Labor Day Eats

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If you celebrated, I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend. Mine was full of fun – from meeting new friends and enjoying a delicious Egyptian feast to taking Bailey to an apple orchard. I’m going to go a little out of order for now and share some photos of my eats from this past Monday (more on Friday and Saturday soon!).

I haven’t shared my eats as much because they’re pretty boring these days. I’ve eaten a lot of repeats (egg and toast for breakfast, grilled chicken with broccoli and a starch for dinner, etc.) and I’ve been eating out a lot since starting my new project at work. I have been sharing more photos of my eats on Instagram if you want to follow there, but for now, here are my Labor Day eats:

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Hubby had purchased some baking potatoes last week since we’ve been on a big oven-baked potato kick lately, but we didn’t end up cooking them when we had originally planned. I turned them into Stuff-Your-Face Breakfast Potatoes, and they were great with a fried egg (see, I told you I eat eggs a lot!).

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Lunch was some frozen and re-heated spinach soup. I’m planning to share the soup recipe because it was easy and tasty. The leftovers freeze well, too, when you need a quick and light meal. More on that another time.

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For dinner, we definitely grilled out. We had coupons for ground beef from Earthfare, so we mixed that with some spice blends from Savory Spice Shop to create extra-flavorful burgers. We also grilled corn and asparagus for our sides.

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We finished the first mason jar of my parents’ chip-shaped pickles, so we decided to crack open a jar of spears. They were so good with this dinner!

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Yum!

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My big (food) project for the day was making apple pie from scratch. I used Simply Recipes’ easy pie crust recipe and based the filling off of a couple different recipes.

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We were talking in a meeting about how in the north, Labor Day is a distinction in not just the start of school but also a change in weather and attire. (I wouldn’t know since I’ve always lived in the South) I’m so glad we’ll get to enjoy some warm weather for a bit longer down here. I’m looking forward to more days relaxing in the house with windows wide open (the ones that aren’t painted shut, at least) and more meals outside.

But, I’m sure I’ll soon be looking forward to fall – wearing boots, cozy sweaters, and hot cocoa. I definitely love the way the seasons work here in the South!

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine {Orlando, FL}

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One thing that I enjoy most about travel is eating. We usually have a Zumba Convention tradition of going to Café TuTu Tango, but we also usually have almost half of our team of instructors together. This year, I went with my friend Sarah only, so it seemed too sad to uphold the tradition without the rest of the team.

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Instead, we hit up one of my favorite chains, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. Yes, I said “chain.” I know I typically like visiting local restaurants when I’m traveling, but I love Roy’s (click here to view a post about a previous visit), and it isn’t your typical chain restaurant. According to their web site, the chefs at Roy’s utilize local ingredients and even get to design a portion of the menu. I saw the menu part first hand. The fabric-bound menu had all the usual favorites that every Roy’s features, plus a whole page designed by the Orlando chef, Mac Lynch.

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Think those flowers are real? Sarah guessed they weren’t, and I guessed they were. Sarah was right!

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I love open kitchens, though I did get in trouble for trying to snap a couple closer shots of the chefs in action. Oopsie!

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For my drink, I tried out their specialty – “The Original” Hawaiian Martini – “In classic Hawaiian fashion, our Maui pineapples are drenched in SKYY Vodka, Stoli Vanil Vodka & Malibu Coconut Rum. Hand shaken to order.”

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The complimentary edamame was the best edamame I’ve had, mostly thanks to the special togarashi spice blend they use to season the bite-sized snacks. I found a similar spice blend on Amazon called, Shichimi Togarashi, and I’m strongly considering buying some to try to re-create this snack at home.

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Sarah and I were going to order the prix fixe menu but decided to order our own entrées and share an appetizer and dessert instead. For our starter, we tried the Lobster Potstickers with Spicy Togarashi Miso Butter Sauce. I’ve never seen potstickers made with lobster, and these were not only unique, but tasty, too. The crispy outside provided a nice contrasting texture to the tender lobster inside, and the potstickers went great with the sauce.

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Sarah had the Seared Sea Scallops – “Potato Purée, Pork Belly, Fennel, Apple, Honey Coriander Glaze”.

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I thought about getting the mahi mahi, but another dish caught my eye – Teppanyaki Shrimp – “House-made Togarashi Noodle, Sambal, Tomato, Garlic, Thai Basil & Asparagus”. I was worried this may be a little boring compared to some of the other entrées on the menu, but my choice was spot on for me. The thing that really caught my attention was how the noodles were house-made. I guess I have a thing for from-scratch carbs (pastas, pastries, and breads).

Not only that, but you can’t really get noodles like these anywhere else. These noodles had the (also) house-made togarashi spice blend (that I liked on the edamame so much) in the noodles. The spices gave the whole dish a fiery bite, and I loved the flecks of vegetables and fresh herbs that made it into each bite. I may have to re-order this again at next year’s convention!

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For dessert, Sarah and I shared the pineapple upside down cake, which was simple but wonderful. The cake was served hot with sweet, little bites of caramelized pineapple on top and cool ice cream with fresh fruit on the side. Yum!

By the time we were ready to go, we were on a serious food high. You know, the kind where you’re just so happy with the dining experience you just enjoyed that you’re utterly stuffed and can’t stop smiling. Yup, that was us.

Till next year, Roy’s! Thank you for another amazing eating adventure!

My Latest Work Uniform {Outfit} and Nom Nom burger

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I tend to wear the same thing to work. Once I’ve found something I like, I wear that over and over and over again. Not literally the same outfit. It’s more like the same kind of outfit.

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My current uniform = cropped skinny pants (that are a little loose) + t-shirt + jacket that is a sweater that looks like a blazer (so comfy!) + heels/flats

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Not sure exactly why I love my pants so loose. Some of it is a comfort thing. Some of it is not wanting people noticing my outfit in a way other than I had intended. I like looking professional, not sexy, when I’m at work. I’ll save those stretchy skinny jeans/pants for another occasion! Either way, maybe some of it is also because I’m really a tomboy at heart. You knew this, yes?

Anywho, I scored these red pants on sale plus an extra 30% off making them only $27.99 (down from $89.99, marked on sale to $39.99)

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And this jacket has been a real staple for me on my new work project. I wear this thing almost once a week or at least every other week. I found this on sale for $69.99 and got it for $48.99 after an extra 30% off.

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Full outfit:

  • Red dress pants: J Crew
  • T-Shirt: Gap
  • Navy Sweater Jacket: J. Crew
  • Peep-Toe Heels: Banana Republic
  • Tote: Michael Kors

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Not my best picture, but you can see my shorter hair cut pretty well here. My hair has grown out a couple inches since this photo was taken (been meaning to blog it for awhile). I’m now at the point where I need to decide if I want to grow my hair out and have it long-ish for fall/winter or go short again. I’m leaning towards short…especially with Zumba convention coming up next month!

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We recently checked out one of the new-ish restaurants in town, Nom Nom Burger, which features Asian style burgers.

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The burgers are wonderful. I love the way they cook their burgers but the Asian themed toppings really take things over the top. This is a photo of the Kalbi Burger – “Sterling Silver® ground beef. Kalbi marinade. Kimchi. Fried egg. Sesame roasted nori. Spicy aioli. Roasted garlic.”

This one was good, but the Nom Nom Burger is our fave – “Sterling Silver® ground beef glazed with house special teriyaki sauce. Provolone cheese. Fresh sauteed Shiitake mushrooms with mirin. Caramelized onions with ginger orange marmalade. Mayo.”

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The restaurant features other dishes for the non-burger fan, like Yakisoba (Japanese style noodles with veggies and optional addition of chicken for $2). The noodles were great, but the burger is still tops in my eye.

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Nom Nom Burger has delicious desserts (try the “Xango” – cheesecake and puff pastry…hello!), but if you’re wanting something simple, you can always hit up the Ben & Jerry’s right across the patio.

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Reader question: What’s your work uniform?

Lake with the Fam

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Rain streaming down through the trees, Southern humidity hanging thickly in the air. A wicker seat swings slowly back and forth. That was our first few minutes of down time at the lake.

We went on hubby’s family’s annual lake vacation last weekend through Tuesday. I could have stayed there all week. I mean, I wanted to stay there all week, but a 9-to-5-er only gets so many vacation days every year.

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So, we tried to make the most of our short time there.

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I met my new nephew.

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Bailey met him, too.

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He was so curious about the baby, and he kept going over to investigate and try to lick the baby’s toes. Silly corgi!

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The 13 of us (us, my MIL, my BIL and his son, and my SIL and her family, plus 3 dogs) stayed in a big, beautiful house on the lake.

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We played with the dogs…

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…and generally lounged around.

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At least, that’s what I did.

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It was a great time for me to be lazy. So, I watched TV, watched movies, and spent almost the whole time in pajamas. Well, sweat pants, technically.

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We watched Kung Fu Panda and Safety Not Guaranteed. We watched some HGTV, Food TV, and I even got the family to watch American Ninja Warrior on the last night of our trip because one of my friends was supposed to be on the show. His run didn’t actually make it to TV, which really surprised me because he almost made it through (read that on his Facebook later). They showed some people who didn’t make it past the first obstacle, so that bummed me out, but I’m sure he’ll try out again as soon as he can.

Anywho, I also got a little geeky and started the PHP course on codecademy.com, which was actually fun for me.

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And there was time for books, too! I decided to try out reading on an iPad for the first time and downloaded the sample for The Lean Startup. I wasn’t sure if I’d like reading on the iPad, but it was actually pretty awesome.

I got back on track with reading the Fire Starter Sessions and even had a “dream funeral” (where I wrote down some dreams I need to let go and then burned the paper). A fire pit outside of the lake house made for a perfect reason to go ahead and do this. And as suggested, I wrote down some new dreams when I got back inside.

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And it’s tradition for us to cook one of the meals for the trip. Since my SIL and her family are vegetarian, we decided to do chili again. I made my slow cooker 3 bean chili recipe, but I left the meat out. It was still really good!

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We also brought some jalapeño cornbread from our local Great Harvest.

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Yum!

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Hopefully next year, we’ll have more flexible schedules so we can stay the whole week! That’s my goal at least.

Thanks for reading!

Parent Visit and My First Martial Arts Class

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It’s been a busy week of research. As always, I have so many ideas floating around in my head, and I find myself chasing after all of them. Or at least, too many of them. I’ve spent the week post-work and post-Zumba looking up twitter bootstrap templates, wordpress themes, and hip hop videos. It’s been an interesting mix.

Anywho, I wanted to share some photos from last weekend – some about eats and a visit to see my family.

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I picked up these beautiful radishes at Atherton Mills market. I sliced them and added them to romaine lettuce, and boom…I had a much more interesting salad with that simple addition. The radish slices added great crunch and flavor. As a bonus, the salad was more pretty and colorful, too!

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Spaghetti…always a classic dinner, at least in our house. We got these meatballs at Earthfare and just cooked them with some bottled marinara sauce.

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We got to my parent’s house pretty late since we had to pack and leave after work on Friday. I brought workout clothes in case my sister wanted to do a Zumba class or something, but she had a different idea. On Saturday, she took me to my first martial arts class! Actually, I did two classes – Wing Chun and Muay Thai. Both classes were really great in different ways, and I enjoyed the teaching style of the instructor at Raja Academy. I got to throw my sister around and kick the crap out of some punch shields. Just kidding. Ok, I did, but I also learned some basic Wing Chun and Muay Thai moves, both defensive and offensive. We practiced some blocking moves and then punching, kicking, kneeing, and elbowing. I had a blast and hope to try martial arts again soon. I think I’d only have time to focus on one, and my sister thinks Wing Chun would be a good fit for me. We’ll see!

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Mom and dad were really excited to show me their garden updates. They’ve added some hydrangeas.

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Their kale (curly and dinosaur) are really growing great.

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The garden is currently a mix of spring and summer vegetables.

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They have a bunch of squash and zucchini coming in.

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Plus, they added a whole other garden section. They’re really going to have a lot of vegetables this year!

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Oh, and they have fruit now, too! I think this is their first strawberry of the season.

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We picked some of the kale for dinner.

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Dad is thinking about going vegan for his health, so my sister and I made a big batch of vegan chickpea and barley soup with lots of vegetables, based loosely on this soup.

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I served the soup with salt I brought back from from The Ritz at Amelia Island from our recent Florida vacation. I bought my parents a small box of the pink Himalayan salt.

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On Sunday, we headed downtown to look at some of the art galleries.

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Unfortunately, the galleries were closed, but we did take a pit stop at the tea shop, O-CHA Tea Bar, by the river.

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And another plan was thwarted when we tried to go to Pita House for lunch. Who knew they were closed on Sundays?! Luckily, another family fave was open – Saffron Indian (warning – site has sound on for those of you at work or other quiet environments).

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Sis and I both started with hot tea.

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And then, we hit up the buffet.

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Plus, we had plenty of naan. Love this stuff! Yay carbs!

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My parents sent me home with lots of fresh veggies – zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and kale. Can’t wait to eat those up!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Ginger Soy Grilled Chicken (Only 3 Ingredients) {Recipe}

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How about an easy chicken recipe to grill up this summer?

Recipes with few ingredients are my fave. Isn’t it such a pain to go to the grocery store and pick up a dozen things to make one meal? I mean, sure it’s worth it once in awhile or for a special occasion, but for everyday eats, I’d rather just have everything on hand. I may not have fresh ginger at all times, but I always have soy sauce. And ginger is easy enough to pick up with the chicken.

I normally don’t do recipes with marinades because I think they take too long (and when you’re often coming home after most people’s dinner time, you need fast-fast-fast), but given the simplicity of some of them, I don’t mind doing a little multi-tasking while I’m letting the chicken get delicious.

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Ginger Soy Grilled Chicken (Only 3 Ingredients) {Recipe}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Here’s a super easy way to give chicken full-on flavor. Just use tasty soy sauce and vibrant fresh ginger in a quick marinade. A quick turn on the grill, and dinner is ready! The chicken is a bit salty due to the soy sauce, so be sure to serve it with plain rice to balance the flavors.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • sesame seeds, optional, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, add soy sauce and ginger and whisk to combine. Set aside ½ the marinade in a small bowl (cover until ready to use).
  2. Marinate chicken in ½ the marinade for 30 minutes to one hour. Note: I like to take a large ziplock bag and roll the sides down. I’ll put the bag in a large bowl (see photos above), add the chicken, and pour the marinade over the chicken breasts. Then, I seal the bag and use my fingers to move the chicken to make sure they’re covered all around by the marinade.
  3. Pre-heat grill. Grill chicken, brushing with reserved marinade occasionally, until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes per side, depending on grill type and heat level.
  4. Serve with rice and vegetable of choice (I liked steamed broccoli or grilled zucchini) and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Enjoy!
Notes
Prep time: about 5 minutes to mix and 30 minutes – 1 hour to marinate, depending on how patient you’re feeling.

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Click here for another 3 ingredient TCL chicken recipe with lemon and rosemary!

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As for life lately, I just spent a great weekend in Greenville visiting my family for my dad’s birthday and for a belated Father’s Day celebration. I took some photos to share later this week. And I still have a bunch of recipes to post, including a variation based on this one!

Happy cooking! Thanks for stopping by!

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