Taking Back My Twenties

Gatherings

East Coast Easter

Posted on Apr 21, 2014 | 9 comments

I got to spend Easter with the family! I headed to my sister’s house in Charlottesville, VA, and both my parents and Matt’s parents came from their states to join us!

IMG_5098.JPG

No visit with my brother-in-law is complete without a beer tasting! Kanz brews his own beer and is always interested in feedback/discussion. We kicked off the weekend by comparing two different years of barleywine with the Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine. All were delicious!

IMG_5099.JPG

My mom and dad are pretty incredible grandparents to little Mazen and offered to take over the parenting responsibilities so the four of us could enjoy dinner on the town.

IMG_5102.JPG

We walked to Bang! on the Charlottesville mall – it felt freezing to my Texas blood and I wore a wool coat and scarf:)

IMG_5105.JPG

We sat at the bar while we waited for a table – I sipped on a cocktail made with bourbon and lemongrass simple syrup – delicious!

IMG_5111.JPG

I think we ordered nine small plates for the four of us. I won’t bore you with descriptions of all of them, but my absolute favorites were the pork spring rolls,

IMG_5116.JPG

the Thai beef with soba noodles, bok choy, and cilantro sauce,

IMG_5121.JPG

the sesame tuna,

IMG_5126.JPG

and the tempura haricot vert!

IMG_5125.JPG

On Saturday, I went to a crazy athletic conditioning class with my sister – it was hard, but pretty similar to my regular Saturday morning class, and I felt incredible afterwards!

IMG_5128.JPG

Matt, my parents, and I headed out to the countryside for some wine tasting mid-morning. I think we all have our eyes closed in this picture. We met Matt’s parents at Barboursville and enjoyed tasting some great Virginia wines.

IMG_5131.JPG

And a picnic!

IMG_5129.JPG

Great Harvest sandwiches, crab chips from Maryland, and a dry riesling made for the perfect lunch.

IMG_5130.JPG

IMG_5145.JPG

Saturday afternoon, we all retired to my sister’s giant yard for bocce ball and conversation.

IMG_5137.JPG

Our hosts cooked an awesome spread of pulled pork, beet salad, mushroom and pea risotto, and Virginia rolls fresh from the bakery!

IMG_5146.JPG

But some of us were most excited for dessert!

IMG_5155.JPG

Cupcakes, peanut butter fudge, and chocolate truffles rounded out Easter dinner, and I went to bed stuffed.

IMG_5160.JPG

We all gathered on Sunday morning for brunch, and then it was back to the airport to start the long trip home:(

Foodblog-6508.jpg

Hope yall got to relax this weekend too, if you celebrate the holiday. It’s always sad saying goodbye, but there’s lots going on here this week! Positive vibes are always welcome if you want to send them my way:)

Read More

Rustic Beer Saturday & Sundown on Sunday

Posted on Mar 24, 2014 | 1 comment

Pizza and wine is becoming a Friday favorite! We opened a local bottle that we received from a friend. It was light and spicy.

IMG_4877.JPG

I threw together a pizza with leftovers from our pineapple crockpot chicken along with sheep’s manchego, spicy bbq sauce, and cilantro. Pizza is always good. And we watched Rent because I had never seen it! I was impressed Matt knew many of the songs:)

IMG_4885.JPG

Saturday we hit up bootcamp and made a hearty lunch in preparation for some beer drinkin. We were supposed to attend a crawfish boil, but because of the weather, the gathering turned into a visit to Community Brewing. We had been once before, and this time they had a new bar area and many more choices. I accidentally drank all three pints, and after hours of conversation, we decided to go in search of dinner. It was a lovely afternoon and I made new friends in addition to catching up with newish old ones.

IMG_4889.JPG

We wanted something low-key, so we walked to the Rustic for Texas homestyle cookin.

IMG_4904.JPG

They had a great beer list, but I decided on a pricky pear margarita in honor of our trip to AZ (but really because I was tired of beer!).

IMG_4894.JPG

We shared two apps and a burger. Above, the cactus fritters (soo good), and below, the smoked catfish and crackers.

IMG_4899.JPG

The burger was a bit dry, but I loved the bun and the green chilies that were served with it. The mashed sweet potatoes were amazing!

IMG_4909.JPG

We rarely get dessert in restaurants, and were def. not planning to order one on Saturday, but then I saw this go by….

IMG_4913.JPG

A giant peanut butter pie – who can resist?

IMG_4916.JPG

I usually get to the grocery store on Friday or Saturday, but didn’t make it this week, so we decided brunch was in order on Sunday. We went to Sundown on Granada, which is officially my new favorite brunch spot! It’s on the hippy side and has incredible vegetarian and vegan options. We had been once before, but only sat at the bar for apps. I started with the vegan green drink made with kale, bananas, berries, cucumbers, mint, agave, and it really hit the spot.

IMG_4921.JPG

We definitely only needed one brunch entree, but I had no idea they were gonna be so big! I had their version of a vegan benedict, which was swiss chard, sweet potato hash, chipotle-avocado sauce, and fire roasted salsa, over a housemade quinoa burger. I’ve been a bit disappointed in quinoa burgers lately, but this one was full of flavor (and giant).

IMG_4923.JPG

Matt’s benedict was ridiculously good too, and consisted of Shiner brisket and bbq hollandaise over whole wheat molasses toast. I was in a definite food coma after this brunch, but it was good for grocery shopping afterwards because I stuck to my list exactly. And good fuel for the week! I’m working three days and have yet another interview. Hope yall had a good Monday! Adios.

Read More

Vegas

Posted on Mar 17, 2014 | 14 comments

Vegas is intense! I can’t believe how many people were there – I arrived and was like, oh, this is where everybody has been all these years!

IMG_4815.JPG

I got to our hotel just as the sun was setting on Friday night! I was the last to arrive and it was glorious to walk into a hotel room of friends! My friend Emily was our host for the weekend and she did an amazing job planning everything and getting us on lists so we could skip the lines and the cover charges! She also works for the Las Vegas Sands, so we got a ridiculously low rate at the Palazzo.

We listened to an epic playlist while getting ready and then headed to the lobby for dinner at SushiSamba. I’m not a sushi person, so I never would have picked this on my own, but it was amazing!

IMG_4788.JPG

We had wonderful service, excellent cocktails, and delicious food!

IMG_4782.JPG

IMG_4784.JPG

Highlights included the fried plantains and the sea bass skewers!

IMG_4785.JPG

And a complimentary cocktail tower!

IMG_4790.JPG

After dinner, we headed across the street to the XS club at the Wynn.

IMG_4777.JPG

IMG_4800.JPG

The club was giant and had an awesome outdoor area.

IMG_4805.JPG

I had no idea it was going to happen, but David Guetta appeared as the DJ at 2am!!

IMG_4812.JPG

He was awesome, and we made our way to the pit to get a better look!

IMG_4813.JPG

Most of us east and central time zone people couldn’t sleep in so we grabbed green juice, hit the gym, and got some lunch at the pool. It was a little too chilly for bathing suits, but I enjoyed a nap under a towel in the wonderful sunshine.

IMG_4818.JPG

Saturday evening we got all dolled up for our second night on the town (I definitely could not have handled a third night!).

IMG_4816.JPG

Our destination was the Cosmopolitan hotel, where we had drinks in the Chandelier bar. Bourbon for me!

IMG_4831.JPG

We had dinner at a fantastic restaurant called Rose.Rabbit.Lie at the Cosmopolitan. The menu was all small plates, so we shared a bunch of dishes, and every single thing I tried was phenomenal. The above brussels sprouts with crispy chicken skin were maybe the best I’ve ever had. The coolest part about dinner though, was that our table was backstage and we dined while a show was happening on the other side of the wall. All the performers would come through the dining room, warm-up with a small act/performance, and then enter the stage door.

IMG_4837.JPG

We saw so many interesting things, like this upsidedown man!

IMG_4839.JPG

Our main event for the night was the Marquee nightclub. One of Emily’s [INCREDIBLY generous] friends got a table for us! It was wonderful to be able to have drinks (and water!!) right there and be able to sit and relax if we wanted too.

IMG_4841.JPG

We spent a large portion of the night debating if the man in the black suit in the left-ish part of the picture was Paul Rudd. If it wasn’t, he was an exact look alike!

IMG_4851.JPG

We had [too much] champagne and I loved the girls with sparkers who would bring out the bottles. They even changed outfits each time!

IMG_4864.JPG

IMG_4843.JPG

IMG_4852.JPG

Needless to say, it was a magical night!

IMG_4866.JPG

We ended the trip with brunch at Bouchon Bistro.

IMG_4868.JPG

I enjoyed a spiced doughnut and a glorious corned beef hash in honor of St. Patrick’s day. I was super impressed with the food in Las Vegas, and I told matt we are going back just to eat.

IMG_4871.JPG

A gigantic thank you to my friend Emily for totally spoiling us and bringing us all together!!!

Read More

Birthday Party + Couch Weekend

Posted on Mar 10, 2014 | 9 comments

This weekend involved both partying and resting. I made tons of cupcakes on Friday! Half were for my friend Liz’s birthday party, and half were for the Duke/UNC watch party we were supposed to attend.

IMG_4759.JPG

I made strawberry buttercream, but used too much strawberry – the flavor was great, but these melted under the patio heater later on. This has happened to me before so I should have known to be careful! Next time I might try freeze dried strawberries.

I hosted a paloma pre-game party before Liz’s birthday dinner at Mesomaya. I’d never made palomas before (they are pretty simple), but I thought they turned out well. I have way too much tequila left over though!

IMG_4763.JPG

A group of about 15 of us enjoyed dinner on the patio of Mesomaya. I ordered an avocado margarita, which was fabulous! Dinner was lots of guac and a delicious ceviche salad. I really liked Mesomaya (especially the cute courtyard), and I want to go back to try more entrees!

IMG_4764.JPG

After dinner and messy cupcakes, we moved on to the Ritz bar and enjoyed the outdoor fireplace. We ended our night at the Loon – I think the birthday girl had fun!

IMG_4769.JPG

My weekend snapshots end there because I spent the rest of the weekend on the couch:( Matt came home from a business trip and was pretty sick with some kind of stomach bug, so we just relaxed at home. Poor guy. We didn’t make it to the watch party on Saturday night, but I sent my cupcakes with a friend and we cheered Duke on at home. I enjoyed a beer while Matt sipped on a homemade sports drink concoction. I also made soup, although Matt couldn’t really eat it, so I’m eating all the leftovers. So that’s that.

Hope some of you got to enjoy the warmer temperatures and you all survived springing forward:)

Read More

Key West Reunion

Posted on Feb 17, 2014 | 34 comments

What a whirlwind week! I went down to Florida for some family time! My sister‘s mother-in-law rented a house in Key West and was kind enough to invite me to come stay with them for a couple of days. My parents came too, so it was a rare chance for everyone to hang out (we missed Matt though!!). The weather was wonderful and we had a blast exploring Duval St., snorkeling, eating seafood, and splashing around in the hot tub. Some snaps:

IMG_20140215_155313.jpg

IMG_4633.JPG

An awesome tree:

IMG_4657.JPG

IMG_4628.JPG

IMG_4632.JPG

The original four:

IMG_4634.JPG

IMG_4643.JPG

Conch fritters and fresh mango!

IMG_4645.JPG

IMG_4649.JPG

IMG_4652.JPG

IMG_20140214_181247.jpg

The crazy cat man and his trained cats:

IMG_4668.JPG

IMG_4670.JPG

Appetizer hoping for Valentines day

IMG_4671.JPG

Wine that I loved from our honeymoon:

IMG_4675.JPG

I came home on Saturday evening just in time to catch two of my college friends visiting Dallas! We had an epic girls night complete with cocktails, dinner at Mesero Miguel, dancing at The Dram, and a loong Sunday brunch.

20140216_142237.jpg

The past week has been ridiculously fun, and I’m so thankful I was able to spend time with both family and friends. I’m pretty excited for a quiet week with lots of sleep and salad.

Talk soon.

Read More

Grub, Origin, & Football

Posted on Feb 3, 2014 | 8 comments

Lots and lots of good eats and fun with friends with weekend! Friday was warm and beautiful outside, so I met my friend Liz and her new pug (!) for a drink on the patio at Common Table just as the sun was setting. I love dusk!

IMG_4568.JPG   IMG_4574.JPG

I had a hearty brown ale. Matt met up with us, and after saying goodbye to Liz, we continued on to dinner at new burger bar. Grub is in a bit of a random location in the bottom of an office building, but it’s cheap and the menu looked great, so I wanted to give it a try.

I can highly recommend the burgers and the service, although I would skip the four dollar rita next time – tasted like mellow yellow with no trace of tequila!

IMG_4579.JPG
Matt and I shared the Texas luau burger, which was topped with braised pulled pork, a grilled pineapple slice, jalapeños, and teriyaki & BBQ sauce, as well as the Ahi tuna burger with sprouts, arugula, pickled ginger, and wasabi-teriyaki dressing. Both were fantastic!
IMG_4582.JPG
Saturday involved my usual bootcamp class, laundry, watching the [sad] Duke game with Duke friends, and a wonderful date at Origin Kitchen. I had heard great things about the coffee shop/healthy cafe turned restaurant and was excited to try it. I ordered an interesting Zinfandel, but there was a great cocktail and beer list as well. We started off with the wild caught salmon belly bloody mary ceviche! This was awesome, especially since I finally like bloody marys.
IMG_4589.JPG IMG_4591.JPG
The menu was great and we had a hard time deciding, so we ordered the mussels in white wine as well.

IMG_4590.JPG

We shared the pork tenderloin entree and it was heaven. The pork was served with a mango and cranberry chutney over sweet potato hash with giant grilled plantains. I think this was one of the best entrees I’ve ever had!!
IMG_4594.JPG
On the side, we had a warm shaved brussels salad with toasted walnuts and mustard poppy seed vinaigrette.
IMG_4593.JPG
I’ve declared Origin my new favorite neighborhood eatery!
IMG_4600.JPG
We were invited to a Superbowl party on Sunday, so I obviously baked. I made cookie cups because I’m so obsessed with Earth Balance butter cream. I also made a mexican inspired quinoa salad to add something healthy-ish to the buffet. It was not a hit, but the cups were.
IMG_4602.JPG

Our friends had a ridiculous set-up, so I spent the evening in this recliner:)

Hope yall had a good one too. See ya.

Read More