Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Costal Weekend

Erin and I took an impromptu "tour of the coast" a few weekends back. We were offered a free cottage on the beach in Salisbury, MA (thanks kara) and although the gloomy summer weather may not scream beach to most, erin and i were up for it! We opted to check out nearby Newburyport since it was a rainy drizzled filled day. The town was literally five minutes from the cottage and it was a quaint as we imagined. We walked around for a bit in and out of fun little shops. It reminded us alot of a smaller downtown Portsmouth. Quickly our hunger (and thirst) took over and a sign for "$1 oysters" drew me into Ten Center Street Restaurant & Wine Bar. If it weren't for the sign I think we would have passed right by, but I am glad we didn't. This place is off the main street and doesn't really strike you as anything special from the outside. That changes the minute you make it past the host stand.

The bar was so warm and welcoming. It's two floors with brick walls and two fireplaces on the lower level! Perfect for a rainy day. They also have a great selection of specialty beer and wine, as well as a full bar. The food looked delicious too. Erin tried there Lobster Chowder (super fresh and creamy) and of course I went with the Oyster special!

I enjoyed my beer by the fireplace at one point and we had to take a picture of the great beer glass erin used: (it reads: nice beer: if you can get it)
This was the perfect space to enjoy the summer/rainy weather. We checked out the upstairs bar too and saw that they have live music at night. I would highly recommend this place to anyone in the area!

Our travels then took us to the Cape to visit erin's moms friend from high school, Diane! She has a beautiful house that she opens up to us every summer to come visit. Its so nice to be able to head to the cape, yet stay away from the super tourist areas! Erin had been craving "fried seafood" (this is a smell that pretty much begins the minute you are within five miles of a beach town in New England) so Diane recommended we try out a local joint: Spanky Clam Shack. This place was right on the water and had a great patio to dine on. Erin got her fried scallops, while I enjoyed some mussels!

Finally I must mention another amazing dish I had while beaching it...we went over to Clay and Paul's gorgeous new house (Paul is Diane's son) and they had out a great spread of fresh veggies/hummus/fruit and of course cocktails! Then they cooked up some fresh kabobs and a homemade rice. SO DELISH.
After some Wii and laughter Clay whipped up this incredible desert. He started by toasting his own pecans with some liquor of sorts. Then he grilled up some fresh pineapple and served it all together with some Haagen- Dazs Pineapple -Coconut ice cream. HOLY YUM. It was the perfect portion/flavor combo of deliciousness. Thanks again guys!

Some other eats that I didn't take pictures of :(, but HIGHLY enjoyed were: Diane's homemade blueberry pancakes, Mark's famous hot wings and of course erin's margaritas...I guess we will just have to head back soon so I can get pictures this time!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Green Monkey

This resturant was amazing! I just thought it was appropriate to start with that because that pretty much says it all...(but since this is a blog I will elborate a bit ;)

Erin and I recently headed to Portsmouth, NH to have dinner with our friends Nick and Molly. They had been to the Green Monkey once before for after dinner drinks and Nick (who does NOT drink martini's) was able to knock down a good amount of their Blood Orange Martini's quite easily. We had also taken Molly to their sister resturant Brazo for her bachlorette party and the food/drink/service was stellar! So we decided it was a must go, and a must try for the food as well!
It was a Saturday night and Portsmouth is a coastal town so the summer's can tend to be pretty busy downtown and we hadn't made a reservation. No worries! We walked in around 8ish and the host quickly looked into getting us a table. Within two minutes we were seated with their amazing drink and food menu. We jumped right into the drink list and quickly saw why they won "best martini" from a couple of NH magazines. Molly and I decided on "The Wild Blueberry lemonade: Stoli blueberi Vodka, wild blueberry puree and fresh squeezed lemon juice". THIS WAS GREAT! I love when a martini has all fresh ingrediants! Erin decided upon the "Ginger Pear Martini: Absolut Pear vodka, ginger syrup and sour mix"...also A.MAZE.ING. And of course Nick revisited the Blood Orange Martini which isn't listed on their website but Nick will totally vouch for it's delisiousness. Each drink also came with a little monkey on the glass. All the monkey's fell down at the end.

Next came the food options...
We were all pretty hungry so we decided to get two appetizers to share. We pick the LEMONGRASS STEAMED MUSSELS (sauteed in a coconut milk, lemongrass and green curry broth) and the PAN SEARED ROCK CRAB CAKE (parsley and caper aioli, fresh citrus salsa)> both great! They served the table fresh, warm bread with some sort of orange butter...we didn't know what it was but it was great.
They had a special entree that night that I easily ordered as soon as I heard the description. From what i can remember is was something like this: "seared Yellowfin Tuna served with a coconut basmati rice and a carrot and pepper salad". YES PLEASE. Here was the rest of their menu.

Erin went for the Mahi Mahi, Molly tried the Pad Thai, and Nick went with the Duck. Each one was so colorful and more importantly tasted fresh and Delicious. We were in food heaven.

Now you wouldn't know from looking at her but our friend molly had a small pouch in her stomach just used for desert! I happily looked over the menu with her, and boy am i glad i did. Honestly this is one of my most favorite deserts EVER. Seriously. ever.

Behold the: Marinated Fig Tart served with cinnamon crisp ice cream and local raw honey. the crisps in the ice cream almost tasted like cookies...honestly i think erin took a little sample and i inhaled the rest. incredible.
This restaurant was by far one of my favorites! The service was great. The drinks were inventive and yummy and the food knocked it out of the park.
Oh and the company was the best part!

Boston Beer

I know that I mention my love of wine alot on this blog...but did you know that I drink beer too?! (i'm sure if you are reading this you know that already). So when our friends Clare and Adam invited us to attend American Craft Beerfest we gladly accepted.

It's a pretty simple concept. You pay for a ticket, get a 2oz tasting glass, and taste away!
Erin and I invited our friends Nick and Molly to join us and the six of us had a blast!

Erin and I arrived first and waited in a line that oddly reminded us of a Disney World ride. It was a theme park line for "adults only". When the seaport opened they quickly got us in and handed us a glass and a program. Since we had beat our other two couple friends to the start...we sampled a few beers before they got in. Erin and I looked over the map and quickly decided we just wanted to try everything!

We found some old favorites: (this is for Rob and Allison) and sampled plenty of new brews. The varietes were endless! I loved trying watertmelon beer with fresh slices of melon from 21st Amendment, and I even sampled sour tasting beer: (it definielty puckered my taste buds). We also had a great coffee stout that literally tasted like you were drinking an iced coffee (nick was in heaven!)

As you can see below i tried to use my "wine tasting skills" on beer. Many of the brews have quite distinctive smells. Especially all the fruit brews.
I then switched to using Clare and Adam's method of tasting ---------->

Seeing how many of us were already consumers of these local breweries we opted to sample from tables that we had never heard of or seen before...that lasted for a little bit and then we broke down and tried what we wanted. I had a lofty idea of keeping track of all of my samples and their ratings...but that quickly went out the window as well :).
They did have "dump buckets" throughout the venue as well as water jugs to rinse your glass between pours. Molly definietly took advantage of the dump buckets (due to her DD status!)...i will admit I joined her on a few (i wanted to have longevity).
There were so many different "personalities" there and each brewery had its own unique and fun staff as well. Nick helped me obtain a souvenir from one of them and all i had to do was tell a joke (cannot be mentioned or explained on the blog:)...I think Nick was proud of me.
I was really impressed that we barely waited in any line over 2minutes (and yes that includes the bathroom ladies!).
I think you can tell by the smiles that we were both content with our tastes!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ligers love Salmon...just not cinnamon

Our amazing friends scott and terra hosted a going away South African themed weekend party (for Scott who is headed to South Africa for a month!) that we were lucky enough to attend. Because they live a few hours from us they hosted us for the whole weekend! Now I have somehow managed (maybe paid) to get Scott and Terra to read my blog so they are quite aware of my love of healthy eating and fish and therefore decided to treat us to an amazing Salmon meal! (they are so thoughtful)

Scott is quite the Grill Master and we have spent many a weekend being treated to his cooking while Terra cooks up all the side dishes and treats(she makes a mean sugar cookie is all i can say!). This meal was no exception. Terra said she simply googled "salmon recipes" and found that this one had the highest rating on allrecipes.com. The fish was flaky, flavorful and fantastic! We all commented that it was as tasty as any restaurant fish. YUM. The leftovers were quickly devoured over the weekend!
Terra marinated the salmon for a few hours and then Scott wrapped the fillets in foil to throw on the grill. Ten minutes later they were perfectly flaky. For the record Scott grilled himself up a nice big steak! Terra made a delicious potato dish (they tasted like a baked potato in a pan!) with low fat ingredients. seriously, they are great.
Little did Terra know that my costume for the upcoming weekend would be a Liger...and everyone knows liger's love salmon!!!

Rocky Road Brownies

As many of my numerous blog followers may know (okay Scott, terra and erin), erin is currently teaching and loving it! Soon she will experience yet another perk of her new found career...summer vacation! In preparation for this perk of teaching many teachers partake in end of the year parties. Erin was no exception. Although I am unable to attend these perks in person I choose to support in the only way I know how...baking!

Alot of erin's co-workers are familiar with my "healthified" cooking attempts so I wanted to send erin in with something deceptively delicious. I saw this new HG recipe for Rocky Road Brownies and it looked simply straightforward and scrumptious.

I do have some all important notes for this one as well!
First off an ingredient note: HG list to use the Betty Crocker Family Brownies Mix (18.3 oz). I actually looked around at other brownie mixes and they really do have a variety of oz measurements listed on each box. With that said I think it's important to use the amount called for. Also the grocery store was out of the one other item I needed (canned pumpkin) so I picked up canned squash assuming that any canned root veggie would do! It seemed to work out well. You don't add the marshmallows and almonds until about 10 mins before cooking time is over. I used that opportunity to capture of layers of this treat.

These cooked up nicely and I made sure to let them sit for several hours in the fridge to solidify before slicing. The next morning I cubed them up and sample a moist little bite. These were good! They not only tasted fudge like but kept alot of moisture and texture as well.
Coincidentally erin told me that one of the other teachers cooked the EXACT same recipe.
That HG really gets around!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Smooth and Zinful!

It was a gloomy Tuesday. What are a couple of wine lovers to do?...open another bottle from CA! erin and i have both been quite tentative on opening our bottles of wine for a couple of reasons:

1. we love all our wines and might be sad when they are gone.
2. we rarely have weekends so the option to finish off a bottle in one sitting is slim. (not sure how long it will take to finish it)

BUT, thankfully our membership to Imagery has made us more willing to drink bottles that we didn't actually buy on our trip, but rather got as a club member.

Tonight we decided to uncork our 2005 Zinfandel. I couldn't even find this wine on their website which is one of the perks of being members. Not sure if I have already mentioned this but Imagery does not distribute to stores/rest/etc, So being a member definitely has it's perks. How can you not feel special when you get a bottle of wine that no one around you can purchase. Jealous? we share! This is how they describe the wine in our information brochure that came with the shipment:

Taylor Zinfandel 2006 (Dry Creek Valley)
Tasting notes: (from the pamphlet not my impressive palate)
full-bodied, yet silky smooth Zinfandel with dark fruit flavors and slight spice.

On to the tasting...We LOVED this wine. erin and i both though it was very smooth with no tannis (yeah!). It went down very nicely (maybe too nicely on a Tuesday night :) and would pair great with a nice BBQ meal, yes even in the summer. I think people tend to keep reds for the winter or to drink with red meat (which I don't eat) or heavy meals and then partake in white in the summer months. Although sometimes I do find a heavy red not as appealing on a hot summer day, i say drink what you like...when you like! And just for the record this is how we like to drink:

(erin's is stemless and I am not!)

Wonder what bottle will be next?!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

can of chickpeas

This is just a quick little post about a quick little snack. I really like nuts (that's what she said) but have seriously limited willpower when it comes to facing down a bowl of trail mix or chips or smartfood (thanks terra!)...so coming up with new (healthier) snack is always a challenge. Now I will pause to say that nuts are very nutrious! Just not MY typical helping :).

I had seen many a recipe for baked chickpeas and one snacky afternoon I thought I would give it a go. I loosely used this recipe for Roasted Chickpeas. Now by loosely I mean I took the temp. suggested and the time they were to roast...other than that I went on my own.
1.I drained a can of chickpeas.
2.sprayed generously with cooking spray.
3.seasoned with various favorite spices (garlic salt, cumin, chipotle).
4.tossed them in the oven for the allotted time (approx. 45 mins)

I liked them! Some did burn a bit, but nothing i couldn't handle! Some were also a bit dry but i think that might have been due to the fact that I omitted the called for oil (big surprise i know!)...but I honestly don't think it was THAT necessary.
Also just want to note that I am now obsessed with wasabi peas as well. (I just thought this would be a good post to mention that)