Stock up. Summer Starts Now

2 Jun



The weekend is already feeling distant at this point in the day on a Monday afternoon but the start of the summer felt great while it lasted. I spent my weekend drinking wine (obviously), doing some cooking and taking paddle boarding lessons! Just when you think there is nothing new to do in the area, you stumble on a unique adventure that changes all perceptions. Check out SUP Paddle Boarding lessons with Soraya! It couldn’t have been more fun.

With lots of t time seeking adventure, I love an appetizer that take almost zero time. A sweet peppadew pepper stuffed with salami and parmesan cheese was suggested on a couple weekends ago. It’s a charming bite sized appetizer that is a punch of color and flavor. Just like all things summer should be. Stock up on staples and you’ll always have time to host.


Easy Grilled Bulgogi

1 Jun



This is a Mark Bittman recipe, so it really needs no explanation. I’m not sure I would have attempted making my own Korean bulgogi with out the simplicity of this recipe. It takes practically no time, it’s uniquely seasoned and requires no unusually special ingredients. This paired very well with other small dishes and lots of wine. I’d even recommend a double batch, it didn’t last very long!

Beef Bulgogi

1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped

8 or more garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon sugar or honey

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 pounds sirloin, rib-eye or skirt steak, thinly sliced, or 3 to 4 pounds beef short ribs, boned and thinly sliced

Boston or loose-leaf lettuce leaves for serving

Siracha, for serving.

Make a marinade by blending together the first six ingredients. Slice the steak and marinate for just two hours. Using a hot grill, grill slices very quickly to sear the beef but not over cook. Serve in lettuce leaves with siracha!

Blackberry Cheesecake

30 May


The last couple of weeks, I’ve had some serious challenges with baking. I tend not to have the necessary patience for measuring. I’m always cutting a few corners or rushing the baking process. It works with some things in life but certainly not all! Cheesecakes tend to have a little more room for error, so I chose the Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Cheesecake for my party dessert this past weekend. It’s berry season, so you could just whatever your favorite is.

This is an easy, carefree recipe and it’s so darn good. Happy weekend!

Sesame Noodles with Grilled Shrimp

29 May



There is something super relaxing about making dishes in the morning in your bathrobe. I highly suggest espresso and loud music to compliment. Last Saturday I prepped almost the entire meal at 8 o’clock in the morning. It left my Saturday open to so anything I wanted – and be ready for a crowd for dinner. These spicy sesame noodles were perfect for advance preparation. I recommend making them in advance to allow the flavors to fill in. And, take them out of the fridge before serving. They are better at room temperature.

These noodles would also be perfect for a picnic! And, grilled shrimp cook in no time with a friend and a glass of rose. Cheers!

Spicy Sesame Noodles with Grilled Shrimp
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon (or more) hot chili oil*
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh Chinese egg noodles or fresh angel hair pasta
12 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh Thai basil leaves

Sautee ginger and garlic in peanut oil until toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and combine with sesame oil, soy, balsamic, sugar, hot chili oil and salt. Boil pasta, drain and toss immediately into sauce. Do this in advance and allow to soak up all the flavors. Before serving, add green onions, peanuts and thai basil.

For the shrimp

Season shrimp with a drizzle of sesame oil, salt and pepper. Cook until perfectly pink.

Memorial Day Weekend Rose Wine Party

27 May


My peonies bloomed this Memorial Day weekend along with a truck load of pollen from my backyard pecan tree. Life seems to act that way often – a couple beautiful blooms in the midst of a lot of mess. In honor of all that is good, I had friends over for a dinner party in the garden with pink peonies and pink wine. I prepared a pan-Asian menu with grilled shrimp and steak plus lots of fresh herbs. A fresh blackberry cheesecake was a decadent end to a long night of laughter and toasts. I hope you had some nice blooms this weekend soon.

A fair warning – Rose wine is very romantic until it isn’t. Nothing like a sandpaper mouth hangover the next day. I’ll post the recipes this week.

Memorial Day Weekend Rose Party

  • Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls
  • Spicy Sesame Noodles
  • Grilled Shrimp
  • Grilled Beef Bulgogi
  • Blackberry Cheesecake
  • way too much rose





Chipotle Honey Pork Tenderloin Tacos

19 May





I don’t know about you, but I’ve been eating a lot of lunches at local taco trucks lately. There isn’t much more fun on a weekday than meeting friends in Center City Park for lunch and grabbing an Asian style taco from Bandito Burrito. So, I decided to take the idea back home and create my own spin on the taco with pork tenderloin.

Pork tenderloin is perfect for a long marinade and a short grill. It is tender and take on just about any flavor – from Vietnamese spices, a BBQ rub or a twist on Mexican with chipotles, lime and local honey. After a beautiful Sunday spent hiking in Hanging Rock, I was ready for a casual supper in the backyard with a beer and the dog. I marinated the pork in the morning, hiked the mountain, saw a waterfall and whipped up Sunday supper with just a short grill and a couple fresh ingredients.

Nothing beats fresh sautéed corn this time of year. So, make sure not to skip it. These tacos are tangy, spicy and sweet – absolutely perfect for summer suppers. Is it really only Monday?

Chipotle Honey Pork Tenderloin 

  • 2 whole pork tenderloin, about 2 pounds in the package
    2 tsp lime zest
    1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
    1/2 cup honey
    3 tsp kosher salt
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    3 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce

In a food processor, blend together lime zest, lime juice, honey, garlic, chipotle peppers and salt. Pour over pork tenderloin and refrigerate/marinate for 8 to 12 hours. When ready to grill, prep your grill to medium high heat. Grill tenderloin covered until 140 to 150 degrees, turning occasionally for great grill marks and char. Slice pork thinly on an angle for tacos with all the fixings.

Taco Sides:

  • good quality tortillas, toasted
  • fresh corn, sautéed in olive oil, salt and pepper
  • fresh sliced tomato
  • fresh sliced avocado
  • cilantro
  • hot sauce

This pork post is a part of a series with the North Carolina Pork Council’s Blogging Network.

Sweet Pea Crostini with Proscuitto

15 May


I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything less than perfect about crostini. They are versatile and perfect for a meal or a snack. And, nothing beats a nice piece of toasted bread. This combination is unusual, beautifully green and perfect for Springtime. It might scare the average Joe with it’s color but it won’t disappoint with flavor. Try it. I promise.

Sweet Pea Topping

  • About 2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • small handful of basil
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Pulse everything together into a nice chunky paste. Taste for seasoning.


  • good crusty bread
  • more olive oil
  • prosciutto

Slice the bread into thick pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Broil until toasted. Top with pea mixture, a slice of prosciutto and more pepper. And, a splash of lemon olive oil, if you have it.

Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad

13 May


The best thing about the arrival of grilling season is saying farewell to some dish washing. I use the grill as an excuse to not use the stove top or clean my cast iron pan. And, grilling is a lot of fun, a nice way to spend time in the garden and add a great flavor to meals. This Sunday I prepared a simple meal of Blackened Salmon on the grill, Caesar salad and a Sweet Pea and Prosciutto Crostini. Oh, and single barrel bourbon vanilla ice cream that will change your world.

I’m a big fan of my friends at Savory Spice Shop at Friendly Center. Not only are they super knowledgeable about spices and blends – they sell great fresh spices that can make a big difference in your cooking. Since I discovered them, I’ve dressed up all kinds of dishes from simple oven fries to dry rubs for all kinds of meats. I made up this spice mixture for salmon and it was a great flavor addition and formed a lovely crust on the salmon.

This is a very quick and healthy dinner for a weekend or weeknight! Fire up the grill!

Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad

Homemade Blackening Season Rub

  • 1 heaping tablespoon sweet & spicy paprika
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon leaf thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Caesar Dressing:

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 anchovy filets, minced and smashed into a paste
  • 3-4 splashes worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the rub my mixing all spices. Graciously coat the salmon. Grill to your desired temperature. Mix a salad of greens (I love torn romaine lettuce), cucumber, tomatoes and anything else you like. Top with salmon and serve with a piece of great bread.



Spring Pea and Parmesan Twice Baked Potatoes

11 May



Nothing says spring like bright green sweet peas. I’m sneaking these little guys into lots of meals. Pasta with salmon or bacon, on crostini (coming soon) and even into these most dense and decadent twice baked potatoes. They were the perfect side for a grill party. Make them in advance and just warm during cocktail hour. I can see these on your Father’s Day menu this summer!

Spring Pea and Parmesan Twice Baked Potatoes

  • Baking potatoes
  • Scallions
  • parmesan
  • Frozen peas
  • sour cream
  • salt and pepper

Prick the the potatoes with a fork and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 under tender. Allow to cool and carefully scoop out the potato (leaving the skin in place). Combine potato with sour cream, Parmesan cheese, scallions, frozen peas and salt and pepper. This is all up to your taste.

Refrigerate until about thirty minutes before you’re ready to serve. Return to the 350 oven until hot.



Grilled Steaks with Stilton and Fried Shallots

8 May


Preparing a birthday dinner is always fun. And with a group of men, it can be very simple. I made fancy steaks and twice baked potatoes. This combination is over the top and only fit for your best friend’s birthday.

Grilled Steaks with Stilton and Fried Shallots

  • Your favorite cut of steak (I used NY Strip)
  • A nice piece of stilton

Grill the steaks to your desired temperature. Right before they are done, top with slices of stilton and allow to melt. Top with fried shallots.

Fried Shallots:

  • 2 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large shallots)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 cups canola oil

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high until it registers 300°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Mix shallots with flour and cornstarch. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until light golden brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.



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