Monday, May 04, 2015

Manfriend Meals: Mini-Meatloaf, Breakfast for Dinner Pizza

I had the chance to experiment with these two recipes the last few months and they are not just "Manfriend Approved", they are straight up "Manfriend Loved"!

Muffin Pan Mini-Meatloaf, Topped with Mashed Potatoes and/or Bacon
via Pinterest:
The original website,, lists lots of meatloaf recipes and I chose to go with the Paleo one this go around. It didn't disappoint and I felt like it was a moderately "healthy" switch to make on the manfriend... who didn't enjoyed it regardless of fad diet title. The only changes I made were removing the minis from the muffin pan and putting on a broiler pan for the last few minutes so all of the juices that had piled up would run off and to crisp the bacon. Manfriend even revisited these for leftovers on another day, so clearly that's a win.

The mini-meatloaf idea made serving, cleanup and storage a breeze!

Creamed Spinach & Egg Pizza
Another Pinterest hit:

I picked up raw pizza dough from our neighborhood pizza restaurant on the way home and even though the crust got a little away from me when transferring to the baking stone, this pizza tasted so good we didn't care what the squiggly edges looked like. This is rich, so serve it by the slice with a salad on the side... if you can resist eating the whole thing!

Enjoy, y'all!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Do This Next Weekend: Stamp Out Hunger

I'm pretty passionate about this topic because I personally feel that food insecurity and hunger are the most embarrassing issues facing North Carolina right now. We aren't lacking food. (Thanks, farmers!) We aren't lacking the money, resources, and science to solve this problem. (Like cancer, etc.) This is a fixable issue facing hundreds of thousands of NC families, children, seniors and individuals.

This is literally the easiest food drive you've ever participated in. Simply pick up some extra canned items when you grocery shop this weekend or next week and just leave the extras at your mailbox. So plan on joining in on Saturday, Nay 9 - no matter where you live!
How easy is it?
Pack a bag of food and set it by your mailbox on Saturday, May 9! Your local letter carrier will do the rest.
What should I give?
Check this list of most needed items and take it with you on your grocery shopping trip! (No glass, please.)
Where does my food go?
Although this is a national food drive, all donations made within our region come to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC. Donated items are provided to the more than 651,000 children, families, and seniors in our 34 counties who are food insecure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Band Together Main Event 2015

I love live music. I love a great cause. And I have an especially soft spot in my heart for this event because it's where I fatefully bumped into Johnnie Bud just three years ago and our first date was soon after. #BandTogetherLoveStory right here, y'all.

Needless to say, you'll be seeing me on Saturday, June 27, when Band Together's Main Event takes the stage in downtown Raleigh at Red Hat Amphitheater with Michael Franti & Spearhead.

I hope you'll join me in helping Band Together reach their lofty, but attainable, goal of raising $2,000,000 for Step Up Ministries, a non-profit dedicated to helping low-income homeless individuals in the Triangle area become self-sufficient.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

SuperKids Capes

The MeFine Foundation is an NC non-profit that does a lot of good for children with serious illnesses. Check out how you can support this great program and their latest efforts below...

The Foundation has recently launched the SuperKids Cape program for children with critical illnesses. According to board member and all around good guy Richard Averitte, "The Me Fine Foundation wants to bring attention to these unbelievable little people and their superpowers by adorning them with garments fits for a superhero; so we provide them with SuperKids Capes."

Me Fine Cape in Action

The capes are hand-sewn by the Sewing Guild at Holy Cross Lutheran Church. They are customized capes that are awarded to a child after he/she undergoes a major procedure as part of their treatment, or upon discharge from the hospital. Me Fine is constantly in awe of the strength and determination of these kids, and the capes are a small way to recognize their inner superhero.

On Sunday, March 1st at the Oak City Comic Con Me Fine will have a table with information on the Foundation and the SuperKids Capes program. A donation of $20 will go to the purchase a cape for one of these brave children. In addition, the donor will have an opportunity to write a short message of encouragement on a MeFine card. Three cheers for Oak City Comic Con donating space during their inaugural event. On top of hosting an abundance of comic book professionals and the best local comic book stores and vendors from across the state, the Oak City Comic Con will be a great activity for family this weekend.

More details at Be cool and share this Raleigh event with fellow cool people.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Paw-fect Valentine's Plans

Only rookies will celebrate Valentine's Day on a Saturday night - instead, consider something fun... and for a great cause - that's happening on Thursday night: Bark & Wine with Your Valentine 2015

Celebrate Valentine's Day with a beer & wine tasting while surrounded by the cutest faces in town! (Bringing a date is completely optional.)

Fine wines, beer, tasty treats and wet puppy kisses await guests at the 10th annual Bark & Wine with Your Valentine

This unique, intimate event will be held at the SPCA Curtis Dail Pet Adoption Center in Raleigh on Thursday, February 12 from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm. Sample 6-8 varieties of wine and and light fare to compliment the flavors for just $30.00 per person of which $5.00 is tax deductible.

Email Vanessa Budnick at or call 919-532-2087 with questions.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yoga + Wine... IN GARNER!

Yes, you read that wonderful combination right and I'm just as surprised as you are to find out it's only a few miles from my house.

I checked out a warm yoga class a few Saturday mornings ago at Zin Yoga Wine and I can't wait to get back in the studio soon. I hate to already be booked on Saturday and not making this great event, but it doesn't mean I can't share the details with you local readers...

Vino and Vinyasa Saturday, January 31st: 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Yoga with friends, wine and chocolate will sure to make a memorable night out. The night will start with a long gentle practice and end with a glass of wine, delicious tapas, and Togomay truffles and gluten-free cookies. This is the true experience of Zin Yoga Studio and Wine Lounge.

$35/person. Must Preregister by Thursday 29th. (events tab to register)

Namaste, y'all. :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Manfriend Meals: Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar. Redneck Caviar. Southern Caviar. Redneck Salsa.

I've seen recipes of this variety called a lot of different names. No matter what you call it, or what combination of flavors you include, it's probably going to be ridiculously addicting.

While not a "meal", my manfriend would gladly make a meal of this recipe: Texas Caviar

A few cans of beans, several cut peppers, herbs, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil and boom. Delicious mixed up in a bowl and no cooking required. Put it in the 'fridge for an hour and it's ready to go or leave it overnight to really marinate. We snack on it for days and while it doesn't last more than two days due to constant enjoyment, I'm not sure it would really even go bad for a few days long as long as you keep it chilled.

This is a tailgate must and a quick mix for anytime in between football seasons. It's delicious with tortilla chips, as a salsa/relish, as a side dish... practically any way.

Cheers, y'all!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Weekend Rental: Tammy

Ignore the ratings for Tammy and rent this movie for a dollar at Redbox this weekend - it was hilarious!

Johnnie Bud and I had a Redbox night this past weekend and picked this one because we're Melissa McCarthy fans - we enjoyed Identify Thief so we picked this one up without even seeing a trailer for it. What we had no idea we were in store for was the awesome cast that filled this comedy with a happy ending: Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Allison Janney, Dan Aykroyd, Mark Duplass (recognized him from The League) and more... all so funny!

In typical Melissa McCarthy fashion, what made this movie so funny was her. Her lines, her body language, her expressions.

There was nothing incredibly intelligent about the movie, but I can't remember the last time I've laughed so hard, so many times in a movie.

If you're looking for a cheap laugh, this is the rental for you. Enjoy!

PS: It's not kid-friendly. Enjoy it for date night, not family night.

PS 2: Watch through the credits for a funny blooper!

(Image via

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Life Tip:

If you're like me and despise getting all of those "you're pre-approved" credit card offers in the mail (waste of printing, waste of money, waste of trees, waste of my time!), then this is a website you must check out:

What you need to know:
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you ("Firm Offers"). The FCRA also provides you the right to "Opt-Out", which prevents Consumer Credit Reporting Companies from providing your credit file information for Firm Offers.
What this website does for you:
It allows you to opt-out of the selling of your information for this purpose for five years if you fill out the form on the website, which requires your social security number (submitted securely). If you take literally two extra minutes and the cost of a stamp, you can permanently opt-out via postal mail. I did this years ago and it has cut the crap in my mailbox in half.

So worth repeating - go to and get off those credit card offer mailing lists once and for all. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey

(image via

Johnnie Bud and I rented The Hundred-Foot Journey via the Google Play Movie store on Sunday night to try out our new Chromecast device (more on that in another post).

At just over two hours long, it was a little slow, but beautifully shot and made me super anxious to get back in the kitchen and whip up something that would clearly pale in comparison to the menus featured in this movie.

The basic synopsis is that a family from Mumbai moves to Europe, finally landing in France, and opens an Indian restaurant just across the street from a 1-Star Michelin-rated classically French restaurant. The young chefs compete, with two falling in love by the end of the movie, but while the story is predictable, the setting and photography were stunning.

I'm glad we didn't see it in the theater for $20, but it was a great rental on a lazy Sunday night.

If you're into food and not looking for an action-packed thriller, you'll enjoy this one.

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 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 or 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

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 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: