Monday, September 27, 2010

Featured on White Thread!

So, yes, it's been a couple months since our wedding. But, I planned for the wedding for soo long before, it took a while for me to get used to the fact that I wasn't going to be planning a big event anymore.  I can really see why people love being event/wedding planners, I LOVED creating all of the details! Anyways, our wedding was recently featured on White Thread!

It's a really cute wedding planning blog for brides in North Carolina and South Carolina. I'm so excited that they chose to share the details of our wedding with other brides who are planning. I hope our event can be an inspiration to others planning NC/SC brides! Check it out at:

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog/site, there are some beautiful weddings from NC/SC on there and lots of other inspiration! :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shrimp Linguine Alfredo

Last night, I made shrimp linguine alfredo for dinner. It was really good and I can't wait to have leftovers for lunch today! :)  Kevin and I celebrated 4 months of being married, too!  Part of me feels like it's gone by so fast, but it also seems like forever since we were on our honeymoon in Paris. I want to be back there right now!! Well, here's my recipe for the dish:
Shrimp Linguine Alfredo with Asparagus
- 1 lb linguine pasta
- 1 lb frozen shrimp, thawed and peeled
- 4 tbs butter
- 1/2 small onion, finely diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream or half and half
- 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 bunch of asparagus spears, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp Italian spices
- salt, pepper to taste
     Boil pasta in salted water until al dente.  Remove pasta from water, drain and set aside.
     In large non-stick pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add diced onion and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 additional minutes, stirring often.  Be very careful not to burn the garlic. 
     Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, add the asparagus spears, 2 tbs water, and 1 tbs olive oil.  Cook for 5 minutes on medium-low heat.  Remove from pan and set aside. 
     Add the shrimp to the large pan and heat for 2-3 minutes, until somewhat pink.  Remove shrimp from pan and set aside, leaving garlic, onion and butter remaining. Add the cream or half and half and bring to a boil.  Stir often and season with salt, pepper, Italian spices and lemon juice, and reduce to low heat.  
     Allow cream to thicken some and add the shrimp and asparagus to the sauce.  Continue to cook for a couple more minutes and then pour over linguine pasta.  Toss and serve while warm.  

It's been so long!

I just posted about the gyro recipes from over a week ago. Oops, I've been neglecting the blog. Things have been really busy with work and school lately... but, here's what we've been up to.
We went to the NC State/Cincinnati  football game last Thursday and the UNC/GT game on Saturday. It was fun, lots of football! Although, we got sunburned on Saturday, and Kevin has looked somewhat like a lobster for the past few days. 
On Friday, I went to a new sushi place near Duke, Sushi Love, with Angela and some of her nursing friends. It was SO good. We all split a HUGE plate of 13 rolls = awesome! Everything was really good and I can't wait to go back!  :)

Oh and TGIT... I'm so glad it's Thursday!  I've been looking forward to today for a few weeks. Why, you ask? Well, because my favorite tv shows are returning tonight, and there are a lot of new shows I want to check out too. Thank goodness for DVR! I'm excited about Bones, Grey's Anatomy, and Private Practice tonight! :)

Have a great end of the week everyone! 

Greek Night! Part II

I forgot to finish the Greek Night recipes update last week.  Here are the other recipes that we used.
Lamb Gyro Meat
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1/2 cup very finely chopped onion
- 2 tsp fresh minced garlic
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp dried ground marjoram
- 1/2 tsp dried ground rosemary
- 1/4 tsp black pepper

     Mix everything together and let sit in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
     Blend in a food processor for about 1 minute. Place mixture in loaf pan, and pack down tightly. Bake in the for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, at 325 degrees F. It should be a bit dry.
     Cut meat into slices and make gyros with pita bread, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

source: Alton Brown
- 16 ounces plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
- Pinch kosher salt
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced
     Strain excess liquid from yogurt or place the the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
     Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Serve as a sauce for gyros. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Greek Seasoned Fries
source: modified from Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee
- 1/2 bag frozen french fries (recommended: Ore-Ida)
- 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp Greek seasoning
     On a baking sheet, toss together fries, olive oil, garlic, and seasoning. Arrange fries in a single layer. Bake fries according to package directions.
     Once they are done, broil on high for a few minutes to make them crispy.
     Serve fries hot with tzatziki for dipping and a gyro.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Greek Night! Part I

On Friday night, Kevin and I decided to make our favorite Mediterranean restaurant meal from home and from scratch! It was a big undertaking, but it was fun and came out great! So, we made lamb gyros with homemade pita bread, tzatziki sauce, greek seasoned fries and hummus. Everything turned out really well and it was all so delicious!

Hummus is SO easy to make! I probably won't be buying it pre-made much anymore. The pita bread was also actually easier than I expected. I never would have imagined that I'd randomly make homemade pita bread, but it tastes so good, better than store-bought! Here are the recipes for the hummus and pita bread... More to come later!
source: modified from
- 16 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup tahini
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt
- 1-2 tbs olive oil
- ¼ tsp paprika or cayenne
Place chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, water, tahini and salt in a food processor or blender and process until smooth, scraping the sides occasionally. Spoon hummus into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika or cayenne, depending on how spicy you want it. Serve with pita chips, bread, or veggies and enjoy! Hummus can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.

Pita Bread
source: modified from Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 8 pitas
- 3 cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 packet yeast
- 1 ½ cups water, roughly at room temperature
- 2 tbs butter, melted
Mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water.

Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface, such as a cutting board, and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes. If you are using an electric mixer, mix it at low speed for 10 minutes.

When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it’ll be easier to shape.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick – 6 inches in diameter. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

Place discs on a lightly greased baking sheet or parchment paper and let rise, uncovered, until barely doubled in thickness, about 30-45 minutes.

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3-5 minutes. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for a few additional minutes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Grilled Lamb and Roasted Potatoes

     It's been a busy week, but somehow last night I found time between work and homework to make what turned out to be a really good meal.  We had grilled lamb chops, roasted potatoes and grilled squash.  It was a rustic comfort food meal.  Kevin and I both love lamb and grilling it really gives it a great flavor.  I adapted these recipes from a couple that I found online.
Grilled Lamb Chops with Fresh Herbs and Grilled Lemon
source: adapted from Bobby Flay
- 2 lamb shoulder chops
- 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tbs for lemons
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lemons, cut in half
     Whisk together olive oil, minced, thyme and rosemary.  Cover lamb chops in marinade in shallow dish, turn to coat.  Allow to marinate for at least an hour in the fridge, then allow to come to room temperature.  Grill chops on high for about 6 minutes each side, until medium rare. While grilling the lamb chops, brush the lemons with olive oil and grill on high for 2 minutes.
     Remove lamb chops from heat and allow to rest for a couple of minutes.  Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the top of the lamb chops and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.  Add a sprig of rosemary or thyme and grilled lemon to garnish.
Roasted Potatoes
source: modified from The Novice Chef and Jaimie Oliver 
     For this recipe, I used small red potatoes.  The original recipe calls for fingerling potatoes, so use those if you have them or any other small potato that you like.  It's important that you boil the potatoes before roasting them in the oven because this ensures that they will be cooked all the way through.  If the potatoes aren't browned after 45 minutes, you can bump the temperature up a bit or broil them for a couple minutes to make sure they are nice and golden brown.  
- 1 lb red potatoes, cut into quarters or sixths (large bitesize pieces)
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tbs of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- sea salt and black pepper
- 3-4 tbs olive oil
- water
     Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add potatoes and cook for about 8 minutes.  Drain potatoes in collander and allow to dry for about 5 minutes.  Be sure to toss them a bit during this process to remove excess water.
     In a roasting pan or cast iron casserole dish, combine the potatoes, garlic, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Toss to evenly coat the potatoes and spread out the potatoes into a single layer.  Place into the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, until potatoes are golden brown. Make sure to stir and reposition them a couple of times throughout, so that they are evenly browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Weekend and Tailgating!

       Sorry it's been so long since I've posted! Things have been busy and classes just started again, so I have even less time to cook/blog.  This weekend was Labor Day weekend and although everyone else I know has 3 or 4 day weekends, mine was a regular 2 day-er. But, on the upside, it was the first weekend of the college football season! I had to include a picture of Darcy, he got a new haircut on Friday. 

Darcy got a haircut!
     On Saturday, I went to the NCSU football game and tailgated with my family and lots of our friends.  Everyone brought something and we had so much food! I didn't even get a chance to try all of the things that we had out on the tables.  Some highlights:  smoked pork shoulder for BBQ sandwiches, grilled rock lobster (!), chicken salad wraps, black bean dip, buffalo chicken dip, broccoli salad, asian coleslaw, barbecue and hot wings, veggies and fruit, brownies, and cupcakes.  There was actually even more, but that's all I can remember!  The game was great (we won, 48-7!) and we even tailgated for a while after the game to continue the celebration.
View of the Stadium
Lots and lots of food!
Grilled lobster = delish! 
       I brought Asian Coleslaw, Buffalo Chicken (Crack) Dip, and Grill Cupcakes and I'm including the recipes below.  I cheated on the Grill Cupcakes though... I just used a box of cake mix because I didn't have a lot of time to bake them from scratch, but you could use your favorite chocolate cake/frosting recipes. 

Grill Cupcakes

Grill Cupcakes
      These cupcakes are perfect to take along to a cookout/BBQ or tailgate. 
- chocolate cupcakes
- chocolate frosting
- white icing
- red sprinkles
- black food coloring
- assorted candies for decoration
- toothpicks
       Frost each of the chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. Add red sprinkles to the center of each cupcake. Mix black food coloring in with small amount of white icing to create silver/gray icing.  Decorate each cupcake with lines of gray icing to mimic a grill grate.  Add pieces of candy which look like food items for a final touch.  I used Dots on toothpicks for shish kebabs, Hot Tamales for hot dogs, and I  made hamburgers out of pieces of Snickers. Use toothpicks dipped in black food coloring to add grill marks to the candy.  

Asian Coleslaw

Asian Coleslaw
       This is such an easy recipe, but make sure to serve it immediately so it stays crunchy!  
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbs rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 bag coleslaw mix
- 10 green onions, chopped
- 1/4 sesame seeds, toasted
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1 package ramen noodles, crushed
       Whisk together the vegetable oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to create the dressing.  In a large bowl, add the coleslaw mix and chopped green onions.  Top with dressing and stir.  Add sesame seeds, sliced almonds, and crushed ramen noodles.  Stir and serve immediately.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
       I've seen this dip made by a lot of people with a little bit of variation. You might know it by the name of Chicken Crack Dip, at least that's what my family's been calling it for a while, lol.  Here's how I made mine... although beware, this recipe is not low fat! You could substitute low fat cream cheese/ranch if you wanted. 
- 2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
- 2 cans chunk chicken (~1 lb cooked chicken, shredded) 
- 1 cup ranch dressing
- 3/4 cup Frank's Red Hot®
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- bag pita chips
       Preheat oven to 350.  Mix the cream cheese, ranch and hot sauce together until combined.  Add the shredded chicken and stir.  Then, stir in the shredded cheddar cheese.  Add this to a casserole or pyrex dish.
       Some recipes call for added cheese on top, but we've found that if you do this, it forms a thick layer of cheese that is really hard to get your chip through. So it's best to just mix the cheese throughout, and (maybe) sprinkle a very light amount on top.  Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown on top and bubbling. 
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