The Mr. Sugarbears

The Mr. Sugarbears
The Mr. Sugarbears

The Mr. Sugarbears
2 – 8 ounce servings

Ingredients:

Frozen Pineapple & Blueberry Ice Cubes  ( see below)
6 ounces Pineapple Juice
4 ounces Orange Juice
Dash of Grenadine
6 ounces Dark Puerto Rican Rum
1 lime

Fill 2 glasses with ice cubes.  Use a shaker to combine all of the other ingredients except the lime.   Shake vigorously and pour over ice cubes.  Cut lime in half and squeeze juice into each glass.  Serve immediately.

This makes me think of the beach and you know how I love the beach.  You can also leave out the alcohol.

Pineapple and Blueberry ice cubes
Pineapple and Blueberry ice cubes

Fill an ice cube tray with pineapple juice and blueberries and freeze overnight.

Mr. Sugarbears enjoying some porch time
Mr. Sugarbears enjoying some porch time

Your drink is coming right up.  🙂

Booze & Brunch Potluck

Champagne & Mimosa Bar
Champagne & Mimosa Bar

Why have I never thought to do a brunch potluck before last week?  I mean, brunch is delicious, affordable and a great time to start drinking.  🙂  Okay, it’s not the best time to start drinking, but it sure is fun.  I invited a few of my friends and their kiddos to meet at my house from 10-12 am this past Saturday morning.  I put together a Champagne and Mimosa bar by the front door and a Bloody Mary bar on the opposite side of the room.

Bloody Mary Bar
Bloody Mary Bar

I set up a table in the man’s den with new, cool composition books, snap pops and crayons for the kiddos.  I set the adult table with china and my grandmother’s silverware.  I rarely pull her silver out, but somehow brunch with my lady friends screamed, “Polish the silver”.  Everyone brought the most amazing food.

The Ladies Table
The Ladies Table

My sister made Sausage balls.  They remind me of Christmas at my mom’s house.  🙂  One of my friends brought a big bowl of fresh fruit, stuffed french toast with hot maple syrup and a spinach quiche.  I’m still thinking about this fresh burrata with local tomatoes:

Burrata with local tomatoes
Burrata with local tomatoes

It was so delicious.  We’re now planning a Burrata-making day at my house.  Another one of my foodie friends brought this Smoked salmon platter.  Have you ever seen anything cuter?

Smoked Salmon platter
Smoked Salmon platter

My mom brought her mini lemon meringue pies.  It’s another childhood throwback that never ceases to put a big smile on my face.  Growing up I made a request for this pie often. (just not the mini version)

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies
Mini Lemon Meringue Pies

I set up a “Make your own pancake bar” for the kiddos.  I had maraschino cherries, chocolate sprinkles, mini dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips, whipped cream…It was a fun thing to do with them.  I had sausage links, scrambled eggs, Boursin with french bread and homemade pimento cheese on Pumpernickel.  We also had gluten-free muffins with mini marshmallows.  It was an amazingly diverse menu.  I tried it all.  I loved it all.  I can’t wait to do it again this fall, but larger and with the guys, too.  Everyone pitched in and helped me clean up before they left.  Afterwards I was left with a full belly and a little bit of a buzz and this is all I did next for the rest of the day.

Bloody Mary's & Reading on the Porch
Bloody Mary’s & Reading on the Porch

Mr. Sugarbears felt the same way.  He had lots of sausage and lots of kiddo love. I have to say the Booze and Brunch Potluck is now number one in my book.

Ella Kate and Mr. Sugarbears
Ella Kate and Mr. Sugarbears
Mr. Sugarbears
Mr. Sugarbears

My Review of Mateo

I’ll start by saying wow.  Chef Matthew Kelly has really outdone himself with this venture.  Mateo is located in downtown Durham and specializes in blending the flavors of Spain with southern flavors.  Not only do they offer a huge selection of amazing pinxtos, but they also offer pages of spanish wine and sherry.  I’ve never been anywhere that offers sherry flights.  I’ve been missing out.  I went with two girlfriends and we ordered a multitude of dishes to share.  Our server, John, was extremely friendly and knowledgeable.  Of course the restaurant was packed and deservedly so.  I am already trying to plan another visit.  So here is a little bit of Mateo:

Padron Fritos with olive oil, sea salt and lemon
Padron Fritos with olive oil, sea salt and lemon
Medjool Date stuffed with goats cheese and wrapped in country ham
Medjool Date stuffed with goats cheese and wrapped in country ham
Charred Okra with Ramp Ranch
Charred Okra with Ramp Ranch
Pan Con Tomate
Pan Con Tomate
Queso Fritos y Huevo-Farm Egg over crispy manchego, charred green beans and a romesco sauce
Queso Fritos y Huevo-Farm Egg over crispy manchego, charred asparagus and a romesco sauce
Hanger Steak, Asparagus, Charred Vidalia Onion, Migas and romesco verde
Hanger Steak, Asparagus, Charred Vidalia Onion, Migas and romesco verde
Peach Empanada with a Feta Sauce
Peach Empanada with a Feta Sauce
Our amazing server John
Our amazing server John
The dinner party
The dinner party

So maybe you can tell that I loved it?  I hope you’ll put it on your list of foodie destinations.  Thanks Cynthia for inviting me to join you at this awesome establishment!  Can we go again tonight?  🙂

Mateo bar de tapas
109 WEST CHAPEL HILL STREET
DURHAM – NORTH CAROLINA
919-530-8700

Baked Avocados Stuffed with Egg, Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Baked Avocado with Egg, Sun-dried tomato and feta cheese
Baked Avocado with Egg, Sun-dried tomato and feta cheese

Ingredients:

2 Large Avocados
4 Whole Eggs
1 Tbsp Chopped Sun-dried Tomatoes
1 Tbsp Feta Cheese
1 Tsp chopped Italian Parsley
Juice of 1/2 of a Large Lemon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut avocados in half and remove pit. Once the pit is removed use a spoon to remove more of the avocado meat to make room for the filling. Place avocado shells in a casserole dish, skin side down. Crack each egg open and slide separately into each shell. Carefully add the tomatoes and feta cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes until the egg is set through. Remove and sprinkle fresh parsley and lemon juice on top to serve.

Mushroom & Cheese Dip

Cheesy Mushroom Dip
Cheesy Mushroom Dip

Yesterday my mind churned away thinking about mushrooms. Don’t get me wrong, I still went to work and did my job, but I just couldn’t shake the thoughts of working with the earthy treats. I’m by far not a vegetarian, but I do try to limit my meat consumption, and when I can, I try to adhere to Meatless Mondays. One of the awesome wine bloggers that I follow is talkavino.com Recently he began collaborating on this fabulous blog thedinnerpartycollective.com He has an amazing palate and suggested pairing a Barbera with this Cremini Mushroom Soup. See the post here: http://thedinnerpartycollective.com/2015/06/24/wine-pairings-winter-menu-southern-hemisphere-june-2015/
So I finally was free last night around 7 and I set off to pick up ingredients for a cheesy mushroom dip. (That was the easy part). Finding a Barbera proved to be much more of a challenge. An hour after my search began, I gave up and decided that I’d just settle for drinking a peppery cabernet with it. (Sorry Anatoli. I was hoping to finally give some proper feedback). Here were the awesome suggestions listed on their blog to go with their mushroom soup:

Red Wines – Northern Hemisphere: Barbera d’Asti or Barbera d’Alba, Italy (pick a fairly young, not too structured Barbera – something aged in steel only or anyway not overly oaked)

Recommendations: Pico Maccario, Barbera d’Asti “Lavignone“; Vinchio-Vaglio Serra, Barbera d’Asti Superiore “I Tre Vescovi“; Coppo, Barbera d’Asti “Camp du Rouss“; Dante Rivetti, Barbera d’Alba Superiore “Boschi“

After giving up on my search, I returned to my recipe creating. There are tons of mushroom dips available online these days, but this is what I did and I loved it. I hope you’ll try it and I hope you’ll find a nice Barbera d’Asti to drink with it.

Mushroom & Cheese Dip

16 ounces of fresh, pre-cleaned mushrooms (assorted would be great, too)
8 ounces of shredded extra sharp cheddar
8 ounces of shredded monterey jack
1/2 cup of Mayo (Gluten Free options are available)
1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
1 tbsp Fresh Thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly grease a casserole dish with olive oil. In a separate bowl combine all of the ingredients. Fold it all into the casserole dish and bake for 25 minutes until golden and bubbly. Add fresh thyme leaves on top of casserole after it comes out of the oven and serve with sliced baguette bread. There are also lots of gluten free options for bread available today that are great with this dip.

Smothered Tomatoes

Smothered Tomatoes
Smothered Tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 large Vine-Ripe Tomato
4 oz fresh mozzarella
Olive Oil
Fresh chopped Basil-about 1 teaspoon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Garlic Powder to taste
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice tomatoes into 1/4″ rounds.  Thinly slice the mozzarella into small rounds.  Put parchment paper on a baking pan and drizzle a little olive oil on top of paper.  Place tomato rounds on the pan and top with mozzarella, a sprinkle of garlic, salt & pepper.  Drizzle olive oil on top of the cheese and place in oven.  Bake for 11 minutes.  Turn broiler on and broil for an additional 3-4 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble and brown.  Serve immediately with fresh chopped basil and a squeeze of lemon on top.  They were great as a side dish to our chicken.  I hope you try them and love them.  They are really simple and yummy.

Smothered Tomatoes on top of a caesar salad.
Smothered Tomatoes on top of a caesar salad.

Fourth of July Potluck

2

It’s been a while since I’ve had a small potluck with my friends.  I have a tendency to follow the “Go big or Go home” way of doing things, so it’s refreshing to have just a few people over to celebrate.  I look forward to having a night after work that I can actually sit down and enjoy everyone.  Last night was that night.

I invited a few friends over with their children for an American Style Potluck. In other words, no fancy shmancy food. This potluck screamed  hamburgers and hotdogs, fireworks and sparklers, baked beans and apple pie.  Well, of course it still turned out to be a little fancy.

One of my friends turned me into an Okra lover last night. I’ve never liked it before and felt I was missing something essential from my southern palate. She brought Grilled Okra with a smoked paprika and shallot dip. OMG it was good. Please excuse the evil, camera flash eyes on Mr. Sugarbears.
15
Of course we had the regular fourth fare; hamburger sliders with cheddar cheese and hotdogs and baked beans, but I also wanted something a little different.  I found this great recipe for turkey, feta cheese and sun-dried tomato sliders at pickypalate.com. They were a big hit and it was a nice change.  Here’s the link to the recipe:
http://picky-palate.com/2010/02/25/feta-sun-dried-tomato-turkey-burger-sliders/
I wish I would have taken a better picture of the turkey burger itself but it’s hard to be hostess and think about these things. The feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes made it so pretty.

Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Turkey Burgers
Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Turkey Burgers

I also made regular hamburger sliders with cheddar cheese. The kiddos were not interested in the turkey sliders with “things” in them. On the other hand, the adults were very happy with them. We ended up adding avocado, too.
7

My go-to Black Bean and Avocado salad was one of our side dishes, too. Here’s a link if you’d like to add it to your holiday weekend menu. It’s really easy and light.
https://mrsugarbears.com/2015/05/28/black-bean-avocado-cherry-tomato-jalapeno-salad/

In order to have happy kiddos, always fill them with sugar.  All of the parents will thank you.  🙂  I just wanted the kids to have a fancy cocktail like the adults. I made Shirley Temple cocktails and put fancy holiday straws with them.  There are all kinds of versions online for this non-alcoholic drink, but this is how I made mine. (all the parents thought I was crazy for giving them red drinks in my house)

Shirley Temple Cocktail

4 ounces gingerale
1 ounce Grenadine
1 ounce Fresh OJ
dash of maraschino cherry juice
maraschino cherry

Mix everything in a glass with crushed ice and add a cherry on top.

One of my friends made this amazing salad. It was dandelion greens and baby lettuces with sheep’s milk feta cheese, toasted hazelnuts, fresh figs, pears, apples, and dressing with Dijon and Isley Farms honey. The recipe came from a Williams Sonoma cookbook and it was superb!
5

And you know how friends sometimes are known for a particular dish? One of my friends makes these loaded baked beans. My husband actually emailed a request to her for these. My nephew refused to eat anything but these last night. I’d say they were a hit. 🙂
10

We also had Macaroni and Cheese, but I missed out on that shot. Dang it.

By this time, the kiddos were full and went off to find some space from the old folks. I found my nephew glued to the TV downstairs and the girls were having alone time with Mr. Sugarbears. As you can see, he loves having company over.
3

In order to get the kiddos interested in us again, we decided it was time for dessert. My sister found a great recipe on Pinterest that screamed 4th of July fare.  The original link for this recipe is below:
http://www.sunsetfoods.com/news/blog/221
Just serve with vanilla icecream and ignore all fat content thoughts.  It’s a special occasion.  🙂 There’s plenty of time for the treadmill later.

And because I couldn’t help myself, I made Fourth of July Trivia flash cards.  I made sure to make some easier so the kiddos could take part and some harder to embarrass my friends. I do this for about every holiday.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  I made mine with index cards and a ball point pen.  My sister would have made them amazing had I put her in charge, but I really wanted her to make dessert instead.  I just can’t be bothered with baking.  There’s just too much science to baking.  Too much exactness for me to excel.  The accountant brain of hers is made for baking.  🙂  (Love you bean)
I offered candy prizes for correctly answered questions. I was pleasantly surprised with all of the correct answers from the girls. They ended up eating way more candy than I had intended. oops.

The sassy trivia panel
The sassy trivia panel

For my lady friends I made a White wine Sangria.  I put it together on my lunch break so it would have time to marinate and be happy for the party. For the record, I don’t suggest making fancy drinks on your lunch break when you can’t try them.

4th of July Sangria

1 1.5 liter Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup Triple Sec
1 cup Simple Syrup
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 pint fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh pineapple with juice cubed
1 cup vodka

Mix together and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before your party.  Not only is it wonderfully refreshing and sweet, it’s pretty, too.  🙂
13

After trivia and dessert, we went outside to celebrate. We discussed the rules and then had sparkler time.
1

It was a great night. My cup runneth over, once again. Happy 4th of July!

4