Monday, May 27, 2013


Summer is officially here! Well, maybe not officially for a few more weeks, but good enough for me. Time for breakfasts eaten al fresco, BBQs and outdoor happy hours at home. Time for pool days and reading in hammocks. Time for evening fires and sandboxes and Rita's Italian Ice. Time for fresh fish caught off the boat, crab & avocado crostini and bowls of ripe berries.

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Vegas Love

You didn't think I'd go all the way to Vegas and not come home with a few pics to share, did you? ;) One of the things I love most about traveling is seeing the drastically different landscapes from around our country and the world.

Flying over the desert after coming from the east coast is so incredible. It's truly awe inspiring how different it is from our side of the country.

I was in Vegas for work so was pretty busy from dawn til dusk, but I did get a chance to explore a bit going back and forth to the conference center and eating out with clients. This was my fourth time to Vegas, but I love it more every single time I go.

The city is so over the top, but it's clean and exciting, the people are friendly, it's sunny and warm, and the architecture is just amazing. Every building has its own niche and allure, and whether it's trying a new restaurant by a celebrity chef, checking out the Bellagio fountain show, walking down the lit up strip at night or just gawking at the enormous casinos by day, I love this place.

It's just so beautiful. My conference was at The Venetian, right next to the indoor palazzo and gondola, so I was lucky to get to see it every day while grabbing coffee or food.

Or gelato...let's be serious, I did eat gelato for lunch one day. And it was amazing.

Other foodie faves of the trip included Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill, Gordon Ramsay's Pub & Grill, Payard Pattiserie and Beijing Noodle #9. We stayed at Caesar's Palace and the eats were pretty great there, no need to venture elsewhere at dinnertime.


Til we meet again, Vegas.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Strawberry Lover

Another week of travel has come to an end, this time from the bright lights of Las Vegas. I got home just in time for a special occasion...Matt's birthday! Once Riker was ready for bed, we had a babysitter come over for the evening so we could enjoy a birthday date night just the two of us. It was quite a change from the big bash we had last year, but we both needed a quiet evening. Matt was actually in the Bahamas last weekend for a bachelor party (I didn't mention it while he was away for safety reasons), and I left for Vegas before he got home, so a date night was just what we needed. We went to Fuji for some wine and sushi.

And this time we got to sit in one of the traditional kneeling tables since I remembered to call ahead for a reservation. I know it's silly, but there's something about sitting at that little table with my shoes off and my legs curled up on a cushion while I eat my sushi. Makes me feel a lil bit more special.

We ordered three specialty rolls to split, which were good as usual, but I actually liked our apps best. Seaweed salad is always a must, and Fuji's version has so much sesame flavor, I love it.

Matt spotted "tuna dumplings" on the apps menu, and we were intrigued and had to try them. Seriously, my new favorite thing ever. We each had one pouch of fresh Ahi tuna wrapped around a big mound of creamy avocado, and served with wasabi and miso sauces.

They look a little funky, but oh my word, SO good.

After dinner we went to see The Great Gatsby, which I couldn't wait for. I've always loved Gatsby - both the book and the original Robert Redford movie - and I'm a sucker for Leonardo DiCaprio. My good friend Julie works in the movie industry and was a promoter for Gatsby, so a few weeks ago she sent me some swag and free tix, woop! Such a great evening and perfect way to end a tiring week.


This morning I let Matt sleep in late while I got up early with Riker. Yogurt bowls were on the morning menu, along with a cup of steaming hot coffee. It was coooold this am.

I put the usual half a banana, drizzle of honey and chopped pecans on top of my Chobani this morning, but for a twist I tossed on a few of Riker's dehydrated banana chips and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. The banana chips were a great addition, they gave the bowl a nice crunch.

A much-needed lazy morning at home was preceded by our annual trip to the garden center. It's that time of year again!

We came away with two pallets filled with veggies, herbs, flowers and strawberry plants for our garden. I can't wait to get all these babies planted and growing. It's safe to say the strawberry plants will be Riker's favorite. He stole the only two red ones and gobbled them up before we even left, and kept saying "more, more" the rest of the time we were shopping.

That track suit is out of control. I can't stand how cute that kid is.

Dinner came together pretty quickly thanks to some prep work Matt took care of earlier in the day. He roasted off a bunch of beets that'd been sitting in our fridge for a while, so I took advantage of the freshly cooked veg to make a warm, earthy salad.

In the bowl:
- Mesclun greens
- Belgian endive (on its last legs and I barely saved it)
- Steamed green beans
- Roasted beets
- Cucumbers
- Goat cheese crumbles
- Toasted pecans

I dressed the salad simply with blueberry balsamic vinegar, then topped the bowls with blueberry pan-seared salmon. To cook the salmon, I heated coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and placed the filets in skin side down. While they were cooking, I basted the tops with a simple mixture of homemade blueberry jam and red wine vinegar; then I flipped them and cooked them on the other side for about 8 more minutes. I sprinkled them with citrus fleur de sel just before serving.

The salads were fantastic. We ate them with a glass of red wine at the bar after Riker went to bed.

I just finished cleaning up and Matt's out back building a fire, so I'm signing off to go spend this chilly evening wrapped up with a blanket outdoors. Hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day Weekend so far!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Catching Up

And so ends another busy week! I feel like it's been forever since my last post, and we have some catching up to do. This week started with a work trip to Boston and ended with 9 PM takeout eaten on the couch with an SVU marathon. Lately I feel like I'm spending half my life inside a hotel room.

Don't get me wrong, I love to travel, but with seemingly back to back trips to Germany, St. Louis, Miami, Boston - and now I'm going to Vegas next week - I'm hoping to have a little bit more of a break before the next one. It's a challenge being away from Riker so often and trying to catch up on everyday life in between all the trips and weekend happenings.

But anyway, Boston! The trip was actually really great both professionally and personally. My best friend from childhood lives in B-town, and since I didn't have any client responsibilities on Monday night we were able to grab dinner together.

Julie picked me up and took me to Yard House at Fenway, which serves about a million craft beers and a bunch of eclectic American fare. We started with an Ahi tuna, jicama and avocado poke bowl to share, and it was delicious. The sesame oil and crushed peanuts set it over the top.

We both ordered fish tacos for our entrees - Julie had tilapia and I had blackened swordfish. The tacos were great, but I skipped the rice and beans. The beans were supposed to taste smokey, but they no joke tasted like cigarette smoke. Gross!

I also got a chance to see the Boston Bombings memorial, which happened to be only a block from my hotel.

What a sad place. The pictures of the little boy who was killed just break my heart, and it was difficult to read all the sentiments people had left. I'm glad I was able to see it and pay my respects, though.

I returned home on Wednesday night, and I'll tell ya you haven't missed much in the way of food or fun. Work's been really busy so I've been staying at the laptop late into the evenings, and when that happens, creative meal planning goes straight out the window in favor of old favorites.

I've eaten strawberry-banana yogurt bowls aplenty, in various forms. My nut toppings of choice this week have been raw pecans, almonds and walnuts. Gotta have crunch!

Green salads have been my go-to lunch and dinner each day, save for last night. I simply couldn't muster up the strength to cut one more vegetable. Talk about feeling lazy. I went back and forth for about an hour on what to make before I finally resorted to the menu drawer and called up our favorite pizza place, Tony's. Buttt, in keeping with our Primal diet and trying not to sink back into the Friday night pizza routine, I opted for one of the new low carb dishes.

Tony's is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new menu and lots of new healthier dishes. They're now offering several seafood dishes over spinach or broccoli rabe instead of pasta, which I love! I ordered the Spicy, Garlicky Shrimp over steamed broccoli rabe, and it was perfect. Just what the doctor ordered on a Friday night.


This weekend is going to be a little busy, but all good stuff. This afternoon we have Matt's Goddaughter's third birthday party, and I'm looking forward to spending more time with the fam today. Tomorrow I'll be heading out to south Jersey with my good friend Heather to take advantage of a seriously awesome birthday present from Matt: a cooking class at Sur La Table! I really can't wait for that. Then it's home to pack since first thing Monday morning I'm leaving for a conference out in Vegas. Time to get this day started.

Hope your weekend is off to a great start!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Birthday Bloodies

Ah, another Monday. My birthday and family celebrations continued all through the weekend, and I felt like one lucky girl to be doted on so much in one week.

Saturday was my birthday part 2, this time with all our friends. In the late afternoon my girlfriends picked me up for a little daytime fun. There's a little spot in the shore town of Point Pleasant that we love; it has a cute coffee shop, a bunch of little boutiques and a really great handmade jewelry store that we're kind of obsessed with. Ever since we graduated college we've been going to Point on sunny spring/summer days to have coffee and pick out fun jewelry together, but I haven't been in literally years. It was a fun way to start the evening off! After a little girly time, we headed back down to Seaside to meet up with the rest of our friends at Chef Mike's Atlantic Bar & Grill for cocktails and snacks. I arrived to Matt handing me one of these.

Bloody Mary for dinner, anyone? ABG is one of my all time favorite restaurants, and it just reopened after Hurricane Sandy. It sits right on the ocean and has amazing seafood, so I wanted to start off there with some fancy drinks. Chef Mike keeps posting these crazy Bloody Mary pictures on Facebook and I've been dying to try one. The drink itself is great, but he garnishes it with pickled green beans (love), celery, giant green olives, pepperoncini, lime, tomato, mozzarella & basil, and a giant piece of peppered bacon (I had mine sans bacon, of course). It's like an entire meal in a glass.

They also make all their own infused vodkas. I'm not typically a vodka drinker, but I have to say the strawberry and watermelon cocktails were refreshing and delicious.

Yum, strawberries!

I didn't feel like eating a big dinner, so instead we ordered a bunch of apps and tapas to share. The sampler had Thai sweet chili calamari, dumplings, garlic shrimp, and crispy goat cheese with beets. Not a bad thing on the plate.

Matt and I also shared a plate of cumin scented falafel balls with creme freche.

I definitely want to go back for a full meal on a date night with Matt. The entrees coming out of the kitchen looked amazing.

We eventually left ABG and spent the rest of the evening bar hopping through Seaside and down the new boardwalk. It's not quite finished, but at least you can walk on it now (not like back on St. Patty's Day) and it's so nice to see everything opening back up, all fresh and new. You could still smell the paint on the walls in some places.

Midway through the night my sister Amanda and her boyfriend Justyn showed up from Philly. Love her! I was so excited to get to spend the night with her.

Mother's Day

As if Saturday night wasn't enough of a celebration, Sunday was filled with great food and more family time for Mother's Day. My second already. Crazy! I awoke to more presents from Matt and Riker, including some new beach stuff and a bunch of new plants for my home office, which I'm really excited about. Can't get enough greenery in a room where you have to sit and look at a computer all day. Then it was breakfast time.

Amanda, Justyn and our friend Adam slept over on Saturday night and we didn't have plans with the fam until the afternoon, so we all braved the Mother's Day restaurant lines to go get some food in our bellies. We ended up at a local favorite near the beach, Meg's Grill. The food is always fantastic, but for the holiday they had Lobster Eggs Benedict on special. SO GOOD. You know I'm becoming an Eggs Benedict addict, but this one took the cake - it came with an entire lobster tail and the hollandaise sauce was perfect.

I also had a few bites of Matt's fruit & yogurt parfait. We had a table outside and it was so nice to sit in the fresh air.

After everybody went home, we made our way over to Matt's mom's house for a MD party with the extended family. MomMom is in her glory when she's got her three great grandchildren on her lap.

The kids had a blast playing outside all day, and after seeing how much Riker loved playing with his cousins I think we're going to need to steal them for a weekend. His cousin Ernie is 6, and Riker adores him. He copies everything he does and it's adorable. His cousin Anna is only 3, but she loved pushing him in the swing and giving him different toys to play with.

Matt's mom put out a big spread for dinner, and I tasted a bit of everything except the steak & potatoes.

The pesto shrimp and parmesan cauliflower were my two favorites.

Dessert came in the form of cupcakes and fruit salad. I split a cupcake with my cousin Monica - strawberry frosting of course - and had a good serving of the fruit. The watermelon is so juicy and sweet right now.

It was a really nice day. I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day celebrating with your loved ones, too!

Phew, that was a long and jam packed post. I had to get it all in now since I'm doing a little more work travel again this week. I head to Boston this afternoon for a few days and will be a busy bee until later this week. Catch you when the tide calms :)