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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old-fashioned-merchant-and-trade-kimpton-charlotte-nc

 

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!

pad-thai-with-shrimp-simply-asian-asheboro-nc

 

 

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.

better-than-take-out-udon-noodles

 

What's your favorite birthday treat?

 

 

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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.

undercurrent-plaza-midwood-charlotte-nc-line

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.

undercurrent-plaza-midwood-charlotte-nc-avocado-toast
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!

amelies-noda-baby-shower

 

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. 

noda-charlotte-nc-bus-stop-amelies

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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the-dumpling-lady-noda-company-store-2

 

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

birthday-roses

 

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.

haberdish-noda-charlotte-nc-apothecary-cocktail-cbd

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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haberdish-noda-charlotte-nc-the-smoke-point-2

 

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

superica-south-end-charlotte-nc-design-center

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.  

 

superica-south-end-charlotte-nc-red-headed-stranger-the-og-margarita

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.

superica-south-end-charlotte-nc-steak-fajita-nachos

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.

superica-south-end-charlotte-nc-skirt-steak-fajitas

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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ritz-carlton-charlotte-nc-pool-spa-salt-room

 

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.

tofu-custard-upstream-charlotte-nc-chef-kato

 

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.

amelies-myers-park-charlotte-nc-coffee-fruit-tart

 

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!

 

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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.  

trader-joes-chicken-and-dill-pelmeni-dumplings

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.

green-tea-and-strawberry-kit-kat

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

easy-brazillian-cheesy-bread-for-a-crowd
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?

 

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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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This Week's Eats: Week 10 | Easy One Sheet Pan Dinners

Not going to sugar coat it, we ate out a lot this week. It was hard to avoid with Brandon traveling this week and me having meeting across town. There were also meeting with friends and a date night for the second week in a row (lucky us!).

 

Monday

Breakfast: cereal

Lunch: grain bowl salad

Charlotte's Lunch: apple sauce, Nutella on whole grain, dry apricots, cheese, strawberries, and almonds.

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Dinner:  Blue Apron's General Tso's Chicken. I have the tendency to impulsively purchase produce items and then struggle to come up with something to make. Some days I open our fridge like the contestants on Chopped open their mystery baskets and create something great in 30 minutes. This time the items were bok choy and daikon radish. I whipped out our paella pan because it was the only thing that could handle the three pounds of bok choy and allowed me to pan fry the chicken without having to batch it in a smaller pan.

The meal was delicious and has been officially added into rotation. 

blue-apron-general-tso-chicken-bok-choy-daikon-radish

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: cereal, Eggo waffles with Nutella

Lunch: ham sandwiches.

Dinner: roasted sausage and veggies. I'm all about one sheet pan meals, especially when I have to run out the door to an event or client meeting. 

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: cereal, Eggo waffles with Nutella, bananas

Lunch: Take it to the Bridge breakfast sandwich, Peacock (pineapple mint) kombucha from Up Dog, and a signature late from Lincoln's Haberdashery.

I had a morning meeting in South End with just enough time to finally check out Lincoln's Haberdashery. I, 100%, understand the obsession now. Think they'll let me move in?

 Take it to the Bridge 

Take it to the Bridge 

Acme smoked salmon, house toast, cream cheese, dill, red onion, capers, and ikura.

Charlotte's Lunch: Nutella on whole wheat, cheese, salame, broccoli, and fruit gummies.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-march-7

Dinner: Mini Italian meatloaves, orzo, and broccolini.

This was the second one sheet pan dinner of the week and a bit more complicated, but not so much that I wouldn't ever make them again.

mini-italian-meatloafs-orzo-broccolini

 

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Eggos with Nutella

Lunch: Living Burrito and a Matcha Maca with hemp milk from Living Kitchen. This was the first stop of several during an epic afternoon with my besties Katy, Erin, and Charlotte. 

 Matcha Maca with Hemp Milk

Matcha Maca with Hemp Milk

 Living Burrito

Living Burrito

Sunflower seed refried beans, cauliflower rice, sprouts, pico de gallo guacamole and cashew sour cream wrapped in a collard leaf – served with fire and brimstone hot sauce.

Dinner: Nachos with BBQ beef brisket and a cheese quesadilla from Tin Kitchen.

 Tin Kitchen BBQ Beef Brisket Nachos + Cheese Quesadilla

Tin Kitchen BBQ Beef Brisket Nachos + Cheese Quesadilla

Corn tortilla chips with goat cheese, salsa verde, scallions & sriracha.

 

Friday

Breakfast: yogurt bars.

Lunch: Japanese steak and shrimp chile ramen from Pei Wei. I recently signed up for their rewards program so the entree was free with the purchase of a large drink. Not a bad deal at all!

 Japanese Steak & Shrimp Chile Ramen

Japanese Steak & Shrimp Chile Ramen

Wok-seared house-cut marinated flank steak, fresh-cooked shrimp and noodles in a spicy-savory Japanese sauce with minced garlic, red bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, onions, cilantro and lime.

Charlotte's Lunch: Nutella on whole wheat, cheese, tavern ham, carrots, almonds and dried cherries.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-march-9

Family Dinner: Martha Stewart's arroz con pollo.

Datenight Dinner: A delicious dinner at Zeppelin. Y'all, if you haven't been, GO! The meal that we ate deserves a separate post so stay tuned...

 Scratch Buns

Scratch Buns

Sweet miso heritage pork belly, shaved cabbage, and pickled chilis.

 

Saturday

Breakfast: protein pancakes with fresh berries and jam.

Lunch: Haberdish. Did you really expect us to go a week without eating there?!

 Brunch Cocktails

Brunch Cocktails

 Livermush Toast, hot Side of the Day, Sweet Potato Dumplings, and 2 piece White Fried Chicken

Livermush Toast, hot Side of the Day, Sweet Potato Dumplings, and 2 piece White Fried Chicken

Livermush Toast: set with Carolina gold rice, topped with mustard, molasses, bread & butter pickles.

Hot Side of the Day: sauteed baby kale and shaved carrots served with smoked pork in a honey glaze topped with crunchy benne seeds.

Sweet Potato Dumplings: hand-spooned with brown butter, sage, parm.

 Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

Dinner: Russian dumplings + leftovers.

 

Sunday

Breakfast: cheese blintzes.

Luncharroz con pollo leftovers. 

Dinner: mesquite pork loin, mashed potatoes, and corn.

 

Would anyone be interested in a recipe bank? I know our breakfasts and lunches are pretty repetitive but we tend to have more fun with dinner. 

 

 

This Week's Eats: Week 9 | Discovering New Restaurants in Cabarrus County

Some weeks you're winning, other weeks you go off plan twice... the first day. Anytime my workload increases, the ability to stick to our weekly plan decreases. We ate out a lot this week and my body is craving a nice earthy salad as I write this at 10pm on a Sunday evening. The good news is that my salads are already prepped for next week so there will be no excuses!

I launched a side project, in addition to everything else that I'm working on, called Cabarrus Co Foodie. We've lived near the county for years and in it for almost two. I felt like it was time to not only explore what my "new" hometown has to offer but to also share my journey. Follow me over on Instagram and Facebook to see what I've discovered! Trust me, there are a few gems that are worth the drive from Charlotte!

Monday

Breakfast: ham sandwich and a yogurt bar.

Lunch: A banana foster crepe at C3 in Concord. Not exactly the healthiest choice but I did yoga that morning so it balanced out. 

c3-concord-nc-banana-foster-crepe

Charlotte's Lunch: Justin's vanilla almond butter on wheat bread, cheese, ham, almonds with dried cranberries, and broccoli.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-feb26

Dinner: La Unica because life. I had the carne asada, which is big enough to feed two adults, and it hit the spot. Brandon had the authentic street tacos, and Charlotte killed a quesadilla. 

la-unica-harrisburg-nc-carne-asada-charro-beans

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: Mickey Mouse Eggo waffles with Nutella.

Lunch: Chick fil a. 

Dinner: Marcella Hazan's Bolognese because we can't stop, won't stop, loving this pasta sauce.

marcella-hazans-bolognese

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: ham sandwich plus a yogurt bar.

Lunch: The Smoke Pit you-pick-three plate. Y'all, this is some of the best BBQ I've had in a long time. I ordered a ton of food, mostly because I signed up last minute to take a Crowned Sparrow craft class and would not have had time to cook dinner. Two birds, one stone. 

the-smoke-pit-concord-nc-pick-three-meats

Charlotte's Lunch: Justin's vanilla almond butter on wheat bread, cheese, pepperoni, broccoli, and organic fruit gummies.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-feb28

Dinner: leftover BBQ for the family.

My Dinner: Bar eats at Legion Brewing. 

 Juicy Jay IPA

Juicy Jay IPA

 Southern Brat with a side of Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Southern Brat with a side of Roasted Brussel Sprouts

First course: Southern Brat (Cheshire Bratwurst soaked in Dos Amigos. Apple Bacon Saurkraut and Dos Amigos Whole Grain Mustard on fresh Nova’s Bakery Bun) with a side of Roasted Brussel Sprouts (Brussel Sprouts, Toasted Pecans, Honey Sriracha glaze). The brat hit the spot but, I'll be honest, I was not a fan of the Brussel sprouts. Paired it all with Juicy Jay IPA.

 

 Beauty and the Beets (Beet and Orange Saison).

Beauty and the Beets (Beet and Orange Saison).

legion-brewing-charlotte-nc-plaza-midwood-meat-and-cheese-plate-wednesday

Second course: Meat & Cheese plate ($5 Wednesday special). Paired with Beauty and the Beets (Beet and Orange Saison).

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Mini Eggo Waffles with Nutella.

Lunch: leftover BBQ.

Dinner: Greek chicken kabobs with saffron cous cous and homemade tzatziki sauce. It's one of our all time favorite meals to eat, especially when it gets warm outside.

greek-chicken-kabobs

 

Friday

Breakfast: yogurt bar.

clio-yogurt-bars-harris-teeter-charlotte

Lunch: A Mediterranean bowl at Cava. I was really excited to try it out. It was okay. It's a build-your-own concept which is great, however, I ended up with an overwhelming amount of flavors for one bowl. I wish they had a suggested combos menu, kind of like Chopt with their tested salad menu.

cava-charlotte-nc-university-city-grain-bowl

Charlotte's Lunch: Justin's vanilla almond butter on wheat bread, cheese, ham, almonds with dried cherries, and broccoli.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-march2

Dinner: Three Monkeys, the friendliest neighborhood bar! 

 

Saturday

Breakfast: cereal.

Lunch: leftovers followed by oysters and Bloody's at Ally's backyard birthday party.

oyster-roast

Dinner: our original evening plans fell through so on the way from the birthday party we stopped by Inner Harbor Seafood in Plaza Midwood to pick up some fish to cook for dinner. We got a whole red snapper, a whole tilapia, and a large salmon head (to make soup later). We kept it simple with boiled potatoes as a side. 

inner-harbor-seafood-plaza-midwood-charlotte-nc-red-snapper

My mom, who is an absolute treasure if you didn't already know, encouraged Brandon and I to go out on a date so that's exactly what we did. We hung out with the Au's, drank craft beers, ate soft pretzels, and took oyster shots (because YOLO). 

 Maine Beer Company's Woods & Waters IPA | Salud Beer Shop

Maine Beer Company's Woods & Waters IPA | Salud Beer Shop

 Oyster Shots | Growler's 

Oyster Shots | Growler's 

 

Sunday

Breakfast: French toast with an assortment of berries.

Lunch: salmon fish head soup.

Dinner: glazed chicken breast with a side of potatoes, haricot verts, and mushroom medley.

 

What delicious meals did you cook up this week?

 

 

This Week's Eats: Week 8 | Kitchen Fails and Delicious Celebrations

There was very little planning that went into this week. Not because we were busy, but because Brandon was traveling and because our schedule was filled with celebrating friends, family, and life. The little planning was a good thing because we managed to screw up the only two meals that were planned. Oops.

Monday

Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese.

Lunch: family lunch at Panera Bread.

Dinner: Orange Glazed Meatballs with bok choy and Jasmine rice. This was our second time making the Blue Apron meal and it was a bit of a fail. I read a few comments and decided to use egg to hold the meatballs together and to also pre-bake them prior to frying. Don't do that. I also didn't realize that we were out of oranges, that we didn't have enough sweet chili sauce, and I accidentally over-corrected by using too much ponzu. We ate the meal but it wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been.

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: Eggo waffles with Nutella and a banana.

Lunch: Russian dumplings.

Dinner: "Damsel Pasta." This was almost another fail because the sausage that we were going to use was expired. Thank goodness for a Harris Teeter less than a mile away from the house. The other fail? Zoodles that were very bitter and waterlogged because the zucchini wasn't very fresh.

 Damsel in Dior Pasta over Zoodles

Damsel in Dior Pasta over Zoodles

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: bagel with cream cheese.

Lunch: grain salad bowl with tofu.

Charlotte's Lunch: Justin's vanilla almond butter on wheat bread, cheese, pepperoni, strawberries, and fruit gummies.

toddler-bento-box-feb21

Dinner: leftover pasta.

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Eggo waffles with Nutella and a banana.

Lunch: smoked salmon with boiled baby potatoes.

Dinner: pizza, pasta, and cocktails at WP Kitchen + Bar to celebrate my friend Erin, who was recently named the editor of Carolina Bride

 Calling Dr. Love | A mildly tart and refreshing mix of fresh raspberries, Ban Vodka, St. Germaine and prosecco.

Calling Dr. Love | A mildly tart and refreshing mix of fresh raspberries, Ban Vodka, St. Germaine and prosecco.

 Once Bitten...Twice Shy | A smooth mixture of Maker's Mark, Amareno cherry juice and sweet Vermouth

Once Bitten...Twice Shy | A smooth mixture of Maker's Mark, Amareno cherry juice and sweet Vermouth

 Spaghetti | tomato-basil-garlic sauce, parmesan

Spaghetti | tomato-basil-garlic sauce, parmesan

 

Friday

Breakfast: chocolate yogurt bar. All the Russians in Charlotte (including me) are going nuts over these because they remind us of our childhood snack that is a much sweeter version of what these are.

Brunch: Haberdish to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday. It will required a separate post to talk about all the things we ate, but here's a photo I took of our table while standing on a chair to give you a glimpse of the feast.

haberdish-noda-charlotte-nc-brunch

Charlotte's Lunch: Justin's vanilla almond butter on wheat bread, cheese, pepperoni, broccoli, and fruit gummies.

toddler-lunch-feb23

Dinner: all you can eat sushi at Mr. Tokyo. I think this makes it three weeks in a row that we've been there...

mr-tokyo-all-you-can-eat-sushi-charlotte-nc-1
mr-tokyo-all-you-can-eat-sushi-charlotte-nc-2
IMG_3602.JPG
mr-tokyo-all-you-can-eat-sushi-charlotte-nc-4
IMG_3603.JPG
mr-tokyo-all-you-can-eat-sushi-charlotte-nc-6

 

Saturday

Breakfast: Eggo waffles with Nutella

Lunch: grain bowl salad and leftovers

Dinner: pork chops with sweet potatoes and slaw. We eat very little pork (outside of BBQ) because I had a very bad experience when I was pregnant. I'll spare you the details but it was enough for me to swear off (non-BBQ) pork for eternity. But my husband asked for pork, and I couldn't think of anything better for dinner, so we had pork. 

I did a quick marinade using brown sugar and soy sauce before Brandon threw the chops on the grill. For sides I made roasted sweet potato spirals and a red cabbage slaw with daikon radish, peach, orange slices, and juice of one lemon.

marinated-grilled-pork-chop
red-cabbage-slaw-daikon-peach-orange

 

Sunday

Breakfast: smoked salmon with boiled baby potatoes.

Lunch: snacks after a 90 minute flow at NoDa Yoga. (More on that in another post!)

Dinner: pre-made pho from Aldi. I wasn't a fan, mainly because it tasted too much like onion. 

 

I enjoyed having to plan a few meals but with plenty of leftovers and will try to do the same for next week. 

What's on your menu next week?

 

 

This Week's Eats: Week 7 | Asian Flavors and Nights Out on the Town

We did a much better job planning this week, finding multiple uses for protein, cooked up a decadent Valentine's Day dinner for the whole family, and enjoyed several meals out -- including date night on Saturday (thanks, mom!).

 

Monday

Breakfast: Eggo waffles with Nutella.

Lunch: Kung Pow noodle bowl from ALDI.

Charlotte's Lunch: I forgot to take a picture so, to be honest with you, I have no clue what I made her.

Dinner: Peruvian style roasted chicken with tangy green sauce and a cucumber avocado salad. This is one of my new favorite recipes for roast chicken that we've been coming back to again and again.

Since there's only three of us, one whole chicken yields multiple meals. One half is always used for roasting while the other half is used for chicken stock. This time I used chicken from the stock to make a second dinner on Tuesday evening, it was already cooked so it only needed to be reheated in the sauce before being served.

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: bagels with cream cheese.

Lunch: chicken soup with veggies and leftover rice.

Dinner: Butter chicken served over roasted cauliflower. The sauce was delicious but not at all spicy (we're heat seekers!). The meal was toddler approved, Charlotte ate everything on her dinner plate and asked for more. I may throw in some sweet potatoes and peas next time to add a few extra nutrients.

butter-chicken-over-roasted-cauliflower
 Butter Chicken sauce from ALDI

Butter Chicken sauce from ALDI

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: bagel with cream cheese.

Charlotte's Lunch: Nutella on whole grain bread, broccoli, clementine, almonds, and dried cherries.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-feb14

Lunch: Persis Indian Grille lunch buffet for a Valentine's Day date with Brandon.

persis-indian-grille-charlotte-nc-lunch-buffet-1
persis-indian-grille-charlotte-nc-lunch-buffet-2
persis-indian-grille-charlotte-nc-lunch-buffet-3

Dinner: A Valentine's Day feast for four: two whole lobsters (ALDI), two pieces of filet (Earth Fare), roasted asparagus (Costco), sauteed mushroom medley (ALDI), and a chocolate cake for dessert (Earth Fare). Phew! The whole meal (including a bottle of wine) came in under $60.

valentines-day-dinner-at-home

I accidentally broke off the lobsters' claws when taking them out of the package so it looked like we had giant red bugs on our plates.

earth-fare-chocolate-cake

 

Thursday

Breakfast: bagels with cream cheese.

Lunch: tuna salad for me, sandwich for Charlotte.

Family Dinner: Butter chicken leftovers served over rice.

My Dinner: pepperoni pizza from Fuel Pizza delivered via Postmates to NoDa Brewing's Disney Trivia night because it was their largest trivia night ever and it was quicker to order delivery than to stand in line to get Tin Kitchen. Still a little bummed I didn't get my Tin Kitchen fix but it's all good! We made up for it by going to Haberdish for second dinner. I got one chicken tender and the hot side of the day (sauteed potato hash with chorizo, onions, garlic tossed in a creamy smoked tomato dressing topped with fresh herbs). 

 Hop Cakes @ NoDa Brewing

Hop Cakes @ NoDa Brewing

 Sauteed Potato Hash @ Haberdish

Sauteed Potato Hash @ Haberdish

 

Friday

Breakfast: bagel with cream cheese and Haberdish leftovers.

Lunch: Asian noodle bowl from ALDI.

asian-noodle-bowl-aldi
asian-noodle-bowl-aldi-2

 

Charlotte's Lunch: Justin's vanilla almond butter on whole wheat bread, cheese, salami, broccoli, and organic fruit gummies.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-feb16

Family Dinner: barbacoa tacos with all the fixin's. 

My Dinner: tuna tartare, meat and cheese platter, signature popovers, and several cocktails at BLT Steakhouse. I had the pleasure of tasting new house cocktails and mingling with BLT's marketing and PR team. You can read all about my brunch experience last March by clicking here.

 Tuna Tartare @ BLT Steakhouse

Tuna Tartare @ BLT Steakhouse

 Charcuterie @ BLT Steakhouse

Charcuterie @ BLT Steakhouse

 Signature Popovers @ BLT Steakhouse

Signature Popovers @ BLT Steakhouse

 Monkey Cyborg (Monkey Shoulders Scotch, Cynar, Brown Sugar, Muddled Rosemary, Cranberry Bitters) @ BLT Steakhouse

Monkey Cyborg (Monkey Shoulders Scotch, Cynar, Brown Sugar, Muddled Rosemary, Cranberry Bitters) @ BLT Steakhouse

 Peppered Rose (Stoli, Fresh Grapefruit, Lime, Luxardo Crude "Rizzo" Grapefruit & Rosemary Bitters) @ BLT Steakhouse

Peppered Rose (Stoli, Fresh Grapefruit, Lime, Luxardo Crude "Rizzo" Grapefruit & Rosemary Bitters) @ BLT Steakhouse

 

Saturday

Breakfast: bagels with cream cheese.

Lunch: barbacoa rice bowls.

Dinner: Mama Ricotta's for datenight with my boo. We ordered a large salad and one entree and it was more than enough food! 

mama-ricottas-charlotte-nc-red-wine
 Tuscan Salad (Romaine, diced Roma tomatoes, house made fresh mozzarella, red onions & Kalamata olives tossed together and splashed with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil) @ Mama Ricotta's

Tuscan Salad (Romaine, diced Roma tomatoes, house made fresh mozzarella, red onions & Kalamata olives tossed together and splashed with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil) @ Mama Ricotta's

 Pollo Bianco (Scallopini-style chicken layered with prosciutto and mozzarella in a Chianti wild mushroom sauce. Served with today's vegetable and garlic mashed potatoes) @ Mama Ricotta'S

Pollo Bianco (Scallopini-style chicken layered with prosciutto and mozzarella in a Chianti wild mushroom sauce. Served with today's vegetable and garlic mashed potatoes) @ Mama Ricotta'S

 

Sunday

Breakfast: omelet with a side of fresh fruit.

Lunch: barbacoa rice bowls.

Dinner: hot dogs, fries, pop corn, and pretzels at the Charlotte Checkers game.

Dinner #2: hockey and ice skating after the game made us crave Russian dumplings and salad so that's exactly what we ate... while watching the Winter Olympics. The perfect meal to end an amazing weekend!

Brandon is traveling next week and my work to-do list is long so the menu for next week is a bit simpler and leans heavily on meals that make great leftovers.

What's on the menu at your house this week?

 

 

This Week's Eats: Week 6 | Menu Tastings and Lots of Asian Flavors

I should have known better than to save meal prep for Sunday, the same Sunday as the Super Bowl, because it didn't get done. Other things that didn't get done this week: preparing the meals in time for me to enjoy them before rushing out the door for evening events. I ate a lot of late meals, snacks for meals, or no meals at all. I also didn't get to the gym until Friday so I was an anxious mess.

Here's what we ate this week:

Monday

Breakfast: bagels with cream cheese.

Lunch: Trader Joe's chicken and dill pelmeni.

Charlotte's Lunch: whole grain Nutella cats, cheese, carrots, pepperoni, and almonds with crasins.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-feb5

Dinner: a one-sheet-pan-meal of salmon, fingerling potatoes, and steamed kale inspired by this Blue Apron recipe. I have really bad luck with topping the salmon with anything before putting it in the oven so we went the simple route of salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Dinner #2 (because one is never enough!): RuSan's with my dear friend for sushi and sake. I ordered the All About Tuna roll (spicy tuna, apple, carrot, topped with tuna, jalapeno candy, and eel sauce), the Lemon Salmon roll (tempura kale, cucumber, topped with salmon and lemon slices, drizzled with spicy guacamole sauce), and two pieces of salmon sashimi.

 All About Tuna Roll

All About Tuna Roll

 Lemon Salmon Roll

Lemon Salmon Roll

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: Eggo waffles with Nutella.

Lunch: ham sandwich for Charlotte, bowl of popcorn for me.

Dinner: orange soy glazed meatballs with bok choy, carrots, and rice, inspired by this Blue Apron recipe. I also good shishito peppers (I'm obsessed!) for an appetizer with a creme fresh, lemon, and soy dipping sauce.

 Shishito Peppers

Shishito Peppers

 Orange Soy Meatballs + Sycamore Brewing Mountain Candy IPA

Orange Soy Meatballs + Sycamore Brewing Mountain Candy IPA

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: bagels with cream cheese. 

Lunch: string cheese and a box of Valentine's Day chocolates followed by Trader Joe's burrata, prosciutto, and arugula flat bread around 3 o'clock.

Charlotte's Lunch: almond butter on wheat bread, cheese, pepperoni, carrots, and fruit gummies.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-feb7

Dinner: roasted chicken breast and vegetables for the fam, granola bar for me. 🤷‍♀️

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Eggo waffles with Nutella.

Lunch: ham sandwich for the kid, random snack food for me.

Dinner: leftovers for the fam, blogger tasting event at Kid Cashew for me. 

 Crab Cakes | Kid Cashew

Crab Cakes | Kid Cashew

 

Friday

Breakfast: bagels with cream cheese.

Lunch: All you can eat sushi lunch at Mr. Tokyo to celebrate Brandon passing his PMP exam. 

 Seaweed Salad

Seaweed Salad

 Tiger Roll - Spicy tuna crunch and mango in the outside, tuna and salmon on the outside, topped with crunch and masago.

Tiger Roll - Spicy tuna crunch and mango in the outside, tuna and salmon on the outside, topped with crunch and masago.

 Phoenix Roll, Tiger Roll, Eel Roll, Tuna Roll, Spicy Salmon Hand Roll

Phoenix Roll, Tiger Roll, Eel Roll, Tuna Roll, Spicy Salmon Hand Roll

Charlotte's Lunch: Nutella on whole grain, cheese, pickles, fruit gummies, and ham.

toddler-bento-box-lunch-feb9

Dinner: Nobody was hungry for dinner after the lunch that we had.

 

Saturday

Breakfast: French Toast with topped with assorted berries and sweetened condensed milk.

french-toast-berries

Lunch: another celebratory lunch, but this time prepared at home. For starters we had a strawberry mint Old Fashioned and caprese salad. For the main course we had t-bone steaks served with small potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, and garlic parsley butter. It was delicious!

strawberry-mint-old-fashioned

Dinner: pizza from Blaze Pizza because nobody wanted to cook and clean up after a third meal. We ordered a simple pie (sauce and cheese) for the kid and split a build-your-own between the two of us. It was delicious and a perfect end to an awesome food day.

baby-eats-blaze-pizza
blaze-pizza-build-your-own

 

Sunday

Breakfast: leftover French Toast.

Lunch: delicious brunch at a friend's house.

Dinner: leftovers.

 

We had a delicious week, save for a few skipped or snack meals. We definitely spent more time in the kitchen and it felt good to try new things. The orange soy glazed meatball dish was superb and has been added into rotation. We have an event every evening next week (except for Monday) and we have adjusted the meal planning accordingly: making larger portions so that there's plenty of leftovers and meals with minimal hands on time.

What's on the menu at your house this week?