October 2013 archive

Happy Halloween!

Ghost and goblins and witches…oh my! It’s that time of year again! I love this holiday. It is an excuse to dress up and eat lots of candy. What more could a girl want? This year is extra exciting for me. Being that it is our first year in the new house, I am very excited to be handing out candy to all of the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. Since we were on vacation this past week, I did not have a lot of time to prepare. Therefore, pretty much all of my decorations, baking, and pumpkin carving occurred last night. And of course, I documented the activities. 

First up, we carved the pumpkin! Nick helped a little by cutting the top off for me. He isn’t one to stick his hand in the pumpkin guts and scoop out all of the insides. He left the messy part to me. I was debating about getting fancy with my carving but quickly realized I am not much of an artist. I decided to just stick with the traditional pumpkin face. I mean, it did not come out half bad for being an amateur carver. 

Next up came the baking. I decided that I wanted to bring in some sweet treats to the office and also to have them for later that evening at home. I stuck with what I know best. Funfetti cupcakes with orange buttercream frosting. I found these really cute cupcake liners and decorations at Target. The cupcakes were quick and easy, and actually came out really cute! 

Lastly, I saved some of the pumpkin seeds and roasted them. Nick and his brother Matt really enjoy them so I figured it would be a good snack for us to enjoy while we are passing candy out to the kiddies. The recipe for the pumpkin seeds is below.

Roasted Chipotle Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds (as little or as many as you’d like!)
Olive oil
Chipotle seasoning
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Wash of the seeds to rid of all of the pumpkin innards. 
Spread the seeds evenly out on a baking sheet.
Drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil. 

Sprinkle on a pinch of salt and a dusting of the chipotle seasoning. 
Mix the seeds, oil, and seasoning together with your hands to be sure all of the seeds are coated.
Roast in the oven for 45 minutes. 

Sunshine, Friends, and Food

This past week I was able to enjoy the sunny, warm weather on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Friends of ours were married last weekend on the beaches of Longboat Key. It was a beautiful wedding with their closest family and friends. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the wedding due to the fact I was in a wedding myself in New York. However, I joined everyone the day after and was still able to spend time with friends and the newly married couple.

The week consisted of about twenty or so of our friends and family relaxing on the beach, witnessing breathtaking west coast sunsets, and just enjoying the company of each other. It truly was a great vacation. So great that we all decided it should be an annual occurrence for the gang to get together and make a trip down to Florida.

Now of course there was lots of eating involved. That typically happens while on vacation. Diet and exercise go out the window. Why not? We were indeed on vacation! Anyways, I figured I would share with you a few of my favorite spots that we dined at.

1. Joe’s Eats & Sweets

    Bradenton Beach, FL

I had been here once before during a previous visit to Bradenton. As soon as we drove by the rainbow colored building and realized just how close it was to our condo, I made it a mandatory destination during the upcoming week. Joe’s is a delicious ice cream shoppe right off of Historic Bridge Street in Bradenron Beach. They make all of their ice cream on site, along with many other delicious confections (chocolate dipped Oreos and cheesecake to name a few). The first night I devoured a large chocolate dipped waffle cone full of chocolate peanut butter fudge swirl ice cream. The second visit I went with my old stand by of mint chocolate chip, also in a chocolate dipped waffle cone. Both of these treats were delectable. I highly suggest you pay this fun beach side shoppe a visit.

2. Sage Biscuit Cafe

     Bradenton, FL

We were lucky to have this little treasure within walking distance of the condo we stayed at. The immediate group that stayed with us found ourselves here on a daily basis for breakfast. It is a quaint little cafe tucked into a strip mall. They offer outside seating if you wish, inside seating is just as nice. The staff is super friendly and very accommodating. What put this place over the top was their delicious fare.  As a whole, we tried almost everything on the menu throughout the week and not once were we disappointed. Their trademark item is, as you would guess it, their sage biscuits. In one way or the other they can be incorporated into your meal. Whether as a base for a salmon eggs Benedict, a side to go with your Mediterranean egg skillet, or as part of the main event in the sage biscuits and gravy. Sage Biscuit Cafe is a must if you are staying in the Bradenton area. Just over the bridge on Cortez Road. You will not be sorry.

3. Bella’s Italian Cafe

    Tampa, FL

Towards the end of the week we drove two of our friends to the Tampa airport. We were more than whiling to taxi them to their destination, especially since we would be able to pay a visit to the restaurant we had been craving since we booked the trip.  On a previous trip to Tampa for another wedding weekend, Nick and I came across this little Italian eatery by just searching through Yelp. We left more than satisfied. Nick had chosen his old stand by of tortellini Alfredo. I however wanted to try something new. My attention was immediately drawn to the pear sachet dish. It is simply a little pasta pouch filled with cheese and pears. The sachets are then tossed in a saffron cream sauce and peas. It sounds so simple, but it is absolutely delicious. The sweet pears mixed with the rich saffron is unlike anything else.  Since our first visit, we had been dying to go back. We took this opportunity of being in the Tampa area to return to Bella’s and of course, all ordered the pear sachet dish.The staff here is also very friendly and the atmosphere is relaxing.  We sat on the outdoor patio during this visit which allowed us to people watch while waiting for our meal. If you are ever in Tampa, pay a visit to this restaurant and order the pear sachets. It will blow your mind.  You can also take a nice walk along the little streets to the shore afterwards to enjoy a beautiful bay side sunset.


Happy Birthday Quattro!

If a stranger were to walk up to our dog, I am pretty certain they would not realize he is just one year old. The day we picked him up at 8 weeks old he was smaller than my parents 12 pound Bichon. Today on his first birthday, he is pushing 75+. Now I must confess I am writing this post from Bradenton, FL. Therefore I will not be spending my babies first birthday with him. As any mother would be, I am quite distraught about this. Luckily he is with my parents for the week, so he will get the attention and love that he needs! 

It is hard to believe how fast the past year went, and even more crazy is how fast he grew! He went through the stages of growth like any kid does. Quattro started out as a cute little puppy, went through his awkward teenage stage where his ears were way to big for his head, and has now rounded out the year as a very handsome young man. Some of you may be laughing at my comparisons to a human, but any true dog lover will understand where I am coming from.
I am wishing our boy a very happy birthday! I hope he gets a few extra treats and a spin around the yard with his best friend Buddy the Bichon. When we return from vacation, I will be sure to shower him with love and kisses…and maybe even a birthday cake just for him. 

A Visit to the Vineyards


I have previously posted about my friend Cara’s bridal shower. We in fact hosted two showers for the bride-to-be since her family lives in Upstate New York and the grooms family lives in Downstate New York. Both went off without a hitch. The next scheduled event was of course the bachelorette party. The MOH planned a wonderful weekend for the bride and her friends. We kept it small and intimate with just the bridesmaids. Liz arranged for a limo to pick us up in the morning to take us out to Long Island vineyards. Anyone who knows Cara is aware of her love for wine. So this was nothing but perfect. 

It could not have been a more perfect day. The sun was shining and there was a slight breeze. We enjoyed the ride with some mimosas and good music. The tour took us through three different vineyards where we were able to  enjoy a number of different wines, some lunch on one of the vineyard patios, and live music. Of course the day would not have been complete without paying a visit to a few members of the animal kingdom. We ended the days events with a hibachi dinner for six and a three hour game of Cards Against Humanities


The bachelorette party is a day or evening devoted to the bride and her best girl friends. There are many different styles and activities ladies can partake in to celebrate the upcoming wedding. If you are indeed planning, be sure to cater the events to the brides taste. You want to make sure that she has the time of her life whether it be a day at the spa or a night out on the town. 


Autumn Chicken Stew and Pear Salad

Girls Night has been a tradition for over four years. What started out as three friends going out to dinner every week, has now turned into five friends eating in and enjoying each others company. Since Deirdre, Tara, Dianna, Sabrina, and myself are all in the same town again we like to make time for each other once a week.
Going out to eat every week proved to be expensive and rushed. It was then that we decided to start a rotation of dinner parties. Each week one of the ladies cooks dinner and another brings the wine. This way we are all able to enjoy each other’s company without being pushed along by waiters and are also able to minimize the spending. 

Tonight was my turn to host. I decided to use ingredients of fall. I found a few variations of chicken stew that I put my own twist on. I was able to cook this in the slow cooker saving me time in the evening. I paired the stew with a pear, gorgonzola and pecan salad. My friend Dianna is a lover of fruit and cheese so I figured I would have to incorporate the two into the meal one way or the other. Lastly, we enjoyed some buttery biscuits. Unfortunatley, I did not have the time to make these from scratch. However, the store bought biscuits that come in the tube are just as flakey and delicious. 

Autumn Chicken Stew
1 lb chicken breast cut into cubes
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup potatoes cut into cubes
2 cups butternut squash cut into cubes
1 can (14.5 oz) of low sodium chicken broth
1 can (6 oz) of tomato paste
1 cup of water
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp corn starch

Combine all of the ingredients except the corn starch and 1/4 of water into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. 
Mix together the water and corn starch; stir into the stew. Continue cooking cover for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Serve warm.

Servings: 6

Pear, Gorgonzola, and Pecan Salad
10 oz bag of spring mixed greens
1 pear, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine the above ingredients. Pair with your favorite vinaigrette. 

Servings: 4

Happy Birthday Mom!

I know everyone says this about their own mothers, but mine really is one of the strongest and unselfish people I know. Between working her day job, serving the people of her village as Mayor, and keeping tabs on her four kids who are all over the East Coast, I would say she has a lot on her plate. Despite all of that, anyone who knows her is aware of her caring and giving nature. She will be by your side at the drop of a hat in your time of need. She will talk to you on the phone for hours on end just to keep you company. I want to thank her for all that she does for me and our family! And for being someone to aspire to.

Today I wish my mom and day of relaxation. To brush away her worries about others and focus on herself. Nobody else deserves that more than her. 
Happy Birthday Mom!

The Fundamental Things Apply

When we decided to start the renovations on the house, the bathroom was pushed to the back burner. We figured we would wait to save money at the present moment and complete it at a later date. However, as we started getting into the demolition we quickly realized it was something that had to be done now otherwise we would be living in a war zone. Boy am I glad we did. The bathroom is one of the fundamental rooms in the home. Being without it for any period of time would have proven to be very difficult and stressful. 

The original bathroom, which claimed to be updated, was a lovely shade of nicotine yellow. It held a very large jacuzzi tub leaving very little space to move around, let alone use the facilities. Just as we did in the kitchen, we stripped the walls completely to the studs. We tore out all of the furnishings and decided to start from scratch. 


National Taco Day

Just your typical Friday afternoon. Sitting at work while wasting away after the busy week in my trail. Naturally, my mind was wondering and was trying to decide what to make for dinner. It was then that I was made aware of a very interesting, yet fun fact. Today is National Taco Day! So of course we had to have tacos tonight. I personally am a big fan of fish tacos. My friends Deirdre and Dan really know how to create an amazing meal with Dan’s fresh caught fish. I would have loved to recreate their recipe tonight.  However, Nick is not a fan of the creatures from the sea, so we stuck with the plain ole’ tacos. I substituted turkey meat though being that I do not enjoy ground beef.