Weirdness, Gishness and DragonCon

I had a terrific and busy summer filled with exceptional friends and big adventure. I wish I had blogged as the summer went but, I guess I was so excited to be in the moment that I forgot in a weird way.

Speaking of weird I went to Charlotte with my friend Jennifer to see Weird Al Yankovic’s Strings Attached show. The word phenomenal isn’t even enough. He is tremendous, a complete showman with costume changes, running through the audience, sitting in some ladies lap, he even rode a segway across the stage. All of this while being backed by a 40 some piece orchestra and his band. I had fun can you tell.

Shortly after that it was time for the annual GISH scavenger hunt. If you’ve paid attention in the past then you know it’s always chaos coupled with merriment to yield some pretty strange scavenger hunt ‘finds’. I think my favorite item this year was fishing for a compliment, mostly cause I liked the cheesy pick up like we used. “If you were a box of crayons you’d be the giant name-brand one with the buily in sharpener”. Oh man! HA!

Once I finally got my house back in order (a week long scavenger hunt takes it’s toll) it was time to get ready for DragonCon. This was my second time attending and I had a blast. My husband and I stayed in a host hotel putting us in the thick of the excitement and rabble-rousing. Favorite panel; gosh it’s hard to pick but i think the Farscape one. I fan girled so hard over – not Ben Browder – but Brain Henson. Cosplay is always fun, I worked really hard on my RamboBrite outfit, and probably harder painting a nerf gun gold and red glittery. Although I’m probably most proud of the last min 80s prom costumes I put together, even bleached those jeans!

Binge Cleaning, Doggy Noses, and Satisfied Cravings

I love a successful task master cleaning sessions. We are expecting company in a few days and what’s the best way to get ready; make sure they don’t have to look at my filth! Well as long as they don’t look on top of the fridge or in the garage. So yep – that was how I spent the weekend.

However, the one thing I can’t seem to get ahead of is dog hair. Boomer has been doing nothing but shedding the past few weeks, and I do mean nothing. He is adorably lazy just like a pupper should be. He also likes to insert himself in all activities, here I am trying to take a picture of the new run to send to my husband, but wait – dog nose.

Time and again I’ve said I want to take a foodie tour of Wilmington exclusively eating shrimp tacos. It’s shrimp and it’s tacos, how can this ever be a bad thing. My current favorite is Fish Bite’s blackened shrimp tacos with a side of their Thai sauce. Here I even indulged in zucchini fries.

Not my Momma’s Meatloaf

Before I get into the meat of the post (ha get it, meat!) allow me a moment of candor.  As I was growing up my mom’s  meatloaf was just a terrible grey mass with ketchup drizzled on top. After time in the oven, the ketchup resembled a slightly sticky red shoelace (lawdy I hope she isn’t reading this).  Looking back now I should have appreciated her effort more; She was in college, had a family and was putting home cooked meals on the table.  I’m grateful she taught me that the experience of cooking for others can be rewarding, also thankful she didn’t teach me her meatloaf recipe.

Okay so enough sounding like a brat, time to share my take on the meatloaf. I knew it had to be moist (yes there is that word), full of flavor and boast something unwarranted. The jobs of flavor and juicy; those fall on the shoulders of finely chopped veggies and panko breadcrumbs. I love the sweetness from the veggies and added nutrition (scoffing laughter, okay a little added nutrition) all bound up with the panko. I wanted to take meatloaf past some unseen barrier from my childhood experiences, so I slathered it with BBQ sauce, wrapped it in bacon and added more BBQ sauce. Now you see why I had to convince myself the addition of the veggies brings nutrition to the equation.

I hope y’all enjoy my meatloaf recipe, that you fall in love with this comfort food all over again or for the first time.

Print Recipe
Not my Momma's Meatloaf
Juicy and full of flavor, this meatloaf will become a family favorite.
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 90 min
4 servings
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 90 min
4 servings
  1. Preheat the oven to 325C, we are going for low and slow.
  2. In a bowl mix together the bread crumbs and seasoning, set this aside.
  3. In a food processor pulse the red bell pepper, carrot and onion.
  4. In a large bowl place the meatloaf mixture, veggie mix (sometimes I don't use all of it, try for a shy cup), followed by the dry ingredients and egg. Mix this together gently, seriously don't give the meatloaf a deep tissue massage just gently fold the ingredients together.
  5. Shape the loaf in a jelly roll pan or large casserole dish, whatever is on hand that is big enough to allow the drippings to move away from the loaf. Otherwise it will just bake in a pool of fat. (I like to line my pan with parchment paper. ) Then brush the loaf well with BBQ sauce, cause that's way better than ketchup.
  6. Cut the three slices of bacon in half to make six short slices. Lay the short slices over the loaf to make it a little bacon blankie. Hush little loafy don't say a word.... Brush with more BBQ sauce.
  7. Put that gloriousness in the oven at 325C for 90min. Drool and remove from the oven.
Recipe Notes

As any meatloaf, it's best the day of but makes great leftovers, if there are any.  The veggies and panko keep this juicy and full of flavor, while the bacon and BBQ make it special.    

A few notes about recipe and technique.

Carrot note - sometimes all I have is shredded carrots, or baby carrots... don't feel like you have to get anything new.

Seasoning note - I adore the Salt Sisters.  I have used their Mediterranean rub, Tuscan farmhouse blend  and smokey BBQ rub in the recipe.  You can't go wrong with them.

Mixing note: I said it but I'll say it again - don't over mix it!  Just fold gently otherwise it will affect the texture. 

No loaf pan:  Despite loaf being in the name I recommend skipping the loaf pan.   I'm pretty sure sitting in it's own slop while it bakes is what turns it into a grey glob, instead of baking it just kinda boils.  No one wants boiled meat.  


Buggos, Doggos, and Avocados

It’s been a pleasant week so far here in SE NC. Not too warm and the breeze is pleasantly swift most afternoons. So much so that teeny tiny praying mantis have been blowing out of the trees and onto the deck. I’ve found them on my clothes, the dog and in the planters. Isn’t it just adorable.

Speaking of critters; our new pup Boomer is curious about everything. We decided a trip the Carolina Beach marina might be fun for him. The marina has walking trails, a campground, and a little strip of “beach” which is where we went. I don’t know how he managed to muster up the volume, but he tinkled on everything. Every blade of grass, a random stump, some rocks, dead crabs, a rouge seashell or two …. all of it. I think he liked it.

Food post! I’m always reluctant to partake in a fad, it’s not that I’m a rebel with a cause don’t follow the masses person, I guess I’m just hesitant to change my routine for something new and unknown. Like avocado toast… it just kinda sounded gross to me especially since having only recently deciding I liked the “dragon eggs”. Sure enough, it’s tasty! Mashed up avocado, slathered on toasted sourdough bread, itty bitty tomatoes and a generous sprinkling of everything bagel seasoning. Drool.

Sweet and Dirty Rice

I originally posted this recipe back in 2012, I don’t know what made me think ‘yummy apricots and sausage’ but I’m glad I did because it’s fabulous (still). When I decided to start operation recipe revive I quickly thought about my sweet and dirty rice.

This is a casual side dish, although I’ve been know to make a meal out of leftovers.

Print Recipe
Sweet and Dirty Rice
Delicious sweet and savory side.
Course Side
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
4-6 servings
Course Side
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
4-6 servings
  1. Over medium high heat in a large, preferably non stick pan, cook the sausage while breaking it apart with a wooden spoon.
  2. If you are adding the sage sprinkle it over the broken up sausage and continue to cook.
  3. When the sausage is nearly done (still a bit pink) add the shallots. Continue cooking until the onions are slightly translucent and the sausage is no longer pink.
  4. After the sausage is done cooking turn off the heat and stir in the rice.
  5. Once the rice is mixed in add the apricots and parsley, stir to incorporate. Serve warm.
Recipe Notes

This is a very causal side dish but I've been known to serve it with Thanksgiving dinner.  Scarfing it down the day of is best, but heating up in the microwave works just fine.  



Hot temps, Sunset Jeep Rides, and Food

Well, here in the south the heat has been about as relentless as a dog when you have a bag of potato chips. All up in your face with stinky, sticky hot breath. The grass is turning brown earlier than usual and my hair is set to maximum frizz. It’s hot and gross y’all, but that ain’t stopping us.

Husband finally got the jeep back and just in time too. The weather has been perfect for sunset rides. Our favorite stretch of River Road was gorgeous the other night. We were starting to cool off too, it was only 96 when we took this ride.

Food, I think it’s always on my mind in some capacity. This time it’s all in the meal planning, grilled chicken salad with a mango dressing, grilled pork tenderloin with something sweet and mustardy happening, and when it cools off to the upper 80s chocolate chip cookies. So come back next week and hopefully I’ll have a good recipe to share.

Beach Music, Dog Hair and (more) Tacos

I’ve been reminding myself to say yes more often. Selectively of course, not yes because I feel obligated but yes because I see a favorable opportunity.

Insert text message from friend “hey do you like beach music, wanna go to the festival with me this weekend?” Honestly I’m indifferent to beach music (or I was at the time) but – try something new, spend the day with a great friend – can’t go wrong. Especially when it’s the kind of friend that one minute can have a thought provoking conversation and the next have me in tears laughing.

It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day in SE North Carolina. We started with brunch and bellinis cause – brunch and bellinis am I right? Full bellies and happy hearts we waited in line for our seats at the Greenfield Lake Ampatheater. Which is a great venue boasting views of the lake, cypress trees covered in Spanish moss and for our concert a nice breeze. We saw three groups, Band of Oz, The Embers and Chairman of the Board. The latter being my friend’s favorite, and they didn’t disappoint. I loved their funky sound and equally funky matching blazers. (Sorry no photos, I was busy enjoying myself) After the show we went for dinner and continued our visit. Good times, worth saying yes.

`In contrast, some experiences merit saying yes to but are grueling to get there. We, my husband and myself, spent many wonderful years with our two pups – Kalie and Strider. The years were worth every moment, but saying yes again, getting to that point, it took a great deal of effort. It had been nearly 8 months since we had been dog-less. My mindset was evolving from I miss my dogs to I just miss having a dog. More uncertainty and mental processing…. Then I saw that squishy face and read the phrase “loves belly rubs”. The rest is dog hair on the floor. Meet Boomer.

With summer approaching and and a dog to trip over in the kitchen, it’s taco time. I wanted something sweet, smokey and kinda funky. Once I work out all the kinks I’ll post the recipe, but for now lets just talk about the marinade. Maple syrup and smoked paprika – that gives it the sweet and smokey, and now for the funky; red curry paste. Lime juice and some other mess, oh talk about a great flavor clash. So say yes to the funky taco, the dog hair and a new experience. That’s all I got for now.

Orchids, Bonsai and Tacos

Plants, plants, and food. Yep sounds like the perfect date, which is exactly what it was. So the last Friday I was in Pennsylvania dad and I decided we needed to do something touristy. We already knew we were meeting friends ‘in the city’ for dinner so the Phipps Conservatory seemed like the right idea. Thus – into Pittsburgh we went.

Built in 1983 the Phipps is constantly in the state of evolution and – quite literally – growth. Showing off the glass they installed last summer, that gorgeous Victorian greenhouse was just shimmering. “Look me, I’m so pretty.” The main room, receiving the most restoration, had a delightful crisp proud feel about it.

In the middle of the Pittsburgh winter is the annual Phipps orchid and bonsai show. There were orchids everywhere, beautifully arranged in towering planters, delightful hanging arrangements, and tucked into the crooks of trees – truly everywhere. Even the Orchid Room seemed brighter than usual, if that’s possible.

Then, in a room all to themselves, were the bonsai – each perched on their own pedestals demonstrating just how special and cultivated they were. I learned something interesting about the bonsai on display; during the warmer months there is a bonsai garden outside, however these trees were not part of that collection. In fact, the only time they were on display was for this specific show. They spend the rest of their time squirreled away in the greenhouse, getting fussed on by the in house horticulturists.

From there we headed over to Union Grill to meet friends, enjoy some local brews and have the biggest fish taco I’ve ever eaten. It was just this mammoth piece of fish, on a flour tortilla, with this overflow of taco goodness; corn salsa, cheese, spicy something and this citrus cilantro creme sauce that just put it over the top. I’m not a food photo person so you will just have to trust me, and full disclosure I ate all of it.

So with an overly stuffed belly I was all – hey friends we are going back to the Phipps to walk(waddle) around during the special after dark hours, wanna come with? I was thrilled they said yes.

On we all went to waddle through the exhibits, spending time enthralled with the giant train set. That’s when my friend Chelsea, with what I can only explain as the exuberance of a child, proclaimed herself queen of the diorama.

So that about sums up our day in the city. Plants, plants, tacos, royalty and more plants. Till next time!

Snowflakes, Waterfalls and a Fritatta

Snowflakes, waterfalls and a fritatta; That pretty much sums up this past week visiting with my dad in Pennsylvania.
It has snowed and snowed and snowed, I didn’t think it was gonna stop. The sun was bright and beautiful Tuesday and that was about it. It’s pretty to look at but I will be happy to hop off that plane in NC, take in the ocean breeze and not see another flake! Sorry western PA peeps.

In between snow showers we went for an icy slip and slide hike at McConnells Mill State Park. The Mill is on the Slippery Rock Creek, the park boasts miles of hiking trails with views of the creek, the old mill and covered bridges. We actually saw kayakers making their was through the, I can only assume, frigid rapids. According the parks and rec site, the rapids are class II but can be up to IV depending on the water level, icy cold washing machine – no thanks, y’all have fun with that. Noticeable along the trail were old millstones, visible (kinda dead middle in the photo) was the hole in the center the stone and grooves where the grain was ground.

We also stopped long enough to take photos at scenic overlooks and my favorite spot on the trail, Kildoo falls. So many icicles.

Then came the eggy cheesy goodness of a frittata, traditionally a Spanish dish it’s like a crustless quiche. I filled mine with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, ham and finished it off with sharp cheddar cheese. Warm, fluffy and just delightful when served with a fresh green salad.

So that’s it, slight divergence from my typical five things Friday posts but still in keeping with the idea that there are always little things that make my week. I hope your week was filled with family, fond memories and food. Cheers.

Five Things Friday

Five little things that made my week (late edition).

  1. We spent the day visiting with my Aunt and Uncle! She had me at beer, cheesecake, and petting the dogs.
  2. The snow stopped. That’s about all I can say regarding the weather this week in western PA.
  3. They did the thing, they are getting married! For now they shall be knows as they, until they are ready to tell the rest!
  4. My husband sent me flowers while I am out of town. So lovely, especially with the ugly crummy weather up here.
  5. I made delicious chicken noodle soup. Just simple and savory chicken soup, no fussy prep and completely satisfying.