We're Moving to Alexandria!

the-martins

 

After living in the Charlotte area for twenty three, three, and thirty three years (respectively), we are moving to Alexandria, VA. 

In part, it was an easy decision: a great career opportunity for Brandon, living only a few miles from DC, and a chance to get out of our comfort zones.

On the other hand, it was a difficult decision: we will be far from family and friends and the comforts of the life we built in Charlotte.

But as the kids these days say, "YOLO!"

 

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It takes a village and, more than ever, we need our village. 

We would greatly appreciate recommendations, connections, and leads for the following:

  • Your friends who live in the DMV area. ;)
  • Nannies, sitters, pre-schools, and other types of childcare and development programs.
  • Doctors (pediatrician, dentist, optometrist, generalists).
  • Small to mid-sized business needing help with their digital marketing efforts. Let's connect on LinkedIn if we're not yet connected: linkedin.com/in/kseniyamartin.
  • Professional and non-profit organizations to join (such as local chapters of the AMA or Junior League).
  • Tips and tricks to living in the DC area.
  • Favorite restaurants, shops, farmers markets, points of interest, and more!
  • Your favorite public transportation friendly stroller (preferably one that can be folded with one hand and has a shoulder strap of some sort).
  • Someone amazing to rent our home in Harrisburg. 

 

We're excited to move to the DMV area, to explore new places and revisit all of our favorites from past visits. 

We'll be back quite a bit as we transition and blend our current life into the new and to celebrate life moments with friends and family. 

It's not goodbye, it's see you later.

 

#babyinthequeencity | Closet Clean Out

Charlotte is cleaning out her closet and is selling some of her things on eBay and Facebook Marketplace (links to listings in comments).

She's also giving away a ton of things to local non-profits. We've started a collection of items for Baby Bundles - Clothing Newborns With Love, however, if there's another non-profit that collects items that are 18 months in size and up, hit us up! Please also let me know if there's a family in need that needs toddler toys, books, and baby things (bottles, pump, etc.).

 

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Soul Food Sessions Tour | Seared Scallops with Purple Carrot Chutney

There are a few things that I find intimidating when it comes to cooking and chutney is one of those things. I'm not sure why I've shied away from making it. It could be that it sounds complex and I thought it was difficult to make. Or may be it's because it feels like something from far away lands where I have yet to travel to and I have nothing to compare it to to ensure that I made it correctly. 

Those fears were put aside when I got the chance to re-create Chef Greg William's, of the What the Fries CLT food truck fame, Seared Scallops with Purple Carrot Chutney recipe. 

Turns out chutney doesn't have to be complicated or inaccessible. If you love balsamic vinegar and scallops, this recipe is for you!

 

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This delicious appetizer pairs perfectly with a Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which brings out the richness of the scallops combined with the boastful flavors of ginger and garlic in the chutney. This dish will also be served as part of a multi-course dinner on the first tour stop of the Soul Food Sessions tour at Free Range Brewing on June 19th

 

What is soul food?

Most people think of soul food as fried chicken, collard greens, mac and cheese, and watermelon. But it's so much more than that. According to Chef Jamie Barnes, "Soul food is whatever you cook from the heart, from your soul."

I couldn't agree more.


 

What is Soul Food Sessions?

Soul Food Sessions is a nonprofit organization that started in 2017 to break stereotypes and enhance opportunities for African American chefs. Their pop-up dining experiences aim to foster open conversation about challenges in achieving equal opportunity in the food industry while showcasing the chefs' diverse culinary talents. 

Coca-Cola Consolidated has partnered with Soul Food Sessions for an east coast dinner tour to help with their mission to increase diversity in the culinary industry. The Table is Set: A Four-City Tour Served with a Coke will begin in the organization's hometown of Charlotte on June 19th and continue on to Washington D.C. on July 26, Baltimore on July 29, and Charleston in late October. No two stops will be the same! Soul Food Sessions has partnered with an African American chef in each market to develop the menu, host the event, and lead the conversation.

But the partnership does not end there! Soul Food Sessions will grant a minimum of $10,000 in scholarships to culinary students across all four markets.

Full press release can be found here.

 

Tickets

Tickets for the June 19th dinner can be purchased here. There are only 100 tickets available for this event so don't delay, get yours today! 

 

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Recipes:

Seared Scallops with Purple Carrot Chutney

Potato Leek Soup

Balsamic Vinaigrette

 

Thank you to Coca-Cola Consolidated for sponsoring the tour, the scholarship, and this post.

This Week's Eats: Week 23 | Birthday Week

Last week was just a pre-game for more delicious eats during my actual birthday week and I wasn't the only one celebrating this week. We also celebrated the birthdays of two very special girls later in the week so to say we were on a sugar high all week would be an understatement. 

 Birthday Cake | Kindred

Birthday Cake | Kindred

 

Second Chances at Shake Shack

I had a client meeting on Monday evening and afterwards I made a quick pit stop at SouthPark Mall to restock on a few beauty items. By the time I left the mall it was late and I was starving so I made a pit stop at Shake Shack. I've only had it once in New York and I wasn't too impressed but I believe in second chances and at 9 o'clock on a Monday night it seemed like a good idea. Plus, it was dead compared to the hour long lines they've been experiencing since opening their doors.

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I ordered the SmokeShack with a side of cheese fries with bacon and a seasonal lemonade. Safe to say I enjoyed it this time because for someone who wasn't very hungry I ended up eating it all.

 

Bees and Berries and Business Besties

On Tuesday morning I met up with a friend at Sunflour Baking Company in Harrisburg. It's been a while since we've seen each other and it was a much needed soul session between two business besties. 

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Bees-and-Berries-sunflour-baking-company-harrisburg-nc

I ordered the seasonal Bees and Berries sandwich and a vanilla soy latte. 

I wish this was my breakfast every day!

 

Trade Secrets at Merchant and Trade

Tuesday evening I had a marketing event with the American Marketing Association that was followed by birthday eve drinks at Merchant and Trade

We snacked on Oven Baked Lamb Balls with cucumber tzatziki sauce and waffle fries and washed it down with the house Old Fashioned (Evans Williams Black, Demerara Syrup, Angostura Bitters).

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Celebrating 34 at Kindred

There are only a few restaurants in the Charlotte area that live up to the hype and Kindred is one of them, which is why it was a natural choice to celebrate my 34th birthday. The food, as always, was impeccable. Here's what we ordered, starting with the barkeep's choice for a bourbon based cocktail:

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Bar Keeps Choice: bourbon, lemon, grapefruit, amaro montenegro, and honey.

 

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It goes without saying that the milk bread is arguably the number one reason we came here. 

 

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Grandfather's Pickles: cider vinegar and onions.

I'm forever obsessed with their Grandfather's Pickles to the point where I chased down Chef Joe Kindred at an event a few years back to get the recipe and spent the entire summer trying to recreate it. 

 

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Duck Fat Potatoes with dill and aioli.

 

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Cauliflower: harissa yogurt, nepitella, and pink peppercorn.

 

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Gnocchi: beef and pork bolognese, tomato, and parmigano reggiano.

 

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Tagliatelle: morel mushrooms, miso, thyme, English pea, and hazelnut.

 

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Bucatini: creme fraiche, lardon, egg yolk, and ruby streak.

 

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Of course, another reason to celebrate at Kindred is their birthday cake. I don't like birthday cake but LOVE theirs. Incidentally, it was the only thing Charlotte ate for dinner because she knows that there's birthday cake at the end of every birthday celebration. Smart girl.

 

Mexican Matzo Ball Soup (for the Sick Toddler Soul)

Per birthday tradition (mine or Brandon's), Charlotte caught a bug at camp and got sick so soup was on the docket on Thursday. We made a pit stop at Harris Teeter after her doctor's appointment to pick up a few necessary items to make soup and Charlotte violently vomited all over the meat department. Thankful for the team members who assisted us and cleaned up the mess, they deserve a paid day off, or ten. 

Once we got home and she was tucked in on the couch I got to work. I made Marcela Valladolid's Mexican Beef Soup but with a concerned Jewish mother twist: matzo balls. 

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I'd like to think the soup worked like a charm because after about 36 hours the kid felt brand new and as if nothing ever happened.

 

Simply Asian

Friday evening we packed up the car and headed north to Raleigh to celebrate my niece's second birthday. We often take back roads to avoid rush hour traffic and have made it a tradition to stop at Simply Asian in Asheboro for dinner. We've had a variety of dishes and I always come back to the Pad Thai with shrimp. So good!

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Lulu Turns 2

We started our day with fresh fruit and cinnamon buns, followed by a yummy birthday party spread, followed by three o'clock munchies cured by a poke bowl delivered by Postmates.

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poke-bar-raleigh-postmates

Medium poke bowl with avocado, white rice, spicy tuna, cilantro, corn, cucumber, edamame, green onion, jalapeno, kale, pineapple, sweet onion, ponzu, salmon, seaweed salad, albacore, and furikake.

 

Mama's Night Out

A short Uber ride into downtown Raleigh and a few hours away from screaming toddlers (one from exhaustion and the other due to an ear infection) was just what the doctor ordered. We stumbled right into Raleigh's International Food Festival with ethnic food trucks lining the street. The lines were long for just about every vendor with only one hour left for the event. We found one vendor that was sampling Tom & Jenny's sugar free caramels. Yes, sugar free caramels! They are delicious (the original flavor is my favorite) and were created by a dentist. You can find them locally at Reid's Fine Foods or on Amazon

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Our next stop was The Haymaker for cocktails and 90's rap. I ordered the namesake cocktail, The Haymaker.

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The Haymaker: Tanqueray No. Ten gin, vodka, Benedictine, Carpano vermouth blend, and grapefruit bitters.

 

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Also, I'm obsessed with this Biggie Smalls wallpaper inside Haymaker's bathrooms. You can find it here in various colors.

We ended the night with calamari and an Old Fashioned at Jimmy V's Osteria & Bar.

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old-fashioned-jimmy-v-osteria-and-bar-raleigh-nc

 

Havana, Ooh Na-Na

We've lived in Cabarrus County for two years and have barely explored downtown Concord. There are so many cute store fronts and restaurants, including Havana-Carolina. We've heard about this gem of a Cuban restaurant for years and we finally had the opportunity to try it on our way back from Raleigh. 

Here's what we ordered:

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Cuban Coffee. 

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Carolina Cuban Sampler: one fried stuffed potato ball, two empanadas (one chicken and one beef ), and three croquettes with thinly sliced plantains chips (mariquitas), served with garlic mojo and cilantro dipping sauces. 

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(Inside the fried stuffed potato ball)

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Cuban toast with home style sauce.

 

Caribbean-pork-Skewers-Brochetas-del-Caribe-havana-carolina-concord-nc

Caribbean Skewers (Brochetas del Caribe): grilled pork tenderloins skewers, alternated with sausage, pineapple, onions, and peppers chunks. Served with a side of plantains and black rice.

 

Pan Fried Udon Noodle 

A simple dish to end an indulgent week was just what the doctor ordered. We made this "better than take-out" udon noodle dish for dinner, a favorite go-to when nothing else would do.

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What's your favorite birthday treat?

 

 

This posts contains affiliate links.

 

This is 34 | Birthday Weekend

Another year, another year older, and may be this year I'll be a little bit wiser. ;)

Our original plan for my birthday was to go out of town but a week prior we realized that was not going to happen so we threw together a celebration that involved public transportation (hooray for the Blue Line Extension!) and an appetite for lots of great food and cocktails.

Brandon had asked his parents to watch Charlotte all weekend so we were the epitome of "parents on the loose." 

The first stop of the day was at Undercurrent Coffee, a new coffee shop in Plaza Midwood. The line was out the door but totally worth the wait. And, of course, the wait to see Diana in her element was also totally worth it.

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My order was unusual for me but oh so delicious! A Matcha Latte with non-dairy milk. It's slowly becoming my favorite substitute for coffee. Brandon ordered his usual: a chai latte. It was one of the best chai latte's I've had in a very long time.

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undercurrent-plaza-midwood-charlotte-nc-matcha-latte

We also ordered some food. An avocado toast with dukkah (spiced seeds and nuts) and micro amaranth for him and a Goat Lady Dairy chevre and strawberry chamomile jam toast for me.

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undercurrent-plaza-midwood-charlotte-nc-chevre-and-strawberries

After breakfast we popped into Moxie Mercantile where I fell in love with an Ink + Alloy necklace I now regret not buying (and this one too).

My next stop was a baby shower for our dear friends at Amelie's. We enjoyed a selection of sandwiches and desserts followed by baby shower games and awwing over all the gifts. Lest I forget to mention, I was also put on bubbly duty which I proudly took on like the pro that I am. Cheers!

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The first stop of my birthday light rail crawl was at NoDa Company Store, which is located a few blocks away from Amelie's. Instead of ordering an Uber, or walking, I decided to take the bus. This was my first time riding the bus in Charlotte and brought me back to my childhood riding the bus almost everyday in St. Petersburg. 

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The Dumpling Lady was the number one reason why the NoDa Company Store was our first stop. I'm obsessed with her Sichuan style sauces and her dumplings are amazing. This is the only food truck in Charlotte that I still chase around town. 

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Also, how gorgeous are these roses that my mom gave me?! 

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Stop number two was at Growler's Pour House for oysters, oysters, and more oysters. My friends Stephanie and Kelly greeted me with a Reigning Doughnut covered in festive sprinkles when we got there. Besties for the resties, right there!

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(Oh, and by the way, that's a mocktail. Turning 34 also means knowing when to slow down on the alcohol consumption. It's a marathon, not a sprint.)

And of course, these ladies were the best party guests!

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I'm bummed I didn't get pictures with all the other kiddos and friends who came along. In true fashion, I was busy taking pictures of food. :|

But I did manage to take this photo with my lovely mama!

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No birthday celebration in NoDa is complete without a stop at Haberdish for cocktails. My first choice was the Apothecary Cocktail.

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It's made up of bitter truth pink gin, prickly pear liqueur, cocchi americano, ginseng, bitter melon & ginger reduction, lime & CBD concentrate. It was very herbal and refreshing. 

Cocktail number two was the Smoke Point which is made up of private single barrel Knob Creek, root liqueur, cocchi di torino, vanilla bitters, and served in a ceylon cinnamon smoked glass. So good!

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Our final stop was Superica, a brand new Tex-Mex restaurant in South End. 

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It was super packed but we weren't super hungry so the 45-60 minute wait for a table wasn't so bad, especially with a bar team that was pumping out margaritas at record speeds. We enjoyed our first round of drinks in the courtyard patio of the Design Center and I reminisced about that time I had my senior year internship there and watched the light rail get built right outside my office window.  

 

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On the left: Red Headed Stranger (Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka, Campari, fresh grapefruit). On the right: The O.G. (El Jimador Reposado, Stirrings triple sec, fresh lime, short and strong, served up or on the rocks).

When our table was ready another guest raised a stink at the hostess station over the long wait (because for some it's hard to understand a highly hyped restaurant in a popular neighborhood on their first weekend was going to be nothing short of busy) so my husband said his party can have our table and we can wait a little bit longer.

We started our dinner with the steak fajita nachos, compliments of the management team.

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Grilled steak on bean and cheese nachos, jalapeños, guacamole, sour cream.

For our main course, Brandon and I split the skirt steak fajitas. I love their presentation and the flavors were on point.

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Served with refried beans, Spanish rice, Mexican butter, lettuce, tomato, cheese and house made tortillas.

No birthday is complete without tres leches cake and laughing till you cry.

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Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate and help me eat my way through Charlotte.

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The next morning Brandon surprised me with a massage and spa day at the Ritz Carlton. It was an absolute treat and a much needed moment alone to relax and reflect. 

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It was the perfect weekend to kick off my 35th year on earth.

 

This Week's Eats: Week 22 | Getting off Track

It's only natural to get off track a week after getting back on. Our usual flow and rhythm were interrupted as we entered the summer season. This was a short "work" week that felt really really long: Charlotte is officially on summer break, it rained almost everyday, I had several evening events, and the weekend was spent celebrating my birthday.

I always say that what's important always gets done and what doesn't wasn't that important to begin with. You will also always find a way to get those important things done. The toddler was super antsy because school was out and the playgrounds were wet so what did I do? I bought her an indoor trampoline. It's the best $60 I've spent in a while. She got her wiggles out and I got to get some work done. A win-win for all.

I also didn't keep track of our meals in the same way I've done in the past. We smoked a pork shoulder on Monday and we ate off of it all week. All other meals, like breakfast and lunch, were our usual go-to's: Eggo waffles, sandwiches, salads, etc.

On Tuesday I went to a new menu tasting at Upstream. It was amazing. I haven't been blown away by a meal like that in a long time. A full post on the experience is coming soon. Until then, I leave you with a picture of Chef Kato's house made tofu. This smooth, custard like, tofu is served with pickled shimeji mushrooms, ikura, and fried ginger.

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After dinner we made a pit stop at Amelie's because I was exhausted and need a shot of espresso and it's a crime to go in there and not get a pastry.

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Their fruit tarts remind me of the ones my mom and I used to make when I was younger so I let nostalgia guide my taste buds.

 

Wednesday evening mom treated us to dinner at Deejai Thai. Their food is great and I love that they deliver when you ask them to make your food extra spicy. We both ordered the Pad Thai and Charlotte ordered the Bahn Mi sandwich. 

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The meal ended on a sweet note with a dessert "pancake" with banana, ice cream, and condensed milk. 

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Then the next day I made a bad meal choice at lunch. We were out running errands and instead of making "one more" stop for lunch we should have just gone home. Charlotte and I found ourselves at Ishi's in University. This restaurant was a staple during my time at UNC Charlotte and was an occasional dinner spot for us after graduation. Sadly, the quality has declined over the years. The food didn't make me sick but it did slow me down the rest of the day. 

Quality matters. What you put in your body matters and I'm slowly beginning to learn to say no to things that are sub-par

Friday evening I got all dressed up and joined my girlfriends at Charlotte Magazine's BOB Awards. Several of my favorite restaurant, and 2018 Best of the Best winners, were on hand feeding the guests. I ate my body weight in Sea Level oysters and Mama Ricotta's caprese salad. Then I made the mistake of eating my body's weight in Your Mom's Doughnuts. They were glazed with fresh strawberry jam and I'm only a little sorry.

The party was a great way to kick off my birthday week and month.

You can read all about my birthday weekend here. We ate, we drank, we rode public transportation, and then I enjoyed my first visit to the Ritz Carlton spa.

 Cheers to another delicious week!

 

This posts contains affiliate links.

 

This Week's Eats: Week 21 | Getting Back on Track

Spring was a hectic time for us filled with travel, busy calendars, and falling off of the meal planning wagon. It doesn't look like summer will be any less busy but our waistlines and wallets are begging us to get back on track.

And that's what we've done this week. 

We returned from a beach trip on Sunday with a meal plan and a pit stop at my favorite international grocery store and Aldi

Sunday evening I made my favorite two pan dinner from one of my favorite books, Dinner: Changing the Game, by Melissa Clark. I love her philosophy on cooking dinner because it is similar to mine: changing one's mindset from a protein and two sides to putting together meals from a variety of small dishes to create a meal. Her recipes are easy to adapt and to mold into something of your own. It's a beautiful book and I can't recommend it enough. Huge thanks to Heather for recommending it!

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Our Sunday supper was spicy roasted shrimp with eggplant and mint (page 131 for those of you who have the book), a meal I've made several times, a meal I have adjusted accordingly because I thought we had harissa in our pantry but it turned out that we had piri piri type spice instead and that's what I've been using since the first time I've made this dish. It's a satisfying dish that we serve over rice to ensure a) that we have leftovers and b) that our toddler eats something, anything, for dinner. 

 

Monday

Breakfast: cereal for the kid and husband, a Clio yogurt bar to get me through the first hour of the day and coffee. For second breakfast I made a pimento grilled cheese with ham before running out the door to my gentle yoga class.

Lunch: chicken and dill dumplings from Trader Joe's with a Russian style side salad consisting of Persian cucumber, tomatoes, green onion, dill, and sour cream as the dressing.  

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I promise there's dumplings under all that dill and green onion!

Charlotte's Lunch: this was the last lunch of the school year and, I'll be honest with you guys, I've been slacking on the creativity front. I've been feeding her the same thing for the past couple of months with the sandwich shapes being the only thing that changed. 

Nutella on organic white bread, organic meat stick slices, cheese, almonds, and apple slices.

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Charlotte's YUMOBX Panino bento box was the real MVP this year, totally worth the $30 price tag.

Snack: y'all really think I'm going to go to an Asian supermarket and not walk out with several bags of the flavored Kit Kat bars? This trip's picks were green tea (an all time favorite) and strawberry.

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Dinner:  Originally I had planned to make Blue Apron's Suchuan-Style Pork Noodles but as it turns out I was missing half of the sauce ingredients I thought I had in the pantry. This is a mistake I often make so I had to improvise. Honestly, it's more fun that way...sometimes. Attempting this recipe also gave me an excuse to break out our meat grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid because our local Aldi doesn't sell ground pork and I wasn't about to make another stop after being in the car for four hours on Sunday. Long story short, I ended up making Bon Appetit's Udon Stir-Fry without realizing it. 

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It was delicious and we'll be making it again and again!

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I made a separate version for Charlotte because the original recipe I was attempting to make was going to be too spicy for her. 

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: cereal, Eggo waffles with Nutella.

Lunch: a second serving of the udon noodle stir fry. I took a rare shortcut by using ginger and garlic from a tube and to be honest with you will probably be taking more of this shortcut moving forward. It's less clean up and tastes (almost) the same!

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fresh-udon-noodle-3-pack

These fresh udon noodles are officially part of our fridge staples that we'll keep stocked at all times. 

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Individual packs means perfect portions and less waste.

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Dinner: Blue Apron's General Tso's Chicken. This is another variation on the classic that I made a while back. It was quick, easy, and delicious.

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Wednesday

Breakfast: cereal for the kid and husband and a double-smoked bacon sandwich from Starbucks for me. It was the last day of school so I had several teacher gift related errands to run before yoga and before picking up Charlotte from school. I knew I wouldn't have time to eat lunch at a normal time and needed something that would fill me up for a while.

Lunch: a poke bowl from Harris Teeter. It was better than I thought it would be and will definitely get it again.

Charlotte's Lunch: end of school year pizza party followed by an ice cream social. Needless to say, she did not nap.

Dinner: the summer vacation vibes hit me hard and a packed schedule earlier in the day made me miss meal prep time so we went out to our favorite local bar and restaurant for dinner. Not even sorry about it.

 Fried Green Beans

Fried Green Beans

 Buffalo Fried Chicken Salad

Buffalo Fried Chicken Salad

 

Thursday

Breakfast: cereal for the kid and husband and a Clio yogurt bar for me.

Lunch: balsamic marinated portobello mushroom burgers with apple slices. I successfully turned on our grill after about five minutes of inhaling gas. Our grill is connected to the home's gas line and is slightly different from ones we've had in the past. Don't worry, I'm fine, and the grilled portobello mushrooms turned out awesome!

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grilled-marinated-portobello-mushroom-caps-burger

 

Dinner: Greek Chicken Skewers with saffron cous cous and homemade tzatziki sauce. If you're looking for a quick meal, this isn't it. I call this an "all day meal" because you're working on it most of the day. First to make the fresh marinade and to cut up the chicken breast, then to slice up the veggies and make the tzatziki sauce, and then skewer and grill the ingredients and make the cous cous. It's totally worth all the work.

grilled-greek-chicken-skewers

 

Friday

Breakfast: Eggo waffles with Nutella at home and an almond milk vanilla latte for me and a lavender kambucha for Charlotte from Lincoln's Haberdashery

almond-milk-vanilla-latte-lincoln-haberdashery-southend-charlotte-nc

Lunch: Lancaster's BBQ before Charlotte's three year well check. I opted for their "famous" fried chicken dinner with a side of homemade hot sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, and green beans. 

lancasters-bbq-fried-chicken-charlotte-nc

Dinner: pizza by the pool with DD's Munchkin's for dessert.

 

Saturday

Breakfast: prosciutto and egg on English muffin.

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Lunch: Guess what I made again? If you guessed an udon noodle stir fry you'd be correct! This time I threw in a ton of leftover veggies from this week's meals and the noodles were as delicious as the first three times I made them this week.

Dinner: the weather was pretty crappy so we scrapped a trip to the pool and went shopping before dinner instead. And since we were out and had no real dinner plans we ended up at La Unica, one of our favorite spots in town for Mexican food. 

Brandon ordered the ceviche with tortas.

la-unica-harrisburg-nc-ceviche

I went for my usual order of carne asada.

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The rain held off long enough for us to enjoy ice cream cones for dessert. 

Vanilla for Charlotte.

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And cookies and cream for me.

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Sunday

Breakfast: egg sandwiches on English muffins.

Lunch: leftovers and pan fried gyoza from Trader Joe's with homemade dipping sauce.

Dinner: low country seafood boil at our friends' house. Our contribution was Brazilian cheesy bread (also known as Pão de Queijo or popovers). This was the largest batch I've ever made at around 90 pieces and they were all gone before the seafood hit the table.

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seafood-boil

 

It was a delicious week, leaning heavy on Asian flavors and ingredients, relying on our old time favorite restaurants, and enjoying a few treats.

What was your favorite meal this week?

 

This posts contains affiliate links.

 

Tacos 4 Life | Tacos for Good

If I had to choose one type of food to eat for the rest of my life I would choose tacos. There are endless possibilities for flavor combinations so it's impossible to get tired of them. Tacos 4 life, y'all!

Speaking of tacos for life, have you been Tacos 4 Life in Concord yet? Now, I know what you're thinking, "I live in Charlotte, why would I drive so far out?!" And I would respond with, "because it's not that far and it is super easy to get to and for every meal that you order, a meal is donated to a hungry child." A win-win for all!

Last month I had the pleasure of trying the menu and learning about their Meal 4 Meal program. For every taco, quesadilla, salad or rice bowl sold, twenty-two cents are donated to Feed My Starving Children. The money donated to FMSC goes to helping end childhood hunger around the world. The organization consistently receives the highest grades for accountability and transparency with 92% of the donations spent on the feeding programs. That's pretty amazing! Our meal was free of charge so I have donated the cost of the meal to FMSC. 

tacos-4-life-concord-nc-meal-4-meal

 

Here's what we ate and drank:

 Paradise Punch

Paradise Punch

Paradise Punch: sweet, delightful, and perfect for a hot summer's day. 

Pro-tip: take it to go and add a shot of tequila and enjoy in the safety of your own home.

 

 Ultimate Trio

Ultimate Trio

Ultimate Trioa trio of dips including queso, guacamole, and salsa. 

 

 Tacos

Tacos

Tacos: we tried six different tacos to cover as many bases as possible (chicken, beef, steak, pork, seafood, and vegetarian) and we had clear favorites. Pictured, from left to right:

Korean BBQ Steak: Korean bbq sauce, cabbage, wonton strips, yum-yum sauce on a soft flour tortilla.

Fried Chicken: buttermilk fried chicken, lettuce, chipotle aioli, a drizzle of honey on a soft flour tortilla.

Mango Habanero: grilled chicken, mango habanero salsa, cabbage, avocado, pico de gallo, mango, cotija cheese on a soft flour tortilla.

Hawaiian Shrimp: grilled or fried shrimp with pineapple Ono sauce, pineapple, lettuce, green onion, toasted coconut on a soft flour tortilla.

Crispy Eggplant: lightly breaded eggplant, cilantro pesto sauce, sautéed cherry tomatoes, lime wedge on soft flour tortilla. 

Chipotle Steak: sauteed onions and peppers, chipotle aioli, pico de gallo, cheddar-jack cheese on a puffy flour tortilla.

My favorites were crispy eggplant, chipotle steak, and mango habanero. Sadly, the one taco we were most excited about, the fried chicken, fell flat. 

 

Up next were the side items!

 Cilantro Pesto Rice and Mexican Creamed Corn

Cilantro Pesto Rice and Mexican Creamed Corn

We tried two sides, the Cilantro Pesto Rice (steamed rice topped with a cilantro, pumpkin seed, garlic, olive oil, and green onion pesto and a lime wedge) and the Mexican Creamed Corn (sweet corn layered with cotija cheese and cilantro). I loved the cilantro pesto (why didn't I think of that!) and could eat several bowls of the creamed corn.

 

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I'm excited to add another great fast-casual restaurant into rotation on our side of town. I'm even more excited to eat more tacos because for every taco that I eat at Tacos 4 Life helps feed a hungry child.

Give them a try, you won't be disappointed!

 

We received our meal at no charge. All opinions are my own.

 

Tandur Indian Kitchen

I'll be the first to admit that I know very little about Indian cuisine. I've had Indian food plenty of times (I love it!) but I never know what to order and tend to lean towards restaurants with buffets so that I could try as many different items as possible instead of feeling completely lost when staring at a menu.

Earlier this year I started to hear buzz around a new fast casual Indian restaurant concept opening near SouthPark Mall and couldn't wait to try it. Finally, last Tuesday, Charlotte and I got a chance to give Tandur Indian Kitchen a try and it was totally worth the drive from Harrisburg!

First, the menu. It's very easy to navigate and the sauce descriptions are easy to understand for someone who doesn't know much about Indian cuisine (like me!). There's authentic saucy entrees that are served with a choice of protein, saffron basmati rice or brown rice, and fresh naan (regular or garlic). The wraps are inspired by different regions of India plus one wrap inspired by the Carolinas. If you're hungry, try the Biryani rice bowls. If you're looking for something lighter give their salads a try. And finally, there's a variety of kebabs to choose from including tofu!

If you can't decide on a sauce for your entree, ask for a taste! That's what Charlotte and I did. We tried the Korma (saffron curry, fennel, and cardamom), Vindaloo (hot and sour jus), and Kadai (red onions, bell peppers, and chili tomato oil). Charlotte tried all three sauces and settled on Korma as her favorite. She basically drank the sauce while I studied the menu. 

tandur-charlotte-nc-authentic-saucy-entrees

 

We started with two of the starters: the Spiced Okra Fries and the Tanduri Wings. Both starters were unique in their own way. 

The okra fries are very different from the southern fried okra that one may be accustomed to. They are thinly sliced and fried and not at all greasy. 

tandur-charlotte-nc-spiced-okra-froies
tandur-charlotte-nc-spiced-okra-fries-toddler-approved

The wings are marinated and baked and served with a delightful tamarind ranch. They're also huge and one can easily make a meal out of them!

tandur-charlotte-nc-chcicken-wings

 

For my entree I ordered lamb meatballs with Kadai sauce. The entree was served with saffron basmati rice and fresh naan. 

tandur-charlotte-nc-kadai-lamb-meatballs-1
tandur-charlotte-nc-kadai-lamb-meatballs-2
tandur-charlotte-nc-kadai-lamb-meatballs-3

 

Charlotte opted for the kid's chicken with korma sauce, served with a side of rice, and half of my mint ginger sparkling lemonade.

tandur-charlotte-nc-korma-kids-chicken
tandur-charlotte-nc-sparkling-mint-ginger-lemonade

The meal was delicious, the service was great, and we took our sauces home and repurposed them a few days later for dinner. Hashtag delicious!

Whether you're new to Indian food or not, you're sure to find something delicious to eat at Tandur for the entire family.

Thank you to Scott and the entire team at Tandur for your hospitality and to the Social Ape team for arranging everything!

P.S. Their second location will be opened in ballantyne later this year! 

 

Would you like to like to see more toddler and kid friendly restaurant reviews? 

 

 

I received this meal at no charge. All opinions are my own.  

This Week's Eats: Weeks 11-20

Hello, my name is Kseniya and I have fallen off of my weekly blogging wagon. Spring was crazy with travel, life, more travel, and more life. Not only have I fallen off the blogging wagon, we have also fallen off the meal planning wagon and it shows in our waistlines and bank accounts.

So, after this week (we're traveling again!), we're getting back on track. 

And, don't worry, I'll recap some of our favorite vacation eats and favorite new recipes in upcoming posts.

Until then, I leave you with this photo of us from Disney World back in March:

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