Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review: Holiday Drinks with Cascade Ice

I'm not normally a sugary-cocktail kind of girl. I like the classics, of course: gin/vodka and tonic, margaritas (over ice, no salt) -- but I generally avoid things like cosmos or anything electric-colored. Two reasons: 1) the calories will destroy any attempt at healthy eating, and 2) the sugar/carbonation gives me tummy aches.

I was sent some samples of Cascade Ice sparkling waters to try these little bottles of zero-calorie, sugar-free flavored sparkling water, and of course I love to oblige. They're gluten-free, sodium-free, carb-free...vice-free, really. Sounded good on paper. I have to confess, though, that I really hate the flavored carbonated water you can get at grocery stores. They always taste super artificial and sweet.

Not these little guys, though. I gave the coconut-flavored water a try after a workout, and I gotta say, it's lovely. It actually tastes like coconut. It's light and refreshing without being too sweet or too bubbly. I bet with a couple tablespoons of coconut milk, pineapple juice, and a splash of rum, you'd have a super delish and skinny pina colada. The margarita mix is a fabulous substitute for the nasty mixer you buy at the store, and the cosmopolitan mixer is one even I would combine with vodka.

If you want to avoid alcohol all together, these would make awesome mocktails  - especially for a baby shower. Just pour over ice (I'm sipping some sparkling lemonade as we speak).

Here are some recipes I'd like to try to for the holidays:

Cascade Ice Pink Grapefruit Pineapple Punch
8 oz Cascade Ice Grapefruit
1/2 cup sugar-free pineapple juice
1 cup ice
(optional: maybe some vodka and some pomegranate seeds for fun)

White Wine Spritzer
8 oz Cascade Ice Sparkling Lemonade
4 oz Pinot Grigio
1 sprig mint

Or try my tinto de verano recipe with the sparkling lemonade!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Give thanks and drink up!

this post was sponsored by Cascade Ice. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

White Bean Chicken Chili

Fall classics are sometimes the best meals. Take chili, for example. My all-time favorite chili recipe is still my grandpa's chili, but chicken chili is a nice change-up: it's lighter, kind of more stew-ish than chili.

This recipe can be done in a couple of hours, or you can throw all the ingredients in the crock pot and set on high/4 hours - low/8 hours.

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 cans cannellini beans, drained but not rinsed
1 tbsp jalapenos 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Chicken broth
1.5 cups frozen spinach

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1. In a large dutch oven, saute the chicken on both sides until browned. 
2. Chop jalapenos, onions and garlic. Add to the pan with the chicken. Add in the drained beans, spinach, and chicken broth. Use enough chicken broth to just cover the ingredients.

3. Cover, and bake for 1.5-2 hours or until the chicken falls apart. Shred up the chicken. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese or a dollop of sour cream, and a wedge of lime.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Good Morning: Blueberry Coffee Cake

There's nothing better on a fall(!) morning that something baking in the oven. Especially if that something is really easy and comforting. Enter coffee cake.

I LOVE coffee cake. Pairs perfectly with coffee, obviously, but the buttery-ness, crunchy topping, and soft fluffy cinnamon-flavored insides make me feel so fuzzy inside.

Justin and I both love blueberries, so I thought I'd add a little extra touch to make them special for this gorgeous fall morning.

A little something sweet to make the day.

1 box coffee cake mix (or cinnamon streusel)
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup milk
1/4 oil (I used coconut oil)
1 tbsp butter
2 eggs
1 bag frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
1. Melt the coconut oil. Whip it with the eggs, vanilla, and milk. Add in the cake mix and whisk until incorporated.
2. Butter a medium-sized baking dish. Tumble in the frozen blueberries. Pour the batter over the blueberries. Combine the butter with the streusel topping and crumble it over the top of the batter.
3. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the batter has cooked through (test it with a wooden toothpick).


Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Farewell to Summer

Summer is officially wrapping up, and I'm actually a little sad about this one.

Every other year, I'm happy to say goodbye to summers, because summer in St. Louis is usually as hot and humid as Satan's butthole.

This year, though, it was actually temperate. We didn't go higher than 95 for too many days, and I actually had a chance to, you know, go outside and enjoy the sunshine (hence the lack of blogging.)

This morning was the first morning where that hint of autumn came into the air, and so I'm starting to feel like it's time to pack up the shorts and break out the pumpkin spice.

So, a recap on summer...

Toasted ravioli.

Stocking up.

Stocking up some more from DiGregorio's on the Hill (10-lb bag of pasta? Sure!)

Bad day pasta.
Pasta with french fries on top. Because I said so.
And you get to take out all your frustrations on the sauce (click it, I promise it'll make you feel better).

More starchy fatty goodness? That's what my summer is all about, bikinis be damned.

Summer isn't summer without a Cards game.

Or a weekend at the lake.

We also went out to eat a few times...


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Good Morning: Breakfast Polenta

Some mornings you need a little extra to get yourself going, particularly if the night before involved a little more wine than you had anticipated. A bit extra oomph in your breakfast will help soak up last night's bad decisions and course correct for the rest of the day.

Enter, breakfast polenta.

Bacon, cheese, and creamy grits are the bed for ... what else ... a fried egg.

1 cup polenta 
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
4 slices bacon
1 ounce smoked gouda
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Eggs for frying


1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add a good pinch of salt. Whisk in the polenta and reduce to low. Stir regularly(i.e., don't go on Pinterest for 20 minutes and let your polenta slowly roast to the bottom of the pan. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything...). Add milk as you need it to loosen the polenta. Let this cook for 30 minutes or so until finished - depending on whether you have instant polenta or traditional, your cook time will vary. Check the packaging for exact timing, because I never truly know.

2. Fry up bacon. Mmm, bacon. 

Once, Justin said that they should include the sound of sizzling bacon to those 
soothing sleep sound machines. I don't disagree.

3. When your polenta is cooked through (smooth to the taste, not gritty) add in some shredded smoked gouda and parmesan. Season to taste. Crumble in bacon.

4. Fry egg. If you're going for a photogenic sunny-side-up, try putting a lid on the pan to encourage the steam to cook the top of the egg so you don't have to flip.

Lastly, serve up with a little extra sprinkle of salt on top.

CAUTION: May require a mid-morning nap immediately after eating.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sips on Saturday: Grilled Peaches & Gin

Summertime is the perfect time for gin. I LOVE gin and tonics (and I've been told that I'm essentially an old lady because of that...but see if I care.

 Incidentally, it's also peach season. I thought it'd be a tasty marriage, and I was right. It's a jazzed-up classic with a little extra sweetness, a little floral-fruity note. Grilling the peaches brings out their flavor and adds a little caramel flavor in the background. Perfect for a hot St. Louis summer.

1 peach, sliced into wedges
1 lime, sliced into wedges
Tonic water
Optional: lemon verbena, mint


Sprinkle peaches with sugar. Grill for a few minutes per side or until you get some gorgeous marks.


Meanwhile, rub a lime on the rim of a glass and dip in sugar, just for a little extra something sweet.

Add the lime, a couple grilled peaches and some ice into the glass. Add your preferred amount of gin, tonic, and any optional herbs.

Happy Saturday, readers. 

Good Morning: The Cheshire Sunday Brunch

A couple weeks ago Justin and I treated ourselves to a Sunday brunch at the Cheshire Inn, which is just a couple blocks away from our house. Sometimes going out for breakfast is even better than going out for dinner, because then you have the whole day ahead of you and you've already indulged in a little outing. That way, you don't have to feel guilty about spending your fifth weekend in a row at home ;)

First, the biscuits. These came out free, like rolls at dinner. They were flaky and warm, served with a side of strawberry jam and butter. I could've eaten about 10 of these for breakfast alone.

I got the eggs benedict with the in-house smoked salmon. The kicker was that instead of an English muffin, it was served atop a super crunchy and creamy potato pancake (my Irish blood is swooning). The hollandaise had dill in it, which offered the perfect compliment. On the side, a little sauteed spinach to make it really savory.


Justin got the prime rib hash with potatoes, poached egg, and horseradish hollandaise. Served on the side, a little cup of au jus. This was also a winner, but probably could've benefited from a few more potatoes and a little less sauce. Still, it didn't stop us from snarfing it like champs.

If you look closely, you can see Justin's fork hovering impatiently over his breakfast like a hungry bird of prey.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

St Louis Summer

Summers in St Louis are usually hot, humid and sticky. This year, we've actually had a string of good luck with some cooler days, mostly in the 70s and 80s. As a result, we're already doing more things out doors, like Shakespeare in the Park

The best part about high culture outside? You get to bring your own wine. 
We opted for tinto de verano, my favorite summer drink.

Stocking up

The STL Art Museum at night

Summer is a great time to try other new refreshing drinks, like DeMun Oyster Bar's Lavender 75 - a mix of gin, sparkling wine, lemon juice, and lavender simple syrup. 

 Justin and I also celebrated our 3rd anniversary recently, and we went to 5 Bistro on the Hill. We both got the prix fixe menus, which I think allows you the best value for this restaurant. My only complaint is that I wanted more of everything.

Course 1:

Hers: asparagus with fried egg, Baetje Farms couer de la creme cheese, focaccia croutons, and balsamic reduction - 

His: Porcini mushroom fettuccine with microgreens

Course Two:

Hers: seared halibut with roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms and spring onion

His: Roasted leg of duck with mashed potatoes and jus

Course 3:

His: Bread pudding with vanilla ice cream

Hers: Chocolate pot a creme with honey crispies (don't know the proper term, but they tasted kind of like even-better Heath bars)

This meal inspired Justin and I to buy some goat cheese from Baetje Farms, a local cheese farm. We assembled a platter one night with the coeur de la creme cheese (a mild brie-like blend), olives, grapes, peaches, crackers, and proscuitto and speck from DiGregorio's on the Hill. 

I can personally vouch for the proscuitto di Parma from DiGregorio's as being the BEST I've had since I lived in Italy. Plus, they had 10-lb bags of pasta for $10. You know I bought one.

I could eat two of these for dinner.

Next on the STL Summer bucket list: Ted Drewes, a Cardinal baseball game, the Whittaker Musical Festival at the botanical garden (more wine and picnics!), the Zoo, and farmers markets galore.

What are your plans this summer?


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