Monday, April 30, 2012

Creative Cocktails: Ruby Tuesdays

Having a fully stocked bar would be like having the mega pack of every color Crayola crayon. Cocktails are just another avenue that people can get their creative juices flowing, this time in a more literal sense of the term. Especially nowadays, there are so many different kinds of liquor out there including all the flavored vodkas and liqueurs, the options are limitless. Whenever I'm at a restaurant or bar, I'm not usually tempted by the classics but more so am curious to try new and different things.

Recently I was at a Ruby Tuesdays and came across a Lavender Pear Martini. It was made with Absolute Pear vodka and was infused with lavender. The drink was served a light yellow color and as you seeped the lavender in the drink, it turned purple. How cool is that?

Lavender Pear Martini

I think this cocktail would make the perfect signature drink at a bridal shower. Lavender just seems so elegant and girly. I also recently found Lavender Cupcakes with Honey Frosting on Pinterest that just might pair perfectly with this martini. 

I plan to start sharing some unique drinks I try at various restaurants on a new series on my blog called "Creative Cocktails." Stay tuned...

5 Days of Tacos and Tequila

Countdown to Cinco de Mayo

After a busy couple months of holidays spanning from February through the beginning of April, I was able to take a little breather after Easter. I thought I may have a larger gap but then I realized Cinco De Mayo was coming up! I don't normally get to celebrate, working in baseball the past few years, it seems we always have a game on this date. However, I can't resist counting down considering tacos and margaritas fall under a few of my favorite things. Stay tuned...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Honey Garlic Crunch Pork Chops

The other day we got some pork chops while grocery shopping. There are so many interesting recipes out there to spice up a chop, I was excited to try something new for these. Now I have to admit,  I didn't actually make them, Gary did the work this time, but I found the recipe on Pinterest and am sharing it with you below!

Honey Garlic Crunch Pork Chops

The recipe calls for 6 pork chops, we only had 3 so we had a lot of leftover mix but the measurements for each spice and such were so small anyways, it seemed like more work to try and cut it in half.

Spice and Flour Mix:
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp ground sage
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Egg Wash:
2 eggs
4 tbsp water

Honey Garlic Sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper

Step 1: Sift together the spice and flour mix. 
Step 2: Season the pork chops with salt and pepper then dip into the spice and flour mix.
Step 3: Dip the chops into the egg wash and then again into the spice and flour mix. Make sure the chops are well coated in the mix.
Step 4: Heat a skillet on the stove on medium heat with about 1/2 inch of canola oil covering the bottom. Fry the chops for about 4-5 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and crispy.
Step 5: While the chops are cooking, make the honey garlic sauce by heating the olive oil and minced garlic on medium heat in a sauce pan. Let the garlic soften but not brown.
Step 6: Add the remaining ingredients of the sauce and simmer together for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Step 7: When the chops are done, dry on a wire rack for a few minutes before dipping into the honey garlic sauce.
Step 8: Finally, dip the chops in the honey garlic sauce and serve with sides.

These honey garlic crunch pork chops were amazing. They had a fantastic flavor and the crunchy texture paired nicely with the juicy tender pork. We paired ours with a side of mashed potatoes and apple slices along with a nice bottle or riesling. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Photo Diary: This is Summer...except that it isn't!

The weather has been so back and  forth lately but there have definitely been some days that have been close to 90 degrees which makes it feel so much like Summer! Here is a mini photo diary of some things I've been up to lately. With warm weather like this it makes me want to be out and about as much as possible!

Triumph Brewery

Recently I completed the Triumph Brewery trifecta. Triumph has 3 locations, Princeton, Philadelphia and New Hope. Over the past few months I managed to make it to all 3 locations and try a sampler at each. They all had different beers which made it exciting to try different options. If you haven't been, I definitely recommend it. Each location is unique in it's own way, not just with the different beers but with the area they're located in and the design of the buildings.

Chloe on the rocks

Chloe loves going on walks, and when the weather is nice, I love taking her! We live in a nice apartment complex that has a great area to walk around in. I like to call this photo "Chloe On the Rocks."

cherry blossoms

Another favorite thing of mine about warm weather is when all of the blossoms start to bloom. Gorgeous!

Even though I work in baseball and spend most of my time at a ballpark, I still like to visit as many other stadiums as possible on my nights off. It was actually a pretty chilly night at Citizens Banks park but I was prepared with a hat, scarf and gloves!

Fire Pit

After the Phillies game, my friend and I checked out the new Xfinity Live complex which is in the sports complex, right by the Phililes, Flyers, 76ers and Eagles homes. This place is incredible. It's made up of multiple bars and restaurants including a Victory Beer Hall with live bands, PBR Bar and Grill which has a mechanical bull, and Broad Street Bullies Pub which has multiple tvs for sports viewing pleasure. My favorite part about Xfinity Live was the outdoor patio complete with a fire pit.

Red Velvet Pancakes

Have you heard? IHOP now has red velvet pancakes. I made it there as soon as I heard! My meal was even free because I joined their e-club, the Pancake Revolution, which includes a free meal for your birthday! Yes they are as good as they look! I would get these again in a heartbeat.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere

If you follow my blog you know that I love to be themed. Right now I'm in a lull between holidays. After Easter, there isn't really much going on until we can be patriotic for Memorial Day. Then after that, it's a break until another patriotic day: 4th of July. Then it's a big break until Labor Day and then Halloween. Anyways, the point of all of that is to say right now it's time to be spring and summer themed! Think flowers, the beach, etc. I found this sign at the dollar store and thought it was perfect to hang on my door for the summer!

adirondack chairs from Target

When I see this picture I think, THIS IS SUMMER! I love the look of adirondack chairs, they just scream beach and summer to me. I love to sit outside and read when it's nice out so I needed to get Gary and I chairs so we can do this more often. Of course living in an apartment complex we can't leave them outside so it would have made more sense to get fold up ones, but I just love these too much. Plus, they were on sale at Target, you can't beat that!

love these shoes

I originally found these shoes on Pinterest and fell in love. They are like my dream shoe so I had to get them. I finally had a day off, got a pedicure and was ready to show them off!

carribbean salad from Chilis

Finally, I had a coupon, buy one get one free lunch entree at Chili's, so Gary and I decided to go there for lunch on my day off. We both decided to get salads and I was very pleased with my choice. I know salads with fruit in them are very popular, especially around this time of year. I got a Carribean Salad with grilled shrimp, fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, dried cherries, green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds and honey-lime dressing. If you don't like shrimp, the salad also has a choice of grilled chicken.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sampleicious: Birchbox Edition: April Box

April Birchbox

I am very excited about the products in my April Birchbox. The theme seems to be natural products which I love. I haven't officially tried any of the samples yet but I'm excited to dig in! They're all samples of products that I'd be willing to switch if I found the right one.

List of products:
Befine Exfoliating Cleanser
Befine Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15
Lulu Organics® Lavender + Clary Sage Hair Powder
Yes To™ Blueberries Brightening Facial Towelettes
Zoya TRUE Spring Collection
Wonderstruck Taylor Swift 3.4 oz

First up was a box of Befine products. At first I didn't know what to expect but the cover of the box had bright colorful fruits on it so I was definitely intrigued. Inside were three samples of the Befine Exfoliating Cleanser and two samples of Befine Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15.

The exfoliating cleanser is made with brown sugar, sweet almond and oats. Not only does this cleanser slough away dead skin cells, it also soothes and hyrdates skin. I can't wait to try it out, I'm always looking for the next best thing in cleansers, especially exfoliating ones. At $25 a bottle, it's not too pricey if I end up liking it, I may have to pick up a bottle at some point.

A while back, I did a blog series on The Search for the Perfect Moisturizer and I honestly never really found it. I found ones I liked, but didn't really fall in love with any that had an SPF which I think is crucial. Most of the SPF ones were too "sunscreeny" which meant had a strong sunscreen odor or a thick texture. For a daily moisturizer, I'd like something lighter with no scent or a very pleasant one that still protects. We'll see if this one has what it takes, and like the exfoliating cleanser, it's not too expensive at only $25 a bottle.

I am very excited to try Lulu Organics Lavender Hair Powder. I am obsessed with dry shampoos. I've always heard it's healthy to skip days when washing your hair but I never felt comfortable doing it until I tried dry shampoo. They help revitalize roots and absorb oil which is key. I can't wait to try this one, being organic and having a lavender scent make it unique to most of the other dry shampoo products I've seen out there.

This is yet another product that I'm always looking for the next best thing in. Cleansing facial towelettes are the perfect beauty product to keep handy. The sample and the full size product of these come in a perfect size pouch that you can carry in your purse or pack in your travel bag. Not only do they cleanse skin and remove makeup, they moisturize too. And at $7.99 for 30, I can definitely see myself picking up these baby blues.

Pastels are very in this Spring which makes the Zoya True Spring Collection the perfect beauty accessory to your spring wardrobe.  I received a turquoise color that is gorgeous. I can't wait to try it on! The collection also features some pretty shades of purple and beige.

I actually got a free sample of Wonderstruck a while ago through Taylor's Facebook page. Unfortunately it was only one of those wipe samples that you can only use once. I was thrilled to get this little tube which I can make last much longer. I'm totally in love with this scent and it is one of the first scents in a while that I would totally love a full bottle of.

Like what you see? Click here to join Birchbox today and get your own sample boxes each month.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monday Morning Flowers: April Smiles

Monday Morning Flowers is a partner of the Trenton Thunder. For each homestand, they send us flowers to display in the women's bathrooms. Their website is which makes me smile. They always do such beautiful displays, often with very unique arrangements. I took a couple pictures of the displays last year but this year I decided to try and take a picture of every one and post them on my blog. Let's see if I can keep up all season long!

April 5-7: 

Monday Morning Flowers

They started off right with the first one. It has a unique variety of flowers including a rhinestone on the sunflowers and a tiny egg in the grass.

April 9-11:

Monday Morning Flowers

For the second homestand, they delivered a beautiful array of purple and white flowers.

April 19-22:

One of my favorite things about a new homestand is a new delivery from Monday Morning Flowers! I absolutely love the bird of paradise flower and the bamboo. There's rhinestones included again as well, can you spot it?

April 24-26:

Monday Morning Flowers

With the weather being a little colder this week, I love that these flowers give off a warm Spring vibe. Daisies are my favorite so the bright orange Gerber Daisy being the center of the display is awesome. 

These last three games wrap up April. Stay tuned for more in May!

Visit Monday Morning Flowers to see how they can help you send a smile today!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Maui Brewing Co. Tasting

Maui Brewing Co. Beer Tasting

When I was in Hawaii last year, I was thrilled to get the chance to visit Kona Brewing Company on the Big Island. I was familiar with their beers because many stores in Virginia sold their bottles. After taking a tour of their brewery, I learned that the bottled beers I had been getting on the East Coast were actually brewed at Red Hook in Seattle, another brewery I've had the privilege of visiting! Everything brewed at Kona doesn't leave Hawaii. Anyways, as you probably saw, the title of this blog is Maui Brewing Co. Tasting, not Kona. Unfortunately I was not familiar with Maui Brewing Co. when I was in Hawaii so I did not get the chance to tour their brewery or try any of their beers over there. I recently found their beers at a couple stores in Virginia so they must have just started to reach the east coast. I got a 4 pack of CoCoNut PoRteR and then individual cans of 3 of their other beers: Big Swell IPA, Bikini Blonde Lager, and Mana Wheat. Gary and I decided it would be fun to do a tasting of the 4 beers at once so that's what we did. I used 3 tasting glasses we have from our annual Beer, Bourbon and BBQ event we attend and then one Red Hook tasting glass I got on my tour there.

I was very impressed with these beers. I'm not going to say they're the best beers I've ever had, because they aren't, but they are very good. I love that these beers come in cans, I love the names, and I love the look of each can. Also after visiting their website, I love their turtle logo. I definitely want some swag with that logo on it. Below are my reviews on each of the beers, enjoy! The beer stats and descriptions are straight from Maui Brewing Co.

First up is the Bikini Blonde Lager. The look of this beer screams Hawaii with the girl in the grass skirt and lei on the can. I love the tagline under the name "What the sailors really come to shore for..."

Beer Stats: 
ABV: 5.1%
IBU: 18
Hops: Liberty, Sterling and Hersbrucker

Maui Description: Our filtered Munich Helles Lager brewed with floral hops and Pilsner and Munich malts. This is the closest thing to an American lager from Maui Brewing Co. but not skimpy of flavor. Bold, smooth and refreshing!

My Review:  I'm glad this is the first beer I tried out of the four. This wasn't the best but it was still pretty good. By trying it first, I was able to appreciate it for what it was. It made sense to try this one first anyways due to the tasting spectrum. There are no super specific defining qualities, but it is a nice, smooth beer, perfect for a day on the beach!

Next up was the Mana Wheat. This can has a man in a beach hat holding a ukulele with the tagline "Where's my ukulele?"

Beer Stats:
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 18
Hops: Hersbrucker

Maui Description: An unfiltered, freshly handcrafted American-style wheat ale infused with Maui Gold Pineapple. Our crisp and refreshing wheat ale is lightly hopped to allow the fruity sweetness of the pineapple to shine. The yeast stays in suspension making the ale traditionally cloudy. 

My Review: When I first tried this beer, I knew there was something special about it. I happened to miss the whole "brewed with pineapple" part on the can. After a sip, I was like mmmmmm but couldn't quite put my finger on what it was. After reading the can, I realized that the pineapple was that extra something. This was probably my favorite out of the 4. It just went down so easy. I think the description from the website above is perfect: crisp and refreshing.

The CoCoNut PoRteR was the one beer I was able to get a 4 pack of instead of individual cans. I love the image on this can, a hand gripping a coconut mug spilling over with the tasty porter. The tagline for this gem is "...Like hot chicks on the beach."

Beer Stats:
ABV: 6.0 %
IBU: 30
Hops: Cascade, Columbus

Maui Description: Our CoCoNut PorTeR is a fresh handcrafted robust porter brewed with six varieties of malted barley, hops, and hand-toasted coconut. It begins with a malty-toasted coconut aroma followed by a rich, silky feel with tastes of dark malt, chocolate and hints of coffee. It then finishes with flavors of toasted coconut and hoppy spice to balance the finish.

My Review: Based on the description above, I think this might be a beer that Maui Brewing Co. is quite proud of. They seemed to spend the most time describing this one on their website. I do admit, it is quite a fantastic beer. I think for the most part, everything they describe above is true. It has a coconut aroma and a smooth finish.

Finally we tried the Big Swell IPA. This is another can that simply oozes with a Hawaii feel to it. From the name to the gorgeous picture of a surfer in front of a sunset with a palm tree and a giant wave. The tagline isn't too "Hawaiian" but it has to do with the style of beer, it reads "Big, Hoppy, Bold, Smooth and Hoppy...Did We Mention Hoppy?"

Beer Stats:
ABV: 6.8%
IBU: 50+
Hops: Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, Falconer's Flight, & Citra

Maui Description: Our India Pale Ale brewed with four different kinds of Northwestern hops and malted barley...dry hopped to perfection. Its flavor begins smooth and malty and is followed with a big burst of hop flavor. 

My Review: Being a big fan of hoppy beers, I was excited to try this one and it did not disappoint. It's definitely not one of the best hoppy beers I have tasted but I thought it was decent. It certainly had a nice hoppy flavor to it, you'd hope so considering they used 4 different types!

All in all I was very pleased with Maui Brewing Co. I would definitely get their beers again and I'd love to try their Flyin' Hi.P.Hay which is a special release can as well as all their Pub Beers on tap! Out of the 3 islands I visited in Hawaii, Maui was definitely my favorite and I would love to visit there again so maybe I'll get to the brewery out there one day. Gary tried all of these beers with me and he is better with the move official beer reviews so I will see if I can get him to guest blog about his tasting experience. Stay tuned!

Eight Days of Easter: Peeps Edition Summary

So I finally finished my Eight Days of Easter blog series. I made this year a Peeps Edition, so all 8 of my posts were Peep related. It may have gotten slightly repetitive but I think I came up with some different and fun ideas to do with Peeps. Thanks to Pinterest for helping me find inspiration on some of them.

Day 1: Peep Pops
Day 2: S'more Peeps Please
Day 3: Peep-tini
Day 4: White chocolate dipped Peeps
Day 5: Peep Vodka
Day 6: Peep Mousse
Day 7: Homemade Peeps
Day 8: Peep Cupcakes

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Eight Days of Easter: Day 8

For the final day of my Eight Days of Easter: Peeps Edition, I decided to make Easter themed cupcakes with Peeps on them. I'm sure there are a lot of different ways I could have done them but I liked the idea of dying coconut green to make it look like Easter grass for the Peeps to sit on. I made a batch of Yellow cupcakes and iced them with chocolate icing. I ran out of chocolate icing on the last few so I had to switch to vanilla. I then put the dyed coconut on top of each cupcake and topped them with a Peep. I put a dab of icing on the bottom of each Peep to help it stay put.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Eight Days of Easter: Day 7

I've been doing a Peeps Edition of Eight Days of Easter by experimenting with different projects you can do with the classic Easter treat: Peeps. For day seven, I decided to make some homemade Peeps. Basically all a Peep is is a marshmallow covered in sugar that just happens to be in a holiday shape. The original and most classic are chicks and bunnies for Easter but now Peeps makes everything from ghosts to Christmas trees. A homemade Peep takes the concept of a Peep and simplifies it down to the marshmallow and the sugar.

Large marshmallows
Colored Sugar

Simply take the large marshmallows and put them on lollipop sticks. Next dip them in a cup or bowl of water. Dab on a paper towel if needed. Then sprinkle colored sugar over top or dip in a bowl of colored sugar. For Easter it's fun to use Spring colors such as Yellow, Pink, Purple, Green, Blue, Orange, etc. I used the four colors that I had sugar crystals in. I also had red and black but those colors aren't very Easter or Springy. I used my cake pop trays to let them dry, you could also use a Styrofoam block.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Eight Days of Easter: Day 6

For day six of my Eight Days of Easter: Peeps Edition, I decided to experiment with something a little random. I saw a recipe for Peep Mousse on Pinterest and it caught my interest (and no I didn't mean for that to rhyme.) I'm not sure if my turned out quite right, I used heavy cream instead of whipping cream, I never really got a solid answer on the difference between those two. You can use bunnies or chicks and in any color. It makes the most sense to have your sugar or sprinkles match the color of the Peeps you use.

1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
10 Peeps marshmallow candies
Sparkling sugar or sprinkles for dusting

Heat ½ cup of the cream in a large saucepan over medium heat. Drop in the Peeps and stir until melted and smooth.  Leave the melted Peep base to cool, stirring occasionally.  The mixture will separate, but will come back together with stirring.

When the Peep base is cool, whip the remaining 1 cup of cream until stiff peaks form.  Drop a large spoon full of the cream into the Peep base and stir to combine.  Gently fold in the remaining cream in two batches until everything is combined and evenly colored.  If you want, spoon the mousse into 4 small bowls, cover the top with plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.

Serve sprinkled with decorative sugar and a Peep on top.

I was a little worried that mine was too runny and not a mousse like substance but after it chilled over night, it firmed up quite nicely. I tried a spoonful and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I also tried dipping a couple strawberries in it, it makes a delicious fruit dip! I give this two thumbs up for sure. I wouldn't eat a whole bowl of it but split up into tiny portions or used as a dip, A+!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Eight Days of Easter: Day 5

For day five of my Eight Days of Easter: Peeps Edition, I decided to experiment with candy and vodka again. Back in December during my 25 Days of Christmas, I made Candy Cane Vodka and it turned out quite tasty so ever since then I have been wanting to try it with other kinds of candy.

For the candy cane vodka I needed to soak the candy canes in vodka for 2 days. Today will equal 1 day for my Peeps vodka so I am going to give it another day and see how it turns out. To make Peeps vodka, I put 4 pink bunny Peeps in a mason jar, poured vodka over them and sealed up the jar.

Above is what it looks like right after pouring the vodka over the Peeps. Below is what it looks like after a day. The Peeps are still not dissolved but it looks like they are starting to a little bit. It may take longer than two days.

UPDATE: After 4 days most of the marshmallow is finally dissolved. I gave it a few good shakes to take it from looking like the picture above to the one bellow. The little brown eyes from the Peeps are floating in the vodka and there is still a foamy marshmallow head on it but other than that the Peeps are mostly dissolved. I attached one of the Peep Pops from Day 1 to decorate the jar. I haven't tried the vodka yet, I want to give it a couple more days to see if the marshmallow will completely dissolve.

Final Update: The Peep Vodka didn't turn out like I had hoped. It really didn't have much flavor to it. It basically just tasted like regular vodka, maybe a hint of Peep. I think if one of the companies like Three Olives or Pinnacle took on the task, they could make a tasty Peep Vodka but for the homemade version, this didn't turn out like my Candy Cane Vodka did.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eight Days of Easter: Day 4

For day four of my Eight Days of Easter: Peeps Edition, I decided to dip Peeps in white chocolate and cover in Spring themed sprinkles to make fancy Peeps. You can do this with bunnies and chicks.Package them in a box, cellophane baggy or basket for a cute Easter gift or display over edible Easter grass at a party.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Eight Days of Easter: Day 3

For day three of my Eight Days of Easter: Peeps Edition, I wanted to make a favorite of mine, a Peep-tini!

Honestly a Peep-tini is any kind of martini with a Peep in it. I like using the chicks for this but you could use the bunnies too. I originally discovered Peep-tinis on the show The Girls Next Door. They were enjoying them during an Easter egg painting party. I first made my own Peep-tini in college with a recipe called a Blue Mother*****. I then had them at an Easter egg dying party with some girls from work. I used Smirnoff pre-made Cosmopolitan drinks with pink chick Peeps. This time I decided to make a new favorite recipe of mine, Electric Lemonade made with Idol Vodka which is a wine flavored vodka. The drink is blue, I thought about using blue Peeps to match the drink but I decided to rim the martini glass with yellow sugar and go with a classic yellow Peep. Below is the recipe for the Electric Lemonade.

2 oz Idol Vodka
2 oz lemonade
1/2 oz Blue Curacao

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake. Rim martini glass with sugar, strain into martini glass, and garnish with a Peep! For a non Easter version, garnish with a lemon wedge.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Eight Days of Easter: Day 2

For day two of my Eight Days of Easter "Peeps Edition," I decided to go for an Easter twist on a classic snack:  Peeps S'mores. You simply replace the marshmallow part of the S'more with a Peep. They're just as tasty as regular S'mores but have a fun colorful sugary twist. You can use bunnies or chicks and the more colors you can find the better they look if you're making multiple ones for a party or get together.

I have a S'more maker that you fill with water and it makes S'mores in the microwave in just 30 seconds!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Eight Days of Easter: Day 1

I almost want to call this series "Eight Days of Peeps" because each day is going to involve Peeps somehow but I like the alliteration of eight and Easter too much to not use it. Since I just got back from spending the weekend in Maryland and Virginia, I wanted to keep it simple for day one.

For the first day, I made a few Peep Pops. To make a Peep Pop, all you need to do is stick a bunny Peep on a lollipop stick. You could probably do it with the chick Peeps as well but the bunny ones just look better on a stick. Add some cute spring colored ribbon to add to the look.

I made them into a cute display by putting the pops in an Easter egg bucket and adding edible Easter grass as filler.

I love the idea of the edible Easter grass but in actuality it doesn't taste good at all. I guess it still makes a decent filler but the edible part could be left up to debate. The display of Peep pops makes a great decoration whether it's at a party, your Easter dinner table or wherever.