The Best Thing I Ate This Month

saltines and ranch at boiler room oyster bar

what:

Homemade saltines and ranch

where:

Boiler Room Oyster Bar in Kinston, NC

why:

I know it may seem crazy, but these light and crispy homemade crackers dipped into herby ranch dip were just perfection. It could have also been that we had just been to the beach or that we were about to eat fresh NC oysters. Or the South African sauvignon blanc. Whatever it was, it was wonderful.

Revenge of the Pan Pizza

skillet pan pizza

A few weeks ago, we ordered a delivery pizza.

And against our better judgement, we went with a chain spot and chose to try a few “pan pizzas.” We also had them delivered. It was cheap, so nothing could go wrong, right?!

The pizza looked like they had a rough ride on the way over with cheese spilling out everywhere and a sad excuse for a pan pizza. The crust was doughy and maybe unsafe to eat. Yet, we ate it and were sorely disappointed. I guess you get what you pay for, right?

I couldn’t decide if the pizzas were that bad or if we just have better taste now, but I think it was a mix of both.

So, I set out to find a way to make a killer pan pizza for myself…or I just stumbled across this Bon Appetit recipe (via their “foodcast” podcast).

And I’m sure glad I did.

Read more

Your Healthy Dinner Idea: Roasted Vegetables

roasted vegetables with cous cous

I’m not sure where you’ve been with your dinners as of late, but I’ve been hungry and ready to find something that is healthy, exciting and ready in under 30 minutes flat (or less).

If you’re in the same boat, I’m glad to tell you that there are tons of options out there for healthy dinner ideas.

And, maybe I’ll even start a little series with some of my ideas. We’ll see!

Today, I’m talking about the wonders of roasted vegetables.

Why roasted vegetables, you ask?

  • You can roast almost any vegetable (onion, pepper, okra, squash, carrot, potato, broccoli, etc.), and it will be delicious.
  • All you need is oil, salt and pepper, and 30 minutes or so in the oven.
  • They are so versatile and good with almost any other side or main.
  • Roasted veggies are tasty and healthy.
  • They can help you get rid of that lingering produce in your fridge.
  • These type of recipes are perfect for the summer months when produce is varied and fresh.

Here’s what you do. Get any and all veggies that you have together and slice into almost even slices (but, this doesn’t really matter too much). Then, toss in a large bowl with a few tbs. of oil (grapeseed or olive) and sprinkle with salt and pepper (and any other spices you really like- cumin and cayenne are some of my faves). Put in a 400 degree oven and roast until cooked through and well, roasted, for 25-40 minutes (depending on the veg).

Read more

Party in a Tiny Pan

white bean dip

Food can really fool you sometimes.

Things that look like they’re going to be healthy can be anything but (looking at you, fast food salads). And things that look sweet can be salty and salty sweet.

It’s almost fun to serve a little healthy shock with your dish.

Like, for instance, this bean dip.

Read more

$6 Lunch in Raleigh

You may know that I’m really into baking, cooking and eating out (on occasion), but you might not have known that I am a budget lover!

I am the budgeter/saver at our house, and proud of it! #daveramsey

Although I can definitely spend some hard-earned money on a nice cocktail or a three-course meal, I love it when I can eat out and not break the bank.

So, here is my personal list of 7 delicious (some healthy) $6 lunch options in Raleigh, NC:

Half Falafel at Neomonde– $3.59
IMG_8367

This is probably the cheapest option on the list, but don’t even think that you’ll be missing out on taste. Although I love the $9 sampler platter at this Mediterranean spot, sometimes the $4 falafel just hits the spot, stuffed with creamy tahini and pickled vegetables. Also, you can get free pita to go along with it (just ask at the register)!

Soup at Capital Club 16 or State of Beer– $5-6

soup at state of beer

Ordering soup is one of the best ways to get a tasty and budget-friendly meal. Capital Club 16 and State of Beer are two of my favorite soup spots in the city because they often have a different seasonal flavor every day (or at least every time I’ve been there). A bowl of soup is also quite filling and sometimes comes with bread.

Read more

Simple Saturday: 3-Ingredient Overnight Pickles

3-ingredient overnight pickles

Summer is here!

I’m finding myself super thankful for fresh produce, that my tomato plants are finally growing and that we have air conditioning at our house.

What are you thankful for this summer?

Along with that fresh, local produce that I mentioned comes lots of veggies that are prime for pickling.

I’m definitely a novice “pickler,” but I’m started to get good at the overnight pickles. After listening to a Vinegar podcast from Spilled Milk, I was inspired to try out the rice wine vinegar pickles that they mentioned. If you don’t have rice wine vinegar, you can find it most grocery stores in the Asian food aisle.

These easy pickles go great with so many veggies. I put cucumber, rainbow carrots and onions in mine, and they are all delicious (and hanging out in a jar in my fridge as we speak).

Here’s how you make these 3-Ingredient Overnight Pickles:

  1. In a small jar (or large, if you want to double the recipe), combine 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. salt, mixing until combined.
  2. Add in carrot, cucumber and onion slices (along will garlic, chilies or anything else you would like to add in).
  3. Screw on the lid and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. Then, enjoy on a hamburger, on your favorite salad or just as is.

Surprise Cake

rhubarb crumb cake

It’s no fun when everyone does what’s expected…or cooks and eats what is expected.

It’s fun to spice things up and do something unexpected. This can apply even to your baking.

Maybe you want to take your classic pan of brownies or slice and bake cookies to your next picnic gathering. Or maybe you want to surprise your family and friends with something sweet, tart and totally seasonal.

rhubarb crumb cake

This Rhubarb Crumb Cake is just that with those classic warm and spiced crumb cake flavors (cinnamon and ground ginger) on top of a layer of softened, tart rhubarb that’s on top of a moist hearty cake (thanks, sour cream).

I, personally, love helping people try new things, and I’m sure you do, too!

If you’re not sure where to look for rhubarb, you can check your farmers market, then head on over to your local grocery store (my Kroger has them) or specialty foods store like Whole Foods.

Read more

Simple Saturday: Roasted Rhubarb

roasted rhubarb

Oh, spring and summer’s seasonal fruits. They are so exciting and delicious!

Take rhubarb for example, whenever it shows its raspberry and green colored stalks, you’ve got to jump on it.

Although I love a good rhubarb cake (recipe to come next week) or crisp, sometimes you just need something you can whip together quickly and easily.

Roasted rhubarb (cooked with a little honey and orange juice) is a fabulous topping for ice cream, cake, yogurt or really anything. It only takes a little chopping and a bit of waiting, and a healthy dessert is ready.

Here’s how you make it (for 2):

  1. Chop up a stalk of rhubarb into 1/2″ or so pieces.
  2. Mix the rhubarb pieces with a few tbs. of honey and a splash of orange juice. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until softened. Let cool and enjoy!

Made in NC: Crude Bitters & Sodas

CrudeBitters-Rizzo

*Made in NC is a series that showcases North Carolina artisans who make exceptional products. This is not a sponsored post, and all of the opinions here are my own.

It’s been quite awhile since I had a Made in NC feature on the blog, but I’m SO EXCITED about starting it back up again today with an incredible feature.

This Made in NC product, while perfect to be used throughout the year, is especially handy within the summer partying/drinking around the pool or yard months.

I first discovered Crude Bitters & Sodas when I purchased their Rizzo bitters (grapefruit, peppercorn and rosemary) at a local market of sorts in Durham, NC. Since then, I’ve been hooked on their unique flavors.

My husband and I also recently discovered that Craig, the guy you’re about to meet behind Crude, gives cocktail classes at his shop in Raleigh every few weeks to share his wonderful bitters, along with some of the best cocktails (and drink tips and historical accounts) that I’ve ever had. In fact, his bitters are now in 22 states across the country, and his products have even won a Good Food Award and a Southern Living Food Award!

So, without further ado, I hope you can get to know Craig and Crude a little bit better, and see how you can win some bitters for yourself at the bottom of the post!

CrudeBitters-Sycophant

*Product photos (except for the last one) taken by Stacey Sprenz Photography.

Here are 5 questions that I asked Craig about Crude Bitters & Sodas:

Read more

Simple Saturday: Pitcher Perfect

pitcher sangria

If Memorial Day weekend isn’t the time to grill out, invite some friends over and enjoy some delicious beverages, then I don’t know when is.

It’s also a great time to relax and enjoy all of those things, even if you’re the host.

Recently, my husband and I have been learning more cocktail tips and tricks at the Crude Bitters & Sodas Cocktail Classes. One thing that we’ve learned is the beauty of a batch of cocktails.

When you make a batch or pitcher of your drinks, you can whip up several cocktails in minutes, without breaking a sweat.

Also, having one of these big Ball mason jars will help you feel like a master mixer!

pitcher sangria

Here are some pitcher drinks that I recommend (click the links for the recipes):

Read more