Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An evening with Jack Daniels at Council Oak, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

This past Thursday, my friends at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa had a very special dinner at Council Oak - an evening with Jack Daniels. I was fortunate to be invited to this event and brought along my best friend who was in town for a visit.
The Jack Daniels Dinner at Seminole Hard Rock was $125 a person and included a 4 course meal with drink pairings, made with Jack Daniels of course. Each guest got a gift bag containing a full size commemorative Council Oak etched bottle of Gentleman Jack and other gifts, including Council Oaks famous BBQ sauce.
Our evening started off on the Jack Daniels "red carpet". After a quick photo and interview, we headed off to our tables to be  welcomed with a cocktail - Cherry Seelbach Cocktail (Jack Daniels, Cherry Bitters and Champagne) and two Hors D'oeurves - Crispy Pork Belly and Pastrami Rubbed Salmon. This was Keri's first time eating Pork Belly and she now knows why it is one of my favorite things on the planet. It was around this time that I had a - when work life and blog life collide moment and ran into a co-worker of mine from Orlando who was in town for this event!
As I mentioned above, the night consisted of four courses with drink pairings. We were greeted by Jack Daniels Spokesperson Michael J. Ring and Council Oak Head Chef Mike Balles. Michael J. Ring gave us a brief history of Jack Daniels. The three cocktails served with dinner were Smoked Peach and Lemon Sour Whiskey, Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Cherry-Mint Smash, Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select Boulevardier and Tennessee Triple (Espresso/Cold Brew and Gentleman Jack)
The first course was Grilled Blue Point Oysters with Carolina BBQ sauce and candied bacon. This dish was excellent, but that wasn't surprising. Anytime the words oysters and candied bacon are used in the same sentence is going to be mind blowing. This was served with Smoked Peach and Lemon Sour Whiskey. 
The second course was House Cured Duck Prosciutto - dried bing cherries, goat cheese, baby arugula salad with a Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Maple Vinaigrette. This dish made me laugh - Keri told me going into the night that she "didn't want weird stuff like duck" and she "doesn't like prosciutto". I looked down at her plate and she devoured it. See, this night expanded my friends culinary palate :) The second course was served with my favorite drink of the evening, the Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Cherry-Mint Smash. I liked this drink so much, I included the recipe for you at the end of this post.
The third course was my favorite of the night - Mishima Ranch Wagyu Strip Loin with red bliss crushed potatoes, and Tennessee Honey glazed Baby Carrots. My steak was cooked to perfection with the right amount of seer on it. It literally melted in my mouth. I am a glazed carrot crazed person and had to stop myself from steeling my neighbors portions. This drink was served with the Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select Boulevardier. 
The fourth and final course of the night was Gentleman Jack Infused Creme Brulee. They used two entire bottles of Gentlemen Jack to create 50 portions of this dessert. While you couldn't taste the Jack while eating, you could feel it after a few bites. It was beyond words. This was served with an orange chocolate biscotti and served with the Tennessee Triple (Espresso/Cold Brew and Gentleman Jack).
Be sure to follow Seminole Hard Rock of Tampa on social media to stay in the loop for their next Jack Daniels dinner!

The majority of the photos from this post were provided by Seminole Hard Rock.


RECIPE: Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Cherry-Mint Smash

1.5 oz Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
1 each lemon wedge
2 spring Mint
2 ea. Frozen Black Cherries or Fresh if possible
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Powdered Sugar

Muddle lemon, mint, and cherries in Boston shaker add Tennessee Honey.

 Fill shaker with Ice and shake vigorously till shaker has frost on the outside.

 Double strain into rocks filled rocks glass garnish with Mint and Lemon or Cherry, dust with powdered sugar, and serve with straw.

Monday, March 30, 2015

ASICS GEL Nimbus 17 Review and win ASICS gear for a year

I have a new shoe love and her name is the ASICS GEL-Nimbus® 17. My very first pair of running shoes was the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 12 and. I have owned multiple models of the Nimbus over the years. When I was in New York with ASICS for the NYC Marathon, I heard some details on the GEL-Nimbus® 17 and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a pair. The wait is finally over and I am happy to review the amazing changes of the Nimbus 17.

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 17: Weight: 8.8 oz. Heel Height: 25mm. Forefoot Height: 12mm.
I cannot put into words how much I truly love this shoe but my favorite update to the Nimbus 17 was the use of seamless material. It greatly reduced the potential for irritation and friction caused by traditional stitches and seams. ASICS FluidFit™ upper technology combines multi-directional stretch mesh with stretch reinforcements that adapt to the athlete's foot, creating a truly customized glove-like fit.

The Nimbus 17 underwent a serious weight reduction and weighs only 8.8 oz (the 16 weighs 9.4 oz). This is excellent news for those who enjoy a cushioned shoe. With cushion comes weight and I feel this is the best of both worlds, giving runners a lighter shoe without compromising on the cushion. This is all thanks to FluidRide® - which provides the ultimate combination of bounce back and cushioning properties with reduced weight and exceptional durability. The Nimbus 17 also offers Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL® Cushioning Systems, which reduces shock during impact and toe-off phases.


The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 17 also offers a brand new top-of-the-line ComforDry™ X-40 Sockliner which features higher rebound properties while providing excellent moisture management, high-level breathability and anticrobial properties. There is also a Heel Clutching System™, an exoskeletal heel counter provides improved support and creates improved heel fitting environment.


Another great feature of the Nimbus 17 is Gender-Specific Cushioning, The Women's models features a lower-density top layer in the midsole, allowing female athletes to better enjoy the benefits of midsole compression. Also Plus 3® 3mm of additional height on women's models helps relieve achilles tension.

CLICK HERE: ENTER TO WIN $3000 WORTH OF GEAR FROM ASICS!
One (1) Grand Prize Winner will receive ASICS accessories, clothing, and/or shoes (adult and children) each month for a period of ten (10) months.

Approximate Retail Value of each month's prize is up to the total of $300.

All ASICS shoes, clothing, and/or accessories are required to be placed through the ASICS Website (www.asicsamerica.com) using the monthly code issued to the Winner via email submitted at time of entry.

The total Approximate Retail Value of the Prize Pool is up to $3,000.00 (USD)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Give and Grub Food Truck, Giving Back to Tampa Bay

Give & Grub Food Truck has entered the Tampa Bay Community and is already making a huge difference. Created by Laser Spine Institute, Give and Grub is more than your ordinary food truck - for each gourmet menu item sold, Laser Spine Institute will donate one meal to a hungry child or family in need. On a daily basis, more than 700,000 people in our community go without food. Of these, 250,000 are children. 
The Give & Grub food truck partnered up with the Tampa Bay Lightning and four of the meals they offer were chosen by players of the Lightning. I had the opportunity to try out some of the menu items and they were pretty delicious.  CLICK HERE FOR THE MENU
SLAP SHOT CHICKEN SALAD: herb-roasted chicken, cranberries, roasted beets and sugared walnuts on a bed of baby greens and topped with Fuji apple vinaigrette
BISHIP BOWL: Served with blackened shrimp or tofu, wasabi caramel, saffron red beans, mango and plantains on a bed of cilantro rice. 
CHICKEN PARMKOS SANDWICH: breaded chicken is cooked to perfection and served with house-made marinara on a fresh Italian roll and topped with perfectly aged Parmesan cheese.
HEDMAN'S STEAK TACOS: Skirt steak tacos served with roasted corn pico de gallo, chipotle ranch and Tijuana rice.

So next time you are looking for a delicious and affordable meal, consider locating the Give & Grub Food Truck, which is located at the Tampa Bay Lightning home games on Thursdays and Saturdays, as well as the Tampa Bay Storm games. The truck will also make an appearance at other special events hosted at the Amalie Arena and can be found at other locations throughout town. Click here to locate the truck.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review of Grand Hyatt Washington DC

We had a wonderful experience in DC last week and it all started at the Grand Hyatt Washington. There are a lot of amenities I look for when booking a hotel but convenience is the most important feature for me. If staying in DC, you will not find a location more convenient than the Grand Hyatt.
Rendering of the remodeled lobby
My husband and I were in town for the Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon. We took the Metro directly from the airport into DC. I assumed we would have to navigate to the hotel once we got off the train, however my GPS told me that the Hyatt was only a few hundred feet away. That's when I saw a sign for a walkway from the Metro to the Hyatt. The Metro Center has direct access to Grand Hyatt Washington's lobby.You don't even have to walk outside to get to your hotel.
Spacious King Room
Grand Hyatt Washington is in the process of getting a huge makeover and the progress was amazing. The rooms were very comfortable and spacious. Plus we received an amazing treat of homemade granola and wine from Vermont, which made for an excellent pre-race breakfast (the granola, not the wine!!). Oh - and FREE WIFI for all guests staying at the hotel!
Our hotel was located a little over a half mile from the race start, which was at The National Mall. On race day, we walked straight to the start with no lag time, which was great being it was freezing and wet. After the race was over and I warmed up, I quickly headed down to Cure Bar and Bistro for my celebratory glass of champagne.
Along with a great wine list, Cure also has a craft cocktail menu that will make any cocktail aficionado swoon with a rotating monthly special. Cure Bar and Bistro has a great bar menu and I had the chance to enjoy their local charcuterie & a bistro jar of pimento cheese (not pictured). They also offer dinner and a speedy lunch in DC with a share-able style lunch menu that is great for groups (pick 3 items for $13, 4 items for $17 and 5 items for $20).
Along with Cure Bar and Bistro, Grand Hyatt also has a breakfast restaurant called Cabinet that was recently remodeled. Due to lack of time, we weren't able to check it out - however, their menu is pretty incredible with unique healthy options. Another great accomodation included in the remodel is that Grand Hyatt is getting a full serviced Starbucks this May!
I mentioned above that Grand Hyatt Washington was close to everything. We were able to walk to the Staples Center, The White House, The National Mall, Ford's Theatre, The Smithsonian's, Holocaust Museum and the National Archives. Overall, we were very impressed with Grand Hyatt Washington and this will be our "go to" hotel else when we come back to DC for our next visit.  You can follow Grand Hyatt Washington on Social Media to keep in the loop with their upcoming specials and events. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Monday, March 23, 2015

2015 Rock n Roll Las Vegas Kickoff Virtual Run! #LVKICKOFFNIGHT


WHEN: March 23 – April 1, 2015

WHAT: Run 5K (3.1 miles) anytime between today and April 1.

WHERE: Anywhere you can run or walk 5K (3.1 miles) in one go on a road, trail, track, treadmill — anywhere!

Submit proof of your run by filling out the form (click here) and upload a photo of your watch, phone app, or treadmill clock for your proof of time. Must submit proof no later than 11:59pm on April 2nd.

 Receive this exclusive Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Kickoff Virtual Run tee or tank in the mail (please allow up to 3 weeks of April 2 for shipping).**

Share on social media you are participating with #LVKICKOFFNIGHT






November 13-15, 2015 
$125 for the full and half marathon. Other distances to be announced


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Marathon Weekends are back for Wine and Dine Half Marathon with a special introductory rate!

Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek is back for those who were lucky enough to get into the 2015 Wine and Dine Half Marathon!. If you book your hotel by March 31st, room rates start at only $119 a night! Hilton Bonnet Creek is the only place I will stay during runDisney weekends. It's on property, giving the same convenience as a Disney Resort but for a fraction of the price and they sure know how to pamper runners.


Hilton Bonnet Creek provides one of the best pre-race festivities I have ever seen. I am not a morning person but did enjoy being cheered onto a bus at 3:30am during Princess Half Marathon a few weeks ago. Not only did Hilton provide us with transportation to the race, they also provided us with a runners breakfast. For 2015, they will also give runners a 2pm checkout (WOO-HOO!!!!) and a 10% off savings card. Why wouldn't you stay here?
The Marathon Weekend Rate includes these exclusive offers:

  • Special rate on accommodations exclusive to marathon runners (see rates below)
  • A 2 pm late check-out time
  • 10% food & beverage savings card to be used during your stay

Book by March 31 for a rate starting at $119/NIGHT*
Book by May 31 for a rate starting at $139/NIGHT*
Book by August 31 for a rate starting at $149/NIGHT*
Rates after August 31 start at $159/NIGHT*


BOOK NOW

Friday, March 20, 2015

Shakshuka Recipe with Eggland's Best #ebeggsfit

I was recently introduced to a egg and veggie dish called Shakshuka. Not only is this meal nutritious and delicious, it is easy to prepare and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner! This is a very versatile one pot dish, best made with a cast iron skillet.
Since March is National Nutrition Month, I wanted to to touch on a few changes you can make to your everyday diet starting with eggs. Eggland’s Best eggs are only 60 calories and stay fresher than ordinary eggs. Making a simple switch to the egg with the EB stamp will give you more nutrition:
10 times MORE vitamin E
4 times MORE vitamin D
3 times MORE vitamin B12
More than DOUBLE the Omega 3
35% MORE Lutein
25% LESS saturated fat
60 Calories per large egg
The first time I made Shakshuka, I knew it would be something I would be making again and again. It's a one pot dish, which you can easily personalize to your cravings, or more importantly, what is in your fridge/pantry. I went the simple route for this recipe. I have also made Shakshuka with chorizo, which turned out delicious.

Shakshuka 
Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 vidalia onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
5 Eggsland's Best eggs
1/2 tbsp fresh cilantro

Directions
In a large cast iron skillet, sautee the onion and garlic until translucent (about 5 minutes)
Add peppers and saute 5 minutes
Add tomatoes, paste and spices. Simmer for 5 minutes
Crack your eggs, one by one, starting on the outside rim.
Cook for 10-15 minutes depending on how done you want the eggs. I preferred mine over easy, so 10 minutes was perfect.
Top with Cilantro and enjoy!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Eggland's Best.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2015 Rock n Roll DC Recap

One week only: $50 for Half Marathon and Full Marathon, $25 for 5K
No other coupons or discounts can be applied to this rate. 

My husband and I were in the Nations Capitol this past weekend for the Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon. This was my first trip to DC since I was one years old, so to say I was an excited tourist the entire time is an understatement. Unfortunately it rained the entire race so I have very limited course photos. Plus, I wore a jacket over my bib, resulting in zero marathonfoto of me and having to go through thousands of unidentified pics to find one!
The night before the race, we had dinner at Mike Isabella's Graffiato. I'm a huge fan of Top Chef and was so excited to carb load here. My favorite item that we ordered was by far the Piquillo Pepper Risotto with quail egg and pork belly. It was off the chain. Following dinner, we headed back to our hotel to get a good nights sleep. 
When we woke up on Saturday, the forecast looked better. Upon going to bed, the rain was at 100% - however, it changed to 40%. Both Gabe and I decided against wearing our rain jackets and this was a HUGE mistake. While my jacket kept rain off of me, it wasn't the best for wind resistance. Gabe, wearing a short sleeve shirt, shorts and CEP sleeves, was freezing the entire time. I was head to toe in ASICS, my outfit shown here.
The first few miles flew by. We ran through the National Mall area. We saw the Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery. Due to the rain, I couldn't take any photos.  We have one marathonfoto of us running towards Arlington.
Rain aside, we LOVED this race. I will say that it is my top three favorite races, ever. Somewhere between mile 5 and six along the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, we encountered a very steep hill, which I quickly renamed to a mountain. This was the beginning of the elevation. We stopped intervals and began walking up the hills and running down the hills.
I will say this was the first time I have ever ran a half marathon without complaining. Maybe I was so focused on the rain that nothing else bothered me. My ankle and knee were pretty much pain free. I would say I probably had a smile on for the entire race - shame we didn't get any marathonfotos!!!!
I had VIP access at the finish but both Gabe and I were soaking wet and freezing. All I wanted to do was get out of these clothes and eat a giant bowl of Ramen. I skipped out on my VIP experience (when I have ever been known to turn down champagne) and we headed to the metro. This was the start to many mistakes over the next hour. We headed to the metro with thousands of other runners and were stuck waiting. Gabe was shaking from being cold and I was super concerned he was getting hypothermia. We decided to walk and find another metro station, only to find ourselves walking an additional 2 miles. By the luck of god, we found an available taxi and 5 minutes later were in our hotel.
Since I am not one to break traditions, after I showered and changed, I found myself at Cure Bar and Bistro located inside of the Grand Hyatt Washington. To my bliss, they had Moet, which I promptly got a glass of.
After I finished my delicious glass of Moet, we headed to Toki Underground for a giant bowl of Ramen. This was by far the best Ramen either of us had ever tried. I ordered the Kimchi Ramen with extra noodles. The flavor was incredible and exactly what my body needed after a cold/wet 13.1.
Finally, we couldn't go to DC without going to Georgetown Cupcake.
Overall, this was a fantastic racecation, one that we will probably do on an annual basis. I cannot wait to get back to DC for another trip. Three days was not near enough time. Fortunately, we did see a lot of sites while there, which I will cover in a different post.

Monday, March 16, 2015

REESE'S Brownie Cupcakes Recipe #snacktalk Challenge

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #snacktalk #CollectiveBias

March is one of my favorite months of the year - between St. Patricks Day and College Basketball, I feel as if there is always a reason to celebrate. While in Walmart the other day, I noticed a display from REESE'S for their #SnackTalk Challenge. REESE'S wants to nationally recognize your best gameday recipe! The winner will be recognized on www.reesessnacktalk.com, CBS and walmart.com!
A few years ago, I attended a basketball party where the host made these amazing basketball cupcakes stuffed with a REESE'S Peanut Butter Cup. I went home and recreated them for a party I hosted and they were a hit. It's a very simple recipe - I use boxed brownie mix (if your store has REESE'S brownie mix, double score), full sized REESE'S peanut butter cups and peanut butter icing. You can either make your own (recipe below) or use store bought.
I made my brownies according to the cake like recipe on the box (usually 2 or 3 eggs vs. 1). Using jumbo cupcake liners, I placed one tablespoon of brownie mix in the bottom of each, topped with a peanut butter cup, then another tablespoon to cover the cup. I baked them at 350 for 25 minutes and took out of the oven for an hour to cool.
While the brownie cupcakes were cooling, I made my frosting. This was a simple yet messy task. I used a cake icing knife to smooth out the icing on the cupcakes and finally decorated with gel coloring and if you want even more peanut butter - top the basketball lines with brown REESE'S Pieces!

REESE'S Brownie Cupcake Recipe
Box of brownie mix (prepare according to box, using cake-like recipe)
12 REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups
12 Jumbo Cupcake liners

Place 1 tablespoon of the brownie mix in each liner, then place a peanut butter cup on each. Top the peanut butter cup with another tablespoon of brownie mix, or until covered. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool for an hour.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
3 (or more if needed) tablespoons milk

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar. Add milk as needed to make into a smooth frosting.

Decorations
Decorate each like a basketball. I attempted to use food coloring to turn my frosting orange - but it didn't work and after 4 tires, I was happy with standard peanut butter coloring! As mentioned above, I smoothed the frosting using a cake icing knife, then drew the basketball lines on them with gel coloring.

Enter your #snacktalk recipe at https://www.reesessnacktalk.com/. Follow REESE'S on Twitter @ReesesPBCups2Make your best REESE'S recipe. Be sure to hashtag #ChallengeEntry!