3.22.2015

Dining in NC: Oval Park Grille at 1116 Broad Street in Durham, N.C.

Dining in NC: Oval Park Grille at 1116 Broad Street in Durham, N.C.  #outaboutnc


I am not an official food blogger. I do not write how a sauce paired perfectly with the peaches on top of the pork chops. I have plenty of friends who focus primarily on food writing, and I don't even try to keep up with their talents in the food world. I am, however, a travel writer, and let's face it. Food is a huge component of travel. We all like to eat. I know I do. So, my food approach on this blog is different and quite simple. I focus on just two things. Is the food good and should you go?  If a restaurant doesn't meet those two requirements on my list then you'll never see their "name in lights" on my blog.

I'm fortunate because I've worked hard on my writing portfolio these past four years, and I sometimes get asked to visit a restaurant. Many times, I say no just because my schedule is busy or I don't want the out-of-pocket expense of a sitter that week. Will and I live a very balanced life. We do not leave our kids with sitters three to five times a week so I can attend media or public relations events.

I do like to keep up with what's being served in the Triangle because I like to recommend this area as a travel destination. It's what I do. I also dine out quite often in the community on my own tab. I also don't write about everything I do because it's just too exhausting. Writing takes a lot more energy than a social media tweet.

Let's now talk about Durham, North Carolina. It's close to Raleigh, N.C. The food scene is outstanding, and yet I don't get over to Durham near as often as I should.

Dining in NC: Oval Park Grille at 1116 Broad Street in Durham, N.C. #outaboutnc


About a month ago, I had one of the best meals that I've had in a very long time at Oval Park Grille. It's a little bistro in a neighborhood near downtown Durham.  It excited me because it was that delicious. It was one of those meals where I wanted to lick the plate clean, but my Southern manners knew that I should not do that. I raved about the meal the entire time I dined. It was that good.

The menu at Oval Park Grille is small, and it changes frequently. In fact, there are not a lot of choices and at first glance, that little fact concerned my husband. He said, "The food looks outstanding online,  but I don't know about the sound of the things together. The chicken sounds good. But, if the only thing that really sounds good to me is the chicken then I don't know about going."  During our phone conversation I translated that to mean he wasn't sure if that is how he wanted to spend his hard-earned money on a sitter, especially since the sitter would cost more because we would have to drive to Durham. (It's about a 35 minute or so drive from our house to the heart of Durham.)

HinesSight Blog. Travel writer, Leigh Hines, #outaboutnc in N.C.

 I, on the other hand, thought the menu sounded divine because it consisted of all the winter-farm-to-table things I had been experimenting with such as spaghetti squash, cauliflower, collards, etc. I was wanting to go and to try something new.  Since I make about 99.9 percent of all our dining choices, I decided to accept the invite by the restaurant and we went. Will is pretty happy go lucky so he was took a very open-mind with him.

Let me tell you right now that Oval Park Grille is sitter worthy and so much more. You can actually take your kids, but we like to be away from them, too. I ordered the scallop appetizer with spaghetti squash, cashews and pomegrante grastique as my main entree. Since I'm not an official food blogger, I had to look up grastique.  Oval Park Grille's menu evolves with the local season so if you go tomorrow then the scallops may not even be on the menu. But, I have no doubt that you will fall in love with something else.  We loved this restaurant. And guess who got really won over? That's right. Will was impressed.

Should you Go? Yes.
Should you bring the Kids? If you want. There is no kid's menu. Kids are welcome though.
What can I expect to spend? Appetizers and entrees range from $10 to $20.
Outdoor area: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Atmosphere:  Casual, open, and slightly loud.
Walking Distance to DPAC? No, but not far by car.
Open late? Yes, and food is served late, too.


Dining in NC: Oval Park Grille at 1116 Broad Street in Durham, N.C. #outaboutnc



Oval Park Grille 
1116 Broad Street
Durham, N.C. 

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Disclosure per FTC regulations: Our meal was complimentary this particular evening, but we always pay for a sitter and pay our serving staff. Nothing in life is really ever free. I do not dine complimentary in exchange for posts. I write when I want to write, and share my experiences when I chose. My opinion of this restaurant did not change because our meal was complimentary. In fact, if it did anything, it made us realize that we need to dine in Durham more often. 



3.18.2015

Luxury Spa Secrets: DIY Beer Body Scrub Recipe

Spa Secrets: NC Beer Body Scrub Recipe using NC Beer and Lemon Essential Oil. EnjoyLifeOils.com


In North Carolina, we love our craft beer and our luxury spas. Well, let's rephrase that sentence. I love my craft beer and luxury spas. Luckily for me, we have some of the best craft brews and luxury spas right in my backyard, so to speak. The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary developed an NC Beer-infused body scrub for spring in honor of the upcoming NC Beer Month this April. Spa Director Carolyn Doe developed this scrub recipe using her own favorite beer, Weeping Willow Wit beer from Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston. This body scrub will help soften dry winter skin, pull out breakout-causing impurities, and even help shield against harmful UV rays.

This probably won't surprise you, but I happened to have the exact same beer in my own fridge, and all the other ingredients needed for this lux at-home treatment.  

Weeping Willow Wit is ingredient in Beer Body Scrub


Here's what you need for your at-home spa

DIY Beer Body Scrub Recipe

Ingredients:
·         5 oz. of Epsom Salt
·         1-2 tbsp. of Olive Oil
·         1 tbsp. of Weeping Willow Wit Beer (or your favorite beer)
·         2-3 drops of Lemon Oil (I use Young Living -Enjoy Life Oils)
·         1 Basil Leaf (chopped finely)

Directions:
In a mixing bowl, combine the Epsom Salt and Olive Oil. Slowly add in the Beer and wait until it settles in the bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients. Prepare a warm shower and gently apply the scrub in circular motions over your legs, exfoliating the skin to a smooth finish. Breathe deeply and absorb the gentle aromas. If you experience breakouts, apply to your shoulders and back to soothe and remove impurities in the skin. After each use, store the remainder in an air tight container and keep refrigerated.




I enjoy learning about at-home spa recipes that I can use in between real spa experiences so I love it when the Umstead contacts me with tips. I was also excited to see a new use for Lemon Essential Oil. 




It is extremely important that you buy any essential oil from a luxury spa that sells therapeutic grade essential oils,  a reputable dealer or manufacturer like Young Living Essential Oils because you want the the absolute best quality for the benefits. Never buy oils on ebay or Amazon.com because Young Living, a company that has been in business for over 20 years prohibits these type of Internet sales. You need to be confident that you are receiving therapeutic-grade oils and products that are indeed from the company. Since the Skimbaco Lifestyle team started the Enjoy Life Oils team, I have learned more about essential oils and really trust the Young Living's Essential Oils Seed to Seal quality commitment and am confident that I'm receiving high-end products delivered to my doorsteps. Since becoming a member, I have been creating many spa moments in my own home and I love it.  You can learn more  on the website Enjoy Life Oils, founded by my Skimbaco Editor, Katja Presnal. 

The Lemon oil I use costs $14.80 for 15ml and $11.25 at the wholesale/membership price. If you want to purchase Young Living essential oils today or join as a wholesale member to save 24% on all purchases including shampoos, vitamins, and supplements, visit Young Living and use my number 2481355. I'll be sharing some of my new health routines in months to come. 

This spa treatment was designed by the Umstead Spa for NC Beer Month in April. It will not be on the spa menu, and it can only be enjoyed by you at home. Mother Earth Brews can be found all over North Carolina, Georgia, and of course, at the brewery in Kinston. 


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and any online Young Living Essential Oil purchases will result in compensation. My goal is for you to live life to the fullest and for you to buy quality products either in your local luxury spa or with a reputable company like Young Living. Now go get pampered.  

 Linked up with Small Victories Sunday Linkup.
Fit Triangle Mom


3.13.2015

Cooking with Fresh Produce: Spinach and Grape Quinoa Salad Recipe

Spinach and Grape Quinoa Salad Recipe courtesy of Papa Spud's At-home Produce Delivery Service.


I've been traveling this week so I did not have a lot of time to post much here this week. I feel like a hamster spinning on a wheel some days, and it almost seems as if I don't get much accomplished at all. There is always a new load of laundry to do. There is always a meal to create or little people asking for Pirate Booty to be placed in a bowl several times a day. There is always something new placed on my center kitchen island that makes the area even more cluttered. Just ask my husband about how I frustrate him with this. He finally had it cleaned off while I was in Pinehurst North Carolina speaking about social media in travel and tourism industry at the 2015 N.C Governor's Conference on Travel and Tourism, but once I returned, it became cluttered again.

A quick and easy cooking with produce recipe. Spinach and Grape Quinoa Salad courtesy of Papa Spud's produce delivery service.


I did clear off a spot yesterday to make a new recipe kit from my Papa Spud's produce box, which arrives every Tuesday. As you know, I've been writing about cooking with fresh produce for a month now  I'm what you could call "a new at-home produce delivery convert." Fortunately, for our farmers, there are a lot of these types of services in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill market. I'm not here to say one service is better than another because I don't know that information. What I want is produce at a an affordable price, flexibility, and great tasting food. My needs are being met by Papa Spud's. N.C is a top agriculture state and I want our farmers to thrive. These produce delivery services help to do just that, and I like it.

I chose to become a Papa Spud's customer because it is the service I discovered first, and I gave it a try. It's really that simple. I've been a satisfied customer since my first order arrived in December, and I love how it has helped me embrace a new way of healthy eating via fresh produce. If you really start to change your eating habits, and how you buy produce from the store then I think there is room to use two services with different delivery days spread apart especially when more local produce becomes abundant. I supplement my produce now at a grocery store, and still my buy milk and eggs there. I could add those items to my produce box, too if I expanded with more credits.

I love the idea of produce coming straight to my front door. I like recipe planning in advance while sipping coffee or wine at home. I like being able to pick the produce I want in the comfort of my home. The flexibility and choice selection with Papa Spud's are ideal for me. I do not have the energy to get dressed on a Saturday morning to try and find spaghetti squash for a recipe to only learn that spaghetti squash was at the market last week. With Papa Spud's, I know bok choy is available so I plan a recipe that uses that vegetable.

A quick and easy cooking with produce recipe. Spinach and Grape Quinoa Salad courtesy of Papa Spud's produce delivery service.

Papa Spud's has a community that shares recipes for you to use as a resource, but the service also lets you order recipe kits as part of your weekly credits. These kits typically run about 6.00 credits. In the two months that I've been a member, I've ordered two kits and have loved each one  The kit supplies the exact amount of things you need for the recipe and you are asked to supply staple ingredients like salt, pepper, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, etc.  You will know exactly what you need to supply before you order the kit.

I ordered the Spinach and Grape Quinoa Salad kit this week. How many times have you had to buy a bunch of parsley in order to use just a little bit for a recipe. In my house, the parsley perishes before I can use it all because I didn't plan three recipes with parsley as an ingredient. The recipe kit eliminates waste in the kitchen, which in turn cuts your costs.

This particular recipe kit serves two people. You could increase the quinoa amount, and adjust the seasonings accordingly to make larger serving.

A quick and easy cooking with produce recipe. Spinach and Grape Quinoa Salad courtesy of Papa Spud's produce delivery service.


Papa Spud's Spinach and Grape Quinoa Salad 

1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice, seeds removed
1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 oz. spinach, cut into thin strips
15 oz. Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
4 oz. red grapes
Chopped pecans  and/or feta cheese (optional)

Rinse quinoa. Prepare as directed. You could also increase amount here. The 1/4 cup does not produce a lot of quinoa.

Combined fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and garlic in bowl. Mix well. Pour mixture over quinoa while it is still warm. Add spinach, Italian parsley, and celery. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 30 to 60 minutes.

Serve quinoa salad topped with whole red grapes. Add pecans and feta, if desired.

And on a side note, I had never ordered grapes before from Papa Spud's, and if grapes are available this week, I am going to order some because they were crisp and delicious.

I am really excited about the upcoming months because spring and summer is our peak produce months. It's only going to get better.

Here are all the posts in our series:

Eating Fresh Produce: Simple Ways to Get in Your Vegetables
Cooking with Fresh Produce: Three Simple Recipes Using Kale 
Cooking with Fresh Produce: The Right At-Home Delivery Service Offers More Than Just Produce

If you want to sign up for Papa Spud's at-home produce delivery, please use my referral link.

Produce Delivery in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill


My thanks to Papa Spud's for sponsoring this cooking series on the blog. My opinion of the service was not influenced by the sponsorship. I was a satisfied paying customer before the sponsored series, and I will continue to pay to use the service. I will share more recipes in the future and will share my referral link. Every member of Papa Spud's has one. If you join, you will have one, too and can earn additional produce credits if someone signs up within 30 days of viewing the link.  Be sure to follow my Pinterest boards, for produce-inspired recipes.

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