Taking Back My Twenties

Gatherings

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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East Coast Easter

Posted on Apr 21, 2014 | 10 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!

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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!

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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.

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

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

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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,

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

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the sesame tuna,

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and the tempura haricot vert!

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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!

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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.

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And a picnic!

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

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

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

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But some of us were most excited for dessert!

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

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

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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:)

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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.

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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:)

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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.

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

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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!).

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

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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!

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

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A giant peanut butter pie – who can resist?

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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.

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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).

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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.

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