The Excellent Adventures of Kim and Kev

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two More Sleeps

That is all that is standing between me and my DREAM trip to Yellowstone National Park!

I cannot believe that the time is here! 

I have read and studied and googled and watched every thing that I can think of to make sure that I am prepared. 

I have packed enough outfits to cover any possible event that we might get involved in.

I've memorized restaurant menus.

I have even practiced taking pictures.  Of running water.  To make sure that I can get some good shots of waterfalls.

 I am SO ready for this trip!   I'm ready to make some great memories with my parents and have a ton of fun!

And don't worry... I will be sharing the details upon my return.

As for Kev, he will be holding down the fort, working hard ( as usual), and probably enjoying a little peace and quiet.

Before I sign off for a while, I thought I would leave you with two memorable meals that we have had this week.

Thai Chicken Pizza.  I made a combination of this one and this one.


Creamy Avocado Rice.  Served with flank steak, roasted broccoli, and caramelized onions.

Both were excellent!

And now I'm off to finish getting ready for my greatest adventure.  It is going to be AMAZING!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ladies' Day

On Mother's Day, I told my Mom that I wanted to take her to lunch.  

And two months later, we finally made it happen.  Our schedules are ridiculous.

I had to come up with a new place due to our favorite lunch spot going out of business. So, after asking around for weeks, I decided to go with the place that just about every one suggested.....

I was looking for a place that offered salad plates and sandwiches with Southern flair.  Think food that would be served at a ladies' luncheon.  It is our favorite kind of lunch and what we always used to order at Cinnamon Hill.

Di Prato's was exactly what we were looking for.

An added bonus:  the pimiento cheese.  For goodness sake, THE PIMIENTO CHEESE.  It was to die for!  Just as every one had told me it would be.  And don't even get me started on the pita chips.  I have never had anything like them and am officially and forever in love!
The next time that we go, that is all that I will be ordering.  It was the best!

I also had a chicken salad sandwich with pasta salad on the side.  And Mom had a salad plate with chicken salad, tuna salad, and broccoli salad.

All was delicious!

We got there at 11am because we were warned that the lunch crowd can get pretty big.  And it did.  Just about the time we were leaving.

Leaving to go get some dessert!

Di Prato's did offer dessert and had multiple cheesecakes in the bakery section... but I had been wanting to go back to Nonnah's ever since we had my sister-in-law's bridal luncheon there.  Nonnah's is known for their desserts and if you are going to go all out, you might as well go for the biggest and the best!

And we did....

Look at the size of my Mom's cake!  She got the Chocolate Temptation and I got the Peanut Butter Pie.

Mom didn't even have to think about what she wanted.  And I don't blame her because I tried a bite and the cake was exceptional!  And that is a HUGE compliment coming from a non chocolate cake fan.  I could have totally eaten the entire piece and loved every second.

My peanut butter pie was not an easy decision, though.  I had to stare at the bakery case and quiz the waitress about the different flavors.  I really wanted a piece of cake - but the coconut was infused with strawberry liquor and the carrot was frosted with white chocolate.  I'm sure that both were absolutely delicious but I was really in the mood for a good basic dessert.  So, I went with the pie.  Peanut butter is in my top five favorite foods, after all.  And the crust was made with crushed peanut butter cookies!  Very light, very fluffy, very peanut buttery, very BIG.....

Totally worth it.

I really had such a great lunch date with Mom!  It was fun to try a new place, revisit an old one, and just catch up on life.

And in the spirit of trying new places.... the next day I checked out a new restaurant that opened up across the street from where I work.  It is basically a fast food joint but is known for their milkshakes.  And milkshakes just so happen to be one of Kev's favorite treats.

Their specialty is the watermelon shake.  Considering that we go through at least one watermelon a week, I figured that would be what Kev would want.  But he can't give up his love for the chocolate ones.  So, Kev got a Hershey chocolate and I got the watermelon.

And then I turned on the air full blast and drove 35 minutes home as fast as I could before they melted.

Let's just say that both were incredible.  Very creamy, very thick, and full of flavor.  The watermelon one exceeded my expectations.  Refreshing and light with chunks of watermelon.  Kev drank/ate his entire shake immediately.  I tried to savor mine and have a little at a time... but once the shake had been in the freezer for the entire day, it just wasn't as good.  More like an icee.  Don't worry - It didn't stop me from finishing it.

Cook Out has 36 flavors of milkshakes - but we are such creatures of habit, we will probably never try any other flavors.  

Or have another milkshake for that matter.  At least for the summer - not for forever.  We have been "treating" ourselves quite a lot lately and even though we are sticking to the same fitness regimen, it is starting to take it's toll.  We can tell such a difference in the way we feel.  

It's all about moderation. 

It's too bad that sometimes I choose to forget what that means. :)

It has been such a good summer so far... and still so much fun to be had.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Garden O' Plenty

My Dad's garden had another successful year!  

Which means that we were lucky enough to receive a  big bag of produce!

Which means that I had so much fun coming up with recipes to ensure every single piece was utilized.

This is just a small portion of what we received:

Eggplant, Yellow squash, patty pan squash, zucchini, cucumbers, jalapenos, green peppers, and more jalapenos!!  Our favorite!

My first challenge was to come up with a good recipe for the patty pan squash.  I googled and discovered this recipe: Stuffed Patty Pan Squash.

Yes, it has bacon in it.  Yes, it has cheese in it.  No, I haven't stopped eating healthy.  Yes, I'm enjoying my summer a little TOO much.

It was delicious!  I believe that any time you get the chance to eat the "bowl".... your meal must have been pretty fantastic.

Taco salads.  Bread bowls filled with soup.  Need I say more.

I also sliced up the eggplant, drizzled it with olive oil, and roasted it in the oven.
AND I made up a squash/ravioli lasagna as a side dish.  I basically layered cheese raviolis and squash in a 9 x 13 and covered it with cheese.  And baked it, of course.

I named the meal "Dad's Garden Bonanza"
I decided to give myself another challenge.  Not only did I insist on using every last piece of garden goodness... but I challenged myself to come up with recipes that would utilize the leftover produce from the party on the 4th as well as food that I had been stockpiling.

I was informed recently that I am a hoarder of groceries.

And unfortunately ( fortunately?) it is very true.

I love buying food more than shoes and clothes.



Another meal consisted of broccoli fritters, tomato pie, and a salad with Dad's cukes!
I considered that dinner to be the perfect summer meal!  The broccoli fritters are so easy and are quite amazing dipped in Jalapeno Ranch dressing ( which I now consider the nectar of the gods <--whatever that means).  And who doesn't love a tomato pie?  ( actually, I know a lot of people that don't like tomatoes... but whatever)  My sister, Holly, was the first one to introduce me to it.... and I think about her every time I make one.

I think about her lots of other times, too!

Pizza night used up a ton of random food items that had been living rent-free in our fridge.  Including the Naan bread that had been in the freezer for months ( gasp!).
Our pizzas were: pepperoni and jalapenos, green olive ( I'm slightly addicted to them right now), green pepper and onion, and broccoli and tomato.

Thankfully, Dad's produce lasted until Sunday night - 1 1/2 weeks after he gave it to us.

Kev grilled the last pieces of yellow squash and zucchini for our side dish.  I also had him throw in some fresh okra - YUM!  Grilling the okra whole gets rid of the slime.  Not that I mind the slime.... but Kev certainly enjoyed the okra more once it was grilled.
Other side dishes for the evening were:

Coleslaw ( made from the Dinosaur BBQ cookbook that Dave and Laura gave me) I would have to say that it was my favorite coleslaw EVER.  But that is to be expected because my meal at Dinosaur was my favorite meal EVER.
Rice- see all of those words above.
Baked Artichoke Cheddar Squares.

Thanks to my pantry clean out, I found these:
And just happened to have all the other ingredients on hand.

The squares were very cheesy and rich and perfect.  They didn't necessarily go with our meal... but when has that ever stopped me before.
The final plate:  All sides served with the main course.  SHARK STEAK!

We had never had shark steak.  I have never seen shark steak.  And I have luckily never seen an actual shark. ( Except for that HORRID ride at Universal Studios.)

But while shopping for fish on Saturday, the lady behind the counter suggested it to me and said it was delicious.  So, I got it.  And it was.  But it was definitely better the next day for some reason.

Our fridge and pantry and freezer are a little bit emptier thanks to last week.  Which, unfortunately, causes me to break out in sweats in fear of us running out of food.

And now I'm off to the grocery store.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Food for the Fourth

This year was our fourth time hosting The Fourth party.   We almost decided against having it this year due to every one's busy schedules and that it was in the middle of the week..... but I'm so glad we didn't!

How else would I have ever gotten this cute picture!  :)

Or gotten to spend some fun, relaxing time with family.  Or gotten to eat so much ( TOO MUCH!) good food all in one day.

Here is most of the food - linked to recipes where possible.....


Blueberry, Strawberry, and Jicama Salsa.
It had a little bit of jalapeno in it ( which I loved) to balance out the sweetness from the fruit.  I served it with chips.  If it didn't have the jalapeno, I would probably serve it with cinnamon pitas.

Baked Tex-Mex Pimiento Cheese Dip
Wow!  This stuff was incredible!  And addictive!  It definitely has a kick, though, and I cut the amount of hot peppers in half based on the dainty taste  buds of the people attending.

I plan on making this dip a lot.  You have been warned, family!

For appetizers we also had mini quiches brought by Shannon and Mary.  Shannon's quiches were made from the fresh eggs that her chickens produced in her very own back yard.

The Sides:

Mac and Cheese Bites.
Your eyes are not deceiving you!  These mac and cheese bites were made in cupcake tins.  And were so incredible that they put me in a state of euphoria for the past seven days.

They are the perfect addition to a cookout, a picnic, a road trip, a bubble bath.  No utensils needed.  Just pick it up and go.  In fact, some of the kids were caught swimming around with them in their hands ( above the water, of course).

I was worried that mine wouldn't turn out because I am famous for trying "different" techniques and failing.  But I followed the recipe and they turned out perfectly.  I even made them the night before and was able to reheat them at 250 degrees for 20 minutes right before the party.

You can also make them in mini muffin tins!  Perfect for little hands at a birthday party!  Or you could fill up a popcorn bucket with them and call it a movie snack.

Grilled Corn.
Other sides not pictured:

Potato salad and watermelon ( from Mom and Dad)
Fried squash chips ( from Randy's garden)
Broccoli Salad ( minus the raisins)

And then the Main Course:

Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken.
Ham and Swiss sliders ( from Shannon)
Meatballs ( from Mary)
Burger sliders
Hawaiian Pork Sliders... recipe from this book...
Trader Vic's is a restaurant we ate in last year when we went to Atlanta for a short vacation.  Kev happened across the cookbook and had just given it to me.  The recipe was for two pork loin that marinated over night and then roasted in the oven for an hour.

I sliced it and served it on Hawaiian sweet bread with grilled pineapple.
The pork sliders were definitely my favorite sandwich of the day... with Shannon's ham and swiss sandwiches coming in a close second.

The Desserts.

Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Dessert.
This dessert really deserves a better name!  Like Heaven or The Greatest Dessert on Earth.  It is just amazing.  And just like the last time I made it... it was already partially gone by the time it got served.
Shooting fireworks is exhausting!  ;)

I also made mini cherry and blueberry pies in mason jars!  And I completely forgot to get a picture!  It was also SO EASY and something I will definitely do again.  I made the blueberry ones sugar free and used regular cherry pie filling for the cherry ones.  The possibilities are endless.  I also used the pint jars that are tall and skinny - mainly because I couldn't find the ones pictured on the recipe - and they worked out just fine.  In fact, they had room at the top for a scoop of ice cream!  Which would then melt a little on the warm pie and seep down in to the jar.

My FIRST plate....
All healthiness and restrictions out the window!

I ended up eating ALL DAY.  And the next day woke up with a hangover!  A food hangover.  My body was just blown away by what I put in to it.

It was all worth it, though!

Little Abby sporting her patriotic bikini...

The party attendees... minus Mary and Glenn who were sitting on the porch in the shade.

It was such a fun day and we really enjoyed spending it with our family!

We hope every one had a great Fourth of July!!! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Uncle Kev

On July 3rd, we had "the kids" come over to spend the night.  

We began the evening with a nice, calm, uneventful dinner...

The Subway sandwich of choice: Ham + Cheese + Mayo + Bread.  ( Boring!)

I spent the next 15 minutes giving them the food speech about how there are so many amazing foods out there and that they don't know if they don't like them until they have tried them.... blah blah blah.

It never works, though.

Little did they know that Uncle Kev ( aka 4th of July Santa) had acquired a RIDICULOUS amount of fireworks for their evening surprise.
And then this happened:
And the crowds went WILD.
I have never seen two boys change in to their swimsuits so fast and jump in the pool.  Uncle Kev was in rare form and ready to play.

And then the teenagers got involved.

They played in the pool for hours!  And only came inside when they were in need of a towel or a timeout to recuperate.

I love that I can see in to the back yard from my kitchen... it was almost like I was actually outside except I didn't have to be a part of the shenanigans.

The fireworks started at 10:30pm.  Kev even set up a special viewing area for me.  But even though I was a decent distance away, I still had my hands over my face and watched through my fingers in fear that debris would fall in to my eyes.

Dramatic much?

The show was spectacular!  Especially when some neighbors came out and joined in on the fun!  No one wants to be out done in Gaston when it comes to fireworks.  No one.

The evening ended perfectly.  I was able to get the majority of my party food prepped and the kids were entertained  until they were so exhausted that they went to sleep.

Unfortunately, the next morning we woke up to a mess.

It seems the wind blew all of the fireworks debris in to the pool and on the pool deck.

Not to mention the pool party aftermath...
But it was nothing that Kev couldn't quickly fix.

It was totally worth it to him.  In fact, I'm not exactly sure who had more fun - him or the kids.

Up next:  The Food for the Fourth... and my kitchen helper....

Saturday, July 7, 2012


The recap:

Actually this recap begins with the very end of May.  After I returned from my (first) visit to Pawley's Island.

1.  My nephew, Michael, graduated high school.
Seeing all of the graduates gave me flashbacks to my graduation... when I thought I was SO grown up and ready to take on the world.  But I really had no clue.

I actually felt scared for them.

Or maybe I was just feeling delirious because I chose to wear a maxi skirt with a jean jacket on the first super hot day of the year.
And then I climbed seventy billion stairs while helping Laura carry a stroller full of Caroline.
You better believe I counted that as my workout for the day.

And my tank top  has the sweat stains to prove it.

2.  Another nephew, Austin, graduated from fifth grade (on the same day).
He won all sorts of awards!  It was very exciting!
3.  I got to experience lots of cousin love.  ( But not in the Alabama kind of way!  haha)
4.  Laura and Caroline were actually home for five weeks!  So, I was extra lucky to get to spend lots of one-on-one time with them.
5.  Kev and I watched multiple seasons of Dexter.

6.  We also watched the first season of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.  Who needs Showtime and HBO when you have Netflix?!

I'm hooked on all three series, by the way!

7.  I started attending classes at City Yoga.  Such an incredible experience!  Not only for the wonderful instructors and amazing classes... but also because it is across the street from Pawley's Front Porch.

8.  Pawley's Front Porch.  We FINALLY got to try it.  The restaurant has been on Diners, Drive ins, and Dives and is famous for it's burgers and fish tacos.

And fried pickles...
It was our first time trying them and they were pretty spectacular.  Even after sitting in the car for 30 minutes on my drive home.

I also ordered every fish taco that they offered so we could have a taste testing.

This grilled mahi mahi was definitely my favorite!
Kev's favorite was the buffalo shrimp taco, then the tempura fish taco, and lastly the grilled mahi.

It was an excellent meal!

9.  More Caroline lovin' time....
Laura and Caroline came out to our house to spend the day.

10.  Pawley's Island visit #2.

Laura's family got a house at the beach for a week and invited me up for a night.
It just so happened to be the same beach house that we "family reunioned" at a couple of years ago.  The house where Dave and Laura became more than just friends.

My Mom and Dad came for a visit too!
"I caught a fish THIS BIG!"
I also got a little playtime with this sweet girl... my second cousin, Lillian!  She taught me the secret to playing paddle ball is to "hit the ball gently".  If she only knew that "gently" is not something I'm good at  :)

11.  I busted out my new Pioneer Woman cookbook and tried a couple more of her recipes.  One of them using this...
to make this:  Peach Whiskey Chicken.  It was delicious!  I can't link to the recipe because it is only in her, you will just have to go out and buy it.  It is totally worth it, though!

12. I started getting extra-super-duper excited about my upcoming trip to Yellowstone!! It is now less than a month away and I CANNOT wait!

And that, folks, pretty much sums up June.  Along with chores, working out, chores, and eating lots of good food.

July has already started off with a BANG <- literally!  (Wait until you see the amount of fireworks Kev acquired.)

It is turning out to be a pretty fantastic summer!