Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pure Summer Love

Summer is officially here, although I feel as though it's been with us for the past two months. Besides bright toenail polish, Carolina coast vacations and summer dresses galore, summer brings with it a whole lot of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs that make their way into the kitchen and onto the breakfast, lunch and dinner plates. Farmer's markets are popping up everywhere and the produce in the grocery store looks extra juicy. Healthy cooking is truly at its best when Summer arrives.

I tossed together my favorite summer pasta recipe last week- it's pure happiness in a pasta bowl. This recipe was posted back in 2009 and is a Nido family staple. It never goes out of style. There is nothing better than fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic tossed with fresh paparadelle or linguine, otherwise known as the holy trinity.

Happy Summer!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This might be the most simple recipe I have made to date! We love to wrap things in lettuce around here and I have no clue why I didn't think of Buffalo chicken sooner. It was a perfect mid-week dinner that took hardly any time to whip up and is bikini season friendly. Who doesn't love a healthy alternative to a bar menu favorite? The leftover chicken was the perfect protein addition to my lunch salad the following day. I loaded up some mixed baby greens with lots of fresh veggies, buffalo chicken and a quick vinaigrette.

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

1 lb. chicken tenderloins

Grill seasoning

Olive oil

Boston bibb lettuce

3-4 green onions, chopped

Crumbled blue cheese

Frank's Red Hot

Splash of Worcesterschire sauce

Mix chicken tenderloins in a bowl with some olive oil and grill seasoning. Cook in a grill pan. Cut up cooked chicken and mix together with hot sauce and a splash of Worcesterschire. Serve the buffalo chicken in lettuce cups and top with scallions and blue cheese crumbles.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Greek Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki

The variety of flavors and meals that we enjoy in our house pretty much span the worldy spectrum. There isn't anything we won't try (well...maybe a few things are off the list) and I try my hardest to avoid repeating a meal. It might be surprising though that when we make an exception and repeat a dinner, it's most likely in the form of a burger! I have really started to enjoy playing with different ingredients to kick our burgers up a notch. We don't just throw some ground beef together with salt and pepper and throw it on the grill. With a combination of fresh herbs, garlic, shallots, a sprinkle of cheese any other fresh ingredient to add some pizazz, we turn an American favorite into something much more. It's just the way we do it around here. I recently came across a recipe for a delicious Gyros and got the idea in my head to mix up those flavors into a Greek Turkey burger. And the perfect condiment? Tzatziki sauce. Ashley made this for me back in April when we had a Charlotte dinner date and my life has been forever changed. Making Tzatzki sauce in your own kitchen couldn't be easier! If you look closely, you can see the perfect grill marks on these burgers. Mark was pretty proud and I was impressed myself. With a fresh Greek salad on the side, this was a quick, under an hour weeknight meal, grill time and all! And Mark went back for seconds.

Greek Turkey Burgers

1 lb. lean ground turkey

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

Handful fresh Basil, chopped

Tbsp. or so of fresh Oregano, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled Feta

1 egg

Salt & pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. If you let the flavors marry together for 30 minutes or so in the fridge, the burgers are EXTRA tasty. Grill for 5-6 minutes on each side.

Tzatzki Sauce

recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

16 oz. plain 0% fat Greek Yogurt (such as Fage or Oikos)

1/2 English cucumber, peeled and seeded

2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tsp. red wine venegar

Salt & pepper

Squeeze of a fresh lemon

Olive Oil

Shred or grate the cucumber. Wrap it in a paper towel and squeeze as much water out of the cucumber shavings as possible. Place in a small mixing bowl with yogurt, garlic, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and lemon juice. Mix together, and slowly add a drizzle of olive oil. Refridgerate for at least 30 minutes before serving- the flavors will astound you! Tzatziki don't have just one purpose either- I used the leftovers as a dip for an afternoon snack of fresh veggies.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Simple Caesar Salad

If you have eaten at my family's house at any point in time, you know that a good salad is just as important as the main dish. It's the finishing touch of any good meal and with fresh ingredients and a drizzle of something delicious, you can never go wrong. Salads make a regular appearance in this newlywed nest and there are no rules when it comes to tossing these together. We like to mix things up around here with unconventional ingredients (think fruit and sweet potatoes) atop greens or leafless salads containing no lettuce at all. But every now and then, something familiar just hits the spot. Enter the Caesar Salad. A restaurant staple, and good almost everywhere you dine, crisp romaine lettuce topped with tangy, salty dressing never fails. I came across this simple Caesar dressing recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray and we now have a new go-to dressing when a simple vinaigrette just doesn't cut it. Don't mind the anchovies, you can barely taste them!

Quick Caesar Dressing
recipe from Rachel Ray

4 anchovies
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a blender, puree anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and mustard. Mix in olive oil and cheese.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Between the magic of the Royal Wedding, Scottie's emotional win on American Idol and Oprah's heart-felt farewell, I have shed several tears in front of the television the past few weeks. These teary times were all topped this morning as I turned into a blubbering mess during the 8:00 hour and Meredith's official goodbye. I admit to be over emotional and I cry easily, but I did not expect the amount of tears that made their way down my face this morning. The Today Show has always had a special place in my heart (I used to tell everyone I was going to take over for Katie Couric one day) and turning on NBC every morning as I sip on my coffee has sort have become a routine of comfort for me. I am a loyal Today Show viewer- no other morning show will ever match up. Meredith brought a warmth to the show. Her class, confidence, compassion and amazing sense of humor are some of the things I will miss the most. With the start of a new era on my favorite morning show, I'm excited to see more of Ann Curry and my personal favorite, the always gorgeous Natalie Morales. Even if you don't watch the entire clip, just promise me you'll watch the first 10 seconds...Matt Lauer lip syncing is priceless!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Finger Lickin Good

Our first smoking experience on the Komado Joe was a definite success! After a few hours of research and finding the perfect rub for our ribs, Mark fired up the grill early on Sunday as soon as the sky cleared and started loving the ribs into existence! He smoked them for around 5 hours and finished them on the grill. The result was a smokey, meaty, fall-off-the bone creation that would make any meat lover's mouth water. I must say, Mark is becoming quite the Grillmaster. A little over a week and he has perfected nearly everything- and all I have to focus on are delicious accompaniments- which means more minutes added to Happy Hour on the deck!

The finishing touch to our smoked ribs? Sauce of course! We don't do store bought sauces around here, so I went to the trust Food Network and I found a saucy recipe fit for finger licking and messy faces. In the time it takes you to get in your car and drive to your grocery store to pick up a bottle of KC Masterpiece, you can have Bobby Flay's Carolina Barbecue sauce on the stove and simmering to perfection. Trust me, it's worth the effort.

Carolina-Style BBQ Sauce
recipe from Bobby Flay

1/4 cup oil
2 medium yellow onions
6 cloves garlic
2 cups ketchup
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup ancho chili powder
2 Tbsp. paprika
2/3 cup dijon mustard
2/3 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
2 canned chipotle chiles
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. molasses

Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the ketchup and water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool to room temperature then slather it all over those ribs! (or any other juicy piece of grilled meat)

Monday, June 6, 2011

40 Day Challenge Update

I just finished my Day 11 workout and I am bursting with endorphins! Since posting here, I have completed a 3 mile challenge (often times more), every day. I have been mixing up my cardio with 3-5 mile runs (both outside and at the gym), 6-9 miles on the bike and 3-4 miles on the machine of death- a.k.a., the Stairmaster! I am strength training around 3 times a week and doing lots of stretching to keep up my ballerina flexibility. Overall, I am really enjoying this challenge and feeling fantastic! It's also nice knowing there are other lovies participating in this challenge....makes it more fun and keeps everyone accountable. The trick was never getting me into the gym, but not always having 100% motivation once I got there to make the most of my workouts. I have been experimenting with new ways to use a kettlebell, lifting weights with the big boys and discovering that push ups and planks really are my friends. This has totally taken me out of my gym comfort zone and I am loving it! Of course, a good workout plan really means nothing without smart eating choices. Mark and I have kicked up our already healthy eating habits a notch and we're sure to be beach ready in 2 and a half weeks when we fly south to Kiawah Island!

Additional thoughts on the 40 Day Challenge:
I am convinced now, more than ever, that I should write a bestselling handbook on proper gym etiquette.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Markarita

When grilling out on the deck, it's a necessity to have a crisp summer cocktail in hand. We have been doing a lot of grilling this week and I think we have found our signature summer drink. Margaritas have always been a favorite for us and now that I have perfected this recipe that my dear Dad sent me a few weeks ago, we're in Happy Hour Business! If you have hopped on the Skinny Girl Margarita fan club like I have, you will LOVE this mix it up at home recipe. This margarita has minimal ingredients, little sugar and the perfect kick! Don't forget the salt rim and for an extra pop on your tongue, lemon lime seltzer water is a nice zippy addition.

The Markarita

Equal Parts-Tequila and Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Agave Nectar, to sweeten as desired
Lemon-lime seltzer water (optional)
Garnish with salt rim and fresh lime wedge

For those of you who were there to celebrate our wedding, the Markarita should sound familiar, as it was one of our signature drinks! (now I just have to come up with the perfectly blended Ninatini!)

Friday, June 3, 2011


I rarely post about beauty products. This is mostly due to the fact that I try too many to keep track of. When it comes to skincare, cosmetics and shampoo- I am a product junkie! Surprisingly, it took Mark 9 months to figure out that I rarely finish a bottle of shampoo and conditioner before I am rushing out to try the latest and greatest. All of my magazine and blog reading doesn't help this addiction in the least, but in my opinion, there are far worse things to be addicted to in life.

I recently picked up this "complexion enhancer" from Benefit and I. AM. IN. LOVE. Highlighters are supposedly the secret of makeup artists and I think I finally understand why. This stuff is a great supplement to wear with a full face of makeup or just by itself for an easy Summer glow. It's also nicknamed "super model in a bottle". What's not to love! If I am going out for the night, and go through my entire makeup routine, after I moisturize and apply my Bare Minerals foundation, I dab a small about of High Beam on my cheek bones and brow bones. I blend it in and then apply my blush over it. The difference is amazing and adds extra depth. After watching Megan's recent vlog on easy summer makeup, I was inspired to try something new. This week, when I didn't want to deal with my entire makeup routine, I have been skipping foundation all together and just using high beam and a quick brush of blush on my cheeks. Perfect for hot summer days. Who doesn't love a romantic, dewy glow?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Zucchini Linguine

I am a die hard Giada follower but every now and then, Rachel Ray surprises me. I picked up the June/July issue of Every Day With Rachel Ray only to find so many summer gems that will be making an appearance on our plates throughout the summer! I never grab this magazine but while at the grocery store, Mark was drooling in line looking at the giant burger on the cover. If you don't have this in your summer magazine stash, I highly recommend you pick it up. I'll be cooking out of this all summer!

I am not just posting this recipe because it's fun to say. This quick summer side dish was delicious! Using my mandoline to cut the zucchini into skinny julienne strips gave it such a delicate texture- we barely recognized it as zucchini as we were eating it. As most Italians would agree, eating pasta is more like a religious experience and in no way is this recipe a substitute for a bowl of paparadelle with a fresh bolognese, but for an alternative way to enjoy vegetables with dinner, this pretend pasta is mighty tasty! We paired this bright flavored dish with maple soy marinated flank steak- grilled to perfection!

Zucchini Linguine
recipe from Every Day with Rachel Ray, June/July 2011

1 piece (4 oz.) parmesan cheese
2 lemons, finely zested and juiced
1 clementine, finely zested and juiced
10 basil leaves
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 and 3/4 lbs. small zucchini
1 cup slivered almonds

Using a large peeler, shave half of the parmesan; grate the remaining. In a food processor, combine the grated cheese, lemon and clementine zests and juices, basil and mustard. With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil. Using a mandoline with a julienne blade, slice the zucchini into strands. place in a bowl and toss with the almonds and dressing. Top with parmesan shavings.

NOTE: No clementines in the Moore house so I left that out. I only used a lemon and a half and left out the slivered almonds. I am all about color, and making the dinner plate pretty, so I chopped up some red bell pepper to toss in.