Kale Caesar Salad with Pan-Seared Shrimp

Back in 2010, I made a personal vow to focus on healthy eating (read all about it here). This was a challenge for me, the girl who considers bread, brie, and wine a square meal, so I started with small things, like packing a homemade lunch each day, instead of relying on Lean Cuisines and fast food. Slowly, I established a routine of making healthy choices whenever I was the one in control of the preparation (well, MOST of the time, anyway), which lets me enjoy eating at restaurants without worrying quite so much about all the salt and the butter and delightful carbohydrates I’m consuming.

One of my healthy eating goals for 2014 is to incorporate more kale into my diet, as part of the Kale Up campaign.  Kale is a green I’ve shied away from in the past, other than occasionally tossing a few handfuls into a nice bean soup. Kale is a very hearty green — you don’t have to worry about it going limp or getting soggy. I often find kale salads are even better when the kale has a bit of time to “marinate” in the dressing.

kale Caesar salad with shrimp

‘Twas my birthday.

A few nights ago, the BF and I were discussing my upcoming birthday, and we realized that neither of us were quite sure how old I was going to be.  Apparently, he bases his age off of how old I am, which I attribute to his burning desire to draw frequent attention to the fact that I am six months his senior and thus a cradle robbing cougar.  Rawwwrrrrrrrrr! Cat face

Anyway… after several rounds of bantering back and forth, we came to an agreement.

I was officially turning 27.

Twenty-seven years ripe.

Twenty-seven years seasoned.

Twenty-seven years matured, if you will.

I’m pretty sure you’re officially “old” when you can’t remember how old you actually are.

So there I was, about to turn 27, in a new city, with no one to keep me company but a crappy (albeit tasty) tuna sandwich and a crap load of work to get done.

As fabulous as this sounded, I decided to be proactive with my Ladies who Lunch goal, and invite a few ladies in the area to lunch.  Was it a longshot to invite a bunch of ladies I barely know to have lunch with me on my birthday?  Perhaps.  Was it awkward to put myself out there?  Slightly.  Did I send that email anyway?  You’re darn tootin I did!

One short email followed by four quick responses and I was headed to Savor Café and Catering to have lunch with four fabulous blogging ladies:  Jamie (Bibliophiled Away), Vanessa (Life Undeveloped), Julie (Willow Bird Baking), and Katie (Sweet Tater Blog).

I don’t know what came over me, but I hardly took any pictures during lunch!  All I can say is the interior of Savor was eclectic and slightly rustic.  The restaurant was small and cozy, with super tall ceilings, and exposed brick walls.   Lucky for us we got there before the lunch rush because that line was out the door!


For those who were curious, yesterday’s post about the best birthday present ever came from Jamie.  Seriously, how perfect?!


What’s not perfect is how much my hair hates NC weather!  Also, thanks Vanessa for the pic!

Savor had quite a few options on the menu that sounded worthy of a birthday lunch, but  since I had plans to end my big day with an Italian feast I decided to stick with the Savor Salad.  It had mixed greens, tomatoes, carrots, chickpeas, and cucumbers plus some tasty grilled chicken on top:


The balsamic vinaigrette was so thick, I literally had to slather it on my salad.  It was fabulous.

The ladies:  Julie (Willow Bird Baking), Vanessa (Life Undeveloped), Katie (Sweet Tater Blog), MOI!, and Jamie (Bibliophiled Away).DSCF6801

Savor Cafe and Catering on Urbanspoon

When I got back to work, I had a little surprise waiting:


A birthday treat from the mama Smile


P.S., chocolate covered apples are AMAZING.  Who knew?!

My mailman also brought me a card from my dad Smile


Like father, like daughter?  Perhaps.

And my friend Tracy sent me a big ass tub of Frank’s Red Hot:


You may be wondering what the heck I am going to do with 756 servings of Frank’s Red Hot.  To that I say don’t you worry Smile

< Insert 6 or so more hours of work here >

And it was time for dinna with the Man Candy Open-mouthed smile

We haven’t had an Italian dinner in quite a while, so my pick of the evening was Villa Antonio in Ballantyne.

I was so surprised by how fancy schmancy the restaurant was.


Even though the restaurant was very formal, it was by no means uninviting.  Jarrod and I perused the menu, and were brought *free* bruschetta to munch on while we decided.


At this point I was pretty much in love with the place.  Who doesn’t love free?!

Once we ordered, we were brought *ahem* *FREE* house bread and dipping oil:


Did I mention I love this place?

I wish every meal started off with two courses of bread Winking smile

While I sipped on a glass of Banfi Col di Sasso (a Sangiovese/Cabernet blend), we dug into our sausage and pepper appetizer:


Everything about this dish was perfect.  The sausage was slightly spicy, the marinara sauce was deep and garlicky, the roasted peppers were sweet, and the cheese was melty heaven.  This alone could have been a delicious entre…  but ‘twas my birthday, so we certainly did not stop there!

After the appetizer, we were brought *FREE!!!!* lemon sorbetto to cleanse the palate. At this point I audibly exclaimed “I LOVE THIS PLACE!”.  I can be slightly embarrassing when it comes to food.


For the entre, we decided to split a chicken and gnocchi dish.  Half of the entre was the PERFECT serving size:


The chicken was layered with garlic, pomodoro, goat cheese, spinach, and mozzarella.  And as if that weren’t enough cheesy goodness, the gnocchi was covered in a creamy gorgonzola sauce.


Absolutely divine.

Surmounted only by this large slice of chocolate peanut butter cake that followed:


Villa Antonio Ballantyne on Urbanspoon

Two happy diners:


Thanks everyone for the b-day wishes!


Run and done(ish)

The low down:  This week marks week four of my self-proclaimed Kick the Knee Pain running program.  I started off this new program with intervals of 2 minutes walking 1 minute running, and each day I run I bump my run interval time up by 1 minute.  Sunday I completed 3 intervals of 8 minutes running and 1 minute walking.

Status:  Other than some mild tightness in my knees, I haven’t had any knee issues so far!

Contributing “Success” Factors:

  1. Buying new running shoes BEFORE starting to run.
  2. Running primarily on softer surfaces (trails, paths, etc.)
  3. NOT running every day and giving my knees a chance to recuperate
  4. Being conscious of my natural tendency to heel-strike and focusing on NOT
  5. Strength training.  Building up the muscles in my legs and my core supposedly takes stress of the knees.

Conclusion:  Boo ya.

*Note that stretching is not on the list above…  feel free to leave angry comments about the importance of stretching.  Maybe that will get it through my stubborn brain.

Short-Term Goal:  Be at 30-minute running only intervals (i.e., no walking) with no knee pain by August 15th.

And now on to more exciting things… like this lovely tuna wrap I had for dinner Smile


Isn’t it perdy?  This was a quick hodgpodge I threw together after work and consisted of:

  • 1 can chunk tuna in water, drained
  • 1 tbsp light HELMANS mayo (none of that miracle whip crap Steaming mad)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small dill pickle, chopped
  • Handful of romaine lettuce
  • Handful of grape tomatoes
  • S&P
  • Dried Dill
  • 1 light Italian Flat-out wrap


This made for one gynormous wrap, that I basically inhaled.  Along with some cucumber salad:


This should be called the Lazy Girl Salad.  It consisted of 1 sliced cucumber, some white vinegar, and some dried dill.  Easy peasy!


Tomorrow is Wednesday!  And for the 92nd week in a row, I’m going to attempt to NOT forget it’s What-I-Ate-Wednesday.  I even put a reminder in my phone Smile

Question of the evening:  How do we feel about my giant head on the right hand side of the page?



The first time I saw Nix, I got the vibe that it was some crazy heavy metal bar.  A biker bar perhaps.  Well, at least a place where short skirts and sleazy guys might hang out.

I mean, they DO have FLAMES in their logo:



Friday eats

Sooooooo… it has been FOR-EV-ER since I last posted about workday breakfast-breakfast-lunch.  I guess I just got bored posting about the same things over and over again.  But today, I figured what the heck.  It’s Friday.  Let’s do this.

Breakfast #1

Mary’s oh-so-special eggs!

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I absolutely adore this B#1 every day!  Sausage, eggs, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, spinach, and garlic?  Come on!

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Don’t forget the dollop of ketchup of course :)

 Stats on 1 Servings of my Special Eggs (sans ketchup):  189 Calories,  9g carbs,  9g fat, 23g protein, 1g fiber



Breakfast #2


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I was in the grocery store the other day and ALMOST bought some strawberries so I could make overnight oats… But it’s so stinkin cold outside that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Man I miss them :(   So for today, it was standard microwaved quick oats with cinnamon and brown sugar… maybe my OO’s will make a return next week!

 Stats on 1 Servings of oats:  165 Calories,  31g carbs,  3g fat, 5g protein, 4g fiber


And that brings us to LUNCH.  Mini cheesy meat loaf and a yumlicious side salad with Newman’s Light balsamic dressing:

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Maybe it’s a midwest thing….. but I seriously adore meatloaf. 

It’s comforting. 

It’s meaty. 

It brings me unfettered joy. 

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Stats on 1 mini cheesy meatloaf:  350 calories, 19g carbs, 17g fat (red meat, folks), 29g protein, 1g fiber

So what’s on everyone’s agenda this weekend?  Here’s what I’ll be up to:

  • Eyebrow wax this evening (fun Friday night activity, no?)
  • Clean.my.house.  Seriously.  I’m living in filth.
  • Work.
  • Get some of my friends and family tax returns done… oh the joys of being a tax accountant
  • Buy the BF a bday present… I’m thinking outlet mall!
  • Possibly venturing out on a Luna Bar quest.  Must find the new flavors STAT!
  • Super Bowl of course!  Bring on the cheese!