What's For Dinner? (Deceptively Simple Dishes)

It's time to do some more dinner planning around these parts and here are three dishes that are on my wishlist. My favorite kind of recipe is one that looks impressive but is deceptively easy (take, for example, the cornish game hens from the other day ... I was always intimidated to cook them, but if you can cook a piece of bone-in chicken like a chicken thigh, there's no major difference... promise).

First up, cashew coconut crusted chicken. Since we go lower carb during the weeks, the idea of a nut-crusted chicken tender really works for us. Making the coating mixture would be a weekend task when I would have more time and then I could just store it. I'd skip out on making the mango honey dip for a regular ole Tuesday night, although it does look delicious. Jarred honey mustard would do just fine :)


Secondly, oven roasted cauliflower with parmesan and garlic. Cauliflower goes on sale often but it's not necessarily flavorful enough to always catch my attention. But I think this easy dish (with ingredients I always have on hand) would be tasty and really easy on the wallet, too. I'd chop the cauli over the weekend, store in a big bag or tupperware, and then half the work is done when I'm ready to cook it.

Oven roasted cauliflower with garlic and parmesan

And lastly, grilled skirt steak with mint chimichurri. See what I'm doing here? Choosing recipes that pack a punch because they look oh so fancy -- but are simpler than what you'd think. Let's break this one down. So you buy the meat and mix a marinade. Half of the marinade goes in a ziplock with the steaks. The other half is reserved for drizzling over it after they are grilled. 

In the marinade are these ingredients: mint, parsley, olive oil, dried oregano, cider vinegar, lemon rind, lemon juice, and half a jalapeno. I grow mint and already own the olive oil, dried oregano, vinegar. I would just have to purchase a jalapeno and a lemon and swipe a few sprigs of parsley from my girlfriend's plant outside her back door. All of this could be made beforehand, stored in a jar, and then tossed in the ziplock when it's time to marinate the steaks. Easy.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mint Chimichurri and Honey-Roasted Sunchokes |

The recipe also calls for honey-roasted sunchokes but I have no earthly idea what those are, so they are getting skipped.

What's a deceptively easy dish you like to serve?


Friday Five: Favorite Blogs

This Friday I thought I'd do a little something different and share five blogs that I absolutely love reading.

I read a lot of blogs, a LOT OF BLOGS, and I only read ones that I truly enjoy. Many fellow bloggers have become real-life friends of mine! Here are some that are always on my radar. Ones I always enjoy reading.

Hungry Meets Healthy
Recently I have been binge-reading this blog and I can't get enough, plus we have a very similar taste in music so I'm always excited when she posts new songs she's loving. Christina, if you see a lot of pageviews coming from Charlotte ... I'm not a scary stalker, I just love love love your blog.

Spice and Sass
Samma has the best recipes and the best writing style. Like, she could write for a magazine I do believe. Whenever I see a new post from her, I immediately click on it (after getting far too giddy). Adorable kiddos to boot.

Spice and Sass

Never Slack Tide
Jo has a newborn girl around Camille's age so I always love reading her posts, plus I just think she needs to come help me with my closet. I love her work clothes ... an area where I can always use a little inspiration.

Never Slack Tide

The Southland Life
So, she hasn't posted too much lately, so hear my plea, Miss Katie ... I miss your blogging! Granted, she does have a sweet baby boy on the way any time now (if he's not here already). So I get it. But go ahead, read some of her old posts, I think you'll love seeing some of her sweet life.

The Southland Life

The Wowie
I need a wine date with Wowie and stat, and only if she promises to bring her boys so I can have a dance-off with them. (PS, your husband is a hunk and we all know it.) Probably the funniest blog that I read, hands down, and a house from the pages of Southern Living. Lastly ... her hair.

Happy reading this Friday, and I'd love to hear from you ... what are some of your must-read blogs?


Non-Fancy iPhone Documentation of EASY Dinners

Le sigh.
Some posts are all about the pretty photos, and this one is not. 

Weeknight dinners these days are a little simpler and a lot quicker than they used to be. With a four month old, we are still trying to figure out whether it's worth fitting in a quick supper while she is doing a catnap in the swing (around 6:15) or whether we hold off until she is down for the night (around 8). Waiting until later is definitely easier and more fail-proof, but some days I am just plan HUNGRY and ready to eat sooner!

So here are some non-fancy iPhone photos of recent weeknight dinners. You can be assured that as I quickly snapped these on my phone, Ian was standing behind me saying "Babe. Seriously?" :)

T-Bone Steaks with Roasted Okra and Peach Salad
Ian purchased these steaks for us, which explain their scary mammoth size. I got through a little less than half of mine and then used the leftovers as sliced meat for wraps the next three days. 

I love, love, love roasted okra -- I just toss it in olive oil and add salt and pepper (ground cumin is also excellent on them) and then roast at a high temp until crispy. The cool thing about this okra is that it started off in a frozen bag, and I thawed it in a colander in the sink. I wasn't sure if the consistency would be right, but our grocery store had large bags of it for just over a dollar so I figured I'd give it a shot. Worked perfectly, tasted the same as when I use fresh okra!

The peach salad had sliced peaches, blueberries, red onion, feta, basil, mint, red wine vinegar and a splash of olive oil. 

Prosciutto-Topped Cornish Game Hens with Tuscan White Beans and Strawberry Balsamic Salad
Mom was in town and we cooked these cornish hens for several hours in the Crockpot and then broiled the tops at the end to get them browned. We just simply rubbed them in olive oil and spices and topped them with a slice of prosciutto (which I removed while they broiled and then replaced). 

The white beans are just Great Northerns which I simmered with fresh rosemary and a little olive oil, then mashed until creamy. The salad was a simple one with greens, feta cheese, sliced strawberries, red onion, and a homemade balsamic dressing. 

Baked Salmon with Dill Yogurt Sauce, Pinto Beans, and Goat Cheese Salad
I baked salmon filets until flaky and served them with a dill yogurt sauce (dried dill, plain yogurt, lemon juice, salt, pepper). The pintos were simmered with fresh rosemary. 

The salad had greens, red onion, tomato, goat cheese, and a homemade citrus basil vinaigrette. I just mixed lemon juice with olive oil and a pinch of salt, added in a few fresh basil leaves to a mason jar and let it all marinate together. 

These were all simple meals and good for weeknights when you may be pressed for time ... or working around a little baby's witching hour. :)


A Baby At The Beach

This past weekend we had our second beach trip of the season but the first one where Camille actually put her toes in the water. It was just too, too cute.

She can't wear sunscreen yet, so we saved our beach time for the early evenings when there was no threat of too much sun. We could also get the dogs out at the same time which was really nice.

Folly Beach, SC, is a favorite place of ours for sure and this was a fun memory to add to the mix.

It's absolutely crazy to think that next year she will be walking around on the beach. Walking!!!

PS: The babies sure had fun but the adults did, too! Pizza Friday night from Woody's complete with a raucous Cards Against Humanity game, the ECU Pirates game thoroughly enjoyed by the guys on Saturday afternoon, dads on duty later that day while the mamas escaped into town to Taco Boy for fish tacos, nachos and frozen screwdrivers, and more fish tacos that night at the house alongside a game of Taboo on the screened porch where the girls beat the guys big time. All topped off by a great brunch at Rita's on Sunday before making the drive home!


Long Sleeved Maxi Find

I love a good maxi dress, but all of mine are sleeveless. Earlier this summer, I went on the hunt for long-sleeved maxis that could transition into the fall.

Long Sleeved Maxi

I just love the look of a sleek, slinky maxi with long sleeves. You can easily dress it up, or change the look completely by pairing it with flats for a casual, comfy look.

Fitting the bill was this awesome find. I pounced on it and was so happy when it came in, needing no alterations at all (which is awesome for a maxi dress when you are only 5'2".)

The great find is the Lucy Love Maxi Resort Dress in black (also available in white). Definitely a more casual maxi, it has rolled-up sleeves and even a hood on the back! As you can see it's pretty low-cut so I plan to wear mine layered over a camisole, either black or a punchy color.

There are two "best parts" about this find:
One: It is made out of that SUPER soft slinky material ... like the perfect broken-in tshirt.
Two: It is now on sale (of course, after I bought it) for $38 with free shipping here.

The weather is cooling down here in Charlotte which means it's almost time for me to pull it out of the closet. I think with some gold flat sandals and a casual clutch, it would make the perfect girls night out ensemble!


A Gorgeous Wedding Weekend

One of my very best girlfriends was married this past weekend in what turned out to be one of the loveliest weddings I've seen!

She is such a classically beautiful person and that style was definitely reflected in all of her wedding design choices.

Everything got kicked off Friday at 11:30 for a bridal brunch. I wasn't sure whether to bring my big camera or not, but as soon as I arrived, the bride told me her mom's camera battery just died and that she would love it if I could capture some shots. Done and done!

Kerry gifted the bridal party Gigi New York clutches in black with our gold monogram stamped on them. LOVE.

This last one was an accidental photo that someone took of our feet but I love it :)

The rehearsal dinner that night was so much fun and featured pulled pork sliders, mac & cheese, banana pudding in mini mason jars, a bluegrass band, and a montage of video toasts that all of us sent in as a surprise to the bride and groom.

The next day we all met at Wilson's on Washington to have a little lunch and get hair and makeup done.


That photo above ... I have never seen my friend look so positively stunning.

We headed to the reception site to get ready for the evening before taking a trolley to the church. 

The best part was, we got a sneak preview of the reception room. Perfection.

Yes, those are matte gold sequins on the tablecloth in the table below. So fun.

They also had pillows with their custom wedding logo done.

The band out of Atlanta was doing soundcheck and they were AWESOME.

The groom's car made the perfect getaway vehicle!

We had about two hours at the church before their wedding so we relaxed and played Heads Up on my phone.

After the ceremony and photographs, the bridesmaids and groomsmen joined the new Mr. and Mrs. in the trolley, popped some champagne (cans) and headed to the Poinsett Club.

We had a blast on the dance floor. The groom picked the perfect band. I love this photo my friend Linds took.

She also snapped this one which is hilarious. Looks like my friend Ash and I are smooching. We are just close talkers. :)

After we sent the bride and groom off with a rose-petal departure, we had the great (?) idea to head to a champagne bar downtown. We were only there for a bit before I lined up our return home with Uber. That's what I'm doing below in the photo, not being antisocial on my phone ;)

So three cheers to the new Mr. and Mrs.! I'm a smidge sad this wedding is over as I was looking forward to it so much. It was the perfect celebration and reunion of friends!
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