Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ghost the Musical at Straz Center, Tampa

On Tuesday night, we had the opportunity to check out opening night of Ghost The Musical at Straz Center in Tampa. Leading up to the show, we heard "I wonder what they will do with the pottery scene" and "Ghost? As in Patrick Swasey Ghost??" from tons of people.
Just like the Oscar winning movie, Ghost The Musical follows Sam and Molly, a young couple whose connection takes a shocking turn after Sam’s untimely death. Trapped between two worlds, Sam refuses to leave Molly when he learns she is in grave danger. Desperate to communicate with her, he turns to a storefront psychic who helps him protect Molly and avenge his death.
What surprised us the most was the special effects. It was truly unlike anything I've seen on stage before. I forgot at times that I was at a show vs. watching a movie. As you can see from the photo above, Sam truly had a ghost look to him. One thing that was really neat was how they were able to graphically make Sam walk through solid doors.
Ghost will be at the Straz Center from April 22 - 27, 2014 at Carol Morsani Hall. Click here to purchase tickets. The show last 2:25 with an intermission and tickets range from $46.50 to $81.50.

Show Dates & Times 
Tues. 7:30 p.m.
Wed. 7:30 p.m.
Thurs. 7:30 p.m.
Fri. 8 p.m.
Sat. 2 and 8 p.m.
Sun. 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Ghost the Musical is recommended for ages 13+. Please be advised that there is mild violence, mature themes and dialogue.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Register for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Today!

Today's the big day where thousands of runDisney enthusiast will be sitting by their computer, waiting for it to strike 12:00pm est. when Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend registration opens! If you follow this blog, you know that I participated in the runDisney Dopey Challenge last year, where along with 7,000 fellow crazy runners, we seeked out for a 4 day, 48.6 mile challenge (5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, Full Marathon).

If you are interested in running any of the runDisney events during Marathon weekend, make sure you register today at Noon - with Goofy's anniversary medal, the events are likely to sell out very fast. Click here to be taken to the registration page.

While I will not be participating in the Dopey challenge in 2015, I will be there for the 10K and to watch a few friends tackle Dopey for the second consecutive year. To honor registration day, here are some of my favorite photos from the 4 day event!

My Mom ran her first 5K and 10K with me for the first 2 days of the Dopey Challenge. It was great being able to experience the excitement of her accomplishments. Plus, there is nothing better than having your Mommy with you during the 4 day, 48.6 mile journey.
I ran alone for the half marathon and full marathon. Prior to running the NYC Marathon in November, I had never ran a long distance by myself. When you have no one to complain to but yourself, you find yourself pushing harder. Running alone has become my preference.
The best part about competing in the Dopey Challenge is that you are surrounded around runners of all levels, sizes and ages. I was in the same corral as the flamingo boys, two men who were dressed up as flamingos for all 4 races. They even made cackaw sounds while running and truly made my day on each of the 4 events - they were out there having fun. Having fun, taking photos and sharing the love of Disney with others is why I run Disney.
Overall, the Dopey Challenge was the biggest athletic accomplishment of my life. One I am not sure I can top. While this wasn't a walk in the park, it was an amazing experience. I ran with a severe injury on the final leg of the Dopey challenge, one I haven't fully recovered from 3 months later. Yet I finished with one of the biggest smiles on my face. No one will ever be able to take  that moment away from me.
The only reason I am not entering the Dopey challenge in 2015 is because of the wedding and honeymoon. My only regret from the 2014 challenge was my lack of training. With the wedding and honeymoon so close to Marathon Weekend, there is no way I can commit to a full time training regimen and I will never make that mistake again.

So best of luck to all of you Dopey runners registering this afternoon! I plan on volunteering at the Half Marathon and cheering everyone on during the full marathon.

Here is the initial pricing for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend events. I am sure each will sell out before the price increase so I didn't bother posting anything more than the initial pricing. Click here to register and be sure to set a calendar reminder for 12:00pm est - sign up first thing if you are interested in completing this challenge!

Dopey Challenge $530 by June 24, 2014
Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge $360 by June 24, 2014
2014 Walt Disney World® Marathon $170 by June 24, 2014
2014 Walt Disney World® Half Marathon $170 by June 24, 2014
2014 Walt Disney World® 10K $105 by June 24, 2014
2014 Disney Family Fun Run 5K $60 per participant by September 23, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ice Plant Bar - St. Augustine.

I had a jealous restaurant experience the other night while in St. Augustine. A moment where I wished I could pick up a historic building and relocate it to Tampa.

On Saturday night, my friend Darlynn and I had an hour to spare prior to the Corey Smith and Darius Rucker concert. We decided to give the Ice Plant in St. Augustine a try. Magical doesn't even begin to describe this place.
 Upon sitting down at the bar, I knew we were in a special place. We received our menus and one of the pages showcased 6 different shapes of ice they use in their drinks. Talk about craft cocktail heaven.
Our first drink choice was the Florida Mule - a Moscow Mule made with Saint Augustine Vodka. This was hands down the best Mule I have ever had. It was made with fresh ginger and a lot of love.
We started off with an order of Devils on Horseback - Bacon wrapped dates, buttermilk blue cheese puree. This is one of my favorite appetizers to make for a gathering. In fact, we served it at Easter dinner. Ice Plant nailed it.
While I wanted to stick with the Florida Mule as cocktail of choice, it would have been a crime to do so with Ice Plant's bar menu. So we decided on the Bell Jar for drink number two. The recipe called for Uncle Val’s Gin. Both Darlynn and I asked to switch this to Vodka. Made with strawberry rhubarb jam, lemon and cucumber, this was a very earthy yet delicious drink.
Since we arrived at Ice Plant at 4:45, we weren't exactly starving and decided to split a burger. This wasn't just any burger - a juicy grass-fed Georgia beef patty with bacon-chive aioli, l.t.o., adding cheddar cheese, mushrooms and bacon. Served with a house made pickle and hand cut fries - wholly WOW.
It was amazing watching the bartenders in action and talk about a busy bar. Check out the cubes of ice in the photo above. The device on the right was used to shave ice while the smaller device to the left was use to make sphere's of ice for cocktails. Many of the ice offerings were cut to order for various cocktails.
photo from iceplantbar.com
The restaurants decor was perfect. It reminded me of being in New Orleans.
The Ice Plant Bar offered a wide array of choices which would make any drink snob a happy content person. Their cocktails are made with fresh and local ingredients and the menu was many pages long.
photo from iceplantbar.com
I look forward to our next visit to St. Augustine and the Ice Plant will become a staple in our frequent trips to this beloved city.

The Ice Plant on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 18, 2014

Eco Friendly Wine for Earth Day - Snoqualmie

With Earth Day right around the corner, I wanted to highlight an ECO friendly wine label called Snoqualmie from Columbia Valley. Their wines are made using sustainable and organic techniques, crafted from certified originally grown grapes. Snoqualmie wines are fruit-forward, and offer classic varietal flavors that are immediately enjoyable. The price point on these wines start around $10.

Snoqualmie has new ECO glass bottles which are among the lightest in the industry (397g). This results in a 13% reduction in carbon emissions. White wine labels now use EarthLabel™ by Smart Planet Technologies, Inc., an adhesive label system that provides improved barrier performance while reducing plastic content. Labels and other printed materials are on 100% post-consumer waste materials stock. Corks and labels are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council; guaranteeing sustainable practices at the source of origin. The corks are also certified by the Rainforest Alliance, an international group committed to conserving biodiversity through sustainability.
Here are a few comments on amazing Eco Friendly Wines from Joy Andersen, Snoqualmie Winemaker

Snoqualmie 2012 Chardonnay, “Crafted with no oak, this wine is a refreshing experience of true Chardonnay varietal characters. Pear and apple nuances accent the nose leading to clean fruit flavors on the palate.”

Snoqualmie 2013 Sauvignon Blanc,“This Sauvignon Blanc displays bright aromas of citrus and sweet apple, followed by fresh flavors of lime, passion fruit and white peach with a crisp, clean finish. This is a great wine to enjoy with shellfish.”

Snoqualmie 2012 Gewürztraminer, “Made from organically grown fruit, this wine is a pure expression of Gewürztraminer grape characters. Spicy, fruity aromas are coupled with crisp and juicy fruit flavors that will pair well with spicy ethnic dishes.”

Snoqualmie 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, “The 2011 ECO Cab displays aromas of currant and ripe red cherries with spicy tones and ample juicy structure on the palate.”.

Snoqualmie 2010 Whistle Stop Red Blend, “Rich aromas of black berries and cherries are accented by hints of herb in this Bordeaux-style blend. The palate is full of the same black fruit flavors complemented by soft supple tannins and rich, sweet oak.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Apera Bags Performance Duffel Review, Giveaway and Spring Sale

Have you ever had a stinky gym bag? They're the worst. I recently had the opportunity to check out Apera athletic bags, "a healthier bag". They have built-in antimicrobial product protection to inhibit the growth of bacterial odors, pockets to separate your wet stinky and sweaty sports clothes from your clean clothing. My first thought was what am I going to do with another gym bag.
That thought got swept away the moment I received the Apera Performance Duffle Bag. I knew my former weekend travel bag was replaced for good. Having two runners in the house means constant stinky clothes in suitcases when we travel.
I have used this bag 3 times over the past 3 weeks, for a mix of business and pleasure: My former roommates bacherlorette party, a weekend home for Gabe & I (we shared the bag) and a work related trip where I had to pack corporate, casual and workout gear. Each time, I had room to spare - even when we shared the bag. Other than the space, I love that there is a pocket which keeps my iPad (and Gabe's iPad mini) secure.
The Apera Performance Duffle Bag will be a perfect carry on bag during our trip to Europe. We can fit more than a days worth of clothing along with important items we do not want to store in our check-in baggage. Plus it is lightweight and comfortable to carry. A gym bag which seconds as a travel bag - double score.


Right now, Apera is having a HUGE sale, 40% OFF their entire line of Blue bags - so any style bag which is blue will be 40% off, including the Performance Duffel. This makes my bag only $74.40, marked down from $124. I am highly considering purchasing a second Apera bag for our trip to Europe.

There is also a Duffel Pack sale, the backpack version of my bag - any color of your choice is 40% OFF too. Jump on this right away!
Apera Duffle Packs - 40% off in April
Along with the sale, there is a giveaway through Apera called "Show Us Your Worn Out Fitness Bag" - one winner has a chance to win a bag of their choice, just by sending them a picture and 1-sentence description of why your current fitness bag stinks (literally or figuratively). Click here for more info!

GIVEAWAY!
Apera Sprint Bag - #giveaway on I Run For Wine
Finally - it is time for my giveaway! I am giving away one Apera Sprint Pack, the same bag they donate to Special Olympics athletes for every three bags they sell. This bag is the perfect size for a quick trip to the gym.There is a panel inside of the bag which divides the main compartment and keeps things organized in two separate areas. A large zippered pocket on the front of the bag gives you even more storage along with a large opening which allows you to pack your stuff quickly. For easy cleaning, wipe by hand with soap and water.

Leave a comment below letting me know what you currently use as a gym bag. Make sure you log your entries in the rafflecopter widget below as this is how I select my winner at random!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 14, 2014

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Registration and the tale of spinning medals

This Wednesday at Noon, early registration for runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend will begin. This is for DVC, Annual Passholders and Disney Visa Cardholder which allows you to register for runDisney events a week before the general public. Since Disney races continue to sell out in record timing, this is a huge perk for fans of runDisney. It's hard to believe a year ago, I signed up for the runDisney Dopey Challenge.
Just when I came to the decision that I would not be running the 2015 Dopey Challenge, runDisney released a sneak peek to their Goofy Medal. The Goofy Challenge is a 2 day, 39.3 mile challenge, starting with a Half Marathon, followed by a Full Marathon the following day. 2015 will be an anniversary medal for Goofy - which is a spinning medal. It is very hard to look at this and imagine it not being part of my collection. I have 3 days to sit on this.

Since there will be an anniversary medal for this Novembers sold out 2014 Wine Dine Half Marathon,
runDisney decided to reveal it. This medal is continuing on the spinning trend. I am obsessed with this medal, which features the old medal design and on the flip side, the new medal. The Wine Dine Half Marathon is my favorite runDisney half marathon course and I look forward to adding this to my collection.
runDisney Medals are generally revealed a few months before the event. Not the case with anniversary medals. Marathon weekend is 9 months away and we have already seen the 10th anniversary Goofy Medal. Wine Dine Half Marathon is 7 months away and the beauty has been revealed (last year, I didn't see the medal until I attended the NYC Marathon expo). In 2012, runDisney revealed their 20th anniversary medal which was the start of the spinning trend. Gabe had already signed up for the half marathon and upon this medal reveal, he switched into the full. This medal is the sole reason he ran a full marathon.

Has a medal ever been the deciding factor on you signing up for a race?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Reebok #Skyscape Review - #StyleNeverStops

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Reebok.

Hi, My name is Megan and I have a shoe problem. I have been addicted to shoes since I was in elementary school. I remember purposely putting a hole in a pair of shoes so my parents would have to buy me new ones. With that said, my shoe collection is crazy big yet you will usually see me wearing the same shoes over and over.

I tend to impulse buy pretty shoes and never wear them because they are uncomfortable (yes I am talking to you Mr. Louboutin). Once I hit my 30's, I found comfort was the most important aspect of shoes and I now find myself planning my outfits around what will adorn my feet.
Through my relationship with FitFluential, I was able to check out a new concept from Reebok - the Skyscape Runaround. This is not a fitness shoe - it is an everyday shoe whose tagline is “So lightweight and comfortable, you’ll forget you have them on.”. I couldn't agree with that statement more.
I wear my Skyscape's around the house like they are slippers. I run errands in them. I have even worn them for a full day at Disney World without socks - and came home with zero blisters. Reebok Skyscape Runaround is now my go-to everyday comfort shoe.  Along with being comfortable, the Skyscape are also very cute. My fiance even stated he thought they were "good looking shoes" - whatever that means :) Maybe he saw the promo video of the shoes with Miranda Kerr! The below photos Skyscape Styling photos were done by Reebok to show various ways to wear these shoes.
A few features & benefits:

  • This shoe is crafted borrowing the materials and soft molding process used to create lingerie, which provides all-around comfort and creates a shoe so lightweight that it weighs only 5.0 ounces. 
  • Foam material in the upper for softness and flexibility
  • Low-cut design for added mobility
  • Seamless construction for minimized rub and irritation
  • Unique architecture designed to support the foot and provide all-day comfort
  • Minimal rubber accents only where needed for traction
  • Skyspring technology - features a unique design architecture designed to help support the foot and provide all day comfort
  • Machine washable
You can purchase Reebok Skyscapes online at Reebok.com. In Store at Reebok, Reebok Outlet and Kohls (select locations). 


Check out this video featuring FitFluential Ambassadors and Miranda Kerr


It's been years since I have had "everyday" runaround sneakers but I can honestly say I love the Skyscapes and plan on picking up a few pairs in additional colors. What is your go to daily shoe?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Easy Homemade Garlic and Sun-dried Tomato Salsa Recipe

This year is flying by. I say this every year but 2014 is out of control with the wedding. I feel like yesterday was New Years Day and now we are almost in mid-April! March Madness is over, MLB has officially started and College football season will be here before you know it.
We are a big College football family and it is often joked my first word was Gator. I grew up with every Saturday in the Fall revolving around watching games. In High School, I refused to seriously date anyone who was a Seminole fan and I stood by that until I met Gabe. Now I am marrying a Seminole........
My number one item to make during football season is homemade salsa. We go through this stuff faster than one can say Touchdown.  I've never made the same salsa twice, always tweaking the flavors around. When it isn't tomato season, I use canned fire roasted diced tomatoes. The recipe below is my base to salsa - the directions I always go by, then add this or that to the mix. One weird quirk about me - I love the taste of tomatoes but I hate the texture, so I always puree my salsa.
Garlic and Sun-dried Tomato Salsa Recipe
2 large tomatoes, diced or 2 cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, finely minced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 jalapeno, finely minced (more if you like it spicy)
1 lemon or lime juice (I prefer lime)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes

Mix all ingredients together and place into a blender to puree. You can also keep it chunky by just mixing together. Let chill for at least one hour.
I recently brought my Salsa to a March Madness basketball party and received rave reviews. Along with the salsa, I brought various flavors of The Better Chip, including their two new flavors, The Better Chip Beet and The Better Chip Chipotle. TBC is verified non-GMO and Gluten Free, with only five easy to pronounce ingredients in each chip.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Oh What A Night! - Jersey Boys at Straz Center, Tampa

I wanted to take a quick second and wish my amazing fiance a happy birthday! Poor guy has to work all day and night but we were able to celebrate early by attending opening night of Jersey Boys Musical at the Straz Center in Tampa. It. Was. Amazing.
JERSEY BOYS, the Tony®, Grammy ® and Olivier Award-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. While I am very familiar with the Four Seasons, I found my self shocked as to how many hit songs they have and sang through half of the musical. Sorry to those who sat beside me. "Sherry", "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Rag Doll", "Oh What a Night", "Can't Take my Eyes Off You", and many more.
I loved learning the story about four blue-collar kids became who became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. The hit songs I mentioned above - they wrote them all. Before they were 30 years old, they sold over 175 million records worldwide.
Besides the amazing performance, I was very impressed with the stage. I spent my childhood and high school years in drama, so I pay special attention to the stage, set up, props, etc.
I can honestly say that last night will not be the last time we will see this show. It was by far the best traveling performance I have ever seen. No wonder Times Magazine proclaimed that Jersey Boys "will run for centuries" and tonight, #JerseyBoys broadway will surpass the record held by 42ND STREET to become the 13th longest running show in Broadway History. Congrats! The JERSEY BOYS creative team comprises two-time Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff, book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, composer Bob Gaudio, lyricist Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo. The show contains smoke, gun shots, strobe lights, drug references, sexual situations and authentic “profane Jersey language.

Jersey Boys the Musical is in Tampa through April 13th with two shows on Saturday and Sunday. Here's a fun fact - Hayden Milanes, who plays Frankie Valli, was born and raised in Tampa! Tickets run from $48-$116 and can be purchased by clicking here.
Wednesday, April 9, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 10, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 11, 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 12, 2 & 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 13, 2 & 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014 Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival Food Menu

The 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is my favorite Disney World event throughout the year. You get to see the most Beautiful topiary's all around the park while experiencing amazing food and drink. When Epcot decided to add outdoor kitchens to the mix, the festival was brought to a whole new level. This is very similar to the very popular food and wine festival which takes place during the fall. Multiple kitchens found around the world showcase feature specialty foods and drinks, many of which are themed after flowers. I wanted to feature my three favorite outdoor kitchens - Florida Fresh, Smokehouse and Lotus House. You can check out all of the other outdoor kitchens at Epcot by clicking here.

Florida Fresh
This was both of our favorite outdoor kitchens of the festival. The arugula salad was so simple yet delicious. I I will be making this at home very soon. The shrimp and grits had such amazing flavor - I kept going back for more. I paired this with a large glass of Florida Avenue Blueberry Beer from Tampa - which happens to be my favorite local beer. See why this was my favorite kitchen :)
Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage
To eat:
  • Watermelon salad with pickled onions, BW Farm baby arugula, feta cheese and balsamic reduction 
  • Shrimp and stone ground grits with andouille sausage, sweet corn, tomatoes and cilantro 
  • Florida kumquat pie
Watermelon Salad with pickled onions
To drink:
  • Watermelon passion fruit slush featuring Simply Lemonade® 
  • Hurricane Class 5 White Sangria featuring Simply Lemonade, Florida Orange Groves (St. Petersburg, Florida) 
  • Garda Italian Wine Blend, Quantum Leap Winery (Orlando, Florida) 
  • Rogue Valley Pinot Noir, Quantum Leap Winery (Orlando, Florida) 
  • Blonde Ale, Orlando Brewing Company (Orlando, Florida) 
  • Cotton Mouth Belgian Style Witbier, Swamp Head Brewery (Gainesville, Florida) 
  • Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale, Florida Beer Company (Cape Canaveral, Florida)
  • Florida Avenue Blueberry, Cold Storage Craft Brewery (Tampa, Florida) 
  • Beer Flight – Blonde Ale, Cotton Mouth Belgian Style Witbier, Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale and Florida Avenue Blueberry 
The Smokehouse - Barbecue and Blues
Located in the America pavilion, this is one outdoor kitchen you can smell from far away. I was like a giddy school kid waiting to get my hands on the new Piggylicious bacon cupcake and it did not disappoint. I enjoyed one of the more unique beers I've tried - Billy's Chilies, a beer with a spicy kick. I was very impressed with the smoked beef brisket while Gabe loved the smoked turkey rib.

To eat:

  • Pulled pig slider with cole slaw 
  • Smoked beef brisket with collard greens and jalapeño corn bread 
  • Smoked turkey “rib” 
  • “Piggylicious” bacon cupcake with maple frosting and pretzel crunch featuring Nueske’s® Applewood Smoked Bacon 

To drink:

  • Magic Hat #9, Magic Hat Brewing (South Burlington, Vermont) 
  • Maduro, Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, Florida) 
  • Fat Tire, New Belgium Brewing Company (Ft. Collins, Colorado) 
  • Billy’s Chilies, Twisted Pine Brewing Company (Boulder, Colorado) 
  • Beer Flight – Magic Hat #9, Maduro, Fat Tire and Billy’s Chilies 
  • The Original Rib Shack Red Wine 

Lotus House - China Pavilion 
This is always my first stop during the Flower and Garden Festival. The candied strawberries are beyond and it is the one item I purchase every single visit during the festival. They take strawberries and candy them, topping with sesame seeds.
To eat:
  • Beijing-style candied strawberries 
  • Spring pancake with grilled chicken and green apple 
  • Vegetable spring rolls 
To drink:
  • Popping bubble tea 
  • Kung Fu Punch – Vodka and triple sec with mango and orange juice 
  • South Sea Storm – Guava juice with light and dark rum Plum wine 
  • Tsing-Tao beer 
  • Lychee aerated water

Monday, April 7, 2014

Curtis Stone's Grilled Chicken with Arugula and Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette Recipe

A few weeks ago my friend Jen invited me to attend HSN Cooks with her. Before we went to the live taping, HSN served us a lunch from multiple celebrity chef's. There was an arugula salad which caught my eye and made everyone from the table go back for more. We later found it out was by Chef Curtis Stone and I couldn't wait to make this at home and share with my readers. This is a perfect spring salad which I could eat for days!
I adapted his recipe a tad, not including tomatoes while adding artichoke hearts. I also made mine without using zucchini. This was the first time I used my Blendtec to make dressing - I had to try this a few times as my first attempt came out with the consistency of aioli!
Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette: 
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped drained nonpareil capers 1 tablespoon finely chopped pepperoncini
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chicken:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Salad:
5 ounces baby arugula (about 8 cups not packed)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 small, thin zucchini
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
note: I did not use tomatoes or zucchini in my version

To make the vinaigrette: 
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the shallots, lemon zest, lemon juice, capers, pepperoncini, parsley, and vinegar together. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat the chicken with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken for about 4 minutes per side, or until it is seared with grill marks and shows no sign of pink when pierced in the thickest part with the tip of a small sharp knife. Transfer to a cutting board.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the arugula and tomatoes. Trim the ends of the zucchini. One at a time, lay the zucchini flat on a work surface and, using a vegetable peeler and working from the stem end to the blossom end, shave off long, thin ribbons until you reach the seedy center. Turn the zucchini around and repeat on the second side, then repeat on the third and fourth sides. Add the ribbons to the bowl and discard the seedy centers of the zucchini. 
  4. Using your hands to avoid breaking the ribbons, gently toss the salad with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut each chicken breast crosswise into thirds. Transfer a cut chicken breast to each dinner plate and heap some of the salad alongside. Drizzle the chicken and salad with the remaining vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wedding Wednesdays - Welcome Bag and Hangover Recovery Kit

We are in the six month window of the big day. Where on earth did time go? The last nine months flew by so fast - I cannot imagine what the next six are going to be like.

One thing we have been working on for months is our welcome bags. Since this is a destination wedding, all guests will receive a package at check-in. We wanted to have items in the bag which showed the New Orleans spirit while giving our guests a peek of the fun they would have over the few days spent in the big easy.
The first thing we purchased was personalized cups. New Orleans does not have an open container law so we wanted to make sure our guests had a cup they could bring from bar to bar for their refills. We decided on personalized plastic mason jars with a screw on lid and straw decorated with our names, a fleur de lis and the city/date of the wedding.
Along with the cup, we wanted to provide our guests with items to help them the morning after.

The ONLY store bought bloody mary mix I will buy is Zing Zang. Many moons ago, Gabe and I were both bartenders and pre-made bloody mary mix used to be something I turned my nose up to. That is until I was introduced to Zing Zang years ago. These days, I rarely make my own mix, because Zing Zang is perfect, just the way it is. In our hangover kits, we will provide our guests with 10oz bottles.

You cannot have a bloody mary without vodka. My newest DIY project is personalized miniature bottles of vodka. I am purchasing empty 50L bottles and creating labels which will feature our caricature. Once this project is complete, I will be posting about it :)

If I have a little too much fun the night before, there are few things I can eat. Pretzels are an item that helps me feel like a normal human being. My choice? Pretzel Crisps Everything flavor. At only 110 calories per serving, these wont hurt your diet.

Finally last but certainly not least - Blowfish for Hangovers. I was introduced to this product last year from a Klout perk. It really works. Not only have I tried it but Gabe and my best friend Keri also put their seal of approval on the miracle hangover remedy.
Along with the items above, we will be throwing a few additional New Orleans treats in the bag. We are absolutely including pralines. I haven't yet decided if we will get them personalized or not. You also can't go to New Orleans without getting beads. We live in Ybor City and there are a few parades through the year with mardi gras style floats and more beads than you could even imagine. Even prior to knowing we would get married in NOLA, I've held onto the "deluxe" beads. The "budget" beads would be tossed or handed to kids if they were around. Many parades later, we have over 150 higher quality beads we will include in our welcome bags. The photo above was from the 2014 Ybor City St. Patricks Day Parade.

Did you have welcome bags at your wedding? If so, what did you put in them?