Category Archives: drinks with dinner

Road Trip Day 1: Drive to Charleston, SC

Our five-day vacation is finally here, and it started with an 11.5 hour drive to Charleston, South Carolina. Since we’re meeting friends in Wilmington, NC, we knew we wanted to go to SC first, so I can cross that state off my list as well. As of today, I’ve added Virginia, NC, and SC, which bumps me to 42. West Virginia will be added on our way back. Anyway, we were thinking about where to go, and Charleston seemed like the coolest option, especially since rain was predicted and Myrtle Beach wouldn’t have been all too fun in monsoon-like conditions.

We hit the road at about 8:30 a.m. On our way out of town, we got soy vanilla lattes at Starbucks and enjoyed them with our breakfast scone and mini-croissants from Wegman’s (we picked up food for the road last night).

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We managed to assemble quite the feast. Wegman’s is awesome. This was my first time trying their bakery, and I concluded they have the most European-like baked goods I’ve ever tasted in the U.S. This is a dangerous realization, but who doesn’t splurge on a vacation?

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My lunch was a seven-grains salad and a roll with baked cheese around it.

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We also got several mini-pastries. This one had a pomegranate filling and was so fantastic that I savored every bite for as long as I possibly could. What better entertainment could I bring on a road trip?

Afternoon snacks included carrots, apples, sweet potato chips, dried fruit with nuts and chocolate, and of course Kombucha.Image.

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We arrived in Charleston around 8:30 p.m. during an epic down pour. Looks like our three days down in the Carolinas will be accompanied by rain, but we’ll have plenty of things we’ll want to see that don’t involve the beach (although I’m dying to swim the ocean as well).

We checked into the Hampton Inn in the historic district, put on our rain coats, and walked around. The hotel location is ideal – there are tons of little bars, shops, restaurants, and boutiques around here. We noticed there are tons of young people, everyone is extremely well-dressed, and it seems like you need a lot of money to live here. Of course, I love the palm trees lining the streets and the warm tropical air. I actually didn’t mind the rain (I’m a huge fan of summer rain, and lobbied for a restaurant with outdoor seating).

We finally settled on 39 Rue de Jean, which is a French restaurant with a nice, laid-back feel right by our hotel. We were able to sit outside in a covered area and enjoy the rain and relative quiet.

The food was fantastic. Dave was happy he gave in and let me push for this place.

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He had the snapper special with baked mashed potatoes, potato slices, and seared vegetables. He was in heaven.

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I had the Grilled Portabella and Ratatoille, topped with some baked goat cheese. It was delicious all around, but the goat cheese was especially amazing. It paired really well with my French Pinot Noir!

Now we’re beat, of course, and excited for some daytime exploring around Charleston tomorrow, before we head up to Wilmington.

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Filed under drinks with dinner, eating out, Travel

A Case of the Summers

Woah, I’ve apparently been on a blogging hiatus for a whole week now. That’s mostly because our kitchen hasn’t been its usual self, as in a place of inspiration, but rather a battlefield of take-out boxes and dirty dishes. You know how it is – a trip out of town, an unpleasant stomach virus, and a crazy work schedule can do quite a bit of damage. Plus, it’s June, my absolute favorite month of the year, and I’m having a hard time following routines and pursuing long-term goals right now. I want to be outside, soaking up the sun, smelling the freshness everywhere, and living in the moment.

To add to all that, we’re going out of town again this Wednesday on a driving trip to the Carolinas. I’ve never been and am excited to add four new states to my list of currently 39 – Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. We’re meeting grad school friends in Wilmington for a conference and also just vacationing. I can’t wait to swim in the warm Atlantic. Also, I have some great vegan/vegetarian restaurants I’m eying up for eating, so the blog will thrive off this trip as well.

Right now, I’m sitting on our balcony enjoying this perfect, non-humid Monday night with a glass of red wine, not thinking about much of anything. So here are some pictures I did manage to take in the last week.

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I made this quickie spinach salad to eat next to sick Dave last week. We watched “The Wave” on Netflix while I ate – seriously a movie you should watch, and I’m not just saying that because it’s German.

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Quinoa spinach salad I made for our Memorial Day cook-out with friends. Here is the recipe. The dressing is amazing.

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Memorial Day dinner. I’ve been eating meat again outside of home on occasion, which I have mixed feelings about. My desire to avoid it has taken ethical dimensions as well as health-related ones, so eating it doesn’t make me feel great. I think I need to get over the need to put a label on my diet and just be happy that I have very healthy habits 95% of the time. We shall see.

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Dave and I roasting marshmallows for our Memorial Day s’mores.

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Oh, and the best of all: our friend Mark makes the best cocktails – this one had rum, coke, crushed basil, and maybe other things.

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Dave’s mid-week dinner creation: Barley soup. Really good and really well-spiced.

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Thursday night, we had dinner at Gigi’s, a restaurant in our neighborhood that’s trying to be up-scale, but failing, while we still appreciate its tappas menu and outdoor seating. For desert, we split a pear crisp with vanilla ice cream. Quite delightful.

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Friday night, Dave made green bean casserole. On the balcony, paired with a wheat ale, it made for the perfect weekend starter.

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Saturday breakfast. I felt like I had to compensate Dave for coming on a 3-mile run with me. Poor guy, his allergies were really kicking in, and he was sneezing all the way through. Claritin to the rescue (at least until we find a more natural remedy)! I made coffee, scrambled eggs in almond milk, avo slices, and toasted whole wheat bread with Daiya Cheeze, tomato slices, and scallions.

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After breakfast, Saturday was all about the lake, reading, and soaking up the sun. At nearly 90 degrees, we also needed some good sunblock. But regardless, the 3ish hours we spent here, swimming, playing Yahtzee, and relaxing were glorious.

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Sunday breakfast: banana pancakes with Earth Balance and Pennsylvania maple syrup. I also made some crepes-like creations, which I rolled around Nutella and ate without prioritizing photography.

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Today’s lunch (vegetarian wrap and sweet potato fries), courtesy of my co-worker, which we ate while working through lunch-hour during a 9-hour collaborative excel project in the conference room. Fun times!

I have been sticking to my summer work-out routine every day, which has been especially fun due to my new Asics.

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Such great colors. I’m doing a 3-mile run one day and an interval run with weight lifting interspersed on the next. Friday is rest day. Dave has come to my last three work-outs. Yesterday, he challenged me to competitive interval sprints and I lost every time. How does this guy never exercise and still beat me like that?

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Filed under Breakfast, deserts, drinks with dinner, eating out, running

Three-Course Turkish Dinner

After running 6 miles on Sunday morning (first time doing a longer run since my Half Marathon on April 13), I spent most of my day in the kitchen preparing an elaborate Turkish dinner.

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Aren’t my head-band and flowery apron something? Dave was handling the food photography because he got excited to use the tripod and a nicer camera than my iPhone (which I usually use). Anyway, I didn’t know he would put me into 80% of the pictures or I would have chosen to look less ridiculous.

Now to the task at hand: Cook a three-course Turkish dinner for four people in three hours. All three recipes were new to me, but the cookbook Sultan’s Kitchen has been phenomenal so far, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

1. The Appetizer – Grape Leaves Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Currants, and Rice

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Just looking at this has me wanting to make another batch of these beyond-delicious things. It was my first time making vegetarian grape leaves. In the past, I’ve stuffed them with rice and ground beef or lamb. But no longer. The combination of pine nuts and currants with cinnamon, dill, and parsley is out of this world. Sprinkled with lemon-juice, they’re a fresh, tangy summer treat. They could be their own meal and I definitely devoured the left-overs for lunch on Monday. Triple yum!

We served them with some fresh baguette and Raki – an anise flavored liquor that no Turkish meal should be without.

2. The Main Course – Flounder Fillets Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Spinach, and Scallions

Holy moly. Flounder fillets are expensive. The recipe called for 3 lbs., but that would have meant $45, so I decided to get four and divide all the other ingredients in half too. That was a good choice, since we had so much other food, too.

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First, you cook the pine nuts in olive oil until they’re golden brown, then you add garlic, spinach, and scallions and saute the mixture until it has wilted. After letting it cool, you place the desired amount in the center of the fillet and then fold it over, holding it together with a tooth pick.

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Number one and two.

Then, you steam the fillets in a mix of dry white wine, chopped tomato, lemon juice, spices, and dill for eight minutes. When it’s done, you sprinkle it with parsley.

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We served this course with bread and a choice of red and white wine. Don’t you want to take that piece of baguette and make it soak up the delicious sauce? The dish was the perfect mixture of herbs, fish, and a tangy mix of wine, tomato, and a kick of spiciness due to paprika and red cayenne pepper. So good. So so good.

3. The Desert – Rose Water Pudding

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This was a basic pudding made with whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, and cornstarch, but the rose water gave it a very unique flavor. We actually sprinkled these servings with cinnamon before putting them on the table, but were too absorbed into conversation by that time to remember taking pictures.

It was so much fun to try three new recipes and introduce our friends to Turkish cuisine. They seemed to really enjoy everything. Dave and I definitely loved all three dishes, so we’ll definitely make them again. The leftover grape leaves definitely were a special Monday lunch treat.

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Filed under deserts, drinks with dinner, leftovers, recipes, running, seafood, Turkish

Vegan Steak Dinner

Dave made dinner tonight while I went for a six-mile run in glorious 78 degree weather. I decided I needed one more before the half marathon on Saturday. I went slow and enjoyed being in shorts and just a shirt for the first time.

When I got back, Dave had the stuffed portobello mushrooms all done. He decided he wants to make one or two of our dinners a week because he loves cooking and I’ve kind of completely overtaken that 🙂

He made an amazing meal, so i think I’ll let him have the job!

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The mushrooms were stuffed with a mix of cooked rice, veggie broth, lentils, toasted cashews, fresh thyme, dried basil, and olive oil.

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Doesn’t it look like steak? I hope all the protein will help my muscles and joints recover, so they are all fresh on Saturday.

After two of these and a glass of wine (an some icing and stretching), I passed out on the floor watching Teen Mom. Classy as ever.

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Filed under dairy-free, drinks with dinner, gluten-free, running

Balcony Eats

My friend Juliane came over tonight and we had the first dinner of the year on our balcony. It was a delicious mix of warm summer air, wine, stories, and many nutritious salad ingredients.

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I kind of made this up on the go: quinoa, onions, red peppers, apples, avocado, toasted cashews, sweet potatoes, and olive oil.

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So nice to be able to enjoy this outside.

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And the vino of course.

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The weather has been absolutely amazing and perfectly spring like. In the past 48 hours, we’ve had heavy summer rain, a thunderstorm (love!!!), and temps in the 70s. I’m in heaven.

I don’t necessarily want to move back to the Midwest ever, but if we did, my one comfort would be having real thunderstorms. When we lived in Milwaukee, Dave learned quickly to crack the window when massive thunder and rain were happening, so I could enjoy the sounds and cuddle up, completely content. Here, thuderstorms are much more sporadic, but having mountains and green, saturated grass helps a lot.

I’m so happy we have two full months of glorious spring ahead of us!

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Filed under dairy-free, drinks with dinner, gluten-free, salads, vegan

Avocado Obsession

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I want to eat avocados with every meal possible! It’s a true obsession, and this is only the beginning.

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This was actually Dave’s lunch yesterday. I prefer to schmier the avocado on the bread as if it’s cream cheese and put an egg sunny side up on top.

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My dinner tonight: brown rice with avocado, a fried egg, and nutritional yeast.

More to come. I am 100% committed to this obsession.

Dave and I went to Gigi’s tonight to have some drinks, and an appetizer (technically for desert), and play a game of backgammon.

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Beer as pre-run fuel.

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Spinach-crab dip with artichokes.

Dave beat me 5:1. Reminds me of long vacation days in Turkey, when I could accomplish a victory once a week if I was lucky.

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Late-Night Salmon

This is what I ate at Duffy’s Tavern at 10:30 pm. We had the Woolrich Warehouse Sale, which I volunteered at with some co-workers to get first dibs on the stuff 😀

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By 10:30, I was starving because I hadn’t had dinner. I got blackened salmon salad (I always order that at Duffy’s, it’s fantastic), a merlot, and Dave and I split some sweet potato fries with maple syrup, of which we stll brought half home.

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Filed under dairy-free, drinks with dinner, eating out, salads, seafood