Taking Back My Twenties

Gatherings

Birthday Weekend

Posted on Oct 21, 2014 | 1 comment

I had a fabulous birthday weekend – feels like each year gets better! Since the real day fell on a Saturday, Matt planned the day. I told him I wanted to relax and eat cake!

First, I took Matt to my favorite gym class at Equinox, and then we showered and headed out on foot for cupcakes. We stopped at two different bakeries and acquired 5 cupcakes for the evening. We also ducked into a fun salad place for lunch and did a little shopping at boutiques.

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After lunch, we got a couples massage! The experience was fantastic because we got a cold stone facial, foot scrub, and hot stone massage too! It was heavenly, and one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever received. Then we headed down to Bishop Arts for dinner at the very famous Lucia. We got in off the waiting list only hours before dinner. It was fate!

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We grabbed cocktails at Stock and Barrel before dinner – this was a lovely twist on a bourbon sour made with passion fruit.

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We kicked off dinner with a bottle of Argentinian wine – Lucia is Italian, but I couldn’t resist this recommendation by our waitress (and I believe it was a collaboration between two winemakers). Side note: the service was phenomenal! And, oh my goodness, the olives!!

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We ordered two of the foie gras stuffed prunes – who can resist a $1 menu item? I thought I had gotten adventure-some enough for foie gras, but no! I hated it and washed the bite down with wine:)

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Our first plate was pork belly with pear and gorgonzola – this was divine, and a generous portion!

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Next up, some sort of Italian pork with sautéed mushrooms – also delish.

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We ordered two small pastas: the squash risotto with rabbit meatballs and brussels (above) and an interestingly shaped pasta with squab ragu (below). Both were perfect and rivaled the meals we had in Italy!

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The real star of the night was the braised lamb with red pepper, cilantro, and an olive tapenade. The meat melted together with the sauces and it was seriously a top ten entree.

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Despite the cupcakes waiting at home, we had to try the Italian donuts with squash and caramel!

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Clearly, the meal was superb! And the restaurant is so romantic:) I’m already dying to go back!

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We ended the weekend festivities with Sunday brunch with some friends at Vagabond. We had [more] donuts – these were basically apple-stuffed fried dough!

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I had a grilled cheese benedict, but I also shared Matt’s burger and it was great! I hear Vagabond is quickly becoming famous for it.

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Thanks to Matt and my lovely friends and family for a wonderful birthday!

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Allens do Dallas

Posted on Oct 7, 2014 | 1 comment

Well hello!

I had a lovely weekend hosting my in-laws from the far away land of Maryland! We kicked off the stay-cation with dinner at Lockhart BBQ down in the Bishop Arts section of Dallas. This place is famous and we’ve had it on our list for a year. I loved the brisket, ribs, and baked beans, I just wasn’t a fan of the sauce. I had my second pumpkin beer of the season too.

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Matt’s parents love beer, and our friend was celebrating his birthday at Peticolas Brewery, so Saturday was filled with beer! We ate more brisket in taco form, enjoyed cupcakes, and chatted for a couple of hours.

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I also got to catch up with my good friend Sara who was in Dallas for the weekend!

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Saturday night, we took Matt’s parents downtown to CBD Provisions. We had the best cornbread with caramel butter!

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Matt and I shared pimento toast with sausage and arugula,

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and these giant shrimp and grits. I also had a absolutely divine bourbon drink that I would go back to CBD just to order!

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Sunday, we enjoyed a leisurely brunch and walk, and a nice afternoon at the Nasher Sculpture Garden – there was a really neat exhibit featuring special architectural projects by British designer Thomas Heatherwick.

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So that was the weekend! Oh, and the weather was simply perfect.

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Thanks to the Allens for the fun-filled weekend!

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Beef Taco Pizza

Posted on Aug 26, 2014 | 2 comments

“I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the Beef Checkoff. I received products to facilitate this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.”

Remember that beef, it’s what’s for dinner commercial from way back when? That’s the first thing I thought of when I was asked to do a post for The Beef Checkoff – turns out it’s the same program from years ago. It’s a national marketing and research program funded by America’s cattle farmers and ranchers as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. Check out the BeefItsWhatsForDinner website for some pretty awesome recipes. I slowed down on my beef consumption for a while because I was scared away from the price tag of grass fed beef. But then I realized I can buy it in really small portions (duh) at Whole Foods and it’s actually really cheap. I buy a 1/4 or 1/2 pound and throw it in pasta or big bowls of veggies and grains.

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I wanted to try something different for this post though, because who wants to go to a party and eat veggie and grain bowls or spaghetti? I would love to make big, hearty burgers, but we don’t have a grill. It’s on our list to buy soon! So I made the next best thing to burgers: a big, hearty Mexican pizza.

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I kind of created this recipe on the fly, so I don’t have formal measurements for you. I started with store bought pizza dough and about a half pound of lean grass fed beef. I made my own taco seasoning by throwing together a bunch of spices – there’s a million recipes on the internets. I also shredded a giant block of white cheddar cheese in my food processor because freshly grated cheese is soooo much better than those clumpy bags.

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While I was cooking the beef, I pre-cooked my dough for a few minutes and then covered it with a thin layer of Trader Joe’s black bean dip.

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Then I covered it with beef and cheese!

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And jalapeños, and I topped the whole thing off with huge slices of avocado and cilantro. We had a few friends over for a pizza party, and this one was incredible – probably one of the best homemade pizzas I’ve constructed and definitely the crowd favorite. I’d definitely eat this as cold pizza for breakfast, or heat it up and add a runny egg!

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What’s your favorite way to prepare beef? Aside from burgers, I do enjoy a good meatloaf.

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A New York Minute

Posted on Aug 5, 2014 | 7 comments

Our trip to New York felt so fast because we packed a ton into 2 days! We were in the city for the wedding of two of my Davidson friends – they fell in love when we studied abroad in Cambridge!

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We arrived Friday afternoon, and after walking around for a couple of hours while Matt worked, we headed to Chelsea to meet friends at Buddakan – this has been on my list for a while because I love fusion + small plates. The pork belly above came with buns and was probably my favorite plate.

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We had chili shrimp and deviled tuna tartare,

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and prawn and mushroom noodles (also a favorite) and broccoli in a brown sauce. Dinner did not disappoint and the space, cocktails, and service were great as well. After dinner, we stopped by the wedding welcome party and then called it a night. I sure can’t stay out like I used to.

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Saturday was a wonderful day! The weather was iffy, so instead of going for a run, Matt and I went to a nearby Equinox and took a spinning class. I rarely have access to good classes while traveling, so it was great to start the day with a solid workout.

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We found out at the last minute that Matt’s parents were going to be in the city, so we met them for a lovely brunch at The Little Owl – another restaurant that’s been on my NYC list. We obviously started with the beignettes with nutella and raspberry sauce.

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I had the chilequiles, which were somewhat deconstructed. The flavors were very unique and I really enjoyed the dish, but I think I prefer my chilequiles in a big bowl:) Matt had the burger which was amazing!

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After brunch, we strolled through the Chelsea market and along the Hyline, chatting the day away – we ended up having great fall-like weather so it was a very pleasant afternoon.

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We said farewell to Matt’s parents and got ready for the wedding at the Harold Pratt House.

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The venue was beautiful and I loved that we moved to different rooms for each phase of the wedding.

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The happy couple!

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After the ceremony and cocktail hour we had a seated dinner catered by Daniel.

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The food was divine!!! Our first course was lobster with sweet corn. I LOVED that each course had a specific wine pairing!

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Our second course was braised short ribs and beef tenderloin – both meats were melt-in-your-mouth good and were paired with a pinot noir.

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The dessert course was a chocolate coulant paired with champagne! The middle was like a gooey raw brownie.

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There was an awesome live band who played both really good classics and new music. A few hours into the dancing, the bride and groom cut the cake for round two of dessert. They also brought out sliders and hot dogs at the very end for anyone who had worked up an appetite dancing.

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It was an absolutely perfect wedding until the Rolls-Royce that was supposed to take the couple to their hotel caught on fire! Luckily, they were out of the car and the staff was able to put out the fire pretty quickly. Scary!

The weekend ended with brunch on top of the Nomad Hotel. This was such a nice touch for out-of-town guests and the food was fantastic.

What a lovely end to a whirlwind summer. I still have one more wedding to attend back in NC, but it’s after I start work next week. See ya.

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Dirty 30

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 | 11 comments

Hello and happy Monday! We had a big weekend over here because we celebrated Matt’s 30th with all of our Dallas friends.

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I made a big spread of food including both new and old recipes. I made salami chips which were a hit – dipped in spicy hummus, they were amazing!

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Of course, after our trip to Turkey, I had to have feta and olives – the best combo ever.

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I also tried a new recipe for caribbean shrimp – the marinade was delicious and it would have been even better with fresh shrimp (i used frozen).

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And a kale, quinoa, and apricot salad. I think I’m done making healthy salads for parties because no one eats them. This was a good recipe and I’ve been enjoying the leftovers, but next to party foods, kale just can’t compete!

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The rest of the food included caprese skewers with pretty summer tomatoes, and the un-pictured, never-fail party foods: Mexican bean dip and pigs-in-a-blanket (I used spicy chicken sausage for these this time and people loved them).

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So many friends came to celebrate Matt!

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Cake, duh!!

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We consumed beverages like 20-year-olds and then headed out to a fun bar for some dancing.

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Oh my goodness, it was a blast. Happy birthday one last time, Matt!

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A Weekend in NC

Posted on Jun 17, 2014 | 10 comments

I had a wonderful trip east! It was so nice to be back in NC and see so many family members and friends. I visited my grandma in Baltimore first, where I met up with my mom. We did some shopping and lots of eating. I was even able to see Matt’s mom who drove up and joined us for dinner!

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On Friday, I headed down to NC to my childhood best friend’s wedding.

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After a year, it felt so good to be home, and it was nice timing with father’s day!

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The wedding was out on a farm and the scenery was just beautiful. The ceremony was in a meadow and then there was dinner and dancing in a restored barn.

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The bride did a wonderful job with all the little details!

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The ceremony was very romantic and there were many sniffling guests.

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I got to catch up with most of my high school friends throughout the evening – hadn’t see these girls since my wedding last year:(

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There was an incredible dessert bar!!! I tried about five things and all were delish. I took a piece of carrot cake to go and it was divine:)

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My sister was able time come home on Sunday, so we all went out for a grand father’s day bbq brunch at the new Pit in Durham!!

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The food was incredible and made me really miss NC style bbq! Mr. Mazen showed off his perfect table manners by carefully buttering his biscuit – too cute!

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A belated happy father’s day to my dad, my new father-in-law, and all the dads out there!

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