A Restaurant Review – Crave Kitchen & Cocktails

You guys. Ohhhh my goodness. I’m dying over my dinner from Crave last night. You want to know how good it was? So good that I, Brittany “Dessert-Obsessed-As-in-I-Have-to-Have-it-Every-Night” Dahn, passed up dessert in turn for finishing off my leftovers later at night.

That never. ever. ever. happens. Taylor Swift style. So let me tell you about it.

Crave Grilled Cheese2

A friend and I (Hi, Kaitlyn!) were supposed to grab sushi before our painting class. I looked up a place that was supposed to be in the same shopping center as the art studio, but after driving around for a few minutes, we didn’t see it and didn’t have much time to keep looking. Crave was right there and since I’ve read such good things about it from Christina, I was excited to give it a try.

I had to make a quick choice, which can be really difficult for me when I haven’t planned ahead and researched the menu. (I had already narrowed down the sushi rolls I wanted, but obviously that was no help now).

I was torn between the Cobb Salad and the Spinach and Tomato Grilled Cheese. Our waitress said both were very good, but said the grilled cheese in particular was really amazing. From my picture above, you already know which I picked. I figured you can get a good salad at a lot of places, but it’s not everywhere you see a grilled cheese on the menu made with goat cheese (!!!!!), provolone, spinach and tomato. If I see goat cheese listed in the menu description, I can’t get my mind off of it.

Crave Grilled Cheese1
The sandwich was everything I hoped it would be and more. And then there were the sweet potato chips – which are really thick-cut round crinkle fries. I could not stop eating those, they were seriously addicting. 
This morning I did the longest run that I’ve done in probably two years. I’m attributing that accomplishment to my meal last night. It must have magically powers.
Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back to Crave. I would love to have this sandwich again, but there are many other things I’m looking forward to trying too. They even have weekend brunch including pancakes, which are apparently the “biggest pancakes you will ever see” according to the menu. Count me in.

Oh yeah, and after I tweeted to Executive Chef Landen Ganstrom about my fabulous meal, he said:
Chef Landen, you’ve got yourself a deal! 
Crave Kitchen & Cocktails on Urbanspoon
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Lemon Blueberry Skillet Sugar Cookie

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I am going to come right out and say it. I cheated with this recipe. I used packaged sugar cookie mix. Gasp!!!

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Betty Crocker to be exact. You know what? I don’t feel the least bit guilty either. I have made some good sugar cookies from scratch in my day, but I honestly don’t think a homemade recipe could have beat what this turned out to be. 

LB Skillet Sugar Cookie

I was hooked after the first bite. Super thick, soft and chewy with just a hint of lemon and blueberry to brighten the flavor. It almost makes you think spring is here. Almost. So incredibly perfect in every way. So perfect it’s annoying. Annoying in the sense it keeps calling your name and won’t leave your mind alone until you take another bite. It’s a good kind of annoying if you ask me. I’m always up for another bite if it asks me kindly enough. 
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Then there’s the bad kind of annoying, like when someone STEALS YOUR IDENTITY! Sorry, was I yelling? I’m a little upset. 
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I received a call from my bank on Sunday morning asking me to verify a few purchases on my debit card. Sure enough, I didn’t recognize a single one. The little thief tried to make three different purchases of $200+ at True Religion in Florida. 
Seriously?
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What a punk. That’s what I’m imagining this person to be anyway – a punk. The things people will do to steal other people’s information, only to go off and buy jeans of all things? Unreal. 
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I am so thankful for my bank catching this right away and it seems it’s going to work itself out. I won’t be financially responsible for the charges as soon as I finish some paperwork. 
So while this little punk may have stolen a piece of my bank account, what he doesn’t know is that he missed out on a slice of THIS. At least I still have this. 
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Lemon Blueberry Skillet Sugar Cookie 
(Adapted from Munchkin Munchies)

Makes 10-12 servings 
Ingredients:
1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
3 tablespoons blueberry Greek yogurt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup vanilla frosting
Sprinkles for topping, if desired
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Combine sugar cookie mix, Greek yogurt, butter, egg and lemon juice in a large bowl. Stir thoroughly until all ingredients are well incorporated. Add dough to cast iron skillet and press down with your hands to spread the dough in an even layer across the entire pan. 
3. Bake 12-15 minutes or until the top of the cookie just becomes golden brown and edges slightly break away from the pan. Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting. Slice and enjoy!

Weekend Eats 2-25-13

This weekend was bipolar.

Friday and Saturday were filled with rain. Rain, rain, rain. All day. I actually didn’t mind, because it really set the tone for what I hoped my weekend would be: lazy and relaxing. When Sunday turned into such a beautiful warm day, I made myself get outside a bit, but still relished the opportunity to lay on the couch and do nothing.

Before the laziness started, Greg and I hit up Graze for date night on Friday.

Graze
We started with the Pomme Frittes – “truffle oil, parmesan cheese and garlic aioli” ($6). From our previous experience ordering these fries, we asked for ketchup to dip them in. I know this is sometimes looked down upon, but honestly the aioli just doesn’t do it for me. It doesn’t taste like anything actually. The truffle oil and parmesan are amazing, but I can’t resist just dipping them in a little ketchup.  

The only dish I had previously had from Graze was the Pinenut Crusted Eggplant with a goat cheese couscous. Seriously one of my favorite meals in recent memory. I was sad it is not on their current menu, but also glad it allowed me to try something else without feeling like I was missing out on the eggplant. For my entree on Friday, I had the Pecan Crusted Atlantic Salmon – “Parmesan whipped sweet potatoes, broccolini, warm bacon-maple dressing” ($19). It was good, but I wouldn’t say GREAT.

Greg had the Chicken and Waffles – “Tabasco and buttermilk marinated boneless chicken breasts, housemade waffles, honey butter, pure maple syrup” ($16). That was a first for both of us trying this increasingly popular dish. The couple bites I took were pretty darn good and Greg really enjoyed it too, but in the end I think the maple syrup and waffles were too sweet for his liking.

Graze on Urbanspoon
We skipped ordering dessert at the restaurant, because I only had one thing on my mind. Fro yo!
Menchies

We stopped at Menchie’s where I got a mix of cake batter, dulce de leche and strawberry yogurt. I kept things super simple and topped my bowl with a spoonful of cool whip and a few cherries. Perfect end to the night!
Saturday is when the relaxation really started. The rainfall made it easy to lay around in my pajamas for longer than usual. After a morning of lounging, I finally convinced myself to get my workout in before it was too late. Once that was out of the way, I had a hot bowl of my homemade vegetable soup for lunch. 
Later that night Greg and I met some friends to go bowling. I hadn’t been bowling in years so it was fun to show off my skills. Ha! Just kidding. I have no skill when it comes to bowling. I only scored 100 points in one of the two games, and that was only because Greg went for me on one turn and got a strike. Anywho, I had been craving a margarita, so that’s what I got to sip on while we bowled the night away. My weekend also included one of my favorite healthy snacks – a golden delicious apple and greek yogurt. 
Weekend Eats

This has been a long post already so make it quick with this one. Sunday involved brunch, as usual. We went to Triangle, as usual. 
I had the veggie omelet, fruit and home fries. We split some cinnamons rolls as well. Oh yeah, and since I gave up coffee for Lent, I was more than ready to have my Sunday dose! Everyone does it differently, but growing up I was always taught that you can, and should, ‘break’ Lent on Sundays. So that’s what I did. I think I downed almost three cups. Giving up coffee has been tough! I miss it so much.
Triangle

Okay, friends. I think that about highlights all of the most delicious things from my weekend.
What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?

Sunday Blessings – (Wo)Man’s Best Friend

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My baby Zoey is growing up so quickly! I figured it’s time for an update. 
She is a handful…maybe a hundred handfuls. But more than that, she is my precious lovebug. Recently I’ve found myself speaking my mind out loud to her. Like my best friend, she gets to hear all of my thoughts. She might thing I’m crazy. Greg sees it firsthand and I ignore his laughs. Secretly I think I may be going a little crazy too. But love will make you do crazy things. 
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She is about 5 1/2 months old and about 62 pounds. The scary thing is that she’s not even half way done growing. 
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Obviously I knew going into it that she was going to be big, but reality is slowly starting to set in. There have been a few moments where I think, “Oh my goodness, what have we done?” But then we see Breaker, the full grown Great Dane at the dog park, and my heart melts for the gentle giant. I can’t wait for her to be a gentle giant too. Zoey is the sweetest, cuddliest pup I could ask for, but there is no denying she is still a puppy at heart. It’s easy to forget that sometimes since she’s getting so big. 
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She loves to eat and is never more proud of herself than when she finds a good stick to carry around for a couple minutes, only to chew it to shreds a minute later. After playtime at the dog park and filling dinner, she loves to tuck her face away and take a pre-bedtime nap. 
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I am so blessed having for Zoey in my life. If I have this much unconditional love for a puppy, I can’t imagine how I am going to feel when I have babies of my own. Toomuchlovetohandle!!!

Roasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

There are officially less than three months until my wedding. WHAT?! That is insane. Most of the planning is done, just some little things here and there to finalize. But you know what is super annoying right now? Postage.

I really want and need to get the invites out like, yesterday. I sent Greg to the post office to get postcard stamps for the RSVP cards but they only had apples. I do love apples, but not on my wedding postage. On the bright side, at least Greg was smart enough to know this was not okay and didn’t buy them. So I’ve been looking online and I don’t think wedding postcard stamps exist. At least not for face value. I don’t want to spend $1 for each customized one. That is insane.

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Now that the wedding countdown begins with, “two months and ___ days,” it’s time to get serious about wedding body shape! More importantly, honeymoon shape. Did I mention we’re going to Maui?! Well, we are. We just about have everything booked for our Hawaiian getaway.

I like to think I do a pretty good job of eating a balanced diet on a regular basis, with the occasional weekend indulgences. But it’s easy to get a little too comfortable with the comfort foods during cold winter days.

butternut squash soup 1

A hot, filling, and somewhat spicy soup like this does the trick of satisfying my belly, while keeping me on track and ready for Hawaii!

I’ll just be daydreaming about another cup of this soup and maybe the postcard stamps I need will magically appear.

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Because that makes sense.

Roasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
(Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, Jan/Feb 2013)

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about half of a medium squash)
1 sweet potato, diced
1/2 pound carrots, sliced (about 25 baby carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese for topping, if desired (about 1 tablespoon per cup of soup)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay squash, sweet potato and carrots on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil and gently toss everything to evenly coat with oil. Roast about 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables begin to brown.
2. Add roasted vegetables to a large saucepan over high heat. Add water and vegetable broth. Bring to boil then turn heat to low. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes.
3. Pour contents of saucepan into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add to a clean saucepan over low heat. Stir in sage, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with a tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese immediately before serving.

*Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.

~About 65 calories per cup~

Weekend Eats 2-18-13

Hello, hello! It’s been a little while and a lot has happened in the past few days so let’s catch up.

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day. I did. It was amazing, maybe even the best ever. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have seen I was surprised on my lunchbreak on Thursday when I came home to box of a dozen Cupcake cupcakes from Greg.

cupcakes
I could not have been more excited. Thankfully I had some family in town this weekend to help me eat them all. I loved every bite, but I am also glad they are gone now. I had plenty. My favorite flavor always seems to change with these, but this time around I was loving the Cookies and Cream. 
Another thing that made my Valentine’s Day so great was the Rascal Flatts concert! Greg got me tickets for my birthday, which conveniently served dual purpose for Valentine’s too. Rascal Flatts put on an amazing show. Our seats were about four rows back from the stage, which didn’t hurt either 😉
The weekend brought lunch at Black Bean Co. on Friday. 
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And a dinner date with Greg on Friday night at Sesame. We started with the pimento cheese appetizer. 
pimentocheese
I had the Napa Valley Black Bean Burger (in a bowl) – fig and bacon jam, bleu cheese, and a red wine reduction. 
sesame
Yes, it was as delicious as it sounds. And the patty was enormous, making for great leftovers the next day. 
On Sunday, I took my family to Triangle for brunch after church. It was PACKED. Greg and I go here often for Sunday brunch, and I haven’t seen in that crowded in a longggg time. It was worth the extra wait for our table and our food. Sipping on $1 mimosas helps pass the time waiting. 
mimosas
I had blueberry pancakes that I scarfed down before getting a picture. You can say they were mighty delicious. 
My weekend ended after saying goodbye to my family and making a simple meal at home consisting of a vegetable medley (chopped portabella mushroom cap, broccoli, onion, sun-dried tomato, chipotle sauce, shredded cheese), and a couple slices of a garlic herb baguette. 
veggies
What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?

Happy Valentine’s Day 2013!

I wish you all a very happy, love-filled Valentine’s Day! Eat some chocolate. Give someone a hug or kiss. Tell someone, “I LOVE YOU.” Eat more chocolate…

Vday1 final

I love each one of you who pays any attention at all to the words I write and the food I bake. I love each one of you who takes the time to comment on a post and tell me your thoughts. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I wouldn’t be here in this blogosphere without you.

So, I have to ask – Will you be my Valentine?

Recipes for the food shown above: