Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekend Recap + My Favorite Ramen Recipe

This weekend T was out of town with some of his buddies, so my parents came into town to keep me company while he was gone.  We kept it low key on Friday night, and went to a Mexican place down the street.  On Saturday, we got up and tackled some house projects that I've been putting off.  Dad replaced the ugly fluorescent light in our master closet with a much more visually appealing one. The light that the new one casts off is so much more soothing than the sterile light of a fluorescent.   We also built some speaker stands for the sound system that we've got in our living room.  Mom and I also managed to squeeze a trip into TJ Maxx, a must any time she comes to Greenville. 

After eating and drinking more than we should have this weekend, T and I are both needing to scale it back a bit this week.  On weeks that we're trying to behave ourselves, I try to cook a meatless meal at least once. 

This winter we've been on a ramen jag.  A few years ago T and I took a trip to NY and fell in love with ramen at a place called Ippudo.  Since then I've played around with several recipes to find one that was comparable.  We've found a few good ones along the way, but they've called for obscure ingredients that can only be found in Asian markets.  I finally ran across a recipe a few months ago that called for simple ingredients and comes together in 20 minutes.   And it tastes damn good.

You actually use the noodles from the 15 cent packets that we all used to eat in college.  But that's the only similarity to the cheap stuff.  The broth is deliciously spicy and rich, and when you break the yolk of the soft boiled egg into the soup it makes the broth even more robust.  I can't say enough good things about this meal, it's cheap, low calorie, and really easy to prepare.  

My only complaint is that it's not good leftover.  The broth will keep, but the noodles soak up too much broth, bloat, and become mush.  If you're thinking about having this for leftovers, save a portion of your raw noodles and cook them with the left over broth instead.

Sriracha Ramen Noodle Soup
(Serves 4)


2 T sesame oil
1-2 T Sriracha (depending on how hot you want it)
1 small onion, diced
1 roma tomato, diced
1 T fresh ginger, grated
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp celery salt
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 T soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
3 packages ramen noodles (any flavor, seasoning packets won't be used)
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
soft boiled eggs (optional, I use this recipe)


Add sesame oil and sriracha to a large stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Add onion and tomato and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add ginger, garlic, and celery salt; cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant. 

Add 2 cups of water, stir to combine, and process with an immersion blender until smooth.   (if you don't have an immersion blender, you can transfer mixture to a blender or food processor)

Add chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer, add soy sauce and vinegar, and cook for 10 minutes. 

Add the ramen noodles to the broth and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the noodles have cooked.  Add the scallions.  Remove pan from heat, ladle soup into bowls.  Top with cilantro and eggs.

What are your go-to recipes when you're trying to cut down on calories? I'd love to get some more ideas!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sidewall Pizza Co.

I've been on a mission lately to get out of downtown Greenville and try some new places outside of the city limits.  Greenville's Main Street has so many amazing restaurants, but sometimes it seems just too easy to pick a place downtown.  I love the challenge of getting off the beaten path a bit and discovering new places.

I've been hearing great things about Sidewall Pizza Company in Travelers Rest.   TR is located just 20 minutes outside of downtown Greenville.  Over the last few years TR has exploded.  They've opened several new restaurants, breweries, and shops along their Main Street.

When we arrived, we grabbed a table right by the window overlooking Main Street.  We met one of the owners, Andy, and asked him about the restaurant.  Andy moved to the Upstate in 2013 when he relocated his business, Merrimack Canoe Company, to the area.  (Read more about that here) They originally purchased the building on Main to be a warehouse and production facility, but soon realized it was too small for what they needed.  They already owned the building, so what did he decide to do?  Turn into a pizza place.

The building used to be an old car repair and tire shop, and they've kept a lot of the original charm of the building, including the large garage doors that they open on warmer days.  You can even see where the wells in the garage floor used to be.  And that's also where they got the name, Sidewall, named after the sidewall of a tire.

At Andy's suggestion, we started off by sharing the Smoky Salad: spring mix with roasted corn, roasted broccoli, tomatoes, red onion, goat cheese, smoky candied walnuts, and basil dressing.   We were quite impressed.  The broccoli was cooked al dente, just how it should be in a salad.  Retaining that crunch, but not too rubbery and raw.  The candied walnuts were a perfect accompaniment to the goat cheese, and the dressing tied it all together.  Not too herby, but just enough to give the salad a hint of basil flavor.

We ordered two pizzas, which was a little ridiculous because each pizza could easily feed 2-3 people.   But we couldn't make up our minds, so we decided to get both and take home the leftovers.  I had been eying the Triple Pepper Pizza, and at the recommendation of our waitress we also ordered the meatball pizza, an off-the-menu special feature.

The meatball pizza was made with a traditional red sauce and cheese, and topped with giant house-made meatballs covered in provolone cheese.

The Triple Pepper, which we upgraded to a quadruple pepper with the addition of jalapenos, was perfectly salty and spicy.  This pizza also had a traditional red sauce and was topped with pepperoni, peppadew peppers, cherry peppers, and jalapeno peppers.   

Both pizzas were incredible, and T and I could never decide which one was better. We washed everything down with a few microbrews which were very reasonably priced.  They have a great beer selection, and the majority of them are around $4.00 each.

The thing that shocked me the most in my conversation with Andy was that he had no restaurant or food background.  When he decided they wanted to turn the building in to a pizza place, he started doing his research, and finally found a recipe that he was pleased with.  The pizza tastes like it's been cooked in a wood-fired brick oven, but they actually use electric ovens.   Brick-oven pizzas need to be eaten immediately, and that wouldn't bode well for their takeout business.  So instead, they use a recipe that emulates brick oven pizza, but will also keep well.

We were so pleased with our experience at Sidewall and cannot wait to return.  Their prices were a little steep for lunch, $14-$20 for a pizza that feeds two.  But they offer the same menu for dinner, with the same prices.  And I can definitely swing that for a Friday night dinner. 

Sidewall Pizza Co. on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ice Ice Baby

Happy Tuesday!  We got hit with an ice storm last night so I'm working from home for the rest of the day.  So far the day has consisted of giant stacks of (ugly) pancakes for breakfast, and watching George slowly but surely lick all of the ice off our porch for us.  

 I'm such a homebody, so I secretly love days like this.   Working from the kitchen counter in the comfort of my own home is the absolute best.  Hope everyone stays safe on this yucky day!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five On Friday

Happy Friday! I'm joining April, Darci, Natasha, and Christina for their Five on Friday Linkup.

Here's my five for this Friday.

1. I've added some new necklaces to my Etsy shop, and I've also included a snazzy new link on my sidebar that will take you to my page.  Here are a couple of my favorites right now.

2. The other day I made bacon egg and cheese biscuits for breakfast.  I only needed to make two biscuits, but the can had 8.  I didn't want to be wasteful and make all 8 to only throw 6 away, so I conducted a little experiment.  I put the extra raw ones on a cookie sheet and froze them.  Once they were no longer gooey, I transferred them to a freezer bag.  A few days later I popped one in the oven still frozen, and it baked up perfectly! I just love a food hack.

3. T and I are headed to Sidewall Pizza for lunch tomorrow and I'm super excited.  I've been hearing a lot of buzz about this place, so I can't wait to try it out for myself.  Their Triple Pepper pizza is calling my name.  Crushed tomato sauce, chopped garlic, mozzarella, pecorino romano, pepperoni, peppadew peppers, and hot cherry peppers. I'm drooling.

4. Greenville has a new Facebook consignment page and I love it!  It's called SIFT.  It's free to join, and most things are available for porch pick up which is super convenient.  This week I bought a Tibi dress for $45 and the cutest scarf for $5.  If you're interested in joining, send me an email and I can add you to the page.

5.  Our summer vacation is booked!  T and I are going to Mexico this July, back to the same resort where we honeymooned.  Our honeymoon was pretty much the best week of my life; seven days of relaxation and overindulgence in food and alcohol.  Bliss. For the last few years we've skipped out on a summer vacation in order to save money and throw it towards debt.  We are now credit card debt free (can I get a hallelujah?) and to reward ourselves for our hard work we're going to go all out for five days in July.

From our honeymoon in 2012

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Weekend Recap: My Best Friend's Wedding

I spent this weekend in Columbia celebrating my best friend Kate as she married her fiance Jack.  Kate and Jack started dating in college right around the time that T and I did, and it's been so much fun to see how her relationship has grown at the same time as ours.

Kate and I first got to know each other in preschool.   She moved away for our elementary school years, but moved back in middle school and we've been best friends since.  We were sorority sisters, college roommates, and now each others' bridesmaids.  Pretty neat.

The wedding was at Trinity Episcopal Church downtown, and the reception was at 701 Whaley.  We also got ready at 701 that day, where I held a little amateur photo session.  Apologies for the photo dump here, but I just can't get over how beautiful she looked!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Skillet Cheesy Chicken White Bean Dip

Each year when the Super Bowl comes around I start brainstorming about what kind of food we're going to have.  I'm not a sports fan at all, but I'll take any excuse to make a new appetizer.  This year we watched the game with a few of our friends, and I tried out a new dip.

Quite a few of our friends don't eat mayonnaise.  This is something I just don't understand, I dip my fries in mayo for goodness sake.  But I usually do try make something that's mayonnaise-free, so that it will be a crowd pleaser. 

This year I made a Skillet Cheesy Chicken White Bean Dip, and knocked it out of the park if I do say so myself.  So many dips are mayonnaise or cream cheese based, so I liked that this recipe was different than all of the other appetizers.  And, other than the cheese, it's really not that bad for you.   I used light sour cream, but I think you could even substitute it out for Greek yogurt, which would make it even less guilt-inducing.

 Skillet Cheesy Chicken White Bean Dip
Adapted from Heart Beet Kitchen

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14.5 ounce can) white beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
juice of a half lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup shredded, cooked chicken
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 1/4 cups mozzarella/cheddar cheese combination, divided
1/3 cup diced red peppers
1/2 cup salsa verde

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush olive oil onto bottom and halfway up sides of a 10 inch cast iron skillet. (You could also bake in any vessel you normally use for baking dips, relatively the same size.)

Reserve 1/4 cup of the drained beans, set aside. Add the rest of the beans, sour cream, garlic, lime juice and cumin to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Stir in chicken, onions, corn, cilantro and a 1/2 cup of cheese.

Spread onto bottom of skillet, then evenly sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup white beans, red peppers and salsa verde on top of the mixture. Cover with remaining cheese. Bake for 16-20 minutes, until dip is bubbling and browned on top.  You can also broil for 1-2 minutes if cheese isn't browning fast enough.  Cool for about 5 minutes to let the dip firm up before serving.

You also can check out what I served last year for Super Bowl appetizers here.

What did y'all make this year for the Super Bowl?  I'd love to get some new recipes!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Weekend Recap + Homemade Big Macs Recipe

Happy Monday!  T and I had yet another weekend that revolved entirely around food. I managed to gain two pounds in two days, but it was totally worth it. On most Friday nights we like to stay at home, get takeout, and watch something on TV -  preferably any Dateline with Keith Morrison. Rather than getting takeout this weekend, we switched it up a bit and made homemade Big Macs.  Ever since I saw the recipe on Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers,  I've been thinking about them.   These did not disappoint, which came at no surprise.  Every recipe I've ever made from Natalie at DB&DD has been a hit.  They tasted like fresher, bigger versions of the real deal.

Saturday morning we got up, made breakfast, and filed our taxes.  Super exciting, I know.  But I do feel an immense amount of relief knowing that it's done!  I don't really talk about finances much on here, but I'm going to for just a second. After college T and I both stupidly racked up some credit card debt. We've been working really hard to get rid of it for the last 2 years.  With what we're getting back from our tax return, we will be able to completely wipe out what's left on our balance and be credit card debt FREE for the first time since college.  It's a huge weight lifted off of both our shoulders, and I cannot wait to call and cancel those cards.

Later on that day we headed to Brewery 85 and met some friends for the brewery's 1-year anniversary party.  Brewery 85 is one of the many breweries that we have in the upstate, and in my opinion they have the best beer.  You can read my full review about them here.

But back to the burgers, if you're interested in making these here's the recipe!

Homemade Big Macs
(Serves 4)

1.5-2 Pounds Ground Beef (80/20)
1/2 white onion finely diced
sliced pickles (we used Boars Head)
shredded iceberg lettuce
American Cheese
Sesame Seed Buns
1000 Island Dressing or Special Sauce (recipe below)

 Divide your meat into 8 equal sections.  Shape into balls and flatten into thin patties. Salt and pepper each side of the patties.  Try not to mess too much with the patties while you flatten them it will make them tough.   Lay them on parchment paper after shaping so they are easy to remove.  

Cook the burgers on the grill or in a large frying pan at medium-high heat  for 3-4 minutes each side until they are cooked through.  Once patties are cooked, cover patty with a slice of American Cheese.  Layer special sauce, lettuce, onions and pickles and first burger patty on bun.  Place middle bun on and repeat layer process.  Add next patty and top bun.

Special Sauce
1/2  cup mayo
2 tablespoons French Dressing
4 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well.  Place in a covered container and refrigerate overnight or at least a few hours for flavors to combine.

Y'all have a wonderful week!

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