Girls on Food

Raleigh

Take Me, I’m Yours Morgan Street Food Hall & Market in Raleigh, NC

Recently, food halls have been popping up all over the country. When I heard Raleigh was getting not one, but two, my immediate reaction was “great, a glorified mall food court” because really, when was the last time you felt cool eating at the food court, amiright? But there are a couple huge differences at play here, so put your worries aside!

First, food courts are so often chains and standard fare. Morgan Street Food Hall & Market is, for the most part, neither. Rolled ice cream anyone? Poke bowls, empanadas, and ramen were the first things to catch my eye. Cousins Maine Lobster (the only option I would consider a chain) is slightly more accessible here, and with a lot more seating options! The line is still out the door but with a beer in hand and a bustling crowd, a far cry from the hot food truck rodeo lines you’re usually waiting in! Last time I tried that, I was “red as a lobster” by the time I ordered my Connecticut lobster roll!

Raleigh Rolls rolled ice cream, which is a treat for all! (yeah, I shared with the baby!)

When you first walk into Morgan Street Food Hall, you’ll see a bustling crowd and tons of seating options, from picnic tables to couches and arm chairs, and finally, 4 top tables with chairs. There are indoor and outdoor seating options, with a couple bars to frequent as thirst arises. There are 18 dining options, ranging from southern to Mediterranean to Asian; comfort food and hangover food and on to desserts and bubble tea. For our family, this is the perfect place for all of our meals out: we have 2 picky preschoolers who think the margarita pizza at Bella’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tapas is out of this world (and less than $10, thank you!).

For me, I get the “adventurous” foods I can’t talk the whole family into – ramen and poke bowls, while hubby gets to fill up on empanadas, which he loves! We have an Italian au pair living with us this year, and she has enjoyed working her way through the options Morgan Street has at her disposal. Currently, her heart resides in Raleigh.

I’ve now eaten at Morgan Street 3 times. Hubs and I met a group of friends here one night before an Umphrey’s McGee concert downtown. There were a lot of empanadas and some curry plates, a kick ass looking pizza, a whole lot of beer, and my amazing delicious tuna poke bowl, with fresh tuna on their California bowl (from The Bowls), loaded with amazingness and topped with avocado! It was incredible, and I couldn’t wait to go back!

So the next weekend, a girlfriend and I met up there, and she got ramen and I went back to The Bowls for round 2 – this time trying their spicy tuna on the Malibu bowl, which has spicy seaweed salad in it. The biggest difference was that the tuna was chopped up instead of chunks, so I would probably go regular tuna in the future.

We also ventured over to the bar, and I tried the Deep River Brewing Company’s (out of Clayton, NC) pumpkin pie porter, which was oh, so good and also very seasonal! It was delicious after a long afternoon of shopping and enjoying the suddenly cooler temps here in NC! Finally (maybe the first finally), we waited in line at Cocoa Forte Desserts for chocolate dipped cheesecake, which we were saving for when we got home, and then I talked my friend into trying out Raleigh Rolls, the rolled ice cream place! It’s a little bit Coldstone Ceamery (you get to choose 3 flavors that go into your ice cream, and then 3 flavors for the toppings) meets a sushi roll (because in the end, they hand you a bowl with 6 rolls of ice cream). So good news – you can sub flavors – I subbed in coffee flavoring for the graham cracker in my s’mores ice cream, and it was the.best.thing.ever! Little man ate way too much but also thinks I’m the coolest mom ever for sharing my ice cream with him, ha! (Verdict on cheesecake – its on a stick, so go ahead and eat it immediately. I waited a few hours to eat mine, and it fell apart really fast. Pretty sure it was user error though).

So the next day, my hubs was still out of town (he went on Phish tour last weekend), and I needed to provide food for my little ones for the 4th day in a row. So…I started thinking about that pizza, and the fact that cow burger has hot dogs. Surely they could find something to eat…

Here’s the deal – I was nervous to bring a 5 year old and a 3 year old and a 5 month old into such a busy place. But…they loved it! My son is begging to go back, my daughter can’t stop talking about the ice cream, and the baby slept thru the thing. We also found an awesome place for our family photos in 2 weeks. So all in all, a great trip. I will send you all day every day to Bella’s pizza – it was incredible, and the kids ate every bite of that pizza. I loved the portion size of the burgers (I got the classic cheeseburger) and I’d heard great things about it, but I would definitely trust your gut on that place. First, the line took F O R E V E R which I’m not really into, and wouldn’t have waited in it but our au pair and I both wanted a burger so we stuck with it. Second, we waited F O R E V E R for our buzzer to ring. Like it took the entire time the pizza cooked to wait in the line and order. Then the kids ate the whole pizza. And I took them back over to Raleigh rolls and waited for someone to turn melted ice cream into frozen ice cream rolls, and then the buzzer sounded as I was paying for them. So the burgers were delicious, great bun to burger ratio, and overall very satisfying, but with so many faster options, I’m not sure I would wait for it again.

Also, pro tip – if you have a picky child who only eats vanilla ice cream (I know, I know, its super weird but what I’m dealing with right now), there is another small ice cream scoop place in the food hall. Don’t waste your $7 on plain vanilla with a tiny sprinkling of rainbow sprinkles. Spend that money on the whole experience and all the toppings, and get Sir Picky something from the cheaper place!

So final verdict – run, don’t walk, to the Morgan Street Food Hall if you’re in Raleigh. Bring an appetite. Check out the unusual places, especially the bowls, the broth, and curry in a hurry, and take the time to wait in line for Raleigh Rolls! I’m looking forward to heading down there again next weekend after the International Festival to try out some new places!

Katie’s Crock-Pot Fajitas: Perfect for Busy Moms!

I’m obsessed with this new (Crock-Pot) recipe, it turned out so much better than expected! Before settling in for the evening last night, I cut up my veggies, and when I woke up this morning, I sprayed my Crock-Pot with coconut oil (from Trader Joe’s), and tossed in my onions and peppers, added a pound of chicken, and spices.

 

 

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Délicieux Mange: Saint Jacques in Raleigh

Being admirers of authentic cuisine, my husband and I have a healthy obsession with scouting out French restaurants wherever we go, and Saint Jacques was at the top of our to dine list.

Saint Jacques
6112 Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609
saintjacquesfrenchcuisine.com

This fantastic find tucked into a simple shopping center, but Saint Jacques is anything but simple. When you walk in the door to this small, yet splendid eatery, the first thing you notice is the smell of fresh made bread and pastries.  There is a coveted wine selection lining the wall, and a menu to die for. The staff are so friendly; it feels like you’re in a home rather than a restaurant. The ambiance of candlelit tables, soft linens, and faint music will romance you for days.
cranberry-lavenderFor anyone that has ever had truly authentic French cuisine, you will not be disappointed here, and for those who haven’t had the pleasure of spreading duck pâté on a fresh baguette – go here! To begin, we nibbled on dainty cranberry-lavender honey rolls while we browsed the menu. You could easily make a meal with the simple and delectable bread.

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Because the appetizer menu was so tempting in every way, it was hard to decide what to try but found that my random choice was a perfect choice. I had the Fromage de chêvre chaud gratiné et canard fûmé, simply put: goat cheese lightly gratinéed on a baguette, with smoked duck breast, baby arugula, strawberries and a house -made vinaigrette. This salad is how all salads should always be prepared.

I can’t pretend that in between the amazing smoked duck breast salad and main course we weren’t indulging on those cranberry-lavender rolls, because we absolutely were. When our server brought the main course, we were clearly excited to quickly dive right in. I had the Ris de veau sautée, jardinière de légume, jus de champignon, which is crispy veal sweetbread médallions, sautéed vegetables and a robust demi glace mushroom sauce. If you’ve never had sweetbreads, or have no idea what they are, I highly recommend trying them as soon as possible. My husband had the Filet mignon de boeuf, à la rossini, which is beef tenderloin served with foie gras, black truffle sauce, sautéed fingerling potatoes, creamy spinach and, confit tomatoes. The filet was cooked perfectly, and was so tender you hardly needed to put forth effort to cut into it. The black truffle sauce and foie gras that topped it was impeccable.

Saint Jacques is an amazing establishment that many will love the first time they are there. The Chef Serge Falcoz-Vigne makes his appearance, being sure to embrace his guests like family and provide an authentic experience that is the closest we can get without actually being in France. Chef utilizes locally sourced ingredients to provide a menu that is beyond outstanding. We look forward to many more visits to this fine restaurant, filled with sweetbreads, Foie Gras, and love.

Say Yes to Busy Nights! Crock-Pot Chicken Enchiladas to the Rescue!

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The first time I made these amazing chicken enchiladas was back in February, while covering for a co-worker on maternity leave, and coming right off a week long ski trip to my entire sales team in town! I was extra busy and needed to learn to lean on my Crock-Pot. I have always thought of Crock-Pot meals as 1. Heavy 2. Unhealthy 3. Fat 4. Hokey Midwestern (no offense). In the last 12 months, my opinion on this incredible kitchen appliance has completely shifted. So after eight years of being used solely to make my specialty football season queso, we are now using our crockpot on a regular basis. This recipe is the current favorite in our household.

Crock-Pot Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast per person
  • Can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • Can mexi-corn (drained and rinsed)
  • 1-2 chopped jalapeños
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 10oz can enchilada sauce
  • 2 tbsp hot chili spice
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • Option- 1 cup dry quinoa

Recipe:

  • Spray Crock-Pot with Pam
  • Put everything (except chicken in Crock-Pot) and stir
  • Add chicken (I would stab it a few times, so it incorporates all the flavors)
  • Cook on low for the 9-5 work day, or on high for 3-4 hours

My 3-year-old was able to pour all the ingredients (except the chicken) into the Crock-Pot this morning. I’m all about empowering kids to cook, and he is so proud when I let him run the show!

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I ran to the market after work to buy Funfetti cake mix for my daughter’s smash cake this weekend and saw a stack of tostadas out of the corner of my eye. So tonight, we have fully branched out. We made…Chicken Enchilada Huevos Rancheros. I mean. Oh. My. Gah. I had to try it. My husband was skeptical but went all in. We did two tostadas stacked (with just a little bit of the deliciousness in between, then more on top; then topped with a salt and peppered egg over easy, diced avocado, pickled jalapeno, and mexi-cheese.

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If you’re ever in a rush or need to bring dinner to a new momma, impress a girl, or feed a group, definitely give this a shot. In taco form or served up fancy, this meal has never let us down, and is always sure to impress! Can’t wait to find our next Crock-Pot favorite!

BOOzy Brunch Bunch: Caramel Apple Sangria

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dessertLike any good toddler mom, I head to Pinterest for basically everything party related! Every month or so, I host a “Boozy Brunch Bunch” because well, if you play with kids all day and never see your friends, there is a chance you will lose your sanity. With “Boozy” in the title, I like to have a couple of options available, so thanks to #itsfallyall and Pinterest, I can bring you today’s concoction!

 

This month, I decided to host a BOOzy Brunch Bunch, because of Halloween. Unfortunately, Raleigh got hit way harder than expected by Hurricane Matthew, and my freezer got wiped out, so I didn’t have most of my normal go-to’s, like all the mini muffins I’ve crafted over the years, or the tiny eggos the kids love so much. (I’m seriously not complaining about this; there are towns in North Carolina that people still can not get into their homes, so my freezer is the least of my worries right now). But since I couldn’t just defrost a handful of muffins and throw eggos in the oven, I started to think about my favorite breakfast foods and realized: toasts are so hot right now!

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My favorite restaurant up in Rhode Island is called Persephone’s Kitchen, and the owner, Persephone, has a delightful selection of toasts every morning that I decided to emulate. So for the guests at my home, there were avocado and cayenne pepper sprinkled with goat cheese toast, goat cheese and mini heirloom tomato toast, and the gold standard of Nutella and banana slices on toast! Of course, I provided mimosas and coffee, but I wanted to have a special beverage on hand as well. My sister-in-law and I had thrown a joint birthday party for our new one-year-olds at the beginning of October, and we tried this recipe for the first time then. I just knew it had to make another appearance this fall!

Caramel Apple Sangria

sangria-1This recipe is super easy and takes 5 minutes to put together! Deceptively sweet, so make sure kids don’t accidentally drink it (a valid concern) and make sure your adult friends know they just got sloshed before you let them hop into a car and drive home! It’s the perfect warm fall day beverage, as the sun is shining and you don’t want anything too heavy! Ideal for a southern fall day, for sure!

 

 

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The first step is to cut up 2-3 apples and add them to your pitcher! I started this in a juice jar, and realized I needed something bigger midway through and transferred! Next, add a bottle of your favorite chilled white wine (I used chardonnay), a container of apple cider (I prefer Trader Joe’s  version), and then the coup de grace, is one cup of Smirnoff’s Kissed Caramel Vodka.

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Everyone who has tried this loves it! I’m thrilled for the leftovers to share with my neighborhood tonight as the kids are out Trick – or – Treating!

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Salt & Lime Cabo Grill in Raleigh, NC

Happy #nationaltacoday!

The first time I stumbled onto Salt & Lime Cabo Grill, it was with my sister in law and her then 3-year-old. It was a beautiful, unusually cool North Carolina summer day, and we comfortably sat outside in the patio area with our two toddlers, eating salads and drinking margaritas. It was awesome (and surprisingly relaxing)!

Salt & Lime Cabo Grill
6006 Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609
http://saltandlimecabo.com/index.html

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Fast forward a year later, and this restaurant has become a staple for our Friday Family Date Nights! It’s so much fun to get the four of us together for a no-pressure meal. Over chips and salsa, we laze our way into the weekend. Over the course of the meal, our almost-toddler daughter nabs her way through the fruit at the top of my white wine sangria, and our 3-year-old son eats chips and salsa non-stop for about 45 minutes. Insane. The GM always stops by to play with the baby, and every single wait staff we’ve had has been both incredibly accommodating and extremely welcoming to our chaotic family. On several occasions, they have even squeezed us into a table that is reserved in 45 minutes, allowing us to get in and out and home before bedtime. As far as I am concerned, Salt & Lime has the best customer service in town!

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Salt & Lime is a Baja-inspired restaurant serving everything from taco plates to fresh salads to delicious looking burritos and plated entrees. Everything is prepared fresh daily, which would be my only caveat with this restaurant. On one occasion the salsa was way too spicy for us, which ruined our son’s “dinner” – but one in twenty times is a blip; hardly an issue! They have a pretty extensive menu with several types of salsa and guacamole – one day I’m going to try that fire roasted tomato with goat cheese guacamole; it sounds amazing! I regularly order their Avocado-Tomato Salad with House-Spiced Salmon added. It’s one of my favorite things on the menu, so fresh, and the salmon is just perfect!

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Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a taco kick! This is our new go-to when our parents are in town, so it’s fun to order 3 or 4 taco plates and swap out tacos. My husband always goes for the BBQ Mahi taco plate – he loves it! My current favorite is the Bangkok Shrimp – they are sticky and sweet and a little bit spicy! My only albeit is that it is fried shrimp, but a little cheat every once in a while is good for the soul! (I’m sure they would grill it if you asked, as a whole, the restaurant seems very keen to please). The Jamaican Jerk tacos are also on point, but a tad too spicy for me! The last time I took the whole fam, my brother, a vegetarian, ordered the spicy gazpacho and the Baja nachos and was very impressed. I was pleased, to say the least, as he is quite the world traveler; Paris being the newest town he can call home. My sister and mom split the Quesadilla Grande, and we all shared around the table. Everyone was full and happy when we called it a night!

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They are constantly adding to the menu, and so there is always something new to try whenever you go! I’m excited – we are heading there Friday night to celebrate my babe Margaret’s first birthday! We rarely get dessert when we head out on the town, but you can bet I’m getting my girl something sweet to celebrate the big UNO!

Let Them Eat Steak: The Capital Grille Opening Week – Raleigh, NC

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The Capital Grille
4242 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, NC 27609
http://www.thecapitalgrille.com/

cg6“The best steak I’ve had in a decade” was the description a friend used after visiting The Capital Grille earlier in the week. No doubt, when my husband and I arrived we had been excited for days! Not only was the steak incredible, the service, atmosphere, and all the sides complimented it to a tee!

The restaurant was bustling, the hostesses were cheerful, and our waiter was so friendly! We had a table dead center in all the action – the kitchen is open the length of the restaurant; flanked by booths. When you first walk in, the glass wine cellar separates the entrance from the tables. They have over 350 wines, with an in-house sommelier and extensive info on each wine.

CG1bOur server, Scot, was incredible! He immediately greeted us with an iPad in hand – chock full of all the wines, cocktails, desserts…and told us about their signature martini – the Stoli Doli. The Stoli Doli is a delectable beverage created with Stolichnaya Vodka infused with fresh pineapple, chilled and served straight up. He then reviewed the iPad menu with us – this is neat – you can peruse all the wines they have in-house, and when you click on the name, it gives you more details about it. If you order and love one, or are interested in learning more about one, you can just select the “email to me” button, and send yourself the bottle details with a photo of the wine! I know I could have used this in the past, and was excited to scroll through it while at the table.

cg2bAs we were scrolling through the iPad and reviewed the menu, Scot surprised us with two tiny sample glasses of the Stoli Doli pineapple martini. It was a dangerously good drink! Chilled perfectly; the fresh squeezed pineapple juice was the perfect complement to the vodka. Simply delicious! Next, they brought out a bread basket, with a great variety of bread with a pad of freshly salted butter! We ordered two glasses of wine (both cabs; my husband got a full bodied Concha y Toro, and I ordered a lighter Avalon) and we ordered our appetizers. We debated between the Pan-Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers, the Jumbo Lump Crab Cocktail, and the Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella. When asked his opinion (without offering our debate) Scot immediately suggested the calamari and the prosciutto, so we were happy to oblige! So glad we did!

 

cg7The calamari was perfectly cooked, and the hot cherry peppers added an unusual, but delicious, flavor! It had a little kick, but more noticeable the first bite than subsequent ones! The prosciutto was fantastic. The mozzarella made fresh, in-house, daily, and they wrap it with the prosciutto and then grill it before serving! Add a bit of tomato and basil, and wow! Just Wow! I’ve never had fresher mozzarella; it was so much more flavorful than what I am used to!

 

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Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella

I am not a huge red meat eater, but at a restaurant with an in-house butcher, figured steak was the way to go! My husband loves a NY Strip, and he ordered that, medium, with a Kona coffee rub on top. Scot suggested I try the porterhouse steak, so that is what I ordered, medium-rare, with the Kona coffee rub as well, topped with shallot butter. Come on – there is no way I wasn’t trying that coffee rub, too! Just a quick side comment, for the reader: if you like a “closer to medium medium-rare” order the medium. I love a good rare, medium-rare, so I was thrilled when it came out like that! If you like it more well done, order up!

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These steaks were incredible! The rub was delicious, the steaks tender, and the shallot butter was out of this world good! The menu offers a la carte family style sides (full and half size portions on many), and we ordered the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, and a half order each of the fresh creamed spinach and the soy glazed brussels sprouts with bacon. The sides probably need a paragraph to themselves! 1. All 3 of these sides, while typical, were all different (better) than previous versions I’ve had before. 2. Unlike other steakhouses we’ve been to, the fresh creamed spinach is, well…fresh! They make it in-house with béchamel sauce. I mean, good-ness. It was incredible! 3. I usually don’t order lobster mac ‘n’ cheese because it is too sweet for me. This one was a typical pasta that happened to have huge, delicious, fresh chunks of lobster meat in it. Everything blended so well, but I never got sick of eating it! 4. The soy brussels sprouts. I mean. Oh. My. Gosh. I don’t like Brussel sprouts. We ordered it because I write a food blog, and they’re trendy. But yowza! I liked these! They had been flash fried before cooking, and were so much sweeter than usual sprouts! Add the glaze and the bacon, and run doesn’t walk to making this your extra side!

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Now, I feel like I’m raving, and have written more than I ever do. But I haven’t even gotten to dessert yet! By now, the floor manager, Chris, and the sommelier, Blake, have stopped by our table to welcome us to the restaurant. (The Capital Grille has a few more than 50 restaurants nationwide, and from what I’ve read on various review sites, this is not unusual behavior – this restaurant is known for treating everyone like royalty!) We were directed back to the iPad and flip through the dessert options (there are pictures, so we’re done for!). They have a flourless chocolate espresso cake that looks amazing, their cheesecake has a crème brulee finish, and they even have a healthy option with fruit and yogurt! I am a sucker for ice cream, so chose to go with their handcrafted ice cream dessert: 3 separate scoops of dark chocolate, raspberry sorbet, and caramel ice cream, with two cookies on the side! Phe-nomenal.

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Finished everything off with a decaf cappuccino that was served with some rock candy on the side. Perfect ending to this delicious meal! As we were leaving (with big smiles on our faces), my husband asked if we could make this our new “special occasion” restaurant! Looking forward to many more meals here at The Capital Grille!

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Soups for the Summer: Chilled Strawberry Basil

balsamsFor a few years in a row, Christmas break was spent with my extended family at the Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch, NH. We would spend the week skiing by day, and enjoying the resort by night. This place is amazing – kind of a cruise ship on dry land, with huge breakfasts, formal dinners, and various activities in the evening – karaoke, movies, the best arcade room ever, and tons of other fun activities (take the memories with a grain of salt – I was probably 14 the last time we were there). The town’s claim to fame is that the first primaries every election year are held in Dixville Notch. It’s a beautiful little New England city, and this resort is gorgeous! (from what I can tell, the Balsams resort is in the process of revamping, and I am hoping they reopen to the public soon!  I can’t wait to take my family there!).

http://flicksart.blogspot.com/2011/01/winter-at-balsams.html

strawberry soup 3As I mentioned, after a long day of skiing, and a relaxed lunch in the ski lodge, everyone would come back to the resort and get ready for a formal dinner. Men had to wear sports jackets, and the women had to be dressed up. Upon being seated, servers would push carts around with various options for appetizers, dinners, and desserts. To a little kid, this place was glamorous and indulgent, and one of my favorite appetizers every year was a chilled strawberry soup. It was so fancy and unexpected; refreshing after a long day spent bundled up on the slopes!

Every once in a while, I’ve thought back to that unusual soup, but it wasn’t until I was at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago that everything aligned! So, I’ll have to thank the kind cashier that insisted I take home an extra, giant box of organic strawberries…for comparison purposes! He swore up and down the bigger berries were sweeter than the smaller (he was right!). To me, it just meant we had way more strawberries than we could eat before they all went bad! Luckily, my brother-in-law and one of his kids were in town, so we invited a big group over for dinner. Nothing like experimenting when you have ten people over for dinner! I’m not going to lie – I was nervous about this one! But the feedback was incredible! A couple of foodies over and everyone loved it!

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My toddler loves to help out in the kitchen, and this is a great recipe for a little kid. I wanted something a bit more grown-up than what I remembered (which was basically a strawberry milkshake), so I went searching on Pinterest, and found a Chilled Strawberry Basil soup recipe. As usual, this is slightly tweaked, but here goes:

Chilled Strawberry Basil

Ingredients:

  • Blender/food processor
  • 4 cups rinsed and prepped strawberries (tops cut off)
  • 2 cups strawberry greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (and 1 lemon wedge thrown in for sweetness)
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend.
  • Chill or serve immediately.

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I topped this with a dollop of whipped cream, a sprig of basil, and a slice of strawberry. We served the soup as an appetizer before my husband pulled some teriyaki marinated pork tenderloin and bell peppers off the grill! Perfect accompaniment on a warm summer night! And don’t forget the perfect dessert for any grill night – s’mores! Hope you enjoy this cold soup on a summer night soon!

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Katie’s Take on Gwyneth Paltrow’s New England Corn Chowder

Living in North Carolina, I’m used to some hot summer weather! But that seems like a silly reason to give up one of my favorite food platforms for an entire season each year. So this year, we decided to find a couple of soups that are refreshing and use the best of the local produce. I’ll keep these coming as often as I find a new one. This corn chowder has to be credited to my favorite: Gwyneth Paltrow. My sister-in-law gave me Gwyneth’s first cookbook, My Father’s Daughter, for Christmas a few years back. I LOVE this cookbook. She lived in Spain for a time in her teens and had a lot of Spanish influenced meals. Most people who know me, know that my husband has been privy to many a sweet nothing whispered of an ex-pat retirement in Spain, ever since we spent two weeks there on our honeymoon. So, GP and I are obviously kindred spirits. Plus, she’s from Long Island, so… (Yay New England!!)

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This corn chow-dah is perfect for spring and summer nights! It’s light but filling, and the corn is so delicious when it is in season! This can be the perfect start as an appetizer to some fresh seafood on the grill, or as a full meal. Whatever your preference, I hope you enjoy this as much as our family does! If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, follow Gwenie’s version, since mine uses a little meat.

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Katie’s Take on Gwyneth Paltrow’s New England Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

  • Food processor/blender
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter (or olive oil for vegan)
  • 6 slices diced bacon (skip for vegetarian/vegan – although GP recommends 1.5 tsp pimento)
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and roughly diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme (or 4 sprigs fresh thyme)
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and roughly diced
  • Kernels from 12 fresh ears of corn (After you slice off the kernels, use the back of your knife to scrape the juices off half the cobs – adds to the creaminess of the soup!) Reserve 4-6 cobs for simmering.
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • 2 cups milk (or light coconut milk)

Recipe:

  • Melt the butter in a big soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon until it begins to brown, and then add the shallots, herbs, and onion. Saute until onion starts to become translucent. Add the corn kernels and salt and pepper. Stir everything together. Add the milk, stock, and corn cobs. Bring soup to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for about 30-40 minutes (you want corn to be cooked thru). Remove the cobs, and blend about half to three-quarters of the soup – really your preference here! You can serve immediately or reheat later. I prefer to let it cool and heat later; the flavors blend so well!

I usually serve this with some crusty bread and a small side salad. We bring it to BBQ’s as a side, make it as an appetizer on night’s my parents grill burgers/lobster/swordfish at the beach, and make it at home as a main dish, so we have a quick meal to pull out on busy nights! Enjoy!

The Easter Bunny Does Brunch: Tazza Kitchen in Raleigh, NC

Well. We did it! Hubs was ushering and we made it to church on time. Actually, before it started! Yay! This NEVER happens, especially when he isn’t helping me out the door!

A few weeks ago we were walking through Cameron Village (cool because it is the oldest outdoor shopping center in the US, filled with boutiques, eateries, markets, and more), and it appeared that Tazza Kitchen had closed.

I. Was. Devastated! So before I let another good one get away, I called, and was thrilled when someone answered. They were briefly closed for renovations (they got rid of their fun screened porch area for a big open window concept instead). They still have outdoor dining too, and their menu looks pretty much the same!

Tazza Kitchen
432 Woodburn Road, Raleigh, NC 27605
http://tazzakitchen.com

Tazza Kitchen makes incredible pizza, a delicious cast iron goat cheese appetizer, and one of the greatest kale salads in Raleigh (seriously, try it with grilled shrimp! To die for!). But right now, we’re talking brunch! They make the BEST Huevos Rancheros I’ve ever had and I cannot wait to go back!

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Huevos Rancheros

One of our friends met us this morning, and we order two starters; a coffee cake, served with warm spiced apples and a delicious cream cheese icing, and a wood fired avocado with a peppercorn dressing, brown butter breadcrumbs, and chili pequin! Both oh, so good! But nothing comes close to their brioche rolls, which melt in your mouth and are that perfect touch of sweet in the mid-morning!

coffee cake
Coffee Cake
avocado
Grilled Avocado

We went all in today – all 3 adults ordered the Huevos rancheros; yes! They’re that good! Usually we’ll get different things to share, but we’re old hat here. Hands down, the best thing I’ve tried on this menu – the crab cake benedict is a close second, but I ordered that once and was disappointed I didn’t go with my standby! It sits on a bed of hash browns, the tostada stays crispy throughout, and it’s just a tad bit spicy without overpowering! I love it! The baked eggs are a perfect “over medium” and the meal is totally filling! I’m not dying for lunch an hour or so later!

At the risk of not being able to get an easy reservation in the future, I am sharing my favorite brunch spot with you! There are 5 locations – 3 in Virginia, 1 in Raleigh, and 1 in South Carolina. If you find yourself in the area, definitely check them out! Their dinners are amazing as well! Do not miss out on that goat cheese app – and make sure to ask for extra bread! I have never once been disappointed – they nail the trifecta of great food, great service, and a great atmosphere! It’s also noisy enough to bring the kids! Hope you enjoy!

As an aside, thanks to blue laws here in NC, Sunday Brunch before noon is pretty cheap! I think we walked out, with tip, for under $40! Just remember to make your reservation after 12 if you want to partake in any adult beverages. As for me, I’ll be spending the rest of this rainy Sunday watching movies with the kids! The Easter Bunny surprised them with Minions and stocked the fridge with orange juice and prosecco for me!
Tazza Kitchen Cameron Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato