Tag Archives: pasta

Tame and lame

13 Jun

Yep, that would describe my weekend. Friday night was exciting but the rest was pretty tame and lame.

Saturday morning was solely dedicated to packing and getting rid of junk. I had someone from Craigslist come over at 11am to look at my tv stand and they bought it—woo hoo! One item down, a whole lot left to go. I paid $100 for it last year and got $60 in return so I think that’s pretty good plus that can be a credit card payment for next month.

Of course, I put on Twitter about how if no one ever heard from me again, it was because I’d been killed. I never used to be weird about it but then this guy had to go ruin it for everyone.

(source)

The rest of the day was nothing to write about, errands, cleaning, gym. Fun.

I went through my freezer and saw that I had some shrimp that should be used soon so I decided to make shrimp, veggies and pasta. I cut up red peppers, onion, zucchini and shallots and seasoned with

I seasoned the shrimp with pepper and garlic then cooked with extra virgin olive oil on the stovetop until cooked thoroughly. I topped with parsley and grated parm. The best part was that this didn’t even need any kind of sauce since it was so flavorful and absorbed the extra virgin olive oil that I cooked the shrimp in.

I wanted to do something on Saturday night but nothing was going on. No one was around or responded to my texts if they wanted to do anything (nice) and no one asked me to do anything and I didn’t want to spend any money. Around 8pm, I got up and went to Freedom Park with Lincoln since there was still some light out. we walked around the lake, canoodled with other dogs and enjoyed the night. I t started to turn dark and the rain was coming in so we went home and hung out. The rest of the evening was spent with this guy

I’ve been trying to make Lincoln rock a faux-hawk but he isnt having any of that.

I woke up bright and early Sunday morning but not my choice. I didn’t get to bed until midnight and couldn’t take Lincoln out since it was down pouring. What does that mean? I woke up to him on my chest

I made an awesome bowl of oats—chocolate banana chia oats. These were bomb. I was just going to add the banana and chia seeds but had a little left of a bag of morsels to use up and most definitely didn’t want to be wasteful.

I went to Target to grab a battery and left with a battery and three tops. So typical

I also picked up my dad a Father’s Day card. I love my dad but I feel awkward picking out a card since they are too sappy for my taste like “You picked me up when I fell and now I pick up my kids when they fall” and other lame stuff like that. I just want a card that says “Happy Fathers Day, love you” but apparently Hallmark and the other big shots don’t want to produce stuff like that.

 

By the time I got back from Target, it was 9am and I was bored….again. So I got on my sneakers, grabbed Lincoln and we went for a mile and a half way and then to the park

Lincoln was chasing so much squirrel that his chain broke! His retractable chain went out 15 feet and now the string won’t go back in. So now we have to use his old leash which only goes six or seven feet out and when you have an energetic pup, that just doesn’t jive.

And something else broke apart but with the help of a wrench

Sing song the bed is dead!!!!!! That was my independence day and while everything didn’t break completely apart, it’s dismantled. Thanks Nic for the tool tips—I appreciate it!

Lunch was leftover mushroom flautas from Vida and kale chips. I believe in making the most of what you got and definitely when it comes to cooking, why use to sheets when I can use one?

I got creative with dinner on Sunday night. I had leftover spaghetti from Saturday night so I halved the leftover portion, added two tablespoons of cottage cheese, thawed frozen spinach, red pepper flakes, garlic, spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese

Took one portabella mushroom, cleaned it out, sprayed with extra virgin olive oil from my Misto then stuffed with the pasta mixture

Topped with more mozzarella

Bake for 15 minutes at 375 and then top with parsley and done!

This was a fun way to make spaghetti interesting as opposed to just the blah leftovers it sometimes can be! Plus if there’s an opportunity to get some mushrooms into my belly, I won’t pass it up.

Also this weekend I’ve been trying some new smoothie concoctions thanks to my friend, frozen mango

Berry, mango, coconut water, chia seeds and greek yogurt

Mango, coconut water, chia seeds and greek yogurt

I’m out of protein powder and in limbo regarding what flavor or brand I’m going to buy next step. So to get my protein in the meantime I’ve been adding greek yogurt along with coconut water instead of milk and I love the consistency, it’s still thick but not as heavy.

 

Does anyone else feel me on the wanting a non sappy Father’s Day card?

Do you sell stuff on Craigslist/Ebay/Amazon?

Random question-anyone familiar with Google Analyticals? I have the code to add it to my site but I’m not sure where exactly to enter it in since I do everything by posts. It keeps telling me to put it anyone on my site, please help if you know where I should put it!

Springing Sunday

13 Mar

Sunday was a much better day than Saturday. I’m feeling back to normal now but still a little spooked by the driving incident. Thanks all for your kind words, I really appreciate and you know how to make a girl feel good! It was a good day, even if it was the day where we sprang forward (Arizona excluded of course, I didn’t like not changing time when I lived there and still get confused if they are two or three hours behind the East coast). When I woke up on sunday, I was groggy as all hell but was quick to get ready because I had plans for brunch at Terrace Cafe!

Terrace Cafe was voted best brunch in Charlotte and heard about it from Diana when she came to visit Charlotte and my sister. If out of towners are telling me how good this place is–I had to try it out! The thing I was looking to most was of course was the infamous Red Velvet Waffles but they also have S”mores french toast so I was conflicted on what to get. Sweets like those or savory like their breakfast casserole or Eggs Benedict? Sweet wins all the time and I went with the Red Velvet Waffle with fresh fruit (in an attempt to get some vitamins in at brunch) and a skim latte.

The waffle was out of this world amazing but it was so sugary and rich I could only finish 3/4 of it.  The drizzled sauce on it was a cream cheese sauce–yeah, you can only imagine how good that was. The fruit was amazing as well and I had a fully belly and a smile on my face when I had to be rolled out of there.

After the food had digested, Lincoln and I went for a 30 minute walk. It was the perfect day—70 and sunny and there were so many people out with their pups, Lincoln got some play time in there as well. I went to the gym shortly afterwards and had a good workout. I don’t know what’s up with my left knee but it’s starting to act up again and the front lower part of my knee has been killing me whenever I go on the elliptical. I finally found the right stride and resistance on the elliptical  that wouldn’t kill my knee and ended up doing the Precor crossramp with a 8-11 resistance going backwards. I did 30 minutes of that then did various leg strength training—leg press (240 lbs 13 reps x 4 sets), leg extensions ( 80 lbs 13 repx x4 sets), hip adductors (140 lbs 13 reps x 4 sets) and hib abductors (110 lbs 13 reps x 4 sets)

I did some cooking as well but not as much as I wanted since it was gorgeous inside and didn’t want to spend the day inside. I made cole slaw pasta salad with cole slaw mix, spaghetti, black olives, mushrooms, green onions, parsley, mushrooms and feta cheese. For the dressing, I kept it pretty sour with a mix of extra virgin olive oil, lime juice and red wine vinegar.

I’ll probably cook some chicken to add to the mix so I enjoy as a quick-lunch this week.

Dinner was leftover Chipotle BBQ Chicken with cole slaw pasta salad

That was the last of the chicken, le sigh.

I made cranberry walnut bread using the banana bread recipe I used this week. I just subbed out the bananas for dried cranberries and walnuts. And you know what? It was a HUGE fail.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take me a good five minutes just to pry that brick out of the pan.

Hmmmm, looks burnt and tiny. Does not look edible.

But when I cut it open, it was absolutely gorgeous on the inside. I guess looks can be deceiving and I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover…..

I texted Leila to tell her about my cooking fail and she said perhaps it was because bananas are wetter and it didn’t need to cook as long and that made sense to me. Any other thoughts on where I went wrong? I tried a slice and it was definitely edible but not the easiest thing to chew, I figure if all else fails, I can use as biscotti!

I really don’t want to go back to work tomorrow–where the hell did my weekend go? I had plans of going into work today to play catch up but that obviously didn’t happen and just hope this week goes by quickly. Pretty soon I am handing in my two weeks notice—cannot wait!!

Breakfast–sweet or savory?

Green+Googling+Gaffigan=Great

8 Feb

Maybe my company isn’t that bad of a place.

Seeing they gave me a pretty sweet bonus and all.

That’s right, I’m raising the frickin roof (and well aware no one has used that term seriously since the early 2000’s) I changed roles late last year and thought my yearly bonus would be in jeopardy because of that but I guess not since my old manager decided to give me the bonus. Thanks boss!

I still can’t believe it. They put out a notice saying they were having  quick touch base meetings with everyone individually and automatically, the number one thing that went through my head was “I wonder if we’re getting laid off?” then I started doing the math in my head about how much severance I would get (it would be a pretty sweet severance given my length of time with the company) When I stepped into the meeting, they handed me a sheet of paper and there it was–the number. They told me I did a wonderful job last year and that I will be seeing the bonus in my paycheck shortly. I probably won’t see a good deal of the bonus due to 401K, taxes, etc. but who cares—it’s a bonus! And a bonus that I worked my ass off for this past year so I am going to enjoy it. Who am I kidding–I am going to put some into my travel savings account, put some aside to get my hair did and buy some pajama jeans!  I just had to share since it was a complete surprise to me and just what I neede given my attitude towards work lately.

There’s going to be a couple of meatless Monday options up in this piece…..

 I was craving something warm and carbalicious the other night.I cooked spinach and mushrooms in extra virgin olive oil, oregano and red pepper flakes and cooked a couple servings of penne while that was cooking.

I added both together then added shredded mozzarella cheese and mixed

I transferred to a baking dish then since the penne wasn’t enough carbs for me, I topped with torn up pieces of Great Harvest Rosemary Garlic bread then poured a little extra virgin olive oil on it and let back at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Success  with that meal. Next time I make it, I think clam sauce or some kind of seafood would be a nice addition!

When I got home from work tonight, I seriously had no idea what to make for dinner. So when that happens, I do what any rational person does: I take almost every item out of the fridge, place on the counter and stare until something comes to mind.

Don’t laugh, it works.

I thought of a  black bean quesadillas but was too lazy to reach up to get the can opener. Add baking chicken tonight for Lincoln as treats because I was too lazy to drive to Target to the list of things I do because I am lazy. I can’t help it.

So no go on the quesadillas. But I guess I wasn’t too lazy because I mustered up the energy to whip up stuffed mushrooms and kale chips.

I started with cream cheese and parsley. I microwaved it for about 30 seconds to soften up then mixed together.

Added black pepper and mozzarella cheese to the mix

I took some extra virgin olive oil and let the  mushroom caps swim around

Then stuff!

I also prepared a sheet of kale chips, brushed with extra virgin olive oil and Spike seasoning then let the shrooms and kale cook at 350 for 13-15 minutes

I love meals that taste great. I love meals that taste great that don’t require utensils even more! A great end to meatless Monday!

Something amusing: I was looking at my site stats and one person found my blog by googling “bj jokes” and another found it by searching “Bj’s”. Immediately, I found this funny since I have the sense of humor of a 14-year-old boy. Then it made me think of this old school jam (um, disclaimer, please do not click on this at work, if easily offended, a prude, holy roller, etc.)

Which of course I sang “Put it in my bin” last week  when one of co-workers asked me where he should put some files for me to the tune of that song. I can’t help it–why must I turn everything into a song??

While on youtube, I had to search for this skit, one of my favorite comedy bits:

I love the Gaffigan.

And my other favorite Gaffigan bit

My ex boyfriend and I used to think of outrageously gross Hot Pocket creations and try to top each other. I thought Fish n Chips Hot Pocket with malt vinegar dipping sauce would always be a winner but I still haven’t seen it happen yet. I shall write them one of these days.

What’s the nastiest Hot Pocket creation you can think of or what would your dream Hot Pocket consist of?

What’s the most random phrase that someone entered to get to your blog?

If you want to show off your dog, head to Carrots N Cake and submit a picture of your four legged friend to be featured on Blog Dogs!

Pho My Homies

2 Nov

Happy Election Day! Hope you all got out there and voted today. I sure am happy to see the annoying campaign commercials peace out for two more years, they were seriously starting to drive me crazy. Of course my co-workers and I were discussing the election today and it’s sad how many people go off of those ads alone and really don’t look into what the politicians stand for. None of the people I work with thankfully but they were telling me about some of their friends who just go off those alone. Sigh. Maybe some day people will learn. On a separate note, the cookies made me super popular! Until one of the guys bit into one, started chewing then asked me if it had nuts. Um, if you’re allergic to nuts, I would think you would ask first yes? I told him I will make some nut free goodies soon and then my reign will continue!

I was craving something carby and hot for dinner last night. I thought about my old standby of nachos or quesadillas but didn’t have any salsa on hand. This may have been a first since I normally have a surplus in my cupboards so I will have to jump on that soon. I was in a meeting and starting thinking about the ingredients I had on hand. I knew I had parsley, frozen peas, cheese and grilled chicken I cooked on Sunday and remembered a recipe for Pea and Parsley Pesto that I saw in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Food. Instead of mixing extra virgin olive oil and adding walnuts, I pulsed the parsley and peas together then put in a saucepan with garlic, pepper and fontina cheese with grated parmesan. I let them cook at a very low temperature while I also cooked mushrooms and onions on the stovetop.

Look how green-yummy! I like the flavor but it could’ve used some more punch. Since I was a green, carby heaven after that, I sat on the couch in my fleece pj pants (because really, that’s all I wear in the winter) and felt like I was going to nap. That’s just not acceptable at 730P. I let the food digest for a little more than went for a short run/walk. I was still achey from my strength training sesh on Sunday but I figure little activity better than no activity yes?

Speaking of TV, I was on the news this morning! I went to vote super early so I wouldn’t have the wait in line since I lack a little thing called patience. I was in and out within 5 minutes and when I walked out there was a tv camera and reporter standing outside where she said “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your thoughts on the election?” Wanting to be discovered I naturally said yes and pointed at her saying “Hey, you’re Kara Lusk” and she looked really happy that I recognized her so good deed of the day was crossed off way early in the day. She asked me a few questions about my thoughts on the mid-term election, said my makeup was beautiful and thanked me for my time. I had to go back home right after to take Lincoln out before I went to work but when I was waiting in line at Starbucks, I saw a former co-workers from my old floor. She pointed and me and said “Superstar!!!” and told me she said me on the news. The first question out of my mouth was not “Did I seem articulate or nervous?” but “How did I look?” She too confirmed my beauty so awwwww yeah. I am still trying to find this video online and can’t so it’s a bit frustrating. You would think with that and from the USA Today article I was in a couple of years ago (hmmm, don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that on here?), I would be famous by now but no dice. On another note, I have this song in my head.

One of these days…..

Nothing really too interesting happened at work today. Just doing the training thing still and that’s about it. I fit in a 1.5 mile walk on my lunch break since I had a feeling I would be chowing down tonight.

One of my girlfriends and I had plans for dinner tonight and we checked out a quaint, new restaurant called Vietnam Grille. It’s only a few miles away from me but in a neighborhood that borders hood but I’ve read rave reviews about it and was ready to see what the hype was about. I’ve never had Vietnamese food before but love anything Asian and my friend said it best when she said “I think I was Asian in a former life” since I feel the same way. I kept jumping in between pho (since I hear that’s one thing you must try when you get Vietnamese) and the Bun I ended up with the Grilled Beef Bun (rice vermicelli noodles with bean sprouts, shredded lettuce, cucumber and crushed peanuts with their Nuoc Mam sauce) because I needed something with substance since lunch wasn’t too satisfying (leftovers are just meh sometimes).

I had the intention of eating half then take the rest home but was starving that I cleaned the plate. I absolutely loved it!! It was so light and flavorful with all the sauces they provided table side. When it came out, the smell somewhat reminded me of pad thai because of the peanuts. One of the tables near us had the make your own spring roll sampler and that looked fun with a huge platter of goodies to fill them with so I may need to try that since there will be a next time soon. If I ever open a Vietnamese restaurant (because the likelihood of that is very strong), I shall call it “Pho My Homies”

Red cups are back! But with a different look. I don’t like them.

Seeing this picture just confirms I watch too much of “The Office” since I often see Michael and Dwight in the background of my pictures. But screw it, it’s Tuesday night which means hours and hours of it on TBS!

PS—Check out Amy’s giveaway for some calcium loving action!! She also has some great suggestions for workout songs that I’ve been adding to my iTunes wishlist. Amy–I apologize for my atrocious spelling in my song suggestions comment. My blackberry was not all about the spell check love this morning

And another giveaway–yay! Check out Mo’s giveaway for the new Michael Chiarello cookbook plus some panko lemon pepper breadcrumbs!!

Ciao!

9 Oct

WTF is up with this weather? Why is it October and 85 degrees out? If someone could give me a logical explanation, I would love to know but until then, I need this to go away. Hot weather makes me irritable and I am sick of having to go in between two seasons of wardrobes. Even though I am annoyed by the weather, my internet is finally up and running which makes me happy since it’s been on the fritz the past few days. It’s been working but at the speed of dial-up which has been driving me crazy. Nothing has really been going on here-just working and hanging out. I had no plans last night so I made a quick dinner of penne with hot sausage, mushrooms and kale

I walked over to Picasso’s for two beers. Or not. The plan was to have two beers but five beers later I was home and illin. Like majorly illin. Let’s just say that it involved praying to the porcelain king a few times…after five beers. WTF? I don’t know what made me so sick but I do not puke after five beers. Suffice to say, a big breakfast was in order this morning.

Sometimes turkey bacon is a fail. I wish I would’ve had the real stuff to soak up the liquor. Had it not been so pretty out today and if I didn’t have plans, I would’ve laid on the couch all day. Fortunately, the Ciao Italia! Festival was today. They have this festival every year over Columbus Day weekend but I’ve never been able to go so I was excited I would finally get to go this year.

No Italian festival is complete without food. I had the eggplant parmesan sandwich and of course, a large cannoli.

I love the t shirts they were selling, especially the “Approach with Caution-Italian Temper” one.

Lincoln and I went to Independence Park afterwards. It was a perfect day to be outside however it saddens me a bit that more people don’t visit parks and enjoy them. Our tax dollars are going towards them so we should enjoy them more!

 Hot dog!

I needed something to cool me off afterwards and stopped at Carolina Smoothies.

This place is close to home and I’ve passed by hundreds of times but never stopped in. I went in and love the selections they had plus you could get a free add in so I chose the anti-oxidant one with my Carolina Sunrise smoothie.

And they sell Spiru-Tein there! Check out my new flavors—I’m so excited!

And so was Lincoln! Or maybe he was excited about his new blanket that I bought for $2.99 at Salvation Army?

I’m sick of the Real Housewives (with the exception of my precious Jersey housewives—love em!) How many franchises are there now? And why so many? I’m sick of seeing these rich women creating drama in their boring lives. I keep seeing the previews for Beverly Hills and they keep saying something about high stakes drama and they cut to one of them yelling out “ENOUGH!”. Um, ok. Yelling out, “ENOUGH!” isn’t drama to me. If you are telling me there is drama, I want to see hair pulling, ambulance, cheating, cops, spitting ala Pumpkin on Flavor of Love. Rich over highlighted housewife from Beverly Hills saying “ENOUGH!” isn’t drama in my world, Bravo. Seeing that one of the Housewives series is always on, I think Bravo should move it to more “real” cities and it should be one for the corresponding day
Monday-Real Housewives of Milwaukee
Tuesday-Real Housewives of Topeka
Wednesday-Real Housewives of Weirton, WV
Thursday-Real Housewives of Tifton, GA
Friday-Real Housewives of Fairbanks, AK
Saturday-Real Housewives of Sioux Falls
Sunday-Real Housewives of San Antonio

And yes, I do have this much spare time on my hands to think of cities. I’m sick of seeing these over privileged people and their supposed drama. I want to see real people dammit.  But at the same time, I can’t help watching this crap. I spent an hour watching Real Housewives of the ATL this morning and I think I am hooked to that one-oi.

Hope everyone is having an enjoyable weekend so far–does anyone else have Monday off as well?

And lastly, a big GOOD LUCK to all the gals running the Chicago Marathon tomorrow—you will rock it!

To Shore or Not To Shore?

30 Aug

Today was a Summer Bank Holiday in the UK which apparently affected a huge portion of my work. It was completely slow today and I found myself with extra time to surf the web, read, talk walks, etc. This was nice but I can’t roll like this every day, I need some kind of work to keep me occupied.

I had leftover taco casserole from the other night. I added some extra cheese (since cheese makes everything better) and salsa to thin it up a bit. I am all for the spice but this had me fanning myself for a half hour afterwards. Not so much my mouth but just my body, I just wanted to cool down and be at a normal temperature again. I have one more left and froze another portion for a later date and am anxious to see how it froze. I love making batches of meals then having it a few times and freezing the rest. I don’t understand why more people don’t eat leftovers or take it for lunch, I think it’s usually better the second time around!

I was blissfully full but an ugh was about to hit. I had some dude from the past start IMing me at work. Really? We went our separate ways last year but he just started with my company last week and felt compelled to IM me. That’s a tad annoying. I mean, I understand why he would want to IM me but still, let it go. Plus, isn’t it a tad inappropriate and unprofessional to be doing that?

The lack of work today had me questioning things in life….what am I doing career wise? Am I going to stay in Charlotte? Why has this year gone by so quickly? Should I  start watching the Jersey Shore or not?

Unfortunately, I focused on the last question the most. I’ve never seen an episode however I know who all the key players are and know they like the GTL and like to get drunk. Besides that, I think they may work? I am just confused what they do all day and what the hype is. What also confuses me is how some of them make so much money when they seem like idiots who just get drunk and party? I will surely become an idiot if someone would pay me that much. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I can be very dramatic if the mood calls for it and if the money is talking. I love reality tv but think if I start watching, I will become hooked. I don’t want to be that girl who goes onto The Jersey Shore bulletin boards to read what the spoilers are and start following these people. Plus I have so many questions-Why is their hair so big? Why do they tan so much? Do they know the dangers of tanning?  Why are they all from places except Jersey? Why are they in Miami and what are they doing there? I never see them smile with their teeth, do they have any?  I am very intrigued but kind of believe The Jersey Shore is like Pringles-once you pop you can’t stop.

Perplexed by all things Jersey Shore, I made an Italian dish for dinner-Balsamic Chicken over pesto spaghetti with green onions and fresh tomatoes

Yay for the colors of Italy–represent!

Feeling uninspired from my strength training workouts lately, I did just a kettlebell and kettlebell only session

Kettlebell-20 lbs

Side Bends (20 reps, 2 sets)

Halos (13 reps, 3 sets)

Swings (13 reps, 3 sets)

Shrugs (13 reps, 2 sets)

Step Ups (25 reps, 3 sets)

Upright Deltoid Row (13 reps, 3 sets)

*Bentover Row  (13 reps, 3 sets)

Paired with a whole bunch of jumping jacks, planks and dancing in between sets, this workout kicked my butt. I was dripping by the end and felt like I was pushing myself more than my normal workouts when I incorporate a 10 and 15 lb dumbbell. I had an awesome calorie burn and my heart rate really got up there. It was interesting to see what a difference it brought from workout out along with my dumbbells and want to start incorporating kettlebell only workouts in my routine.

I refueled with a pomegranate smoothie with Chobani Pom Greek Yogurt, Pom Wonderful, Flax,Almond Milk and Vanilla Whey-delish

I am excited for tonight. I have absolutely no plans and the highlights will be washing my hair, doing the dishes and catching up on blogs. This past week was a bad one for me. I just felt off and not as happy as I usually am. I am going to blame it on coming back from Phoenix but I was really in a bum mood most of the week and just not feeling anything. I feel myself again and happy I am out of my funk!

Carrabba’s Italian Grill

7 Aug

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I had the opportunity to attend the Carrabba’s Italian Grill Tastemaker Event on Saturday at the Carrabba’s in Huntersville, NC. As an Italian girl, I am very picky about Italian food. Rarely do I go out to eat Italian as I can make it at home and in my mind, get a better value. But that doesn’t apply to Carrabba’s. I tried Carrabba’s for the first time about five or six years ago and absolutely loved it. It was real Italian food and not the fake stuff like some other chain, Italian restaurants. Who knew an Italian chain restaurant could be so good and well, authentic?  Well as authentic as I can imagine as I haven’t been to Italy….yet but still, good Italian food.

I am the kind of person when I go to a restaurant, I will try something different each time until I find that one dish that makes me happy and warm on the inside. At Carrabba’s, that dish is the Chicken Bryan topped with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes with a basil lemon butter sauce (I am salivating just by typing it out the description)

 I never peruse the menu when I go there because I already know what I am going to get so when I arrived at the Tastemaker Event today, I was in for a world of schooling on the Carrabba’s way. We also got to bring a guest so I brought along one of my girl friends and we were ready for some Italian food!

 Marci, Proprietor

 

Mike, our host for the day with his wife Sarah-who also works for Carrabba’s. It was nice to hear that everyone who spoke today had been with the company for 10+ years. In my mind, they must be doing something right as a business for people to be there that long and be passionate about what they do.

The first thing he went over was their pesto sauce, which is surprisingly simple to make. Along with pine nuts, they use walnuts in their pesto sauce and use genevese basil as the base. Just watching him pour extra virgin olive oil for ten or eleven seconds proved to me that I have been making mind incorrectly all along. I haven’t been using that much extra virgin olive oil and always put the cheese in along with everything else while the cheese was the last thing he added. I also need a huge food processor like that, it is officially on my wish list!

The pesto was served with a Tomato Caprese Salad

Everything on the plate was completely fresh and the mozzarella had a mild yet rich taste. This salad didn’t need anything else to satisfy since it’s the perfect summer salad.  Did you know that mozzarella is made from milk of water buffalos?

The next dish we got to taste was the Linguine Pescatore with shrimp, sea scallops, mussels in a spicy marina.

This was excellent, the marinara had a bite to it and the seafood was fresh. I only ate half of it but boxed up the rest to take home with me 🙂

Next up was showing us how they made the Penne Franco -Penne with Mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and black olives, with ricotta salata

The key players

Thin strips of the ricotta salata to try. I am not a hufe fan of the ricotta mostly because of the texture but this was fantastic. It was salty and smooth and a complete 180 texture wise from the ricotta I’ve had in the past.

We had a choice of pastas to take home with us and I chose this one but here is a picture of the finished product

One last course to go after that and  that would be dessert. They made the Dessert Rosa-a simple dessert of butter cake, slices of strawberries and bananas, crushed pineapple, vanilla pudding topped with chocolate and Cool Whip served in a shot glass. These would be perfect for a summer get together!

The last thing we did was play with pizza dough. Mike asked if there were any volunteers to try it out so of course I volunteered along with one other.

Ok, so even though I worked at Papa John’s when I was in high school and my Italian background did not help one bit with this. I couldn’t the dough in a round shape at all and it was more oblong that anything. At least it didn’t look like a state or some other funky shape like in the past

I even got a $20 gift certificate for participating in the dough piece!

Our goodie bags to take home with us

I’ve never seen extra olive oil in a packet before, this made me smile!

Herbs and pine nuts

A huge bowl of olives. This right here is dangerous for me b/c I can’t keep olives at home without going through the entire jar. I am going to try to keep my paws away from these but will be seeing them in some meals in the near future!

Some things I learned about Carrabb’s today that made me love them even more:

*Carrabba’s along with Outback has been feeding troops in the Middle East for the past few years.

*They don’t advertise that they do this which is awesome since they aren’t doing it just for show, they are doing it for those who serve and protect our country

*Many of the dishes are those of Grandma Mandola and to this day, still true to the original recipe

*By watching them make their sauces and dishes, they use simple, fresh ingredients. When I go out to eat, I feel like I could never make that dish at home but that wasn’t the case today. I feel like I could make the stuff they make easily at home . Ok, it may not taste as good but it is possible and they don’t use ingredients or spices that I’ve never heard of.

*The first Carrabba’s was in Houston, TX. It’s nice to see a great, Italian restaurant from somewhere other than NY or NJ.

*The food is based on Sicilian recipes, which is probably why I enjoyed their food so much since my family hails from Sicily.

All in all, I had an excellent time at the Tastemaker Event. I loved learning about the Carrabba’s way and culture, their ingredients and processes and learning new fun facts.

Thanks Foodbuzz and Carrabba’s  for hosting this!!  The staff was more than knowledgeable and hospitable, welcomed us with open arms and was happy to answer questions. I truly enjoyed the experience and will be visiting Carrabba’s again for sure!