Thursday, September 21, 2017

Things I Love Thursday // 9.21.17

  • Adulting in Vegas with My Love ~ Greg and I celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss (Yes, every second of it has been "blissful" -HA!) next week. To commemorate, we spent a long weekend in Las Vegas --where we happened to spend our first anniversary as well. Amazingly, our great friends were heading there too for the same weekend and the four of us had a nearly perfect time. We stayed in a beautiful hotel. We ate great meals here, here, and here. We spent lazy days at the pool. And we saw a terrific show. The only reason I would describe it as "nearly" perfect is because I found it impossible to sleep in the first morning --other than that, I'd say it was aces (pun intended). 
  • The Americans ~ We are finally watching The Americans (which has been on FX since 2013 and is in its fifth and final season). Though we're only a few episodes into the first season, I have to say, I'm loving it --and it's not just the rad 80's outfits, sets, and music. The show is about Philip and Elizabeth Jennings who are KGB spies in an arranged marriage, posing as Americans in a suburb of D.C., shortly after Reagan is elected. It has suspense, espionage, and family drama. I'm old enough to vaguely remember what the Cold War felt like and I remember hearing about the possibility of Russian spies living among us, as Americans. If that sounds familiar or interesting to you, this show is definitely worth a shot.
  • Just Between Us ~ The girls and I have been writing back and forth in these journals since 2012. They each have one and we actually don't write to one another very often (which is why we still have plenty of space); however, it has been a great tool, a nice tradition, and as we approach the "middle years," might come into more practice (I hope). They have a new one out now for sisters that I'm considering. 
  • Emily Henderson ~ I follow her on Instagram. I subscribe to her blog. I love her style --and you might too. She mixes vintage with modern and her ideas are very approachable. #swoon
  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home ~ I just finished this novel by Carol Rifka Brunt and it about wrecked me. It's a beautiful story. On her webpage, the author sums it up as, "a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again." 
    {via Amazon}
  • Little Big Meals from The Fresh Market ~ The Fresh Market is like a mini-whole foods that feels less corporate and more "community." It reminds me of the Cosentino's Market in San Jose that I grew up visiting on occasion with my grandmother. Sadly, Cosentino's closed in 2011 after 63 years in business. *sigh* Today, at least we have places like The Fresh Market. The company was founded in North Carolina about 30 years ago and while it has expanded since then, my location in Dilworth (new since 2016), manages to feel small-towny. If you're lucky enough to live near one, I recommend trying a Little Big Meal. They're a great value, so easy to prepare, and also delicious. We enjoyed Sesame Garlic Sirloin Stir Fry with Pork Pot Stickers last night. Next week, they're offering Lettuce Wraps and we will try them too!
    {via Fresh Market}
  • ArtBreak ~ The girls are out of school today and tomorrow. Piper had some plans and Geneva and I found ourselves with a free afternoon. I'd read about ArtBreak months ago and added these monthly offerings to my calendar but hadn't managed to actually go to one. Today was the day! ArtBreaks are free, 30-minute guided tours on the third Thursday of each month at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, and the Mint Museum Uptown. Geneva and I chose the Bechtler and had a great time (we added a walk through The Green and a stop at Amélie's to round out the day). 

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Recipe Review | Plated Roasted Eggplant with Moroccan Lamb and Feta

This week we tried a new recipe from Plated. They describe it perfectly on the recipe card, "In tonight's Moroccan-inspired feast, cinnamon-spiced beef and lamb are folded into a simple tomato sauce with pine nuts, then spooned over silky roasted eggplant with a a balancing garnish of salty feta."
The cinnamon was unexpected and delicious. Plated's description of the eggplant as "silky" is spot-on. If you're not a fan of lamb, an easy substitution would be more beef. We also found the accompanying greens with sumac vinaigrette to be the perfect side because the tangy zip of the dressing balanced so well with the warm creaminess of the main dish. The recipe below incorporates the ingredients and instructions for the side salad. 

We all loved this one!

Roasted Eggplant with Moroccan Lamb and Feta
Recipe is for 2 dinner entrées or 4 lunch servings 
(We double it for a dinner serving for our family of four --which leaves a lunch serving left-over.)
What you need:
2 small/medium eggplants, halved through the stems
6 ounces plum tomatoes, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
5 ounces ground beef
5 ounces ground lamb
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup tomato purée
1 teaspoon sumac
3 ounces spring mix lettuce
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper
What to do:
  1. Roast Eggplant: Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season cut sides of eggplant halves with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place them cut-side down, and roast until skin is charred and flesh is very tender, 18-20 minutes. (Your eggplant is finished roasting when it easily lifts off the foiled baking sheet. If it's sticking, continue roasting another 3-5 minutes.) Gently lift the foil and loosen the eggplant, keeping it intact. Transfer to serving plates, cut-side up.
  2. Sauté Aromatics: While eggplant roasts, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
  3. Brown Beef and Lamb: Add beef and lamb to pan with aromatics, still over medium-high heat. Cook, breaking up meat until browned, 4-5 minutes. Then, stir in pine nuts, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to combine.
  4. Simmer Sauce: Add tomato purée and plum tomatoes to pan with beef and lamb. Increase heat to high and bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until tomatoes are very soft and sauce has thickened, 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together sumac, juice of your halved lemon, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to make dressing. Set aside. 
  5. Plate: Pat lettuce dry with paper towel, add to bowl with dressing, and toss to coat. Divide salad between serving plates with eggplant. Spoon Moroccan lamb over eggplant, garnish with feta, and dig in!

    This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

    Thursday, September 14, 2017

    Things I Love Thursday // 9.14.17

    • The fact that my Florida family is ok ~ Harvey, Irma, José?... So much powerful devastation --it's hard to wrap your head around. It looked, for some time, like Irma was going to roll over Ft. Myers with Category 4 strength. Under mandatory evacuation, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephews relocated to a secured shelter nearby and rode out the storm safely. Returning home yesterday, they found that their house sustained far less damage than many neighbors and so many other Americans. We are all so grateful. 
    • Laughable, Lovable, Longtime-Friends ~ Goodness... Where to begin with the time I was able to spend with one of my closest childhood friends this week? Tiff flew out to NC from California for a business trip and arranged her schedule to rent a car and drive 3 hours south to visit me and spend time getting to know my peeps. We filled 2 days by eating and drinking our way through Charlotte, porch-sitting, laughing, sharing, and catching up --until the wee hours of morning (in the way that's so easy to do with the friends who've known you since you were awkward and pimple-faced). 
    • Laughing gas ~ Geneva had to have four teeth pulled last week in preparation for braces. The kid has never had a cavity and her anxiety about the extractions reached epic levels when we arrived to the dentist's office for her appointment. Honestly, without nitrous oxide, WE never would have made it through the procedure (no they didn't share any with me --and the whole "pulling" part lasted maybe 90 seconds). 
    • Fringe You ~ Oh my goodness! These delightful shoe accessories are so fun! My friend, Dani, introduced me to them and now Geneva and I are fighting over the rose gold and sapphire blue (both paired with white). Cheers to fall, laces, and many more opportunities to sport our #fringe. 
    • Neighborhood Peeps ~ We were delighted to host a small gathering over the holiday weekend and it was a great reminder of the friendships and connection we've made over the past 4+ years in Charlotte. Since our first home in Land Park (Sacramento), Greg and I have been fortunate to live among some of the most engaging, genuine, and friendly people. So much "everyday happiness" is found when you're among good peeps. #SpendTimeInYourFrontYard (or backyard, in this case) 
    • Tiny Desk Concert with Jason Isbell ~ First of all, I just love NPR's Tiny Desk --if you haven't checked any out yet, do so. Greg sent me a link to the recent session with Jason Isbell. We love Jason Isbell and I love this easy performance. I hope you do too. 
    • New patio furniture ~ We are in the process of updating the front and back porches (as I like to do with pillows, seasonally). After 4 years with the wooden rockers, I thought it was time for a bigger change. I look forward to showing you what I'm planning with the fun table/chair sets I recently found. No worries! We are keeping a couple rockers out there --this IS the South. ;) 
    • Geneva's painting ~ If you've been reading along, you might already know that Geneva and I took an amazing painting class with local artist, Heidi Kirschner, to celebrate Geneva's birthday (I blogged about it here). Doesn't Geneva's piece look great in our family room??  

    This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

    Sunday, September 3, 2017

    Queen City | Heidi Kirschner Painting Class

    To celebrate Geneva's birthday this year, Greg and I each planned separate one-on-one "dates" with her. Because she loves to be in the kitchen, I had thought we might take a cooking class together; however, all of the cooking classes in my area require students to be at least 18 years old. Then I remembered the oil on canvas class I took with friends at the studio of local artist, Heidi Kirschner. Heidi was happy to have us.
    We had a lovely date celebrating her birthday together. Geneva was definitely the youngest student in the class but it didn't matter because Heidi is one of those talented people who manages to translate/teach her skill in a totally approachable way. She's relaxed, funny, engaging, encouraging, and so so helpful. The two-hour class flew by and when we were finished we had two complementary canvases that we were both proud to have created. We look forward to more classes together with Heidi. If you're lucky enough to live in Charlotte, DO consider taking a class. Trust me, this is nothing like the "Paint and Sip" acrylic painting class you may have taken before.
    Geneva's piece found a home in our living room shelves.
    This is the piece I painted in my first class with Heidi (2014).

    This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)