Wine and Cheese Partay!

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Sometime around Christmas, my friend Danielle and I planned a night in with a home cooked meal, wine, cheese and Christmas tree decorating. We wanted to start some kind of tradition since we were decorating my tree. What ended up happening was we sang Mariah Carey Christmas songs on Pandora at the top of our lungs, consumed every drop of wine in the apartment and polished off several pieces of cheese along with crackers and salami leaving ZERO room for the dinner I planned to serve us after our “appetizers”.

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But a new tradition was born. Our monthly wine and cheese night. While creating our lineup I remembered the cheese slate Brent got me for Christmas the year before. I felt bad having never used it but now that we have a monthly wine and cheese night, the slate is my favorite thing ever.

Recently, Danielle came over with some new cheeses she discovered at Trader Joes. Bacon Cheddar, Smoked Gouda (Hands Down, Brents all-time favorite cheese), Gorgonzola, quince paste, and salami with crackers. I provided a crisp white wine for Brent and Danielle while I sipped a fruity malbec.

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I absolutely love our wine and cheese nights. We get really creative with our combinations. That gorgonzola with the quince paste was a surprise winner for us. And have since added a spicy raspberry jam to the fruit spread.

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I will admit that at the last wine and cheese party we had, Brent and Danielle got into a spirited game of who could blow out the candle from far away. Despite hot candle wax being blown all over the table, we had a good laugh. And Danielle kicked Brent’s butt every time!

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Brent is a good sport.

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MOAR CHEESE!!! PLEASE!

Brent’s Birthday!

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A little late. But better late than never.

Brent turned the big 27 towards the end of February. While I like to pretend I don’t want to make a big fuss on my own birthdays, Brent really doesn’t like to make a big fuss. I like to pretend and then make somewhat of a fuss. But he is very uncomplicated and if he wants something on his birthday, I make it happen.

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His only request was dinner at a local eatery: Eastwick. And a red velvet cake (light on the frosting)

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My parents wanted in on the birthday action so they proposed a breakfast outing followed by a visit with grannie.

If there is one thing I miss about Queens, it’s the close proximity to Kane’s diner. If you didn’t know about Kane’s and walked into it for a quick bite, you wouldn’t think anything of this old timey diner. But really, this place has the best pancakes ever- take that IHOP. This diner is open 24 hrs a day like a good diner should and they don’t just make buttery stacks of pancakes, they make everything. Their menu is a bit overwhelming, especially if you have a hard time making decisions.

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The first time I took my mother here, she went for a truck drivers breakfast of eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, toast and homefries. The order came with a stack of pancakes which I encouraged her to try.

She hates pancakes.

She took a bite and there was no going back. Mom still hates pancakes but she LOVES the pancakes at Kane’s diner.

Brent was game for some breakfast pancakes.

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Until he saw the ribs.

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After asking the waitress if they served ribs at 10 am, she smiled widely and said ABSOLUTELY! And when Brent couldn’t decide on ribs or pancakes he shocked us all.

 

“Can I have the ribs, with a side of pancakes?”

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Birthday boy gets what birthday boy wants. He loved the pancakes and especially loved the ribs.

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After our hearty breakfast, we had a great visit with grandma and afterwards, went home for power naps and birthday cake.

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Dinner at Eastwick was filled with mac and cheese, short ribs and mashed potatoes. We considered going to the movies after but at 8:45 pm I was feeling really tired (crashing from ALL THE CARBS!). I went to lie down for a quick minute and ended up passing out for the night.

 

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I suspect while I was passed out, there was some major damage done to that birthday cake…

Lately in Photos

I’ve been absent. I’m sorry! I thought I would take a minute to share some recent events via photos.

Things you may have missed in the last 30 days:

Dad had a very successful knee replacement.

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Dad is also doing really well in physical therapy!

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BR got a new job!

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We had a farewell party at the local watering hole. BR’s real name is Brent!

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Brent got REALLY drunk!

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I decided to reward myself of 30 days of healthy eating…with a dessert sampler. Was the most delicious and most stupid thing ever.

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I am obsessed with my nails.

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Grandma moved to an assisted living facility! It’s gorgeous!

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I saw the Mayor live and in person while enjoying one of my last lunches with Brent.

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We took a decent selfie- that’s newsworthy!

Valentine’s Day 2014

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So now that I am officially a grown woman, in a grown relationship, BR and I opted to stay in for Valentine’s Day this year.

Oh, right, Valentine’s day was over a month ago.

Yiikes!

Despite my complete disregard for agenda’s and time management, I am going to proceed to share our Valentine’s Day lineup.

One thing I have grown tired of is crowds. I have never loved crowds actually but my tolerance seems to be getting lower and lower. So when Valentine’s Day fell on Friday, BR and I looked at each other and decided to have a night in and have dinner on another night of the week.

I had the menu all planned with BR when suddenly, BR emailed me telling me he had a late meeting. And then the grocery provider emailed me to tell me they couldn’t fulfill my dinner order… until 8pm!

Must. Not. Cry.

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I jet out of work early to accommodate my new, EARLY, dinner delivery slot. I prepped our lobster tails, crab cakes, and scrubbed the potatoes while the cupcakes reached room temperature.

I anxiously waited for BR to come home so we could feast and Binge Watch House of Cards (!!!!).

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And when he walked in with roses, cold champagne and chocolates, every tiny thing that went wrong earlier in the day seemed so distant and forgotten…

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and then we went IN on those lobsters!

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We stood up until 4 AM watching House of Cards that night.

Valentine ’s Day Success!

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…Except the cupcakes kinda sucked.

A First Birthday!

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My coworker, Dan, and I have been friends for as long as we have worked together. NINE YEARS. In those 9 years, he has seen me through countless ex-boyfriends, endless happy hours, and our favorite annual tradition- SUPER BOWL! And as much as he was there for me, I was there for him when he introduced me to his then-girlfriend. And I was there when he told me he was going to propose. They married and a few short years later were blessed with the arrival of their precious son, Nate. Of course, I was at the hospital hours after he was born!

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So, it came as no surprise that BR and I attend Nate’s first birthday party!

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To start, the theme of the party was Circus! And cutie pie Nate was the Ring Master! The carnival theme with a popcorn machine, bright colors, and tons of candy was perfect!

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The birthday boy allowed me to hold him while the party got started. We took advantage of all the photo opportunities until….

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Until, well, Nate was done with us. ALL OF US.

BR and I always have the bestest times at these birthday parties!

Perfect opportunity to “clown around” a bit….

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Seared Ribeye with arugula salad and Plantains

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I have become a HUGE fan of steak. I have always liked steaks but before Paleo didn’t really have a method for preparing it. Once I figured out my method, I ventured out into all the different steak house cuts that known to be expensive when dining out, but making at home saves tons of money and really allows you to do just about whatever you like with it.

While dining out the other day at a steakhouse with BR, a woman at a table seated next to us ordered a filet mignon and asked for it to be cooked “super well done”. While everyone is entitled to their preferred temperatures, choosing a filet mignon at a restaurant and having the chef cook every ounce of moisture out of it, is a total waste of good meat and good money! Want a well done steak? No Problem- make one at home!

BR and I prefer our steaks medium. So, if you are going to make this recipe and you like your steaks a little more done, just leave the steaks in the oven for a little longer.

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For this particular dinner, i had taken these ribeyes out of the freezer and had a green plantain. I had just run out of sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. Then i remembered, my CSA dropped off a beautiful bag of arugula. Arugula can be very bitter, so i always dress it in an acidic dressing to balance out the bitterness.

Ingredients: for 2

2  6-8 oz rib eyes

1 TBSP of your favorite steak seasoning (i use a blend of salt, garlic, onion, and cayenne pepper)

1 tsp oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 450*.

Season ribeye on both sides.

Heat an 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet or heavy bottom frying pan with oil over a medium high heat for about 2 minutes.

Once the pan is screaming hot, carefully add the two ribeyes and allow them to cook undisturbed for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes is up, turn over and allow to cook for 3 minutes.

transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. (if you want it well done, leave it in the oven for 15 minutes). Once the pan is removed from the oven, allow to rest undisturbed for 10 minutes.

IMG_1189Serve atop an arugula salad. I dressed my salad with lemon juice and a touch of olive oil.

And a side of plantains!

P.S.

PALEO!

 

Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms over Creamy Polenta

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The problem with having a queue of photos to blog about is sometimes you see a photo of something you ate and think “what the H is that?”. I take notes and menu plan but once the week is over, the source of the menu plan disappears. With water stains or even food stains, the piece of paper just never makes it. So, as I am about to upload a whole new slew of photos, i recall this recipe that Lauren from Healthy-Delicious inspired.

For anyone watching their refined carbs, this hearty dish sits atop some creamy and hearty polenta. IMG_0565

 

 

Lauren jokes that this dish is nothing to look at…while its no masterpiece, its certainly delicious. And i should note, hers looks MUCH better than mine.IMG_0566

I made some changes based on what i had available but I kept to the her instructions for the most part.

Ingredients:

2 thin chicken breasts

2 tsp flour

1 Tbsp olive oil

6 ounces white button mushrooms

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup chicken broth

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But please check out Lauren’s recipe here for further instructions and her stunning photography!

 

Paleo Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps

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When Brent and i first started our Paleo journey, a long time friend sent me some emeals, Emeals is a weekly meal planner that you can customize based your dietary needs. No meat? No Problem. No Grains? thats okay too! Looking at her emeals, the recipes were listed with directions and a shopping list was attached. 7 meals per week sent right to my inbox. I decided to subscribe for a little inspiration since I felt like our diet was in a bit of a rut.

I loved having an idea of what to prepare. Since Brent and I bring lunch to work on most days of the week, i opted for the family size meal plans to have extra.

One of the first recipes I used with emeals was this Asian Beef Lettuce Wrap recipe. It was simple to follow and there was plenty of room for me to tweak this to make it more my own preferred style. I just really enjoy the inspiration. IMG_1314

 

Asian Beef Lettuc Wraps (serves 4)

1 lb lean ground beef

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 carrots, peeled and shredded

2 cloves garlic, minced

16 oz package sliced fresh mushrooms

2 cups shredded green cabbage

¼ cup coconut aminos (or substitute soy sauce)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 heads Bibb or butter lettuce, leaves separated

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Method:

Cook beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 8 minutes or until   browned; drain and set aside. Heat oil in skillet; add onion, carrots and garlic. Cook 5 minutes or until tender. Add mushrooms; cook 8 minutes or until browned. Add cabbage, and cook 3 minutes or slightly wilted. Add coconut aminos, stirring to combine. Return beef to skillet, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Spoon beef mixture onto lettuce leaves; roll up and devour!

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I nearly ran out of room in my largest frying pan for all the meaty veggie goodness. The dish was really tasty and filling. Also who doesnt love faux tacos! IMG_1317Also, if lettuce wraps arent your thing, you can totally use regular tortilla wraps or eat this over rice. Its a jack of all trades dish.

wanna try emeals??? Click the banner below  :-)EMEALS EASY AND DELICIOUS DINNER RECIPES

Asian Marinaded Chicken Thighs with Asparagus bundles

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One of my go to, easy put together dinners is this asian marinated chicken. This chicken dish is super quick to put together, not to mention delicious. IMG_1320

 

Ingredients (serves 4, or two really greedy hungry people)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/2 cup coconut aminos, or soy sauce

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1/4 cup raw honey (regular honey is ok too)

1 tsp fresh grated ginger (1/2 tsp if using powdered ginger)

2 cloves of garlic, minced (or 1 tsp powdered garlic)

1 bunch of scallions, sliced (optional)

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In a medium sized bowl, whisk together coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, honey and sesame oil. Pour mixture over boneless chicken breasts, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

While the chicken marinates, I prep my side dishes. Since Brent and I follow a low carb diet on a more regular basis these days, I made some bacon asparagus bundles. We found a great hardwood smoked organic bacon, sliced to order with our local grocer that doesn’t run cheap but we find we cant stay away from it! Its so good. IMG_1322

 

Bacon Asparagus Bundles

1 bunch of asparagus

6 slices of bacon

a sprinkle of natural sea salt

Preheat an oven to 450*. Arrange a baking sheet with parchment paper or non stick foil.

Trim asparagus of woody ends.

Wrap several stalks of asparagus with bacon. Some prefer to tie the bacon in a knot but i prefer the spiral method for more bacon coverage.

Sprinkle the asparagus lightly with sea salt. Roast in the oven for 10 -12 minutes, depending on how you like your asparagus. I like mine with a little char/crunch. IMG_1323

 

Back to the chicken.

Heat a large grill pan or non stick skillet over a medium high heat. Allow the pan to fully heat to get the desired effect with the chicken. If the pan sizzles wildly after a sprinkle of water hits the pan, place the chicken on the pan and allow to cook undisturbed for 6 minutes. Turn over and cook for an additional 6 minutes or until the center is no longer pink.

Allow the chicken to rest and while resting, garnish with chopped scallions.IMG_1324

 

This is, hands down, our favorite chicken dish. I added a bit of sauteed fennel to the dish.

The leftovers are great for lunch!! (if there are even any leftovers)

Paleo Pumkpin Pie Spice Donuts

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Loves!

Whether you’re single, attached or don’t like to talk about it, I hope you have a lovely Valentine’s day filled with comfortable pajamas, warm blankets and delicious eats! oh, and lovey feelings!

This year, BR and I are opting for a night in on Valentine’s Day. We have reservations for the sofa and plan on sharing a cozy blanket while watching whatever is on our Netflix queue.

But before I was attached, I used to love Valentine’s Day. My best valentine’s day was when i was dumped a few days prior and I decided to throw a “love stinks” party at my apartment with all my single friends. We had tons of wine, tons of eats and had a blast.

One thing that I have kept going strong, is making a dessert for the equally loved and hated holiday. Some occasions, i ate the whole damn thing by myself (because love stunk) and other times, i shared the goodies (because sharing the love gives me the warm and fuzzies)

I got the warm and fuzzies for sure when I discovered a paleo donut recipe from  the Against All Grain blog. IMG_1309 It had surely been some time since I enjoyed a baked food of the dessert variety since I started paleo and i was itching for donut. This recipe delivered. And I shared them with some non-paleo, sugar loving coworkers who loved these babies.

So, this Valentines Day, skip the heart shaped chain donuts mass produced and chemically processed in favor of these super simple, super delicious, gluten free donuts. Be sure to visit Against all grain to get the complete recipe here.

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I had intended on frosting these babies but after sneaking a taste when they were done, they were perfect just as they were. So I left them as they were. IMG_1313

I shared a few of these donuts with some co-workers, though i wanted them all for myself, and enjoyed them with my morning coffee!

Make a batch for you and your valentine, whether your valentine is yourself, your dog or your boo, make them.  These babies are awesome.

 

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