Time to 86, 2020

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If you’ve ever been to or worked in a restaurant, you most likely know what 86 means. For those of you scratching your head, it means no longer available, sold out, scratch that off the list, no more, don’t have any, it’s gone, or remove. Over the past couple of months, this saying has been all over social media, being especially popular with hospitality memes. During a global Pandemic and national crises, all we can do is try to relate to one another and by doing so, we’ve all agreed that we’d like to 86 2020 and move on to the next year. 

Typically the busiest park in Raleigh, NC. Pullen Park was completely empty on a beautiful and sunny, April 27, 2020.

In 2019 I never would have thought, I mean who could have, that 2020 was going to be such a disaster. Well, to be fair it is an election year so disasters are inevitable, however, I don’t think I’m alone when I say, I just didn’t expect this. I got married in 2019 in early November, went on a 10-day Honeymoon to Europe, and after returning got a promotion and started a new position in my company. 2020 was looking to be a ripe, beautiful new year full of opportunities and settling into my new last name, Mrs. Shepherd. Knock, knock, knock, “Hey! It’s 2020, I’m here to lock you in your home, remove all of your jobs, take all of your money, prevent you from seeing your friends and family, and set the world into mayhem and a pandemic, may I come in?” 

Group Zoom chats are all the rage during the Covid-19 pandemic. This one was a movie theme dress-up night!

As newlyweds being locked in the house together wasn’t something we had planned but, I have to be honest, it’s not the worst either. I feel very very lucky to have married the man I married. I truly know now that if I were to be locked up with someone, that I’m glad it’s him. We’ve been making the best of the situation as much as we can. Grocery store trips are now considered getting out of the house for the day.

While browsing through the Food52 website, I stumbled upon this specific recipe for a cast iron pizza dough, and per my family, it is now the only recipe I am allowed to use when it’s pizza night!

We’ve taken on cooking projects like a crab, corn, and potato boil, and made cookies, beef wellington, meatballs, jalapeno cornbread, and even tried out new pizza dough recipes. We have planted flowers and herbs on our patio/balcony garden, put up a new shelf in the living room, averaged about three or four 5k walks a week, colored and done way too many word search puzzles, and achieved a little painting project as well. Oh, we also managed to celebrate both of our birthdays under quarantine, his in March and mine in April. 

Knowing we were not going to be able to go out for a Birthday celebration, my husband and I successfully, somehow, pulled off our first-ever Beef Wellington recipe! This particular recipe was found at Delish.com

The most common phrase is now, “Wow, weird times we’re living in now huh?” People went from making small talk about the weather to small talk about what normal used to feel like. If someone told me in 2019 that my job would be taken away and that I was going to get bored sitting at home doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, obviously I would have accused said person of being crazy. Getting a little glimpse into what retirement feels like; man is this boring!! I find myself thinking I might be more entertained if I lived on oceanfront property, or maybe in a lakeside home. Where could I be that could make this less boring and more exciting? Well, guess what? That little saying that has become so famous during these times that not everyone wants to believe is, “We’re all in this together.” It is my own belief that no matter rich nor poor, we are all in this together because we all have nothing to do and nowhere to go. I mourn for those unable to feed their families or pay their bills, ones who are losing loved ones without getting a chance to say goodbye, health care workers who haven’t seen their families in months. COVID-19 has taken lives, ruined families, taken down the global workforce and economy, destroyed the high school and college graduations, removed prom photos from future photo albums, and made wedding planning impossible. It’s a true sign when you hear and see that disasters bring us together, nothing is more true and vivid right now.

Supporting local businesses like Logan’s, during these difficult times.

Unfortunately, to some, it also helps to divide us. Trying to paint an equal picture of the Corona Virus is complicated. People are sleeping all day, binge-watching tv, playing video games non-stop, teaching their kids from home and online services, employers have their staff working from home introducing the term ‘Zoom’ into everyone’s daily routine. Late-night TV shows are airing from home; recording clips from their residence and sending them to the ABC’s, NBC’s, and CBS’s and editing them for the world to consume. Then, on the other side of the “Stay Safe, Stay Home” movement is the “Reopen States” protesters. People chanting and threatening nurses and state officials to “Re-Open NC Now!”, or whatever state you’re living in because it’s starting to happen more often and in more states. I’m sure for years to come the photos will remain as reminders to that one-time, protestors shouted at hospital workers that it’s safe to go back to work having no facts to back up their horrific opinions. 

With no gym’s open, we embrace the outdoors like never before.

I’m attempting to document my version of the story because I know I will be telling it for the rest of my life. This thing we’re all going through is only comparable to The Great Depression stories that our great grandparents used to tell when they were growing up with their children. My kids will know about this Pandemic when they study it in school, and I will have my story just like everyone else will have theirs. I will tell them how I spent it with their Father. I spent it volunteering at the restaurant where I normally get paid to be the General Manager. I will tell them how you couldn’t go out to eat for months, that the malls were closed, parks and museums were abandoned, you couldn’t go to the dentist or the movies or even concerts. All sports from kindergarten through college and the professional world were all suspended. (No March Madness, no NBA Playoffs, and no Stanley Cup this year.)  I will tell them life as we all knew it had hit pause and there was nothing to do but embrace it and make the best of what we had. I will also force them to look at the massive amounts of food photos I have taken from all the new cooking projects I was able to complete, or if I’m lucky, I’ll be telling them, “You know, your Father and I came up with this recipe during quarantine 2020.” (COVID Note: No one can find toilet paper or paper towels, there is a meat shortage, not a single grocery store in 100 miles has yeast or flour and it’s very hard to find sugar, and for the first time in my life it’s illegal to not be wearing a face mask that’s covering your nose and mouth.) 

My husband and I celebrating our 34th and 35th birthdays indoors!

In an attempt to wrap all of this up I can say one thing and one thing only. The older I get the more important this phrase becomes and it originates from an animation movie about a fish who got lost, “Just Keep Swimming”. If you never stop swimming and learn how to adapt, you’re going to be ok. 

My attempt to spread joy to our hallway neighbors in our apartment building.


2019, Here We Come!

I am going to use this excuse once this year, and only once, hopefully. I’ve been busy and that’s why I haven’t been able to post as much content and create as many recipes as originally planned.

Charleston, SC 2018

I hate when I have to say those words, “I’ve been too busy”. It sounds like an awful excuse that no one cares for because everyone is always busy. I love my blog and cooking, and I love writing, but I also love sleeping. Towards the middle of 2018 my full time job and personal life got so busy that my blog had to take a seat on the way, way back burner.


I’m back, hopefully! I wanted to share with you how life has grown and what I have learned about juggling life, work, happiness, a fiance, planning a wedding, and running a blog. Basically, I can’t do it all and it’s ok to have back burners, that’s why they’re there. My Fiance told/asked me the other day when I was frustrated with a recipe post, “If you don’t like doing it anymore, than what’s the point?” My immediate response to him was that it’s not that I don’t like doing it, it’s that I don’t have enough time to feel like I am doing it correctly or efficiently. If someone out in the world is going to read my recipe and actually make it, I want it to be perfect! I can’t lead them down a trail full of empty promises and unappealing food. I love food too much to ever do that to someone! My whole purpose of this blog was the hope that people like myself who are busy but love to cook, can use my blog as a tool for recipes that will make them and their families happy. Nothing makes me smile more than a family dinner or friends gathering around a table over a warm meal. It is the best feeling in the world.

2018 was the fastest year of my life. At work I was promoted to General Manager which was a way larger task than I had anticipated, but also unbelievably satisfying and rewarding. Because I run a very large, 2-story Irish Pub in downtown Raleigh, NC, I was able to help plan and produce one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day Festivals in the state, and actually pulled off a 24 hour work day for the first time in my life! Yes, 6am-6am. WHAT?! It was insane and awesome and definitely one of the coolest projects I’ve ever been a part of.

” I Said Yes!”

Personal life; Mitch and I moved into a city apartment, and then we got engaged after 6 years of dating and living together!! It was just as beautiful and perfect as I could have ever hoped or imagined. He popped the question in Charleston, SC on 10/14/18 right by the water on Oyster Point (White Point Garden), while waves were crashing on shore, and the sun was setting over the bridge behind the Fort Sumter House. Surreal.

Soon to be, “The Shepherds”!

Now, here we are 26 days into January of 2019 and I’m finally able to sit down and write about life and what has been going on. It’s always such a nice release to recap what has happened. So many of us go through life so fast with no time at all to look back and grasp what he have actually accomplished, and this moment is feeling pretty spectacular right now. I feel Humble. I am looking forward to more recipes and more posts this year, and yes, advanced apologies as some of the posts will be wedding related! 🙂 Happy 2019 Y’all! (Yep, I say Y’all now and I’m ok with that!)

Sunflower Fields in Raleigh, NC Summer 2018

Easter Easter Bo Beaster, Banana Fana Fo Feaster

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Easter Is Here! 

Easter brings up nostalgia for me. Church with my Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa, Easter eggs hunts with my Dad at the park or in the house, candy for days, big huge dinners, and all these cute little bunnies everywhere I looked! One of my favorite photos from childhood is one where I’m standing on the front porch of my Grandparents house, hugging this gigantic, blue, blow-up bunny who’s chomping on a carrot, dressed in this adorable little blue dress, white those white ruffle socks we all used to wear! (I wish I knew where the photo was because obviously, I would share it, but I don’t, unfortunately.)

This year for Easter is a little different because Mitch and I are moving!! So excited!!! But, that also means all my pots, pans, and spices are packed in a box, and our refrigerator is dwindling down to nothing. For anyone else out there who cooks all the time, I hope you feel my anxiety with this issue. Not having all my kitchen supplies is making me a crazy person! 

Instead of sharing an entire menu and recipes with you for Easter Dinner like I normally would, I have picked out my favorite recipe from last years Easter, and decided to post it for you guys. For me, Easter is not complete without Deviled Eggs! Last year I had this idea to dye the actual hard white egg instead of the shell, and it turned out so awesome that I couldn’t imagine not sharing it with you guys! To go along with the Deviled Eggs post, I have included some photos and videos from last years dinner 🙂

Make sure to share with me and tag #ColdBeerMeatSweats with all your fun Easter posts! 

Color Your Own, Deviled Eggs  

These are going to be the easiest eggs you’ve ever made, and the most fun! 

  • Boil 8 Eggs (at least 10 minutes)
  • Cool on stove for 15 minutes, then strain water out, run the eggs under cold water for a couple of minutes, then chill them in the fridge for 1 hour or 1 day
  • Using 4 clear and short glasses, place a couple drops of food coloring in each one, then add water. Don’t forget to leave room in the glass for when you drop the egg in there
  • For pastel colors, you can mix and match the colors, and use the back of a food coloring box for more options

*Note*  The longer you keep the egg in the food coloring water, the darker the egg will be. If you want light pastel colors, don’t keep the eggs in there very long, and keep a close eye because they can change colors pretty fast!

*Note*  When making my eggs, I referred to this website and this recipe 🙂 Pastel Egg Food Coloring Options

  • Once they’ve cooled, peel off all the shells and discard
  •  Slice the eggs in half, and place the yolks into a medium sized mixing bowl
  • Place all the white halves onto a cutting board
  • Make the filling first then place in the fridge while you’re dying the eggs
  • Into the medium bowl with the yolks, mix in the following:

– 1/2 Cup Lite Mayo

– Dash of Salt and Pepper (to taste)

– 1 T Dijon Mustard

– 1 t each: Ground Mustard, Parsley Flakes, Smoked Paprika, & Northwoods Seasoning

– 2 T Minced Cornichons (or pickle relish)

  • Mix well, taste and adjust seasonings to your liking, then refrigerate 
  • Dye each half of the eggs carefully, and set on a paper towel lined plate when finished 
  • Once all eggs are colored, remove the filling mixture from the fridge and put a heaping spoonful into the center of each empty egg
  • Place them onto a serving dish or Deviled Egg plate, sprinkle with Paprika, and enjoy!! 

Easter Dinner Menu Ideas

Main Entree:

Roasted Lamb rack in Vino & Veggies, w/ Yogurt Mint Sauce  


Sauteed Green Beans w/ Fresh Garlic and Thyme

Seasoned Red Potatoes w/ Roasted Carrots, Baby Bell Peppers, and Onions

Mixed Greens Salad

Dinner Rolls & Cinnamon Butter

Last year was my first attempt at making a Lamb Rack, and the few pieces of advice I would give to you are; temp it properly and check on it frequently, give it some time as the outside pieces will cook faster than the inside pieces, spoon wine mixture over the lamb a few times throughout the cooking process, and don’t be intimidated!

Sides are my favorite part of any family meal! Usually sides become staples and items that family members remember the most and crave often! Sometimes the most simple of recipes, can be the fondest ones. I had to work last Easter and didn’t get home until 5pm. I threw together some green beans and these potatoes, and they ended up being the recipes that I use very frequently now! My favorite lesson in the kitchen is to go with what you feel and know, and use the ingredients you already have on hand. Swapping one ingredient for another is one of my favorite ways to get creative in the kitchen 🙂 

Green Beans w/ Garlic and Thyme, and Potatoes w/ Carrots, Peppers, and Onions 

Next time I make a post, it will be from my new kitchen, in our new apartment! I’m so excited to share our journey with you guys, and keep your eyes out for a new post! Happy Easter, everyone!! 

Don’t forget to share those Easter posts with me this year!! 

Since we’re moving and I cannot cook Easter Dinner, I’m looking forward to seeing those #ColdBeerMeatSweats tags! No matter what you guys make, share and tag it 🙂 

I love food, family, and seeing how you guys spend your Holidays! Happy Egg Hunting! 

Taken on Easter last year, 2017

Valentines, Schmalentines

To Feel The Love  

Forward: When I sat down yesterday to write this post I wasn’t sure what to say, or how to say it. I didn’t know my ending goal or have a point to my story, I just felt like writing about what love meant to me. Here is what unfolded after I sat down.

I don’t know how to start this post and I’m not really in the mood to write it. Tomorrow is Valentines Day and I will be celebrating with the one I love.

I love, love. I am a hopeless romantic. I am a super huge fan of movies that make me cry. My favorite part of any TV series and Movie is always the love story. I.E., Rachel and Ross, Noah and Allie, Jim and Pam, Olivia and Fitz, just to name a few. I am secretly sappy. Love is hard to explain, and the word is thrown around so much that it’s not always believable anymore. The reason I am even doing this post is because not everyone is surrounded by love, and when you are someone who happens to be lucky enough to have and be loved, then you should embrace it.

My heart has been broken to the point I felt as if there was no return. But, I come from a family who showered me with so much love that it was impossible to give up in life. Love isn’t just about flowers, heart candies -although delicious, cute, and wonderful-, and teddy bears. To me, love is a blessing. I am not bragging, I am not gloating, I am just simply recognizing that my parents and grandparents, along with close and distant family members were the first people in my life to show me what true love was supposed to be, and how it was supposed to feel, and I am forever grateful.

My Grandparents were married for 50 years. My Parents divorced when I was 1. Not a day in my childhood from birth to 18 went by without the support of both my mother and father. They might not have loved each other, but they loved me so much that it taught me how to truly care about someone. After I left for college, obviously, I didn’t always try to talk to my parents everyday because I was too busy trying to “discover myself”, but I never forgot how I grew up. When someone would try to take me down, mentally, or by breaking my heart, I would remember how much I love the world, how much I love to laugh, and how much I love the idea of creating the perfect life for myself, and I would get up and move on. Love is hard. It’s hard to find, it’s hard to maintain, it’s said to be easy with the right people but that doesn’t mean it is effortless. It’s only easy because love is the common denominator, and when that is understood, you can overcome anything.

The older I get, the more the definition of love changes. I mean, I have always loved pizza, cats, cheese, and ice cream but, saying you love someone, and committing to that in reality changes as you become older. When I moved to North Carolina 5 years ago, love showed up. My Mom and my Dad, whom don’t speak to each other, drove separately to Pittsburgh from Columbus, helped me pack up a van, a station wagon, and a car, and we all followed each other on this 8 hour adventure. 3 cars, all of us seperate yet, all of us doing this together. I was moving from Pitt to Raleigh because of a boy. Even though I kept telling myself it was for a “change in career”, and to be somewhere warmer, I knew it was because of a boy, and so did my parents. My divorced parents drove me from PGH to NC so I could be with the one I love. I don’t know much more of a love story than that. They moved me into a random house, with random roommates, and “the boy” was there to help. Afterwards, they kissed me on the cheek and separately drove back to Columbus, OH, as Mitch and I waved goodbye. That is why I love, love.

Mitch and I met in middle school, went to high school together, then didn’t see each other for about 8 years, or talk for that matter. On my 26th birthday I came to Raleigh, NC because my best friend was here on business and heaven forbid if we weren’t together to celebrate the big 26! Mitch happened to have a place in Raleigh for us to crash that April, and then, well, that following August I moved here. I’m now 31 and we will be celebrating 6 years together this spring. We both came from terrible heart aches, and helped each other back into trusting someone. He is my rock, my best friend, and he makes me feel like I must have done something right in this world, to have been so lucky to land someone like him. I love you, babe, Happy Valentines, Schmalentines Day.

I’ve decided to share some of my favorite photos with you guys! Scroll through to see the fun times we’ve had over the years, the awesome Pizza my Dad sends us on Valentines Day, the pancakes I made one year that spell out “I Love You”, and my favorite way to show him I care, the art of the sandwich. 

Snowmageddon 2017.

Edible, I Love You’s.

42nd St Oyster Bar.      -Raleigh-

When You Love Someone, Make Them A Sandwich.      -2015-

“Smile” ( He said he could pose better than me.)     -Just A Wedding-

That One Time My Dad Sent Us Heart Shaped Pizzas From Lou’s For Valentines Day!

A Foodies Way of Saying, I Love You, Honey.      -La Farm Bakery-

One Rad Wedding, 2017.     -Colorado-

One of My Favorite New Staples in Raleigh.     -Lucette Grace-

Brewery Hopping.     -Bond Brothers-

Happy 5 Years.     -2017-

Cheers To Year Number 6!     -Chocolate Chip & Bacon Pancakes-

Orange Theory Fitness #KeepBurning

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I Burn for Tacos, Craft Beer, and Date Nights. #KeepBurning #OTF

When you first sign up for Orange Theory Fitness they ask you, “What Do You Burn For?” I wasn’t sure what to write down, or what it really meant so, I went with ‘Family.’ In my head, I was like, yea, I burn for my family. I want to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilled lifestyle, and I want to be around for a very long time for me and my family. At the time it seemed very legitimate and like a “Nailed It”, moment. While it is still a legitimate reason, I now understand what “Burn For” truly means, and if you’re an OTF goer like myself, you know what I’m talking about. #KeepBurning

I do still “Burn For my Family”, but I also “Burn For”, tacos, craft beer, date nights, late-night snacks, pizza Friday’s, Ice Cream, specifically Two Roosters Ice Cream, Mitch’s famous Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip-Honey, and Banana Toast, and Lasagna at Christmas time. I’ve realized now that every time I come in here and Burn, it’s not so I am never allowed to treat myself, it’s to work off those times I treat myself. I absolutely am head over heels for Orange Theory Fitness and everything it stands for. For as long as I can remember, I’ve owned a gym membership. I’ve been going to OTF since August of 2017, and have had more progress in my health and weight in 4 months, than 4 years with a normal gym account.

I have never been a fan of group fitness and always thought the people who took those classes at the gym were absolutely crazy. It was like a nightmare for me to even think about being trapped in a room with 30 other sweaty and smelly strangers, getting yelled out by another stranger.

I joined the OTF location in Holly Springs specifically because one of my very dear friends, Racheal, got a new job there. She had been training me in her personal time for a few months, and when she was offered this amazing job opportunity and accepted the position, I was so proud of her but also a little sad. When she informed me so was no longer going to have time for our sessions I was heartbroken. She kept telling me to stop in and see her, and I kept telling her I was trying to save money and that I didn’t have it in my budget to join a gym.

I finally caved and decided to accept the OTF offer by taking 1 class for free as a trial. Well, the rest is history. I was hooked. It was exhilarating, challenging, awful, fantastic, personal, sweaty, adrenalin pumping, and terrible all at the same time.

Now, don’t go taking “awful and terrible” out of context. It was both of those adjectives because of how it made me feel afterward. Again, don’t go taking that out of context. I am a person who needs to feel something from a workout. I need someone pushing me, making the decisions, controlling the music, challenging me to do better, run faster, and try harder. I need someone paying attention to me and making sure I’m not slacking off; what I need is a coach, and that is exactly what Ginger from Holly Springs OTF does for me. She knows when I’m not giving it my all and she calls me out every time. She doesn’t even have to say anything, all she has to do is stand behind me when I’m on the treadmill, or in front of me when I’m rowing, looking at her stopwatch, and I know she’s standing there because she knows I try harder when she’s around.

I feel all these emotions and more after a workout, and it’s the greatest feeling in the world. I feel tired, exhausted, relieved, and proud of myself. Sometimes I even feel like laughing and crying at the same time. It’s incredible how 1 hour out of my day can make me feel like a better person. Sometimes I’m literally bending over backward to try and accomplish the task at hand, and other times I’m rowing like I’m trying to qualify for the Olympics. I’ve honestly never been happier with a gym. When I used to go by myself to the gym, I would lift a few weights, hit the treadmill, and call it a day. With OTF I’m inspired by the people in the room, I’m pushed by my coach, and listened to by the incredibly knowledgeable staff they have on hand.

Explaining to my boyfriend, Mitch, what a “Splat Point” is, has been hilarious. He now asks when I get home, “How’d your splat points go?” So sweet that he cares, or is pretending to care, that’s why he is so great. I could continue on about my love of OTF and why I joined, but hopefully, you get the picture by now. I want to be and feel like a good, stronger, better person, and I get that by attending twice a week here at OTF. This is not a paid or sponsored post. The only thing I am getting out of this post is the satisfaction of inspiring someone else to feel like anything is possible. It doesn’t have to be with OTF, it just has to come with you trying to achieve something you don’t think you can do. Once you do something that you didn’t think you were capable of doing, it’s an unexplainable feeling. My “FitFam” here at Orange Theory makes me happy and I’m so proud to be a member. I look forward to my workouts again, something I haven’t done since my basketball and soccer days as a teenager.

Another major reason I #KeepBurning, is because I am a cook. I run a food blog that allows and requires me to constantly be in the kitchen cooking, creating, and trying out new recipes. Some of them healthy, some of them,…not so much. I am also the General Manager at the Hibernian Pub on Glenwood Ave. in downtown Raleigh, NC, which sometimes requires late-night shifts with late-night meals. Always knowing when my next OTF class is going to be, keeps me grounded and has helped me to make better decisions when it comes to those recipe developments and late-night snacks! In particular, my new favorite On The Go snack was just posted on my blog, and you can find it here –> Gilly’s Power Up Feel Good Snack Boxes!

One more HUGE shout out to my coach Ginger, and my dear friend Racheal, for encouraging me every day and always helping me to reach my fitness goals. I love you guys! (Shout out to Trevor and Lis who are also very awesome people at the OTF in Holly Springs, NC!!)

Why It’s Not OK, If You Haven’t Been To Sommelier’s Roast in Raleigh, NC!

As I walked into Sommelier’s Roast on October 26th, with barely a foot in the door, immediately my nose started doing the happy dance. The smells, oh my goodness, the smells. From the freshly roasted coffee beans, to the mini cupcakes and beautiful cakes on display, to the amazing hot and cold sandwiches, gourmet salads, and speciality sides they have available, I was in love immediately. 

In the beginning of summer 2017, a couple of old friends called me up and told me they were going to finally open up their own coffee shop. What seeed like a casual phone call was actually an, OMG our dreams are finally coming true, phone call. It was a miracle, a beautiful blessing, if you will.

I met Lance and Ashley Odvody back in 2014, when I was running the Baguettaboutit Food Truck & Cafe out in Durham, NC. They have three of the most adorable children on the planet, all boys, and I absolutely LOVED when they would visit our cafe. Their boys would run around with more energy than an entire Kindergarten class, and it just filled the restaurant with the most amazing energy every time they were there.

Lance worked at the Angus Barn at the time and Ashley was busy tending to her three little children – a 24 hour job. Any chance he got, Lance would always bring us his Bethesda Roasting Company coffee beans, and I started becoming addicted to them. Those beans were so fresh and it always smelled up the entire cafe, and it was glorious!

Fast Forward 3 years later when I got that phone call; I’m pretty sure I cried a little. What had seemed impossible for the Odvody’s was now becoming a reality right before our eyes. I was fortunate enough to sit in meetings, drink endless amounts of coffee, take part in tea, and lunch meat tastings from all kinds of vendors, and help out in any possible way that I could. It was truly an incredible experience and I could not be happier, or more proud of these two individuals.

The name Sommelier’s Roast came about because Owner and Operator, Lance Odvody, is a certified sommelier. A Sommelier (pronounced, Sew-Mall-Yea) is a trained wine professional specializing in wine tasting, food pairings, and service. This training uniquely qualifies Lance to bring out the subtle flavors of coffee, to create food and beverage pairings, and to bring excellent service to the everyday coffee experience.

Sommelier’s Roast is conveniently located at 3700 Glenwood Avenue Suite 150 Raleigh, NC 27612 on the Ground Floor of the Grubb Ventures and Regions Bank Building, right at the intersection where I-440 meets Glenwood Ave.

Whether you’re going to or from work, school, or meetings, you must stop in for some of the best Coffee, Tea, and Gourmet Cafe Food, that you will ever have; ever, I’m serious! They have a handful of house made items, like this incredible Veggie & Hummus Wrap!

Along with their house made items, they brew their own coffee, and mix in some special treats provided by local vendors; one being the ever so famous, 9th Street Bakery!

They are open 7AM – 4PM, M-F, and occasionally host tea and coffee tasting events on the weekends. Make sure to check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or by visiting their Sommelier’s Roast website!

And this is, Why It’s Not OK, If You Haven’t Been To Sommelier’s Roast in Raleigh, NC! You’re Welcome 🙂

How To Be Irish Twice a Year: Hibernian’s Halfway To St. Paddy’s Day Party v2.0

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Hibernian’s Halfway to St. Paddy’s Day Block Party This Saturday September 16th!

The Hibernian Pub at 311 Glenwood Ave. in Downtown Raleigh is hosting a Halfway to St. Paddy’s Day Block Party for their second time, and this time it’s in the rebuilt, 2 story, 4 bar Pub!

You can expect to find Live Music all day featuring Rattle & Hum a U2 Tribute Band, The Gravy Boys, Irish Dance Groups, & many more! For those of you who love the beer scene, there will be 24 different beers on tap, and 3 of the 4 bars will offer full liquor service. There are also going to be food and beer tents outside, making it easy to refill and refuel while listening to the live bands.

This event has free entry all day. The Hibernian Pub will be open normal hours 11AM-2AM, serving up their full menu, and the Outside Block Party is being held from Noon-11PM on North Ave. at the corner of Glenwood. 

Our staff is the best in town! 

Everyone loves a reason to day drink! 

Everyone’s Irish on 1/2 Way to St. Paddy’s Day, Day!

Food & Beer tents outside to serve our guests faster!

View of the crowd from the balcony!

That Patio Pub Life!

The Drink of the Irish 

How To Play it Cool When You Eat & Drink Too Much At The Annual NC Chef Showdown

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How To Play it Cool When You Eat & Drink Too Much At The Annual NC Chef Showdown

We’ve all been there, that moment in time when you realize you’re too uncomfortable to sit down, you can’t stand the thought of having another bite of food, your alcoholic beverage that is absolutely beautiful, has no curb appeal at all anymore, and all you want to do is put on your pajamas and think about what you’ve done,… and hope that maybe, just maybe, your food belly – coma like state, won’t last more than a few hours. Don’t lie to me, you’ve been here and you know it. 

This was me about two weeks ago and unfortunately, it wasn’t the normal acceptable excuse of, “The Holidays”. It happened to me on August 21st, 2017, on just your normal and average Monday. Even worse, MONDAY! The one day at the beginning of the week where everything you want to do is perfect, so you can set the precedent for the rest of the days ending in Y. Nope, not this week.

Food, and really really great food, is a privilege. Two weeks ago I was honored with the pleasure of attending my first NC Chef Showdown Event, and it was everything I had hoped it would be, and more. To be surrounded by some of the best mixologists, pastry chefs, chefs, food bloggers, and food industry leaders in one room, was a truly amazing experience. From the moment you walk through the door and grab your name tag, it’s on! Just like everyone else I was given 3 tickets; 1 to vote for mixologist of the year, 1 to vote for pastry chef of the year, and 1 for chef of the year.

Now sure, you don’t have to try everything available but, how is one supposed to cast an honest and true vote without trying at least one bite from everyone? I couldn’t cast my votes without knowing I did my part and taste everything so, that’s exactly what I did. I had my favorite gold sparkly skirt on, (pretending it was sweatpants), and I walked around and wined and dined myself like a true champion. The chefs were on point, the drinks were top of the line, and the desserts, those desserts made me feel like I myself, was a melting pile of chocolate. So creamy, so delicious, so meticulously planned and sought after, so perfect. 

The respect level for those in the restaurant industry will never be high enough if you ask me. Well, I’m biased because I am in the restaurant industry but, there is so much planning and prepping, testing, buying, rebuying and retesting, panicking, and trying not to panic, giving it 110% and knowing that pleasing everyone is the most impossible task on the planet, but yet, never giving up. It’s such a beautiful and specific process, and I have nothing but respect for everyone who wakes up every morning and accepts this challenge day in and day out. 

I survived my experience by smiling a lot, like, a lot! I also took small bites of everything to save as much room as possible. I drank some water too. I would try a chef’s dish, then a pastry dish, then hop on over to one of the mixologists stands and see what they had going on. After about 4 rounds of this, that is when “the game face”, really comes into play. It was a little warm in the event space, and as I looked around to browse the room I could see people fanning themselves and clinging to their bottled water, and that’s when I knew I wasn’t alone in this feeling.

Things to remember: Talk to people to distract yourself for a while, and mingle! There are so many fantastic people in this room every year, and to not mingle would be like buying a ticket and not eating! Also, pace yourself. (You’ll thank me for that note if you attend this event next year.) 

Now that I’ve share with you why I was beyond Thanksgiving full, and why it took me 24 hours to recover, I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed consuming my way through City Market to make this blog post possible. Thank you to the Hibernian for the opportunity to mingle with fantastic restaurant industry leaders at the NCRLA conference this year, and thank you to everyone at the NCRLA who made this conference possible. I have made many new friends these past two years and look forward to seeing everyone again next year in Charlotte, NC! 

To read more about the event and why you should attend year after year, click on the link below to visit The N&O Website, and get details about the Chefs and where they work! Chef Showdown N&O Article

Lastly, call an Uber or Lyft for a ride home, you’ll need a sober driver 🙂

All photos by Gillian Rose McLane

Pittsburgh, My Love

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Steel Town, USA!


My first love is Ohio. I was born and raised a Buckeye in the beautiful city of Columbus. I went to school in good ol’ London, Ohio but spent a fair amount of time in the city where my Dad, Granny, and Grandpa lived. At 18 years old, and a few months after graduating LHS, I packed my bags and headed off to Pennsylvania. 



The third college visit I ever went on was to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and from the very first time I ever drove through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, I was in love. This is such a beautiful, magnificent, strong, proud, and hard working city, and I’m lucky to have spent eight years of my life here. I lived in the city, outside the city, moving every single year I was there, and it was exhilarating. Not having a college campus allowed for me to use the city as my playground, and I took advantage of that to a full extent. 




Dear Primanti Bros, I Love You.  


Again, I am obsessed with sandwiches… here is more proof. Unfortunately, the old saying, you never know what you have until it’s gone, is very true in this case. There are no Primanti Bros here in Raleigh, or in North Carolina, and I never thought I would miss them as much as I do! I was a regular to the location in Market Square, where I walked through every day, but the 24 hour location in the Strip District saved my life a few times 🙂 



I was 18 when I moved to the 412 and 26 when I left. When I look back I feel like I was such a child when I arrived; as any 18 year old feels when they move off to college, I thought I knew it all. Those 8 years changed my life. My family changed, friends, outlook on life, and my dreams and goals morphed into something I could have never imagined for myself when I was in high school. I made friends that turned into family. I fell in love, then out of love. I cried on Mt. Washington looking down and out at the city, more times than I can recall. It was always so soothing and peaceful to see the city lights reflecting in the Three Rivers. I also laughed, drank, and hung out on that mountain too many times to count. I am a better, stronger, more amazing person because of the time I spent in Pittsburgh, PA. 



Life can be hard. No one really talks about what happens when you graduate college; except for the getting a job, house, kids, marriage, etc., part. From the time I turned 22 until 26 when I left for Raleigh, was the most confusing time in my life. Not knowing what’s next, or where I wanted to be, or what I wanted to do, was an emotional roller coaster. The only advice I have is to be strong, and stay strong. Carefully select people to be in your corner that will help you recover every time you fall. I’m very lucky to have such strong minded people in my life, and if it weren’t for them and their pep talks, I don’t know how I would have survived. 




I often caught myself staring into the Three Rivers, gazing in amazement at how beautiful life was in this city. When the sun would rise behind the concrete jungle it was hard to look away, and when it faded on the water it was even harder to ignore. I was in film school so everything seemed like art to me at the time. The sun behind Mt. Washington, or the city lights reflecting in the water, it was all too surreal sometimes. 



Two days after we, The Steelers, won the 2006 Super Bowl is a day I will never forget. I had left my apartment in Allegheny Center, behind PNC Park, with multiple layers on because per usual, it was about 4 degrees, and when I got to the the 6th St. Bridge, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I knew there was going to be a parade I just didn’t understand or realize that THE ENTIRE CITY was going to be there. I did understand that “The Last Bus Stop”, was a really big deal, like huge, but I didn’t know classes were going to be cancelled because you literally couldn’t walk through, or drive, the streets that day. It was all very awesome. I bought a t-shirt from some guy on the side of the road, threw it on over my long, big black winter coat, looking like a ridiculous crazy person, and got as close to the action as I could down on 5th Ave. There were people in the trees, the parking garages were so full it looked like fans were going to start climbing up the side of them like mountain climbers, just to get a good view. You could see, and almost hear the people on Mt. Washington screaming from above. It was so loud, and I’d never experienced anything like it in my life. I have goosebumps right now as I write this, just remembering how loud it really was when 50,000 + people were all screaming, “Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go” all at the same time. And then we got to do it again in 2009, but this time it was for the Steelers, and the Pens. I picked the right time to live in Pittsburgh. 




I walked everywhere when I lived here. I walked over and through, across and under, so many bridges that I could probably do it blindfolded and still not run into anything. 




Sometimes when you love something, you still have to leave it. I am in love, and will forever love this city but, I had to go. This blog entry is important to me to pay homage to this city that I feel, helped raise me. It was rough, nitty and gritty, unforgiving, and beautiful all at the same time. It taught me to trust others, but not to be in denial of the truth. The streets and people walking them taught me that if the Steelers or Pens lost, it was going to be a rough and grumpy day. The traffic was the worst part. Understanding that it was going to take you an hour to get somewhere that was 15 minutes away, never set well with me. The food taught me to appreciate everything at hand, and that good food takes time. The food scene here also taught me that something cheap is just as good as something expensive, especially when you’re a struggling college student. Late nights in the South Side meant you stood in line at 2AM for french fries and gravy. (I never knew that was a thing until I became a Yinzer.) 



When you’re a cheese addict, and donut lover, Pittsburgh is definitely the place for you. Look at this cheese log! 



Also, if you’re trying “clean eating”, Delucas might not be for you. Their serving for 1 could feed a family of 4! I love this little diner, it’s been there forever, and everyone goes here, literally.  (Cash only, don’t say I didn’t warn you.)



Before I end this post I am going to leave you with a couple more photos, and a video. Market Square was where I walked through everyday to get to college, then where I worked those 4 years after college. I stared and photographed the glass castle obsessively, and took more pics with the Heinz Dino than I’m proud of. Rather it be Light Up Night, the 4th of July Fireworks, Steelers Game Day, or any ordinary night in this beautiful city, I still look back in amazement and joy that I was able to spend some of my life here, and call this place home. I love you PGH, I really, really do. 






Welcome to Cold Beer and Meat Sweats

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How Did I Get Here?

For a while now I have been wanting to start a blog. Not a blog where I write down all of my problems and spoon feed them to the world; just a simple blog where I can share my love of cooking with others who have the same passion. Cooking, over the years, has become a passion for me. When I was in my twenties, I lost a lot of sleep over the fact that I didn’t have a passion, and that I didn’t know what truly made me happy in life. Does anyone really have those answers in their twenties? Probably not, but every twenty-year-old something out there believes that they should… joke’s on us, it’s ok if you don’t.

I was fortunate enough to have earned a career right out of college. I had the opportunity to work for an affiliate of a major TV network in Pittsburgh, PA. It was, at the time, amazing. Rooftop parties, fancy get-togethers, working on 5th Ave., in the middle of a bustling, thriving, growing city. It was everything I had ever wanted. (I thank “F.R.I.E.N.D.S” for this dream I had of living and working in a downtown environment.) It was here where I realized that I wasn’t sure what the heck I was going to do with the rest of my life. Was I really going to be in this satellite control room forever? I was in a fancy building, where famous people would come and do voice-overs while they were filming movies in the area. It was sometimes like a dream world. Where I worked in particular, there was this large window, and when people would walk by they could see all the little workers at their stations. The more I sat with my headphones on and watched these tours go by, the more I felt like a monkey in a zoo, on display for the amusement of others. Sure, maybe that’s a little drastic but, when you’re 24, everything is drastic.

During my time at the production company, I ended up meeting someone. I didn’t know at the time that she was going to be a lifetime friend, I just knew I really enjoyed her company and the company of those she surrounded herself by. We ended up catering on the weekends just for sh**s and giggles. One of her best friends was a head chef at a catering company and he always needed bodies. It started out as something that was fun and distracting from other things I had going on in my life, almost like an escape. I had no intentions of liking it…. I was just there, because. Funny how life works out like that. My dear friend Amanda, I believe, is one of the main reasons I am on a new path. She took it from catering on the weekends to inviting me over for dinner a couple of nights a week. She and her husband would take hours to create these meals, and we would end up eating dinner around 10 pm, no matter what day of the week it was, it was usually a midnight supper club type of deal. I absolutely fell head over heels in love. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to know how to hold the knife properly, I wanted to know how to shop for the right ingredients, and I had questions about everything. I didn’t just want to make them, I wanted to do everything from finding inspiration for the meal, to the grocery store, to finding it in the aisles or the markets, to the kitchen, to the table. ALL OF IT.

I ended up working for the TV company for 4 years to the day. There were moments of love and hate. Looking back now, I was learning important life lessons about how to exist in a professional environment, and yet, I had no idea that I was learning anything at all. Every day I was awake in my twenties I was writing something down. It didn’t matter if I were in a good or bad mood, whatever I was feeling was going down on paper. Usually, when I was at work trying to look busy, I would be writing; How do I get out of here? How do I change my life? How do I remove these walls and explore the world with $2 to my name? Is it possible to say F*** IT and walk out with my hands in the air, and not burn a bridge, my career, and ruin my life? (NO, it’s not.) Amanda & her husband Matt helped me in ways they might not be aware of. They made me look at myself, re-evaluate, dig deep, and figure out what I enjoyed doing. It turns out that I really love to cook.

Fast forward to this moment in my life. I do not live in Pittsburgh, PA anymore but, I am still very close with my two dear friends whom I left behind. I purchased my very first Apple laptop computer, bought a domain name, found a glorious man to share my life with, and I’m venturing out into the food blogging world. I have zero ideas where this adventure is going to take me but, I also don’t care and it doesn’t scare me. I am excited, nervous, and ready. I love to cook, I love to write, and I love to take pictures of food. Join me on this journey, won’t you?

This journey wouldn’t be possible without you, Mitch, and I thank you so much for sticking by my side through thick and thin, I love you.

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