

Lots of things have happened in the past two months. During a busy season of my life, it was nice to have a bit of a blogging break. I didn't worry about taking photos of my food, squeezing in a post before bed, or even reading my favorite blogs each day. A break was needed. Over the past week, I've been working on updating the design here and mapping out some ideas for new posts to get things rolling again. If you're still with me after all of this time, thank you so much for reading! Here's what you missed:


+ Countless special springtime events at work. I love my job so much!

+ My best friend's wedding shower over Easter weekend was lovely. It totally paid off for our many months of hard work planning it...

+ Her med school graduation was a special time, too, as was our last dinner together before she moved 2,723 miles away to Oakland, CA. Waaah, I miss her too much!

+ Brandon and I celebrated two years of marriage on May 9th with a long weekend in Wilmington, NC - one of our very favorite places!

+ Our home was robbed again, eight months to the day that it happened the first time. (Read how I handled the first one here.) This robbery occurred on a Friday afternoon, while we were at work. Stolen items included our television, three laptops, Amazon packages from our front porch, and three bottles of alcohol from our bar. Five days later...

+ We moved into an apartment. I am proud of how quickly we figured out a plan and got everything taken care of. We're in a new town now (the one where I work!) and I'm slowly adjusting to apartment life again. There have been challenges, but I'm ultimately happy to be in a nice, safe environment, leaving behind a lot of negativity. I'll be even happier after a trip to IKEA today to buy some lamps, a desk for Brandon, and other fun things!

+ I celebrated my birthday with good friends and co-workers. Brandon and I went to the movies and to dinner, where I had the most delicious scallops. I'm still thinking about them four days later!

Again, thanks for sticking around! I'm happy to be back to my blog and am excited about sharing all kinds of fun posts with you in the coming weeks and months. Talk to you again soon!