Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Point Launches 12 Days of Christmas Contest for Local News Readers



The Point, a weekday newsletter service that delivers a quick morning read of the things you need to know to get your day started in the Triangle (current events, politics, sports, weather and local entertainment), is kicking off a 12-day contest on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, awarding readers with truly local gifts and experiences - and a new chance to win each day.

Contest prizes include local coffee shop gift cards, apparel from local brands and retailers, and even concert tickets. Prizes will be announced each weekday in the morning newsletter sent to subscribers and readers will have until 11:59 p.m. to register at the unique link provided to win.

To get in on the first day of reader giveaways - and to get a reminder for each of the following 11 prizes - register at http://www.ReadThePoint.com to receive The Point direct to your email inbox on Monday morning.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Raleigh Rotaract to Host Charity Beer Dinner

Raleigh people - I hope you'll join me for a great beer dinner on Thursday, Dec. 11!



The Rotaract Club of Raleigh has announced its inaugural Fall Charity Beer Dinner to take place on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m., at Backyard Bistro restaurant in Raleigh, NC.

The event features five food courses, designed by Chef Joe Lumbrazo (executive chef and owner, Backyard Bistro), that are each complemented by beer pairings donated by Raleigh’s own Big Boss Brewing and Lonerider Brewing companies.

Raleigh is certainly no stranger to beer dinners, but the charity format is one not often seen. Of the $50.00 ticket price, nearly half of the money raised on ticket sales alone will go directly to this year’s designated charity: camper’s scholarships at Camp Mondamin in Zirconia, NC. This year’s beneficiary was selected in memory for local Rotarian Simon Everett, who died in an accident while working as a camp counselor at Mondamin this past summer. Everett donated his counselor salary to fund campers' scholarships each summer and Raleigh Rotaract plans to pay that commitment forward with the proceeds from this event.

In addition to ticket sales, silent auction items will be available for bidding on during the event, including food and beverage experiences, gift certificates to local businesses, and sporting event tickets - all great ways to beat the shopping lines at the mall this holiday season while supporting a great cause.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/raleigh-rotaract-2014-charity-beer-dinner-tickets-13465649119 or RaleighRotaract.org. Discounts are available for tables of four - so plan to attend with friends, because more is truly merrier at this event.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Manfriend Approved: Updated Shepherd's Pie

There was nothing meatless about Monday dinner last night, but it was the first time in many weeks that Johnnie Bud and I have been able to have a real dinner at home together, so I felt compelled to surprise him with something he had recently pointed out as looking tasty: Kraft's Updated Shepherd's Pie.

Kraft Recipes Shepherd's Pie
Image and recipe via KraftRecipes.com

I made very little modifications to this recipe - I left the skin on the potatoes and added a bit of the beef broth to the potatoes. (The ketchup probably could have been left out entirely as the broth provides a good deal of seasoning to the meat and vegetables.)

As a vegetarian, I obviously didn't indulge in this comfort food dish with the manfriend, but he enjoyed it so much he's planning on having leftovers tonight for dinner - and this is a man who rarely does leftovers.

One of the best parts about this recipe is the ease! While the potatoes were boiling, I browned the beef and the frozen vegetables went right from bag to the saute pan before baking - and then the whole thing went right in the oven alongside carrots I had quickly cut, tossed in EVOO, salt and pepper, and put in a roasting dish.

This dish could have easily served a whole family. Johnnie Bud's two servings at dinner last night barely made a dent in the casserole dish we baked it in.

Not too bad for a Monday, friends! Enjoy.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Life Experiment: Humdinger Juice Three-Day Cleanse



The background: My manfriend won a three-day Humdinger Juice cleanse for me at the Rex Gala a few weekends ago. I really like cold-pressed juice and have earmarked November to get a little bit healthy and in-shape before the holidays, so the timing worked out well. I ordered the three-day cleanse online, set Sunday as my delivery date so I could start today (Monday), and the nice guy from Humdinger showed up at my house yesterday and walked me through the pacing of the 18 bottles of juice. The retail price is $144 for the three-day cleanse. The manfriend, Johnnie Bud, conveniently left this morning for a three-day work stint in Wilmington and Fayetteville. A few friends told him that crankiness would ensue without carbs... we'll see. :-)

My goals: I haven't set any in particular, but last month I got a little irritable with myself about how I looked in a bathing suit this past summer, so I decided to commit November and December to getting back into the gym more regularly and keeping a keener eye on what I'm eating. If I lose a few pounds during this, great -- but the numbers on the scale don't bother me nearly as much as being constantly tired and "less than tone" in my midsection.



Day 1: Ok y'all - it's Day 1, Juice 1. As I said earlier, I already liked juice before this and I especially like the green ones with leafy vegetables and apples. Great start to the day. Drank it in no time... it's now 11 a.m. and I'm a little hungry so going for the next bottle of juice. (PS: We had Salsa Verde Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas for dinner last night... had to go big before going clean for three days.)

I'm on my second bottle of the day - "Glow", made of pineapple, apple, water, lime and mint - and it reminds me of a craft cocktail... minus the booze. Yum. Nicely tart. I still want a sandwich for lunch though :-) (And can't believe I scheduled Day 1 of my cleanse on National Sandwich Day. Fail.)

I was super hungry at 2:30 p.m. so I went for my third bottle of the day at 3 p.m. - "lift", made from carrot, water, beet, apple, lemon, ginger. It's got a bit of bite to it from the ginger, and that's awesome. I'm wearing a white shirt today, so I'm drinking very, very carefully. I definitely still feel "hungry" though.

I got home from work around 5:45 p.m. and as I fed my dogs dinner, I was opening my fourth juice of the day - a repeat of of the first bottle of the day - "balance", which included celery, kale, spinach and more. It wasn't as good as this morning because I forgot that the top shelf of my fridge tends to freeze the very top of things and as I've been told by friends who juice, "it doesn't freeze well". It definitely lacked some of the flavor. But no big deal. At this point I also had two slices of dried peaches and a handful of multigrain chips because I'd had a bit of a headache all day and wanted to go to yoga with more than juice on my stomach. (Yup, already fell off the wagon. Sigh.)

For scientific reporting purposes, I weighed in at the gym at 115.4. We'll see if that fluctuates at all during this three-day cleanse.

When I got home from yoga, the headache was gone and I did two more juices before crawling into bed to write this recap - the "glow" and the only "calm" of the day, which was distinctly different because it's made from cashews, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. It definitely has a "milky texture", but is dairy free. Not a bad end to the day, but certainly a departure from the five previous juices. I also don't feel hungry at this point! Good night, y'all - can't wait to see how I feel on day two.

Day 2: I'm on my first juice of the day - a little behind schedule, but not feeling super hungry, either. I'm repeating the schedule of juices (Balance - Glow - Lift - Balance - Glow - Calm) for the entire three-day cleanse, so I'm going to try to get the Glow in during the 11 a.m. hour and the Lift around 12:30 p.m. or 1 p.m. as Colin from Humdinger suggested having about one every hour and half.

Speaking of Colin, he sent me some great pointers via email last night after my first day's recap:

Those headaches are a result of toxins escaping. Keep it up! It gets easier each day. Promise. Drink plenty of water as well. That helps with hunger. You could also have an herbal tea in the afternoon. Just make sure it's caffeine free.
Today was tough. I ended up having a rush project on my desk I wasn't expecting and was late getting to my third and fourth juices of the day because I worked straight through without thinking of lunch (happens too often!), but got them in while I was running around before the event I was setting up and staffing from 4 pm until 9 pm. Speaking of which... it was torture being at the Red and White Food and Beverage Festival and not sampling everything in site. I cannot believe I had the will power to hold out, while being super hungry, until I could get home to my last two juices.

And before I got home I stopped by the Y to weigh in on the same scale as last night: 113.8 pounds.

I've got my "calm" juice left to go tonight and then I'm hitting the sack early (for me) so I can hit the ground running earlier than normal tomorrow. Last day is in sight.

I'll update more as the three-day experiment continues... stay tuned!

Day 3: Alright, made it to day three here kids! I'd like to say I feel markedly different, but I don't. I had a long work day yesterday, so that definitely contributes to not feeling on my a-game today. But what I also don't feel is bloated and sluggish - so that's awesome. I talked Tara into trying the juices I brought into the office today and I have a feeling she'll be grabbing a few bottles of Humdinger in the coming weeks, too. She was a big fan of the "Glow" flavor, like pretty much everyone else who tries it and thinks it tastes like a cocktail without the booze. :-)

I've made it to my last two bottles of juice. Today was another busy day, so I wasn't totally on a three hour schedule - but not too bad.

I weighed in at the Y again tonight before yoga... down to 111.6 pounds. That's almost 4 pounds down in three days. Like I said earlier, the number doesn't really both me. I haven't noticed too much difference in my stomach, but I also didn't expect to shed any excess fat during a three-day juice cleanse.

I am hoping to use the discipline of the last three days to jump start my commitment to eating better and exercising several times a week. So far, so good. It's been a commitment, and I made it. No stopping here, right?

Day 4: The first day after the cleanse! I woke up and felt the same as I had most other days, but within an hour of starting my day, I was hungry and craving a juice. I had a busy morning and the first meal I had was at lunch around 12:30. I could tell an immense difference in the way I felt after having tomato and avocado sandwich with sauteed spinach at a restaurant. I likened it to what people with gluten sensitivities must feel like. I think I should have started lighter with a simple salad and eased back into things!

At dinner, I had a grilled asparagus and grilled mushroom salad. I asked for dressing on the side, but it came way over-dressed and I dreaded sending it back, so I only ate about half of it. The one glass of wine I had, though? Woah, Nelly! I had a buzz. Probably should have not splurged with that. Things I'll know for next time.

Day 5 Summary: With all of yesterday's experiences, I'm definitely going light and easy and heavy emphasis on vegetables and fresh fruit through this weekend to ease back into the life of eating solid foods again.

I can absolutely see myself swapping out bottles of juice here and there for meal replacements, but I hope to stay on my path of healthy eating and regular exercise for the next few months until I've saved up for another cleanse for pre-summer bikini goals. I do feel like a healthier person for having done it and I'm absolutely more conscious of what I'm putting in my body.

Cheers, y'all! If you have any questions about my cleanse, feel free to leave comments below or email me at lisa.jeffries@gmail.com privately.

Disclosure: Humdinger did not compensate me in any way for this post, but I do sincerely appreciate their donation to the Rex Gala, where Johnnie Bud bid on and won this item!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Aloft Hotel Soon to Be a Reality in Downtown Durham

Congratulations to Capitol Broadcasting Company (my employer) on the "topping out" event yesterday at American Tobacco Campus. I am thrilled to have another Starwoods (my hotel brands of choice) property coming to the Triangle - especially the youthful, trendy Aloft brand.

Here are a few pictures of the guys with the plans signing steel that will be at the rooftop of the six-story, 134-room boutique hotel.




From left, you have Jim Goodmon, Michael Goodmon, Russ Jones, Robert "Roddy" Jones and Jay Mahan.

Read more on yesterday's event and the planned hotel at TBJ: http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/blog/real-estate/2014/10/downtown-durham-aloft-hotel-american-tobacco-campu.html.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Football Players + BB Guns

I feel like I'm the only one who's noticed this so far:

Oct. 8, 2014 - No. 19 ECU suspends 3 after BB gun incident

Seven days later...

Oct. 15, 2014 - NC State suspends seven players following BB gun incident

Are these kids all from the same small town or something? I can't for the life of me remember any of my college cohorts entertaining themselves with BB guns.

Get it together, y'all.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Meatless Monday: Fresh Spinach Tomato and Garlic Tortellini Soup

The Manfriend and I enjoyed this for dinner last week and it's going into our regular rotation, especially looking forward to chilly fall and winter evenings: Fresh Spinach Tomato and Garlic Tortellini Soup.

This was a super quick fix, but because the tortellini gets soft quick, I don't recommend it for an all day Crockpot dish.

(Image via CookingClassy.com)

I shared the recipe on Facebook a few days before actually making it and got a lot of great responses, including a recommendation to buy the smaller package of tortellini as the 20 oz. was enough to feed an army. Well placed, seeing as how we are a dinner for two. (I did forget to half the rest of the ingredients, including the water and stock, and everything still turned out wonderfully, so adjust as you see fit.)

I had the staples like EVOO, salt and pepper on hand and the grocery bill for this was less than $10. Save yourself some time and buy canned tomatoes that are already peeled. I really couldn't taste any difference and should have saved my self the effort in blanching and peeling.

Enjoy this tasty dish and toss in some mushrooms if you're feeling adventurous!


Monday, September 08, 2014

Manfriend Meals: Meatless Monday Recipes

The manfriend requested all of these recipes separately, but I thought they'd make a great meal together:







I made the farfalle dish as the main entree, with the balsamic carrots on the side, green beans, and wheat dinner rolls.

The verdict?

He loved it all!

Especially the carrots.

My manfriend is a great sport when it comes to occasionally dining vegetarian, but he did ask that sausage or another protein with a lot of flavor be added to the farfalle dish when we revisit it for dinner. While this vegetarian won't be adding sausage to her portion of the dish next time around, a small amount of a mushroom cream sauce or even roasted tomatoes would be tasty!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Recipe: Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole

Two of my favorite people welcomed their first child almost a month ago, so many of our friends have taken turns bringing over dinner to the new parents to help ease them into craziness of what I can only imagine parenthood to be.

It was my turn on Tuesday, so I cruised their Pinterest accounts a few weeks before to plan and found this gem: Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole



I'm pleased to say it was a hit. The feedback was, and I quote, "It was freaking wonderful, even good for breakfast."

Now, this is obviously not vegetarian approved, but I'm regularly surrounded by carnivores, so I made this one in hopes it could become a staple go to recipe. Winner, winner - literally a chicken dinner!

A few things to note:

  • At its highest temp, my oven didn't get to 500 degrees - so the potatoes cooked between 400 and 450 and still turned out just fine.
  • This took almost an hour and a half to prep and bake, so it's not a quick evening dinner. Plan ahead.
  • The grocery bill for all ingredients (sans salt, pepper, EVOO, paprika, garlic powder, and hot sauce -- had all those on hand) was just over $20.

The recipe linked above made a full baking dish and a small side baking dish worth of food, so Johnnie Bud gets to try it as well tonight when he returns from business as usual in Charlotte. (He's pretty excited to come home to bacon... it's not often that happens in our house!)

If you have the ability to serve it hot, this will make a great fall tailgate dish that's sure to please. Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Date Night: Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre

Gather around to hear the story of a time and place where people went to "drive-in" movie theaters rather than megaplexes to see a movie on the big screen...















See all the pictures here!

On Saturday night, Johnnie Bud and I made the hour+ drive from just south of Downtown Raleigh to Henderson, NC (44.8 miles to be exact) to check out Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre, one of the only six remaining drive in movie theatres left in the United States. The rain from earlier in the day had moved out of the area for the most part (ran into one small shower on the way to the theatre), but the movies are shown rain or shine and both the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy were playing, so we figured no better night to go!

Not considering the investment of the drive itself, this place is a great value. They are open almost every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night between March and December and all evenings are double feature movies for one price per person attending, rather than per vehicle - which was totally fine by just the two of us. The two tickets we purchased online before leaving home were only $16.70 total - that's only $8.35 per person to see two new movies! The concessions sold on site are also incredibly value priced, probably 1/4 to 1/3 of the cost of a large Raleigh-area movie theater complex. You definitely cannot get a small popcorn and soda at a modern movie theater for less than $5.00!

The incredible deals on the movies and concessions does leave the facility itself with much to be desired. The concession trailer, food pick-up area and restrooms (only one restroom for each gender) were incredibly dated and don't seem to have been well-maintained in recent years. The movie screen itself and sound quality were great, however. The sound is played via 90.3 FM in your car, or you can roll your windows down and listen to the sound played via various speakers located all over the property. Which brings me to one our only chief complaint of the evening... the people parked on both sides of us had really lost all good movie-going sense.

The family to our left chose to bring a young baby who cried and made noise the entire time. No exaggerating here - this happened even through the 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. second movie! Not only did they not walk away from the viewing area with the crying child, but they also stayed through the late show. We finally had to roll up our windows and listen to the audio during the second show through our car's radio, which was less than ideal because Johnnie Bud had to crank the car every 10 minutes when the accessory status automatically turned itself off. The family to our right chose to smoke and were offended when other patrons came over and asked them to stop because their smoke was blowing in other vehicles. (In their defense, the offended other vehicles did not politely make their request. So everyone was just rude. Welcome to Henderson, I guess!) Their children also talked through the entirety of both films.

So at the end of the day, the only real downside to this date night were some crummy other attendees, but all in all, we thought the movie-watching experience was very cool and we'll definitely be back when there are more movies being shown that we want to see at a great price from a neat vantage point.

Visit the Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre website for weekly updates about what's being shown during the upcoming weekend and enjoy your trip just outside of town!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Brunch at Tazza Kitchen: No Syrup Needed

Johnnie Bud and I have been big fans of Tazza Kitchen since it opened in Cameron Village earlier this year. They've got a great cocktail menu and and a foodie menu made for sharing each other's plates, so of course we were excited to hear they were adding Sunday brunch to their tasty lineup.





We called ahead around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday and were thrilled to hear there was no wait to seat two, so we drove over to Cameron Village, sat at the bar, and quickly ordered a Sunday afternoon staple - mimosas, please! (Very happy to report that they used fresh squeezed orange juice and a very generous pour of prosecco at $6. Next time, we'll go for the $12 1/2 liter carafe option.)

The brunch menu wasn't super vegetarian-friendly, but still super appealing nonetheless.

  • Johnnie Bud ordered the French Toast: house-made brioche, cashew praline butter, blueberry vincotto sauce, basil, whipped mascarpone - $9.5
  • I chose the Broccoli Rabe & Smoke Mozzarella Sandwich: oven roasted tomatoes, smokey tomato mayo - $9.5

Neither disappointed, but Johnnie's choice was clearly the brunch champ this go around. The blueberries and praline butter made a great sweetener - no syrup required!

My sandwich was a good choice with the mayo on the side, but would have been a better breakfast item with a fried egg or egg over medium/well added in between the ciabatta slices.

We got plate envy watching the Huevos Rancheros (corn tostadas, chorizo, sofritto, baked eggs*, salsa verde, pico de gallo, crema, cranberry beans, hash browns - $10.5) and Breakfast Pizza (b├ęchamel, bacon, mozzarella, grana padano, baked local eggs - $13) being delivered to nearby tables, so you can bet we'll be back in the coming weekends to try those options A.S.A.P.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Manfriend Meals: Stuffed Flank Steak

Although I'm a vegetarian, I do still cook meat dishes for others from time to time.

A few weeks ago, I treated my manfriend and Little Sister's manfriend to a home cooked dinner featuring these Stuffed Flank Steaks:
Stuffed Flank Steak

The grocery store I stopped at on the way home from work (Carlie C's) didn't have any "flank steaks" specifically, so I purchased two different types of steak in the thinnest cuts I could get. Here's where the vegetarian in me strikes: I don't remember what they were. Sorry!

The guys loved them, especially with the spinach and blue cheese stuffing.

Feel free to check out my latest Pinterest board, Manfriend Meals, for more ideas that are sure to please any hungry man.

Images and recipe via FamilyCircle.com


Monday, May 19, 2014

Really Tasty Retreats Happening at O.Henry and Proximity Hotels in Greensboro

By far, two of my favorite boutique hotel concepts in NC (and the country), O.Henry Hotel and Proximity Hotel in Greensboro will play host to a few very innovative, and tasty, weekend getaways this summer and fall.


Savor the South Weekend: September 26-28 Authors from UNC Press Savor the South Cookbook will join Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels Chef Leigh Hesling and Chef Jay Pierce for an evening of what is sure to be incredible food and beverage, and highly entertaining conversations, at the O.Henry Hotel. One-night package includes accommodations, two tickets to Friday's farm-to-fork dinner, breakfast on Saturday, Saturday's Tasting Extravaganza lunch, and a cookbook is $295/person, double occupancy. A two-night package is also available and includes additional meals and entrance to the Bourbon & Bluegrass Bacchanal Dinner for $449/person.
(Image via OHenryHotel.com)


Sustainable Summer Weekend Getaway: May 30-September 1 Check in at 2 p.m. at the Proximity Hotel (or earlier if available) and spend the afternoon traveling nearby greenways via complimentary bicycles or lounging by the property's infinity-style pool. A $30 voucher for breakfast or dinner at Print Works Bistro is included. Available Fridays and Saturdays, May 30-September 1 (some blackout dates apply) for $219, plus taxes.
(Image via ProximityHotel.com)

Weekend Rail Getaway Package Ride the Amtrak train to Greensboro and Proximity Hotel will pick you up at the historic depot! A sustainable weekend getaway at America's first LEED Platinum-certified hotel and restaurant includes overnight accommodations in a Loft King Room on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, as well as a $50 dining voucher for Print Works Bistro, as well as breakfast in bed the following morning, for only $249, plus taxes.

If you can swing the investment in these weekend indulgences, my personal experience from a quick visit to both properties' restaurants back in March says "ABSOLUTELY! DO THIS!" Enjoy.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Raleigh People: Check out the Raleigh Beer Guide Launch Party on Thursday

Consider this your official invitation from me!

On Thursday evening, my WRAL Out & About team will be co-hosting the official launch party for the hot off the press Raleigh Beer Guide, which is a new print guide to be distributed throughout Wake County and across travel rest areas across NC, helping beer lovers find their way to the 16 Wake County craft breweries.

The thing that I think is pretty cool about this event is that for the very first time I have working knowledge of, all 16 breweries will have a product on tap at the same place at the same time. So a big thank you goes out to the breweries, the gang from Raleigh Beer Guide, and the folks at Tyler's Taproom in Raleigh's Seaboard Station for making this happen.

There will be some cool prizes up for grabs throughout the evening, so fast track your way through the welcome table when you RSVP in advance here: Eventbrite.com.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Roasted Cabbage

My mom presented a new item at Sunday Family Dinner a few weekends ago:

Roasted cabbage.
It was amazing! And she swears it was as simple as: slice cabbage, drizzle with infused olive oil (your savory flavor of choice), sprinkle with salt and papper, and roast in the over until light caramelization.
Little Sister and I were head over heels for it. That simple side will become a staple in the Jeffries household.
Enjoy!
(Image via http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/roasted-cabbage-wedges/ on Pinterest.)