Friday, September 30, 2011

Road Trip Deli

The last wedding appointment Johnny and I had last weekend was with our Reverend. I found him online with great reviews, and after calling around to talk to a few officiants, I chose him. I love the guy! He's really personable and always cracks me up with a great sense of humor. This was Johnny's first time meeting him and he agreed. While we were walking away he squeezed my hand and told me I made the right choice.

We got in the car to drive away and I realized we should grab some food. I spotted Goldberg's Famous Bagels. There was no question. A Jewish deli making bagels? Can you get better than that!? I chose the everything bagel (BOTH sides were toasty and covered with toppings) with home made cream cheese and chives with Nova. He sliced the Nova fresh off the side of a salmon before putting it on my bagel.

For good measure, I texted my dad a picture with the caption "You jealous!?" It was delicious and makes me wish we had more Jewish people in the south. They just know their stuff.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wedding Cake Tasting!

When I think of wedding planning I think of two things: a nervous girl trying on dresses and an excited couple stuffing their faces with cake samples.

Since I already tried on dresses, I've had the cake tasting to look forward to for months!

Our venue works hand-in-hand with Homestyle Desserts, a local bakery to include the cake with the reception cost. At first I was a little weary because I wasn't sure if it was a good bakery. I read some online reviews and the locals just go ga-ga over them! My nerves were settled!

When we opened the doors to get out of the car in the parking lot, we both nearly fainted from the scent. There were people rushing in and out with huge white boxes full of tasty treats. The display cases were filled top to bottom with every Italian dessert, pastry, and treat you could imagine.

We were ushered behind the counter to a table and given 4 slices to try.

Starting at the top was Chocolate Mousse with chocolate cake and chocolate mousse. Going clockwise, next was Double Temptation, chocolate cake with cheesecake. Next was the Amaretto Cake, vanilla amaretto cake with vanilla and chocolate custard filling. Last was Cannoli Cake, an Italian sponge cake with Cannoli cream and chocolate chips.

In about 4 seconds the plate looked like this. When I looked at the selections back in February I pretty much already made up my mind. The tasting just solidified that choice!

Which one would you pick?
Which do you think I picked!?!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bear Mountain Wedding Tasting

If you've wandered over to the Wedding Planning tab, you already know that we're getting married at Bear Mountain State Park in December.

We narrowed down our choice after we learned the chefs are CIA grads and heard several good reviews from people that had eaten at functions there. I have not been a bridezilla about things, but I wanted to make sure our venue had outstanding food.

The paperwork we've had for months features pages of mouth watering selections. When our wedding coordinator said we could do a tasting I jumped at the chance to help narrow down our choices.

We chose 4 hors d'oeuvres to sample (from the left):
  • crispy pork belly with apricot marmalade on toasted corn bread
  • beef tenderloin medallion on crostini with goat cheese and oven dried tomato
  • mini buttermilk biscuit with honey mustard glazed ham and Swiss cheese
  • twice baked fingerling potato stuffed with bacon and boursin cheese
We also had two entrees to try:
  • cider-glazed pork loin over braised red cabbage with bacon jus
(Oops! We accidentally dug into this one before I snapped a pic, which messed up it's presentation!)

  • penne with vodka sauce and peas
Everything was so delicious. We had 2nds and 3rds of the entrees. It was so fun to sit and do a tasting- that's the first time I've done anything like that. I certainly feel very confident that any dish we choose will be ammmaazzzing! I can't wait for December to get here so I can stuff myself!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Baked Chicken Enchiladas

Long time readers might remember Johnny's surprise Fiesta birthday party last summer!

We made a whole variety of tasty Mexican treats, including some chicken enchiladas. My boss Linda was at the party and loved them so much, she's been asking me for a year to make them!

When I moved back in June it was the first thing she mentioned to me and I just haven't had the time until now to make them for her.

Just like the party, I made a really big batch. Enough for a pan to go to Linda and enough for us to have for dinner. Please feel free to cut the recipe down if you're just making it for a normal dinner. Otherwise make a pan for now and freeze a pan (before baking) for later!!

2 pkgs McCormick enchilada sauce mix
10 oz. can of tomatoes with green chiles
3 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat)
4 cups shredded cheese (I used a reduced fat blend)
~6 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1 can black beans, drained
2 dozen 8" flour tortillas

In a large high sided skillet mix together the sauce packets, tomatoes, and water. Cook over medium high heat until bubbly. Stir in the sour cream until smooth and let simmer a few minutes to thicken.

Shred chicken into a large bowl. Add 1/4 of the sauce, 1 cup of cheese, and the drained can of black beans. Toss everything until well mixed.

Spray two large baking pans with non stick spray. Fill each tortilla with a thin strip of the mixture down the center, wrapping to close. Place fold side down into the baking pan.

Pour the remainder of the sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake in a 400° oven for 30 minutes. Serve with extra sour cream.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


This week there are three things to celebrate around here.

First -- we sold the house!! It officially closed on Wednesday, September 7th.

Second -- September 7th also happened to be mine and Johnny's 5th anniversary!

Third -- September 12th is Dinner at Christina's third birthday!

Biz just celebrated her 3rd blogiversary too and I loved the "look back" she did.

Dinner at Christina's fans have been there for:

The story of my chef brother
My Grammy passing away
My first Video Demonstration: Pan Fried Pork Chops
My Dad's Homemade Sausage
My first Blogger meet up
My second Blogger meet up
Friday Firsts
When Johnny proposed!
Major House Renovations
Moving into our new tiny apartment
And following along as I plan our Dec. 2011 wedding!

I decided to splurge a bit at the grocery store on behalf of this special week. We had a great Saturday night dinner.

Massive grilled steaks medium rare, grilled onions, grilled poblano chiles, and sweet potato waffle fries.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Come on Irene.

The entire week before Irene I had this song stuck in my head, but Irene instead of Eileen. (Sidenote: what a funky video)

I've grown up on the east coast. On the barrier islands of North Carolina, better known as the Outer Banks. It juts out into the ocean and the widest part is 3 miles.

It has seen its fair share of hurricanes. Hurricanes are a way of life here. They come and they go. Tourists freak out and are evacuated first, leaving us locals with a day or two of quiet, peaceful summertime to enjoy. I don't know a single local that evacuates. In fact, the majority of locals I know find hurricanes exciting and a chance for a "hurricane party." Businesses are closed, the tourists are gone, it's summer and you have no work. What a great excuse to kick back and have a few drinks while sitting under a porch or in an open garage while a large storm blows past!

Hurricanes usually hit here from the east. The entire eastern side of the island are vacant rental homes. Nobody lives in them, rich out-of-towners own them, and they're built with strict codes to survive the wind and water. If the ocean does flood, they're on stilts and goes under them and recedes. Worst case scenario, a few fall into the ocean and NC 12 (aka "The Beach Road") floods. It's par for the course. No harm to people, and besides anonymous people nobody has ever met in far away states having to file an insurance claim for their rental home, life returns immediately to normal.

Once in a blue moon, though, hurricanes come up from the south. The water between the islands and "the mainland" are sounds. Brackish water- a mixture of ocean water and fresh water. Calm, no real tide or waves. Great for boating, water sports, and crabbing. Since it's not the prime ocean side real estate, it's also where locals live.

We all know the classic hurricane look and shape. Arm bands in one direction, an eye, and arm bands in the opposite direction.

When a hurricane hits us from the south it affects the sound. That first armband blows the sound west. It's gone from here. Locals know immediately and start going to take pictures of themselves "walking on water."


When I woke up Saturday, I logged on Facebook to see many photos of the sound blown out. Everybody knew it was bad news. I turned on The Weather Channel, expecting coverage. Instead, for the next 24 hours they still had that same guy 1 mile away, pretending to be blown away by the ocean. The ocean stopped being a threat the second Irene made landfall. That was evident by every person that lives here, somehow TWC just missed the memo. Or, I guess they just need the dramatics for ratings and hysteria.


Saturday night the eye went over us and blew the sound back in. We knew this would mean flooding, it always does.

However, nobody anticipated Irene sitting over us blowing non-stop for 16 hours. She blew the sound in, then kept on blowing.

Instead of just affecting that single row of soundside homes, entire towns were under water. Not only did the sound flood, but any canal connected to the sound flooded.

I have dozens of photos of homes underwater, cars up to their windows in water, and roads that became rivers. My own street was closed just a mile down the road from flooding and loss of homes. If you are my friend on Facebook you have seen some in a private album, but I just don't feel right posting them publicly on the Internet.

The Outer Banks has never flooded this badly in anybody who is living's life time. Manteo was chest high with sound water. Nags Head was cut off as the sounds connected over the road. Hatteras and Rodanthe are still cut off because a new 12 foot deep inlet was created when the sound connected with the ocean. Wanchese and Colington are almost entirely condemned. Parts of Kitty Hawk with homes from the early 1900s that have never had flooding experienced 1-2 feet of water in their first floors.

The photos I have seen and the destruction I see every time I leave my house to drive anywhere is unreal. I've seen photos of floods on TV or in books, I just never thought I'd see it less than a mile from my own home.

The stench is unbearable in areas as hundreds of fish and crabs lay rotting a mile away from the now receded sound.

At certain points it feels as if you are driving through a tunnel because debris and ruined belongings line both sides of the street as high as my car.

Despite all this, city officials decided to open our borders a mere 24 hours later to returning tourists. I understand they want to put on a brave face to salvage the tourism industry, but really I feel it was a slap to the face.

It was so disrespectful to the thousands of locals who lost their homes, businesses, and cars. Many cities hadn't even cleared the water from their roads, had their power or Internet restored, or evaluated the damage.

Politics, I guess. Unfortunately, by silencing the damage for tourism dollars, they also silenced the call for aid that many, many locals now need. We've learned that this will be a grassroots clean up act. Truly, neighbors helping neighbors. At the very least, I can say that I'm glad to be a part of a community that has stepped up and taken care of each other the way we have.

I survived Irene.

My own work was saved by chance. The businesses on either side were condemned and will remain closed until repair work is complete and they are inspected to reopen. I could easily be out of work for a few months instead of the few days I was.

We were also lucky to receive no flooding. Thankfully my parents' property is tucked back in a great location with no threat from the ocean, sound, or canals. We did lose a few trees and a tenant had her windshield broken from a branch.

But at the end of the day I feel lucky. Lucky to have not lost anything from a storm that I saw first hand to have taken so much from people so close. And lucky to again call myself a part of this hearty community that can show a hurricane who's boss - no matter if it takes the rare path up the sound.