Funny stories... tales from the road... life with us.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Recipe Sharing: Asian Chicken and Orzo Salad

I made this Paula Deen recipe today for a picnic, and it was a hit. My dish was empty at the end of the meal -- and there was a good amount of food there to choose from -- so I'd classify this one as a success and definitely make it again. The only difference I did from the recipe was leaving out the water chestnuts (not a fan). Enjoy!

Asian Chicken and Orzo Salad
Yield: 12 servings


  • 1 (9-ounce) package frozen sugar snap peas
  • 1 (16-ounce) package orzo, cooked and drained
  • 1 cup water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 (2-ounce) package slivered almonds, toasted (1/2 cup)
Cook sugar snap peas according to package directions; drain well.

In a large bowl, combine sugar snap peas, orzo, water chestnuts, chicken, green onion, and red bell pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce. Pour over orzo mixture, tossing gently to coat. Stir in toasted almonds. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

$10 Dinners

The winner of this year's Next Food Network Star has launched a great new show that I really enjoy. Good tips, easy recipes and delicious food!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vacation! Photos of our Southern Road Trip

Rob and Kathryn's Southern Vacation (July-August 2009)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vacation! Part 3: (rest of) Savannah and Charleston

I have been too slow in getting the rest of our vacation blogged. I'm starting to forget!

Days 5-8: Savannah, Ga. -- We'd walked and seen a lot of Savannah, so we decided to head out of the city on our last full day there, which also happened to be our third anniversary! We decided to spend the day on the beach at Tybee Island, which is only about 25 minutes from Savannah. On the way out, we stopped at the world's smallest Wal-Mart and bought two cheap beach towels and two $10 chairs. We parked, scoped out a spot on the sand, swam in the very warm (but still cloudy, east coast) water, and just hung out. After a couple of hours, we decided to go walk around the little island, leaving our beach chairs on the sand so they could dry out before we packed them up.

Two hours and a long walk later (there is supposedly a lighthouse on Tybee Island that we never did find - we looked for it, followed the map and came up empty-handed), we were headed back to collect our chairs when the rain started pouring. So much for dry chairs! Rob rescued them from the beach, we wiped them off the best we could and threw them in the trunk with a neat sheet. Grabbed lunch at a random roadside stand (the fish tacos were excellent!) and headed back toward Savannah to clean up and walk around a little bit.

Dinner that night was AWESOME. We celebrated three years at The Olde Pink House and loved it! I think it was probably the best meal I've ever eaten and we went all out. I had the blue crab beignets, she-crab soup and bbq grouper with spinach and grits. Rob had a shrimp and fried grits appetizer, a wedge salad with fried green tomatoes, and striped bass with a coulis of potatoes, corn, black-eyed peas and blue crab. We were seated in the nicest room in the restaurant -- it only had five tables and looked out at the square -- that they use for anniversaries and special occasions. It was so nice and a great way to end our time in Savannah.

The next morning, we got up and stopped at a jewelry shop we'd been in earlier, and Rob bought me a pretty pendant designed by a local jeweler. We headed out towards Charleston!

Days 8-11: Charleston, S.C. -- On our drive, we realized that the car's front power outlet wasn't working. Turns out we blew a fuse when we plugged in the GPS up front and a cooler in the back (it was above the suggested combined wattage, which we never thought about when we plugged them in). So we stopped at an Auto Zone and bought a new fuse, which Rob replaced after trying forever to take out the old fuse - he couldn't get his big fingers in there to grab it. But it still didn't work, so we passed a Honda place and I made Rob pull over. The guy there was super nice -- apparently there are two fuses for that power outlet, so he swapped out the second one (he was much faster than Rob, but he had tools!) and we were on our way. By this time we were starving, so we stopped at another random roadside place for an excellent BLFGT (bacon, lettuce and fried green tomato) sandwich!

We checked in to our hotel and spent most of the day walking around the downtown area. Charleston is much more of a city than Savannah, with more traffic and people and distance. We trekked around and stopped for a Lady Baltimore cupcake -- one of my favorites that can't be found anywhere near home.

For dinner, we'd made a reservation at Hominy Grill -- shrimp and grits for Rob, and more grouper for me. Rob says this was his favorite meal of the trip! Our only miscalculation was that it was 2 miles from our hotel, and it was looking stormy when we left (to be honest, we thought it was closer and probably would have driven, but we didn't realize it until we were on our way). We made it to the restaurant before it poured, but the skies opened up while we were eating. The gal at the restaurant called us a cab to get back!

The next day we walked through the City Market, visited the Powder Magazine, ate some southern cookin' lunch at Jestine's Kitchen and headed toward the docks to do a riverboat cruise. We'd both been to Fort Sumpter before, so we opted not to do that and instead cruised down the coastline, under the Cooper Bridge and by the Yorktown. Then we walked a loooooong couple of miles down around the Battery and finally back to our hotel to crash. Dinner that night was lowcountry cuisine -- more shrimp and grits for me (are you seeing a pattern here??) and a seafood medley for Rob. Plus, the best biscuits and honey butter!

On our last day in Charleston, we headed out to Cypress Gardens for a blackwater swamp tour, alligator spotting and hiking. We arrived soon after they opened, so we were the only two on the first guided boat tour. Our guide took us in a smaller boat and we saw about five alligators! After the boat, we hiked around and spotted some other weird wildlife. Back to Charleston for our last walk of the city, visit to the Market to pick up some bene wafers (like sesame seed cookies) and dinner at Blossom.

Sunday we started north for our 8 hour drive. It actually went quickly and we were sorry to see our vacation end, but glad to be home.

Next up, photos!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sneak Preview

If you haven't read "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold, you might want to before December.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vacation! Part 2: Atlanta and (part of) Savannah

Back to the vacation recap. I've been negligent in getting this finished!

Days 4-5: Atlanta, Ga. -- We arrived in Atlanta in the early afternoon, and we were happy to stay with and catch up with my college roomie Ashley and her fun hubby Anthony. Their house is so cute and comfortable, and Rob loved introducing them to geocaching (right, Ant??). We had a great breakfast-for-dinner at The Flying Biscuit Cafe. Mmmm. Wish we had one here!

Days 5-8: Savannah, Ga. -- After leaving Atlanta, we drove the four hours to Savannah. After we'd checked in, we set out on foot and did a walking tour from our guide book. A lot of the sites we saw were from the movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", which I loved! We had lunch -- and more importantly, bread pudding -- at Express Cafe. We went down by the waterfront to check it out, then headed back to the hotel to cool off.

We'd researched some places to eat dinner and had chosen a bbq place, so we got directions and started our walk there. There had been some light rolling thunder, so we took our rain jackets along. That was the smartest thing we did the entire trip! Just as we got to the bbq joint -- which was closed on Mondays! -- the heavens opened up, lightning started flashing and the rain poured down. We were probably about a mile from the hotel at that point, so we just started walking toward our second dinner choice. But with the rain coming down, the streets flooding almost instantly (literally, it was up above our ankles at the street corners) and our clothes soaked, we decided to go back toward the hotel. I was terrified by all of the lightning! We grabbed some cheesesteak subs at a local place across from our hotel, took hot showers and ate our lovely dinner in the hotel room. Luckily, it cleared up and we ventured out after dinner for some awesome ice cream. Rob says this will probably be one of our strongest memories from the trip!

Tuesday after breakfast, I headed over to get in line at Lady and Sons, Paula Deen's Savannah restaurant. My friend Leann told me to be in line at 8 a.m. (they start giving out dinner reservation times at 9:30 a.m.), and she was right. I was the fourth in line, and by 8:30 a.m., the line was down the street and wrapped around the block. Crazy!

We'd decided to do one of the Trolley Tours during the heat of the day, but we saw a horse and carriage tour and decided to do it instead. Our carriage driver told us about all sorts of stuff and we rode around the historic district for almost an hour. We saw the park where the beginning of Forrest Gump was filmed, saw General Sherman's house, learned about the Live Oak trees and a bunch more. It was really interesting and fun.

That evening, we headed back to Paula Deen's for dinner. In my opinion, you go here more for the experience than the food, although it was all good. It was laden with butter, just as we'd expected.

Okay... this blog entry is long enough. Rest of Savannah and all of Charleston -- plus photos! -- coming soon...

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

We interrupt these vacation updates with a book review.

I just finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife. I hated it. Every. Single. Page.

I really wanted to read it and thought I'd better do so before the movie came out in a few weeks. It took me several chapters to even get interested, and by then I felt I was too invested to just quit. I didn't like the story or Henry or the whole idea. The only person I really liked was Clare.

And to add insult to injury, I had to pay a late fine to the library because it was due while we were on vacation.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Vacation! Part One: Gatlinburg and Chattanooga

Rob and I embarked on an 11-day trip to the hot, humid south two weeks ago today. We had such a great time, and this was our first road trip together. We managed not to get too fed up with one another in the car. ;)

Both Rob and I were feeling pretty crummy when we left. I'd been diagnosed with bronchitis and had been on the z-pack for two days, and Rob had been given a diagnosis of a viral infection. We were a fit pair.

Here's a run down of our adventures. I'll post some photos later.

Day 1: Gatlinburg, Tenn. -- This was our first stop, about 7 1/2 hours from home. We'd thought about driving the whole way to Chattanooga, but Gatlinburg is fun so we decided to stop there, and then take the long way the next day on to Chattanooga. If you haven't been there, Gatlinburg is a pretty honky-tonk town. After we checked in to our hotel, we just meandered up and down the strip, going in shops and looking around. Rob even found about five geocaches, right in the heart of the town!

We had dinner at the Smoky Mountain Brewery, which turned out to be yummy. We'd planned to go to a pancake place that had been on the Food Network, but they weren't open for dinner. We shared an appetizer of fried mushrooms with spicy brown mustard and a pizza. Rob enjoyed a sampler of five different beers (his only of the trip, since he started antibiotics the next day), and I had my first few glasses of what was an uncountable number of sweet teas.

After dinner, we rode the Sky Lift to the top of the mountain and enjoyed the view, although it was a bit weird at the top with an ice skating rink, rides, etc. We then headed back to the hotel so we could get up early and move on out towards Chattanooga.

Days 2-4: Chattanooga, Tenn. -- We headed out from Gatlinburg around 8:30 a.m. on Friday and decided to go the long way through the Smoky Mountains. The drive was beautiful!

We arrived in Chattanooga, checked in to our hotel and decided to head out on foot to see some of the downtown area. We went to the Chattanooga Choo Choo and were walking around when Rob decided to blow-out his ear. He did like people do when they are trying to get their ear to pop (hold your breath and blow out), but his ear made this tire-leaking sound that I heard about 10 feet away. Yikes! After walking around for a bit more, we decided to call his doctor. She finally called us back and called in a prescription for him at a pharmacy we'd found. So, there goes the end of Rob's great southern beer adventure. ;)

We met my college girlfriend Stephanie, her husband Eric and their two sweet little girls for dinner at Sticky Fingers. Yum! I love good bbq, and good company makes it even better.

The next day (Saturday), we headed out to Signal Mountain, which is where my Mom grew up. We drove all over the mountain, saw my grandparents' house, the church, the elementary school, etc. Then we went for a visit with my Aunt Pauline, my grandmother's dear friend who is 90 and still just as I remembered her. We stayed about an hour and loved talking with her! We made plans to meet her at church on Sunday.

After coming down off of the mountain via the very curvy W Road, we headed to Lookout Mountain. We'd planned to ride the incline, and just as I bought the tickets, the guy hung up a sign that said "Wait: 1 hour". What?!? Rob and I were standing there, debating what to do, when a security guard walked up and told us to come back after 6 p.m. He said there's hardly ever a line then, and it's open until 8 p.m., so we'd be fine. Good tip!

So we headed on to Rock City Gardens, where I hadn't been in ages, and meandered through the rocks. We saw a bird show called "Save Our American Raptors" and had giant birds flying all over the place around us.

After Rock City, we headed back downtown and walked across the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, then ate dinner in the Bluff View Arts District. It was so pretty up there, and we found a great restaurant to crash and enjoy dinner. We were wiped out!

We headed back to the incline, and the guard was right! The line was super short and we rode up and then back down. It was probably more fun when I was four, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. :)

Sunday, we went to church on Signal Mountain with Aunt Pauline and saw several other old family friends. After church, we headed out to Atlanta.

... more vacation posts coming soon!