Cocktails

Orangeade Recipe

Who’s completely sick of winter? ME!

I was totally feeling stuck inside and done with the cold and wind when I decided to make myself a little treat that reminded me of summer and fun. Orangeade! This came about because I happened to have fresh oranges and was in a cranky mood about the weather. Nothing like a citrusy drink to pick me up, and it goes to show what you can do with things on hand and a little imagination.

Orangeade

  • 5 fresh oranges
  • 1 liter of sparkling apple or tangerine drink from Trader Joe’s OR Sprite/Sierra Mist
  • Fresh fruit for garnish (apple, orange, cherries, whatever you want)

Roll each orange before cutting it to release some of the juices. It really does make a difference with how much juice you can get out of it.

Slice each orange down the middle and squeeze each half with one hand while using your other hand as a strainer to catch any pits before they end up in the juice. You can always just strain all of the juice afterwards to if you prefer to do that.

Once you’ve squeezed all your oranges, add the sparkling juice or soda for some fizz.

Cut up your fruit and drop into the pitcher. Save some for a garnish when you serve. I used granny smith apple slices because I love the apple taste when it’s soaked in the orange juice.

And that’s it! Pretty simple and seriously made me so happy to have a nice tropical tasting drink on a dreary day. Also, totally going to make this again and add some rum or tequila over the summer for a cocktail.

Cheers!

Anniversary Dinner at Sonsie, Boston

Crazy but true, Dane and I just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary! This past year really flew by. Of course we celebrated our anniversary with a delicious dinner.

Dane surprised me and chose a restaurant from our Wish List. I had no idea where we were going, which is half the fun sometimes. We headed into Boston and started walking. We passed so many restaurants, and I kept thinking every one must be where we were headed. Then we finally stopped at Sonsie on Newbury Street and I was so excited.

I loved Sonsie from the second we stepped foot inside. It was warm and cozy with a great lounge feel. Upscale but comfortable at the same time. We first went to the bar and got a drink while our table was prepared. Within 5 minutes it was ready and we made our way to the dining room.

We settled in at our table and were greeted with cava because it was our anniversary. I had never had cava before, but it’s a Spanish sparkling wine which is produced using the same method as champagne. Since the term “champagne” is reserved strictly for sparkling wines made in the Champagne region in France, cava is Spain’s version. Now we had our drinks and cava to enjoy. Off to a great start.

For an appetizer, we decided to give the Olives a try. Best idea ever. I can honestly say this was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. I’m a HUGE fan of olives. A few varieties of olives (kalamata, green, and black) were served heated in a iron skillet, along with a bean dip and rosemary foccacia bread. I want to go back immediately just for a martini and this appetizer.

We probably could have stopped there and been perfectly content, but we ordered our meals. I went with the grilled sirloin, and Dane ordered the lamb.

And it was all fantastic. I couldn’t finish it all after our appetizer, but it was really hard to finally put down my fork and knife and concede that I was full. Dane managed though, as he usually does.

We couldn’t say no to dessert after looking quickly at the menu. The Cocoa Nib caught both our attention. Pizzeles, rum bananas, caramel and Nutella swirl ice cream. It lived up to all our expectations.

Anyone want to go to Sonsie with me for a cocktail and some olives? That is, if you can get me to share! We highly recommend Sonsie to anyone, especially if you’re looking for a new place for a nice meal, a lounge atmosphere, or a cafe. Sonsie has a little bit of everything for everyone.

Sonsie on Urbanspoon

Meet you there!

Wine Tasting on a Yacht (fancy right? sort of.)

I have a problem with any food related group buying deal. I get three every day to my inbox: Groupon, BuyWithMe, and Living Social Boston. If it’s something more unique – a festival, showcase, or experience – you can pretty much bet that I’ll purchase it. And that’s how our wine tasting and jazz cruise on a yacht happened.

On a Sunday afternoon we boarded the Princess Yacht from Rowes Wharf in Boston. We grabbed a table near the jazz band. The band consisted of two guys in costumes. Not really sure why they were wearing the outfits they chose, it didn’t really seem to fit the feel of the event. But they were good, so I’ll let the weird jackets and hats go.

I’m not sure what I had in my head for the trip. Wine tastings generally mean to me that someone will be telling you about the wines as you taste them, or be available to answer questions. This was more get-all-the-wine-you-can-before-we-get-back-to-the-dock cruise.

Since there didn’t seem to be much of an order to things, we just jumped in, grabbed some wine and some appetizers and enjoyed the music. A few people seemed to think the pita chips and grapes were meant to be a full meal. It was kind of amazing to me how much they brought back. Two people at our table literally had 5 plates full of the snacks in front of them. We had a small plate between the two of us to snack on. They must have been super hungry.

We had a good time on the cruise and enjoyed the wine and the conversation with our fellow cruisers. The view was lovely too. I always love seeing Boston from the water. Such a pretty city.

With an open mind, this was a great afternoon. Anyone walking on and expecting a very high end experience with servers for each table would have been disappointed.

I would not have purchased tickets to this on my own, but because they were discounted it was a great Sunday afternoon event. Tickets are regularly priced at $110 each and BuyWithMe had them for about $50 each. I am all about a good deal. What girl isn’t? Cheers!

Barrio, Minneapolis, MN

I really ate like a queen in Minneapolis. After our eventful dinner at the News Room, we went back to Minneapolis and decided to have lunch across the street at Barrio Tequila Bar. Yes, a tequila bar. For lunch. Don’t judge us.

Barrio has a really funky and fun energy. At around 1pm during the week it was packed with local professionals taking a time out for lunch on the patio and inside the restaurant (I happened to visit during a freakishly hot week in May so patio seating was in full effect). We waited about 10 minutes for a seat, which was well worth it.

We were seated upstairs, which was great because a) we were inside in the air conditioning while it was 90 degrees out with 100% humidity (maybe a slight exaggeration, but not by much); and b) we got this view of the restaurant:

First we ordered some margaritas. You can’t go to a tequila bar without ordering one. It’s basically a rule. I went with the Cesar Chavez, described as Barrio’s “Champion Margarita”. Sam ordered something equally delish, though to be honest I can’t remember which one she got. All I know is I tasted it and it was fabulous as well.

Barrio has 117 tequilas on hand. This was fascinating to me because although I love trying different beers and wines to enjoy the flavors, I had never actually thought about the differences in types of tequila. Each one has it’s own tasting notes and geographical region and you can order a shot of any of the 117 varieties. Barrio also gives suggestions on “compadres” (companions to the tequila, like different juices, beer, or soda) to pair with the tequila. Although we stuck with our margaritas for lunch, I’d love to learn a little more about the tequilas at Barrio.

We had a hard time choosing one thing to eat for lunch, so we ended up doing a couple of small plates. It was a great idea because the plates had about enough for the two of us to try, then we could have something new.

Things were super spicy, which made me thankful for my margarita. I’m not very brave when it comes to spicy food, but everything was so fresh and good that I kept eating even when my mouth felt like it was on fire. To a normal person, the level of spiciness would be fine. What can I say, I’m kind lame with that sort of thing.

Again, a Minneapolis restaurant really impressed me. Barrio was an awesome place to have lunch with my bestest, enjoy a cocktail, and take in some local city atmosphere. Cheers!

The News Room, Minneapolis, MN

We ate a lot in Minneapolis. After Jucy Lucy’s and my first Sonic experience, we went into Minneapolis to enjoy dinner at one of Sam and Jason’s frequent dinner picks, The News Room. We unknowingly walked into what would be one of the more eventful dinners any of us had ever had.

First off, the News Room is really cool inside. The walls look like giant newspapers complete with headlines from history making events. It’s funky and comfortable and I was really excited to eat there. We chose to sit outside on the patio right on the Nicollet Mall because it was a beautiful night in the city. We ordered some drinks and started perusing the menus.

We chatted with the friendly and sarcastic waiter (definitely enjoyed his sense of humor) and ordered our meals. I think we were all very happy with our choices. The service was quick, but laid back enough that we could sit for a while and talk while we sipped our drinks without feeling rushed.

Dinner was great, and when we were all finished we ordered another round of drinks and had a little surprise come visit us. As I mentioned, we were outside on the patio. Our table was right next to the glass windows of the restaurant. This was apparently the perfect recipe for this little guy.

Chirpy got a little confused and flew into the glass window, landing right on our table. He looked a little discombobulated and confused, and just sat in this same position for about 20 minutes with us. Our waiter came by and asked “Do you want me to move that?” and we said no. We just wanted him to feel better and he really wasn’t bothering us at all. After about 20 minutes, Jason, being the caring person he is, asked out loud “Do you think he broke his leg?”. As soon as he said it, Chirpy stood up, shook himself off and flew away. I guess he just needed some time to regain himself.

So we continued enjoying our drinks and the company on the News Room patio. A few minutes later the patio got another visitor of the angry yelling kind. A man walked up to the patio and started yelling incoherently at another table of customers. The manager came out to talk with him and asked him to leave. After a few minutes he finally walked away, but then backed up, yelled at us, and continued on his way.

After that, our evening finished up pretty quietly. Dinner was fantastic, the service was great, and the drinks were delicious. If you’re in the area, stop by and enjoy!

Zaftigs, Brookline

While Sam was visiting I took Monday morning off. It was the perfect time to sleep in, then go to brunch before heading into work. When we were deciding where to go for brunch I mentioned Zaftigs. Sam said she had never been, and our decision was made.

Zaftigs in Brookline is always busy. Even on a Monday morning there was a fair share of people eating brunch. This was nothing compared to the wait on a Saturday or Sunday. But the food makes the time worth it. We sat right down and started perusing the menu.

Two best friends having brunch definitely called for mimosas. We started with the bagel chips they brought out (with a really yummy dipping sauce) and our brunch cocktails.

For our brunch, Sam ordered the french toast with strawberries. I ordered the Vermont Cheddar and apple omelet. I was intrigued by the combination of cheese and apples.

Everything was so delicious! The omelet with the combination of Cheddar and apples was fantastic. It was a great combination of salty and sweet. Also, the hash browns were AWESOME. Crispy, salty, and perfectly done. Sam was equally happy with her french toast, even though she couldn’t finish it all. The slices were huge! All those bagel chips probably didn’t help either.

And don’t forget the mimosas. Go get one.

As usual, Zaftigs was awesome. The staff is always friendly and efficient, even when there’s a long line of people waiting to get in. Brunch is great, but dinner and lunch are equally yummy. Try to go at an off time. Saturday and Sunday mornings are incredibly busy, so you’ll need some patience while you wait. It’s also easier to find parking during off times.

See you again soon, Zaftigs!

Zaftigs Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Disney World: Part 1

As you may or may not know, Dane and I recently went to Disney World in Orlando with our bestest friends, Sam and Jason. We had so much fun with them! It’s always good to have friends who are equally excited as you to see Mickey and Minnie, or to go on It’s a Small World, or to find Mickey Mouse shaped food.

There’s way too many things I want to share, so I’m declaring this Disney World Week. Get ready for some posts of all the food we ate and fun we had!

Our first day was spent at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a park none of us had ever gone to. This was also the day we chose to celebrate Dane’s birthday because it was two days earlier on March 11. We made reservations at one of his favorite restaurants, The Rainforest Cafe (don’t ask why, I have no idea, he just loves it). We surprised him later that day with reservations at T-Rex (same chain as Rainforest Cafe, but dinosaurs!) in Downtown Disney.

We worked up an appetite by walking around the park all day. There was a fun safari, the rollercoaster Expedition Everest, and of course those beloved Disney characters. (We had the Disney Photopass and purchased a CD with all our photos taken from each park by the professional photographers stationed around. They even do fun photos with effects!)

We obviously had a great time in the park, and at lunch in the Rainforest Cafe. It was located right in Animal Kingdom and was a great place to stop and eat so that we could sit and relax for a bit before heading out again. Most other options for eating are grab and go or fast food (burgers, fries, etc.). It was good to have some other options.

That night we headed to Downtown Disney for Dane’s birthday dinner. The line at T-Rex was insane when we got there, luckily we had made reservations. Major tip if you are headed to Disney, if you are hoping to sit down at eat at any of the restaurants in any park or Downtown Disney, make reservations early! We planned ahead and made our reservations for the meals we wanted to sit down about 3 weeks before our trip. You would not believe how hard it is to find a place where you can order and sit that isn’t cafeteria style without reservations.

This place was really cool.  I’m not a huge fan of theme restaurants, but I was impressed by the way this place was decorated. Every 22 minutes there was a meteor shower, which turned the “ice” area in the restaurant red and the “sky” would light up.

After some exploring we ordered our dinner and drinks. I was intrigued by the Cotton-tini, a martini poured over cotton candy. We all ordered a different T-Rex cocktail, each coming in a souvenir glass (touristy to the max). But all were very yummy.

We were looking forward to some good food after the long day of walking around in the sun. And the food was actually really good.

I had the Fire Roasted Chicken (chicken with red skin mashed potatoes and veggies). Dane got the Boneyard Buffet (chicken and ribs with waffle fries). Sam went with the Layers of Earth Lasagna and Jason went with the Bronto Burger. Interesting menu item names, for sure.

Overall, the T-Rex Restaurant was a blast. We all enjoyed the food and drinks. And honestly, where else do you get to sit next to a stegosaurus during a meteor shower? Our waiter was really funny and helpful too. There are only two T-Rex Restaurant locations: Orlando and Kansas City. If you’re going to be in either area, go engage your inner child and have some fun!

Marissa’s Guide to Trader Joe’s Wine

Please join me in welcoming back Marissa, my go to person for all things wine related. You may remember her post about wine tasting 101 from a few months ago. I asked her back to give us her picks for wines from Trader Joe’s, a store that has a special place in my heart for their affordable wine selections. Leave your love for her!

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It’s easy to walk into Trader Joe’s and head directly for the $3-buck Chuck. And granted: you won’t likely be disappointed. But, if you’re eager to try something new (bond with mom! impress your date! wow your friends!) and still find wine shopping intimidating, here’s a shopping list that won’t steer you wrong.

In honor of Spring fast approaching, this list focuses on non-vintage-specific zingy, casually-drinkable, bright, white wines, along with a few meals you might want to try them out with.  All this, and their price points keep them well within party wine territory.

Light Whites
King Shag Sauvignon Blanc ($8). Okay, this wine is really what I’d classify as a perfect summer white, but: who can wait for that? This is my absolute go-to wine at Trader Joe’s. It’s tasty, crowd-pleasing, and as I already mentioned: inexpensive. Tart, but smooth.

Best pairings: A shrimp cocktail, or any kind of non-spicy sushi. The acidity in this white will really intensify any spicy dish, so try to stick to fresh, simple flavors. Or, if you’re me, Keebler Club crackers with Cracker Barrel cheddar as I make my real dinner.

Caves des Perrières Pouilly Fumé Sauvignon Blanc ($11). The perfect wine to treat yourself to mid-week after a hard day, this is also the most expensive in the bunch. But this wine’s label makes it look even more expensive than it is, which makes it perfect to bring as a hostess gift to a party you know the wine won’t really be appreciated, but instead drunk after everyone else has had beer #3, or #5, or #12. I first drank this wine while reading Julia Child and Alex Prudhomme’s My Life in France on my couch last summer. The harmony of wine-with-book cemented this wine’s place in my heart, and my dreams of visiting the Loire Valley were at an all-time high.

Best pairing: A chicken or Cornish game hen roasted with sliced lemon and shallots, a tuna or salmon steak, or a homemade pesto over pasta topped with goat cheese and pignoli nuts.

Heavy Whites
Echelon Chardonnay ($9). Categorizing this as a heavy white feels a little dishonest, because it has some  significant acidity to it, making it more refreshing than other headier chardonnays. That quality makes this wine pretty versatile, which is why it shows up on more than a few restaurant wine lists.  With notes of pineapple and pear, the Echelon chardonnay is YUM-MY. That’s a technical term. Learn it. Use it. Love it.

Best pairing: A pasta dish with olives, any cut or preparation of pork with pears. The sweetness and acidity will work with salty-sweet dishes.  I’d also drink this in these last few days of winter with a kale and cannellini bean stew.

Pancake Cellars Big Day White ($6). I love this wine. It’s cheap, and simple, but I love everything about it from the taste to the packaging to the price. 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 27% Chardonnay, 12% Gewürztraminer, 1% Pinot Blanc, this is truly the mutt of white wines. It tastes most like a Chardonnay, despite its second place in the laundry list, and you should buy a few at a time for your personal, at-home happy hours this spring.

Best pairing: Spring mix salads, baked chicken with artichokes and roasted red peppers, any creamy sauced-pastas, hummus and toasted pita points, mushroom risotto, soba noodles in a peanut sauce. I could go on. This wine is cheap enough to try with just about anything and then decide if you like it or not.

If you’re new to wine, you’ll probably notice that I ignored the “rule” of whites with pasta, reds with meat. Why? Because, in short, that’s complete junk and you should try to forget you ever heard it. Try instead to focus on pairing lighter dishes with white wines, and heavier meats and sauces with red wines. Think of it like bringing personalities together: you’ll do well gathering people who like to make jokes with people who like to laugh—not uber-shy wallflowers. You don’t want the wine to overpower the food, or the food to overpower the wine. You want them to come together harmoniously, play nice, and grow to be best friends.

As always, happy drinking!

-Marissa

Bloggers at Audobon Circle

I love this fantastic community of bloggers I’ve found. I never would have thought when I started writing that I’d end up getting to know people all over the place, not to mention getting together with them for drinks!

Last week I met up with some fantastic bloggers in the Boston area at Audobon Circle. I got there early with beccajane to stake out our table (that, coincidentally, was a sharpened to a point at one end). We checked in on foursquare, to find that Susan was actually sitting right behind us. Thank goodness for foursquare!

Slowly the bloggers trickled in. We shared some drinks, I had some dinner, and we tried some amazing treats that Pam of Cave Cibum brought with her. It’s always great to catch up with everyone after reading each others’ blogs so often.

I wish I had more time to talk to everyone. I feel like I didn’t get to say hi and chat with each person there. Thanks everyone for a fun time!

A Sweet Ending to a Cheesy Dinner

After our macaroni and cheese dinner, I decided to be all lovey and mushy for our guests. It was time to break out the fondue pot and melt some chocolate for dipping! I picked up some yummy snacks that would be perfect for dipping, and started the prep.

Side note: The fondue set is from my niece who gave it to me for Mother’s Day when she was almost 1 years old. Or at least that’s what my sister tells me. I have a feeling my sister, Jenna, might have actually picked it out, but who knows. Abby can be very demanding when she wants something.

So back to melted chocolate. I washed and cut strawberries, broke up some pieces of graham cracker, cut pound cake into cubes, and sliced some banana to make a pretty arrangement for dipping. I melted the chocolate, and here’s the key, it was chocolate MADE for melting. If you buy some Hershey bars, you will not get the rich dippable chocolate you think of for fondue. I bought mine in bags at a craft store in the baking aisle. You can also find the chocolate wafers online at sites like Amazon.

Of course we couldn’t just have chocolate fondue. We had some champagne, so we popped open a bottle and served it with fresh strawberries. So yummy.

Then we were ready for some fun. With champagne glass in hand, we got to the dipping. There were a few times that our fruit or cake went overboard and we had to do a search and rescue to find it in the chocolate. I would recommend keeping a spoon or two handy, just in case that happens.

The boys, Dane and Derek, eventually started to play with their food and made sandwiches and went shish kabob style for their dipping, which was entertaining.

But I’ll leave you with this. My favorite shot of the night. Pretty sure there’s nothing better.

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