cookin and eatin

Here are some things I’ve been cooking! Some simple, some fancy. Some cooked FOR me!

A simple weeknight dinner…

  • Trader Joe’s chopped Southwest salad kit
  • Shrimp pan fried real quick with a bit of oil and chile lime seasoning


Random assortment:

  • kale chips
  • avocado toast
  • ineptly fried egg
  • 1/2 a banana with some PB


  • black bean chips
  • avocado tzaziki dip from Trader Joe’s (v good!0
  • salad with chopped up apple, nuts, cheddar, vinaigrette


Smitten Kitchen’s crispy rice bowl! I’ve already sung the praises. Further documentation I can’t stop making variations on it!


My friend Emily had a birthday shindig so I made her a cake! Not for the first time, Smitten Kitchen’s homemade ho ho/ding dong/whatever you call the Little Debbie product. Delicious, BUT, it’s a fool’s errand to try to make marshmallow frosting on a humid day. Too goopy!

I confirmed my card carrying introvert ways by spending much of the party petting the hostess’s dog.


Mm look at that perfect crumb on that cake!


Shortly thereafter was my cousin’s birthday and I made her one of her all time faves… banana cream pie:

  • Trader Joe’s pie crust (I just loathe making pie crust and am terrible at it)
  • bananas (duh)
  • random vanilla custard I cobbled together from various internet sources
  • barely sweetened whipped cream
  • chocolate shavings around the edge for beauty


Cottage cheese pancakes! Gosh, these were good. Shame I can’t remember where I got the recipe hahaha.


Topped with leftover fruit salad I’d made for something or other.


A perfect springtime combo:

  • asparagus, either steamed or sauteed in olive oil
  • fried egg
  • balsamic reduction (or your thickest syrupiest balsamic vinegar)


The egg yolk and the vinegar together are moneyyyy


A random lunch…

  • avocado toast
  • cottage cheese with some strawberries I’d cooked down with a bit of sugar and balsamic and maybe some other berries too?
  • these cold brew lattes which became the death of me… I’ve been trying to quit caffeine?! story for another blog post.


Brunch for frens!

  • Cold brew, as discussed hahaha
  • tomato, onion and goat cheese quiche
  • homemade french toast casserole thrown together with various berries and a bunch of nutella (WHOOOOAAA)
  • fresh watermelon
  • manfriend brought his homemade fried chicken!


I threw this together for a weeknight dinner and I think it would’ve made good drunk food hahaha. (I had not been drinking to be clear.)

  • Black beans cooked with enchilada sauce and a bunch of cheese
  • frozen sweet potato fries baked til crispy
  • avocado
  • green onoins


Yet another odd collection of items:

  • two small veggie hot dogs with sauerkraut
  • steamed artichoke with mayo
  • watermelon
  • kale chips


Oh LOOK, it’s yet again that crispy rice bowl! I told you! This time I made it with the carrots and cucumbers as written.


Smitten Kitchen’s tzaziki potato salad. One of the few times one of her recipes has been a dud for me. It just was unremarkable. If I’m craving potatoes+ Mediterranean flavors again I’ll just make potato salad the way my mom makes it (with olive oil and TONS of fresh oregano)


Ahhh okay so the manfriend and I had pizza night! He loves making homemade pizza. We also had some pizza sauce he’d gotten from a local restaurant.

Here’s one of our finished slices:


Pizza making can take awhile between letting dough rise and prepping toppings and preheating oven and so on. So we had a bit of a lull. Plus, we had leftover toppings.

That resulted in him making this unbelievable creation:

  • toast fried in butter
  • assorted leftover pizza toppings including sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions, black olives, a few little meat bits
  • jalapeno queso (!!!) poured on top. Good grief.


The pepperoni/mushroom/onion pizza pictured above ended up looking like this sliced. Quite dense in the crust.


The other pizza was puffier and the toppings were my personal favorite…


  • sausage
  • caramelized onions
  • sauteed garlic (like, LOTS OF GARLIC)
  • black olives


The fella was about to leave town so he sent me home with a bit more sauce and a bit more dough… so I made this guy with mushrooms and kale. Astonishing no one, opting for a healthier pizza (veggie toppings, no fatty porky things, more modest amount of cheese) was less delicious hahaha.



cooking with a pal

In other news I am happily dating a dude?! V exciting I know. It’s nice having someone to cook with/cook for.

For example one evening we decided to have a charcuterie plate. I have no gift whatsoever for arranging foods attractively so I put the manfriend in charge. He put together this creation.


This was the whole table:

  • Charcuterie plate above
  • Steamed artichokes with mayonnaise (which he’d never had and of course loved)
  • additional charcuterie plate with a variety of delicious Trader Joe’s crackers and cheese and meatstuffs
  • Smitten Kitchen’s wild mushroom pate (which is delicious- note that it makes a LOT)


Another day he hosted me for dinner at his house. This was a steak salad recipe from Real Simple that involved pears and bleu cheese and hazelnuts. The steak:

  • Was cooked perfectly
  • Was made in the cast iron skillet the manfriend inherited from his grandfather (!) which is so cool and nice
  • Created such an enormous amount of smoke in the kitchen that even with the vent hood running full blast and a door and several windows looking we basically had to evacuate that half of the house hahahaha


Our appetizer before the steak salad was this beet hummus (!) which the manfriend has taught me about and which is quite tasty.


Another day we went hiking by Occoneechee mountain.


And then he made me chicken salad. It’s something I never make but it’s one of his specialties. He puts in all kinds of wacky ingredients.


I got around to introducing him to some of my friends by arranging that we all meet up to watch basketball at Tyler’s, one of the local bars.

Pro: the appetizers were delicious, especially the hot chewy pretzel with beer cheese (*swoon*)

Con: We watched freaking Auburn eliminate UNC from the tournament. Devastating. (He went to UNC too)

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Have I already raved about my love for Smitten Kitchen’s crispy rice bowl in the blog? Well if not THIS BOWL HAS BEEN MY LIFE LATELY.


It makes a nice meal for guests too! And you can mix it up with the vegetables… this particular time I did have cucumber but I didn’t have carrots… instead I made a wilted spinach salad by whisking together mustard, lemon juice, soy sauce and olive oil in a hot pan and then tossing in the spinach just til it was wilted. DELICIOUS.

Also, everything but the bagel seasoning is an excellent addition to the recipe.


I went home to VA for my mom’s birthday, and when I got home he bought ME flowers! So nice!


After the lilies opened they made my house smell sooooooo heavenly. (I put them on a high shelf so I could smell them but so the cat wouldn’t eat them and die).


More adventures in when a boy cooks… his was a great day because the manfriend had Good Friday off as a holiday from work (though I still had to work, *sigh*). So, I met him for lunch at his house and this bagel sandwich was a SIGHT.


It involved:

  • cream cheese
  • avocado
  • sprouts
  • fried egg
  • Sriracha
  • bacon (him, not me)


And then he had a pan full of bacon grease so decided to throw some cashews in…


And then pulled them out and threw these guys on them:


And whaddya know it they made a smashing side dish (along with some fresh fruit)


Another weekend I was out of town and then drove back in, zonked out, on a Sunday night. So he invited me over and served me nachos and we watched Game of Thrones. (Ugh, at least the food was good. THE SHOW WAS GARBAGE).


I hosted yet again… this meal involved:

  • Meatballs with sauce (they were actually the frozen Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs, I’m not sure if I confessed this to him?!)
  • Salad with goat cheese, blueberries, pistachios, homemade vinaigrette
  • Trader Joe’s sweet corn and burrata ravioli OH MAN THESE ARE GOOD BUY THESE. I served the ravioli with browned butter which was also a tasty choice.


Here is the whole plate, see how nicely lit?!


That’s because I had help hahahaha. Apparently his mom was Google stalking me (?!) and he said, “What did you find out?” and she said, “She takes a lot of pictures of food!” Yes, that is correct.


baby sister gets hitched!

Oh hello! I had a rather crazy late April/mid May between buying a house (!) and moving into said house, and MY BABY SISTER GETTING MARRIED! First, about that.

First of all, my sister decided her fur babies must accompany to her and their father’s wedding. So, she (and a very kind bridesmaid) drove from Louisiana to northern Virginia sharing a single vehicle with two cats and a dog. NUTS.

My mom was nice enough to host Mearl (L) and Tina (R) along with her own cat (fortunately Billie Jean the dog stayed elsewhere). Tina is my sister’s latest rescue, found on the street. She is tiny and adorable and really quite skittish and weird too.


I drove up to my mama’s house the Wednesday evening before the Saturday wedding. The following days involved lots of little last minute activities. Picking up altered clothing, selecting photobooth props, and a great deal of work related to seating charts that my mom, my mom’s best friend, my sister, and roughly 10,000 other people seemed to be involved in but I fortunately was not.

The funnest of the wedding prep activities was definitely mani pedis for me, the bride, and my mom’s goddaughter who was visiting from St Louis for the wedding (who I think of as a four year old but in fact is now a young woman getting ready for college!)

I figured to go for something more exciting than usual for my nails since how many times does one’s sister get married?! So I did both the french manicure and the nail art (!) at my lady’s suggestion.


The day before the wedding we had the rehearsal dinner which was at Seasons 52. When I ordered lasagna I received this fascinating deconstructed item which was REALLY yummy. Lots and lots of veggies in the pasta rolls, and a cool ricotta on top. Mm.


As for the wedding day itself it involved everyone getting G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S. My mom knew a lady who’d done makeup/hair at work events and hired her for her, sis and me. They set up a whole studio in the dining room and kitchen.


My sister had some deeply fabulous old Hollywood waves.


I ended up with more loose waves. But perhaps I should’ve just stuck with this fetching updo I had midway through the process? Lololol.


My sister got all of her bridesmaids these sweet charm necklaces, each of which had a different theme. I looooved my *Protect* one. One because it definitely describes my attitude toward my sister… and two because of the dope snake charm!


As for the wedding itself… I managed to take a whopping one picture, of the appetizers hahaha.


Guys, I am garbage at writing sentimental things.

I did my best to write a good toast about the happy couple as the maid of honor (which would have been much improved if 1. I hadn’t been immediately preceded by Eric’s brother’s 100% sincere, unsnarky, tear inducing speech– mine was playful and jokey and would’ve been a better preamble!– and 2. If I hadn’t immediately poured champagne all down my front immediately before the toast— for the record I was stone cold sober, I guess just nervous and reaching for my salad fork at the wrong angle?!)

But talking about my sister requires summarizing a 27 year relationship into something pithy and it just cannot be done.

My sister is the funniest person I know. She’s caring, and weird, and very smart. She will get me better than any other person in the world in very key ways because we are the only people who have ever been raised by our parents. Celebrating her marriage to Eric, who I’ve also known for quite awhile (they met freshman year of high school, 13 years ago!) was a consistently surreal experience. But it was very very lovely.

I also have no idea if I’ll ever get married but can state very confidently that if I do I want nothing to do with a wedding. So I have to further extend gratitude to my sister and mom and everyone else who made the wedding happen because I got to be in a big room with basically all of my loved ones! Mom’s side of the family, dad’s side of the family, a bunch of old family friends some of whom I haven’t seen since I was a tiny thing… all too often the occasions that bring people together are sad ones, so it was really nice having people fly in from literally all over the world for a joyful reason.

I will leave you with a picture… The rain was a bit on and off on Malindi and Eric’s wedding day. As we all proceeded from the church to the reception I realized it’d be wise to get the bride and groom an umbrella. Pinterest friendly it was not but they still look pretty damn sweet.


springtime goodness

Spring is STAGGERINGLY BEAUTIFUL in North Carolina. So many flowers exploding into bloom.


It is also a time of the most revolting pollen explosion.


Tree sperm coating everything as far as the eye can see. Impeding your view out your windshield. Ewwwwwww.


You just have to get over it and focus on the beauty.

I love irises. So gorgeous and sexy!

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This one kind of makes me blush haha.


Also, spring means ACTIVITIES!

My old work pal had a wonderful evening at her place that mostly consisted of eating homemade Mexican food around the fire pit. It was perfection.


I go on adventure walks all around town. The pink dogwoods are so goooooorgeous!


I don’t know what these guys at the UNC arboretum are, but I just love them!


Also on a bursting spring day full of flowers and joy MY LOVE FERN ARRIVED FOR A VISIT! My friend Andrea, who I met at summer camp right here in NC a shocking 16 years ago (!) is an opera singer living the dream in NYC but still has family (and, uh, ME!) in NC so comes down to visit.

Here is a picture from us enjoying fancy cocktails (like cucumber lemonade with gin. SO good, SO easy going down haha) al fresco.


We also went on a visit to the always beautiful Duke Gardens.


Another night, another celebration of girlfriends! Emily, Lesli and I (aka the First Wives Club) went to a new Indian restaurant, Lime and Lemon in Durham.

For some reason Emily suggested we split a dosa as an appetizer and we went, “… Emily, do you know how big dosas are?!” and then we just got it anyway hahaha.

It was huge.


Just meant we had lots of leftovers of our entrees! This saag paneer was OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD. The spinach still had some texture and spinach-y integrity rather than being mush. And I assume that stuff floating on the top is… melted butter?! Heavy cream?! Good stuff hahahaha.


Then we went and experienced the novelty of the new Thai ice cream place. There are all kinds of whacky flavor combinations you can do. Lesli did an all chocolate approach:


It’s kind of like hibachi but cold instead of hot… they pour your ice cream base onto a very very very cold griddle and spread it around (mixing it with optional mix ins) until it forms a solid layer, at which point they scrape that up into pretty cylinders.

I got green tea base mixed with strawberries, then topped with raspberries, blackberries, and sweetened condensed milk. As instagram worthy as anything I’ve ever seen.


Yay spring!

back n forth

As I write this I am anticipating my third trip to Virginia in just a few short weeks. Saturday, May 11th will be… my sister’s wedding day! AGH!

I went a few weeks ago to do wedding-y things for her.

But first, Thai food! I caught up with a dear friend from high school at Sister’s Thai. Tom Kha and green papaya salad, mm.


Oh and then I was in the DC area which meant I had to get some Ethiopian food too. The vegetarian sampler and the special shiro were EXCEPTIONAL at this particular visit. Vegans, FYI, Ethiopian restaurants will HOOK YOU UP. The cabbage and carrots, collard greens, salad, spicy lentils, yellow split peas, and pureed chickpeas were all EXCEEDINGLY delicious, especially on the spongy delicious injera.


Okay but my actual purposes for being there for the weekend were twofold:

  1. Making favors for my sister’s wedding.


Aunties, cousins, friends, etc. all joined up to make koufeta, the traditional Greek wedding favor. The finished favors had custom printed ribbon (!) with Malindi and Eric’s names and wedding date on them. Also they had two rings attached. V. cute.


And because it was at my mom’s house, as usual, she had enough food for an army. This side of the table involved cucumber sandwiches, crackers, smoked salmon, homemade cookies and pie…


And the other side of the table involved two kinds of cakes, cookies, and tea. Mmm.


Malindi will have a guest list of 200 (!) so we made QUITE A LOT. I had sore fingers by the end.


And then my second reason for going up to VA for that particular weekend was

2. My mama’s birthday!

I opted to stay through Monday, April 8th, one because long weekends are nice, and two because the 8th is my mom’s birthday! I convinced her to go into work late and we had a nice breakfast together at the very cute Praline bakery.


So many macarons!


Cute Easter baskets!


We got breakfast sandwiches on wonderful homemade English muffins.


I actually got more family time when I went back to VA.

My uncle Peter and his ladyfriend Levka were visiting my cousin all the way from Brussels! Levka is a freaking BEAST in the kitchen and cooked for all of us! (My cousin and her husband have a newborn and a two and a half year old so I think they were v grateful for some homemade comfort food).

This plate of veal saltimbocca (!) and scalloped potatoes was sooooooooo good.


Plus an Instagram-worthy Caprese salad and a green salad bright and delicious with fresh herbs and homemade vinaigrette. Levka is German and just… dang. The Europeans are good at food.


The whole smorgasboard, plus amazing wine.


Friday, April 26th, was meant to be a few things: Good Friday (the Orthodox calendar has a different way of calculating when Easter is; this year it was 1 week after American Easter), and a day I worked a full day at the clinic and then drove to VA.

Well, as it turned out, it was the day I developed an agonizingly sore throat midday and then by the time I made it through an hour and a half of diabetes education and all my followup phone calls in the afternoon, I realized I was in fact rather agonizingly sick.

I drove to VA blasting podcasts to keep myself from falling asleep at the wheel, stopping into Starbucks for both caffeine and hot liquid (I had to rasp my order a couple times to the barista as my voice had somewhat quit working). That meant I had to stop at another rest stop about 10 miles before home because I had to pee so bad, heh.

I collapsed into bed and spend the weekend there.

Thank goodness I had this precious angel to look after me:


The whole point of driving up was to go to the beautiful midnight Easter service on Saturday and join my mom in singing at church. But after seeing my state on Saturday (most of which I spent in bed) my mom was all, “Girl, Imma need you to stay home”. My mom’s church actually does Facebook streaming so I did manage to watch a little bit… and then when I woke up at 3 am, before I took my second dose of Nyquil, I scrolled back and watched a few more highlights! Including the beautiful sermon.

Sunday I semi rallied and spent at least a few hours at my auntie’s, who hosted an Easter lunch that was, as always incredible.


Spinach pie, two kinds of squash pie, green bean salad with feta, orzo, Greek salad, lamb with tzaziki.


I definitely didn’t drive back to NC Sunday night as planned… but managed to rally by Monday and drive home, and then worked Tuesday through Friday while still feeling hilariously poor.

And come May 8th I’ll be hitting the road to the wedding of the century! Exciting.

babies n more

Not my babies HAHAHA NO WAY JOSE.

But I’ve had fun with other people’s babies lately.


My cousin’s two and a half year old has gotten a number of pretty epic gifts “from his baby sister.” He loves trucks and construction equipment to distraction so this was a big hit.


(lest you think he is not well rounded, he also likes having truck tea parties.)

Here is someone swaddled like an infant:


I stayed at Colton’s in Winston Salem so as to make for an easier drive West to hike the next morning. For some reason Colton wandered out of his room wearing only this blanket, *shudder*

I will say though it’s nice staying with him because he has lots of nice products. He gave me a spritz of rose water face spray as I prepared for bed and I must admit it was lovely.

The next day our destination was the Appalachian trail. Unfortunately our original hiking spot was closed for the season. So we stopped for a brief photo shoot during our brief stint on the Blue Ridge Parkway…


… and then ultimately hiked Stone Mountain.

Here’s Colton posing “attractively” next to a waterfall.


There are a variety of ways to do the hike… we did the much harder version where we started on a downhill by the waterfall and ended on an extreme uphill


There’s an interlude where you can look up at Stone Mountain. Doesn’t it look like it was dropped there by aliens?!


There were a gazillion first responders there doing some kind of training for mountain rescues.


I was a bit appalled at myself for how bloody difficult I found it getting to the summit. According to Colton’s fitbit we did ascend approximately 144 stories to get to our altitude. It was up a lot of stairs built into the trail which just killed my glutes. Also, in my defense allergy season had begun so my respirations were not as high quality as they could be.


But still it was a bit hard for me to enjoy this (lovely) view because the hike had kicked my a** so thoroughly.


Colton was pleased with this picture in which he looks tiny haha.


Back to the baby discussion… At the clinic where I spend part of my week we have some parents who’ve set up camp in the parking lot! There has had to be some signage created due to their propensity to attack patients hahaha.


See the eggs? (To be clear the nest was not abandoned, mom and dad were just patrolling nearby since it was a warm day and the sun was shining on the eggs) (Also I took these pics VERY rapidly because they started heading toward me looking threatening)


Another baby: my friends’ little girl turned one! They got her a MINI BALL PIT for her birthday party. Here she is breaking it in. I can’t even tell you what it did to my ovaries when all their birthing class friends showed up with their babies and it was just a baby party with babies crawling into ball pits. Too much.


There were grown up drinks πŸ˜€ I will confess that my mimosas are much heavier on the prosecco than the ratio they are suggesting.


They also did a make your own waffle bar and I completely lost control around the nutella. Plus yummy mini quiches!


They made a smash cake for the birthday girl but she wasn’t interested! She just kept dipping the candle in the frosting and then licking it in a very ladylike way. So sweet.


cookin and eatin

My friends made the most AMAZING veggie and red bean curry. You know what made it so amazing? They accidentally doubled the coconut milk the recipe called for😍


We were having a collaborative sort of meal. They had the curry, and I brought wee cornmeal pancakes (which were quite tasty and I have no memory whatsoever of where I got the recipe HAHA OH WELL!) I also brought this tasty creation:


For New Years I made a hippiefied version of the traditional Southern combo of beans+greens+pig which involved

  • Dried mung beans (what I had!)
  • Trader Joe’s vegan chorizo
  • a bunch of collard greens
  • a can of fire roasted tomatoes

And I think very little else. It was REALLY good.

My friends sent me home with leftover curry (yessss!) as well as some homemade bread. You can’t really tell by the picture but Kyle, a man, was in charge of slicing the bread which meant the slices were comically large. I cut them in half and still had a hard time finishing the meal below… one slice with hot curry, one slice with cool avocado. Swoon.


When the curry was gone (boooo) I made another round of avocado toast and then made one with cheddar and a fried egg. Plus a homemade latte on the side. Mm.


I got some gorgeous butter lettuce at the farmer’s market and used it to make these lettuce wraps with a few modifications (used frozen veggie crumbles instead of turkey because the ground turkey was shockingly expensive, used bell pepper instead of cucumber because that’s what I had). They were REALLY good!


Oh yeah that first picture was taken before I remembered to put the nuts on top. I didn’t have peanuts so I used cashews. V good.


Another Thai-ish recipe involved this:


A Christmas gift from my dad. The ingredient list was pretty wholesome but the sodium! Yikes!


Fortunately I bulked it up to quite a few servings so the salt was diluted. Added:

  • Cod
  • bell peppers
  • mushrooms


Overhyped recipes that I found a bit boring:


Ottolenghi’s whole roasted cauliflower was a whole ordeal of time and energy and blanching and butter basting for something that tasted like… roasted cauliflower I could have made in 20 minutes. The tahini herb sauce on the side was legit though. I’d make that again.


And I made The Stew. And thought it was…. too thin and pretty boring! Maybe exciting for someone who’s literally never made anything with curry flavors before?

Anyway, the sweet potatoes below came from a recipe I immediately dog-eared in the latest issue of Eating Well and they were SOOOOOOOO good. Make you some miso maple sweet potatoes. You’ll be happy you did.


Don’t worry I ate more avocado.

A random meal consisting of trader joe’s pumpkin pancakes, two fried eggs, avocado and salsa.


Lunch from monuts… salad, soup (I think it was a chicken lemon orzo kale combo), and their EXCELLENT avocado toast which involves deeply buttery bread, pepitas, and spice.


Baked sweet potato+ seasoned black beans+ avocado+ BIG drenching of Trader Joe’s pepita salsa. Mmm.


Behind the scenes of the blog:


Kitty also was interested in the dinner below which is quite funny since she’s a carnivore and the meal was vegan. Quorn burger+ toast with hummus and zhoug+ kale chips.


Amazing flavors…

whole milk greek yogurt with lemon curd and coconut granola


Buffalo hummus with celery (SO tangy! And it tastes like buffalo wings with bleu cheese dressing even though it is dairy free!)


Cooking for others…

The dietitians in my network who I meet with every few months had a potluck. I made melting potatoes (fine but not extraordinary) and threw together a mung bean dal with fire roasted tomatoes, coconut milk, and spices that ended up being quite tasty!


There were also various Whole Foods salads, and some homemade green bean casserole with a biscuit topping that I COULD NOT STOP EATING. Mmm. And an unpictured dessert section (because really, honest, dietitians like dessert too)


Another night I cooked for a dude. I made my aunt’s uh-mazing salmon.

Briefly…. You pat off a salmon filet with paper towels, then rub absurd amounts of grated ginger into it to make a thick coating over the flesh of the salmon. Then put on an absurd amount of curry powder in a thick coating on top of the ginger. Then heat up a pan til it’s screaming hot, put in some olive oil, and put the salmon in, skin side up (ginger and curry side down). Cook until it releases from the pan, and cook just a few minutes on the skin side. THEN, take the salmon out of the pan, add a bit more olive oil, and dump in some sliced leeks. Cook them til golden and put them on top of the salmon. UGH SO GOOD.


I paired the very excellent salmon with polenta and an arugula salad with Craisins and goat cheese and nuts. QUITE the classy homemade meal.