quarantine calories

i feel like most folks are doing a handful of things with their time these days:  working (if lucky enough to do so), cleaning, hobby-ing, childcaring, and eating.  among all those things, the last one might be the most fun.

over the past two weeks, we’ve been hosting phillip’s sister natalie and her doggie wyatt, and as a household of individuals who love food, we have been fortunate to support some local businesses and adventure into some new recipes together.  today’s post includes mouthwatering photos of all our eats.  get ready to drool!

nat and wyatt.

our first stop after picking up natalie and wyatt from the airport was zaxby’s.  natalie doesn’t have zaxby’s up in nyc, so it was definitely a homecoming meal.  oh, and in case you want a pro tip, check out this recipe to make your own zax sauce.  it’s super easy and worth the minimal effort, i promise.

hhhnnnggg, homemade zax sauce.

the next night, phillip and natalie were together to celebrate their 32nd birthday!  aw, it made my heart so happy.  we started with a specially delivered dinner from alessio’s restaurant & pizzeria in norcross.  from the lasagna and garlic knots to the tortellini cardinal and the chicken francese, it was quite a feast, and i don’t doubt we’ll go dine in once we can.  and, no birthday is complete without a cake!  thank you, publix, for the fudge and strawberry filled chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.  🙂

the mornings were definitely prime opportunities for some tasty treats over the past several days.  from whipped coffee (i promise this trend is worth the work)…

to avocado toast…

to simply done donuts

to dirty horchata

to mimosas…

cheers!

and finally chrissy teigen’s banana bread.  it was some good eatin’.

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we didn’t leave dinner out at all.  we became kroger recipe experts, first with their arugula, goat cheese, and olive pasta salad.  i couldn’t keep natalie away from it, lol!  on Easter sunday we also tried out and really enjoyed their pork & peach tacos with ginger brown rice.

alongside the tacos we chowed down on my favorite corn dip.  i don’t know where on earth i got this recipe, but i’m glad i have it.

our tex-mex dinner that day had been preceded by a monkey bread breakfast and a deviled egg snack.  om nom nom.

in addition to trying out several kroger recipes, we also busted out the blue apron cards and loved the pork burgers with potato wedges and beef and rice bowls.

beef rice bowl and those pickled radishes. yum.

at some point over the past several days, i also whipped up this spicy pasta salad by ree drummond.  anything with gouda in it just makes my heart sing.

the evening was, of course, always an opportunity to nosh and also spend some of our hard-earned dollars at the nearby establishments.  we had mcdonald’s on our anniversary, freddy’s on thursday just because it was thursday, noodles from lon u on friday because we were craving pad thai, and marco’s pizza on saturday because who doesn’t love some ‘za.

and of all the sweet treats we had for dessert, i think phillip’s homemade ice cream sundaes were my favorite.  ❤

so, have you discovered any tasty recipes you’d like to share?  or have a local restaurant you think we just must try?  let us know and, above all else, stay safe.

p.s. i realize that many people out there are not currently in a position to splurge on food and groceries or even acquire the essentials.  if anyone out there needs a helping hand, i hope we can either assist or that you are able to find what you need right when you need it.  let’s keep everyone in mind these days, especially those severely impacted by everything that surrounds us.

dining in duluth

with our recent move to duluth, one should not be surprised that phillip and i have started exploring the nearby food scene.  your typical chain restaurants are easily accessible, but we like to try and keep it local when the opportunity presents itself.  here’s a quick overview of the spots we’ve tried so far!

one of the firsts was sara donuts, which was recommended to us by our friends bank and liz.  it’s quite close by, so one morning after my eye appointment i stopped in for a couple coffees and picked out a little sampler.  the traditional glazed donut was pretty solid, but i think i liked the chocolate glazed cake donut better.  i believe my response to the first bite was “ooh, yum.”  i saved the sausage roll for last, to which i commented “yep, that’s good, too.”  you can bet we’ll be regulars at sara’s soon enough.

keeping with the breakfast theme, valentino’s bakery was a fun adventure into authentic venezuelan cuisine.  i wasn’t really sure what we were ordering, so the customer in front of us helped translate so that i could make some choices.  first was a cute box of assorted cookies, and then we tried the cachito, which basically was a tastier version of a hot pocket.  we did eat up just about everything, and i’d like to go back and try the pressed sandwiches some day.

only one more breakfast stop (for now), and i promise we’ll move on.  the maple street biscuit company was our first visit to downtown duluth, and we met our friends grant and tabri there for a sunday brunch.  we started with an order of biscuits for the table, which were deliciously buttery and extra tasty with a dollop of jam.  phillip and i split the grit bowl, which unfortunately looked better than it tasted.  from what i know, tabri enjoyed his picks, and i know grant liked his firebird biscuit sandwich, which might be what i get next time.

bizkits for everyone!

as for good lunch spots, i don’t think you could go wrong with either armando’s caribe (another recommendation from bank and liz) or armando’s taqueria.  the former is a sit-down spot with delicious cuban sandwiches while the latter is a bit more fast-casual with a nice variety of street tacos.  i wouldn’t recommend the tamales (not much flavor) but know phillip would love to tell you about the cow stomach taco he tried!

tacos from the taqueria.

if you’re lazy like we sometimes are, you can order a gyro plate from opa! to be delivered right to your house with doordash.  phillip and i both liked the gyros, which were busting at the seams with creamy tzatziki sauce and meat.  however, we agreed this meal would be better at the restaurant, fresh from the kitchen.  guess we’ll just have to go there!

our first fancier dinner out was at roma italiano ristorante.  it’s an intimate spot with friendly service and delicious dinner rolls.  you know we love our carbs!  phillip started with a cup of wedding soup, perfect on a winter night, while i scarfed down a wedge salad.  our entrees included the fettucine alfredo with grilled chicken and spaghetti with meatballs and marinara.  although maybe not my first choice for italian in our city, i wouldn’t complain if someone suggested it for a meal.

now, i believe i may have saved the best for last.  i don’t know what drew us there, but one night after a workout, phillip and i wandered into the halal guys.  why do i suggest it is the best of what we’ve had so far?  it could be because phillip ate his queso and lamb filled burrito so quickly i couldn’t even get a picture of it!  i myself munched on french fries with the white dipping sauce along with my falafel platter.  although the healthier choice, i’ll admit i was a little jealous of phillip’s burrito – i only hope it is not a limited time item so that i can go back and try it also!

so, there we have it.  our first batch of duluth eats in our first couple of months.  if you have any other must-try (or don’t-try) spots in our new neighborhood, please let us know!

national donut day!

recently, phillip and i have been big on celebrating all the national food days, and it would have been a shame if we had gone all day this past friday without celebrating national donut day.  in honor of these delectable, fried dough creations, i’ve decided to highlight some of our favorite donut shops here in the atlanta area.  warning:  this post may cause you to drool.  🙂

since moving to east atlanta late last year, we try to do our best and eat at local restaurants in the area that we cannot find elsewhere.  sure, we could hit up the local dunkin’ for a donut or two, but per suggestion from our eav neighbor lawrence, phillip ventured to happy donuts on friday to snag us a treat.  i was working away on my computer when he returned with a lovely variety that were made even better since it was a buy-one-get-one-free deal for the day.  don’t you just love when that happens?  i promise we did not eat all of these in one sitting, but don’t put it past us!  these donuts are plump and very flavorful.  my favorites include the red velvet, strawberry, boston creme, and maple icing.

another great local spot is the well-known sublime doughnuts.  i could not find a recent picture from our latest visit, but believe me when i say they are one of the favorite spots in town.  if you are in the city, especially on the west side, please go by and stay for a coffee and a donut.  this place will cheer you right on up and also fill you right on up.  🙂

down in fairburn, we love the king’s donuts.  this spot is on the way when we visit phillip’s parents in peachtree city, and if we are in town when they’re open, we almost always make a stop.  again, no pictures because we ate them all before i could snap one, but these donuts are just plain fun.  the other weekend we had one with grape-flavored icing, one with oreo cookie crumbles, and another with frosting and fruity pebbles!  if you’re young at heart or have young ones in your life, i think king’s donuts would be the perfect place to bring them.

last but certainly not least is probably our top spot for donuts:  duck donuts.  duck donuts opened up while we were still living at the condo and was barely a quarter mile from our neighborhood in buckhead.  i stopped in one morning after a workout to see what the buzz was about and became a fan almost instantly.  these made-to-order creations might be smaller than your average donut but are just as worthy of your hard-earned dollars as any of these other establishments.  they have suggested topping/flavor pairings, or you can build your own combination.  we almost always get a beach ball and blueberry pancake and then whatever else tickles our fancy.  they do have seasonal features, so visiting throughout the year is a must!  😀

i most certainly hope you are now craving something sweet, and the best part is you know where you can go to satisfy that craving!  i don’t doubt there are other incredible donut shops in our great state, so please share your personal recommendations.  we just might write about them someday!

da vinci’s donuts – sandy springs

i was on my way to work this morning and had every intention to make a quick stop and grab a bagel to eat for breakfast.  it was after i accidentally passed the light to go to panera bread, though, that i had to be spontaneous and make a change in plan.  as i leisurely cruised up roswell, it dawned on me that there is a donut place right on the way to the office, and i hadn’t yet tried it.  even better, i had a coupon!  well, that made the decision easy!

i took a left off glenridge, swung into a parking spot, and opened the door to the sandy springs location of da vinci’s donuts.  with that first step, i was in donut heaven.  the donut smell was so authentic that i felt like i had been transported to another place.  i don’t know where exactly, but i imagine it’s a place filled with puppies and chaise lounges and lots of windows and donuts stacked on platters on every surface you can see.  sure, we’ll call that donut heaven!

anyway, the whole idea here at da vinci’s is to make a really great donut that you can top yourself or enjoy with one of their specialty creations.  their cake-like donut is a great base for whatever you’re going to put on it.  and one of the best parts?  they’re small!  i know, a small donut?  how can that be a good thing?  well, when you’re eating it with chocolate icing or maple bacon, less is more.  and since i had a coupon, i was ready to try nearly every option they put in front of me.

i quickly decided on the da vinci’s dozen, 16 donuts placed in a donut box that actually looks quite similar to another type of food delivery box.  interesting…

with so many to select, i was able to practically get one of each specialty flavor they had out that morning.  how nice that it worked out that way!  i couldn’t help but smile as i looked at those cheery donuts peeking back at me.  almost too cute to consume!  almost.

when i got to the office, i immediately dug in, as i was pretty hungry.  i chose to go with the cinnamon and chocolate glaze on my first round.  the first thing you’re going to notice about any of their donuts is how light they are.  this place has cake donut making down to a science, and you may come to believe they have that recipe just about perfect.  the cinnamon donut was soft and scrumptious and not too sweet.

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the chocolate glaze, though, for me personally was a step above the cinnamon.  the chocolate glaze is the perfect consistency for this little donut, not overpowering.  after the three bites it took me to finish it off, i concluded that their version represents the quintessential chocolate glaze donut.  how’s that for a review!

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and since there were a few donuts left in the box, i decided a third mini donut couldn’t hurt.  this one was by far my favorite, the strawberry shortcake.  i mean, come on!  how precious is this little cutie pie!  the smell alone was enough to make me drool.

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if you feel your sweet tooth itching for satisfaction down here in the atlanta area, i highly recommend you take a chance on da vinci’s donuts.  if these pictures and adjectives aren’t enough to convince you, here’s the last argument i’ll make:  they also serve jittery joe’s coffee!  noms!

san francisco – day 3

another early morning arrived for brian and me.  he wanted to get a good start so that he could leave work at a more reasonable hour for some friday fun, so we whisked out into the already windy day and took the truck over to 24th and folsom for brian’s favorite cup of coffee at philz.  he said this spot was his daily hangout once upon a time, so if it’s good enough for him, it’ll work for me, too!

when we walked into philz, i was instantly reminded of the east side jittery joe’s back in athens.  it’s artsy and eclectic, and i loved every ounce of it.

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it’s quite the menu they’ve got here, so i trusted brian to do the ordering for us both.  he got us each a small philtered soul, a lighter medium blend of hazelnut and chocolate.  um, yes, that sounds amazing!  we took our cups to-go and had our first sips out on the sidewalk.  although a little on the sweeter side, the coffee was flavorful, a lovely treat to wake us up at just a quarter past the seven o’clock hour.

gah, he's just the coolest!

gah, he’s just the coolest!

we then headed east on 24th to find dynamo donut shop.  my friend mike had heard good things about it, so i felt it was my personal duty to see if the fun was warranted.  this little place is actually a walk-up counter serving up homemade donuts and coffee.

i was in the mood for something chocoately, so i gladly let the cashier recommend the chocolate rose.  brian went for a saltier selection with the maple glazed bacon apple.  she popped them into a to-go bag for us so that brian and i could enjoy them in a nearby park.  we plopped ourselves on top of the artful sea serpent because that seemed the most obvious thing to do.

we decided that sharing the donuts was the perfect thing to do.  brian bit into the chocolate rose first, and his face said it all:  he really didn’t care for it.  whoops!  i took a taste to see if i agreed but found i felt differently.  i actually quite liked its bittersweet flavor and cakey texture.  brian did come around to admit after a few more tries that it wasn’t so bad after all.

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even though i was a fan of the chocolate rose, i might say the maple glazed bacon apple that brian picked out was pretty awesome.  the glaze was just the right thickness to coat the donut but not take away from the subtle and sweet syrupy-apple flavor.  oh, and let’s be honest, no breakfast is complete without bacon, right?  ah, yes, how american of me!

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it was about that hour for brian to head out to work, so he dropped me off back at cafe st. jorge.  i just couldn’t stay away!  i snuggled into the booth with a sesame bagel and organic cream cheese and wrote the morning away.  all of philz coffee went straight to my head and got me uber focused.  i knocked out a whole day and a half of san fran fun in a short couple of hours.  booyah!

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