Month: May 2014

Not Another Memorial Day Weekend BBQ

This past weekend was the unofficial start to summer, and I was lucky enough to get to spend it with my dad who came down to visit. While in the past Memorial Day Weekend was filled with BBQs, beach time, and pool lounging, I was happy for a change of venue this year. We I made  a very detailed itinerary for the weekend so we could fit in as much as possible in a short few days. Fortunately, the weather cooperated with us and we were able to visit a majority of the places we had planned.

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On Friday, we had a late dinner at Margot Cafe, my absolute favorite restaurant in Nashville. We shared a basil, grapefruit, fennel and anchovy salad appetizer, and I had the soft shell crab special for my entrée. It was the first time I had ever tried soft shell crab, and it was absolutely incredible! It’s meals like these when I get sad that they change their menu daily.

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Saturday morning, my dad and I rented bikes and rode around 12 South, the Gulch, Broadway, and Germantown. In high school, on Sundays when I didn’t have cross country practice, my dad and I would bike along this 10 mile trail near our house, so it was nice to be able to do something similar with him this weekend. We took a lunch break at the Farmer’s Market where he got a BBQ plate and I had crawfish (so southern!) and a cold-pressed juice from Beach Bums. We went back later that day to buy produce that we couldn’t carry while biking, and I bought some of the best peaches and yellow tomatoes I’d ever had! Can’t wait to go there more this summer!

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Later that evening, I took my dad for pre-dinner drinks at Patterson House where I got my favorite drink of all time, the “Juliet and Romeo” which consists of gin, muddled cucumber and mint, and rosewater. My dad got a sweet whiskey drink with a pineapple liquor made in house (I may have had some influence on his drink decision…). Dinner was at Wild Ginger, an Asian fusion restaurant in Franklin. They had the most unique sushi rolls ever – wow! I needed to take 2-3 bites per roll, and they were topped with pesto, various aiolis, balsamic, and other sweet and spicy sauces! My favrite was the Amazon which had asparagus, avocado, ebi, crab, crunch, and was topped with guacamole, dynamite scallop, rice pearl dusted shrimp, alfalfa sprouts. By the end I was a super happy camper in an intense sushi coma.

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Counterclockwise starting from top left: The Amazon (my favorite), Cobra, Water-Lily, October Sky, and lastly, we splurged on key lime pie with a macadamia nut crust

The next morning we got up early to hike at Percy Warner Park. This has been on my personal bucket list for a while, and I can assure y’all I will be back very soon! Despite how confusing it was to find the entrance and our slight “detour” during the hike, I would say it was a success. We brought my friend, Stacey, and my dog, Lilly along for the fun. Little Lilly showed no signs of slowing down, even at the bitter end!

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After the hike, we headed over to 12 South for Burger Up and Jeni’s. To say my dad is a fan of bison burgers would be a huge understatement, and even so, he claimed that Burger Up’s bison burger was by far the best he’d ever had! Success! I opted for their quinoa and black bean veggie burger on top of their beet salad, which included arugula, crushed pistachios, apples, cucumbers, and avocado. Having made veggie burgers myself, I have no idea how they get their veggie burgers so crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but I would LOVE to know their secret (or at least be able to buy them in bulk and freeze them!)

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On actual Memorial Day, we headed to Broadway for some day drinking. Who knew Rippy’s actually had such amazing drinks?! My dad got the Spiked Sweet Tea Lemonade and I had the Yeehaw which had sweet tea vodka, coconut rum, peach schnapps, lemonade and sprite. It had the perfect amount of sweetness and tanginess.

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Before his trip officially came to an end, per his request we went to Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro. I felt like I was on carb-overload from the weekend, so I decided to be adventurous and try a breakfast wrap. I created my own with egg whites, peppers, mushrooms, and salsa. The wrap itself was also so flavorful with lots of herbs baked right in. My dad got the pecan pancakes which were good, but way too sweet for my taste. I prefer the blueberry or peach ones, but I was also excited to discover that there is more to Pancake Pantry than just pancakes! Perfect way to end a wonderful father-daughter weekend adventure!IMG_4440IMG_4439

Hope y’all get to check out some of these places soon! Happy Friday!

 

 

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Ch-ch-ch-chia…

Lately there’s been quite a lot of buzz around chia seeds in the health food community. They are mysterious, nutritious tiny seeds filled with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein that somehow absorb nearly ten times their weight in liquid to form a gel-like consistency. Personally, I love the texture, it’s not quite as solid as Jell-O, but more substantial than pure liquid. It adds thickness to smoothies and juices and can even be placed in water or coconut water for a refreshing post-workout drink. It only takes about 10 minutes for the gel to form in 8 oz of liquid. Some coconut chia water was a great way to end my almost 5 mile walk with Lilly today when we walked around and did shopping in 12th South in Nashville.IMG_3521

Another one of my favorite ways to use chia seeds is to make pudding. It’s a great breakfast, snack, or dessert! I love to make a big batch and store it in a mason jar to eat all week.

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IMG_3518Ingredients
makes 2-3 servings

2 cups almond milk
5-6 tbsp chia seeds (depending on how thick you want it)
Optional: cinnamon, vanilla extract (I bought an amazing one at Savory Spice in Franklin, agave (or your choice sweetener), protein powder (my favorite is Perfect Fit Vanilla)

Directions
1. Put all ingredients except the milk in a mason jar (or air-tight container).
2. Pour in milk and fill to the top.
3. Stir vigorously (you might want to do this in or near the sink because it might get messy).
4. Seal and store in the fridge overnight for the best consistency.
5. Top with fresh fruit, nuts, or extra cinnamon and enjoy!

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Husk: A Twist on Typical Southern Food

A few weeks back my little sister in KD ran the Country Music Half Marathon. Despite battling knee injuries throughout the year, she finished strong and smiling! To celebrate, the family and I went to brunch at Husk, a great Southern restaurant just south of Broadway in Downtown Nashville. But this isn’t your typical grits and fried chicken joint. Husk transforms traditional local southern ingredients into unique dishes. Oh, and did I mention that the menu changes TWICE daily?! This ensures the freshest ingredients are used and keeps things interesting.

 

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In a recent Nashville Scene article, they listed the 12 dishes that define “New Nashville,” which describes the sophisticated shift in the restaurant scene in the last 5-7 years. Their first dish of the magazine piece was the Vegetable Plate at Husk. Of course, being a pescatarian, I was very intrigued, but before you meat-lovers write it off, hear me out. The Vegetable Plate is served on a tree trunk disk, yes you heard me, a big round tree trunk disk. The trunk hosts 4-5 hearty bowls of unique vegetarian-based farm to fork style dishes from local vendors. As I mentioned earlier, this changes twice daily. While, the Vegetable Plate entrée itself is offered daily, the accompanying dishes change. it’s a great way to try to a variety of the chefs’ daily specials at once.

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Before I go into detail about my Vegetable Plate, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing, freshly baked honey sesame rolls served in a mini cast-iron dish – buttery, melt-in-your-mouth kind of good! We also splurged and ordered an appetizer of calas, which are essentially a fusion of rice balls and beignets. The chewy, sticky sweet rice is covered in a light dough and dusted with powdered sugar. Definitely felt like more of a dessert, but hey, sometimes you need dessert first!

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Now onto the main event. My Vegetable Plate consisted of a butter bean and farro succotash, savory tomato basil grits with a perfectly poached egg, sautéed mushroom medley, and pan-fried turnips. My favorite one would have to be the grits. While I’m not usually a grit lover due to the texture, the fresh tomatoes and runny, bright yellow yolk combine to make the ultimate sauce. Next up, the succotash was light yet filling and I absolutely loved the creamy butter beans. Mushrooms are a staple in my diet, so I really enjoyed trying the different varieties, especially the oyster ones! Last, but not least, the turnips were delicious, but nothing special. To borrow the words of a Food Network critic, it did nothing to transform the dish. Nevertheless I left happy and satisfied! Can’t wait to go back again soon.

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Rainbow Salad with Tropical Dressing

The weather has been beautiful here in Nashville lately. Although it was predicted to rain all weekend and into this week, it’s been bright and sunny. I’ve definitely been taking advantage of the sunshine and spending as much time outside as possible. Earlier this afternoon, I was able to take Lilly to the dog park. While she hasn’t quite mastered the “drop it” part of fetch, she certainly seemed to enjoy herself with the infinite tennis balls provided by the park. IMG_3386

Later the heat had me craving a fruity flavored salad for dinner. It turned out so well that I just had to post about it immediately! The dressing I made was UNREAL – definitely a new favorite for the books.

Rainbow Salad with Tropical Dressing

Ingredients
2 cups salad base (I used TJ’s Cruciferous Crunch Collection and spinach)
Sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes (or your choice veggies)
1/2 avocado
Tofu or your choice protein (I used Simply Stace’s spicy tofu! recipe here)
1-2 tbsp peach balsamic vinegar
1-2 tbsp Robert Rothschild Farm Pineapple Coconut Mango Tequila Sauce

Directions
1. Combine salad base, veggies, avocado, and tofu in a large bowl.
2. Mix equal parts balsamic and Pineapple Coconut Mango Tequila Sauce in a small bowl.
3. Pour dressing over salad, toss, and serve immediately.

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Pizza Quinoa Two Ways

Growing up close to New York, great pizza had always been a staple in my diet. With Two Boots pizzeria opening up so close to my apartment, I have to be careful with how often I succumb to the delicious smells of freshly baked pizza. Luckily, I came up with a couple of ways to satisfy the craving.

Pizza Quinoa Bites

adapted from Fit for Success

Ingredients
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 egg
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella (I used TJ’s vegan one)
Asst. spices: fresh or dried basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper

Directions
1. Cook your quinoa according to the directions on the package and preheat the oven to 350.
2. Combine the cooked quinoa with the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
3. Spray the mini muffin tin with cooking spray or olive oil, and fill them with a spoonful of the mixture in each spot.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
5. Serve them with marinara sauce for dipping (I used TJ’s Arrabiata Sauce).

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 Pizza Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients
2 portobello mushroom caps
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
TJ Arrabiata Sauce (or your choice marinara sauce)
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella
Asst. spices: fresh or dried basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper

Directions
1. Cook the quinoa with 1 part quinoa, 2 parts water and lots of fresh basil leaves.
2. Preheat oven to 400. Bake mushroom caps for 10 minutes.
3. When all the water has been absorbed from the quinoa pot, stir in the tomato sauce, cheese, and remainder of the spices.
4. Spoon half of the quinoa mixture onto one mushroom cap, and half on the other. Put a spoonful of more sauce and a sprinkle of additional cheese on each.
5. Broil for 3-5 minutes on high.

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Bonus: World’s Best Broccoli

This broccoli is a great snack or side dish for the recipes listed above.

Ingredients
1 bag pre-cut broccoli florets
~1 tbsp olive oil
Balsamic vinegar spray
Salt/pepper
Lemon

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. In a bowl combine the broccoli, oil, a few sprays of the balsamic, and salt/pepper until all the broccoli is coated.
3. Spread the broccoli out on a foil lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
5. Squeeze lemon juice over broccoli and serve.

 world's best broccoli

Peaster – The Greatest Hybrid Holiday of Jewstianity

Move aside Christmakkah, there’s a new hybrid holiday in town! For all of you Seth Cohen lovers (#tbt to the days of the O.C.), I’m sure you’ve appreciated the miracle of Christmakkah – Santa Yarmukas, Hanukkah bushes, blue and white lights, candy canes, and gelt. This year’s Christmakkah was extra special since I picked out and displayed my very first real tree in my apartment!

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This excitement inspired me to create Peaster, the spring holiday of Jewstianity (see what I did there??) This turned into a weeklong celebration combining the best parts of both Passover and Easter. Monday night of that week I had the pleasure of attending a seder at a close friend’s family friend in a suburb of Nashville. While the seders on campus are great, it was so nice to have that home-y feel for a holiday (not to mention, the food was outrageous!) They even had Kosher for Passover pastries from a Jewish bakery in Chicago with some of the best macaroons I’ve ever had.

That Friday, in the apartment, my roommate and a friend of ours had the ultimate Peaster party. We made Maple Bourbon Scallops with Cauliflower Rice for dinner (see recipe below), watched Rugrats Passover (obviously), exchanged Easter baskets, and ate a ton of Peaster approved treats including starburst jelly beans, bellini flavored gummies, coconut macaroons, Charoset (see recipe below), chocolate covered matzah, and my roommate even bought me a white chocolate bunny and lavender peeps! Finally, we ended the night by tie-dying eggs (also a first for me! – see instructions below).

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Our lovely Peaster spread – the charoset is in the bowl to the left!

Sunday morning my Peaster celebration came full circle when I went to an Easter service for the first time! All in all, I would say that Peaster is by far my new favorite holiday and hope y’all get a chance to have a belated celebration or start planning for next year with the following recipes!

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Recipes

Charoset
Ingredients – serves 2-3, easily can be multipled for larger parties!
1-2 large apples (diced) I used red delicious but feel free to use any
¼ cup of Manaschveitz (Jewish sweet red wine)
½ cup chopped walnuts
1-2 tbsp honey
Generous amounts of cinnamon

Directions
Mix all ingredients and let sit in the fridge for 30min-1hour or up to 24 hours to let the flavors meld together. 


Maple Bourbon Scallops
(adapted from Inspired Bites)
Ingredients
1 package TJ frozen sea scallops (about 20 scallops)
¼ cup Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt/pepper to taste

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients (except the scallops) in a large bowl and mix together thoroughly.
2. Then add the scallops, and let them marinate for 15-30 minutes.
3. Sauté on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes a side or until golden brown on top and opaque on the sides.
4. Pour additional sauce over scallops and serve over spinach and cauliflower rice.

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How To Tie-Dye Eggs

What to Buy
1 can shaving cream
Assorted food coloring
1-2 toothpicks or Q-tips
Eggs (make sure to hard boil them!)
Disposable cookie sheet (or line a non-disposable one with foil)

Instructions
1. Put a thick layer of shaving cream on the cookie sheet.
2. Add a few drops of each color of food coloring
3. Using the toothpicks swirl the colors together until your desired color combination is reached
4. Roll the eggs in the shaving cream mixture and let sit for 15 minutes
5. Rinse off shaving cream and Voila!

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