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So, in case you were wondering….we did get out of work on Friday!!!  I live at the top of a giant hill, which was all ice.  They actually closed the road until Saturday morning because it was so slick.  And since it never rarely snows in Atlanta, there aren’t enough salt trucks to de-ice the non-main roads – they only focus on the highway.  So all the little windy, back roads and neighborhoods were quite treacherous.  I may have exaggerated slightly about being stuck (even though the road was closed, I probably could have made it out the back way.  But I didn’t want to risk wrecking my car).  The three-day weekend was nice!  And I was even a good girl and did a few hours of work from home.

Fado was brave and ventured out into the snow – Project 365 photo 8

The view from my patio

The black ice in the parking lot and the closed street

Anyway…since Atlanta was in a deep freeze this weekend, there wasn’t too much unnecessary venturing outside going on.  We were pretty much holed up all weekend.  But just because we were home, doesn’t mean that we weren’t productive.

Saturday morning someone came by to look at the condo.  This meant that we had to be out of the house at 10:30 a.m.  We decided to head to West Egg for brunch to kill the time.  While we were there, JD, T and I decided that we should cook something really delicious for dinner.  We all voted on osso bucco.  We used a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis**, but of course we tweaked it to our liking.  The recipe called for 6 veal shanks, but we used 3 and then 3 beef short ribs (and thank God we did because the veal at Whole Foods cost a TON of money).

My parents bought us a one of those handy-dandy enamel cast iron dutch ovens for Christmas, so we thought it would be the perfect pot to use for the osso bucco.  The recipe says to cook the dish in the oven, after browning it, for 1.5 hours.  We wanted the meat to be extra tender, so we simmered it on low heat for 3.5 hours on the stove.  It turns out amazingly that way!

The osso bucco over pasta

Since we decided to throw in a few spoonfuls of crushed tomatoes, that left us with a giant can of leftovers.  JD volunteered to make a pomodoro sauce that we could use for dinner on Sunday.  We agreed that it would be a great idea, and decided to make mozzarella stuffed meatballs to eat with it – also another Giada recipe.  Everything turned out great! (FYI – I just made the amatriciana sauce tonight for the leftover meatballs, and it smells amazing!  I did use bacon instead of pancetta though because I already had that here.)

Sunday’s meatball extravaganza

All pretty (and delicious) on the plate

While the food was cooking on Saturday, we convinced T to watch Julie & Julia with us.  Let me tell you guys, the movie is super cute!  I liked it a lot, and it totally inspired me to get my butt in the kitchen and get cooking.  Plus it’s one of those feel good,make you smile kind of movies.

In honor of Julie’s and Julia’s kitchen conquests, I was inspired to get up on Sunday morning and cook a restaurant-style brunch (only there were no mimosas – damn GA and the no selling alcohol on Sunday policy).  I made oven roasted potatoes topped with fresh parsley, rosemary and garlic.  Then (with T’s help) I whipped up eggs benedict.  T made the poached eggs, while I slaved over the hollandaise.  The food was very labor intensive, and I don’t think I’ve ever used so many pots while cooking breakfast, but it was worth it.  It was delicious!  I will definitely make it again sometime soon!

So did you eat or make anything super tasty this weekend?  Did you see any great movies?

**Osso Bucco Recipe (with my edits)

Makes 6 main-course servings

6 1- to 1 1/2 – inch-thick slices veal shank (we do half and half beef short ribs and veal shanks)

2 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1/3 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1-2 tablespoons crushed or stewed (if you want chunks) tomatoes

1 cup dry white wine

About 4 cups chicken broth

1 large sprig of fresh rosemary

1 large sprig of fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

2 whole cloves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Pat the veal dry with paper towels to ensure even browning. Secure the meat to the bone with kitchen twine. Season
the veal with 1 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper. Dredge the veal in flour to coat the cut sides lightly.

In a heavy roasting pan large enough to fit the meat in a single layer (or do 2 batches), heat the oil over a medium heat until hot. Add the meat and cook until brown on both sides, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer the veal to a platen ad reserve.

In the same pan, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until the onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan. Add enough chicken broth to come two thirds of the way up the sides of the meat. Add the herb sprigs, bay leaf, and cloves to the broth mixture. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Once simmering, turn heat to low and simmer 2.5-3 hours, until the meat is fall off the bone tender.

Serve over pasta and top with grated Parmesan and parsley.

Today has been epic for the city of Atlanta – there is snow in the forecast!  It’s so funny living in the South and hearing that it’s going to snow.  People flip out – I can’t make fun of them too much though because I totally get excited for snow like a little kid.  Living in Germany until I was 7 and in New York for 2 years means that I have seen my fair share of snow, but I can’t help how giddy I feel when it happens in Atlanta.  It rarely snows enough to count as “real snow” down here, so it’s extra special when it happens.  There is something so magical about the sparkly white dusting that makes it feel like real winter.

In Atlanta it does get cold – not often, but it does happen from time to time.  Like now.  Yesterday our high was colder than Anchorage, and that’s a pretty big deal for us!  Here, winter usually means cold and rainy, which is no fun.  It makes for the type of chill that sinks into your bones and makes you feel like you will never warm up.  But when it does snow, the one or two times a year, it’s just so pretty.

In honor of the wintery weather, I decided to make a yummy, comforting dinner – steak, mashed potato skins (courtesy of Rachel Ray, with my edits of course), sautéed mushrooms and onions, and wilted spinach.  Everything turned out super delicious, except for the steak.  I bought a bigger piece of meat, and I guess it was a tougher cut.  It was some type of sirloin, which normally I make top sirloin and it’s good, but this was pretty tough.  I was slightly bummed because I was really craving a tasty steak, and it just wasn’t cutting it.  It’s OK though, I just loaded up on extra mashed potatoes (they have cheese AND bacon in them).

After dinner we were planning on heading to a friend’s house to watch the bowl game, but by the time 8:30 rolled around I just wasn’t feeling like going anywhere.  So instead, T and I opted to stay in.  We popped open a bottle of prosecco, and I told him we could watch the game.  He’s as happy as the cat who caught the canary, and I’m all warm and toasty under my new fleecy blanket, lounging on the couch.  The house feels cozy with the Christmas tree all lit up (yes, we still haven’t taken down the tree), and I’m glad to be here.

I’ve got my fingers crossed and am thinking positive, snowy thoughts (à la JD and her new The Secret way of thinking) in the hopes that Atlanta will ice over and shut down tomorrow.  I know I’ve only been back to work for 4 days, but I am ready for a snow day!

Our dinner, with the steak that looked better than it was  😦

A glimpse of the snow outside our condo

The snow looks so pretty (this is also my Project 365 pic for Jan. 7)

Snowing on the patio

**Just heard on the news that the snow is sitting directly over downtown Atlanta and the roads are starting to get slick.  The low tonight is going to be around 18 degrees.  Fingers and toes are double crossed for a snow day tomorrow!

Last night was the start of my birthday weekend celebration.  In honor of me being on this earth for 27 years (ok, 26 and change until Sunday), T took me out to dinner at Woodfire Grill, Kevin’s (from Top Chef Las Vegas) restaurant.  He is our favorite chef on the show, so we were both super excited to eat his creations.  Let me tell you, it was the most amazing meal I have ever eaten.

Everything on the menu sounded great, so we decided to go with the 5-course chef’s tasting menu – so we could sample as much as possible without having to make decisions on what to eat!

Our dining experience began with delicious fall cocktails while we waited for our table.  I chose the Champagne Cocktail, a unique mixture of oregano syrup, dolin blanc vermouth,  lemon juice and marques de gelida cava.  It was such an aromatic drink, with an herby and sweet flavor.  The smell was just as wonderful as the taste – it may be my new not too sweet favorite cocktail, if I can recreate it at home.  T went with the bourbon-based Fall Classic – wathen’s single barrel bourbon, cranberry shrub, bliss maple syrup and orange bitters. soda.  T enjoyed the cocktail a lot.  I thought it was tasty as well, but I’m not much of a bourbon drinker.

After we were seated, we were given an amuse-bouche that was an interpretation of a Waldorf salad.  It was a tiny bite, but that bite packed so much flavor.  It was AMAZING.  We were presented with silver spoons topped with a tarragon cream sauce, an apple and pickled celery.

Our first course offering was a tomato broth, topped with a variety of beans and vegetables that was finished off with a soft poached egg.  My favorite part of the dish was the egg – when you cut into in, even though it was soft-boiled, the yolk stayed together and you were able to scoop up the vegetables and broth with it.

Our next course featured the most perfectly seared scallop I have ever seen with lamb jus and a flavored oil.  The scallop practically melted in your mouth it was so tender!  As we finished, our waiter told us that Kevin was working on a special oyster dish and wanted to know if we were interested in sampling it.  We said yes and were presented with a dish featuring some type of Washington oysters that are grown on a rope.  The oysters were topped with fresh vegetables and a tangy sauce and were sitting on top of a pile of seasoned salt.

Oysters

After we finished the oysters, we received our next course – a quail dish.  The plate featured 2 quail breasts with turnip puree (to DIE for), apples and turnips pieces, and a sauce.  The dish was the perfect combination of sweet and savory, and was a true testament to fall.

quail

Our fourth course was our favorite.  It was a sorghum braised pork belly that was accompanied by homemade sausage and creamed Brussels sprouts.  It was so succulent and flavorful.  I seriously could have died and gone to heaven after the first bite!

pork belly

The meal was rounded out with 2 desserts.  T received a banana cake and I received chocolate crepes with chocolate filling.  Mine even came with a birthday candle! 🙂 Both desserts were rich and delicious, the perfect ending to a wonderful meal.

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On our way out, we saw Kevin in the kitchen.  We stopped by to tell him how much we enjoyed his food and that we were rooting for him on Top Chef.  He was even nice enough to take a picture with us!

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All in all, it was the best pre-birthday dinner I could have hoped for.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of the weekend will be as remarkable! 🙂

** Sorry for the crappy iPhone food pictures.  We felt a little weird busting the real camera out during the meal!**

I’ve been a little slack about cooking since we returned for our Germany trip.  We’ve been eating out a ton and catching up with friends in the process.  This week, I decided to get my butt back into the kitchen.  And I’m so glad I did because we’ve had some awesome dinners this week!

It’s been cool and rainy in Atlanta this week, and Monday it was nasty out.  I decided that it would be a good day to make some soup.  Except I didn’t know where to start.  So I went to my favorite Web site to track down some recipes.  Food Network must have known I was coming, because on the homepage I found a link to 50 easy soup recipes…sweet!

I read through most of them until I found one that jumped out at me.  On page 2, there it was.  Potato Chowder (recipe #16).  I’d never made a potato soup before, so I was a little nervous.  But it was actually really easy to make and souper (haha) tasty.  We added in some cheese and ate a baguette with it, which was perfect for dipping into the soup.

Yesterday I started coming down with a cold, so I was definitely craving some comfort food for dinner.  T suggested we make more potato soup, but I was craving something different.  I always read about how amazing lobster mac and cheese is from other bloggers, so we decided to make some ourselves.

A few weeks ago, Ina Garten had a comfort food episode where she made the lobster mac and it looked amazing.  Since I wasn’t feeling well, T went to the store and bought the ingredients.  Let me just warn you – making lobster mac and cheese is expensive.  T spent $40 alone on the lobster (he was only able to find frozen tails in the store by us, it may be cheaper if you can get a whole lobster).  We thought that the lobster wasn’t indulgent enough, so we fried up some bacon to crumble in it as well.  We made fresh bread crumbs, sprinkled them on top, and baked it all until it was golden brown.

Let me just tell you, that mac was amazing!  It made a pretty large amount, so we have leftovers for tonight!  And it wasn’t really too hard to make.  I’ve never really made homemade mac and cheese, but I think I might start doing it now because it just tastes so damn good!

I wish I had some pictures to show you, but alas I don’t.  So sorry.  I’ll past the recipes below in case you want to try them for yourself, which I highly recommend you do!

Potato Chowder

Sauté 4 ounces chopped bacon; add 2 tablespoons butter, 2 sliced leeks and 2 teaspoons each sage and thyme. Add 4 cups chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups cream, a bay leaf and 3 chopped potatoes. Simmer until tender; top with chives.

I also added 3 cloves of garlic and topped it with a handful of cheddar cheese.  I simmered it for about 30 minutes  – it cut the potato chunks pretty small so they would cook faster.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

nocoupons

  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound cavatappi or elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

I am not originally from the South, so sometimes I don’t understand people’s love for real Southern cooking.  I don’t like greens.  I wouldn’t eat pinto beans, butter beans or okra as a side dish.  Salty cornbread with cracklin (aka pig fat) seriously grosses me out.  I’m not averse to eating all types of Southern cuisine though.  I do love biscuits, fried chicken and catfish,  and BBQ.  I wasn’t always a fan of grits growing up, but the older I get, the more I came to love some oey-goey, cheesy grits.

Living in the South for a majority of my life means that sometimes I’ve heard of dishes that have sounded intriguing, but I never tried them for whatever reason.  Rewind to last year when I was on a media trip to South Carolina and we had a dish known as shrimp and grits for dinner.  At first I was a bit weirded out.  Grits are a breakfast food, why are we having them for dinner?  But I stopped myself from over thinking it.  I like shrimp.  I like grits.  There should be no reason I don’t like them together.  Well, like them I did.  They were delicious!

So, yesterday I was sitting at work and the ever present question “What are we having for dinner?” came to me.  I was stumped.  I asked T if he had any ideas, and he had nothing.  I twiddled my thumbs a bit, then it hit me.  I would make shrimp and grits.  And it would be amazing.  And let me tell you readers, it was!  I try not to brag, but I will toot my own horn when it comes to cooking (you should have tried the mushroom risotto I made Sunday night – ballin’!)

I began scouring Food Network for some recipes, and I found a couple that I liked.  But not one I wanted to follow completely.  I decided to use the recipe from the competitor on Throwdown with Bobby Flay: Shrimp and Grits.  He was a real down home Georgia boy, who looked like he knew how to make shrimp and grits.

I pretty much used his recipe as a guide.  I’m not one for measuring things when I cook, unless it’s a larger amount of liquid.  I like to season to my tastes and rarely follow recipes to the T.  I liked his basic recipe, but added in some bacon instead of ham and added onions to the garlic that would be used to saute the shrimp and for the sauce to top it all off.  I’m glad I did that because those shrimp and grits were better than any I’ve ever had in a restaurant (a lot of times I find the grits bland and there aren’t enough shrimp.)  T raved about the dish for the rest of the night, which made me happy.

So if any of you feel adventurous, here is the recipe including the tweaks I made:

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp:

  • 26-30 count shrimp (I used frozen ones, that I peeled completely)
  • 2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning – it is the best ever and good on so many things!
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Grits:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes (or powdered bouillon)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup quick grits
  • 3/4 cup half and half (you can use heavy or regular whipping cream, but I was trying to save some calories)
  • 3 1/2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar (I didn’t really measure, I just put in a ton of cheese because I love it – you can do more or less)

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter (use less if you use the bacon grease)
  • drippings from the bacon (you can skip this part and just use the butter)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup half and half (you can use heavy or regular whipping cream)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 8 slices of your favorite bacon (I used thick center cut)

Directions

First, peel and devein the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine Cajun seasoning, paprika, Italian seasoning and pepper, to taste (you don’t need extra salt because the Cajun seasoning has salt in it).  Sprinkle the spice mixture over the shrimp to coat well and set aside.

Next, make your grits. In a medium saucepan, bring water, chicken bouillon and 2 tablespoons butter to a boil. Slowly add the grits, whisking often with wire whisk for 5 minutes. Add cream, and cheese. Keep whisking for another 2 or 3 minutes until the grits become creamy. I added a few more splashes of cream so they’d be extra smooth.

Chop up your bacon into pieces, then fry in a skillet.  Once done, set the bacon aside to drain.  Add in the onions and garlic, and saute in the bacon grease for about a minute.  I also added in a little bit of butter to keep the onions  and garlic from burning.  Add in the shrimp and saute them until they are cooked through.   Make sure you don’t overcook them because they’ll get rubbery. Remove only the shrimp from the saute pan and set them aside in a bowl.

Make a roux from the shrimp drippings that contain the onions and garlic.  Add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to the pan and stir with a wooden spatula to make a roux.  Cook for 5-10 minutes until roux reaches a medium-tan color, then slowly add the chicken stock and cream. Whisk together and cook for 2 minutes, then whisk in Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.  I let it cook a few minutes more so the sauce would thicken up a bit.  Salt and pepper it to taste.

To serve, place a  grits into a bowl, top with a lot of shrimp, drizzle with the sauce, and top of with crisp bacon pieces.

It’s not very healthy, but it is damn good!  Next time I may only use a little of the bacon grease.

Shrimp and gritsThis is not the best picture ever, since it’s my leftovers in a Tupperware for lunch.  But I forgot to take a picture of it last night because I was so excited to try it!

This week I did what all good German-American citizens do –  I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day like I was a full blooded Irish chick.

We started celebrating our Irish heritage on Saturday.  We hit up Fado (yes, this is what my cat is named after) for Irish breakfasts and Guinness around 12:30, then hung out for a little while.   Irish breakfast is seriously addicting, but at the same time a major meat overload.  You can literally feel your cholesterol climbing as you chow down.  But it’s so good, and salty. Yum!

Afterward we headed over to a another little Irish bar for a special St. Patty’s festival.  It was supposed to feature live bands and drinks outside, but of course it was 50 something degrees and raining so the outside portion was canceled.  We did manage to arrive early enough so that the inside areas weren’t completely filled up.  We hung out for a few hours, and checked out some of the bands who were playing inside.  There were beer pong and flip cup tables downstairs, so our group played a few rounds.  Around 9:30, T and I decided we were tired and done partying so we went home.  I think we were asleep before 11!  We just can’t party like we used to!

Sunday we busted out our Irish cooking skills and whipped up some very delicious corned beef and cabbage.  We had planned to use the crock-pot to allow the meat to simmer all day, but of course there was a broken piece on it when we took it out of the box.  We didn’t want to venture out into the cold and rain to replace it, so we opted to use the stove instead.  Let me tell you, everything turned out wonderfully.  We used this recipe and beef stock instead of water to give it more flavor.  We also added a couple of extra cups of stock and one of water to make sure the meat was completely covered so it would all be tender.  It was almost like a soup, but it tasted amazing!  The meat was super tender and the brother was killer.  Add in the veggies (we used carrots, celery, potatoes and cabbage), and we were completely happy campers!

Yesterday T and I (and JD and Little S) skipped out of work to celebrate St. Patty’s once more.  The weather was amazing – 75 and sunny – so it was hard to justify going to work.  We arrived a little after noon, so we were able to get in free.  The weather was seriously perfect.  It was warm yet breezy and super sunny.  We ate lunch then hung out outside to listen to the bands and enjoy some beer.  We ended up heading home a little after 4 before we went bankrupt buying beer (they were $9 a pop, even crappy beer was $6 a bottle).  Since it was so nice out, we decided to grill out and enjoy the rest of the day.

Taking off yesterday was amazing! I needed a little break from the monotony of work.

So, how did you celebrate everyone’s favorite Irish holiday?

So, I’ve been on this major cooking kick for the past few days.  Maybe it was because I felt like we were in a food slump, constantly eating the same things whether we were making them or going out to eat them.  So, I’ve started actively searching out new recipes.

Yesterday towards the end of work, I hit up Food Network to see what I could find.  Being that it was a weekday, I started looking at some of Rachel Ray’s top 30 Minute Meals recipes.  I’ve always liked every one of her recipes I’ve tried, plus I love the idea of them taking only 30 minutes.  Even though they never really do.  Maybe if I had some help, it would be different.  But who knows.

I stumbled across these two dishes that looked marvelous and pretty simple, so I thought why the hell not.  In the end it took me a little over an hour from start to finish with all of the chopping and actual cooking time, but it was well worth it.  The Chicken with Spinach, Feta and Sun Dried Tomatoes in Phyllo cups was amazing, and so was the Chic Greek Salad.  Even though I forgot to add the red pepper in, and I left out the tuna.  Since I have red pepper left, I will make some fajitas tonight.  Yummy!

For your drooling pleasure…

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Isn’t this the prettiest looking salad you have ever seen?  And it tastes amazing!

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The delicious chicken mixture in my handmade phyllo cups.

Sorry all of my pictures are off of my phone, but I can’t find the cord for my camera and my SD slot in my computer isn’t working anymore for some strange reason.  For now this will have to do! 🙂

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I’m not letting the recession stop me, because I am single-handedly trying to keep the economy running by constantly spending money (haha, ok not really).  I signed up for Netflix the other day, and I can’t wait to get our first movie.  I think it’s supposed to arrive today.  Fingers crossed, because I really want to watch it tonight.  It’s the Korean film that The Uninvited is based on.

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I did some online shopping at Target the other day because I wanted something cute to wear out for our Valentine’s Dinner.  So I ended up ordering 2 different black dresses and Pineapple Express for T as a V-day present because he’s been dying to see it ever since it came out.  I hope the dresses fit me.  I hate ordering online since I am fairly chesty (not that I’m complaining) and never know what size to get to fit the twins.  Sigh…

This weekend was one of those where you crammed in a whole bunch of stuff that you don’t normally do, and it was awesome.  I had so much fun, I didn’t want it to end yesterday.

Friday night, T and I decided to have a dinner and a movie date.  We found a theater in Atlanta that served food and drinks, so we opted to go there.  It was really nice, much nicer than I had expected.  The theater had recently been converted to a dinner theater, so everything was nice and new.  The prices for food and drinks were very reasonable, much more reasonable than going to a normal movie theater and spending $14 on popcorn and a drink.

We decided to see The Uninvited since we are both scary/suspense movie fans.  Let me tell you, it was an awesome movie!  We couldn’t stop talking about it after we’d left the theater.  If you want to see a really great movie, I totally recommend it.  It’s one of the better scary films I’ve seen lately.  A lot of the scary films that are released these days are more of a let down/cheesey than a good watch.

After the movie, we met up with a bunch of friends for bowling.  I always forget how much I like to bowl, until I do it.  It’s been months since I’ve last bowled, and even though we only got to play one game (we had 8 people in our lane – one game took 1.5 hours), we had a lot of fun.  I even broke 100!  Normally it takes me a a warm up game to score that high.

Saturday was a day filled with culinary mastery!  I’d seen a really great recipe for soup and paninis on Tyler’s Ultimate, so T and I decided we would make them ourselves.  We went to Whole Foods and spent a small fortune bought the ingredients for our meal, then headed home to cook up some delicious lunch.  We made his Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup and Mozzarella Grilled Cheese, and they were so good!  The soup was a twist on chicken noodle, and it used cheese tortellini and chicken meatballs.  The sandwiches used fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and homemade pesto.  It was our first time ever making pesto, and it turned out well (go T!).

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I just read a review that stated the recipe for the chicken meatballs left out the breadcrumbs.  Haha, no wonder I had some trouble getting them to stick together.  They were more like blobs than balls, but they still tasted amazing!  See the chicken blobs in the soup?

Saturday night, we got a big group together to do Korean Karaoke.  If you have never done this before, it is one of the best ways to karaoke, especially if you are shy about singing in front of strangers.  Basically, you rent out a room with friends and have your very own karaoke show.  You get to pick the songs, and a lot of the rooms have special added features like disco balls and colored lights that start up every time you start singing a song.  It’s hilarious, especially when you pick weird ass songs that everyone knows but is sometimes embarrassed to say they like.  We ended up singing for about 3 hours.  I’m seriously surprised that I had a voice yesterday!

Sunday T and I branched out and went to the ballet to see Dracula.  I love the movie, so I thought the ballet would be a fun way to experience the story.  It was cool, even though I got a little tired of the gratuitous dancing scenes.  I know it’s supposed to be about dancing, but there was this one tea party scene where the story basically stopped and everyone just danced for like 15 minutes.  We both enjoyed ourselves, even though T had a hard time not cracking up during some of the acts.  Some parts featuring Dracula and the other male characters were really sexual and slightly bizarre, and I could hear him fighting back laughter.

Sunday night, we busted out some more of our culinary skills and made Roast Leg of Lamb with Dark Beer, Honey and Thyme for dinner.  Apparently this was a Tyler Florence weekend since this was another one of his recipes.  We were a little nervous about preparing lamb since neither one of us had done it before, but it turned out well.  The sauce was a little sweet, so next time we’ll probably use a little less honey.  We roasted asparagus and made garlic mashed potatoes with it.  We still have a ton of lamb left, so we’ll be having it for dinner again.

So, how was your weekend?  Did you do anything exciting or different? 🙂

Sorry to leave all of you guys without any glorious readings for the past few days.  I’ve been super busy at work, helping my boss with something while she’s been out of town.  Then once I get home, I’m just a lump on the couch until bed time.  It’s been freezing out, and I’m exhausted.   I know, sometimes I lead a super exciting life!

Last night I decided to try a new recipe for dinner that I saw on the lid of my feta cheese container.  It’s called Chicken Feta Pizza.  It’s a fairly simple recipe that uses pre-cooked chicken strips, garlic and herb feta, a pizza crust, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes.  The recipe sounded good enough on its own, but I decided to spice it up a little.

First of all, the pizza was sauceless.  I was a little worried that it would end up being dry in the end if there was no sauce, but I didn’t even notice after I chomped in to the finished product.  The recipe said you needed to brush the crust with some olive oil.  I kicked it up a notch (sorry Emeril for stealing your lingo) and added some garlic paste to the oil before brushing it on my crust.  This was a good idea.

I love cheese and chicken, but I thought the pizza needed some veggies as well.  So I decided to wilt some fresh spinach to top it with.  Then for kicks, I added black olives and mushrooms because I love them so much.  I finished the bad boy with the feta, mozzarella and some Parmesan cheeses and popped it into the oven on my pizza stone for 12 minutes.

The result, mouth-watering amazingness.  Want to see?

pizza Mmm, nom noms!

The best part is that I still have 2 slices left over for lunch today and the remaining pizza ingredients to make a yummy spinach salad for lunch tomorrow.  Yeah I know, I rock! 😉

When you cook something (new), do you follow the recipe to a T?  Or do you use it for inspiration then just do your own thing?

I tend to be a “use it for inspiration” type of girl myself.  So far it’s always ended well, so I think I’ll stick to it! 🙂

Tuesday after work Little S invited me over to her house to hang out and have dinner.  I almost said no because T was getting back into town, but I hadn’t been to her new house in months.  Plus I wanted to see all of the improvements she’d done and her new furniture.  She lives about 10 minutes from where I work, so I just zipped over once I got off.

We decided to make an original creation for dinner.  We chose bow-tie pasta with mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus and shrimp in a homemade fra diavolo sauce.  We just made it up as we went along, but damn was it tasty.  And really simple to make.  We just sauteed the veggies then the shrimp in olive oil and garlic.  For the sauce, we sauteed some garlic and crushed red pepper flakes in olive oil, then added some dried Italian seasoning and white wine.  Once the wine cooked off, we added a large can of crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper, more Italian seasoning then about half a cup of chicken stock to thin it out.  We mixed the shrimp, veggies, sauce and pasta together and ended up with the most awesome pasta ever!

We enjoyed a few varieties of pinot grigio with our dinner over laughs and boy talk.  Once we finished eating and were feeling a little tipsy, we decided we would starts smelling our wine and try to guess the different aromatics.  Here we were, sitting at her dining room table, swirling our wines and sticking our noses into the glasses, trying to guess the different essences.  We must have looked like total tool bags!

After that special activity, I decided I probably shouldn’t drive the 20 minutes back home and should just crash at her house.  Unfortunately she is about 4 inches shorter and 4-5 sizes smaller than me, so I couldn’t borrow her clothes.  Normally at work I wear jeans and a cute top.  But on Tuesday I was dressed up for a client meeting, so it would be way too obvious if I wore the same clothes Wednesday.  We decided we needed a little more wine, since one and a half bottles wasn’t quite enough, so we headed around the corner to Walmart.

We rolled into Walmart like drowned rats because it started pouring right as we got into the car.  I looked especially cool in Adidas pants that were too short, a small T-shirt and flip flops.  While we were there, I was able to buy a toothbrush and an outfit for work the next day (which I got a compliment on from my co-worker).  Of course we picked up some more wine so we could go back home and play Rock Band.  We stayed up till 1:30 a.m. rocking out.  Let me tell you, Wednesday was no fun.  But it was awesome to get to work in 10 minutes.

Another reason why Little S rocks my socks off is beacuse she bought us a flatscreen TV for our bedroom last night – we are paying her back for it.  There was a huge sale at HH Gregg, and she was going to buy a new TV for herself before the sale ended.  I jokingly asked her to pick us up one while she was there, and she said yes.  So now we have a lovely new 32 inch LCD TV for our bedroom that we got for a steal!  The one we originally wanted was out of stock, but she was able to get us a different one for the same price!  Woot!

Now we just have to get someone to install cable in our bedroom…

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