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.
(Image via http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/roasted-cabbage-wedges/ 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 WRAL.com 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!