Greek Cooking Class

Another successful date night!

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September’s date night took us to Whole Foods, but not for grocery shopping… 

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We were there for a Greek cooking class that featured a three-course dinner with appetizers to boot!

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The class was only $10 a person. Who says a fun and delicious date night has to cost mucho dinero?

Ryan and I arrived and took our seats at a long table with the other class participants and were immediately served a glass of wine.

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I love a good glass of white wine! I much prefer white wine to red because I like my wine to taste like juice and  that’s harder to come by when enjoying red wines.

Once everyone was happily sipping on their glasses of wine, the class began.

It started out on an interactive note with some hummus-making!

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The homemade hummus contained chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and tahini (sesame seed paste).

Guess who was our table’s designated chickpea crusher?

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That is Ryan’s “I’m really into this chickpea crushing business” face. 

As he crushed away, I couldn’t help but quip “a food processor would be pretty great right about now.” The instructor said that a food processor would take all of the fun out of the hummus making process.

False.

It would take all of the lumps out of the hummus-making process. 😉

Once Ryan was done making the hummus, we enjoyed it spread on fresh pita bread.

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Ryan and I thought the hummus was okay… but in some serious need of seasonings. Sue recommended adding roasted red peppers if we recreate the hummus at home which I think we would really enjoy. I think this less flavorful hummus would be delicious on a sandwich, but when enjoyed on a pita alone, it was a bit bland.

Luckily the other appetizer was very flavorful.

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Grape leaves stuffed with rice and seasonings. So good! I had three while Sue prepared our salads with another Whole Foods team member.

It’s rare that I will say a salad is the best part of any meal, but in this particular situation it really was!

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The salads were comprised of a very unusual combination of foods:

  • Watermelon
  • Olive
  • Endive
  • Feta cheese
  • Mint
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

We were all a little skeptical about how the flavors would taste together, but they were unbelievably delicious! My favorite bites were the ones with the watermelon, feta and mint. YUM.

We basically licked our salad plates clean.

Then it was time for the main course.

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Chicken gyros were served with pita bread, cucumbers, tomato, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a yogurt-based sauce known as raita sauce.

My favorite part of this dish was definitely the raita sauce. It was cool and creamy and I cannot wait to try to recreate it at home.

Dessert was also delicious.

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We were served plates of stracciatella gelato, which is essentially an Italian sweet cream flavor of gelato with chocolate shavings. It was topped with mint leaves and orange blossom honey (so good!) and served with watermelon, cantaloupe and sliced, frozen grapes.

Ryan and I finished our respective desserts very quickly and were able to share a second scoop of the stracciatella.

Clearly the gelato sparked our sweet tooth, because once the class was over we headed to Whole Foods’ bakery and nabbed some chocolatey goodies.

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I am seriously in love with Whole Foods’ bakery. Their oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is unreal. I could eat those bad boys all day every day. Ryan shares my love of these cookies and we spilt a big one between the two of us (it looks small in that bag, but it was the size of my hand).

I also nabbed a chocolate twist from the bakery which I planned to save for tomorrow.

It didn’t make it out of the parking lot. 😉

Good food + Good company = Great date night

The rest of our evening will be spent cuddled up on the couch with the dawg. My kinda night!

See ya in the mornin’, friends!

Our Date Night Tradition

Lunch was a simple one!

Open-Faced Chicken Sandwich

I made myself a BBQ chicken sandwich on a whole wheat sandwich thin with baby greens and gobs of mustard.

The Old Standby

For some added veggies, I also enjoyed a side of broccoli slaw with Italian dressing.

Broccoli Slaw

Friday Spread

Minimal effort was required to assemble this lunch, but it was still super satisfying and delicious.

My kinda meal! 😀

Date Night

As long-time PBF followers already know, Ryan and I take turns planning date nights for each other every other month. This is something we’ve been doing for years and is something we both look forward to every single time.

All Dressed Up

It’s fun to be the “date planner” and brainstorm creative date ideas you think the other person will enjoy and it’s obviously fun to be the one wined, dined and entertained!

Smile!

Our date nights don’t have any restrictions, limitations, budgets or minimums. A date night can be a simple picnic at a park or a fancy-schmancy four-course dinner.

Past date nights have included:

Cheeseballs

When blog reader Lindsey e-mailed me asking how I come up with date ideas, I started to think about the steps I take when planning a fun date night.  When it’s my turn to plan a date, I typically do a number of things:

  • Think about local restaurants we’re dying to try
  • Hop on Ticketmaster.com to see if any comedians or good concerts are coming to the area
  • Check out Groupon.com for local deals and promotions
  • Talk to friends and coworkers about fun things they’ve done recently
  • Look at the city of Orlando’s calendar of events for fun festivals

As you may have guessed, tonight is DATE NIGHT!

It was my turn to plan a date this month and I’m excited for the activity we have planned.

It’s gonna be a fun (& yummy!) one! 😀

Question of the Afternoon

What is your ideal date?

Sweet Potato Wedges

When I got home from work, Ryan and I took Sadie on a walk around the neighborhood before heading to the grocery store to pick up some essentials for the week.

While there, we also nabbed a couple of sweet potatoes to incorporate into our dinner this evening.

I started by slicing the sweet potato before tossing the wedges in canola oil and salt.

I then spread them out on a cookie sheet and baked them at 415 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.

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We enjoyed the wedges along with muenster cheese and Morningstar Farms veggie bacon sandwiches.

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It was a pretty random dinner, but it was also exactly what I was craving!

The rest of the night will be spent curled up on the couch with a movie.

In the DVD player this evening:

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Ryan and I wanted to see it when it was in theaters, but never got around to it. We’ve heard great things, so let’s hope it’s a funny one!

June Date Night

Ryan and I take turns planning an extra special once a month for the other person. 

This month was Ryan’s month to plan our special date and he made reservations for a fun and romantic dinner at my favorite restaurant, Season’s 52. (You may see a recap of the date I planned last month here.) 

Date Night!

I absolutely love this restaurant because they use fresh, seasonal ingredients and keep the options healthy since they do not use butter and limit the calories in every dish to 475. They rely on seasonings, herbs and spices to flavor their dishes. 

I’ve never had a meal at Season’s 52 that I haven’t loved and tonight was no different. 

Ryan and I started our meal with sushi and ordered a spicy tuna roll to share. 

Spicy Tuna Roll

It was a little too spicy for me, but I am a spice wimp. I still ate several pieces and thought it was very tasty. 

Ryan then ordered a bowl of buffalo chili which we ended up sharing as well since it was fairly large and quite filling. 

Buffalo Chili

I know it looks pretty nasty in the picture above, but that’s only because we stirred the sour cream into the mix and were nearly done eating it when I snapped the pic. The chili was served with four squares of polenta which were my favorite part about the dish. Polenta is delicious! 

Then it was time for our entrees! It took quite a while for our entrees to come out, but we really didn’t mind and enjoyed hanging out and talking together. The restaurant actually ended up comping our appetizer because of the wait which was a nice surprise. 

For my entree, I ordered the reuben flat bread, which is actually a large appetizer, but definitely enough for a meal for one person. 

Reuben Flat Bread

My Dinner

 I absolutely adore corned beef and jumped at the opportunity to order a flatbread topped with corned beef and sauerkraut. It was fantastic! The flat bread was crisp and thin, and the corned beef was perfectly salty and moist. 

Dessert 

Of course we saved room for dessert! 

Ryan and I each selected a “mini indulgence” to enjoy. 

Peanut butter and chocolate mousse for me, pecan pie for him. 

His & Hers

PB & Choc Mousse

In the time that it took you to scroll past the above two pictures, our dessert was g-o-n-e. 

All Gone!

 

When we arrived home from our date, Sadie wanted some attention, so we took her on a 20 minute walk. Concluding date night with a nice walk with our little lady was the perfect ending. 🙂

I hope you guys are enjoying the weekend so far. See ya in the morning!

Three Desserts

Put me and Ryan together and you get one deadly dessert duo.

Sweet Teeth

Date night started out innocently enough.

We headed to Park Avenue in Winter Park for dinner at 310 Park South.

Park Avenue

R + J

(Yes, I’m actually wearing shorts! Eek.)

After this morning’s crampy run, I was determined to keep myself hydrated today, and ordered water to drink immediately when we sat down.

Water with Cucumber

The addition of the cucumber slice to my ice water was so neat. Drinking a lot of water is actually pretty hard for me, but I think sprucing it up with cucumber, lemon, lime or orange slices might make it more appealing.

For my entree I ordered a vegetable sandwich with fresh mozzarella on a whole wheat kaiser roll.

My Entree

310 Park South Vegetable Sandwich

I ordered my sandwich strictly for the fresh mozzarella and it didn’t disappoint.

Ryan opted for the New York strip steak, which came with purple mashed potatoes!

Ryan's Entree

We both cleared our plates. We’re tough like that. 😉

Dessert

After dinner, our dessert extravaganza began.

At 310 Park South, we ordered Tollhouse pie, which was essentially a chocolate chip cookie pie with Haagen-Daz vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a ribbon of fudge.

Dessert Numero Uno

I need to replicate this chocolate chip cookie pie! So good.

For dessert number two, we headed to Jeremiah’s Italian Ice.

Jeremiah's

We were both relatively full by this point, but since we were out near Jeremiah’s which is a bit of a drive from our apartment, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stop by for a cold treat.

We shared a small cookies ‘n’ cream + scoop froggy frog (aka mint chocolate chip) gelati.

Jeremiah's Gelati

On our way back to our apartment, we saw that Raphsodic Cooperative Company, a local vegan bakery, was open.

According to their website, all of Raphsodic’s products “are rigorously researched to be guaranteed vegan and cruelty and animal testing free.”

When we stepped inside, we were greeted by friendly faces and the most amazing smell of cinnamon and freshly baked cookies. We stopped in just to check the place out and didn’t intend to buy anything, but that completely changed when we saw the “cookie sammies,” which were to cookies sandwiched together with creamy icing.

Ryan selected a kitchen sink cookie sammie for us to share.

Raphsodic Vegan Kitchen Sink Cookie

This cookie sandwich was demolished before we pulled into our driveway! 🙂

1 date night + 2 people + 3 desserts = 2 veeeery full bellies

We’re finishing up date night with a movie and cuddle time with Miss Sadie.

See ya in the morning!

Straight No Chaser

Last night’s date night was SO much fun!!!

The concert was amazing and so was dinner… two for two! 😀

Dinner

Ryan and I kicked off date night by heading out to City Walk, an area of lots of restaurants, bars and clubs near Universal Studios.

City Walk

Orlando is huge (Disney World is about 25 – 30 minutes from our apartment downtown), and Ryan and I rarely do the “touristy” things.

Last night, however, we felt like we were on a mini-vacation, since we were surrounded by so many out-of-towners.

After parking in the King Kong lot (and paying $14 just to park! 😦 ), we walked around City Walk for a bit before crossing our fingers and venturing into Emeril’s restaurant to see if we could get a seat without reservations.

Emeril's Orlando

Luckily, the hostess said we could sit up at the bar which overlooked the kitchen.

Ryan and I have been to Emeril’s a couple of times before and we love sitting at the bar because you can watch all the behind-the-scenes action.

Within seconds of sitting, our drink orders were taken and we were provided with several fresh rolls to munch on before dinner.

Me + Cornbread

Cornbread

Ryan thought the sweet potato roll was tops, but I was a sucker for the cornbread (I had 2, plus 3/4 of a sweet potato roll).

We saved some of our rolls for dipping into the bowl of gumbo that Ryan ordered as an appetizer.

Gumbo

One of the cooks behind the bar said that when Emeril himself came to visit the restaurant in December, he complimented the gumbo, saying it was the best he’s ever had.

Ryan liked it a lot, but it was a bit spicy for me.

For our entrees, I ordered the sea bass while Ryan selected the duck.

Sea Bass

According to the menu, the sea bass was a “Seared Chilean sea bass bouillabaisse sofrito served with mussels, clams, toasted French bread with Florida orange-red pepper rouille.”

It was phenomenal. The broth was so flavorful, garlicy and delicious. I also loved the meatiness of the sea bass and the good amount of shellfish they included in the dish. Two thumbs up!

Ryan’s duck was also a great choice. He ordered the duck with caramelized sweet potatoes instead of the dirty rice it came with, which was a great decision.

Duck

We were both very happy with our selections.

Dessert

All through dinner we knew exactly what we’d be ordering for dessert.

Every time we’ve come to Emeril’s in the past, we’ve ordered the banana cream pie and been thoroughly impressed.

Last night was no different.

Emeril's Banana Cream Pie

The chef behind the bar told us that this dessert is the only one offered at all of Emeril’s restaurants.

It is so creamy and rich. Ryan and I finished all but two tiny bites.

Straight No Chaser

After a wonderful meal at Emeril’s, it was time to head over to the concert.

Date Night

Outside Hard Rock Live

We got there a little early but enjoyed people watching as the crowds entered the venue. There were quite a mix of people out to see Straight No Chaser, an a cappella group that originated at Indiana University.

The concert kicked off slightly past 8 p.m. and was full of energy!

We had great seats (4th row, dead center) and I got some awesome pictures and videos of the guys on my camera.

Straight No Chaser

These guys are so, so talented. It’s amazing what all they can do with only their voices.

Sing it Boys!

The show was energetic, fun and really funny!

Ryan and I both agreed that it was one of the best concerts we’ve ever seen.

Dessert x2

As we were walking out to our car, we walked past TCBY. I’m not one to just walk past a frozen yogurt store, so we popped in and split a small peanut butter and white chocolate mousse frozen yogurt.

TCBY

I love date night!

Today

Today I plan to tackle household chores (cleaning, laundry), get some sun, workout, run some errands, go to Ryan’s soccer game and possibly try a new recipe for dinner.

Catch ya lata! 😀

Striiiike

Phew!

I feel like I’ve been on the move all day! It feels good to finally be at home. 🙂

Lunch

After a nice, long shower following this morning’s 10k race, my tummy started rumblin’ again.

I boiled some water to make pasta while roasting asparagus in the oven and steaming broccoli in the microwave. I had all the appliances in use!

I knew I needed a lunch with staying power since we were going to be bowling from 1 to 4 p.m. Pasta with veggies seemed like a great option.

Lunch

Noodles + Broccoli + Sauce + Cheese

Yum

Afternoon Bowling

After inhaling lunch, Ryan and I headed to Boardwalk Bowl for an afternoon of bowling to raise money for Junior Achievement with his coworkers.

Couple o' Bowlers

Our team was a fun one! Ryan and his buddy Rob were quite the bowlers and were neck-in-neck throughout the first game.

Ryan got three strikes in a row (a turkey!) and just barely nudged him out for the win. It was a lot of fun to watch!

Ryan, Me, Katie & Rob

 

Top Notch Bowlers

Bowl Baby Bowl

Ryan and His Winning Score

Our friend Katie was also a big winner… She won the top pirze for the worst score in the first round (a 43 in case you were wondering). As a former winner of this prize, I was especially proud of her.

Katie the Big Winner & Me

A little after 4 p.m., greasy bowling alley food was brought out for us to snack on.

Bowling Alley Food

I was pretty hungry but knew Ryan and I had plans to head out for a date night right after bowling, so I limited my snacking to a couple of pigs in a blanket and a chicken finger.

Date Night

We left about 30 minutes later and headed right to Paco’s, a small Mexican restaurant we’ve heard great things about.

Da Suuun!

Whenever we’ve driven by Paco’s, the parking lot is packed and now we know why!

Paco's

What to get... What to get...

Within five minutes of our waiter bringing chips and homemade salsa to our table, they were gooone!

Chips and Salsa

Our food was delivered to our table very quickly, which was wonderful because I was hungry!

Enchiladas

Chicken Tacos

I downed the chicken tacos like it was my job and had several bites of Ryan’s enchiladas. Tasty!

Dessert

After dinner, we headed home to our energetic puppy.

Since it wasn’t quite dark outside yet, we took her on a 40 minute walk around the lake by our apartment to let our dinner digest a bit before heading out for dessert.

Dessert = McDonald’s shamrock shakes!!!

Shamrock Shake

I love milkhakes and McDonald’s makes a mean shake!

My McDonald’s shake flavor rankings are as follows:

  1. Strawberry shake
  2. Shamrock shake
  3. Chocolate
  4. Pumpkin shake
  5. Eggnog shake

I drank a big diet coke while we were bowling today and I think it triggered my sweet tooth so the shamrock shake hit the spot! 

I’ve read a lot of articles about diet soda and I don’t drink it often. I definitely think it makes me want sugary foods… Something about the sweetness of the soda sets me off!

Do you drink diet soda?