Hard Rock, Moscato’s and A Lazy Sunday

How was everyone’s weekend? I swear they are never long enough. I am one of those people who would rather work longer hours for 4 days and then have a 3 day weekend. Anyone else with me?

Friday started the weekend off wonderfully. After work I headed to YogaBlu where my friend Lora was subbing a yoga class. Had a great, energizing class full of hip openers (my fav). Afterwards I joined her for a lovely run along the waterfront. What a healthy way to start the weekend!

Saturday morning my mom and I headed up to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino for an early Mother’s Day celebration. We thought it would be packed on actual Mother’s Day so we decided to go this weekend instead. This was our first time going!

Parking was relatively easy. I have to say it was probably the easiest parking garage I’ve ever maneuvered around in.

Holy slot machines!

This is only one section of them. There were tons!

Does it bother anyone else that they take your favorite childhood movies and turn them into themed games…just seems wrong to me. Also, saw the Little Mermaid. They also had ones like Dirty Dancing and Sex in the City, which I think are more appropriate.

We played for an hour then headed to the food court for a quick lunch. I got a grilled chicken sandwich with fries. Your typical food court fare…wasn’t anything great, but it was edible.

We spent a good few hours at the slots. It was fun! I made sure to be smart and kept track of how much I was spending. I stuck with the 2 and 5 cent machines and never put in over $5. And most times once I doubled my money I stopped. Luckily, I ended up leaving with the same amount that I came in with.

Later at home mom and I decided to go out for dinner. We actually tried to hit up a few mexican places for Cinco de Mayo, but every one we drove past was crazy busy (go figure). So we ended up at Moscato’s, a quaint Italian place we’ve been to a few times before.

The last time we were here they had just reopened with an updated menu and we had Jon in tow. Between Jon being picky and them getting into the groove from their hiatus it wasn’t the best experience. But this time was better.

There weren’t a lot of other diners (I think they were all having mexican!) so it was pretty low key in there. They always have live music and that night they had a one man guitar player that transported you straight to Italy. They also had changed the decor a bit. They changed the tables around and added colorful pillows to the benches. I also loved the fresh flowers they had in wine bottles. You really can’t beat the atmosphere in here. It’s very cozy and everything from the decor to the plates makes you feel like you’re at someone’s Italian villa rather than a restaurant. And the service is always on par as well.

Now to the food. They make their own linguine and angel hair, which is wonderful, and you cans wap it with any dish that has pasta. I’ve had it before and loved it, but really wanted to try the baked penne this time.

One of my complaints last time was that the portions seemed too small. But I couldn’t even finish this big bowl! Yay for quantity!

The pasta was cooked very well. The cream sauce was delectable and not too rich tasting. The chicken needed to be seasoned, but the sundried tomatoes and mushrooms helped amp up the dish. We paired our meal with a lovely red wine from Sicily. I forgot the name, but it was smooth and on the fruiter side.

Sunday was Jon’s day off and it was a lazy one. We slept in until about noon. I started my day off with Captain Crunch and felt like such a big kid. Where are my cartoons?

We finally mustered up the energy to get a late lunch at Pho Quyen. BBQ Beef Vermicelli for me and Pho with everything for him. We then ran some errands which included Target and Total Wine.

Our goodies…We rarely go to Total Wine so when we do we stock up!

The rest of the day was spent lazing around in front of the boob tube. For dinner Jon made a pantry surprise of a bunch of things we needed to use up. Roasted chicken, quinoa, lentils, black eyed peas, carrots, tomato sauce, chicken stock, chipotle peppers and a few other random things went into a pot for a kind of stew/chili. It was really good!

What fun things did you do this weekend? Have you ever been to a casino?

Labor Day

Hey friends! Hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Labor Day! I had today off, but The Chef had to work 😦 Before I get too far into today, though, let’s talk about this…

This my friends is Pho. From Pho Quyen, our new go-to Vietnamese place, where we had dinner Sunday night. I’ve had pho once or twice before, but was never really into it. The Chef loves it though. I normally get BBQ Beef on top of Vermicelli, which I love, but this time I really wanted soup. So I decided to join The Chef and ordered pho. Traditionally, you get pho with not only rare slices of beef, but also tendon and all sorts of errie sounding parts. While The Chef is all about this, I just had to go with the slices of beef only 🙂 This was SO good. It’s really all in the broth. Such flavor! And the thai basil is really the most important mix-in. What I love most about these types of dishes is that you add all of your own additional flavors: soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin, chili paste, siracha…they all go in the pool at our table! I’m so glad I decided to try pho again because now I’m officially a fan.

After dinner we headed to a friend’s for game night. Board games that is! We played a mix of charades and pictionary. What entertainment! Lots of fun with fun people.

Today, my friend had another meetup with her Florida Frugalista’s meetup group. We had brunch at Cassis. It wa sorignally going to be at Red Mesa Cantina, but they ended up being closed 😦 Cassis was wonderful though. It is a bit overpriced, but I still really like the food.

I had the smoked salmon sandwich with bacon and dill sour cream.

Mmm…this was so good! It was huge! I like smoked salmon, but I can only take so much so I actually pulled a few pieces off. And they make their own bread, which takes this sandwich to a whole other level. My sandwich was accompanied by a glass of white sangria. Didn’t get to snap a photo, but it was pretty, light, fruity and yummy!

We had a group of 7 girls and had a great time getting to know one another. I’m really digging these meetups…everyone is so nice! We extended our time together a little more by going down the street to Paciugo for gelato. I actually wasn’t in the mood for gelato and decided on a mango and raspberry sorbet mixture, which was just what I wanted. So light and refreshing.

Once I got home I spent 2 hours cleaning the apartment and then went down to the gym for a run. I’ve been real bad with my work out routines for the past few weeks so I was determined to move today. Earlier in the day I did The Fitnessista’s Cardio Ab burner, so pairing it with an afternoon run made me feel so much better.

When The Chef got home from work (yes, poor thing had to work) I was hoping we’d use up the chicken that’s been sitting in the fridge. But he was tired and didn’t want to cook. We finally decided on picking up Thai, butour fav place was closed! We called one other place that was also closed and then gave up. After a few minutes of pondering The Chef jumped up and got to work on this…

Chicken Piccata! Perfect. I’ve been craving pasta and Italian lately so this was just what I needed.

We always try to make dinner special with candlelight 🙂 And it’s a rule we always turn off the TV and put on music instead. Usually only when we cook…takeout is another story 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I could use another vacation day!

Conversation Starter: Do you dine in front of the TV or at the table?

The Trifecta

Last weekend we had a long weekend of family and fun in the Cape. So we were more than ready for a nice quiet, relaxing weekend at home.

We had a friend move to Georgia about a year ago and she finally came down for a visit! We only got to see her for a few hours over brunch, but it was so good to catch up. Brunch was at Red Mesa Cantina. We’ve never had a bad meal there…one of the few restaurants in St. Pete that is consistently good.

I had the chorizo and egg breakfast burrito. Very yummy, but I had orderers remorse in that I wish I had gotten something more exciting, like the steak and eggs I had also been eyeing.

I also enjoyed a very yummy and refreshing hibiscus mimosa:

The boy had the Vuelve a la Vida (ceviche), which he “mmm”ed about the entire time 🙂

The rest of the day was spent on the couch until dinner time. We both had been very healthy all week…just the night before we had salad galore with quinoa topped with salmon. So we thought we’d be a little “bad” and make macaroni and cheese. Topped with breadcrumbs and bacon of course 🙂

Oh baby…

Since we were lazy bums yesterday, today was donned the adventure day. I don’t mind lazing about one day out of the weekend, but at least one day has to feel productive/fun.

We’ve had an abundance of fresh fruit in our fridge so the boy has been making these uber delicious smoothies for us:

After one of these I’m ready to tackle the day. So we decided to head out and do our “trifecta”, which consists of Pho Quyen Vietnamese, Marko’s Meat and Deli and Total Wine. It’s the “trifecta” since all three of these stops are along the way to the next 🙂

First stop was actually Target, where we’ve been trying to find pillows for our “new” couch (actually a hand me up from the boy’s brother and sis-in-law) and a few other household items. We searched to no avail 😦

By the time we got out of there our tummies were starting to rumble. Pho Quyen it is! One of our traditions has been to go out for Vietnamese on the weekend. It used to be Ha Long Bay for dim sum, but we recently stumbled across this place and pretty much fell in love. Although today was not as good as the past two times we’ve been there…we’re hoping it’s just an off day.

Our feast…

I got my favorite BBQ Beef on vermicelli.

Very, very good, but not as good as last time I got it :/ Their meat is always perfect though…the flavors are just to die for. The boy usually gets Pho, but decided to try the shrimp and sugar cane on vermicelli. The shrimp was a bit off (he thinks too much shrimp paste), but knawing on the sugar cane was pretty awesome.

We also split a grilled pork bahn mi…the pork was excellent and the bread tasted fresh, but we both agreed that Thuy Cafe is our go-to place for bahn mi.

I was also craving a thai tea, but there’s was way too sweet…the boy had to finish it for me along with his Vietnamese iced coffee.

After our bellies were full it was off to Marko’s…a pretty awesome little European market and deli. They have the BEST meats including sausage and cured meats that they make in house. Alas, we drove up to the entrance only to find a sign on their door that says they’re on vacation and won’t be open again until July 29. Boo!

So we moved on to Total Wine…love the wine tastings they do on the weekends! That’s usually our first stop since we always seem to like one or two of the wines they offer. Plus they give $1 discount if you decide to buy one. We more than stocked up today…don’t think we have to go back for about a month.

I wanted to stop by Border’s on the way home to check out the sale (such a shame they’re all closing), but the parking lot was looking all sorts of crowded so we just booked it home.

Conversation Starter: Do you have any weekend traditions that you follow?