Out and about – September

It is so hard to believe that September 2014 is a memory.  It was a super busy month for me with both personal and a little work travel to make it interesting.  All of my personal travel involved a short jaunt from NJ to Happy Valley (4 hours each way) (4 weekends of PSU football – live!) and just to make it interesting a nice train ride through CT for work.

Thought I’d share Highlights from the month:

  1. Celebrated a birthday on the 8th – 68 birthday wishes on FB 🙂 and non-FB Friends
  2. Spending the day with my niece and nephew before they went back to school – always fun spending time with them.  Even tried Smashburger for the first time – it was a hit for all of us.  The milkshakes were YUMMY!
  3. A wonderful birthday weekend at a PSU game with my Mom, a good friend and her Mom.

    The 'S' Zone - best student section in the country!

    The ‘S’ Zone – best student section in the country!

  4. Dinner with my Parents at Char’s – Tracy Mansion.  The food, atmosphere and my Cucumber Martini(s) were amazing!  Dessert at home with my favorite cake – Italian Wedding Cake!

    My yummy cake!

    My yummy cake!

  5. An impromptu birthday lunch with one of my College roommates and later in the month another impromptu lunch with a College roommate on my way home from Happy Valley.
  6. PSU weekend with my College friends  – whoever can get together once a year – we’ve been doing it since 2000 – always a good time.  We all met our sophomore year at PSU.

    Tailgating every year since 2000 - friends since 1988 - priceless!

    Tailgating every year since 2000 – friends since 1988 – priceless!

  7. PSU local game – we won the game – I won’t go into my game time experience but the tailgating was lots of fun.
  8. Amtrak ride up the Northeast Corridor for stop in CT – some lovely views – my favorite is the view of NYC as we are leaving the city.

    NYC - leaving Penn Station going North

    NYC – leaving Penn Station going North

  9. PSU Homecoming – meet some great people tailgating, ate great food and indulge in some adult beverages including trying some Apple Pie Moonshine – just a couple of sips.  Found another Pinot Noir I enjoy – Middle Sister.  🙂

    The 'S' Zone - Original PSU Colors - Pink and Black - faded to what we now have as Blue and White

    The ‘S’ Zone – Original PSU Colors – Pink and Black – faded to what we now have as Blue and White

  10. Scholarships Restored and Bowl Ban Lifted (on my Bday to be exact)!  🙂
  11. Starting an 8 week program focusing on Mindset, Fitness, Education, Accountability/Structure and Nutrition (more to come on this in later posts).

Have a great day!!

 

Summer Fun

As I was holding onto the last ‘official days’ of summer, I started reading a book a friend loaned to me on Friday.  It is called Summer at Tiffany!  I finished it in one day.  It is about two young women from the University of Iowa – and the summer they worked at Tiffany’s.  Two important things to know about this – it was the summer of 1945 and they were the first women to work there.

The book is described about “a fearless summer of friendship, freedom and first love in New York City.”  It is also about taking chances and life decisions.  You’ll have to read the book to enjoy their adventures.

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I enjoyed this book so much, I bought it for my Aunt for her birthday.  My Uncle asked if it was a ‘chick’ book.  It kindof is, however, it is so interesting to see who crossed their paths, the history they experienced and to see things through two young college students in a time when women were still finding their voices in the US.  I sure hope that if I had lived in that era that I would’ve taken a chance like Marjorie and Marty.

Enjoy!

Some more Favorite Summer Recipes

Thought I’d share some more of my favorite summer recipes.

Growing up we used to go to the Holy Spirit Hospital Street Fair. Always a fun time but always one of the highlights was the Chicken BBQ put on by either by the Shriners or the Fireman (I don’t recall). I still remember seeing the grills set-up and the smoke coming off of them onto the highway. The boxed chicken bbq was always awesome – sweet with some charcoal crispiness (you had to pre-purchase or you ran the risk of them selling out). Fast forward about 20 years and my Dad was at the Farmer’s Market getting some fresh chicken and he was offered this recipe for Fireman’s Chicken BBQ (super easy):

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 3 T Sugar
  • 1 1/2 T Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Vinegar

Put all ingredients in a spray bottle.  Spray / baste chicken (works well with thighs and legs) every time your turn it.  This is a staple with my Dad and Brother.  My brother even has the recipe taped to an inside cabinet down the Shore.  And I have a picture of that recipe card on my phone (which is how I was able to post it!)

Some of my favorite foods are salmon, beets and avocado.  I was visiting my parents over the summer and my Dad was trying some new recipes from the Food Network.

Here is the Salmon with Sweet and Spicy Rub recipe by Ellie Krieger

Ingredients:

  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 T light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/8 t fresh ground pepper
  • 6 – 6 oz salmon fillet, skin and any pin bones removed (I think this would also be good with chicken breasts too)
  • 1 T olive oil

Directions:  Coat your grill or grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over medium heat.  While the grill is heating, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Brush each salmon fillet with 1/2 tsp of olive oil, then rub each fillet with about 1/2 tsp of the spice mixture.  Grill the salmon, flesh side down, until charred – 4 to 5 minutes.  Flip the salmon and cook another 5 to 6 minutes for medium doneness.  For well done fish, cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove to a platter and serve.

Salmon with Sweet and Spicy Rub by Ellie Krieger - photo from the Food Network

Salmon with Sweet and Spicy Rub by Ellie Krieger – photo from the Food Network

Here is the Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad by Giada de Laurentiis (I think this is what made me fall is love with Avocados!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 medium beets, cooked and quartered
  • 6 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled (crumbled blue cheese would work too)

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.

Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad by Giada de Laurentiis - photo by the Food Network

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad by Giada de Laurentiis – photo by the Food Network

Any favorite recipes you would like to share?

Enjoy!!

Favorite Summer Recipes

Back in April, my Mom and I went to Vegas (her first trip). We splurged for dinner at Rao’s at Caesar’s Palace. The food was great but we both loved the Caprese Salad that we split. What made it different was a version of fresh mozzarella called Burrata.  It was so creamy.

When I got back to NJ – I actually had to ask a friend what it was called because I forgot the name.  At first I couldn’t find it locally – my Dad was able to find some at the Farmer’s Market in Central PA.  But luckily I’ve been able to find it on a regular basis at Shoprite (go figure).  I’ve been on a caprese salad kick now – both with burrata or regular fresh mozzarella.  It is super easy:

  • Fresh Jersey Tomatoes (if you aren’t in Jersey – than your local tomatoes – they just aren’t the same 🙂 )
  • Fresh Mozzarella – either burrata (a little creamier) or regular
  • Fresh Basil (I’m even growing my own – use it for this and in my eggs for breakfast)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (you can splurge on this too because this helps with the flavor).

Layer tomato, fresh basil, fresh mozzeralla – add desired amount of Balsalmi Vinegar and EVOO – and enjoy!

Caprese Burrata Salad – from vacation:

Caprese Burrata

Caprese Burrata

Double Layer Caprese Salad – from a BBQ last week:

Double Layer Caprese Salad with Fresh Mozzarella

Double Layer Caprese Salad with Fresh Mozzarella

A family favorite BBQ meal my Dad has been making – Grilled Shrimp Scampi with Saffron Rice.  It is from the Sunset BBQ Cookbook – 1962 (page 50) it is called Colby’s Scampies.  I just had it last week (and bummed I forgot to snap a photo) when I had a chance to visit with my parents.  It is soooo good (menu was Scampies, Saffron Rice, Asparagus and a Caprese Salad).

Here is the recipe (from the 1962 edition):

  •  6 large shrimp – fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 lb (1/2 cup) butter or margarine (we use butter)
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 2 T Steak Sauce
  • 6 Crushed Garlic Cloves
  • 1 t each crushed basil, tarragon, celery seeds
  • 2 T dry white wine (my Dad uses a very dry vermouth)
  • Salt to taste

Shell and de-vein the shrimp and split each in a butterfly fashion.  Combine all other ingredients except salt in the sauce. Marinate the shrimp in the sauce for at least 1 hour.  When colas in the BBQ have reached the glowing stage, spread the tails out on the grill, turning them and basting often.  When they show a little brown in color, salt to taste, rmove from fire, cut into 1 inch pieces and serve immediately.  Serves 6 for hor d’oeuvres, 2 as an entree.

The above gives the verbatim instructions from the 1962 cookbook. A couple of notes, my Dad uses extra large shrimp (~ 1 dozen – he normally does ~ 2 dozen and doubles the other ingredients) and puts them on skewers – and I personally like the shrimp a little crispy – aka a few burnt ends!

For presentation purposes – place the Shrimp Scampi over the Saffron Rice – it looks really pretty and is so yummy!  I think I may have to make it myself before the summer is over.

What are your favorite summer time recipes?

Favorite Places and Spaces – ‘Down the Shore’

Every summer for the past 5 years I’ve been coming to the Jersey Shore for two weeks.  The last 4 years to the same house at 52nd and Asbury in OCNJ.  I love it – it is a block and the half from the beach and for the price of a week of beach front property I get 2 weeks – because 1 week at the Jersey Shore just isn’t enough.

My brother and his family spend a lot of time in OCNJ too and we both like to keep it local when we are down at the shore – no chains (so no WAWA, Dunkin’ Donuts and now Starbucks (although they do have a walk up window) coffee on vacation weeks)!  Here are some of my favorite places and spaces (in no particular order):

  1. A la Mode Ice Cream Parlor – homemade ice cream with waffles – and they took the Penn State Short Course in Ice Cream Making.  🙂
  2. Hula Grill – On the boardwalk – Firecracker Shrimp – Yum
  3. Sack o Subs – My Mom and I split an Italian as our first food on the island (55th Street location)
  4. Brown’s – the best homemade donuts – my Mom’s favorite
  5. Mildred’s –  known for their Crab Imperial – their homemade pasta side is yummy too
  6. La Fontana — BYOB in Strathmere
  7. Kessel’s Korner — Old time 1950’s style restaurant / ice cream parlor – everything is red and white.
  8. Charlie’s Bar – In Somer’s Point – great BBTs (boneless buffalo tails in tail gun sauce) – great on a Cobb Salad
  9. The Lobster House — Lobster Bisque – Yum!
  10. Peter Shields Inn — BYOB in Cape May – Great food – great location – a nice evening out.
  11. Kohr’s Custard — Vanilla Cone with Chocolate Jimmies
  12. Shriver’s  – The only Salt Water Taffy made in OCNJ
  13. 52nd Street Beach — Where you will find me most days on my vacation with a nice glass of iced coffee with or without some whipped cream vodka! 🙂
  14. Pie Girl – Available at the OCNJ Wednesday’s Farmer’s Market – great story – all proceeds benefit the Atlantic County Food Bank (and Pie Girl is still in high school).  The Blueberry Crumble is my fav!
  15. Tuckahoe Brewing — my brother found this place.  You can get samples and get a growler.  It was fun riding out in the jeep.  They make a winter brew using Harry Beans coffee below that I’m sure is awesome – maybe I’ll get to try sometime.
  16. Harry Beans Coffee – awesome coffee beans.  Would love to see them on the south end of the island – need a good coffee place.  In Oceanview – right next to Tuckahoe Brewing
  17. 6th Street Beach Yoga – Monday Mornings from 8:00 — 9:00 am – it is FREE (they offer Pilates on Wed and low impact on Fridays).  This is offered by the OCNJ Aquatic & Fitness Center
  18. White House Sub Shop – Atlantic City – the best hoagies!  Last year, my Mom and I were the first ones in line after an overnight at the Borgata.
  19. Jon and Patty’s – cute littel bistro in OCNJ – have enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner!
  20. Busch’s Seafood – She Crab Soup – no longer the big restaurant but you get get the soup in the lounge or as take out.

I’m sure I missed some of my favorite spaces and places – I reserve the right to update this post!  And for the record – I didn’t get to all of these restaurants this vacation!! 🙂  Did I miss any of your favorites I should try next year?

Kohr's Custard - a down the shore staple for me!

Kohr’s Custard – a down the shore staple for me!

52nd Street Beach - love this sign - Sandy took it away

52nd Street Beach – love this sign – Sandy took it away

Shriver's

Shriver’s

White House Sub Shop

White House Sub Shop

Sand and Surf

Sand and Surf

Summer Vacation

Remember when you were younger and you went back to school in September you had to write about your summer vacation.  I’m not back in school and it isn’t September but thought I’d share with you some of my summer vacation highlights.

For the past 5 years I’ve been going to Ocean City, NJ for 2 weeks.  We stay on the south end of the island.  This year I really tried to check-out from work, social media and blogging – I did really good checking out on all 3 – blogging wins the prize.

Here are some of the highlights from the vacation – in no particular order:

  • Spending time with family, extended family and one of my college friends
  • Beach Yoga – including having my college friend join me the first week
  • Getting out on my road bike
  • Girls vs. Boys Wiffle ball game (with my Uncle as the official pitcher) – Girls lost – bummer!
  • Impressing my nephew that I have a blog!  I earned some street cred with him.  🙂
  • Mr. Muscles (one of our neighbors – my Aunts’ named him) 🙂
  • Trying a  recipe from Pinterest (thanks LDK – it was yummy!)
  • Cabana Boy – My Uncle is a great sport – he takes all the beach stuff down and sets up.
  • Chillaxin’ on the beach
  • Coffee on the porch early in the morning
  • My Aunt’s homemade gravy (aka spaghetti sauce)
  • Surviving Hurricane Arthur – he wasn’t much of one – and he moved through quickly – watching the surfers post Arthur
  • Enjoyed some of my favorite places to eat – (I’m doing another post on favorite spaces and places)
  • Shriver’s – seeing them make vanilla salt water taffy and bonus got to sample it!
  • Making Vanilla Salt Water Taffy

    Making Vanilla Salt Water Taffy

     

  • Watching the World Cup – cheering on the US and Argentina!
  • Mummer’s – Avalon String Band on the Boarwalk
  • Avalon String Band in the OCNJ Boardwalk

    Avalon String Band in the OCNJ Boardwalk

     

  • Watching fireworks from the beach
  • Walking the beach
  • Beating my brother in FitBit on week 2 of my vacation (he went back to work)!  🙂
  • Sitting on the beach watching and listening to the waves crashing on the beach
  • And many more!!

As you can see I had a great summer vacation!  What did you do on your summer vacation? Hope you had a great time.  Cherish the memories – I know I will and do.

Summer Tradition

For as many summers as I can remember, my neice and I go to the annual church carnival in my town.  I actually asked her on Monday night how long we’ve been doing it – she had the same comment – for as long as she can remember.  🙂

I look forward to going to the carnival every year.  It is a chance for me to spend one on one time with my niece and reminds me of going to the summer carnival by my Mom-Mom’s and Pop-Pop’s house when I was a kid.  I don’t know who has more fun at the carnival – B or me?

This night is tradition laced – face-painting, amusement rides (and now that she is older – I get on the rides – I love rides – but the Tornado ride – makes me a bit queezy), dinner, carnival games (just the last two games as she has gotten older) and last but not least – ice cream (the last thing we do as we walk back to the car).

Highlights from this year’s night at the carnival:

  • Quality Time with B (of course – I just love seeing and growing up way to fast)!
  • Riding Chaos (it is called the Claw) – I actually LOVED this ride – so much more fun than the Tornado!!!
  • B winning at the Flip the Frog into the Lily Pad game – it was her very last frog too.  I don’t know who was happier that she won – her or me?
  • And of course ice cream – plain twist in a cone for her and vanilla with chocolate jimmys in a cone for me
  • A perfect night!!

Looking forward to next year already!

CHAOS - Loved it!!!

CHAOS – Loved it!!!

January Travels

I was in NYC and Tampa in January.  Not only were they great trips – but also found some interesting adult beverages.

While in NYC – had a great dinner at Bond45, hopped over to Times Square to be a tourist and hit an Irish Pub.  Tried something interesting and different I thought I would share.  A shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pickle juice.  Yes – you read that correct – a shot of pickle juice.  I joined my friends just as they were preparing to do this shot and really had no desire to try it.  But you know what happens when you are with friends – you fall to peer pressure.  I was surprised that the combination actually worked.  Had another a little later for good measure too!  No hangover the next day – bonus!  I didn’t know what it was called so when I got home the next day – I Googled it.  It is called a PickleBack.  I thought it was interesting that the best places use homemade pickle brine – who knew!  I checked the Irish Pub’s cocktail menu and this isn’t on the menu so I have no idea if their pickle juice is from  homemade pickles or from a jar of Vlasic’s!

So off to Tampa I went for MLK weekend for my goddaughter’s baptism.  It was a wonderful family event.  A family tradition is having a baby Guinness.  So I had to have one to be considered part of the family.  🙂  Note – this doesn’t have any Guinness in it at all.  It is a shot of Cafe Patron with Bailey’s poured over the back of a spoon – giving the shot the look of a Guinness.  All I can say is YUM!!  This will be on the tailgating menu this fall.  🙂

Technique for getting the true Guinness look.

Technique for getting the true Guinness look.

The final product - yum!

The final product – yum!

Dusting off an Old Favorite

Good afternoon. Happy Saturday. Hope you are staying warm.

Although I  enjoyed my Christmas and New Year’s with my family – it wasn’t without some not so fun times.  I’ve been sick since the Monday before Christmas.  I thought it was just a bad cold but it gradually got worse.  I finally went to the Doctor’s on Thursday (they squeezed me in – thank goodness) before the big storm.  I have a bacterial infection and I’m on the mend thanks to the zip pack I was given.  I’m actually getting some energy back. (Yeah!)

I’ve been laying low – getting rest, drinking lots of liquids and even eating soup.  I’ve missed working out (I’ve gotten a few walks in) and hope to get back on track on Monday.

Last weekend I dusted off a simple, favorite breakfast from my childhood.  Soft boiled eggs!  I did a couple of google searches on the timing – as although I like my eggs over easy – I like my soft boiled eggs really an in between version of hard / soft boiled eggs.

Here is my recipe:

  • 2 – 3 room temperature eggs
  • bring a pot of water on high to a slow boil
  • add the room temperature eggs to the water
  • set timer to 6 minutes (while eggs are cooking – toast you favorite bread or english muffins)
  • once timer goes off take pot off of the burner – add cool water
  • quickly peel eggs
  • chop up eggs in a bowl – salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve with buttered toast or english muffins

A picture from my breakfast this morning:

Soft boiled eggs (2) with English Muffins (Thomas' of course)

Soft boiled eggs (2) with English Muffins (Thomas’ of course)

Enjoy!

The Coveted Christmas Present

In our family there is a present we all receive – it isn’t an expensive gift.  It is a gift of time and tradition. It is a treat from my childhood and it was made for special events.  I think the first version of it was the Chex mix that my grandmother made.  And at some point became the Crispix Mix.  A nice savory treat.

I’m not quite sure when my Mom started giving it to us as one of our gifts.  I do know she has expanded as to who receives one.  There isn’t just one for each household – each member of each household gets their own tin.  And it is coveted!  🙂  This year my Mom added an additional one a House Mix – for the family hosting Christmas (and for sharing with guests).  It was yummy as usual (recipe posted below).

Not much left of my mix (note:  it was a small tin) :-)

Not much left of my mix (note: it was a small tin) 🙂

Crispix Party Mix (Xs 2)

  • 3 T margarine or butter (my Mom uses margarine, but I’ve asked her to try unsalted butter for next year) (although if I only have a portion of 3T of margarine a year – I don’t think it will kill me)
  • 1 t Season-All Seasoned Salt
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 4 t Worcestshire Sauce
  • 6 Cups Crispix Cereal
  • 1 Cup Pretzels
  • 1 Cup Salted Mixed Nuts
  1. Melt margarine or butter in a 13x9x2 inch pan in a 250 degree oven.  Once melted remove from oven.  Stir in Season-all, lemon juice and Worcestshire Sauce.
  2. Add Crispix, Pretzels & Nuts – stirring until coated.
  3. Bake at 250 degree for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Spread on absorbent paper to cool (brown paper bages work well).
  4. Yields 8 cups

Enjoy!