Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A is for: Ahau Tulum, Avant Rent A Car & the Tres Amigas

When Sachi asked me last year if I wanted to go to Mexico with her, I said "absolutely" without hesitation. Not because I had strong feelings about the specific destination, but because she is a dear friend and we'd been talking about taking a trip together for awhile. (You may remember her from blog appearances such as "Sushi with Sachi" or my forays into Indian cooking).

Our schedules never really coincided last fall, so we postponed 'til 2015. The timing couldn't have been better. It was a much-needed escape for both of us, and we added a third traveler to the mix, my friend & makeup artist Susie Popovich... who, as it turns out, was a frequent visitor of Tulum.

And as it also turns out, Tulum is a very magical place that should absolutely be on your list to visit if you haven't already.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A is for: Avon Prime Meats & Apple, Caramel Cornbread Stuffed Pork

Perhaps it's my Montana roots or my rural upbringing (I grew up on a cattle ranch/wheat farm 'til the age of 5), or the fact that my Granddad once owned a butcher shop (Leon's Lockers)... but I'm a sucker for a mom and pop grocery store with a quality meat counter.

So when Matt Cormier of Avon Prime Meats reached out to me via Twitter, I jumped at the opportunity to come check out his shop.

And then I was sad I didn't do it sooner.

I was completely blown away.

It's like Disney Land for foodies! Tons of local specialty products, an impressive prepared foods section (Matt has worked in restaurants previously), and of course some of the highest quality meats you'll find in the area.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Z is for: Zucchini Muffins with Cherries & Chocolate {Gluten Free} + a Costco Giveaway

I love me some Costco.

Sometimes people are surprised I shop there considering I live by myself. But you don't have to be a big family to make a Costco membership worthwhile.

Among the things I often buy there: organic olive oil, organic chicken, frozen shrimp, prosciutto, canned tuna, sun dried tomatoes, San Marzano canned tomatoes, castelvetrano olives, chicken stock, gluten free pasta, almonds, toilet paper, laundry detergent, Advil, Zyrtec, gas... I could literally could go on and on.

So I'm super excited today to not only offer up a great recipe that uses a lot of my favorite Costco ingredients, but also a giveaway for people in the New England area as we get ready to celebrate the opening of the New Britain Costco!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Y is for: Yellow Corn Mexican Panzanella Salad

I swear when I made this salad last week it was still summer. It was 85 degrees and I was still running the AC.

And then suddenly overnight it switched to fall. It's ok though, all these veggies will still be in season for at least another week or two (or more if you live in Cali), so this can be your farewell to summer celebration of corn and tomatoes and padron peppers.

I made this out of a hodgepodge from recent Blue Apron shipments and random stuff I had on hand. I love doing that. It makes me feel like I'm on an episode of Chopped.

Except without the high pressure. And TV cameras. And discerning judges. And wacky ingredients.

(OK, it's not really like Chopped at all, but it's still fun).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

W is for: Watermelon Mint Mimosas

Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with the bubbly.

I like other wines and cocktails and even the occasional beer too (I mean, I don't discriminate my alcohol), but there's something about a nice glass of champagne that just makes me happy.

I don't normally order mimosas. (As my friend Laura would say: "I'll have a mimosa, but hold the OJ.) My philosophy: if it's good champagne, why ruin it with juice? And furthermore, why dilute my morning buzz with other liquids? (Unless it's a cup of coffee with Bailey's in it.)

However, I will make an exception if it's particularly fresh and delicious, and this one certainly fits the bill for a boozy August brunch.

Because, as my mom captured on a restaurant window recently: "A brunch without mimosas is just a sad, late breakfast."

Monday, August 17, 2015

W is for: Watermelon Skewers with Feta, Mint & Cucumber

Where has this summer gone???

Seriously, I know I say this every August, but this particular summer seemed to fly by faster than most.

Inevitably, my blog posts suffer in times like these. Take these little watermelon skewers for example. I made and photographed them over a week ago, and I'm just now getting around to posting.

I'm choosing to hold onto these summer days as long as humanly possible because I know what comes next... the beautiful colors of fall, and then 6 months of miserable East Coast winter.

These skewers are a perfect way to highlight the fresh flavors of the season and squeeze those last few drops of summer before it's gone.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

W is for: West Hartford Happy Hour

My friend Jeremy and I started this blog post in November of 2014 out of our love for West Hartford happy hours and our desire to share it with the people of central Connecticut.

In reality, I'm not sure how much this appeals to the majority of my blog readers, so perhaps it was a bit selfish on our part. Not that we need an excuse to go to happy hour every week, but this certainly gave us one.

The West Hartford Center happy hour phenomenon really is something. They truly are the cheapest and best happy hour deals I have ever come across. I'm curious how and when it all started. Which restaurant decided it was going to offer great food and drinks at ridiculously low prices, the popularity of it forcing the hand of every other restaurant in the center? This, we may never know. But I can confidently say we do know which ones are the best. You know why I know? Because we tried them all. Every. Single. One. It was our duty in order to bring you this comprehensive list.

Because we started this project 9 months ago, some of the specific food and drink items might be tad outdated, but we stand behind our rankings. For this reason, we plan to revisit some of these spots on "official blog business" and update them where needed. (Because... you know, for the integrity of the blog). Special shout out to these fine establishments of WeHa for providing us a fun project over the last year and to Jeremy's lovely fiancĂ©e Rita for putting up with our semi-weekly excursions.

To help judge value and make us do math when we're tipsy, we set a budget of $40 for two people (tax and tip not included). As for the rating system... it's pretty simple. Scale of 1-5, four categories, bonus points for happy hours that go three hours or are offered on the weekends. They are listed in order of highest total score to lowest. Cheers!!
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