Friday Night Plans

For this single mom, the importance of good Friday night plans is immeasurable. Oliver stays with his dad on Fridays and this is my one true night off.  Depending on the week, sometimes my plan entails a night on the couch with current binge television and a bag of popcorn. But my favorite kind of Friday includes getting my ass off the couch, putting a cute outfit on, and hitting one of Seattle’s great restaurants with friends. I cannot control when I am going to meet the dude of my dreams, but what I can do is connect with the people in my life that I truly enjoy! I am lucky to have lots of them, so I got that going for me.

Tomorrow night, I am very much looking forward to trying RockCreek (http://www.rockcreekseattle.com/) with my friend Nelle (check out her fantastic food blog www.nellebee.com) and her sister. I know I will be eating delish food, sipping on equally as delish cocktails, and having great conversation, probably about how awesome my blog is. And bonus, if I get a little tipsy, I get to sleep in on Saturday morning, drink coffee and happily eat my Eggs & Avocado Toast before hitting pilates.

People, do yourself a favor, get on OpenTable and make a reservation at a restaurant you’ve been dying to try. I know how easy it is to get sucked into to your own life (for me, that’s episodic television. Oh, and my son), but get out there and eat, drink, socialize!

NOTE – all RockCreek photos are courtesy of their lovely website.

I Heart NY

My sentiment may be unoriginal, but it’s just the plain truth. I have been lucky enough to have friends in NYC for the past 15 years, which has always given me a reason to go and a place to stay. This has been the best way to experience the city – lots of little visits, shopping, eating, walking, drinking my way through the neighborhoods and simply taking it all in.This past weekend’s getaway might be one of my favorites yet. The trips have evolved from staying in various apartments in the West Village in our 20’s to Brooklyn Heights now. One of my oldest and dearest friends from college, Clare, and her family live in a lovely building in Brooklyn Heights, facing downtown Manhattan. I love Brooklyn Heights. Brownstones galore, diverse and interesting young families, and space to move! The restaurants are just as good, schools are fantastic, Manhattan is a quick (depending on traffic, that is) car ride away. If I lived in NY (a girl can dream), no brainer, it’s where I’d be. Don’t get me wrong, I loooooove going into the city and we did each day, but it was nice to escape back to Brooklyn at the end of the day.

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Manhattan view from Brooklyn Heights with my lovely host Clare

Thursday night – dinner with our friend Beth at Colonie in Brooklyn Heights. A quick walk from Clare’s place, cozy comfort food. We sat at the bar and ate cheese and crackers, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Monkfish, and Hanger steak, but the highlight was spaghetti squash with pancetta, egg and parm. So, so delish. I have also really been into spicy margaritas since my Mexico trip, and Colonie served a Grapefruit chili version with habanero-infused tequila, Cointreau, fresh ruby red grapefruit and lime juice and agave. Refreshing and tasty!

Friday – lunch at one of my fave Brooklyn Heights spots, Iris Café. This is one of the places that introduced me to Avocado toast last year and inspired my Eggs & Avocado toast breakfast routine. I obv had to had the toast, plus a sandwich to boot.

Friday Night – We got prettied up for Friday night with a blowout, although the shitty rain was threatening to ruin them! One of the best ways to treat yourself is to get your hair done, by someone else. It is so relaxing and feels like heaven, plus you walk out with awesome hair.

We hit the West Village for dinner, to a spot neither of us had tried, the Beatrice Inn, (same owners as the Waverly Inn, which I have always wanted to check out). Reviews have not been kind, but I thought it was fabulous, everything we ate was really good. Burrata on toast with sautéed mushrooms, kale salad with figs, milk braised pork shoulder with hen of the woods mushrooms, (amazing), seared scallops, roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts. And lots (and lots) of drinks. It was still so awful outside that we ended up sitting at the bar after dinner rather than venturing out in the rain. We had a few more cocktails, enough to fuel a dance party back at Clare’s, including some slow dances, and a video performance of me singing and dancing to Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”, which will never be seen. By anyone. Ever.

Saturday – I will admit, I was hurting after Friday night. It didn’t feel good to sit in the cab going into the city and get dropped off in the sea of people in Times Square. We don’t normally come here (not since the days when I insisted on going to see TRL being taped from the street), but I haven’t been to a show in a few visits. We got tickets to First Date, starring the adorable Zachari Levi. Our seats were perfect, the show was fantastic, although sadly closing in January. It was about a first blind date, so funny and relevant. Loved it. We were lucky enough to get to stay for a small Q&A with the cast post show. And I even got that cute guy to sign my playbill afterwards.

Saturday Night – dinner at Gran Electrica in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, so cute. The food was fantastic. Fresh cevice, guacamole, Carne Asada and black beans. Yum. It was the perfect end to our day. Wait, scratch that. The perfect end to our day was Saturday Night Live. I need to back up by saying that it is one of my ultimate dreams in life to see a taping of SNL. I have a few connections, I tried them, nothing panned out. The closest we got was being in Rockefeller Center earlier that day. It was so painful to be in NYC with just about the BEST POSSIBLE CAST OF A SHOW, EVER. Kristen Wiig made an appearance and opened the show as Doonese, with the baby hands. Anchorman 2 costars Will Ferrell and Steve Carrell joined host Paul Rudd (couldn’t love him more. not possible). And the musical guest was One Direction. Crying. But at least I got to watch with my bf, who may be the only person who appreciated it as much as I did.

All in all, one of the best trips I have had in a long time. I laughed so hard, ate and drank so well, and felt so loved! Thank you Clare for being the best hostess and friend!

Eating & Drinking in Ptown

I am lucky to have one of my best friends living in Portland for the past few years and I just love taking a little weekend trip down to visit her – I know it will be filled with gluttony (food & drink), laughs, and deep talks. Coming from Seattle, it is quick and easy getting there, about 2.5 hours (if you don’t get stuck in traffic like I did on Friday. Hey, navigation system, it is soooo helpful when you tell me that there is “slow moving traffic”. Thanks). Give me a good road trip mix where I can sing my ass off and I’m real happy.

I got into town on Friday at 6 and Jen was waiting with some chilled Rosé to help take the edge off of my 4 hour ride. She lives downtown, within walking distance to all the shopping and restaurants.

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Clean plate club at Clyde Common

FRIDAY DINNER – We walked to Jen’s fave restaurant, Clyde Common in the Ace Hotel. We shared tagliatelle with chanterelles, thyme, lemon; pork shank with spätzle, brussels sprouts, bacon, sage (oh.my.god. – the pork shank is fried and we literally picked every piece of meat off the bone); and braised kale. And we drank. Lots. They also have this truffle popcorn with grana that I’ve eaten late night on a previous visit. Amazing.

SATURDAY BREAKFAST – I get the fried egg sandwich with cheddar, bacon and avocado at Cheryl’s on 12th, right next to Jen’s apartment. I love me a breakfast sando and this one is right up there. Cheryl’s is an adorable little market and café – you can get wine, cheese, crackers or sit down and eat there. But the couch was calling, so I got it to go.

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Donatella druggin it up

On that note, I need to take a quick detour from food to talk about one of the best (Lifetime) movies I’ve seen in a long time. House of Versace starring Gina Gershon. She was Donatella. Such trashy goodness. It is such a treat to just relax on the couch with a great friend, no plans all day. We may have also watched a few more Lifetime masterpieces – The Romeo Killer and the new show Witches of East End. So ridiculous and so happy!

Lardo - the sign there pretty much sums it up
Lardo – the sign there pretty much sums it up

 

SATURDAY LUNCH – Lardo. Yep, this sandwich shop is exactly what it sounds like. Jen had the Pork Meatball Banh Mi with pickled vegetables, sriracha mayo, cilantro and I had the Cold Fried Chicken with bacon, pickles, buttermilk ranch and pickle slaw. And we had the homemade chips. Mmmmm….

My lovely host and dinner date.
My lovely host and dinner date

 

SATURDAY DINNER – We hit The Nines hotel and Departure, which is very un-Portland, it seems much more LA. After all of the heavy food, we wanted to lighten up a little with our dinner. I’m not quite sure that happened, but it was delish. We shared the Big Eye Tuna Poke, Shu Mai pork dumplings, Ishiyaki stone-grilled Waygu steak, and garlic fried rice with a sunny-side up egg. Sparkling wine and cocktails to boot and then we met up with friends at Interurban, a hipster Portland bar.

SUNDAY BREAKFAST – another egg sandwich, of course! I walked to Kenny and Zuke’s (also in the Ace Hotel) and got a scrambled egg, cheddar and bacon on an everything bagel.

I then got my fat ass back in the car to rock out to round 2 of the road trip mix – the tunes on the way home are suited for a food coma and slight hangover (post to come on road trip mixes). After a weekend of indulgence, it feels good to get back to reality, Oliver, eating healthy and working out this week! But don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret one sip or bite. Until next time, Portland!

I just want to give a special shout out to Kris Hutchinson for prettying up the blog today!! Thank you so much and when Here’s What Works has made me rich and famous, I won’t forget you.

Sunday Dinner for the Lazy – Skillet Lasagna

It was Sunday at 4pm. Oliver and I had just finished watching “Wreck It Ralph” and I realized I needed to figure out dinner as my family was coming. Sunday is the day I get to do any cooking I want, like REALLY get into it and cook for hours! Or not.

I had a fantastic weekend, that seems to play into the laziness of my Sunday attitude. Dinner out with girlfriends at one of my favorite new Seattle restaurants on Friday night, Westward. Seriously, check. it. out. Pre-dinner cocktails on the not-too-chilly fall evening around the oyster shell fire pit. The view of downtown Seattle is unlike any other restaurant in the city. We moved inside for a meal of fried squid, Moroccan fish stew, wood roasted chicken, potatoes cooked in the fire and fried brussels sprouts. Oh, there were also cocktails and wine too. Um, who doesn’t want to have a few “Champers Cocktails” – sparkling wine with apricot sage liqueur?? We finished with the butterscotch pots-de-creme and shortbread cookies. AMAZING.

(all pics are courtesy of Westward’s lovely website)

Saturday night was a friend’s surprise birthday party and we watched the Huskies lose to Stanford. Whatever. The party sure was fun! Oliver ran around with about 20 kids and the adults ate tailgate food and drank wine and beer out of purple solo cups. My kinda night.

OK, I digress, but my super fun weekend is how I got to my lazy Sunday dinner. I am always a little hesitant to try a new recipe, but when I get the recommendation from my friend Nicole, that’s good enough for me. She passed it along last week after making for her family and loving it – this seemed like the perfectly hearty and delish Sunday dinner. She was right. We ran to the store to pick up groceries at 4 and dinner was on the table by 6. Not too shabby for what ended up to be a really good meal.

Skillet Lasagna

Recipe adapted from “Keepers” by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion (Rodale Books)

Makes 6 Servings; Start to finish: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed (I used Iserno’s Italian chicken sausage in the 1 pound tube)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Red-pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes (I used 1 can whole peeled, 1 can crushed – both were San Marzano)
  • 1 basil sprig, plus a handful of basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One 9-ounce package no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (I used mascarpone)
  • ½ pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced and patted dry

Directions

  1. In a large lidded high-sided skillet with a 3-quart capacity set over high heat,warm the olive oil. Add the sausages and cook, stirring frequently and breaking up the meat, until browned, about 4 minutes. Leaving as much oil in the skillet as possible, transfer the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, garlic and a pinch of red-pepper flakes to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano and the tomatoes and their juices, crushing the tomatoes with your hands or a potato masher. Add the reserved sausage and any juices and the basil sprig. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Check the seasonings (it should be a little salty) and remove and discard the basil sprig.
  3. Break half the lasagna noodles in half crosswise (it’s fine if smaller pieces break off) and push each piece into the sauce under the sausage, distributing them evenly throughout the pan. Break the remaining noodles in half and distribute them evenly over the sauce, then push down on them with the back of a spoon to submerge them. Cover the pan and gently simmer (raising the heat a little, if needed) until the noodles are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 12 minutes.
  4. Dollop the mascarpone over the lasagna and swirl it into the sauce. Top with the mozzarella and gently simmer, covered, until the mozzarella melts, about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat and top the lasagna with the basil leaves, tearing any large leaves into smaller pieces. Let the lasagna rest, uncovered, for about 10 minutes before serving.

I served with simple roasted broccoli and this was a winner, flavorful, not too heavy, and everyone loved including Oliver. I have a little bit left over for my dinner tonight…YAY! I will definitely be making this again. Thanks Nicole!!