FF | Spring Break Edition

You know what, I really did set a personal goal to post on this blog at least once a week to stay “motivated”. I got a little overzealous and posted twice in one week and then WHAM…life happened and now I’m a couple weeks overdue on posts. Oy vey! 

We are currently on spring break which, for those who work from home like me, means absolutely nothing special except you “get” to bring your laptop to wherever you’re “breaking”. Working in a school setting for the past 10 years, we got used to having an official spring break. However, I do realize in #RealLife, the adult-working world doesn’t take spring breaks…they just take vacation. So in that sense, I am still very thankful that we were able to take a few days away from the day-to-day crazy.

We spent the past few days on the coast in Oak Island, NC. The weather took a surprising turn for the warm and sunny. It was perfection, especially through the eyes of our spunky, almost-three-year-old Amelia.

In true “vacation mode”, I thought I’d post a few highlights from the past week:

>> Say “Hi!” to the New Kids on the QC Food Block:

  • Tandūr Kitchen {SouthPark}: Officially opened this week and it’s already killing it. Don’t miss out on the Naanchos, Spiced Okra Fries, Tikka Masala, Garlic Naan and the Korma. Hell, just try it all…it’s all fantastic. This place has already earned a spot in the Masanotti rotation.

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  • Haymaker {Uptown}: Farm to Table, Fine Southern Cuisine — This is most certainly added to my list for top date spots, perfectly situated overlooking Romare Bearden Park. Grab a few small plates to share or choose a few as starters before you dive into their incredible entrees, and don’t even think about skipping out on dessert. The Haymaker Punch and the Harvest Spritz are TOPS.

>> Leftovers or Bust

Before we leave for a vacation or trip, I typically skip grocery shopping the week prior and we make our meals from whatever we can find in the refrigerator. It’s challenging with an entire week of “clean the pantry/fridge” meals, and an added bonus…it’s fairly cost efficient too. We had a TON of leftover roasted chicken from The Roasting Company and vegetables from the farmer’s market, so here’s what we made for the week {Not pictured: Chicken Verde Enchiladas that were devoured before I could get a photo}:

>> Breakfast…BEACH Edition

From my first time making homemade crepes (a nod to my NYC French Fam, M & A) to apples & almond butter to some fancy a#$ avocado toast (as requested by my sister), breakfast remains my FAVORITE meal of the day.

Hopefully you feel inspired to go try some of our newest CLT restaurants, challenged to  see how many meals you can make from just a handful of ingredients already in your fridge or just do yourself a favor, make a beautifully delicious breakfast and see the difference it can make as you start your day…#liveyourbestlife.

Now back to our regularly scheduled vacating. ❤

Two in One Week?!

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After my hum-drum “I hate winter” post from last night, I woke up this morning to SUNNY SKIES. No, it’s not 60-degrees by any means, still in the 40s, but the SUN is out and the furrowed brow of my weather-induced cynicism has melted away just like that. It’s incredible what a little sunshine can do for a person’s heart and general disposition. 🙂

With that said, I saw a post recently on the Instagram of one of my favorite food blogging couples Sonja & Alex Overhiser of A Couple Cooks. They recently released a cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking, with which I’m already obsessed. It’s a wonderfully comprehensive cookbook featuring relatively easy recipes with minimal ingredients. Anyway, with the daily barrage of perfectly styled food posts on the ‘gram, I often find myself scrolling pretty quickly through until something catches my eye. Their post on a blackberry ricotta & onion savory tart caused me to pause my zombie-swiping. The savoriness of blackberries, onion and balsamic were intriguing. I had to try it.

I definitely wasn’t in the mood to make the tart part from scratch, so I moved in the direction of a flatbread. I also didn’t have the canned Oregon Fruit blackberries, I had fresh ones, so already I was veering on my own path. By the end, I went in a totally different direction anyway, but the inspiration definitely came from them. 🙂

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Blackberry Ricotta Thyme Flatbread with Prosciutto

Serves 1 (meal) or 2 (appetizer)

Ingredients

1          Trader Joes Frozen Garlic Naan
1 C       Blackberries
1          Shallot, thinly sliced
2 T       Balsamic Vinegar
1 T       Olive Oil
1 C       Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1           Lemon, zest & juice
1 T       Turbinado Sugar or Coconut Sugar
2 T       Fresh thyme, some whole leaves plucked & some chopped
1 slice Prosciutto
Pinch of Brown Sugar
Salt & Pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. As oven is preheating, I put the frozen naan bread in there to defrost (approx 5-7min). Remove once the ice has melted off and the flatbread is pliable.

2. Place blackberries in a bowl, top with turbinado sugar and squeeze a little lemon juice, mixing through. Let sit for 20minutes. This process is called maceration which softens the berries, and releases the sweet fruit juice.

3. Combine ricotta cheese, lemon zest and the remaining lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper and chopped thyme, combine.

4. Add olive oil to a skillet over medium high heat, add thinly sliced shallots and cook until softened (approximately 3-4minutes). Add balsamic vinegar and a pinch of brown sugar, stirring the cooked shallots. Add the macerated berries to the skillet and stir. Using a potato masher, crush the berries into the balsamic shallot mix, turn heat to low as the mixture thickens, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Spread ricotta mixture evenly on naan, top with blackberry mixture. Tear prosciutto into small slices and arrange evenly on top of blackberry shallot mix. Top with whole thyme leaves. Return flatbread to oven for 10 minutes. Remove, slice and enjoy!

 

Hello Spring! Get a clue, Winter.

Seriously. What is WITH this weather?! I am 100% OVER it. Spring officially started this week but it’s been cold, rainy and icy. Winter is officially the house guest that has grossly overstayed it’s welcome.

It’s time to thaw out, to wake up. It’s time for renewal, new growth and new beginnings. For me, this season always brings a renewed sense of hope and motivation.

Here in the 704, spring brings some of the BEST weather around. Cool mornings, warm evenings and a sunset that just won’t quit. Spring Break is two weeks away and I am counting down the days until we can finally get reacquainted with one of our favorite beaches, Oak Island. I know it won’t be full-on bathing suit weather, but a girl can at least hope for some consecutively warm days, right?

Spring also brings a new season of cooking. I tend to move away from the hearty soups, chilis and stews that get us through the cold months, and move on to a fresh, lighter fare. I am SO looking forward to making Saturday morning trips to our amazing regional farmers market<3. I don’t know about you, but I find myself moving away from meat-centric meals in warmer weather. I crave crisp fruit, raw vegetables, crusty breads, burrata cheese…and rosé:)

Despite my longing for warmer weather, it’s remained pretty bleak with only a few glimpses of better days to come. After making that delightful Greek Lemon Avgolemono a couple weeks ago, I was still in the soup mood, but wanted to definitely keep it on the lighter side.

For years now, I try to only go grocery shopping 2-3 times a month. I loosely meal plan two weeks at a time so that I only have to buy groceries every two weeks or so. What started as a way to save money in an extreme budgeting time of our lives, quickly became a welcomed habit and challenge of efficiency and creativity in the kitchen. Some days, however, I find myself craving something totally different than I originally planned for. Here’s where the creativity challenge comes in. Such was the case on this cold and rainy day where the salad I planned was NOT cutting it. I scratched my salad plans, stared at whatever ingredients were in the refrigerator and made a plan.

The result? Literally one of the BEST soups I’ve ever had. Seriously. I wanted to post it as soon as I made it, but I got caught up in trying to remember what exactly I put in it, how much to put in….blah, blah, blah. Writing recipes is a VERY new thing for me, so I’ll try to be better about documenting these things along the way next time. For now, hopefully this all makes sense:)

Even if it randomly becomes 70+ degrees tomorrow, I think this soup is enjoyable enough to be a winner, even in the warmer months.

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Creamy Coconut Tortellini Soup with Kielbasa & Kale

INGREDIENTS

2 T     Butter
1 C     Leeks, sliced 1/4 in. circles
1 C     Shallots, diced
1 C     Carrots, sliced 1/4in. half-moons
1 T     Garlic, minced
32oz. Low Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1        Can Organic Coconut Milk, 13.5oz.
1 C     Turkey Kielbasa Sausage, sliced 1/4in. circles
2 C     Cheese Tortellini (I used frozen, but you can use fresh too)
3 C     Lacinato Kale, torn to 1-2in. pieces
2 T     Tarragon, chopped
S & P to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Melt butter in large dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, shallots, carrots and garlic. Cook until tender (~3-4minutes).

2. Add Kielbasa sausage, cook for 2-3 minutes, then stir to brown the other side 2-3 minutes.

3. Add broth to mixture, stirring and scraping up any of the mixture that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan.

4. Pour in coconut milk, stirring to break up any coconut clumps. Add in tarragon and simmer for 4-5minutes.

5. Add in tortellini, cover and cook until the pasta is tender (or according to the packaging:) Toss in kale and slowly stir to incorporate, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.