Back in the Kitchen

Happy Monday! Told ya I’d disappear for the week 😉 And oh what a week it has been…

On Wednesday we celebrated the grand opening of the new Guy Harvey Outpost resort on St. Pete Beach.

It was a truly wonderful event. TradeWinds’ banquet/convention service/food&beverage staff truly is amazing. And I’m not just being biased 🙂

Luckily the rain held off for a beautiful beachfront event.

My attire for the evening.

In the middle of running around and helping where I could I managed to get some bites of the awesome food.

There was a sushi station, shrimp and grits station, dessert table, fresh, local fish and an assortment of other inventive dishes such as corn panna cotta and a watermelon shooter. Everything was delicious!

And the night ended with some amazing fireworks!

On Thursday it was Beer with the Bard time with St. Pete Shakes.

It was our slowest night yet…we’re thinking it was the looming rainstorms. But we still had a great time and had some awesome performances.

On our way to the event Jon and I grabbed some banh mis from La V to enjoy with our drinks of choice.

Maddie came too 🙂

Friday I had to stay late for another work event, but still wanted to go out when I got home. So Jon and I headed out for a late dinner at BellaBrava. Jon hasn’t been the biggest fan of them, but I love it. I’m happy to report though that we had a wonderful experience!

It was crazy busy, but we didn’t end up waiting long for a table. Our waiter was nice and pleasant and recommended a great wine. We each started with side salads (cesar for me and house for him). Jon got the Veal Saltimbocca special for an entrée and I tried the Chicken Parmesan.

This was good, but not my favorite dish here. A bit too much cheese. Love that it came with prosciutto. Jon LOVED his dish.

When we got home Jon put together a fig tart he had been working on earlier. It had a ricotta and sour cream filling, a rosemary crust and jam on top.

It’s not our favorite…it definitely tasted better the next day, but seems like it’s missing something. Still an interesting combo of flavors.

Saturday I had an all day work event. On my way home I decided to stop by the mall and peek into the new H&M that opened. When I went into the Tampa one last week I noticed some things I really wanted to try on. SO happy we have an H&M now! I immediately started grabbing items as I was browsing and ended up getting most of what I tried on. Luckily, most of it was stuff I really did need. I’m going to be attending a Junior League conference next month and realized that I don’t have a lot of businessy type of clothes (tropical clothes I wear to work just would not work). Luckily H&M had some great dresses and skirts that I will be able to wear at the conference. Plus they’re all red, which is the Junior League color 🙂

After H&M I walked over to Starbucks to grab an iced pumpkin spice latte. It’s important to note that I am not a big Starbucks person, nor am I big on any type of caffeine except tea. But all this PSL talk going on lately really left me with a hankering for one. Unfortunately the line was way long so I decided against it. But then lo and behold I spot Teavana across the way.

I can’t remember what I ended up with, but I know it was a green tea and it was yummy and refreshing. The guy that worked there was very helpful in helping me choose what to get. The store also reminded me that I really want my own infuser!

Two thumbs up for Tyrone Square Mall too. Teavana, H&M…this mall is definitely on the upswing.

That night I decided to make dinner. Even though Jon got off work later than expected and didn’t get to have any 😦

Despite my worst dinner ever experience, this dinner turned out fantastic!

Ginger Cilantro Baked Tilapia with marinated mushrooms and wild rice and steamed broccoli.

I got the tilapia recipe here via Pinterest and followed it pretty much exactly. I ended up putting the fish in the fridge for a while though and had to leave it in the oven an extra 10 minutes to get where it needed to be.

For the mushrooms I just sautéed them with olive oil, 2 garlic cloves and one lemon. Then mixed them with the wild rice.

Yay for easy, tasty dinners!

Sunday I had yet another work event, but luckily I got to kick back for most of the day.

For breakfast I finally got to see what the fuss is all about with these…

I’ve seen this box of Kodiak Cakes on so many blogs that when they were on sale at Rollin’ Oats this past week I just had to grab them.

The verdict? Just as awesome as everyone says. Not quite as good as homemade, but pretty darn close. We added pecans and banana for some extra flavor and fun.

We had dinner at our favorite Vietnamese place, Pho Quyen and then headed to Total Wine to restock.

I came across this…

I did not buy it and probably never would, but I’m still very curious! I picked up the regular whipped flavor so I could indulge in my creamsicle and root beer float tasting cocktails 🙂

What’s the most interesting vodka flavor you’ve tried?

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?

Giving Back

Hi friends! How was everyone’s weekend? Mine flew by, but was filled with so many rewarding experiences. I have always tried to be involved in the community one way or another, but I mixed up my involvement a bit this weekend and it definitely makes me want to get more involved in even more things 🙂

Rays

On Friday a volunteer opportunity was organized through my work with the Tampa Bay Rays. A bunch of employees signed up to help “sell” scratch off tickets for the Tampa Bay Rays Shirts Off Our Backs Campaign. For a small donation game goers could get a scratch off card that has a prize. One of the big prizes is a chance to win a jersey right off one of the Rays’ backs 😉 Hence the name. All the money goes to The Rays Foundation, which funds a lot of youth and education programs. We were given 100 cards to go through and had to sell up until the 4th inning. It was a lot harder than you probably think! Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not a salesperson at a mall kiosk because having people blow you off and ignore you is terrible! The good part is that we got a free meal and we got to see the rest of the game for free!

Too bad we lost 😦

Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Saturday was a big day. This was a day where I wanted to not only give back, but to get some kind of closure for myself. My dad’s death has not gotten much easier and I know that I will hurt for a long time. I felt like doing this walk though, would help me feel productive towards my healing. I don’t really feel any different, but it was wonderful to have the support of The Chef and my friends as we took a leisurely walk through downtown St. Pete, along with hundreds of other people who were effected by such a debilitating disease. I found out about the event a bit last minute so I didn’t get to raise as much money as I wanted. We only made it half way to my goal, but that’s better than nothing! Next year I will be more prepared.

 

 

  

 

Some Fun Extras

Later that day, after yet another delicious meal at Pho Quyen, The Chef and I made a trip to Total Wine.

I have seen so many mentions in blogland about pumpkin beer. I’m not a beer drinker, but damn I’m kind of jealous I’m not with all this pumpkin beer talk!

They even have a whole end aisle devoted to it at Total Wine.

But wait…what is this…

Pumpkin Cider!?!? Rejoice!

I popped this baby open last night…it was not my favorite Woodchuck cider, but it was tasty. I also grabbed one of their Fall flavors to try. I never even knew they made seasonal flavors! I feel like a cool kid now that I can have seasonal drinks like beer drinkers 🙂

After we stocked up we decided to feed our sweet tooth. I suggested Yogurtology since The Chef had never been there. I love this place because of the different flavors and all the toppings you can put on your fro yo. Unfortunately, The Chef is a purist and just loves his plain fro yo so he wasn’t too into the toppings.

We both mixed vanilla and chocolate. His only topping was some Heath bar pieces. Mine was marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, peanut butter chips and a drizzle of caramel. I think I need to instill a 3 topping max when it comes to my mix-ins…any more and I feel like flavors get lost.

The week is going to be filled with a lot of work and not so exciting errands. I probably won’t catch up until this weekend after the Race for the Cure. I’m on friend’s team, Blondie’s Boobies! Ha, love that name 🙂

Hope everyone has a great week!

Conversation Starter: What’s your favorite seasonal beverage?

 

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?