Friday, November 30, 2012

November Foodie Pen Pal Revealed

It's Foodie Pen Pal reveal day!

This month, my Foodie Pen Pal was Rinnie from Rinnie Eats. When I received the box, I was amazed at how heavy it was. Here is why:
I was instantly intrigued by all the cans but my eyes went straight to the salted caramel butter cookies from Trader Joe's. Ironically, on our way home from Thanksgiving vacation, we stopped for our very first visit to Trader Joe's. Florida has two brand new TJ's (finally). I loved the store but only saw the salted caramel cookies on our way out. I didn't want to stand in line again and pouted the entire ride home as all I could think of was those cookies. I checked the mail upon returning home and Rinnie's package was there. I was ECSTATIC. It's like she knew I pouted for 3 hours on the way home. These cookies are AMAZING.
Now, back to the cans. Rinnie's note had a recipe from her mother in law for Taco Soup which she gave me all of the ingredients to make at home.
You cook 2lbs of ground beef (I used 90/10), sauteed with an onion, then include the ingredients above with a large can of water, and you have taco soup. It was SO good. Since I am traveling all week for work, I made a big batch so Gabe would have dinner in my absence  If I didn't do that, he would go to McDonalds every night. Sigh.

Another Trader Joe treat was the Wasabi Wow. This was one of the snacks we both were looking at but were in the hunt for the salted chocolate almonds I received months ago from a Pen Pal. They weren't in stock and forgot to go back for these.
Finally, Rinnie gave me Chile Spiced Mango's. I haven't had a chance to try these out yet but she said they were one of her favorites and I trust they will be delicious.
Thank you so much for an amazing box Rinnie! Also, thank you for that recipe. I will be making that again for sure.

Click here for more information on joining Foodie Pen Pals!



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cru Cellars South Tampa, a little piece of wino heaven

I relocated to Tampa from a city where we don't have many trendy restaurants. While living in Daytona, one of my favorite places to enjoy dinner and drinks with my girlfriends was a wine and cheese shop which served small plates. When I heard about Cru Cellars in South Tampa, I knew instantly that I would fall in love.

Cru Cellars was voted Tampa's "Best Wine Bar,"which is obvious upon walking in. They have a great wine list. Cru has more than 25 wines by-the-glass, an amazing wine garden and seven different wine flights on their menu. Honey, I'm home. Tuesday nights are no cork nights, the only requirement is to purchase something off their dinner menu. Cru also offers a weekend brunch on both Saturday and Sunday.

Speaking of food, let's talk the dinner menu. Cru's kitchen is open Tuesday-Saturday 4:30 - 10pm. They offer a new fall menu which is perfect for sharing and pairing with wines. I could not find a single thing that I would not happily eat. The one dish I loved the most was the Spice rubbed Lamb Chops. I am starting to enjoy lamb more and more these days. This dish had a chimichurri sauce, fresh mint and parsley, served with a parsnip and yukon gold potato purée.
Another dish that blew my socks off was the Roasted Mushroom Orzo topped with Roasted Grape Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese. This was an amazing dish. It had a perfect creamy texture with great seasoning. I loved it and could have licked the bowl clean.
The Fig Jam, Prosciutto,  Bleu Cheese and Arugula flat bread is a new favorite. Perfect amount of sweet and savory between the sweetness of the fig jam along with the salty prosciutto, spicy arugula and creamy bleu cheese.
But the notable of the night had to be the bone marrow. That's right Mom, your Daughter ate bone marrow  topped with fresh parsley, capers, shallots and lemon juices, served with toasted crostini. Anyone who likes fat on a prime rib would be in heaven. It was a fun, new experience and I really enjoyed it. Very savory and rich. I still cannot believe I had bone marrow :)

For dessert, we were really naughty and got the Glazed Donut Tres Leches Bread Pudding. Yes, you read that right. I cannot explain this dish in words. I don't even like donuts and I could eat this all night long!

During dinner, we tried out three wine flights: Don't you love their flight set up? Stemless glasses, a chalkboard indicating which wines were what. Genius.

Pinot Envy: Ca‘Montebello Pinot Nero Rosé, IT, Sean Minor Pinot Noir, Carneros Anne Amie Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
The Spanish Road Trip: Ameztoi Txakolina, Spain. Valdemonxes Albariano, Spain. Valdesil Montenovo Godello, Spain
50 Shades of White (love the name!): Moris Farms Vermintino, Tuscany , Lange Pinot Gris OR, Bouchard Macon Chardonnay, FR
Cru has a new wine garden which reminded me of being on a rooftop bar instead of MacDill Ave. It's an amazing space.
Cru also has a retail space offering retail with high end wines down to the $13 table where you can find great priced wines which wont hurt your wallet.

Cru Cellars on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What to wear at Santa Hustle Half Marathon?

I love dressing up for races almost as much as I like running them. I believe this is what caused me to become obsessed with runDisney since so many people dress up at their races.

Over the past year, I have dressed up for two events, the Tower of Terror 10 miler, where my loving boyfriend wore a 100% cotton shirt on a 10 mile run so he would match me. I couldn't be Jessie without him being Woodie.
I also dressed up as Minnie Mouse for my first 5K, the Disney Princess Tangled. My friend Nicole was Snow White.

When I decided to run the Santa Hustle half marathon in Daytona Beach, I instantly started planning my outfit in my head. I know a running skirt will be involved. I just don't know which option. Help!

Option 1:

Team Sparkle red running skirt
Nike Lady Slim Dri-Fit Cotton Running Shirt Black (I love this shirt, it comes in a cotton dri fit fabric so you use iron on transfers)
Halo II Headband, Red Clip-on Mini Santa Hat- 4 Inch
Santa's Little Helper Crystal Iron On Transfer (for headband)
CEP Women's Compression Allsport Sleeve, III-Medium 12.5-15 Inches Calf Circumference, Black Asics Sol Shield Arm Sleeves, Black Small/Medium

Option 2:
Lululemon Run: Pace Setter Skirt in red (how cute are the ruffles in the behind!)
Nike Lady Slim Dri-Fit Cotton Running Shirt Black
Santa's Little Helper Crystal Iron On Transfer
Halo II Headband, Red
Clip-on Mini Santa Hat- 4 Inch (for headband)
Striped Santa Socks with Fur
Asics Sol Shield Arm Sleeves, Black Small/Medium
 Let me know which option you like best! If you are in the Central Florida area, there are still 3 days left to enter the Santa Hustle 5K giveaway! Click here to enter.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Tree Decorating Themes

Tis the season, we bought our tree today! It's a big beauty that is teasing me while I am waiting for the branches to drop so I can decorate it. Oh the fun of having a real tree! Ybor City did the lighting of their tree this weekend which I was able to go grab a photo with during our 6 mile run today. This tree makes me look like an elf!

In the meantime, I wanted to share some fun decorated Christmas trees that I witnessed at Robert's Christmas Wonderland in Clearwater. If you are in the Bay area, you have to visit this place. They have something for everyone.

My favorite of the trees: Duh, the wine Christmas tree:
Are you more of an Ice Cream person? They have an Ice Cream Christmas tree:
Or you prefer it shaken, not stirred? James Bond 007 Christmas tree:
Oh you have a Starbucks habit? They have a tree for that, the Coffee Christmas Tree:
Or maybe you know a cowboy. Yes, they have a Cowboy Christmas Tree:
One tree that caught my eye was the Gator Tree:
Sorry Robert's, I may have to come decorate this tree next year for you as my Gator Christmas Tree is a bit better. So sad all that orange and blue is sitting in my garage at the Daytona house. Why did I have to fall in love with a Seminole graduate...............
What do you do for your Christmas tree decorating? Are you a traditionalist? Or do you have a theme? Growing up, we always had two trees. A real one with colored lights which had family ornaments which my brother and I would assist in decorating along with a fake one with white lights and mother of pearl ornaments which always had to be perfect. The traditional tree sat in the main window while the fake theme tree was the one we put presents under.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A true relationship test. A Gator and a Seminole

A Gator and a Nole

I have had my fair share of doozies when it comes to relationships but I will not bore you with those stories today. If you can imagine it, I probably have been through it. With all of my previous failed standards, I had a rule - no matter what, I would not dare date a Seminole fan/grad/etc.

I am a born and raised Gator fan who went to High School during the hype of the Seminole's success of the 1990's.While all of my friends sported garnet and gold, I proudly wore orange and blue. We were the underdogs. By some stroke of magic, the Gators won the National Championship in 1996 vs. FSU (along with a Heisman). This nailed the coffin in the state rivalry.

At my brothers wedding in 2009, I was reconnected with the love of my life......who happens to be a Seminole Grad and a lifelong Nole fan. This was my Christmas tree prior to us moving in together:

Ummmmmm. You see the long lanyard on the left of my Gator statue? That's a 2006 BCS National Championship ticket. I also went to the Sugar bowl in 2009.

My boyfriends entire family, who I love dearly, are also Nole fans. In 2010, we encountered our  first Nole/Gator game together. At halftime, I found myself in the kitchen cooking to reduce my stress. The Gators lost to the Noles for the first time in many years. The following year, we did not watch the game together. The Gators once again lost and I continued to hold my head up high.

When the suggestion came that we would be spending Thanksgiving at Gabe's sisters house in South Florida, I was all for it.
A) I love Gabe's sister, she was a good friend of mine in high school and it is awesome having a friend as a (hopeful) future sister in law.
B) I love Em's kids!
C) It's a mini-vacation down south.

Then it hit me. I would be the ONLY GATOR amongst a house of Seminole Grads and fans. Except for Gabe's niece who could not be brain washed. Check out her doing the chant.

Dear god, help me now. I stressed out all day. No one was being cocky towards one another although I was frequently told I was wearing the wrong colors. The game started and around halftime, I had a few vodka drinks in me and was feeling good all around with a half smirk on my face. At the end of the third quarter, I was drinking a strong margarita with a big frown on my face and come fourth quarter, I became a little mouthy yet still respectful towards the others.

I behaved myself in the 2012 Florida/Florida State game. I was not this person three years ago. My loving boyfriend on the other hand ignored me for an hour after the game and cheered ridiculously crazy for Notre Dame to beat USC.

It's just a game. No need for arguments, no need for one to ignore another. Yet I am not sure if these words would be coming out of my mouth in the opposite situation. My brother is a Jets fan and my Sister-in-Law is a Patriots fan. They deal with this twice a year. Do you deal with this sports madness in your relationship?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Santa Hustle Daytona Beach 5K Giveaway!


I am excited to have partnered up with the Santa Hustle Daytona Beach and will be doing a post-race recap with plenty of photos from the event. The Santa Hustle has given me one 5K entry to give away to one of my lucky readers!
This festive race will be taking place in two weeks, on Sunday December 9th. Santa Hustle offers both a 5K and a Half Marathon. Since I love Christmas and was born/raised in Daytona Beach, I decided to make this race my first official Half Marathon! Both the 13.1 and 5K will go up and down the World’s Most Famous Beach and plenty of people will be dressed like the Jolly old man. All participants will receive a free Santa Beard and Santa hat to wear while running. Participants will also receive a customized Santa Claus long sleeve Dri Fit shirts. The Santa Hustle will give awards for the best group Santa Costumes and best individual dressed Santa Costumes. You know how much I love dressing up! My best friend and I have been planning our Santa costumes for quite sometime! Along with the costume contests, Santa Hustle will be giving personalized medals for the first, second and third placed male and female in each age division.

During the race, we will stop by candy stations, get cocoa, eat cookies and be entertained. The Santa Hustle after party will be in the Grand Ballroom located in the Ocean Center. We will enjoy Christmas Music, ab appearance by Santa Claus, Live Reindeer and Horse Drawn Sleigh. Check out photos from previous Santa Hustles here.

Like Santa Hustle on Facebook to keep up with their events throughout the year.

Come experience this race day with me! Enter below for your chance to win a free 5K entry. Let me know which holiday songs should I put on my playlist!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! I will be making pumpkin pie martinis later on and if all goes well, I will share the recipe.

Cheers!
Xoxo
Megan

Lunch at Lodge South Tampa

Hello little Turkeys! While we are currently in transit to South Florida, I wanted to take the chance to share my recent lunch dining experience at Lodge Restaurant and Bar, South Tampa. I was introduced to Lodge when a few months ago for Brunch and was excited to give their lunch menu a try.

My best friend Keri was visiting me and I took her with me to experience Lodge. Keri is the President of the Cosmopolitan fan club. Not really, but she should apply. One great thing about Lodge is that they have lunch happy hour including $3 Select drafts,  $4 Select Wines, $6 Select Martinis, $5 Sangria,  $3 Mimosas, $4 Bloody Marys, $5 Svedka Cocktails, $6 Jager or Patron Shots, $14 Select Beer Buckets and $12 Select Pitchers. Keri ordered a Svedka Cosmo which was so good that she ordered a second.
I started off with the Iced Tea Mojito. I have a soft spot in my heart for sweet tea vodka and was all about this cocktail. It was refreshing and delicious.
For our appetizer, we had Hot-N-Sweet Crispy Calamari which was the perfect amount of heat to sweet ratio. I really enjoyed the breading on the calamari. This is a must order at Lodge.
Since the Ciccio's group is known for their sushi, which I can personally attest to, we had to order the signature sushi roll, The Lodge: Tuna, Cucumber, Tempura Onions. Topped with Spicy Shredded Crab Meat, Scallions and Kabayaki Drizzle. At Lodge, you can select if you want brown or white rice for your sushi rolls. I want to hug the chef for this. Yay for brown rice sushi.
One thing that made my heart happy was the selection of side dishes served with every entree (including sushi). Veggies, Small Salad, Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad, Chips and Salsa or Queso, Turkey Chili, Homemade Coleslaw, White or Brown Sticky Rice, Edamame, Sweet Potato Fries, Fries or Tater Tots. I have never seen this assortment of side dishes. We were able to try a sampler of all. The Queso was our favorite but do not let that sway your decision, every single side dish we tried was awesome and I would have been happy with any of them.
When Keri ordered her second cosmo, I decided to try the first drink which caught my eye on the menu. The Strawberry Smash: ABSOLUT BERRI AÇAÍ Vodka, Fresh Muddled Strawberries, Sugar, Club Soda and a Splash of Cranberry Juice. This drink is as delicious as it is beautiful.
Since it was lunch, we had to try out the Famous Lodge Sliders. We opted for Citrus Lime Chicken, Grouper, Sirloin Burger and Asian Pulled Pork. Of the four, the grouper was my favorite with the citrus lime chicken in close second. The grouper's batter reminded me of tempura and wasn't overly greasy. Perfection!
Since each of our duo of sliders came with a side, I selected the Sweet Potato fries. I am officially obsessed and a little happy this came towards the end or I would be renaming my blog, I Run For Lodge's Sweet Potato Fries. They had a little drizzle of honey and powdered sugar.
Keri is a new found lover of ColeSlaw and boy were we happy she ordered this. Crisp, light and a little tangy.
Stick a fork in us, we are done. Then we were informed that all new diners of Lodge receive a mini dessert. How can we say no to that? We got the mini brownies which were very good.
If the food wasn't enough, the atmosphere of Lodge is a lot of fun. Lodge has a private party room and an outside dining area, perfect for weekend brunches. Lodge has different nightly specials so check their website out.




Ciccio's Lodge on Urbanspoon