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

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

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

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:

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.
(Image via on Pinterest.)

Sunday, February 02, 2014

And Tonight's Super Bowl Menu Includes....

The manfriend and I have been hard at work in the kitchen this morning. Here's what we'll be taking to tonight's ITB Super Bowl gathering. Drumroll please...

Four mildly healthy, but certainly better for you than the norm, appetizer-sized items, including:
Deviled Eggs
Mexican Roll-Ups
Spinach Balls
Dry Rub Grilled Wings

I'll be cheering for the advertisers tonight - the Super Bowl ads are my favorite part of one of America's most-watched sports programs all year. This pre-released spot already has my heart: #BestBuds - with nearly 33 million views in just four days, I'd say it has also captured the hearts of many, many others, as well.

What are you serving at or bringing to your Super Bowl gathering?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

What's in your perfect Bloody Mary?

Last week my family and I took an impromptu vacation (our first in 8 years according to Little Sister) to Topsail Island and I ordered a few Bloody Mary cocktails to take full advantage of the beachy state of mind.

An extra spicy Bloody Mary at Beach Shop was a tasty start:

We found ourselves at Beach Shop in search of breakfast until 11am and a wifi (I mistakenly booked the one house on the island without internet access... which is the reason I got a real vacation in for four days!), but stayed for finding the bottom of the glass. Two thumbs up. (Note: If it had been a bottomless cocktail special, it would have taken us MUCH longer to find the bottom of the glass. We found the bottom of bottomless Mimosas at Carter's Kitchen in Charleston a few months ago. More on that at another time...)

For a Sunday afternoon early dinner, we made it to Rick's, where sorority sister and beach joiner DG joined in on the Bloody Mary action. We ordered them "extra spicy" (notice a pattern here?) but at Rick's, that meant extra horseradish, rather than extra Tabasco sauce and/or black pepper. While they were good, DG and I agreed we'd be more specific about our next "extra spicy" request.

Fast forward to tonight - Wednesday. I'm back from the beach and busting my hiney at work (per the usual) and decided I deserved a cocktail with dinner. I had Ketel One in the freezer (is there any other kind of vodka?), V8 in the fridge, pickled okra, pickles, and giant olives stuffed with pimientos. Oh, and cracked black pepper. It all went right in the glass with ice. #nom

So that brings me to the question of the day... how do you make for or ask for what you consider to be the perfect Bloody Mary? I like 'em spicy and the more pickled vegetables you can fit in the glass, the better. #vegetarianlife

My cohort Jodi recently published her Five Faves: Best Bloody Mary article about places to get a good version in the Triangle. You know, just throwing that out there for your reading pleasure while we're discussing the reddest of vegetable cocktails.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back from Ocracoke... with a Cookbook

I have once again neglected this poor little Southern blog of mine... sorry for that y'all. It came top of mind when my cousin texted me this weekend to ask if I still had "that Southern blog of yours" because he wanted to show it to one of his gal pals that is starting a new closet/wardrobe consulting business. (Of course, I told him that the blog he REALLY wanted to show her was my local retail blog...)

Nonetheless, my last post was about recipes and I do owe everyone a follow up on the successes with squash. Perhaps later this evening? Until then, more success (hopefully) to come with the following recipes I picked up this weekend in what I'm sure will be my new favorite cookbook: Pack Porch Restaurant Cookbook by Debbie Wells.

Herbed Cream Cheese Spread
Basil and Tomato Cheese Wheel
Zucchini Soup with Sour Cream and Dill
Cauliflower Caraway Soup
Potato and Kale Soup with Fresh Tomatoes
Onion Soup with Homemade Buttered Croutons (which I'll sub the chicken stock out with vegetable stock, instead)
And many more to come...

Side note: I'm totally in love with Ocracoke Village. There is no building over four stories tall (and really, only one or two inns that tall at that...) and very few places that you can't get to by golf cart. Tons of independent restaurants, bars, and retail shops and a water view at nearly every destination on the island. It's only about a 2.5 hour car ride from Raleigh and a 2.5 hour ferry ride, which trust me, is part of the vacation itself on a sunny day. So don't count that as part of your "travel time".

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Another "I'm Still Here" Post, This Time with Recipes

I'm working more and more these days, so I'm blogging less and less. And in all truthfulness, I'm spending as much of my free time as possible poolside, making spontaneous getaways to the beach, and other types of goodness that don't require my computer.

My fridge is staying pretty empty these days (except for poolside beers and the occasional white wine that needs to be quick-chilled), due to my lack of time spent at home, but there's one thing that's in season that I've got a lot of: squash.

So what's a Southern girl to do with all that squash? Experiment, of course!

Here are a few recipes I stumbled upon today that I'm going to give a try before these gourds go bad - hopefully with (success) stories and pictures to come in a few blog posts in the not so distant future.

Note: Not all of these recipes call for yellow/summer squash, but that's what I'll be using. I avoided any that specifically called for butternut squash since I'll get at least one come fall in my locally-sourced and front porch-delivered Produce Box this fall, and I want to save some experiments for then, too.

And here they are:
Super Squash
Squash Medley
Squash Soup (yes, even in 90 degrees I still want soup)
Squash Potatoes (particularly excited about this one)
Squash Relish (I've yet to meet a relish I didn't like)
Pickled Squash (I've never pickled anything before - wish me luck...)

Happy Wednesday-ing!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A charitable way to shop for the TV fan in your life!

This is pretty much the coolest online auction I've seen in a long time, if not ever. The gang over at is auctioning off a wide variety of television swag through Sunday, December 18. Here's the neat thing, though - instead of paying for your auction wins in cash, if you win, you'll be paying in food donations to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

Got a Bones fan in your life? You could win her a "'Bones' Pretty in Pink Pj and Pedi set" - currently sitting at only THREE donation items! (Let's drive that up for the sake of charity, ok?) Been watching New Girl? How about a "New Girl 'DoucheBag Jar'"? There are lots more items including Glee, Two and a Half Men, The Simpsons, and more.

Check out the entire auction online at and bid generously!

Full disclosure: is owned by Capitol Broadcasting Company, my employer. Employer or not, this is cool and I'm going to be bidding myself ;-)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It's Game Week

...and no matter the outcome of the game, I know it's going to be a great tailgate when it starts with an email like this:

To be a State fan takes real character, it just makes you stronger. So when you all have kids and Uncle Evan is teaching them this, you'll appreciate that I'm doing it to help make them a better person.
Who's ready for a little Wolfpack vs. Tar Heel football, y'all?!

image via PACK NIPS HEELS at

By the way, that picture was taken during my (super) senior year at State. What a great win that was to see in person! Let's go for another W, Wolfpack!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I'm Still Here...

...just doing a lot of working (and I do mean A LOT), social events and weddings, tailgating, and the like. It is that time of year, again. I've also been DVRing a lot of 5 Ingredient Fix with Claire Robinson on Food Network. (I promise I'll explain next why that's related.)

Back to the tailgating!
I served up these two recipes, courtesy of Claire, for the NCSU vs. S. Alabama tailgate last weekend:
Brie and Onion Puff
Memphis Banana Bites

They went so quickly, I didn't even get pics. One suggestion? On the Memphis Banana Bites, I cut down on time in a big way by spreading the banana chips out on wax paper in the bottom of a 9x13 glass pan and poured the chocolate and peanut butter melt all over the top. I let it cool and then let my fellow tailgaters break off pieces (like a bark) to enjoy at their own pace. Perfection!

I think I'm going to take these next week fr the NCSU vs. GT tailgate (before I leave early for Brandon and Tiffany's wedding!): Spicy Baked Chickpeas.

What are your meatless tailgate favorites?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sometimes the easiest way to help is by just showing up

My colleague Kathy (@Raleighwood) told me about this event earlier, but the thought of exercising for two hours was a little more than I was mentally prepared to commit to on that day. I must have been tired at the time, because when I read her post about tomorrow's event, I was totally re-energized to be a part. So I emailed my girls and was surprised to hear so many had friends and family affected by MS.

So, if you're so inclined to spend two hours and $10.00 to work out and help out, then email and call YOUR pals and join us tomorrow. Here's the scoop from Kathy's blog post:

"My favorite Zumba teacher, Giannina Scattolin, and her crew will be teaching a two-hour Zumba dance party on Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Longbranch of Raleigh, 608 Creekside Dr., in Raleigh. The fun is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at the door. Proceeds will benefit the Eastern North Carolina chapter of the National MS Society. Kids under 12 get in free."

According to the National MS Society website, "multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another".

Hope to see you tomorrow for a little (ok: a lot) of Zumba!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I've Got Beach Fever

I have not been to the beach yet this summer (unless you count the whirlwind weekend at the end of April for Brianne's wedding - be we barely saw the beach... there was other fun to be had!).

Here's hoping that every weekend in August I'll be at the coast. I can't believe these pictures were taken in August of 2007! I stumbled upon them on my computer tonight and it stirred up this wicked beach fever I've been suffering from for months now...

Other than the NC coast, Nick and I will be heading to Clearwater, Florida over Labor Day Weekend for Jen and Trey's wedding (congrats, y'all!). Anyone got any suggestions for places in the St. Pete/Clearwater area of Florida that we should check out during the long weekend?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Right On, Idols!


"It's tough for us because we're both from small towns from nowhere around L.A. We just try to stay true to ourselves, stay in our boots – that's what I like to tell myself – and stay grounded," McCreery said.

Ok, I know, two American Idol posts in a row. But seriously, how can you not love that quote?

Stay in those boots, Scotty and Lauren!