Sunday, February 28, 2010

Restaurant Review: Seasons 52, Palm Beach Gardens FL

One of the restaurants we tried during our week in West Palm Beach was Season’s 52.  

From their website;  Seasons 52 is a fresh grill and wine bar that invites guests to discover the sensational flavors of a seasonally-inspired menu and award-winning international wine list in a casually-sophisticated ambiance.

I don’t think that review does it justice.  This restaurant was right up my alley.  According to the menu, all items are under 475 calories, the menu changes seasonally to fresh foods available, live music in the bar area, and they have an award winning wine list!   It’s like my dream restaurant.  OK, but that’s all well and good, but how was the food?

Let me show you…

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Delicious vino.

We ordered 3 items off the menu because we were having such a hard time choosing.

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Wood roasted pork tenderloin on soft corn polenta with wilted spinach, cremini mushrooms and sherry glaze.

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Grilled tofu, butternut squash, bosc pears, cranberry almond tabbouleh, asparagus and broccoli. 

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And the special of the day; roasted red Florida grouper over shitake risotto with seasonal vegetables. 

We hated it.

I’d like to say that Ava helped us, but she watched while drinking her post pureed dinner, bottle.  

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However, she was a fan of the restaurant as you can see. 

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I tried a new merlot from Jumilla, called Honoro Vera.  Surprisingly fruity, but in a lush velvety way.  A nice spicy and smokey finish really made this one different than a lot of merlots.  I would definitely look for it again!

We passed up dessert at the restaurant, because I had picked up this monstrous cookie beast earlier in the day at Whole Foods.  (aka whole paycheck.)   Oh yes I did!  I was only going to eat half…but it was to good to leave alone.  It’s all about balance right?  

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swoons..  I <3 big chewy oatmeal raisin cookies. 

Season’s 52 was superb, outstanding service and fabulous food.   We only wished that there was one in Arizona so we could go back again and again!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bi-coastal Baby and Floridian Feast

Ava has accomplished seeing both coasts in her 7 short months of life.  I’m not sure which she likes better the Atlantic or the Pacific.  I know I just like being near any ocean myself. 

Ava has turned out to be a great traveler – despite a full day of travel, she was her happy self throughout the day, wowing all of the fellow passengers. Oh, and cutting her second tooth at the same time. 

To make up for the two flights plus layover to get here, we took her swimming at the first chance we had. 

Swimming at the pool … she loves the water! DSC01770

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Besides south Florida being one of my favorite places, it also happened to be my friend Tisha’s daughter’s first birthday. At Romy’s birthday party…

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Tisha and her family put out a great spread of seafood.  Oh, how I love fresh fish.  Somehow food (especially seafood) just tastes better here than at home.  Is it the humidity?  The lovely ocean air?

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Sorry for the poor picture quality/lighting.  I was trying to take pictures without disrupting everyone while eating.  Besides the beautiful fresh swordfish, there is shrimp cocktail, fresh oysters, and crab claws with a mustard sauce.  Foodgasmic for sure! !

The last photo is Romy with her big birthday cake.  Delish coconut cream made by one of grandpa’s patients.   Darn, I forgot to photograph the bottle of Dom Perignon we had with dessert.  What a fun evening!

Ava watching Romy have fun with her cake… and secretly wishing she could be digging her fingers into it as well.

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The aftermath of Romey’s cake eating…DSC01820

Tired at the end of a long day of partying…

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More fun and photos to be coming soon!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Easy Appetizer Night

Back in my single days, Friday night meant happy hour with my girlfriends.  Countless Fridays were spent eating half priced appetizers, sushi, and having a glass of two of wine, while catching up on our weeks.  Then, after marriage, Friday night was still for happy hour, but typically with other couples, or sometimes still with the girlfriends while Scott played tennis or grabbed a beer with a buddy.  Then, after Ava was born, we’d bring her with us and she’d sleep through happy hour or lately, try to help herself to our adult beverages.

So, I think we’ve pretty much hit the point where she is harder to bring to restaurants, and so we’ve been doing Friday nights at home.  But…we still like to make it Friday night happy hour’esque.

We start with a little vino – a delicious merlot.

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Then I pulled these little snacks from Trader Joe’s out of the freezer.  I had not tried them before and thought they sounded good.  Unfortunately, I forgot to buy cucumber so mine didn’t look like the picture.

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The dipping sauce concoction that was suggested on the back of the wonton bag, and cocktail sauce for the shrimpies.

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I made a few stuffed mushrooms.  The filling was diced up mushrooms, onion, and spinach, seasonings and baked with crumbled goat cheese on top. 

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A Flatbread pizza:  flatbread topped with pizza sauce, tomato, capers, mushrooms, spinach and mozzarella.

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Here’s plate numero uno.  

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I went back for more of everything except the wontons.  They were kind of blah.  Even with the dipping sauce, it just wasn’t my thing.  Maybe if I would have fried them instead of steaming?  Either way, I don’t think I’ll be getting them again.  Gosh, I think that’s a first that a Trader Joe’s product has failed me.  Oh well, everything else was great and that just left me with a little more room for dessert. 

What are your go to appetizers?  Do you ever make a meal out of appetizers and wine?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Have you been struck by Cupid?  What are you doing in honor of the day we celebrate love?  Is anyone celebrating tonight and taking tomorrow (President’s Day) off? 

We didn’t have any plans for the weekend other than Scott’s usual Saturday afternoon tennis league and making some crab legs for dinner last night as our “special dinner.”  Tonight, my mom is flying in to spend some time this week with Ava. 

We both wanted to get a workout in this morning so Scott and I traded off going to the gym.  He went first, and then I went and did a glorious 45 minute upper body workout.  I worked  triceps, biceps, and abs.  As a special treat I showered and got ready there.  (Our gym is also a spa, so the locker rooms/showers, are very nice!)  And on the way out of the gym, everyone received a long stem rose!  So you see, I was already feeling like a million bucks, but when I came home to this…

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Well, let’s just say, someone knows the way to my ‘heart.’   Cinnamon buns are among my favorite treats.   Not to mention having the house filled with cinnamon, doughy aroma. 

The recipe came from Happy Herbivore’s blog, so these little guys are vegan and call for  whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose, and applesauce in place of the butter for the filling.  So, as far as I can tell, they are actually healthy!  Or at least that’s my excuse for helping myself to one before I even set my gym bag down. 

The whole wheat flour gave them a heartier taste and texture, which I loved.  If you are looking for a light and fluffy cinnamon bun, then these would not be for you.  We agreed the only thing we would change is to up the amount of the yummy filling goodness.   Excellent snack that held me over quite well until lunch time.

And, my valentine was even more of a sweetheart, he took a few pictures along the way…

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Dough rolled out

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mmmmm frosting!!

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Wholesome whole wheat cinnamony love!

Did you notice the heart shaped pan?

And before I bode farewell and head to the airport, this is what we had last year for Valentine’s Day

Food and wine 007

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Product Review

Happy It’s Almost Friday day!  (IAF)  I always love Thursday.  It’s the day that’s so close to the weekend you can practically smell it.  My favorite class at the gym is on Thursdays and I can officially start making the “weekend list.”  Note, it’s a to do list, but the list is usually more fun activities than chores.  It’s my OCD tendency to want to make lists for everything – even if it’s just to be silly.  How ‘bout you, do you make lists?

Speaking of Thursdays, I went to my favorite class this morning – bootcamp!  It kicked my A$% today.  The instructor did 1 minute drills of high intensity cardio intertwined with some strength drills.  It was a great workout!  I’m dying to try swimming again now that the stitches are out.  Maybe tomorrow…

On to the food!

Over the past couple of weeks while my finger has been laid up, I have had to rely on more convenience products and shortcuts rather than my usual “from scratch when ever possible” mentality.  For instance, usually I would make chickpea patties/cutlets for lunch to use in sandwiches or crumble over a salad.  Luckily, I had a few premade and frozen when my accident happened, but they didn’t last long.  So, last week I bought this:

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I usually don’t like to eat “faux” meat type substitutes, but I also wanted to have some variety.  The Lightlife Smart Ground crumbles were actually much better than I expected.  (Although I am scared of “smart” products.) It wasn’t overly salty like some of the processed fake meats, and had a very neutral flavor.   My only “beef” with the product (oh, the silly puns I make huh) was the isolated soy protein that it contains.  I don’t mind soy protein, but the more processed isolates/concentrates I’m trying to cut down on.  The nutritionals: 70 calories per serving and 13 grams of protein, sodium was 310mg.

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  I served it over a salad and it was a nice substitute for my favorite chickpea patties.  Would I buy it again?  Probably, but only if I was in a bind…or a splint.  I like homemade better. 

Do you ever buy “substitutes?”   Either for meat, sugar, grains, etc.  What’s been your experience?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blogger Meet Up

Hi bloggie friends!  Guess what Ava and I did today?  We met up with Averie of Love Veggies and Yoga, and her lovely daughter, Skylar.  It was my first time meeting someone who’s blog I read.  Fun!

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Sadly, I only got one photo.  But, see Averie’s blog for more. 

We met at Press Coffee Food and Wine.  I love trying new non-chain type places for a good cuppa joe.  Cute place and some fantastic java.  We chatted it up over coffee for well over an hour.  It’s so fun getting to know new people, that I lose track of time.  Both Ava and Skylar were perfect little angels, patiently listening to us go on and on.   We can’t wait to get together again!

Later today I went to the gym for a quick 40 minute weight sesh.  Not gonna lie, it felt SO GOOD.  I got the stitches out of my finger yesterday, and I can finally lift my arm without shooting nerve pain from my finger.  I really enjoy exercise and consider it “fun.”  I think it has to do with having various injuries and illnesses over the years that have prevented me from being able to workout.  I now consider it almost a privilege to exercise and enjoy it because I can.   Came home and took a nice long walk with Scott, Ava, and Chase. 

It was a great day!

Question:  Have you ever met another blogger in real life?  Also, do exercise because it’s healthy, you know you should, weight control – or do you exercise because you enjoy it? 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Weekend Re-cap

Does the speed of time seem to double on weekends, or is it just me? 

We started the weekend with a little concert fun on Friday afternoon at the Borgata of Scottsdale.  The  band did a lot of covers of Beetles, Beach Boys, and Eagles which entertained Ava and the other casual shoppers.

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  We stayed for a little over an hour and then headed home to get Ava dinner.  After Ava’s dinner, it was the “4 B’s” bath, bottle, book, and bed.  Since it was after 7 p.m. by this time, our Friday night pizza night turned into some quick pizza flatbreads.  While we threw these together I nuked some popcorn.  DSC01666

By “nuke” I mean putting 1/2 popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag and microwaving for 3 minutes.  Sprayed with olive oil and topped with popcorn salt and nutritional yeast.   It held off the hungries long enough for us to make 2 sensational flatbread “pizzas.”

 Pizza Number 1:  pizza sauce, capers, mozzarella, mushrooms, parmesan and spinach.DSC01667

Pizza Number 2:  goat cheese, capers, tomatoes, arugula (from our garden,) tomatoes, and balsamic syrupDSC01674

Pizzas and popcorn enjoyed with a bottle of this:DSC01669

A recommendation from the wine gal at Trader Joe’s.  At first just ok, but when we added food – perfect.

Probably not the healthiest dinner, but it was fun, and it was certainly easy…what more can you ask for on a Friday night at home?

Saturday lunch was easy wraps with tofu, lettuce, tomato, onion, jicama with canned pumpkin as the spread.  I also drizzled a little of Averie’s Vegan Tahini Ceasar Dressing  Served with sauteed greens and TJ’s whole grain tortilla chips.  Holy Yum!

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Saturday night was out to celebrate Renee’s (pregnant chick) birthday – party.

For “Seafood Sundays” we were going to make jambalaya in honor of the Saints, but between other errands, the gym, and household cleaning, I was to lazy to go back to the store to get the items we needed.  So, we used the shrimp to make this easy dinner. 

Just sauteed onions and mushrooms in wine and olive oil.  Added capers and raw, shelled and deveined shrimp,a couple of mushrooms and let simmer for a few.   When shrimp were cooked, I threw in some fresh arugula and tomato.  Season with salt, pepper and parmesan.    Served a top whole wheat couscous.      

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It was a fast, but great weekend!

How abut you?  What did you do for weekend fun?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

( NON-FOOD RELATED)

Since I’ve been a little less than inspiring in the meals and recipes as of late, I thought I’d take time to chat about a couple of things I use daily that I love, love, love.  I always enjoy reading what bloggers like to use regarding skin care, accessories, appliances, etc.   I’ve learned about so many great products both food and non food related this way.  So, without further ado, here we go.

1.  Disposable dental  flossers:  Seriously, these have changed my oral hygiene life.  I hated flossing before.  Breaking off the floss, tying it around my fingers until I almost had no circulation, having floss break while in between teeth (?TMI) , etc.  I’d maybe floss a couple times a week, because it seemed like a hassle.  Now, not only do I not mind it, I almost look forward to flossing.  I’ve used all different brands and these are a couple of my favorites.

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Here’s a look at one close up.

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2.  Body Brush:  Do you “dry brush?”  I had never thought of using a body brush dry before showering until recently.  I read about some of the detoxifying, invigorating benefits here.  Like the Kombucha, I’m a little wary of anything that promises so many amazing results or “to good to be true” kind of mantras, but thought at least I could use it to scrub my back and gave it a try.  LOVE.IT!  I don’t think it is detoxifying my lymphatic system, or reducing cellulite, but I will testify that I’ve never had softer skin in my life!  I use it for about 2 minutes before hopping into the shower.  Easy, peasy, and the best $10 skincare product I’ve ever bought. 

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3. The Zyliss corkscrew.   I have had this corkscrew at least 10 years and I’ve never found another that is as easy or dummy proof as this one.  The true test is that I am still able to get a bottle of wine open with this and only the use of my left hand.  (Where there’s a will, there’s a way…lol.) What I really like is that it has the foil cutter right in there,  and all you have to do is twist the black top to get the cork out.  You don’t have to change twisting direction or anything.  Like I said Mo dummy proof!

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4.  Zazzle photo coffee cup:  It might have something to do with the fact that it is covered in pictures of my little peanut, but this is a great mug at a great price.  I have another with other photos that I’ve had for years, run through the dishwasher, and is still as vibrant as ever.  They are only about $9-14.  (I heart the pink inside.)

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So there you have it ladies and gents, a few of my favs.  I have lots more, so tell me if you like these kinds of posts. 

In other news, I was able to workout today!  I still have my stitches and splint, but the pain is much more bearable.  I did a 44 minute Power Circuit on ON DEMAND Exercise TV.  I didn’t push it to hard, but it felt amazing to do something.  I think I might even try my favorite Thursday morning Bootcamp class at the gym tomorrow. 

Question:  What are some of your favorites or “can’t live withouts?”

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weekend Eats and Drinks

Hey everyone!  Did you have a good weekend?  We had a beautiful weekend here in Scottsdale with lots of sunshine and great weather.   Not to mention, some beautiful food as well.

Friday night started with happy hour at the resort where Scott and I got married.  I had a lovely glass of chardonnay to start.  Ava apparently really wanted some of Scott’s zinfandel.

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(A girl after my own heart.)

We enjoyed more wine and appetizers while looking at the beautiful ‘Wolf Moon’ rise over the mountains.  Did you all see it? 

Saturday morning began with a trip to the Scottsdale Farmer’s Market.  We picked up some great veggies and had some fun tasting local teas and cheeses.   We made a fabulous salad with some of the loot. 

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A very fall-ish salad of mixed greens, roasted butternut squash, fennel, pomegranate arils, and fresh goat cheese.  The dressing added sweetness in the form of maple syrup, dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar. 

I also had a lot of this, my newest obsession:

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I know Kombucha has been raging around the blog world.  To be honest, when I first tried it last August, I just thought it was o.k.  I sort of drank it for all the health benefits it promised.  Which, really, do I believe?  Not sure, but somewhere in the middle of those first few bottles, I fell in love.  I absolutely crave that somewhat sweet, but mostly sour taste like it’s going out of style!  I’d drink it constantly if it weren’t for the hefty price. 

Of course, I didn’t only drink Kombucha, there was also a fair amount of this going in over the weekend.  Ah, red wine…my first love. 

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After a busy weekend we ended it with Seafood Sunday. 

Wild-caught cod that was baked with a bit of white wine, sprinkled with seafood seasoning, parmesan, capers and topped with fennel fronds.  It was a “sprinkle as you go” operation, so no measuring.  

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Served with brown rice and more gems from the Farmer’s Market the day before. 

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Not to mention a little more vino rojo. 

Question today:  Have you tried Kombucha?  If you have do you like it?  Do you believe in it’s health benefits?  Would love to hear your opinions.