Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Pasta Matchmaker: Asian Pan-Fried Noodles with Shrimp

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MuellersMatchmaker #CollectiveBias

"What do you want for dinner?" "Uhhh... you pick..." Seriously, this is the most common conversation in our home.  We know how to cook a few things (and not too badly, I might add), but the food coming out of our kitchen can get a bit tedious.  Not to mention, when family or friends come over, we want to impress them, and by now, they've had all of our "signature" meals.  Here's where my new best friend comes in, Mueller’s® Pasta Matchmaker.  You take a simple quiz by clicking on the photo that best describes what you'd like to cook with, who you're cooking for, and even what the weather is like outside, and Mueller’s® gives you the beautiful photo of a delicious meal and the easy steps to make it for yourself.  They have 30 recipes so you can take the quiz night after night and have something different for weeks!  Here's the recipe it suggested for me:
Last weekend, my parents were in town for my mom's birthday.  I know how much she likes seafood, and it happened to be a nice, sunny day outside, so the quiz gave me Pan-Fried Noodles with Shrimp as my perfect pasta match.
I'm almost half Italian, so I am definitely guilty of thinking of pasta in the Italian sense - as a pairing for meatballs and the framework for lasagna.  Mueller’s® Pasta Matchmaker really showed me the flexibility of pasta and helped me break out of my millennial shell, creating something colorful and delicious.  I loved checking out all my fellow home-cooks' Mueller’s® recipes in their social hub, too!
I use my iPad as a recipe book, so the Mueller’s® website was perfect for me while cooking, but it gives you options to share, download, or even send the recipe to your phone.  Sending the recipe to myself made it super easy when I drove to my local Harris Teeter to pick up all the ingredients I needed, including Mueller’s® Wide Egg Noodles.
- 6 ounces Mueller’s® Wide Egg Noodles
- 1 pound medium peeled and de-veined shrimp
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- optional 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes and/or 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup thinly sliced red pepper
- 1 cup frozen edamame (shelled)
- 1 cup reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce/marinade
- toasted sesame seeds
1. Cook noodles according to package instructions, omitting salt.  Place drained noodles on a paper towel-lined plate and pat dry.
2. Combine shrimp, 1 tablespoon of soy, pepper, and red pepper flakes/sriracha in a medium bowl.
3. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add cooked noodles and remaining soy; cook 5-7 minutes until noodles are browned and lightly crisp.  Remove from skillet and set aside.
4. Add shrimp and carrots to the skillet and cook for one minute on each side, until shrimp begin to pink.  Add in bell pepper and edamame, cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add noodles and teriyaki to skillet, stir to combine, and cook until hot.  
5. Top with sesame seeds and enjoy!
We had the best time over my mom's birthday weekend - and this delicious stir-fry (and that coconut cake for dessert) made for the perfect meal.  I will definitely be using the Pasta Matchmaker every time we host a dinner party.

I definitely encourage you not only try the Pasta Matchmaker quiz, but also participate in the Pasta Matchmaker Challenges, where you can put your own spin on a Mueller’s® classic recipe and submit for a change to win prizes. Contest dates are as follows: Challenge #1 has passed; Challenge #2: January 22-February 4; Challenge #3: February 5-February 18; Challenge #4: February 19-March 4; Challenge #5: March 5-March 18, and Challenge #6: March 19 – April 1.  Click here to start the challenge!

Do you have a favorite ingredient or meal to cook right now?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Race Recap: runDisney Star Wars Weekend

May The Course Be With You
Two weeks ago, we headed across the country to California for runDisney's Star Wars - The Light Side weekend.  After Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, adding Star Wars to the runDisney lineup was a no-brainer.  The inaugural weekend in Disneyland was in 2015, and it was such a success that they decided to expand to both parks, making Disneyland "The Light Side," and Walt Disney World "The Dark Side" in 2016.

I held to my word last year, retiring from half marathons after the Princess Half, so we did the 10k.  I love that distance because it gives you a mile or two to get into a groove, and then, before you know it, you're done.  Plus, shorter training runs/schedules are my favorite.

The Health & Fitness Expo at the Disneyland Hotel was great, as always, and we spent Friday in the parks before the race.  If you go to Disneyland, you NEED to get a Park Hopper.  Unlike Walt Disney World where you drive or take a shuttle/monorail/boat from park to park, it's only a 200 yard walk from the Disneyland gate to California Adventure.  We decided to hit up California Adventure first, for one of our favorite rides that doesn't have a Fastpass in CA - Toy Story Mania.  We got there about 20 minutes before the parks opened to hang out and wait before the official opening.  The super nice lady at the entrance asked where we were from.  When I told her that it was Mike's first time to Disneyland, she handed us a pass to enjoy the rest of the Extra Magic Hour.  She was so sweet!

Sidenote: another difference between FL and CA is that while I always suggest visitors stay at a Disney hotel in Florida for proximity to the parks, free transportation and car parking at each park, and overall ease, there are tons of "neighbor hotels" in walking distance for fantastic prices in Anaheim.  The one downside is no Extra Magic Hours, but the price difference and discounted tickets at those neighbor hotels are worth it!
On Friday, we crisscrossed the parks back and forth and went on so many of our favorites: Radiator Springs Racers, California Screamin', Indiana Jones Adventure, Mr. Toad, and the new Star Wars-themed Hyperspace Mountain.  I absolutely love the way they redesigned this ride, even though I'm not very good with change.  I can't wait to see the new Star Wars land near Big Thunder Mountain after it opens next year!

Another sidenote: Disneyland does not yet have the Fastpass+ system that Walt Disney World has, where you log into the system on your computer with your Magic Band ahead of the trip and choose your ride times.  In fact, they don't even have Magic Bands yet!  Good old fashioned paper tickets and inserting those tickets into the Fastpass system at each ride, it is!
It was early to bed on Friday night for a 3:30am wake up call for the 10k.  There were a few fun photo op scenes like the trash compactor on the Death Star and hanging upside down in the Wampa's cave, but no characters before the race.  As for during the race, we were pretty disappointed with only a few stops: R2D2, BB8, Chewbacca, and two empty stops that we later found out were Darth Vader and Kylo Ren.  I know there are regulations that characters can only stay out there for so long, but waiting 20 minutes for a character to "get sometime to eat" or "solve a problem at the Death Star" is a bit much when you're trying to stay warm and in the groove with a race.  We made up for it with a trip to see Darth Vader at the Star Wars Launch Bay later that morning.  Other than that, the race course was great - I love getting to go through both parks - and there were bands playing and Jedi trainings going on at different spots.
Of course, we also treated ourselves after running six miles and enjoyed some fantastic fireworks at the happiest place on Earth.  It was the perfect start to our vacation, and I loved getting to run another 10k with Mike!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Winter White + Beach Blue

My hometown: it gets me every time I'm there.  In the smallest state, right on the ocean, with the best little shops and restaurants... in the summer.  Then there are the townies, like me.  My parents still live there year-round with a few other thousand people, but every Memorial Day, the population more than doubles.  Even Taylor Swift has a home, just a few hundred feet up the hill from where these photos were taken.

While I love all those colorful beach umbrellas and bright, sunny days filled with homemade ice cream, I have to admit that fall and winter days are some of my favorites.  All of the shops have closed for the season, but the waves are still crashing, and when the sun is out, you can still feel the summer warmth.  
I love going back home every holiday season in the dead of winter when no one else is on the streets.  While I love Charleston, there's something about this tiny little town and having a winter off-season.  I love this place, and it was the perfect day to remind me why.

Monday, January 23, 2017

We're Back!

Oh hey, friends!  We're finally back from our trip.  What an amazing week and a half it's been: Disneyland, Hawaii, and now... sleep.  Y'all, jetlag is legit and there might not be enough coffee in this city to get me through today - haha.  I can't wait to recap each part of our trip for you soon!  For now, here are a few of the highlights:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Lowcountry Eats: Ryder Cup Bar

While downtown Charleston has amazing views all over the city, and you could spend hours walking along the harbor, surprisingly, there isn't a lot of waterfront dining. When we are looking to eat right on the ocean, we drive a few miles South through James and Johns Islands, onto Kiawah. The winding roads through Kiawah are so beautiful, and at the Eastern end of the island is one of the top ten golf courses in the country: The Ocean Course.
There are two restaurants at Ocean: The Atlantic Room and the Ryder Cup Bar. While The Atlantic Room has elegant dining, we prefer the Ryder Cup Bar. It's more our speed with televisions showing an array of sports, more comfortable and laid-back seating, and it actually has even better 180 degree views of the water. When we can, we prefer to sit outside on the veranda, overlooking the 18th green. It's also only a few steps down the path to the water, so it makes a perfect walk before or after your meal. Because this beach runs along the golf course without many homes around, it's always quiet and almost deserted.
Now for the food and drink. To be honest, you can't go wrong with any of the choices. They always have craft beer on tap, and I love the different signature drinks. In my opinion, the appetizers are as good as the main courses, so we usually split one main course and a couple appetizers. What's great about the Ryder Cup Bar is that, for dinner, you can actually order off either the bar menu or the Atlantic Room dinner menu. One of our favorite dishes at The Ocean Course, is the lobster mac and cheese, and even though it's only on The Atlantic Room menu, we always get it for dinner at Ryder Cup. The Ocean Course chefs are best known for the Crispy Shrimp, and if you ever go there, you need to try it.
The crab dip is fantastic, too, and for meals, I love the shrimp burger and Lowcountry grilled cheese: fried green tomatoes, bacon, and pimento cheese in between two pieces of jalapeƱo cornbread.
Next time you're in the Lowcountry, a stop at Kiawah is a definite must. Keep in mind, though, that Kiawah is a private island. While it doesn't cost anything to get on the island, you need to tell the gate attendants that you either have a reservation at The Atlantic Room or that you're to the Ryder Cup Bar to eat.

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