Wednesday, January 4

A Tasty Night Out

    Over this past weekend, Nate's parents were kind enough to watch the girls so we could have a date night. The plan had been to have dinner at Outback (because we received a giftcard for Christmas) and then catch the new Sherlock Holmes movie. I know by now that things never happen as planned...and often times it's because there is something better we didn't think of.

    We arrived at our local Outback Steakhouse at 5:30 Saturday evening. There was already a large crowd gathered outside in front of the restaurant and the hostess waiting at the door informed us that it was at least an hour wait --probably longer-- before just the two of us could be seated. Well, if we wanted to catch a movie after dinner, we didn't really have time to wait around for a table. So we got back in the car and drove half-heartedly towards some random chinese place. Then Nate got a funny idea.

    Why not try the little Japanese restaurant that we ate at on our first date? Which happens to be his favorite restaurant and which happens to ALWAYS be closed for reasons unknown whenever we have tried eating there occasionally since our first date. So we had been trying to eat there for roughly six years and it had always been closed--hence the 'funny' idea Nate had.

    If the place was open, we could eat and still catch the movie at a decent time at the theater nearby. I pull in to the parking lot aaaannnndddd it was open! Yay! It's a miracle! haha j/k. The name of this elusive eating experience-- Kashin. The first time Nate took me here, I was less-than-enthusiastic about the food. This time could not have been more different.

    It is a very quiet little restaurant nestled inside a usually busy shopping center. And on New Year's Eve while everyone was crowding the major chain restaurants, we were one of four couples in this softly lit place. After placing our orders, the waitress (dressed in Japanese clothes) brought out miso soup and a little salad with sesame ginger dressing. I also ordered a glass of lightly sweet plum wine for Nate and I to try.

    The soup was a warm and delicious way to start out the meal. My favorite part were the silken tofu cubes in it. In my opinion, there could have been more of them. :)
My last tofu cube. :(

    The salad, that I ate very un-gracefully with chopsticks, contrasted well with a cool and crisp finish. The dressing had a subtle flavor to it that didn't overwhelm the palate. In short, it was yummy. :)

    After a short wait, our dinners arrived. Oh my! I ordered the Assorted Tempura. I was excited because Nate loves their tempura and there are items in this dish that I have never tried why not give it a go?

    The Assorted Tempura is crispy fried shrimp, scallop, crab, fish, chicken, and vegetables with tempura sauce and served with a side of white rice. The first thing I tried was the scallop because I've never had scallops before. But now I can't wait to have scallops again. :) It was so smooth and buttery. I was sad there was only one on my plate--but it was an assorted plate. The veggies on the plate were no disappointment either with sweet potato, zucchini, onions & shredded carrot, and a green bell pepper. There was a mushroom too, but only a bite of that was taken so as not to upturn my stomach.

    It was such a fabulous meal in a romantic setting in some of the best company. :) I'm really looking forward to a return trip.

    I was so caught up in remembering the food that I forgot about the movie after! Nate and I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. It was a great movie! I think I am really becoming quite a fan of Robert Downey Jr.

    We had a great time together and even stayed awake to ring in the New Year. :) I'm looking forward to our next date night...hopefully it won't be months before we can do it again. Life can be a lil crazy. :)

Sunday, January 1

The First Sunday--Thoughts on a New Year and Dinners for the Next Week

    Sunday night. The first Sunday of the year. The Christmas decorations are all put away and the living room seems so bare now. Almost empty. Except for the tree. haha We still have to take the tree out of the stand and take it to the dumpster. But aside from that, all traces of the holidays have been packed back up for another year.

    The girls are in bed and fast asleep. Nate and I have had our Sunday chili (what in the world are we going to eat on Sundays once football is over?? haha) and are now settled in watching the night game. Oh, and playing Words with Friends with each other.

    While the game is on and my head is turned in the general direction of the television, my thoughts are about the new year. I'm looking forward to a new year. New year, new memories. I'm going to do my best to make the most of the year:
  • I know I want to lose weight because I've reached a point where I just don't like the way I feel. I've been thinking about setting a year-long goal with the hopes of being half-way there by June which is when my wedding anniversary is. :) 
  • And I was thinking about targeting two or three things on my bucket list to accomplish this year. Like learning a new langauge, go skydiving, and I haven't decided on the third.
  • And then there is the question of taking classes to finish a degree. I've applied to the Art Institutes before (and been accepted) to get a culinary degree, but we got hung up on paying for it. Do we try AI again? Or should I start small and work on my associates at the local community college online?
  • And I'd like to be more proactive regarding my culinary interests and enter some baking contests. There are a number of them around, it's just a matter of getting my butt motivated. I'd actually like to enter the NC State Fair's contests in the fall this year...of course I've been talking about this for a couple years now, but I'd actually like to DO it this year.
  • And of course keep working on saving money. But let's face it, that is something we all want to do all of the time. So that sort of counts...but it's always at the back of my maybe not really. :)
  • And as a really personal goal, I want to work on becoming a better person. I feel this one is pretty self explanatory. :)
  • And last, but most definitely not least, I want to be active with my girls. I want to take the to local museums, go to the pool a lot when it gets warmer, take them to the beach, visit the aquariums on the coast, check out the lakes and parks we have in the area (and there are quite a few), well, I think you get the idea on this one.
So to say that I am excited about the new year is probably an understatement. :)

    But more on the forefront of my thoughts would be events in the near future that involve food. For instance, the impending Superbowl. Yes, I know, we don't even know who is going to the big game. But that doesn't mean I can't start getting excited about the possibilities of the food I'll bring to Nate's parents' house. Let's take a moment to remember the awesome themed food from last year's Superbowl Lineup. Fun times. :) So I know I will be making the piggie cookies again--only with the appropriate teams represented. :)

    And then there are two birthday parties coming up that I could be making cakes for. One is for the daughter of a friend...and I'm not 100% sure if she wants me to bake the cake or not. I offered and couldn't help getting excited about the possibilities as I thought about it later. The birthday girl will be turning 6 and they are thinking about a guitar cake. How fun would that be?!? I've started thinking about an electric guitar with purples, pinks, and blacks. And stars. And some silver glitter. And then what do I do for the strings? Fondant rolled really thin? Anyway, so I've offered to make it. But if she decides not to have me help, no hurt feelings.
    Now I did say two birthday parties in the near future. Nate's birthday is the beginning of March and I usually start thinking about it after the holidays. So now I'm trying to decide what to do to celebrate his birthday and then what kind of cake to make. Do I go with childhood cartoons again? Or perhaps since he loves to read, decorate a pile of books? Oooo! Or a pile of books with a cup of coffee on top! Or I could scale it back and a decorate a layered cake. :) I've still got time though...but now you understand why I like to start thinking about it early. :)

    Alright, I think I've rambled on enough for one post-- that and I have to set my alarm for the morning for the first time in over a week. ::cringe:: So I will leave you with thoughts of dinners coming up this week. :)

Monday: Spinach, Bacon & Swiss Quiche -- the recipe is for Spinach & Swiss Quiche that I found in magazine.

Tuesday: Tortellini and Brussels Sprouts -- Kyleigh can NOT stop asking for the sprouts again. If I hadn't given birth to her, I wouldn't believe she is my kid. haha

Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner -- Waffles!

Thursday: Soup and Sammies -- Barley soup.

Friday: Pizza and a Movie Night of course! :)

Saturday: Meat Loaf -- I've made meat loaf before after finding a recipe for it, I'll give the recipe a go. :)

Let's make it a great week y'all!!

Dinner Diary with Pictures -- Last Week of December

Sunday was Christmas and we were at Nate's parents house.
    His Mom made ham, green bean casserole, cheesy potato bake and a cheesy pineapple bake. It was some goooood eating. :)

Monday we were at Nate's parent's house for the big family Christmas get-together.
    Everybody brought something. There was a Baked Ziti, penne with sundried tomatoes, scalloped potatoes, venison sausage, salad, bread, and fruit. And then we brought pigs in a blanket and mashed potatoes. Then there was dessert. :) We brought Santa's chocolate chip cookies, layered mint fudge and butterscotch marshmallow fudge. My sister-in-law and her husband made a fabulously divine caramel cake. I ate one slice of that and was done. I didn't even try the other varieties of cookies that others brought. :)

Tuesday I made Tortellini Alfredo Casserole using an adapted version of a recipe I found in magazine.
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